Winter 2022: A Bold Path Forward

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Centennial Commencement • 08

Clarissa Beyah ’05 MBA • 20

Homecoming Weekend 2021 • 26

Own the Future • 30




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A Bold Path Forward PAG E 1 0

W E L C O M E H O M E ! The University of New Haven was the first college or university in Connecticut to welcome students to campus for the 2021–22 academic year. Orientation and Transition Leaders (OTLs) — including student representatives from each of the University’s five academic schools and colleges — helped welcome the Class of 2025 and transfer students as part of Virtual Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (VSOAR). Each year, OTLs continue to provide support to new students throughout the fall semester, committed to ensuring that the newest Chargers have a seamless transition to college life and feel at home in the University community.

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10 A Bold Path Forward 2026 Strategic Plan



Back in Play

Days and Nights

Momentum, Joy, and University of New Haven Athletics

Alumni Spotlight: Clarissa Beyah ’05 MBA

Departments PREVIEW





04 • On Campus


30 • Own the Future

06 • Faculty Spotlight

26 • Homecoming 2021

08 • Events



• Talking To

Welcoming the Class of 2025

From the Alumni Association Back to Campus

ON THE COVER Cover illustration by Chris Gash. Chris Gash is a conceptual illustrator working for editorial, book, and corporate clients. Partial client list includes The New Yorker, MasterCard, The New York Times, United Nations, The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Scientific American, Politico, Worth, Nautilus, Forbes, The Washington Post, ESPN, The Boston Globe, Fortune, Variety, Rolling Stone, University of Chicago, Golf Digest, Bloomberg, McKinsey, Southwest Airlines, Little, Brown & Co., American Medical Association, Harvard University, Barnes & Noble, Nickelodeon, Energizer, Wells Fargo, the BBC, Fred & Friends, EmDash, Pentagram, and many others.


R E A D E R S U R V E Y Tell us what you think about the University of New Haven Alumni Magazine! 50 participants will be randomly selected to receive a University-branded drawstring bag, and one grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift card to the University Bookstore. Complete the survey at

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Charting a Course for 2026 and Beyond In my Centennial Commencement remarks, I shared a quotation from Maya Angelou: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

I am pleased to announce that most recently, following a comprehensive process incorporating the valuable feedback of many stakeholders, we launched the University’s newest strategic plan: A Bold Path Forward. This five-year plan, set to culminate in 2026, will enable us to thrive as we continue to respond to the ever-evolving needs of our students and the challenges of the higher education landscape. I encourage everyone to read the associated cover feature, beginning on page 10, and consider how you might contribute your time or talents to helping execute this plan and ensuring its success. This promises to be an invigorating and stimulating experience for us all.

Members of our University community embody this mindset, and Charger Nation’s resolve shone brightly throughout the Fall 2021 Semester. I truly believe the many ways in which we collaborated with and supported each other — and the many events, programs, achievements, and milestones we reached over the past several months — have created a vibrant atmosphere that exemplifies our dedication to each other and the University as well as our community’s indomitable spirit. The University of New Haven was the first college or university in Connecticut to welcome students in person to campus for the 2021–22 academic year. In October, we hosted our first homecoming in two years, including our much-anticipated Centennial Commencement for the Class of 2020 and a special groundbreaking for the Peterson Performance Center. In November, the curtain came up on our first theater production in more than 18 months, and our December commencement ceremony was again held at the Oakdale Theater. Throughout the semester, we celebrated the return of athletics and the many accomplishments of our talented student–athletes and coaches — visible symbols of the University’s ability to overcome the impact of the pandemic.


We have again demonstrated this past semester that we will continue to prosper as a great place for our students to learn, live, and grow. With best wishes,

As we look to 2026 and beyond, I expect we will continue to encounter obstacles caused by the effects of the pandemic, and we also will embrace unanticipated opportunities that grow from this global challenge. We must be vigilant in building on our innate resiliency and fostering a strong sense of community. We have again demonstrated this past semester that we will continue to prosper as a special place for our students to learn, live, and grow. I have never been more confident in the future of this fine institution. That is in part because of you and your unwavering devotion and pride as Chargers.

Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D. President

Interim Associate Vice President for Marketing & Communications Sue Pranulis ALUMNI MAGAZINE



Editor in Chief Elizabeth Rodgers, Vice President for Enrollment & Student Success Gregory E. Eichhorn Vice President for University Advancement Brian Otis

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President of the Alumni Board of Directors Dawn Alderman ’99, ’03 M.S. Senior Director of Alumni Relations Heather Alpaugh, Marketing & Communications Renee Chmiel M.S., Dave Cranshaw, MBA, Tyler Hanson M.S., Matthew McCullough, Michael McKiernan, M.A., Carolyn Meyer, John Mordecai, Kaitlyn Naples, Laura Norris, M.S., Alicia Post Lindstadt, MBA, Carol Regan, Chris Teodosio

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Design Bria Mangione & Iris Tao, Taylor Design Contributors Emily Cretella, Doug Whiting Photography Peter Aaron/OTTO, Apicella + Bunton Architects, Defining Studios & Defining Properties, Len Rubenstein, Jessica Smolinski, University of New Haven Athletics, Yeshiva University Illustration Chris Gash The University of New Haven Alumni Magazine is published twice a year by the Office of Marketing & Communications. Its mission is to connect alumni and other members of the University community to the University and to one another.

Reach us at: The University of New Haven, 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, CT 06516 or at The University of New Haven is committed to equal access to educational and employment opportunities for all applicants regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, personal appearance, marital status, civil union status, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, or physical or intellectual disability. ©2022 University of New Haven. All Rights Reserved. For permissions, please contact



On Campus

And the Award Goes to… For the 11th year in a row, the University of New Haven has been ranked a top-tier university by U.S. News & World Report in its annual “Best Colleges” rankings, having risen four spots from the previous year.

For the sixth year in a row, the Princeton Review has included the University in its annual ratings of the nation's top colleges and universities, including its “Best 387 Colleges: 2022 Edition” and “Best Regional Colleges” list for the Northeast.











The University was named a “College of Distinction” by Colleges of Distinction, a national online higher education guide that assesses colleges for their engaged students, great teaching, and vibrant campus communities.


Military Times has included the University on its 2021 list of “Best for Vets: Colleges,” recognizing its commitment to supporting those who have served.

Center of Attention

CREW CT: The Real Estate Exchange Blue Ribbon Award, Best in Class: Higher Education

The Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation received numerous recognitions in 2021, including:

ENR New England Merit Award, Regional Best Projects: Higher Education/Research

Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) Project Team Award, First Place: Higher Education (Large)

Interior Design Best of Year Award, Finalist: Higher Education American Institute of Architects (AIA) Connecticut Merit Award: Commercial, Industrial, Educational, and Multi-Family Residential Design

Forensic Science Program Ranked Best in the Country #1 rated the University in its 2021 ranking of the top colleges in the United States to pursue a degree in forensic science, lauding the unique and innovative hands-on learning opportunities and faculty who have industry experience and continue to make an important impact in the field.

Used with permission. ©2021 TPR Education IP Holdings, LLC. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University. For more information about reprints from The Princeton Review visit PARS International Corp. at


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Undergraduate Research Award Malaika Matumbu ’22, a chemical engineering major, was awarded the 2021 Bucknall Family Undergraduate Research or Experiential Learning Award. Matumbu serves as president of the University’s student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. She is also a Tagliatela College of Engineering Charger Student Ambassador and a member of the National Society of Black Engineers.

University’s Model United Nations Team Earns Top Honors

The University of New Haven’s Model United Nations team earned the top team recognition and Outstanding Delegate and Outstanding Position Paper awards at the National Model United Nations Conference in Washington, D.C. in November.

Accomplished Fundraising Executive to Lead University Advancement Brian Otis, EMBA, an accomplished fundraiser and senior philanthropy executive, joined the University as vice president for advancement in September. Prior to taking this position, Otis worked at the University of Connecticut Foundation, serving as vice president for principal and planned gifts for the past five years. At UConn, Otis dramatically expanded the principal gift pipeline at the $1 million-and-up gift level; secured UConn’s second-largest principal gift of $22.5 million; and worked with key leaders, including the president, provost, athletic director, deans, and foundation board members. His leadership in advancement spanning more than two decades helped increase UConn’s endowment from just over $50 million to more than $500 million. Prior to serving as vice president for principal and planned gifts, Otis spent six years as vice president for development. During that time, he led the foundation’s fundraising campaign to construct a $35 million on-campus basketball practice facility, accounting for the most private dollars raised for any capital project on campus. He also created a new regional major gifts program and designed and implemented performance-based metrics across the development operation. Otis earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Castleton University in Vermont and an executive MBA from the University of Connecticut.

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Faculty Spotlight NEW APPOINTMENT

University Names Innovative Higher Education Executive New Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Danielle Wozniak, MSW, Ph.D. began serving as the University’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs in January. Dr. Wozniak joins the University from Yeshiva University, where she was vice provost and Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Wozniak is an innovative and strategic higher education leader, distance learning expert, and cross-disciplinary scholar with 25 years of experience. She has a distinguished record of creating new student-centered online and on-ground programs, investing in faculty excellence, and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation. An accomplished writer, Wozniak has authored and co-authored books published by New York

University Press, Rutgers University Press, and Adams Media, as well as a wide variety of refereed journal articles and essays. She has contributed to numerous scholarly publications, including the Journal of Progressive Human Services; Journal of Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry; Current Anthropology; and Women’s History Review. Wozniak earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Connecticut, a sixth-year certificate in education administration and supervision from the University of Hartford, a master’s degree in social work E D U C AT I O N from Fordham University, MSW and a bachelor’s degree Fordham University in English literature from Ph.D. University of Connecticut Miami University of Ohio.



Renowned Journalist to Teach Esports Integrity Course

Cybersecurity Professors Awarded Civilian Medal of Merit

Richard Lewis, a veteran British esports journalist, livestream commentator, podcaster, and editor-atlarge for an award-winning esports and gaming website, is looking forward to inspiring the next generation of esports professionals at the University.

Liberty Page ’91 M.S. and Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., have been recognized for their tireless work to foster cybersecurity education as part of Project IRONCLAD, a National Security Agency- and Department of Defense-funded program providing cutting-edge training for the Connecticut National Guard.


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Excellence in Teaching Award

Art Professor Recognized for Innovative and Thought-Provoking Work

Kristine Horvat, Ph.D., an assistant professor and director of the chemical engineering program, received the 2021 William L. Bucknall Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition to chairing sessions for AIChE, the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professions, Dr. Horvat has also presented educational techniques at American Society for Engineering Education conferences and contributed to the Engineering Unleashed network. She has also organized several STEM outreach activities for children, including the Girl Scouts.

Joseph Smolinski, MFA, recently earned a Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support Award for his new project “Carbon Adrift.” The program, now in its 12th year, invests in artists who create works related to themes such as coastal and marine environments. In addition, Smolinski was recently selected as a Happy and Bob Doran Connecticut Artist-InResidence Awardee. The program enables artists to participate in a yearlong residency at Yale University Art Gallery that culminates in a group exhibition at Artspace in New Haven in 2022. Smolinski looks forward to continuing to use his art to explore technology and how humans affect the environment.


New Chemistry Professor Named a “Future Faculty Scholar” Hao Sun, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, has been recognized by the Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) as a member of its 2021 cohort of Future Faculty Scholars. An organic and polymer chemist, Dr. Sun and his fellow honorees, who are from prestigious universities such as MIT and Harvard, are invited to share their work at the ACS national meeting in San Diego next spring.


English Professor Wins Prestigious American Book Award Randall Horton, Ph.D., was awarded an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for his fourth book of poetry, “{#289-128}: Poems.” Previous recipients of the award include Toni Morrison and Isabel Allende. Horton’s most recent work began with a series of artist grants and fellowships, including the Poet in Residence at Civil Rights Corps, a Right of Return USA Fellowship, and the Art for Justice Grant through the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

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New Professorship Supports Community Policing Reform and Education

Professor Launches Platform to Empower Women in the Workforce

As the inaugural holder of the Stewart Professorship in Criminal Justice and Community Policing, Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., a nationally recognized leader in police–community relations and an authority on urban policing, diversity issues in criminal justice, race and crime, and criminal justice systems, is excited to continue to make a meaningful impact on his students, communities, and law enforcement professionals. The professorship was established through the generosity of Shelley Stewart Jr. ’90 EMBA, ’16 Hon., a member of the University’s Board of Governors and chair of the Board’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, and his wife Ann, who both hold degrees in criminal justice.

Angeli Gianchandani, M.A., is a Practitioner in Residence in the Department of Accounting, Finance & Marketing. Her experience and observations about the importance of women’s leadership inspired her to design a lecture series titled “The Female Advantage,” as well as Mobility Girl, a platform designed to build a pipeline to invest in women. The Mobility Girl community fosters mentorship opportunities and enables women — including many of Gianchandani’s students at the University — to develop as leaders.


Renewable Energy Expert to Lead New Federally Funded Center Ravi Gorthala, Ph.D., chair of the University’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, will serve as director of a satellite Industrial Assessment Center at the University of New Haven. The new center is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and is part of a collaboration with the University of Connecticut. The center will help small- and medium-sized regional manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint and improve their productivity, and it will provide students with hands-on learning opportunities.




Worth the Wait

University Celebrates Class of 2020 During Special Centennial Commencement

“Maya Angelou once said, ‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.’ Each of you exemplifies and embodies this sentiment. Thanks to your resilience and resolve, you are uniquely prepared, perhaps more than any group of graduates who came before you, to respond to adversity.” STEVEN H. KAPLAN, PRESIDENT


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As part of Homecoming Weekend 2021, the University of New Haven hosted an in-person commencement ceremony for its Centennial Class. Graduates officially completed their degrees in 2020, the University’s Centennial year, but were unable to have an in-person ceremony because of the impact of COVID-19. The University recognized nearly 350 graduates — many

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of whom returned to campus for the first time since the onset of the pandemic — during this meaningful celebration on Saturday, October 9, at Kathy Zolad Stadium. English professor Randall Horton, Ph.D., a recipient of a 2021 American Book Award, shared a poem he wrote for the Centennial Class as part of the ceremony’s special remarks.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF CENTENNIAL COMMENCEMENT Enjoy the sights and sounds of our Centennial Commencement and celebrate along with the Class of 2020!



“Together, we’ve accomplished a great deal in the past 15 years, and we have much to accomplish in the future. What we do know is that we can’t stand still. Our competitors are not standing still, and we need to pick up the pace.” STEVEN H. KAPLAN, PRESIDENT


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A Bold Path Forward BY DOUG WHITING I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y C H R I S G A S H

riting about the successful conclusion of The Charger Challenge, President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D. said the fundraising campaign “exemplified the forward-looking mindset our institution has embraced since its founding and embodied the challenge we have as Chargers to ensure a prosperous future that celebrates and builds on our rich history.” That mindset and challenge has served the University well and will be put to the test once again as a second century is launched in a post-pandemic environment. There are moments in an institution’s history when the time is right for an honest, thorough examination of its place in the universe. For the University of New Haven, this seems such a moment. To define the next phase of the journey, the University has undertaken a five-year strategic planning initiative (formally launched in early 2021) with an overarching goal, according to leadership, to “create a dynamic, compelling, and inclusive strategic plan that positions the University and all of our stakeholders to excel in a challenging and unpredictable time for higher education.” The work is to design a blueprint for the University’s long-term success with bold initiatives, resource support, and widespread ownership, while maintaining fidelity to its long-held beliefs and mission. The University is putting a metaphorical stake in the ground and telling the world what it will be when it grows up. While that action item may seem odd for a century-old organization, heed these words from President Kaplan, oft repeated since first uttered at his inauguration 17 years ago: “We are just getting started.”

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Blueprint For The Future What the University will look like in 2026 is unknown, but the strategic plan forecasts a formidable mix — a blend of tradition and time-honored strengths with new data and technology-driven business models; a place where students benefit from rapidly developed, multimodal academic programming that addresses worldwide economic challenges; and an environment that embraces the diversity of its populations. President Kaplan believes that “one of the most distinctive qualities of our strategic plan is the focus it puts on understanding that the employers who will hire our students are among the most influential evaluators of our success as a University.” Historically, the University has been known for its core commitment to service and community, academics that meet societal demands, opportunistic but intentional innovation, and student-centeredness. Going forward, the plan sets an ambitious course marked by five key signposts: market responsive academic programming; transformative student experiences; an unprecedented commitment to public service, social justice, and diversity; customized and nontraditional delivery models that expand the learning community and new revenue streams; and an employer of choice for talented faculty and staff. According to Brian Kench, Ph.D., dean for the Pompea College of Business and chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, accomplishing the plan’s goals will go a long way towards building the university of the future. Beyond the academic emphases, Kench identifies several dominant themes across these five pillars of success. “We cannot lose sight of the centrality of diversity and equity to our health and well-being, and it is not hard to see that in each of our strategic goals,” he says. “The plan also reflects our understanding of the role of technology and the importance of data collection and analytics, not only in what we teach but in our business practices.”

Kench speaks passionately about the University community. “People are our most significant resource,” he states. “The plan underscores the need to provide the highest level of support, recognition, and encouragement for every individual.”

Where Academia Meets Society For decades, students have come to the University of New Haven for academic programs that meet and anticipate society’s needs. It’s why first-generation student Manuel Cortes-Jiminez ’22 enrolled in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences’ national security program, one of the first in the country started following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to become an immigration lawyer. “The program gave me the opportunity to study more than just a singular branch of a subject and explore passions that I may have never found without it,” he says. It’s why Sharath Raj Rudresh ’22 chose the University for its STEM-based M.S. in Business Analytics. Now in his third semester, the native of the technological powerhouse Bengaluru region of India has been offered a remote Power BI internship with GSM Outdoors in Irving, TX, thanks to his academic training. He has also secured employment with Amazon as a software development engineer starting in the summer of 2022. Rudresh says the strength of the business analytics program, as well as the University’s diversity, were key factors in his decision to pursue his graduate degree. Like Cortes-Jiminez and Rudresh, more students and working professionals will impact their fields in ways yet to be imagined if the University successfully creates new academic programs, including innovative areas of interdisciplinary study — and structures to support them — that address changing economic and societal demands as part of the strategic plan.

5 KEY SIGNPOSTS Historically, the University has been known for its core commitment to service and community, academics that meet societal demands, opportunistic but intentional innovation, and student-centeredness. Going forward, the plan sets an ambitious course marked by five key signposts.


Market Responsive Academic Programming

Transformative Student Experiences

An Unprecedented Commitment to Public Service, Social Justice, and Diversity

Customized and Nontraditional Delivery Models That Expand the Learning Community

Employer of Choice for Talented Faculty and Staff

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“The focus of this priority involves a branded, robust cocurricular program designed to provide all students with a transformative experience and prepare them to successfully engage and excel in careers that benefit and contribute to society.” O P H E L I E R O W E -A L L E N , E D. D. DEAN OF STUDENTS

The plan also includes core curriculum revisions, metrics refinements to evaluate programs and guide budget allocations, increased external grant and contract funding, a reimagined “academic library of the future,” and a reexamination of the University’s brand strategy. “Market-responsive education relates to the development of curriculum and programs that are market-driven and responsive to local, regional, and global needs; in other words, the needs of the workforce, the community, and society,” says Shaily Menon, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The aspirational vision of this goal is that the University would strive to be a leader in the development of programs and initiatives to meet emergent economic challenges and opportunities in Connecticut, our nation, and beyond.” The strategic plan also features an initiative to extend the University’s reach and enhance workforce development through customized, nontraditional delivery models for micro credentials, badges, and stackable certificates. This expanded programming will produce new revenue streams, engage new markets, and leverage new and existing partnerships with corporate and community organizations. “Our plan is to engage individuals from across the University to identify and cultivate external partnerships,” says Cindy Gallatin, MBA, chief of digital learning initiatives. “The plan calls for the creation of the necessary infrastructure and resources to support those efforts, market research to support program development and audience identification, and the establishment of metrics to measure program viability, success, and accountability.”

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It’s All About People The University is buttressing its hallmark commitment to student-centeredness by pledging to become a leader in transformative experiences that empower students and foster their sense of belonging, personal wellness, and lifelong learning. Ophelie Rowe-Allen, Ed.D., wearing many hats as dean of students, chief student affairs officer, and chief diversity officer, has a unique perspective. “The focus of this priority involves a branded, robust cocurricular program designed to provide all students with a transformative experience and prepare them to successfully engage and excel in careers that benefit and contribute to society,” she says. Rowe-Allen sees a community that consistently produces graduates like community psychology major Mayah Williams ’19 M.A. While Williams’ work focuses on the well-being of members of communities and organizations, she aspires to empower them to be change agents. Walking that walk, she has established a nonprofit, MaconIt, to increase college retention rates among residents of Macon, Georgia. The vision is clear and will be measured by retention rates, additional cocurricular engagement opportunities, and postgraduate employment and graduate study rates, among other metrics. Students will benefit if plans for a new student center, reimagined career center, and an NCAA Division I conference invitation materialize. Rowe-Allen is optimistic. “I am confident we will intentionally support student engagement that demonstrates high-impact practices and increased levels of interaction across a

range of campus experiences that will be measured by student-reported activity, satisfaction, and other assessment tools,” she says. Building a workforce of excellence to deliver best-in-class service to students is top priority. Planners advocate for the creation of an interactive and engaging learning experience to give managers “the confidence and skills needed to be successful in a frontline leadership role, increasing effectiveness and building relationships to get work done.” The adoption of a performance-based culture “where values, behaviors, and expectations are linked to the University’s mission of meeting the needs of higher education, and employees are assessed and rewarded on their effectiveness in meeting agreed upon goals” will be critical. It’s a tall order, but necessary, says Jennifer Cinque, M.S., associate vice president for human resources and organizational development.


“The DEIB-related outcomes put forth represent our vision of a university where people from all upbringings and backgrounds can thrive collectively, while also making a long-lasting, positive impact on our society. Importantly, the plan allows the University to be held accountable to making the changes needed to be more inclusive to all those who work, live, and learn in our community.” A LV I N T R A N , S C . D . , M P H


“One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is the need for growth, mobility, development, and recognition,” she says. “This goal focuses on enhancing our culture and commitment, giving employees opportunities to learn new things and potentially redefine ‘career’ by understanding how to move within. It also creates opportunities for us to think in terms of teams. Organizations with mission-driven strategies outperform others exponentially over time and attract others to want to be here. If we do this right, our organization will be the one others choose to follow.”

Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Service In November 2020, the University announced a collaboration among the Pompea College of Business, the Tagliatela College of Engineering, and FactSet, a Norwalk, CT-based global financial data and technology company. Through this collaboration, the University engages with FactSet’s Black Business Resource Group (BRG), one of six BRGs created to help advance the company’s diversity and inclusion work. Collectively, these efforts aim to increase diversity in the finance industry and open new career paths for Black underrepresented students at the University. The FactSet collaboration is just one manifestation of the University’s objective to create an environment in which all members of the Charger community can learn, work, and thrive together. There are others. The Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences’ “UNCommon

Course” focuses on compassion and self-reflection related to social injustice and challenges students to examine their views, biases, and stereotypes. In the School of Health Sciences, a new course titled “Pandemic and Public Health Threats” illuminates the social determinants of health, including factors such as institutionalized racism within the health care system that contribute to existing inequities. New leadership has also strengthened support for the LGBTQ+ community, and additional resources are pledged for the Pride Center and Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion. The Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Ambassadors Program was launched, whereby students spearhead diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives on campus, focusing on supporting students of historically marginalized backgrounds. The commitment, though, has not always achieved its desired end, leading to the plan’s pledge to “an unprecedented commitment” to public service, social justice, and DEIB. This year, the newly established Black Alumni Network expressed “dissatisfaction” with University leadership on issues relative to DEIB, outlining demands and urging immediate action. The University’s LGBTQ+ community has also called for structural changes to address the full range of DEIB issues encompassing “a vast array of identities.” In a memorable communication to the University community last January, President Kaplan admitted to falling short of his own goals “to ensure all members of our community feel welcome and accepted,” pledging to “do more to honestly and critically confront the issues before us — and take action.”

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Expected outcomes are clearly defined: remove institutional barriers to ensure that traditionally underserved students have equitable access to an exceptional education; increase and sustain leadership and employee diversity to equal that of the student population; increase public service, service learning, and compensated internship opportunities; and provide financial, career, and academic support to students. Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH — faculty member and program director in the School of Health Sciences and assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion — says the thrust of the initiative is clear. “The window of opportunity to address institutional barriers to success for our growingly diverse campus community has been open for quite some time,” he says. “The DEIB-related outcomes put forth represent our vision of a university where people from all upbringings and backgrounds can thrive collectively, while also making a long-lasting, positive impact on our society. Importantly, the plan allows the University to be held accountable to making the changes needed to be more inclusive to all those who work, live, and learn in our community.”

Starting With Advantages The University approaches this next phase in its evolution from a position of strength. Full-time undergraduate enrollment has doubled, and first-year applications have quadrupled. Interest and enrollment in graduate education is spiking, particularly among international students. Students hail from around the globe, and the Fall 2021 entering class was the most diverse in the University’s history. The number and quality of full-time faculty has improved dramatically, even as valued practitioners play a crucial role in the classroom and students’ professional pursuits.


~3 dozen


About three dozen new academic programs have launched since 2005.

Charger Challenge fundraising total, $67M over initial goal.



The Charger Challenge funded 110 new endowed scholarships.

The University has moved up more than 40 spaces in the US News & World Report annual survey in five years.

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Some three dozen new academic programs have launched since 2005, and an investment of more than $300 million has added or upgraded 600,000 square feet of academic and facility space, including the technologically advanced, collaborative styled Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation and the Peterson Performance Center — a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility that is a centerpiece of the Chargers’ drive to NCAA Division 1 competition, which is currently under construction. As 2020 closed, the University announced it had smashed the original $100 million Charger Challenge fundraising goal: a grand total of $167 million raised, including the University’s largest gift ever from Charles E. Pompea ’71, EMBA ’90, HON. ’06, his wife Tamera, and their family to name the Pompea College of Business. The campaign supported 110 new endowed scholarships, increased financial aid, and assisted students during the pandemic. Another sign of growth is the University’s meteoric rise in the US News & World Report annual survey, improving by more than 40 positions among peer competitors in the past five years. Other surveys place the University among the nation’s best programs in business, criminal justice, health sciences, engineering, cybersecurity, forensic science, and the liberal arts and sciences. All of this suggests the University has established a strong foundation upon which to launch a brave new plan for the future. Yet it comes in an environment of near crisis for higher education as its value is questioned; affordability and accessibility gaps are widening; debates rage about race and identity; government

funding is reduced; and pandemic-spurred concerns surround delivery methods and residential programs. “The world has been altered dramatically by the pandemic,” President Kaplan says. “Many of the changes — in our workplaces, great uncertainty about our future — are likely permanent.” He maintains the University must be prepared to thrive in this new environment as well as in a time when artificial intelligence and other technological advances happen at warp speed. We must be at the forefront of both understanding and utilizing technology’s power, which improves lives but also presents an economic threat to us all. Hence, President Kaplan is confident the time is right to craft a plan that will address these realities. “Together, we’ve accomplished a great deal in the past 15 years, and we have much to accomplish in the future. What we do know is that we can’t stand still. Our competitors are not standing still, and we need to pick up the pace.”

For more information, visit our Strategic Plan website:





Fall 2021 brought the return of University of New Haven Athletics and a reinvigoration of the campus community. Director of Athletics and Recreation Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D. reflects on the challenges and achievements that marked this past year and illuminates how powerful a vehicle athletics can be to showcasing the vitality of Charger Nation.


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If you could describe this moment in time for University of New Haven Athletics, what words would you use?

Right now is truly a time of momentum and joy — which may sound surprising because this moment is also marked by the ongoing pandemic. However, the ability to practice, compete, and gather again is something worth celebrating. I know that many in our University community have suffered greatly due to the pandemic — from personal loss to financial hardship to increased workload. We had much to overcome, and we have shown incredible resilience. That’s what keeps the momentum going and why I — and our student-athletes and coaches — want to share the joy of Athletics with our entire University community, whose members are so deserving.

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SEASON HIGHLIGHTS 1 Groundbreaking for the Peterson Performance Center David Peterson Jr. ’88, ’17 Hon., his wife Karen, and their family celebrated the groundbreaking for The Peterson Performance Center, set to be completed during the Fall 2022 Semester. (More on page 30.) 2 Women’s Tennis For the third straight season, the women’s tennis team advanced to the NE10 Championship, earning the No. 6 seed in the eight-team tournament held this fall 2021. Three players were named to the NE10 All-Conference team.



3 Coach Pincince Seventh-year head football coach Chris Pincince was named the New England Football Writers Association Division II/III Coach of the Year and the Northeast-10 Coach of the Year. 4 Football The Chargers football team was undefeated in the Northeast-10 Conference for the first time since 2012, advancing to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons. Twelve players were named to the All-Conference team. 5 Women’s Volleyball The women’s volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the 35th time in program history and the 15th straight season. The team closed out the season with a 22–10 overall record, including a 10–3 record in the Northeast-10 Conference. 6 Men’s Soccer For the first time since 2010, the men’s soccer team earned a postseason bid to the Northeast-10 Conference Championship. The Chargers advanced to the quarterfinal round before their season concluded, finishing among the topeight teams in the league.






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“I really admire the grit, gratitude, and energy of the people here. I like being around the students. I love seeing what we can achieve together, and I love being part of the University of New Haven community.” SHEAHON ZENGER, PH.D.

As athletic director, how did you keep student-athletes, coaches, and staff connected and moving forward throughout the pandemic?

By nature, a student-athlete is a leader. No matter where they are on the roster, no matter what year they are, a student-athlete is prepared to be active and involved in both their academic and athletic lives. So our student-athletes were very self-motivated. At the same time, we all motivated each other. Coaches constantly met with athletes, both individually and in virtual groups as well as with recruits. As a staff, we became very efficient and found ways to work through things virtually. For example, our strength coaches developed bodyweight workout programs that student-athletes could do on their own, outside of a gym. In the summer of 2020, we also started a Mental Health Mondays program. We had between 80 to 150 virtual attendees each week, which was impressive because it’s often easy to fall out of touch over the summer. But that didn’t happen. I feel like I got to know our coaches and student-athletes so well during these virtual meetings. All our coaches made such adjustments: they really turned their focus to interacting with and teaching student-athletes virtually during that time while also focusing heavily on recruiting. This resulted in an additional 100+ student-athletes, and this gave a boost to enrollment and benefited the University’s culture and campus life overall. What was it like when you were finally able to get your student-athletes and coaches back on the field?

I describe it as hope fulfilled. For a year, you’re selling hope. There are a lot of “ifs.” But then, not only did we get to practice and compete again, but we also had some of the greatest athletic success we’ve had at the University. Softball had a lot of success, and football and volleyball really led the way. Men’s soccer had one of their better years, and women’s field hockey went from being a newer sport to really achieving great things. It was also our first year of competitive women’s rugby, which was exciting. Beyond the accomplishments, there was a great energy. If you came to a football game, for example, our attendance was among the highest in the region, and there was a palpable excitement there.

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For me as an athletic director, it’s really important that we win. But for the University as a whole, it’s about more than that. It’s a time when we can celebrate campus life and culture and, particularly this year, come together.

to do what they already do well: hone their craft each day and take it to a new level.

To what do you attribute that energy and momentum — not just as it relates to athletes, but from the University community at large?

School spirit is in my soul. My parents were professors. I grew up on a college campus very similar to this one. I love engaging in university activities — I’m always attending games, and I was able to team teach an honors literature course with President Kaplan. It’s great. And circling back to what I said earlier, I really admire the grit, gratitude, and energy of the people here. I like being around the students. I love seeing what we can achieve together, and I love being part of the University of New Haven community.

When I was interviewing for this position, I was really attracted to the University’s upward trajectory, and I still feel that way today. I love what President Kaplan has been able to do with the growth of this institution throughout his time here. Also, I think it has to do with our unique school culture. We’re a community of overcomers. We’re resilient. There’s a grittiness and gratitude that permeates here. We have many first-generation college students, and we also have students who come here to fulfill second chances. Our community is hardworking, and there’s a natural energy that keeps them moving forward. In that sense, we were prepared to navigate the pandemic and rise to its challenges. I feel like athletics got to represent that this fall. We came out of the gates with an energy that a lot of other campuses did not have. Our faculty, staff, administration, coaches, and student-athletes all reflected that. The University broke ground on the new Peterson Performance Center over Homecoming Weekend 2021. Describe that moment.

That was one of the greatest days in my own personal and professional life because it represented a rebirth of what we all had to put on hold for a year. It signified that momentum I’ve been talking about, that energy and commitment from our alumni, staff, donors, and administration, and also President Kaplan’s commitment and leadership. I look out my window at the construction every day, and it energizes me. I think it energizes our entire North Campus. Again, it’s hope fulfilled. It’s also meaningful because although this building is for our student-athletes, it was earned not just by the athletes and coaches who are here now but by those throughout our history. The first floor is focused on strength and conditioning, the second is sports medicine, and the third is meeting rooms. It’s mind, body, and spirit. This is a place for our student-athletes

What drives your personal enthusiasm for the Charger community?

There’s so much happening — is there anything you think is missing right now from University Athletics?

I’m really, really pleased with where we are. There’s a strong foundation in athletics, and the academic profile of our institution is incredible, as is our campus life and the quality of our faculty. It all blends together into this great experience. That momentum fuels this upward trajectory. It’s a tribute to the work ethic of our faculty, staff, and students. Students really want to come here — this is where they want to study, this is where they want to spend their time socially. And when they graduate, they turn around and say, “Wow, those were the best years of my life. There’s no other place I’d rather have been.” I feel like our faculty, staff, and coaches get that same feeling. I look forward to going to work every day. Finally, what about those Division 1 rumors?

There continues to be strong momentum in that direction, and we’re mindful of how we approach it. I believe our campus, faculty, staff, and students already are Division 1. We want to give students every possible reason to choose the University of New Haven. I’m just so proud of who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve come through, and where we’re going.

For Chargers schedules, information, and more, visit us online at:




Whether helping to frame the strategic positioning of some of the biggest brands on the planet or “igniting social change” in the lives of young people, Clarissa Beyah ’05 MBA has found the secret sauce to “use strategic communications to transcend,” as she puts it. It’s all about giving voice where it’s needed, and the seeds that were planted years ago grew into her passion for leading and storytelling.


Beyah’s accomplishments in the professional environs of strategic corporate communications, tackling some of the thorniest issues imaginable, have earned her leadership positions at some of the world’s best-known companies. At the same time, her achievements in helping at-risk youth develop leadership skills through the arts and communications under the auspices of the nonprofit Writers’ Block Ink, which she established two decades ago, brings her equal, if not greater, satisfaction. The sublime choreography she has designed, where her corporate and nonprofit work intersect and complement each other, is what makes it all so impressive. Beyah took her first job — a temporary gig at Blue Cross — just out of high school, and through persistence and insight, she turned it into a full-time position that jump-started her career. “It also established my DNA,” she says. “That allowed me to become involved in multiple activities at once,” which she describes as a day–night thing. “Ever since, I have worked by day at my profession very hard, and then at night, I found myself drawn to advancing my education, and community activism, working with young people to give them voice. This was a gift to me — to be able to have a foot in multiple worlds balanced me as I tried to navigate through life.” As she began to ascend the ranks of corporate communications with an early career position at Bayer, she left work to spend her evenings at a juvenile correctional facility in New Haven, where she worked “with young inmates, mostly of color, on finding freedom through writing.” A pattern was developing. After leaving Bayer, she has assumed key positions at Pfizer, General Electric, Exelon, AON, Northwestern Mutual, and most recently, Union Pacific. The journey has moved the Philadelphia-born middle child of five and South Jersey-raised dynamo from Connecticut to Milwaukee to Chicago as well as Washington, DC, and Omaha. Since August 2020, Beyah has been Union Pacific Railroad’s chief communications officer, responsible for driving the behemoth’s internal and external communications organization; promoting, enhancing, and protecting the company’s brand and reputation; and advising the chairman, CEO, and other senior staff and executive leadership on all manner of communications issues. During the course of her decorated career, Beyah has managed and developed strategies for industries ranging from professional services and health care to finance, technology, transportation, and utilities. She’s been engaged with virtually every aspect of the communications spectrum, including employee and client communications, digital and social media, media relations, brand and reputation development, marketing, and strategic initiatives. And she’s led communications

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“Here I was a displaced teen myself, on a journey that would inform my thinking about youth, race, [and] equity ...”

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“My life as an activist and artist in the outside community remarkably collided inside my life as a corporate leader.”



plans for every conceivable challenge, including international infrastructure deals, megamergers and acquisitions, data security crises, workforce restructurings, labor union disputes, and significant change management. At virtually every stop along the way, she’s continued the day–night routine that has become what she calls her “duality.” While at Pfizer, the Garde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut, reached out to Beyah, inviting her to help create a theatrical production on the topic of race. She worked with a group of Connecticut students from Waterford High School, New London High School, and Norwich Free Academy to collaborate on crafting a performance of Warrior’s Don’t Cry about the integration of Little Rock, Arkansas schools produced by The Garde. This was in 2002–2003. Later in 2003, Beyah and “these amazing teenagers that I worked with” on that production became the founders of the nonprofit Writer’s Block Ink and the writers of its first show, The Battle, also about racial struggle. Almost two decades later, more than one thousand at-risk youth have participated in Writer’s Block programs and productions. Sponsors and donations to the nonprofit assist with providing programming for those in need, all with the expressed purpose of “igniting social change on the page and stage.” Harkening back to those early days at the New Haven juvenile corrections facility and The Garde, the Writer’s Block website describes its purpose as follows: “to encourage youth to see writing and performance as tools to address personal and social challenges on the community stage. Students create original productions that explore critical themes and issues. Our mission is to arm young voices with the power of pen and prose, reinforcing teamwork, accountability, and responsibility.” The birth of Writer’s Block Ink was rooted in an even earlier experience. At 15, Beyah’s New Jersey home burned to the ground, and she was forced to spend time at three schools. One of those schools happened to be in Waterford, Connecticut,

where she lived with her aunt Rose Jones, a “mover and shaker” in the life of the community. Her time in Waterford, she says, brought her face to face with the struggles of creative teens in need. “Here I was,” she says with a touch of amazement, “a displaced teen myself, on a journey that would inform my thinking about youth, race, [and] equity...” Years later, of course, Beyah would find her way back to Southeastern Connecticut to found her nonprofit. Though the demands of her day jobs have caused Beyah to give up the ongoing management of Writer’s Block as president, she remains invested as the founder, and she is a proud member of the organization’s advisory board. Many of the current Writer’s Block leaders are youth who have risen to become leaders within the organization and in other community endeavors across the country. She describes another experience while at Pfizer that brought her dual life as an artist and communications professional head-to-head. She had been a slam poet for years (she is a former member of the Connecticut Poetry Slam Team) and was asked to introduce an HIV-positive person who would speak at the company’s World Aids Day event. Struggling to find the right words, she wrote an introductory poem that later became the basis for an entire Pfizer engagement campaign that would win the company’s highest achievement award. “That was something,” she now says with glee. “My life as an activist and artist in the outside community remarkably collided inside my life as a corporate leader.” Along the way, Beyah, who received her undergraduate degree in English while working as a communications manager at Independence Blue Cross, devoted many weekends and nights to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of New Haven while working as a global communications director at Pfizer, an experience she relishes. The program, she says, was perfectly aligned with her active schedule. “It wrapped itself around my needs,” she says. “My time at the University of New Haven was really special. I’d never had the privilege of being a full-time student in the traditional, residential way, even as an undergraduate, but the humility and agility of the program, with its

Left: Beyah in 2002 with the “founding students” of Writer’s Block Ink. (From Left: Shonrael Lanier, Adriane Jefferson, Clarissa Beyah, Morgan Penn (deceased). A graduate of Howard University and Brown University, Penn was studying to become a teacher and worked with youth. Writer’s Block has a scholarship in her name. Right: Cast of The Battle, the inaugural Writer’s Block Ink production in 2003.


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Left: Beyah and colleagues from Union Pacific Railroad on tour with “Big Boy No. 4014,” the world’s largest operating steam locomotive, built exclusively for UP in 1941.


Right: Beyah and her three children. (From Left: Amaiya, Clarissa, Safiyah, Rafiq)

cohort model [and] night and weekend schedule, matched my needs perfectly. The University allowed me to be a mom, a full-time employee, an activist, and a nonprofit leader all while pursuing my graduate degree.” She also acknowledges that the degree helped propel her career and refine her professional identity even further. She divulged that what at the time seemed harsh criticism from a classmate about a perceived “chip on my shoulder” opened her eyes and mind to self-reflection about her race, her faith, and how she projected that identity to others. In addition, the seemingly incongruous intersections among community activism, motherhood, and corporate leadership that Beyah has experienced so often in her life have given her cause for additional reflection about those experiences, who she is, and what purpose she serves. Several of her positions have given her the opportunity to travel the globe and experience the world in ways that have profoundly affected her thinking. She marvels about visiting the site of the former Berlin Wall or Tiananmen Square. Because she is a storyteller, she relates a final, haunting anecdote about a visit to South Africa while employed at General Electric. It was her first visit to the African continent, as she tells it, and she found herself doing business on a yacht off the coast of Cape Town. Then it

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“The University allowed me to be a mom, a full-time employee, an activist, and a nonprofit leader all while pursuing my graduate degree.” hit her. “The last time my DNA was on these waters,” she remembers thinking, “the circumstances were incomprehensively different. What a moment that was for me.” Today, when she’s not driving Union Pacific’s internal and external communications organizations by day, Beyah spends her evenings as a professor of professional practice in journalism at the prestigious Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California (USC), where she lends her wisdom and expertise to help students develop “the skills, expertise, and confidence they need to pursue careers as storytellers in all arenas.” She believes that Writer’s Block helped USC recognize that her combination of corporate expertise and her ability to work with young people and give them a voice would make her the right fit for the professorship. All the while, she’s been raising three children (26-year-old Rafiq, a Syracuse grad and “Garbled


Twistory” podcast founder; Safiyah, a 15-year-old high school sophomore balancing, not surprisingly, piano, violin, science, and math; and Amaiya, 11, “my songbird,” who is a gifted vocalist, can play multiple instruments by ear, and is a busy performer in her school and community). She is also a member of the Arthur Page Society and Leadership Greater Washington and a Board member of Film Streams — an Omaha arts non-profit. At least for now, she no longer yearns for the globetrotting experience that previous jobs afforded her. Safiyah and Amaiya, in particular, relish her attention. The Annenberg School students await her guidance. Teens in New London and elsewhere still find themselves at risk to all kinds of societal and economic pressures. And always, there are the communications needs and demands of a Fortune 500 transportation giant in a world still struggling with a pandemic. There still aren’t enough days, or nights, to get it all done.



From the Alumni Association

Embrace the Future Dear University of New Haven Alumni and Families,

“The Board and I have been reflecting on how best to serve our current and future alumni...We are aligned with the University to support these priority initiatives, and our committees have identified projects to support people first and provide transformative student experiences.”

I am honored to be the president of the University of New Haven Alumni Association Board of Directors. As I was thinking about what to share, I started to reflect on all my experiences at the University. I have so many great memories of so many great people. In October, we celebrated Homecoming Weekend on campus. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the campus transformation, including the groundbreaking for the new Peterson Performance Center. The Board and I have been reflecting on how best to serve our current and future alumni. The University has identified five key initiatives as part of its new strategic plan (featured earlier in this issue). We are aligned with the University to support these priority initiatives, and our committees have identified projects to support people first and provide transformative student experiences. We are a diverse board that will add value to the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) service initiatives taking place. We are working with faculty to support the continued evolution of education models and market-responsive education.

2021–2022 ALUMNI BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Dawn Alderman ’99, ’03 M.S. Vice President Reece Gleadle ’14 Secretary Meghan Kelly ’10, ’13 M.S.* Treasurer Eric St. Amand ’15 . Scott Brazis ’83 . Pat Cassella ’94 M.S.* . Joseph Cieplak ’72* . Kristina Conroy ’09, ’13 M.S. . Ayana Duncanson ’13, ’15 MBA . Steve Dunnigan ’82, ’90 MBA, ’95 M.S. . Chrissy Falcha ’09 M.A. . Jason Gamsby ’08 M.S.

We spent 2020 celebrating our first 100 years. What about the next 100 years? The University is going to initiate The Oral History project for which all alumni will be asked to participate. This project will be a compilation of alumni stories, a chance for them to share what made their experience memorable, and an opportunity to share a University of New Haven Reflection. What better way to celebrate the future than sharing stories from the past? A few reunions are in the planning stages: in 2023, the Black Student Union and WNHU will celebrate their 50th anniversary on campus! It would be great to have some memories to share the progress of these groups over the past 50 years.

. Frank Harper ’79, ’85 M.S., ’85 MBA . Jaylen Johnson ’15

To honor the past, we should embrace the future. What is your University of New Haven Reflection? I can’t wait to hear all about it.

. Michael Spaziani ’99 . Richard Steeves ’77, ’80 MBA


. Michelle Stephens ’17* . Kamaruddin Sulaiman ’85 MBA

. Miki Katz ’98 MBA/MPA . Darryl Mack ’91 . Antonio McDonald ’01 . Christopher McWilliams ’93* . Nicole Pacapelli ’14, ’16 MBA* . Ronald Pierce II ’16* . Rick Polio ’90, ’95 MBA . Adam Schierholz ’94 MBA

. Colin Weber ’17 . Tom Wilkinson ’89 . Samantha Williams ’10 M.S.*

Dawn Alderman ’99 ’03 M.S. President, University of New Haven Alumni Association



Heather Alpaugh Senior Director of Alumni Relations 203.479.4532

Lindsey Christiani Associate Director of Alumni Communications 203.932.7085

* Indicates newly inducted member as of July 1, 2021

Brittany Stanchak Senior Associate Director of Alumni Relations 203.932.1248

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Celebrating a “Young Woman of Vision” THE JUSTINE BERNARD MEMORIAL FUND

“Justine was preparing to commit her life to helping others. Amid our grief, let us honor Justine’s memory by doing our part to make the world a better place.” STEVEN H. KAPLAN, PH.D.

To make a gift in honor of Bernard, visit, or contact Arielle Romeo, director of annual giving, at or 203.932.7036.

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Justine Bernard ’23 — an active, engaged second-year psychology major with plans to obtain her Ph.D. in forensic psychology and work with youth in the criminal justice system — passed away in June from injuries she sustained in a shooting in Atlanta where she was visiting friends. Bernard had just finished her freshman year at the University of New Haven, where she made dean’s list in Spring 2021. The University came together on September 23 — what would have been Bernard’s 20th birthday — to remember her and celebrate her life. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the University’s Bucknall Theater — many of them wearing purple, Bernard’s favorite color. Bernard’s family members came to the University from her home state of New Jersey to attend the vigil. Fransheli Ventura ’23 and Madison Manzo ’23 sang “Happy Birthday” to Bernard at the podium, which was also decorated in purple. Rosemarie Lillie Macias, Ph.D., Bernard’s adviser, described her as an intelligent and dedicated young woman who demonstrated warmth and compassion. Dr. Macias said previously that Bernard was developing a deep interest in criminal justice and forensic psychology, and she indicated that Bernard had most recently registered for classes that would help inform future work with youth in the criminal justice system. “Her passing was a tremendous loss for the field,” she said. Bernard’s mother, Hazel Crichlow, thanked the University community for its outpouring of support. Sofia Martinez ’22, president of the University’s Undergraduate Student Government Association, presented her with a bouquet of purple flowers.

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“I’ve been told that Justine envisioned for herself a future of change — one of equity and justice,” said Martinez. “We will see her lead these changes by the lives she has touched.” Those who knew Bernard described her as someone who was kind and selfless, and, from an early age, had a strong sense of justice. Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., director of athletics and recreation, said that, as a kid, Bernard gave away her lunch money to help those in need and regularly visited nursing homes. “She was a young woman of vision — for how she saw the world and how she wanted it to be,” he said. “Justine will always live in our hearts and our collective souls.” Ventura, Bernard’s friend, says she continues to feel Bernard’s presence and draws comfort from it. Describing butterflies as “Justine’s symbol,” she told the University community that she recently looked out a window to see “the most beautiful monarch” land on the only purple flower in view. She says she finds joy in these reminders of her friend, and she encouraged the University community to leave the vigil happy, urging them to celebrate Bernard’s life and her memory. In August, the University of New Haven and Bernard’s family created the Justine Bernard Memorial Fund to honor Bernard’s life and legacy. Donations made in Bernard’s memory support University of New Haven students, faculty, and staff who “exemplify Justine’s drive to create a more equitable, caring, loving, and just world.” “Justine was preparing to commit her life to helping others,” said University president Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D. “Amid our grief, let us honor Justine’s memory by doing our part to make the world a better place.”


The Justine Bernard Memorial Fund is a powerful example of crowdfunding at the University of New Haven. Crowdfunding projects give students and faculty an opportunity to create unique campaigns and raise funds in support of their particular passion point related to the University. Staff assist with tools and logistics to get started, and 100% of the money raised — whether or not the goal is reached — goes directly to the individual or group’s Universitydesignated fund. Current and past initiatives have included a wide range of interests: from science, technology, and engineering to sports and entertainment to entrepreneurship. The University community and the public can support the fund creators and also the University by contributing to the causes they find most compelling. Our next round of crowdfunding projects will be launched in Spring 2022 in conjunction with Giving Day (see page 28). Projects include the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Women’s Leadership Council Fund, Tow Youth Justice Institute, Charger Athletics, and more! To learn more, visit crowdfunding or contact Arielle Romeo, director of annual giving, at



Homecoming 2021

#TheBlueout For the thousands of Chargers who took part in Homecoming Weekend 2021 — held October 8–10 — the celebration was a fun and meaningful way to reconnect with their fellow members of Charger Nation and to see firsthand the exciting changes taking place on campus. As part of the day’s schedule, the University held two very special events: the Centennial Commencement for the Class of 2020 (more on page 8) and the groundbreaking of the Peterson Performance Center (more on page 30). Our student-athletes’ talent and competitive drive were on full display as the Chargers football team triumphed 56–7 over Saint Anselm. Later that night, field hockey posted a 2–0 win over Southern New Hampshire.


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Time to Celebrate! Homecoming Weekend was jam-packed with unique opportunities for alumni to come together and celebrate their Charger Pride. • Charge Home: Charger Huddle and Homecoming Weekend Kickoff Celebration at the Trinity Bar in New Haven • WNHU Open House and tour of the Lois Evalyn Bergami Broadcast Media Center • Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion Open House • Alumni Tailgate Party • President’s Pregame Reception • 12th Annual Football Alumni Reunion and private tailgate party


Enjoy the sights and sounds of Homecoming Weekend 2021 from these and other special events.

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Back to Campus

Have you mentored a student, participated on a panel, attended a career fair, or presented to a class? If so, we want to hear from you! Email the Office of Alumni Relations at

Geronda Wollack-Spiller ’05 M.A., participated in the University’s “Out @ Work” panel discussion that covered various topics for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace. Wollack-Spiller, a Human Resources Services Advisor for IDOC, shared her experiences and advice with members of the University community. Ronald E’an Pierce ’16 and Josh Carbajal ’18, ’20 M.A. shared remarks during the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s 5-year anniversary celebration. Pierce recognized the Center for its ongoing commitment to acceptance, learning, diversity, and inclusion, while Carbajal praised the Center for being a very positive and welcoming place for students on campus.

Richard Deslauriers ’90, MD As part of the Alvine Engineering Professional Effectiveness and Enrichment Program, Richard Deslauriers ’90, MD, shared his journey as a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of innovating and building medical device businesses. Dr. Deslauriers is the Founder and CEO of Qualgenix; a founding partner with Contract Medical Manufacturing, LLC; and the founding force behind Inventure’s Transformational Gadolinium Based MRI Contrast Agent.

Black and Latino Alumni Weekend 2022

The group took part in a panel discussion for international students, “From Student to Sponsorship.” They each offered advice to the students and shared their stories and experiences of navigating internships, interviewing, securing jobs, and obtaining green cards or H1-B visas.


Join fellow Chargers for a celebration of the multicultural clubs and organizations on campus during Black and Latino Alumni Weekend 2022, to be held April 21–24! Past programming has reflected the following planning committee representation: • Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc. • Omega Phi Beta Sorority Inc. • Elite Step Team • And more!

Learn more about this year’s special celebration at


Khalid Bu Khamsin ’15, ’17, Michael Qiu ’12, and Anika Saboo ’21 MBA

Black Student Union 50th Anniversary Celebration

APRIL 21–24, 2022

• Black Student Union • NAACP • Latin American Students Association • Caribbean Students Association • Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity Inc.

Ayana Duncanson ’13, ’15 MBA, Logan Hill ’18, Sierra Whitlock ’19, Sheena Williams ’10 MBA, Collin Hill ’18 participated in “Black Voices in Sport: Thriving in the Industry,” a panel discussion that focused on career development and preparation for BIPOC students. Following the discussion, students were invited to join the panelists for roundtable conversations.

APRIL 25–29, 2022

Join the University of New Haven community April 25–29, 2022, as we come together to celebrate our indomitable Charger spirit during Charger Pride Week! Included in the week-long celebration are two special events, including Founders Day, the anniversary of our founding, and Giving Day, an opportunity for philanthropic support of your alma mater. Once a Charger, always a Charger!

The University of New Haven will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Black Student Union — the first student organization on campus for students of color — in 2023! For more information, or if you’re interested in being part of the alumni planning committee, contact Heather Alpaugh, Senior Director of Alumni Relations, at Sign up for updates here

Visit for more information.

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Talking To

Rachel Buck ’19: Alumna’s Bone Marrow Provides a Lifesaving Gift


When Rachel Buck ’19 registered to be a bone marrow donor at an event at the University of New Haven, she never thought she would end up helping save the life of a child with cancer. When Rachel Buck ’19 was a first-year student at the University of New Haven, she signed up during an event on campus to be a bone marrow donor. She says she didn’t expect much to come out of it, but years later, she became a donor — and saved a young boy’s life. “Having cancer strike my own family, I thought why not register?” said Buck, a four-year member of the Chargers cheerleading team. “One of the statistics that really stuck with me was that only about 30 percent of patients find a match within their family, leaving the other 70 percent to rely on the registry. I couldn’t imagine having a family member in need like that and not being able to help them.” The Andy Talley Foundation, whose mission is to register young, committed donors to be part of the Be the Match registry, reports that a patient’s sibling has only a 30 percent chance of matching their Human Leukocyte Antigen type and becoming a possible donor. The Chargers football team partnered with the foundation to host the Get in the Game event that Buck attended to encourage members of the University community to register. Shortly before Buck graduated, she got a call that she was a match. While on the phone answering health questions during a senior trip, she was told she was the number one match for a then one-year-old boy named Jacob (due to confidentiality, Buck did not learn Jacob’s name until one year after her donation). She agreed to be his donor, and hearing his story hit home. “Learning he was 14 months old at the time really struck me since I have two nieces close to his age,” she explains. “I couldn’t even imagine what his family was going through.” Because Jacob had an aggressive type of cancer, he needed a stem cell transplant. The first appointment for the harvest of Buck’s cells had to be rescheduled so Jacob could complete another round of chemotherapy to ensure he was strong enough to receive her cells.

Just a few days before her birthday, Buck, who had recently moved to Boston, went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the procedure, which took about an hour and a half. Doctors removed marrow from her pelvis while she was under anesthesia, and she was released the same day. Her lifesaving donation was then airlifted to the hospital where Jacob was being treated. “Although it was an intimidating experience when you’re looking at it all at once, the process was a breeze,” said Buck, a medical technologist in the clinical microbiology lab at Tufts Medical Center. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.” A year after the procedure, Buck was allowed to release her information to Jacob’s family, and they hoped to meet around the two-year anniversary of the transplant. When Buck got a call from her contact at Be the Match earlier this fall, she initially thought she was a match for someone else. Instead, she was told the Worcester, Massachusetts, Bravehearts baseball team was hosting events each Friday to encourage more people to sign up to be donors. On the last Friday of the season, they wanted to set up a donor-recipient meeting — with her and Jacob. The hope was this would increase publicity and awareness of the need for more donors. When Buck met Jacob and his family in September, they immediately connected. Buck’s family and some of Jacob’s extended family were also in attendance, and the families spent the following weekend together. She describes meeting them as “emotional” and that she was on “cloud nine” following their meeting. “I feel like I just gained a whole family, and I could not be more thankful,” says Buck. “It’s always been an honor to be a part of Jacob’s journey, and to now be a part of his life moving forward is the greatest gift.” The event at which Buck registered to be a donor is one of many that have been held at the University of New Haven. The Chargers football team has a long history of helping its fellow Chargers register to be donors, and it has a long-standing relationship — over a decade — with Be the Match. Buck hopes that her and Jacob’s story will encourage more people to register. She’s grateful that what she gave saved a life and gave her “a new little brother.” She Take your first step said, “Out of my 23 years of life, to being someone’s cure by joining the there has not been anything that Be The Match bone can top this, and there probably marrow registry today at! won’t for quite some time.” Top photo credit: WCVB News Center 5.

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Own The Future

Breaking Ground on the Peterson Performance Center

As part of Homecoming Weekend 2021, the University of New Haven marked the next step in its evolution by breaking ground on the Peterson Performance Center. The facility is named in recognition of David Peterson Jr. ’88, ’17 Hon., a member of the University’s Board of Governors and a former defensive end for the Chargers football team. Peterson, his wife Karen, and their family took part in the ceremony.


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Level 1 Floor Plan Trainer’s Office

Locker Room


• A 7,000-square-foot performance center — including 20 Olympic weightlifting racks and a 60-yard turf field — and a 1,500-squarefoot sports medicine center are key highlights in the building plans. • The addition of a 2,500-square-foot football locker room to the new center will allow for renovations to the lower level of Charger Gymnasium, providing updated locker rooms for all other varsity sports. • A designated team meeting room will have multipurpose use, including team study halls, official team meetings and film study, Athletics staff meetings, and recruiting visits and special events. • Staff estimate that the weight room, sports medicine center, and team meeting space combined will be programmed for use seven days per week for an average of 10–12 hours per day, making it one of the most heavily trafficked facilities on campus.

East Plaza West Terrace

• The 31,000-square-foot facility will be the immediate focal point welcoming all visitors to North Campus.

Weight Room

Nutrition Center


Level 2 Floor Plan Team Rooms IT Room


Hydrotherapy Sports Medicine




Weight Room Below

The Peterson Performance Center is the centerpiece of the newly launched Athletics campaign, #ChargeOn. For more information about this project, contact Jon Mays, senior associate director of athletics, at or 203.932.7018.

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Alumni Magazine 300 Boston Post Road West Haven, CT 06516

Every Charger has a story... The University of New Haven Alumni Association wants you to share yours. Our upcoming alumni engagement campaign will collect Charger experiences to create a unique historical archive, uniting University of New Haven alumni across generations, professions, and life experiences. We have partnered with Publishing Concepts (PCI) to help us capture stories from as many alumni as we can to produce a commemorative compilation of our time as Chargers. By sharing your memory, you’ll ensure that the rich history of the University of New Haven is preserved for generations to come. PCI will soon be contacting you asking you to participate and to update your contact information. Please visit our website for more information about this project and frequently asked questions.

N E W H AV E N . E D U /A L U M N I / O R A L - H I S T O R Y- P R O J E C T

Thank you for participating!