Friday, February 25, 2011

WCSU hosts Hat City Debates this weekend

The Roger Sherman Debate Society is hosting the Hat City Debates this weekend (Feb. 26-27) on campus.  Some of the top debate teams in the region will take part in the competition. 

The tournament schedule is below:

8:00 AM: Round 1
10:30 AM: Round 2
12:30 PM: Lunch
1:30 PM: Round 3
4:00 PM: Round 4
6:30 PM: Round 5 (CEDA only)

8:00 AM: Round 5 (NDT only) Round 6 (CEDA only)
11:00 AM: CEDA Elimination Debates, NDT qualifier
1:30 PM: Lunch and Award Ceremony
2:30 PM: CEDA East meeting during elimination rounds
2:30 PM: Elimination Rounds for CEDA
2:30 PM: NDT run-offs as necessary
4:30 PM: Elimination Rounds (as necessary)
7:00 PM: Elimination Rounds (as necessary)

Best of luck to all of the competitors this weekend! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hurricane research focus of new Bridge program

Longtime adjunct Marjorie B. Salem, a WCSU alumna who retired as the English coordinator at Bethel High School and who has been involved with the "Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success" program since its beginnings, reports on the latest addition to Bridges, a partnership between WCSU and the Danbury and Bethel public school systems:   
“The WCSU Bridges program continues its strong partnership with the Danbury and Bethel public school systems by initiating a new Hurricane Research Program organized and presented by Dr. Albert Owino, Assistant Professor of Meteorology and Director of Meteorological Studies and the Weather Center.
“Students from Bethel and Danbury high schools meet on campus every Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Science Building.   As part of the program, the high school students will learn how to conduct hurricane research, including the following:   preparing hurricane data charts, examining streamlines and hurricane temperatures, becoming knowledgeable concerning weather systems, and understanding the daily operations of hurricane researchers.  The program began Feb. 9.
“WCSU’s Weather Center, under the leadership of Assistant Director Gary Lessor also welcomes students from Bethel Middle School and Rogers Park Middle School every Wednesday and Thursday.  Students learn how to become weather reporters, create forecasts, and produce audio visual presentations  The Hurricane Research Program for high school students and the Junior Weather People experience for middle school students extend opportunities for future meteorologists to  participate in a “hands-on” laboratory.  Students are engaged in an environment fully equipped for each to understand how weather stations operate.”
Thanks much to all for their good work on this program!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poet Elizabeth Alexander on campus on Feb. 23rd (W)

Don't miss the opportunity to see poet Elizabeth Alexander speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, in Ives Concert Hall.  Dr. Alexander was the inaugural poet for President Barack Obama.  She will sign books afterward. 

The event is free and open to all. 

Thanks much to Carolyn Lanier, Chief Diversity Officer, for sponsoring and organizing Dr. Alexander's visit to campus as part of celebrations of  Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Update: Michael Carlo

Longtime Social Sciences adjunct Dr. Jeannie Hatcherson reports that Michael Carlo, who graduated with B.A. degrees in Music and Political Science in 2008, is serving in the Peace Corps in the Ukraine.  While a student, Michael served as president of the Humanitarian Travel Club. Good work, Michael!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bridge program featured in Hartford Courant

President James W. Schmotter and Bethel Superintendent Gary Chesley are quoted extensively about the "Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success" program in "WCSU Reports Success Helping High School Students Get Ready to College" by Kathleen Megan in the Hartford Courant.   Drs. Schmotter and Chesley and Interim Dean Abbey Zink and Bethel Associate Superintendent Janice Jordan testified today at a legislative hearing focusing on education-related issues, including remediation and teacher preparation.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don J. Snyder wins travel journalism award

Don J. Snyder, a Writer in Residence for the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing Program, won a gold award in the Special-Purpose Travel category of the 2010 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition for "Clubbed" published in Outside magazine.  The Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition is sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.  Congratulations, Don!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Science at Night: Jim Bishop, Storm Chaser

Meteorologist Jim Bishop will present "Storm Chasing: Behind the Scenes" at 7 p.m. in Science Building 125 on Feb. 17th as part of the "Science at Night" lecture series.  More information about Bishop's work is available at  A reception will follow Bishop's talk.

Dr. Thomas Philbrick, Professor of Biology and CSU Distinguished Professor, organizes the "Science at Night" series.  Thanks so much, Tom, for all of your good work in bringing so many interesting speakers to campus.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dr. Saad to discuss 'Popular Revolution in the Middle East' on Feb. 16th

Dr. Abubaker Saad, Professor of History and Non-Western Cultures, will present "Popular Revolution in the Middle East" at noon on Feb. 16th (Wednesday) in the Warner Lyceum.  Dr. Saad is a specialist in Middle East and Islamic Studies.  All are invited for what will be a fascinating hour of insight and discussion.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rep. Taborsak visits PS 104

Longtime adjunct Scott Benjamin regularly invites guest speakers to visit his PS 104: World Governments, Economics and Cultures courses.  Rep. Joe Taborsak (D-109th) talked with Prof. Benjamin's PS 104 course on Feb. 7.  Here's what Rep. Taborsak had to say about key issues facing Connecticut:  

Taborsak on the Issues

By Scott Benjamin

State Rep. Joe Taborsak (D-109th) of Danbury said Connecticut can add job by improving its sea ports and establishing high speed rail service as it tries to overcome an official unemployment rate of 9 percent, a figure that he insists is misleading.
He told students in a section of PS 104: World Governments, Economies and Cultures on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in Danbury that Connecticut’s ports are “very underdeveloped” and people would be “shocked” after making a comparison to the more impressive port infrastructure in New Jersey.
Mr. Taborsak said the ports in Connecticut should be upgraded so the state could “do more” to develop “trade centers.”
He said if he took a train in the morning to Hartford for his commute to the State Capitol, the train he would need to make the return trip would have already left.
“We haven’t invested in rail,” said Mr. Taborsak, whose mother, Lynn Taborsak, a graduate of WCSU, once held the very same seat in the state House.
However, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, has said he is not a proponent of rail expansion because there isn’t much pay back for the huge investments that have to be made.
In 2010, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R-Brookfield) and then-U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-East Haddam) announced that federal funding was being provided for a high-speed rail initiative from Springfield, Mass., to southern Connecticut.
Mr. Taborsak said that Connecticut’s 9 percent unemployment figure is misleading because it doesn’t include people who are underemployed or who have stopped seeking to find a job during what has been a slow recovery from a recession that is considered the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
“The more you analyze it, the more you start to question what it means,” he said.
“You can have somebody who was an engineer making $80,000 a year, loses his job, and is working at Wal-Mart for $15,000 a year,” Mr. Taborsak said.
“Some studies show that between all of the factors, Connecticut has 15 to 20 percent of its work force that is either unemployed, underemployed or not searching for work,” the state representative said.
Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Stamford) said while campaigning in 2010 that Connecticut and Michigan are the only states with fewer workers than they had in 1989.
Speaking nine days before Mr. Malloy delivered his budget address to the General Assembly, Mr. Taborsak said the state has “five legs” to its fiscal stool as it tries to offset a budget deficit that the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the General Assembly’s budget-making arm, has projected at $3.67 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July, 2011.
He said the state lost considerable revenue during the financial services crisis of 2008, since part of its economy is “heavily tied” to Wall Street.
Stamford reportedly ranks fourth in the world in financial services.
Mr. Taborsak said those legs consist of revenue, spending reductions, borrowing, employee concessions and federal stimulus money.
Those stimulus funds, however, which were approved in February 2009, are about to expire.
Mr. Taborsak said he believes that reductions can be made in the administrative structure of state universities, such as WCSU, without having much impact on teachers and students.
Two days after Mr. Taborsak’s talk, Mr. Malloy proposed merging the central offices of the Connecticut State University – which includes WCSU, Central in New Britain, Southern in New Haven and Eastern in Willimantic – to save money.
Mr. Taborsak, a graduate of Northeastern, which has one of the model Cooperative Education programs in the country, said he hopes Connecticut’s public colleges and universities start to offer more apprenticeship programs.
WCSU has had a Cooperative Education program since the late 1970’s, which currently provides students with the opportunity to earn up to 18 credits through work-study programs.
Despite the slow economic recovery, Mr. Taborsak said the state should consider providing funds to help school districts provide all-day kindergarten.
The legislator said that step would increase achievement for students of all abilities.
New Milford, for example, has included it in its proposed education budget for the next fiscal year after a pilot program was successful at the John Pettibone School in that district.
Mr. Taborsak said that the federal No Child Left Behind legislation that then-President George W.Bush signed in 2002 has required too much standardized testing.
“I haven’t taken a standardized test since law school,” said Mr. Taborsak, 35, who has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in Massachusetts and a law degree from Pace University in New York state.
He said the standardized exam in the state, the Connecticut Mastery Test should be administered every other year, instead of every year as it now is between third and eighth grade.
It had previously been given only in fourth, sixth and eighth grade.
“You should give teachers more flexibility in the classroom to teach,” Mr. Taborsak said.
However, some assistant superintendent of schools in Connecticut have said they are pleased that the tests are given each year since it provides more data on the students.
Since the inception of the standardized tests a generation ago, following the established of Connecticut’s Education Enhancement Act under then-Gov. William O’Neill (D-East Hampton), educators have praised the tests for largely measuring higher-order thinking skills.
During his gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Malloy said Connecticut has been hobbled by the second highest electricity rates in the country, behind Hawaii.
Mr. Taborsak said because the state is small geographically, it is difficult to generate hydro-power.
He said Connecticut will likely add many jobs in green technologies, noting that Fuel Cell Energy in Danbury is one of the leading manufacturers of that technology.
Mrs. Rell and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Stamford) have said that 25 years from now there will be more people employed in fuel-cell technology than any other part of the states’ economy.
Mr. Taborsak said nuclear energy is cleaner than the fossil fuels, but the technology “remains controversial” because of the potential safety issues.
“Nobody wants it in their back yard,” he said.
Mr. Taborsak said the energy reform package that both chambers of the General Assembly approved last spring, shortly before adjournment, will likely resurface this session.
Mrs. Rell vetoed that legislation, indicating that it would increase costs on consumers.
Mr. Taborsak said it provides incentives for clean energy sources and would over the long run generate more sales of those technologies, which would save money for consumers.
Prof. Benjamin will next host Steve Arlinghaus, a former official with the U.S. Commerce Dept., in his PS 104 course on Feb. 28 from 5:25-6:25 p.m. in White Hall 214.  Arlinghaus will discuss the European Union.  All are invited to attend.  For more information, contact Prof. Scott Benjamin at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WestConn alum presents biochemistry seminar

Matt YoungDr. Matthew Young will present "Probing the Structure of P450cam Via High Resolution NMR" tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 11) at 3 p.m. in Science Building 219 as part of the 2011 Dept. of Chemistry Seminar Series

A 1996 WestConn graduate in Chemistry,  Dr. Young earned his doctorate at the University of New Hampshire and is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University in Boston. 

As Dr. Paul Hines, Interim Assistant Dean and Professor of Chemistry, says, "If you have any bright young people agonizing about the cost of going to college when they are looking at graduate school after that, you might send them to see a local young man who got his bachelor's degree in Chemistry here at Western and went on to get his Ph.D. and is now doing really cutting-edge, high-powered science."

The Chemistry Seminar Series is in its 36th year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jeannie Hatcherson and humanitarian travel

Longtime adjunct Dr. Jeannie Hatcherson teaches in the Social Sciences Department, and she frequently takes students and other groups of volunteers on humanitarian trips around the world.  Here's Jeannie's report from her latest trip: 

"I just returned from Kolkata, India. It was my third consecutive trip taking volunteers to work with projects organized by Rosalie Giffionello of Empower the Children ( I took 11 others, including Dr. Patti Ivry from the Social Work Department at WCSU (the youngest volunteer  was 13, the oldest about 60), and we completed projects at a home for mentally and physically challenged adults; visited vocational programs in a rural village aimed at empowering low caste women; conducted a journalistic photo shoot in a Muslim slum where children were given digital cameras and sent off to photograph their 'story;' completed art projects with preschool slum children and others hospitalized long term at Rehabilitation Center for Children for orthopedic surgeries; and worked side-by-side with underprivileged adolescent girls participating in a pre-vocational program. We did a blog about our trip at I have already booked dates for next year's trip."

What amazing work!  Thanks for sharing your latest trip with us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Update: Ryan Ford

       Here's the latest from Ryan Ford, who graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in History: 

"In the past year, I have completed my coursework for my Ph.D. degree in Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have lived and researched for two months in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, I have participated in academic conferences, I was requested to be a consultant to write a Lao history curriculum,  and I have been notified that I will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. I speak with utmost sincerity and seriousness when I say that the Roger Sherman Debate program at WCSU is the single most significant factor in all my achievements. My success from being on the team was not due to the fact that I spent hours researching, or all my weekends engaging in debate learning to think critically on my feet with my peers from famous universities, but because my coach let me do all these things myself and taught me to speak my thoughts and have agency in the world. The debate society gave me the chance to do something I could not do anywhere else at WCSU. Yet even as I am lucky to have world-class faculty and institutions at my disposal now, I still feel that the most intellectually challenging courses I have ever taken were in the WCSU History and Non-Western Cultures Department, be they graduate, honors or regular courses. I grew up in Danbury and went through the local public school system. When I transferred to WCSU in my freshmen year I remember I had a very low opinion of the school and I actually thought it was a joke. I had no idea that enrolling in this school was not at all the dead end I envisioned, but a life-changing opportunity. I am deeply proud that I am an alumnus of Western Connecticut State University." 

Congrats, Ryan!  We're very proud of your success.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Louisa Burns-Bisogno and webisodes

Longtime adjunct Louisa Burns-Bisogno was featured on the "Pulse" section front of the print edition of the News-Times on 6 Feb. 2011.  (Unfortunately, an electronic version of the story isn't yet available.)  In "She's Got 'The Write Stuff,'" writer Erik Ofgang, a WestConn alum, explores how and why Burns-Bisogno encourages her students to launch their careers with webisodes.  "Webisodes are not just a tool for the young, (something) to put your home movie on -- your dog has learned to jump through a hoop, or at the backyard barbecue a funny thing happened -- it's about storytelling in the new age, the digital age," Burns-Bisogno explains in the story.  A highly successful screenwriter, Prof. Burns-Bisogno teaches playwriting and screenwriting in the Communication and Writing departments.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Will Heavy Snows Affect Watermilfoil in Candlewood Lake?

Dr. Thomas Lonergan, chair and professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences, discussed the likely impact of this winter's heavy snows on the Eurasian watermilfoil problem in Candlewood Lake in "Snow and Weeds in Candlewood Lake" by Robert Miller in the 5 Feb. 2011 print edition of the News-Times.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hancock Student Leadership Program

Dr. R. Averell Manes, associate chair of Social Sciences and professor of Political Science, continues to serve as co-director (with Dr. Walter Bernstein, Vice President for Student Affairs) of the Hancock Student Leadership Program (HSLP).  A joint venture between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, the HSLP is funded by the Hancock Endowment.  The third Hancock cohort of student leaders attended an intensive training session during intersession.  These students will develop and launch leadership projects over the next year.  The 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Hancock cohorts developed an impressive list of projects that made have made major contributions to campus life.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Congrats to Media Arts students

At the end of the fall semester, Dr. JC Barone, Assistant Professor of Communication, and three of his COM 394 students (Tyler Leavens, Dennis Poulter, and Ryan Dempsey) provided video production talent for  Danbury Children First fundraising event at the Palace Theatre in downtown Danbury.  For the fundraiser, as Dr. Barone reports, the WestConn team "shot and projected an image of a live performance by Tony DeBlois in front of an audience at the Palace [...], showing close up of his extraordinary piano concert."

In a letter, Barry Finch, a Danbury Children First board member, praised the WestConn production team for their outstanding work:  "From patching your cameras to the Palace Danbury's projection system to the extraordinary camera work and from setting up the sound system, sound check and operation of the sound board to the orchestration of 3 camera angles on the screen behind Tony was brilliant beyond all my expectations. Frankly, I had no idea how highly trained Communications students can be and was more than delighted at the outcome."

Good work!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kudos to Roger Sherman Debate Society -- Part 2

Here's another report about the recent success of the Roger Sherman Debate Society from RSDS President Debra Salvato:

"I would like to congratulate the Roger Sherman Debate Society for their performance this past weekend at the John Jay Gotham Debate Tournament in Manhattan. Despite running on two hours of sleep, Benjamin Townsend and Ben Allen managed to end with a 4-2 record in an extremely competitive novice bracket with a total of 31 teams. They broke into the octofinals and beat Vermont on a 3-0 decision. They then lost to the 2nd seed from Binghamton in the quarter finals on a close 2-1 decision.
"I would like to give special recognition to Ben Allen, who received the fifth best speaker award out of 62 debaters. Ben was only two points behind the top novice speaker at the tournament.
"In two weeks the RSDS will travel to the University of Massachusetts in hope of continuing its success."
Again, way to go, RSDS! 

Kudos to Roger Sherman Debate Society

Here's a report from Kevin Gaughan, assistant coach of the Roger Sherman Debate Society, about the team's successful performance in the Cal State Fullerton Debate Tournament in early January: 

"I would like to extend my congratulations to Max Hamoy, Kianna Woodard, Ben Townsend, and Ben Allen for what was WCSU's best performance ever at the Cal State Fullerton Debate Tournament [in early January]. The Fullerton debate tournament has long been considered one of the most competitive tournaments in the country, and both teams posted winning records in the novice division. Ben Townsend and Ben Allen advanced to the semi-finals of the entire tournament, losing a split decision debate to the eventual champions from San Francisco State University.

"Max Hamoy also deserves special recognition for winning an award for being the second best speaker in a competitive novice bracket. His accomplishment, together with the overall success of both teams, has distinguished WCSU as a competitive debate program on the national scene. Congratulations again to all who debated and keep up the good work in the spring semester!"

Way to go, RSDS!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Registration Now Open for Summer 2011

Tired of winter?  Start thinking about taking some courses in Summer 2011.  Registration is now open, so grab your seat(s) today.  For more information about Summer 2011 offerings, go to Open/Close.