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February 2013

CCSU Ombudsman

CCSU’s ombudsman, Professor Antonio Garcia-Lozada, first honed his conflict resolution skills as a taxicab driver in New York City, a job he took on for several years in the 1980s as he paid his way through college. Appointed by President Miller in 2005, Dr. Garcia-Lozada now works to resolve grievances on campus between students and faculty, faculty and faculty, administrators and faculty. Of course the permutations are endless.

The term, “ombudsman,” originated in Sweden in the 19th Century. The Parliament wanted some way to resolve problems when the king was absent. Today, many organizations incorporate that role into their overall framework, such as newsrooms, where the Ombudsman handles complaints from the public, or large companies, where workers might have issues with management.

In an academic environment, an Ombudsman often handles issues like favoritism or nepotism, disgruntled students and/or parents. At CCSU the Office of Equity and Diversity addresses charges of sexism or racism, so Dr. Garcia-Lozada would refer those sorts of conflicts to that office.

He teaches one course a year in the Modern Languages Department but spends the majority of his time working across departments and with students so that minor differences don’t escalate into something more litigious. For many years students complained about the lack of access to advisors during registration, something that Dr. Garcia-Lozada kept track of and reported to Dr. Miller about, which was one reason why CCSU recently overhauled its advising center setup. The Ombudsman also spends a lot of time in the Student Center meeting with clubs, speaking to the student government and even giving presentations about the role of the Ombudsman on campus.

Asked to describe what makes a good Ombudsman, Dr. Garcia-Lozada said, “patience.”

“I have no authority or power to penalize anyone but I do try to prevent lawsuits, for example. The number of complaints that have wound up in the legal office dropped significantly, for example, when I worked closely with Ernie Marquez, the chief diversity officer, a few years ago.”

If you want to learn more about the Ombudsman, contact Dr. Garcia-Lozada directly at ombudsperson@ccsu.edu or ext. 2-2216.

“Everyone is entitled to come to this office,” he says.

 

 

December 2012

The Immigrant Project:  A Learning Community Group Event

  

The Karen Dance Troupe performs at the Black Box Theater.

Modern Language students interviewed immigrants in the immigrants’ native languages.

Creative Writing students read from personal essays based on their experiences going into Hartford to meet new Americans from Burma, Vietnam and other countries.

Theater students relied on transcripts provided by the Creative Writings students, which the actors crafted into monologues that they performed in front of a crowd of more than 50 CCSU faculty and students.

A Karen Dance Troupe from Burma closed out the show with a traditional dance.

These are just some of the many events that took place on November 29 at the Black Box Theater as part of a Learning Community Group initiative centered on immigrants in the United States. Faculty from a range of departments, including Modern Languages, Theater, Creative Writing, Music, Communications, and Math, first met six months ago to form an LCG centered on civic engagement. We agreed to focus on immigrants then spent the fall working with our classes to get ready for the November 29 performance.

Creative Nonfiction student Christina Boyne collaborates
with Theater Professor Josh Perlstein.

The entire evening had a spontaneous, free-flowing feel to it that all came together in wonderful fashion over the 90 minutes, almost like a jazz piece. None of the faculty had ever been involved in an LCG before, but we all agreed that preparing for the November 29 performance, and knowing that other students and faculty would be looking at the final result, added more depth and focus to our assignments.

At the end, some students handed in comment sheets that evaluated their experiences on the Immigrant Project. Their conclusions: they enjoyed thinking creatively to come up with good story angles, to ask good interview questions, and found the required organizational skills to pull it all off a real challenge. Several commented on how much they learned about the differences between the way various ethnic groups react to coming to the U.S., and the circumstances new arrivals face versus immigrants who have been here for a decade or more.

The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development wants to thank the following faculty for their fantastic effort: Carmela Pesca (Modern Languages), Paloma Lapuerta (Modern Languages), Josh Perlstein (Theater), Anna Dolan (Theater), Julie Ribchinsky (Music), Roger Bilisoly (Math), Cindy White (Communications), and Susan Gilmore (English).

Mary Collins
CTFD Director
Story Posted December, 2012

 

November 2012

CCSU FACULTY DISCUSS HYBRID AND ONLINE COURSES

A dozen CCSU faculty members with experience teaching hybrid and/or online classes took the time to meet on October 11 to share what they've learned and what more they feel can be done. Attendees included Lisa Frank (Finance), Barry Sponder (Educational Leadership), Shelly Bochain (Nursing), Paloma Lapuerta (Modern Languages), Joan Nicoll-Senft (Special Education), Mary Ann Fallon (Psychology), Jacob Werblow (Teacher Education), Barbara Clark (Teacher Education).

They all agreed that well designed materials and adequate support are essential for success. The amount of work to set things up can be considerable, but then the work load evens off. Some of the exciting things they have tried include flipping the classroom. They might ask students to watch a videotape of a lecture, for example, so the professor can then use class time for additional discussion. 

While the CCSU technology staff offer wonderful workshops on the ins and outs of the mechanics of using technology, CTFD hopes to offer additional workshops on the pedagogical issues, such as how to project your personality online, how to get students to interact more online etc.

Many of the attendees agreed to help man tables at the First Annual Faculty Day scheduled for April 19, 2013 in the Constitution Room. CCSU faculty will be encouraged to roam about the room and ask for demos from faculty who regularly handle all aspects of hybrid and online courses.

Thank you so much to all of these faculty for taking the time to share their expertise and ideas.


Mary Collins
Director, CTFD

October 2012

CCSU Students on the National Stage

How Faculty Successfully Mentor Students to Present at Professional Conferences

 

Phillip Day was not comfortable speaking in front of a group, but aspired to be an English teacher.

Marissa Graziano had no idea how to produce a poster about her research on juvenile sex offenders.

Both of them wanted to present their work at national conferences with professionals in their chosen areas of study. It wasn’t about completing an assignment or earning an “A,” but something much bigger and grander than that.

And they both succeeded, in part because they had CCSU faculty willing to put in the time to mentor them so they could achieve their audacious goals. Dr. Aimee Pozorski, Associate Professor of English, and a nationally recognized Philip Roth scholar, saw immediately that Phillip Day had an unusual passion for Roth’s work, which she was covering in her 400-level Contemporary American Literature course.

 “It was the passion of scholars you ordinarily meet and reunite with at the conferences of the American Literature Association.”

When Phillip Day confided in her that he had a fear of speaking in public, Dr. Pozorski pulled the two issues together in her mind and convinced Day to participate in a panel she was pulling together for the Philip Roth Society that would take part in the annual ALA conference. Day accepted the challenge and wound up in San Francisco months later not just as an observer but as an official panelist. Dr. Pozorski sat in on the discussion and saw “luminaries in Philip Roth Studies and Phil Day, who, by the end of that hour, would emerge as a luminary himself.” He came in as well prepared as any of the other scholars and conquered his fear of public speaking with a quiet, assured performance.

 “He interjected his own ideas as though in a dinner table conversation,” Dr. Pozorski says.

So how common is it for CCSU faculty to successfully mentor students who aspire to present at professional conferences even as undergraduates? What sort of official support do they receive from the university?

I found that there are success stories in nearly every department but funding for such ventures remains inconsistent.

Phillip Day paid his own way to San Francisco, for example. “I made a family trip out of it and stayed with some relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time,” he says. He feels it was worth every cent, in particular because it gave him a chance to work closely with Dr. Pozorski on literature they both care about.

In the Psychology Department, Associate Professor Jason Sikorski has helped many students do the work necessary to officially present a poster at the annual Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) conference. It requires a “tremendous amount of work,” says CCSU student Marissa Graziano, who spent years under Dr. Sikorski’s guidance learning the skills she needed to successfully crunch and analyze data, write up an abstract for the conference application, and create a professional poster. He told her to treat the conference application and the conference itself “like the Super Bowl.” In her case the Psychology Club funded the cost of most of her travel and lodging when she presented at the EPA conferences in 2011 and 2012.

But Dr. Fiona Pearson in the Sociology Department, who organized a local conference to help aspiring students master the skills they need to present at larger regional and national conferences in Sociology, says funding for the students remains an issue. “Right now it all comes from the struggling Sociology Club.”

All of the faculty and students I spoke with agree that encouraging the most ambitious students at CCSU to present at professional conferences on a national stage is one of the most exciting and under-reported success stories at the university. Some students are motivated to do the additional work to enhance their chances of getting into graduate school, but others simply love the chance to be part of an atmosphere with other adults who share their passion.

“At these [Eastern Sociological Society] meetings, students have the opportunity to share their work with others, socialize with students from around the nation, attend presentations where they can meet some of the same sociologists whose work they’ve read and learn more about recent developments in the field,” say Dr. Pearson.

In the science department students interested in serious research generally work on a portion of a pre-existing research project but they still have to formulate their own ideas, conduct their own lab work, and organize their own applications and travel to national conferences. Dr. Barry Westcott in the Chemistry Department has helped many students present at the American Chemical Society, which can draw as many as 18,000 attendees. He says that students have found funding in a range of places, such as the Alumni Association or the Chemistry Club, but Westcott says "There should be broader and more systemic support for undergraduate research at CCSU. Too many faculty see undergraduate research and creative achievement as separate to our mission; however, this is nothing more than another form of teaching."

Dr. Westcott mentioned CCSU student Carlene Singh as an example of someone who had clearly benefited from presenting at a professional conference. Her environmental project won a Connecticut Valley American Chemical Society grant; she now attends optometry school.

As for Marissa, the CCSU student in the Psychology Department who presented a poster on her work on juvenile sexual offenders to the EPA, her goal “is to apply to clinical psychology PhD programs. I hope that presenting at EPA is a step in the right directions towards being accepted.”

Mary Collins
Director, CTFD

 

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