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About our Faculty

CCSU professors are gifted teachers and exceptional scholars whose research makes classrooms come alive with intellectual excitement. As you will see in the profiles linked from the sites below, they are also friendly and dedicated to inspiring learning in all students by providing both intellectual challenge and the support needed for academic success.

James DeLaura
James DeLaura: Teaching Technology with Humor and Passion

To expand learning beyond School of Technology classrooms into the industrial world here and abroad is a passion for Dr. James DeLaura, professor and chair of the Technology Education Department. And he does so with an irrepressible sense of fun even as he delivers pointed lessons.

Discussing advanced quality systems, he confides to students, "I'm not making this up. I went to conduct a quality seminar on a consulting job, and the factory owner stood up before his employees and pounded his fist on a table. He said, ‘I'm paying good money for this training, and if you don't learn,
I'm going to let you people go.'" DeLaura raises an eyebrow and asks, "How's that attitude different from theories we've been studying?"

A student, barely able to contain his incredulity, exclaims, "We've been taught to motivate employees, encourage them with positive feedback so they feel good about themselves and the company, not deflate them with threats of being fired!" DeLaura claps his hands together, "Exactly! The employees at
this company were so intimidated that when an error occurred and small manufactured parts were incorrectly made, they were terrified and flushed the defectives down the toilet." He pauses for full effect as the class waits in suspense. "A plumber had to be called to unclog the toilet." The class bursts
into laughter.

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Cora Marshall
Dr. Cora Marshall Earns Higher Education Art Educator Award

Dr. Cora Marshall, CCSU associate professor of art, has been presented with the 2004 Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator Award by the Connecticut Art Education Association. "We are very proud of Dr. Marshall's hard work and dedication to our students," states Dr. Susan Pease, dean, School of Arts and Sciences, at CCSU.

"Centered in spirituality," says Dr. Marshall, "I create work that seeks out the connections to and lessons from my past. By mixing symbols and meaning, by affirming the potency of the spirits, by honoring the holy, I extend an invitation to contemplate the significance and depth of the power within. Currently, I am working in and across the medium of painting, photography, and video to find those intersections and crossroads where the spirits dwell. In so doing, I hope to further understand and establish a relationship with that which has gone before me."
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Vincente Garcia
Vicente Garcia: Inspiring Students to Discover Their Own Artistry

Growing up in south Texas after his family moved there from Mexico, Vicente Garcia, CCSU associate professor of art, was surrounded by grain elevators, cotton gins, and oil fields. Machine forms abounded in his surroundings, from his brother Efren's pipefittings and drill bits to his brother Martin's mechanical drawings. Vicente Garcia worked summers in cotton gins and now finds this long-term exposure to mechanical forms has had a significant influence on his artwork-one-of-a-kind, industrial-like sculptural forms and vessels that integrate clay and steel.

His craft, steeped in the techniques of older foreign potters working in production pottery, was further developed through art schooling that led him to an M.F.A. in pottery at the University of North Texas. According to his colleague, Dr. Elizabeth Langhorne, associate professor of art, "It is precisely his earlier training, together with his arts schooling, that distinguishes his work and his teaching. This combination of art and craft allows him to train students to be functional potters while he educates them as artists."

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Dr. Cheryl Watson
Dr. Cheryl Watson: Probing the Whys and Hows of Physiology

The question posed nonchalantly to the human physiology class is deceptively simple: What happens when you run up a flight of stairs? "Your heart beats faster!" Dr. Cheryl Watson, associate professor of biomolecular sciences, replies, "OK. But why does that happen?" Someone else volunteers, "Because there's an adrenaline release." Watson, intent on leading her students down a long corridor of question-mark mirrors, declares, "Yes, that's so. But how does that happen?" After a thoughtful silence, a student whispers to her friend, "That's Dr. Watson for you, always, wanting to know how things work."

Watson admits, cheerfully and with a certain pride, "Students often say my motto could be: ‘How does that happen?' followed by ‘How do things go together?'" She muses, "I like that motto actually, because I'm happiest when I'm able to help students formulate a question clearly, then, through a series of questions, come to discrete answers. The learning process requires time and effort until all the pieces-for example, connections between labored breathing and how that affects metabolism and in turn impacts heart rate-come together. Integrated knowledge, rather than disjointed bits of information about physiology, is more useful and better retained."

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Dr. Raymond "Chip" Tafrate

Dr. Raymond "Chip" Tafrate: Anger Management
Fallout from anger episodes, when they are intense, frequent, and persistent, leaves lives in shambles. Careers are lost, relationships shattered, and behaviors become self-destructive. Surprisingly, for such a basic primitive drive, until recently little scientific exploration had been done to aid clinicians to help clients with debilitating anger problems, says Dr. Raymond "Chip" Tafrate, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice. "I was disappointed by the scarcity of scientific literature available in the early '90s when I was a doctoral candidate in clinical and school psychology at Hofstra University."

Now, Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practitioners (2002, Impact Publishers, Inc.), co-authored by Tafrate and his former Hofstra advisor Howard Kassinove, provides answers and avenues for treating angry patients. "This is a unique guidebook," explains Tafrate, "because there are no other anger management how-to-books for practitioners at this time." With practical, but powerful, strategies for interventions, the book, Tafrate said, is research based and empirically validated and "is the outgrowth of 10 years of research." Its core concerns: Who are angry people? How can they be helped? It provides clinicians tools so patients can analyze their anger triggers, negative appraisals, experiences, patterns of expression, and their outcomes.
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Dr. Serafín Méndez-Méndez

Dr. Serafín Méndez-Méndez: Teaching as Storytelling

"Years ago I traveled to a hospital in Puerto Rico and interviewed an AIDS patient," Dr. Serafín Méndez-Méndez, professor and chair of the Communication Department, used to tell students in his upper-level Health Communication Campaigns class. "Her muscles were wasted and she was badly ulcerated, but she said she had been hanging on so she could tell me her story. I wrote down her words, how she had been denied medication by doctors who refused her treatment because she was a sex worker infected with AIDS. The next morning she died. But I made sure her testament of social stigmatism and discrimination went into my report to the Department of Health in PR, assessing needs, public opinion, and health care delivery."

It's the communication professor's style to instill concepts through concrete examples. "Storytelling, I strongly believe, is one of the best pedagogical, didactic tools," declares Méndez-Méndez. "My most memorable professor at the University of Puerto Rico, where I did my undergraduate work, was a former journalist. She fascinated me with her stream of stories. Once, she was relaxing in St. Thomas when a cruise ship caught fire. She forgot all about her vacation and instead spent her entire time covering the story." From her he adopted the knack of translating theory into application, because, he says, "One of the goals I have for CCSU students is that they become skilled to go out into the real world, prepared with practical knowledge they can apply so they can make a difference."

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Gloria Emeagwali

Gloria Emeagwali: Challenging Myths about Africa's History to Create Africa's Future
Gloria Emeagwali, professor of history/African studies, has long challenged what she calls "the arrogant self-serving assumptions of the Eurocentric paradigm"-the invidious "view that historically the majority of the world's countries have been passive recipients of a so-called Western science and technology."

Now, her forthcoming Africa and the Academy: Challenging Hegemonic Discourses on Africa (NY: Africa World Press, 2004), a work she edited and contributed to, adds to a rich body of scholarship, which includes five other books she has edited dealing with the field of indigenous knowledge in Africa and African economic history. In chapter one, Dr. Emeagwali's essay, "Africa and the Textbooks," introduces a "hostility index"-a scale she devised to evaluate the negative reporting on African history in 25 world history textbooks used in American universities.
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Matthew Warshauer

Focus on Scholarship: Bringing Connecticut History to CCSU

Connecticut History has become the first scholarly professional journal to be housed at CCSU, and Dr. Matthew Warshauer, associate professor of history, has assumed editorship of the journal. "I am absolutely thrilled to have Connecticut History here at CCSU," said Warshauer. "The journal will maintain its traditional excellence in publishing really fine research articles, but it also will expand into the public history and secondary school sector. We will provide more information on what is happening in our state's museums, historical societies, and archives, and offer materials that will be usable in middle and high schools. Good history is not happening only within the state's colleges and universities. It's all around us, and we want to tap into that history and make it accessible to a wide audience."

According to Warshauer, upcoming issues will include articles on Native Americans and the law, slavery, and the economic and cultural effects of the state's attempt to create good roads at the turn of the nineteenth century. "Connec-ticut is rich in historical resources, and, as one of the original thirteen colonies, it occupies a special place in the nation's history," he observed. "As the only scholarly journal devoted to our state's past, Connecticut History is committed to serving as a resource for academics and the public history sector, as well as the general public."
 
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Peter Kyem

Peter Kyem: Maps Are Power

Thousands of students each year compete in the National Geographic Bee and puzzle over such stumpers as: "Peshawar, a city in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, has had strategic importance for centuries because of its location near what historic pass?"

Is this what geography is all about? When Dr. Peter Kyem, associate professor of geography, asked a First Year Experience class, "Why study geography?" a student quipped, "So I won't buy an Amtrak ticket to Honolulu." Many students at first are unfamiliar with geography as a multifaceted discipline, "a holistic approach and integrated method of study," as Kyem sees it, that bridges social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences.
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Yuanqian Chen

Yuanqian Chen: Helping Students Solve the Mysteries of Math
Resolutely upbeat, Dr. Yuanqian Chen, professor of mathematical sciences, is ready when a frustrated student, undergraduate or graduate, bursts out: "I don't get it. I don't know what we're talking about!" She acknowledges the sentiment is always sobering, but admits forthrightly, "As a student myself, I certainly had times when I struggled to understand a new mathematical concept, and I can still identify with my students' struggles."

Chen, an Excellence in Teaching award finalist, faces her students' hurdles gracefully and with a typically sunny disposition. She assures students that understanding mathematics in her courses-whether in calculus, linear algebra, logic, trigonometry or graduate-level abstract algebra-doesn't happen "by magic." She tells them math is not "something invented to torture the mind" but developed because of a need to solve age-old problems that have a heightened resonance today in science and technology, as well as engineering, medicine, and economics.
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Kris Larsen

Kris Larsen: A Multifaceted Star and a Great Prof in CCSU's Universe
"The very heart of science is an ever-changing knowledge base and discovery."

- Kristine Larsen

CCSU's premier astronomy professor, Kristine Larsen, held high as a shining example of "A Great Prof of Connecticut" in the Hartford Courant's "Northeast Magazine"(August 2002), may have her head in the heavens, but her heart is with her students here on earth.

Aware that the mix of physics and astronomy can set student's brains reeling, she is "intuitively sensitive." Marty Conners, who has taken several courses with her said, "She has the ability to simplify the subject to help you get your arms around it. She doesn't hit you right up front with all the glorious complexities."
 
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Jacob Kovel

Jacob Kovel: Professional Engineer, Lt. Colonel, Compassionate Teacher
Jacob Kovel holds many titles: Ph.D., professional engineer, lieutenant colonel, associate professor of manufacturing and construction management. But to his CCSU students, sometimes he's a benevolent drill sergeant firmly guiding them with a golden teaching principle: Practice, Practice, Practice.

Rigorous thinking and re-thinking is part of the drill, because, he believes, acquiring or perfecting skills rarely happens the first time around. "I hate to lecture," he laughs easily. "I like to ask questions and have students answer out loud, because they remember better when actively involved in learning. My role is to introduce new concepts and to facilitate the absorption of ideas through discussion and practical exercises."
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Walton Brown-Foster

Walton Brown-Foster: Teaching How to Evaluate the Range of Perspectives
"Why don't we nuke all our enemies and annihilate them?" a student once earnestly asked in Dr. Walton Brown-Foster's American Foreign Policy class, which had been delving into strategic issues and the use of force. As it hung in the air, the question might have mushroomed into a fallout of toxic responses. Instead, because a climate of civility had been firmly set from the start by Brown-Foster, the give-and-take that ensued was measured and instructive. "That course of action suggests human beings are easily expendable. How would you feel if that happened to your country?" was followed by, "What are the consequences if other people know that is your strategy? Are you encouraging cooperation or fear and would your leadership be credible?" Through probing and debate, the range of perspectives was put on the table and evaluated.

A seasoned professor of political science with CCSU since 1984, Brown-Foster understands well how sharply drawn opinions put students at swords' points. "There's a great deal we can learn from each other," she tells students, "but this cannot happen if students feel uncomfortable about speaking up, afraid their ideas will be treated harshly or not ‘listened to' respectfully, or are worried about what will be said to them or about them once they do speak up." Since politics traditionally excites visceral reactions, she advises, "As long as your opinion can be grounded upon a solid foundation and is presented in a tone respectful to your classmates, engage at your most provocative level."

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Olusegun Sogunro

Focus on Scholarship: Olusegun Sogunro: Exploring Leaders and Followers
"What's the dynamic between leadership and followership?" Olusegun Sogunro, professor of educational leadership, asks. Animated and confident, Sogunro is a commanding presence. He smiles broadly, "Effective followership is the heart of a successful leadership. Followers make leaders what they become. I'm always intrigued by the interaction between the two concepts."

Since his graduate school days at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, where he earned a master's in educational administration, Dr. Sogunro has wondered about the attributes of leaders. "Can leadership be taught? What makes a leader unique or special?" he wonders. "Can it be training, background, or personality characteristics?"
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