Ana Grace Project Establishes Partnership, New Home at CCSU

The Ana Grace Project (AGP), established to promote love, community, and connection in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has a new home at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain. A pilot partnership between the AGP and CCSU establishes a new base of operations for the Ana Grace Project, in addition to the blending of resources, services, and expertise, officials of both organizations have announced.

Nelba Márquez-Greene was a CCSU adjunct faculty member in 2012 when her daughter Ana Grace was killed at Sandy Hook, along with 19 other first-graders and six educators. She established The Ana Grace Project to honor her daughter’s memory and, as its executive director, she will oversee the CCSU-AGP partnership.

In announcing the partnership, CCSU President Zulma Toro said, “This arrangement will enrich our longstanding commitment to serving our communities as well as deepen our commitment to being a University of compassion. We are happy to welcome Nelba Márquez-Greene back to the CCSU family.”

“I’m looking forward to the amazing things we can do together,” says Márquez-Greene. “CCSU already has an extraordinary depth and breadth of talented, skilled people. We'll add another layer of support and love available to all.”  She is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and has experience in private practice, as well as academic and community mental health settings. For a time she served as coordinator for Klingberg Family Therapy Center’s outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric clinic.

“By partnering with CCSU, we’ll be able to expand our vision of ensuring every student in Connecticut has access to healthy relationships and tools of self-regulation – setting them up for life long success,” Márquez-Greene explains.

Also expected is the continuation and expansion of AGP’s “Love Wins: Finish the Race” initiative hosted at CCSU for the past two years. Several hundred New Britain school children spend a day on campus with CCSU student volunteers for a taste of the college experience with the hope, says Márquez-Greene, of “instilling the belief that there is a world of possibilities awaiting them.”

Márquez-Greene will also work with the School of Education & Professional Studies to establish a Center for Social & Emotional Learning to provide education, training, and research to the campus, community, and state. Other expected collaborations include the training of CCSU undergraduate and graduate students in the Marriage & Family Therapy, Psychology, and Counseling programs in the use of social-emotional curriculum in the classroom.

Her husband, Jimmy Greene, is Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University, another of the four state universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system.

Greene teaches applied jazz saxophone, jazz history, jazz pedagogy, jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz arranging, conducts the jazz orchestra and was awarded a 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award for his efforts. A native of Hartford, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since his graduation from the Hartt School of Music in 1997. His most recent recording, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue) is a celebration of the life of his daughter. The album features touching performances by giants like Pat Metheny, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron and Kurt Elling amongst many others.

Major New Academic, Residence Facilities Opening At State University Campuses

Years in the making, a number of major new facilities are in the midst of coming on  line at Connecticut's four state universities - Central, Eastern, Southern and Western - that are part of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) system administered by the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  The facilities include a library, residence hall, classroom building, performing arts instructional centers, and a science and laboratory building, among other new and renovated facilities. libraryAt Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, students now have a first-rate, 21st century library in which to study, conduct research and meet with their friends and classmates, the university announced this week. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the “new” Buley Library was held April 20. The event marked the completion of the $31 million project that renovated the original wing of the building. A 12,000-square-foot area that will serve as an atrium has been added to the older 98,000-square-foot wing as part of the project. When combined with the 135,000-square-foot addition that was completed in 2008, the library now encompasses 245,000 square feet.

“This truly is an exciting and energizing time for Southern because we are gaining the physical resources to prepare our students for success in the 21st century knowledge-based economy,” said SCSU President Mary A. Papazian. “The students already have claimed this library as their own.”

Among the other amenities in the four-story complex is a “learning commons”-- an area on the first floor that includes a computer lab, lounge seating, email stations, a reference help desk and an IT help desk. The library houses space for media collections and special collections, on the ground floor. Three classrooms, two computer teaching labs, a seminar room and a conference room also are part of the new Buley.  In addition, a cyber café and a Student Success Center that includes tutoring rooms, a computer lab and conference space are scheduled to open in the fall.

New-Residence-HallAt Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, there is a Fall 2015 target date for completion of a new on-campus residence hall and food services dining facility. That will follow by just two years the opening of a major new classroom building on the CCSU campus.  The four-story academic building houses classes and faculty offices for the sociology, history, anthropology, geography and political science departments, according to university officials.  It includes 17 classrooms, five seminar rooms, seven labs and 71 offices for faculty and administrators.  Now completing construction at the corner of Harold Lewis Drive and Ella Grasso Boulevard, the new $82.3 million, eight-story 220,000 square foot residence hall "will keep CCSU in the vanguard of higher education in operations and facilities," points out CCSU President Jack Miller, noting its ideal fit into the university's strategic plan for the recruitment and retention of new students.

easterbOpening this fall on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic is a Fine Arts Instructional Center - a 118,000 square foot building that will contain three main performance venues; an auditorium; a procenium theater and a black box theater.    In addition to the performance spaces there will be instructional labs and other spaces in support of the Performing Arts Department.   There will be design studios for the Visual Arts Department including Printmaking, Sculpture, Painting and Drawing. The building will also have three general purpose classrooms and a gallery.  Construction  has been underway for the past two years.

The new residence hall at CCSU will be the school’s tenth, and the largest on any of the four Connecticut state university campuses, according to CCSU officials. Features include over 600 beds, a 2,000 square foot fitness facility, a kitchenette on each floor, a large kitchen and living room on the main floor, and will house approximately 150 suite-style rooms, each with a living room and bathroom shared by four students. Each floor will also have a computer room, a game room and group study rooms and alcoves for one-on-one studying and socializing.  Construction is also scheduled to begin soon on a new food services dining facility located near the north end of campus near the existing residence halls.  The planned $10.3 million, 22,000 square ft. food services dining facility will include areas for food preparation, serving, and accommodate dining for approximately 1,200 residents.

Renovations are also underway at Willard and DiLoreto Halls at CCSU, among the oldest academic buildings on campus. The $61,085,000 project calls for both of the academic buildings to be completely renovated, including the development of a new main entrance with elevators, bathroom facilities, and additional offices and classroom space, along with new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, with the interiors of the buildings also receiving enhanced lighting, computer technology and classroom/office upgrades.

Last September, Western Connecticut State University opened its new Visual and Performing Arts Center. Students, faculty and staff were on hand to “put the building through its paces” in a multitude of spaces, including the Concert Hall, Studio Theatre, Art Gallery, Painting Studio, Recording Studio, Scene Shop, Dressing Rooms, Sculpture Studio, and M.F.A. Studios. Since the gala opening, the new facility has enhanced the artistic and academic experience for students, faculty, staff and patrons - and received positive notice in regional and national publications.

At 130,000 square feet, this uniquely designed facility is divided into three distinct wings: Theatre Arts, Music and Visual Arts, all connecting together. Students taking courses in the art wing benefit from light shining through double-height, northern-exposed windows in the spacious painting and sculpture studios. They work in photography and graphic design studios equipped with both the latest computer technology and the legacy technology of traditional film development.Two theater rehearsal studios, both equipped with audio/visual technology and sprung dance floors complement the university’s increasingly popular musical theater program. Dressing rooms, practice rooms and individual Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts studios are all incorporated into the spaces, designed for students so they may experience a professional-quality arts education.

2SCSU-South-ViewThe next major opening among the CSCU institutions will likely be a Science and Laboratory Building at Southern Connecticut, due later this year.  Southern's ongoing expansion of its science programs will be greatly enhanced with the construction of a 103,608-square-foot, four-level academic and laboratory science building. Situated adjacent to Jennings Hall, the current home for the sciences, the new building will enhance the ongoing expansion of Southern’s science programs and the university’s capacity to educate more students in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

According to Southern's website description, the building will be configured in the shape of an “L,” the new building will work in concert with two pre-existing science buildings — Jennings and Morrill halls — to enclose a new “science enclave.” Bedecked with scientific displays and instrumentation visible from within and outside the building, the new center will house teaching and research training laboratories for nanotechnology, physics and optics, the earth sciences, the environmental sciences, cancer research, astronomy, molecular biology and chemistry.  The building’s two wings will be connected at each of its four floors by an alluring connector windowed along its southern exposure and encircling the newly formed science enclave outside. It is along the glass-enclosed path that built-in displays of optical phenomena, the natural environment, nanotechnology, geological formations, biological specimens, and astronomical observations will be interspersed among sun-filled lounges, all to advance interaction among the different scientific disciplines housed within.

Reducing Utensil Use on Campus Helps Sustainability Efforts

In a presentation earlier this year on the website TED, known for “Ideas Worth Spreading,” Dr. Michael Shaver of the University of Edinburgh suggested “saving the world one plastic fork at a time.”  Courtesy of Sodexo, the mammoth  international food service company, that’s exactly what Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) is doing.

CCSU now features utensil dispensers in their student center dining area, replacing the traditional bins and bunches of forks, spoons and knives.  The dispensers operate at the simple push of a lever.  They only eject one fork, knife or spoon with each action of the lever, rather than having customers dip their hands into a bin, only to pull out a fist-full of utensils.

This simple change to the single-touch dispensers, according to Sodexo, reduces the number of wasted utensils by over 40 percent, thus reducing the amount of plastic used on campus – which firmly places the university on the right side of sustainability efforts.  The dispensers now in use at CCSU indicate that "dispensing one fork at a time reduces usage by up to 49%," pointing out that "less is definitely more when it comes to sustainability."

The “greening” of the campus food service – driven by Sodexo at facilities across the nation – also includes napkins, which switched to a single dispensing system years ago.  Iphoton fact,  Sodexo announced in 2008 that after only one year, the program resulted in a 25 to 50 percent reduction in the actual number of paper napkins used - thanks to the introduction of dispensers that dispense a single napkin at a  time.

A  switch to recycled napkins in the company’s 1,300 food service operations nationwide has resulted in saving nearly ten million gallons of water, more than 23,000  trees, half a million gallons of oil and five and a half million kilowatts  of energy, officials report. The company began using two types of recycled napkins as part of a commitment to leadership in sustainability and to providing.

Central, as the other state universities, and more than 600 public and private institutions in Connecticut and nationwide, is a signatory to The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.  The official commitment signed by all members says in part, "We believe colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to minimize global warming emissions, and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality."

The Connecticut institutions participating include:plastics generation

  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Connecticut College
  • Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Fairfield University
  • Middlesex Community College (CT)
  • Norwalk Community College
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • Trinity College
  • University of Connecticut
  • Wesleyan University
  • Western Connecticut State University

According to the corporate website, Sodexo touches the lives of 75 million consumers in 80 countries every day. In North America alone, the company serves more than 15 million consumers at 9,000 client sites. In 2012, named 89 Sodexo-served colleges and universities among the nation's most environmentally responsible "green colleges." They were named to The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition, which profiles institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada that demonstrate notable commitments to sustainability.

By the way, if you’re looking for a one-at-a-time fork or spoon dispenser for your business, you can pick one up for $27.29 on Amazon.  The Knife dispenser goes for $8.89.

Photos of Vietnam Fallen from Connecticut Sought for New National Memorial

It has been a year and a half since the effort began, and the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University is closing in on the halfway point in their effort to collect a photograph of every member of the armed forces who was killed in Vietnam, to be displayed as part of a new national memorial to complement the Vietnam Memorial in the nation’s capital. The national Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), in partnership with the National Park Service, is working to build an Education Center near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Using the faces, stories, and remembrances attached to the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Center will educate visitors about the Vietnam War and its impact on every community in the United States.

The Center will also provide information about the history and the significance of the Wall and preserve the legacy of the men and women wlogoho made the ultimate sacrifice. The Education Center will tell the stories of those who served and died in Vietnam through programming that will include interactive exhibits, primary source information, and educational programs.

One initiative under way is the national “Call for Photos” campaign, which endeavors to attach faces to the 58,272 names memorialized on the Wall. The Education Center will create a Wall of Faces exhibit to display all collected digital photographs once the Center is constructed. Meanwhile, the VVMF has created an on-line Virtual Wall at

To ensure that 100% of Connecticut’s fallen are remembered , the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University are working with volunteers and teachers to collect photos and remembrances of Connecticut’s 612 fallen who do not yet have photos on the VVMF’s Virtual Wall.viet vet

As of this month, 301 photos have been collected, and efforts continue.  Photographs and related information can be submitted electronically, or by mail.

In 2010, Connecticut became the second state in the nation to pass legislation designating March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day -- the date the last combat troops withdrew from Vietnam.  Additional information on the Call for Photos and the Veterans History Project is available from Eileen Hurst at CCSU at (860) 832-2976.