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SCSU: Helping to Build a Knowledge-Based Economy

As Connecticut seeks to rebound from the economic downturn, Southern Connecticut State University is playing a key role in the recovery process, developing new programs that meet the needs of today’s marketplace and anticipate the trends of tomorrow.

Under the new leadership of President Mary A. Papazian, Southern prepares its students to work in more than 91 percent of the occupations requiring at least a bachelor’s degree for employment, as identified by the state Department of Labor’s 2012 forecast. And, with more than 80 percent of its 2,300 annual graduates staying on to live and work in Connecticut, the 119-year-old university is a major contributor in building the state’s knowledge-based economy.

Southern continues to seek new opportunities, in both growth and in-demand fields of study, to build on its 114 offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Recently, for example, the University was named as the host site for Connecticut’s first research center devoted solely to nanotechnology. The new center will prepare students for careers in this growth industry through hands-on experience with specialized equipment, including a state-of-the-art microscope that uses electrons to image materials on the atomic scale.

The National Science Foundation estimates that two million workers will be needed to support nanotechnology industries worldwide within the next 15 years. Nanotech is already being used to produce new medicines, improved medical imaging tools and more durable construction materials, as well as energy-efficient power sources like fuel cells, batteries and solar panels.

Concurrent with the launching of the Southern-based center will be the establishment of a graduate certificate program in nanotech set to begin at the four Connecticut State Universities in fall 2012. Initial courses were offered at Southern last summer. A new master’s degree in applied physics has also been approved, providing an educational pathway for individuals seeking applied research and management positions in the state’s high-tech industries, and a source of trained professionals for technology employers.

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Southern has also launched its second doctoral program - an EdD in nursing education geared to help offset the state and national shortage of nurses and nursing faculty. This collaborative program - to be offered jointly with Western Connecticut State University in Danbury - is only the third of its type in the country and classes will begin this fall.

The 51-credit program, which would be largely online, is designed for part-time students. It is geared toward individuals who work full-time, especially nurses who might want to teach in their current profession.

The program complements other recent efforts by Southern to address the nursing shortage. These include an accelerated program enabling individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline to change careers and earn a BSN in one year, cutting in half the time it usually takes to earn such a degree.

Southern began offering its first doctoral program, an EdD in education, in 2002. This degree is specifically geared to offset the shortage of qualified candidates for top school administrative posts in the state and has been designed as an affordable, accessible option for Connecticut residents. The University already licenses more teachers than any other institution in the state, and prepares the greatest number of principals and superintendents through its educational leadership programs.

The nursing doctorate would further enhance the reputation of Southern’s graduate school, which is the largest in the Connecticut State University System and among the 10 largest in New England. And it underscores yet again the University’s commitment to train and educate Connecticut’s leaders in industry, commerce and public service.

Southern is also committed to improving educational standards and opportunities at the grassroots level. As part of this effort, hundreds of Southern students and faculty are involved each year in dozens of community initiatives and partnerships: from internships and volunteer projects to unique collaborations with city schools and other organizations.

For example, a new Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science is helping to increase the number and quality of students in those fields by reaching out to local elementary schools with fun, hands-on engineering programs, and to high schools with scholarship opportunities for outstanding students. And a new Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders provides current and future educators with best practices when teaching students with autism.

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In addition, thousands of youngsters and adults come to campus each year for educational workshops and seminars, cultural and sporting events, college preparation programs, and summer camps.

Southern has become an integral part of the arts community as well. Partnerships have been established with the Long Wharf Theatre, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. And campus events at the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts bring a wide range of affordable, cultural activities to the general public, including the center’s acclaimed annual smooth jazz series.

The annual Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series has emerged as a signature Southern event, annually drawing up to 1,500 people to campus for the visits of leading public figures and newsmakers such as former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, renowned journalist Walter Cronkite, actor and disability activist Christopher Reeve, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001). The most recent speaker was actor Michael J. Fox, reflecting about how an optimistic outlook has sustained him in his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

To take a virtual tour of Southern Connecticut State University and learn more about what its vibrant campus has to offer, visit

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