Three outstanding members of the Class of 2012 will receive the top student awards at Commencement:
Growing up in Norwich, Conn., Miles Aron is from a family of musicians.
Having taken jazz guitar lessons with Rich Goldstein, artist teacher at The Hartt School, Aron entered the Bachelor of Science in Engineering–Acoustical Engineering and Music (BSE) program at the University of Hartford. He studied engineering and continued to study music at Hartt with Goldstein, Assistant Professor Nat Reeves, Associate Professor Steve Davis, and René McLean, senior artist teacher.
In the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture, Aron has impressed his professors with his conscientiousness. "Miles is one of our top honors students, and has consistently performed well in all of his classes, even as he averaged almost 19 credits each semester," wrote Robert Celmer, professor of mechanical engineering, in nominating Aron for the John G. Martin Scholarship.
During his four years at the University of Hartford, Aron has had challenging internships, including working for the U.S. Department of Energy at SLAC National Linear Accelerator, where he developed a method of automated optical analysis for dark matter detector crystals; PVI Systems, where he implemented microphone arrays for acoustic beam forming; and NASA Ames Research Center through the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, where he designed a low-frequency calibration system for wind tunnel standing wave modes.
He also has presented and submitted research on nonlinear partial differential equations completed with Aslihan Demirkay, assistant professor of mathematics, and Robert Decker, associate professor of mathematics.
Aron's academic honors include President's Honors and Dean's List. He is the recipient of numerous scholarships, including a Regent's Scholarship and a Capitol Scholarship from the state of Connecticut.
Aron has served as president of the Hartford chapter of the Acoustical Society of America and vice president of the Connecticut Gamma Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society. He is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honors Society at the University of Hartford.
With the Martin Scholarship, Aron will start his Master in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford in England, researching drug delivery through the blood-brain barrier with ultrasound and microbubbles for treating cancer and brain diseases.
Peter N. Bowers' dream of becoming an acoustical consultant brought him to the University of Hartford. Majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in acoustics, he also pursued minors in electrical engineering and mathematics "to build a strong foundation across multiple disciplines," he says.
With unwavering dedication to his studies—while maintaining a part-time job, interning at Westinghouse Electric Company, volunteering in the community, and creating electronic music—Bowers attained his goal of a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a 3.99 GPA.
In addition to receiving the John G. Lee Medal, which is awarded annually to a graduating senior from Greater Hartford who has excelled academically while demonstrating a deep commitment to community, Bowers has collected regents' honors and numerous scholarships, including Tau Beta Pi's Bose Scholarship and an American Society of Mechanical Engineers scholarship.
His contributions to the community include serving meals to low-income individuals in downtown Hartford, Conn., through the Hands on Hartford program. He also participates in the Whole Plant Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Whole Foods Market to aid the self-employed poor. As an active member of the Hartford chapter of the Acoustical Society of America, he volunteers with Don't Go Deaf to raise awareness about hearing loss.
Bowers' dream has changed somewhat since he arrived at the University but his ambition has grown. "I came here to initially study architectural acoustics. Then from my coursework in acoustics, I also learned about hearing loss and ways in which it is currently treated. There are limitations to these treatments that need to be addressed. Applying what I have learned in my undergraduate career to the field of hearing sciences has become my focus."
In the fall, Bowers will take his interest in aiding those with hearing loss to Harvard University, where he has been accepted in the Harvard/MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology. Ultimately he hopes to advance technology involving hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Dana Eckstein '13 has been described as a "force of nature." Evidence of that energy lies in the long list of activities, awards, papers, and projects submitted with her nomination for the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize, which recognizes academic excellence.
Pursing a double major in cinema and English, she has been on the Dean's List and the President's List every semester she's been at the University. During her freshman year, she was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, eventually serving as treasurer and president of the Psi Phi chapter. She has presented at the Undergraduate Colloquium all four years of her University career. She was a Humanities Center fellow for two consecutive years and is a recipient of the Junior Regents' Honor Award.
In addition to academic honors, Eckstein began winning University-wide writing awards her freshman year and was named editor of the Aerie literary journal her senior year.
In 2012 she was accepted, with Associate Professor T. Stores, in the International Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference in Barcelona, Spain, for her work for a course that paired first-semester students with new retirement-community residents, resulting in a documentary and paper examining transitional life experiences.
Her extracurricular activities include working at the student-run STN, Channel 2 News as a photographer, engineer, and crew member. She was elected general manager her sophomore year. She was a member of the drama club. Her original stop-motion animation film was accepted into the University's 2012 Goldfarb Exhibition. She is the recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Regional 10-Minute Play Award.
As Professor Stores notes, to say that Eckstein "is an overachiever is to put it mildly."
So what drives this force of nature? "I think it's innate," Eckstein says. "I am fascinated by everything. I want to try everything. My father used to tell me ‘You can't dance at two weddings with one tuckus.' It's been my life goal to dance at all the weddings."
Eckstein, who is from East Brunswick, N.J., is looking for an administrative job while working on her writing portfolio for a Master of Fine Arts program.
Malcolm Morrison is University professor of theatre and the former dean of The Hartt School, where for 10 years (1998 to 2008) he oversaw the school's expansion from a distinguished music conservatory to a performing arts school with dance and theatre divisions. He has had an extensive career nationally and internationally as a director and educator.
Morrison led The Hartt School during a time of remarkable growth and advancement, adding vibrant majors in dance, theatre, and musical theatre to its internationally known programs in music.
He is credited with adding breadth and depth to the brilliant and dedicated Hartt faculty by attracting great artists from all over the world to join longtime faculty members. He nurtured and supported faculty and students, providing direction and encouragement for hundreds of dazzling performances over the years, directing more than a few spectacular performances of his own
Outside of Hartt, his directing credits include work at Hartford Stage Company; Cleveland Playhouse; the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Ga.; the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas; the Denver Center Theater Company; Dallas Theatre Centre; the Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod; and many other regional theatre companies.
He was the founding artistic director of the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, serving for 10 years, and has directed at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, where he received the Critics Circle's best director award for his production of Shakespeare's Loves Labours Lost.
Internationally, Morrison was recently honored as a Fellow of the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in England, and has been honored in Paris, France, for his work in international theatre. He has directed and taught in Australia, Russia, China, Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Malta, Jamaica, Singapore, among other countries.
Morrison is the author of two books Clear Speech and Classical Acting, and is an editor of Voice and Speech in the Theatre. Formerly he was dean at North Carolina School of the Arts, director of the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, and head of Theatre and Dance at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Robert H. Davis is a professor of theatre with more than 25 years of experience as a professional actor, director, and voice coach. He received his bachelor's degree in drama from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Ohio University.
The Bent Award honors full-time faculty members whose outstanding scholarly and/or artistic creativity demands recognition. As Alan Rust, the director of The Hartt School Theatre Division, notes, Davis is the ideal recipient of the award.
"Davis's creative life would be considered rich and notable even if he were not teaching a full-time schedule of courses and making extraordinary contributions in service to the University," Rust stated in his nomination letter.
In his 12 years at the University of Hartford, Davis has earned the reputation of a master teacher while directing numerous acclaimed University productions, including The Taming of the Shrew, Henry the Fifth, and Julius Caesar.
"Bob has carved out a place amongst the very best practitioners in the critical areas of voice and speech study and the performance of the works of William Shakespeare," Kevin Gray, associate professor of theatre, wrote in nominating Davis for the Bent Award. "He has elevated the reputation of The Hartt School with his expertise and approach."
Across the country, Davis has worked with renowned regional theatres, including Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.; the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn.; Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Conn.; the Colorado Shakespeare Festival; the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane; the Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod; and Swine Palace Productions in Louisiana.
He is a recipient of a Connecticut Critics Circle Award for his performance in The Exonerated at TheaterWorks in Hartford, Conn., and his direction of Equus at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, Conn., received a Broadway World.com best director award in 2011. He is a mainstay at the Hartford Stage Company, having appeared in productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Christmas Carol, and Our Town (in which he shared the role of Stage Manager with Hal Holbrook).
Davis is also devoted to bringing Shakespeare to young audiences in underserved communities as a project director for the National Endowment for the Humanities and a senior faculty member for the NEH National Institutes on Teaching Shakespeare.
Susan Hanson Diehl has been universally lauded by the countless students she has taught and mentored in her 13 years as a professor in the nursing program at the University of Hartford.
Since 2006, the University's Career Services office has done an annual survey of University graduates and asked them to name the faculty member who had the greatest impact on them.. In the seven years of survey results, Diehl has ranked "number one" amongst all her peers at the University in quantity of accolades from her students three times and second once. "No other faculty member has achieved such distinction," notes John Kniering, director of Career Services.
"Dr. Susan Diehl is an institutional treasure," says Kniering. "She has expressed in her work a commitment to her students that is profound, and in a unique way, spiritual."
Her classroom is a "meeting of the hearts," by Douglas Dix, a colleague and professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Nursing in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions. "She's just so filled with emotion that she doesn't realize it's not common in college classrooms. Sue teaches collaboration as the alternative to competition, and she models what she teaches," he added. "Everyone cares about everyone in Sue's class."
"[Her] care and concern for her students, her passion for and dedication to teaching and learning, her depth of knowledge and understanding are most certainly fundamental to her students' success," notes Katharine Kranz Lewis, a former colleague of Diehl's in the nursing program. "The nurses who have benefitted, and continue to benefit, from Sue's teaching and mentoring are nursing education, management and public health leaders across the state."
Diehl, who was honored with the Nightingale Award for Academic Excellence by Saint Joseph College (now the University of Saint Joseph) in 1996, earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford in 2003. In addition to her teaching expertise, she has worked for VNA Heath Care and Healthy Families Hartford.
David Pines embodies the concept of interdisciplinary learning, and what it is capable of achieving. Over the past six years, he has brought together students, faculty, and professionals from such fields as engineering, graphic design, business, and sociology to tackle real-life projects in developing countries around the world, and the results have been life-changing.
The interdisciplinary courses that Pines has created have provided transformational experiences for students—and for residents of the communities where the projects have taken place. Working under the umbrella of Engineers Without Borders, the interdisciplinary teams have created water supply systems for a village in rural India; helped develop and promote a sustainable form of agriculture in western Kenya; and helped relocate and restore historic sugar mills on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.
The All-University Curriculum (AUC) is an innovative program of cross-disciplinary courses that allow students to explore the depth and breadth of a liberal arts education. The Donald W. Davis Award honors a faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the AUC and to interdisciplinary education.
Pines has designed three AUC courses built around the three ongoing projects in India, Kenya, and St. Vincent. Interdisciplinary teams of students typically begin by spending several weeks on campus studying the culture, history, and politics of a region. They then go on a short-term study abroad program in which they use their skills to make a difference. In the Indian village of Abheypur, for example, engineering students may create and refine water supply systems, while art students implement a graphics campaign teaching residents how to care for their new water supply, and sociology students assess local governance systems needed to manage and regulate the water supply.
"David has created an invaluable model for interdisciplinary learning and service in real-life environments," wrote AUC Director Caryn Christensen." These projects allow students to develop leadership skills that cross geographic and cultural boundaries."
In just four years at The Hartt School, Joshua Russell has already made a mark in the field of music education, and has compiled an exceptional record of achievement in research, teaching, and service. Russell's accomplishments are considered extraordinary for a junior faculty member, making him an ideal recipient of the Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize. The annual prize recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member in a tenure-track position who has not yet been tenured. It is made possible by a generous gift from Belle K. Ribicoff, a life regent of the University.
Russell's scholarship has attracted widespread interest and earned him a growing reputation. He has presented his research nationally and internationally, and has published peer-reviewed articles in some of the most prestigious journals in the music education field. Russell's areas of research include investigating alternate methods of string music instruction, factors that contribute to prosperous teaching careers, and issues that influence the success of undergraduate music education majors.
"Dr. Russell's commitment to improve music instruction through research is demonstrative of his desire to improve not only the musical education of young people, but also the human experience for children through music," wrote John Feierabend, director of The Hartt School's Music Education Division.
Russell has been appointed to the editorial review boards of the Journal of Research in Music Education and the String Research Journal, and in 2012, he became the first-ever recipient of the American String Teachers Association's Emergent String Researcher Award.
Russell also excels as a teacher, garnering consistently high student evaluations. Since arriving at Hartt, he has worked to redesign the string pedagogy classes, giving students more opportunities to develop their own string skills as well as opportunities to practice those skills with children at area schools. Russell also has restructured many of the graduate music education research courses, and he recently took on the role of Director of Doctoral Studies in Music Education.
the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University
Since 1991, Donn Weinholtz—as dean of the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions and professor of educational leadership—has provided impressive service to his department, his college, the University, and the surrounding community.
A former chair of the Faculty Senate, he currently serves on the Senate (third term), the Graduate Council, the Regent's Advancement Committee, and the Athletics Council. Previously, he co-chaired the committee that established the University of Hartford Magnet School and he helped create the Hartford Urban Education Network and the Connecticut Alliance of Concerned Educators.
Humphrey Tonkin, professor of humanities and former University of Hartford president, says: "Donn did these things out of far more than a sense of duty or professional responsibility, but out of a strong. … conviction that universities are not institutions apart" and that they "should be involved with the communities around them, for the benefit of all."
As dean, Weinholtz helped grow ENHP's enrollment from 660 to 1,560 students. He also assumed responsibility for the Educational Main Street program, doubling its size. As department chair, he oversaw the evolution of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership from a K–to–12 program to a higher–education program, while increasing enrollment to ensure financial stability.
Weinholtz currently teaches graduate research methods and ethics courses and supervises doctoral dissertations. He also teaches in the All-University Curriculum and previously received the Donald W. Davis All-University Curriculum Award.
For seven years, he and several colleagues have maintained a weekly, on-campus peace vigil. He is active in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), serving in key roles for Hartford Friends Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Friends Association for Higher Education, for which he founded the online publication, Quaker Higher Education.
"Donn regularly seeks to build connections between the University and the community organizations he leads, drawing the University into new and important values-based work," says Lynn Pasquerella, former University of Hartford provost and current president of Mount Holyoke College.
Weinholtz received a BA from Dickinson College (1971), a MEd from Shippensburg State College (1973), and a PhD from the University of North Carolina (1981). He is married to Diane Thistle Weinholtz, the head of Watkinson Middle School. Their three children—David, Philip, and Jennifer—are graduates of the University of Harford.
Nancy Stula is the executive director and curator at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Conn. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual communication design from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, in 1983 and a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Hartford, summa cum laude, in 1985. Stula went on to earn a PhD in art history from Columbia University, where she specialized in the history of 19th-century American art.
She began her museum career in the Department of American Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991. In 1994 Stula returned to her native Connecticut from New York City and began teaching at the University of Hartford as an adjunct professor in the Department of Art History. In 2003 she joined the Lyman Allyn Art Museum as curator and deputy director. In February 2008 she was named interim director. She was named executive director the following year.
At the Lyman Allyn she has curated over 13 exhibitions and has published in the field of American art.
Stula served as a trustee of the Hartford Art School from 2005 to 2009 and on the Connecticut State Artists Collection Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2009. She currently is on the Board of the Connecticut Arts Alliance, an arts advocacy organization.