Month: May 2017

Alumni Spotlight – Emerson Loisel (’15)

by Carissa Rutkauskas

MICA is pet-friendly, and you will often run into four-legged friends.

Curiosity led Emerson Loisel, UConn HESA ’15, to his current position as Assistant Director of Student Activities at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Although the VT native and University of Vermont alumnus (Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies ’13) didn’t know where he saw himself going when he started the HESA program, he knew he liked school and wanted to be in an education-related field.

At the beginning of his HESA studies, Loisel didn’t have an end goal other than to follow his curiosity, but he did know that he wanted to be in a place where he could challenge systems of power, especially in their overall intentions. He feels that HESA more than prepared him with a knowledge base of higher education and student affairs practices, giving him the tools to navigate unfamiliar situations and contexts. Upon his arrival at MICA, Loisel recognized that he did not share many of the identities of the people of Baltimore his students were working with but did hold a desire for them to have an exceptionally positive, productive, and self-directed education experience.  Loisel shares, “UConn taught me achievement is sticking to my beliefs and ethics, not just checkmarks. HESA gave me the tools to leave institutions better than I found them.”

Loisel is not an artist, but a self-described art appreciator. He enjoys and relates to the way artists engage in and question the world around them. MICA students’ sense of cohesiveness around pushing boundaries aligns with Loisel’s personal beliefs.  He started his position at MICA a couple of months after the death of Freddie Gray. Gray was a 25-year old Black man arrested by the Baltimore police for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade. While in police custody Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury which is widely believed to be the result of excessive force used during transport to the police station.  As a result of this injury Gray fell into a coma and ultimately died.  Gray’s death is widely considered murder.  Through the MICA students’ art-based activism related to the Gray tragedy, Emerson Loisel began to better understand and find his place in his new city, school, and student body. The art students have a refined skill to critique artwork; they were able to transfer these skills into their present surroundings by engaging in social justice and community service as a response to events leading to Gray’s death. Their actions helped deepen Loisel’s understanding of the ways a city and university can share a healthy symbiotic relationship, if forged properly.

Loisel at MICA’s 2016 orientation. He notes, “People take you more seriously when you wear a headset.”

MICA is a small private institution, home to just 1,850 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students, a drastic difference from Loisel’s previous experiences in large, public institutions. Aside from the regional transition, his transition from student to professional has provided him with a more realistic perspective of administration. He now understands the difference between high-value and low-value work – as a grad student it was sometimes easy to quickly complete the low-value work, but as a professional, prioritizing high-value work requires more focus. Loisel has also learned to make decisions with self-assurance and better understands what he functionally can do and ethically should do.

Loisel speaking about a student he nominated during the MICA Involvement Recognition Ceremony.

Loisel’s inquisitiveness helps him frame potentially negative situations into positive experiences. Shortly after his arrival to MICA, a staff member left the Student Activities Office. Loisel chose to see this vacant post as an opportunity to advocate for a more effective office structure and create new positions within that space. He helped lead an initiative to restructure his office into one that functions well for student needs. Loisel may have had doubts during that process, but called upon his experiences with UConn Community Standards, under the guidance of Cathy Cocks, Kim Hill, and Jane Benoit-Bean, and in the Programs Office with Jess Gerum, and felt confident that he knew that he did indeed have the ability to form a solution.

Emerson Loisel describes higher ed as a “rad place to be” and advises finding a job that fits you – “you’ll find patience and resilience in yourself,” he says. Having a job in the saturated market of Student Affairs (the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook page has a following of over 27,000), is an achievement in itself, but Loisel offers this advice: You can find a job anywhere in the country if you want, or you can stay close to your family and network. You can make your job your life, or you can work a 40-hour week and have time to invest in other activities. Just make sure you remember to make time for yourself.

Loisel followed his curiosity to become a Higher Education and Student Affairs professional at the Maryland Institute College of Art. A fan of education, he has fulfilled his desire to be in such a space and is surrounded by students who fuel his desire to question the world around him as they develop their own interests and become conscious of the capacity they hold to disassemble systems of power.

Paula Milone-Nuzzo (’89)- alum in the news

Nursing dean named president of MGH Institute of Health Professions

Editor’s note: This story, was originally posted on the Penn State News website on March 24, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paula Milone-Nuzzo, professor and dean of the College of Nursing, has been named the new president of the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Milone-Nuzzo will end her tenure at Penn State in August and a national search for her replacement will begin immediately.

MGH Institute of Health Professions is an independent graduate school in Boston founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the only degree-granting affiliate of Partners HealthCare.

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Maria D. Martinez (’96) – alum in the news

Maria D. Martinez ’83 MSW, ’96 Ph.D. — Assistant vice provost at the Institute for Student Success in Undergraduate Education and Instruction at the University of Connecticut

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Neag School’s Shawn Kornegay, originally appeared on the Neag School’s website

Maria D. Martinez earned a master of social work degree from the University of Connecticut in 1983. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in professional higher education administration at UConn’s Neag School of Education in 1996. Prior to that, she earned her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the City University of New York.

Martinez began her career at UConn in 1986 as a counselor within Student Support Services (SSS), where she worked with low-income, first-generation college students. She became the SSS program director in 1993. In 1995, Martinez became the director of the Center for Academic Programs, where she managed the operations of the TRIO Programs (Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Talent Search).

In 2011, she was named assistant vice provost for ISS and UE&I, where she provides strategic and operational leadership for units and programs within ISS; oversees the delivery of services to facilitate the transition from secondary school to college; and manages the Institute’s budget.

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