Campus Currents (remote learning edition)

May 18, 2020

President Javier Cevallos and Class President Olivia Rothwell Toast the Class of 2020

President Cevallos Toasts the Class of 2020

On the final day of what will go down as one of the most challenging semesters in the history of Framingham State University, President Javier Cevallos toasted the Class of 2020 next to the Ram Statue in Crocker Grove.

“While this pandemic has taken away so much, it has also brought out the best in all of you,” President Cevallos said to the seniors, who joined the toast virtually through Zoom on Friday, May 15th. “You are a resilient group, and you have adjusted to this new reality with grace and determination. A very bright future awaits all of you and it makes me excited to think about all that you will achieve.”

The senior toast is an annual tradition that began under President Cevallos in 2018. Under normal circumstances, members of the graduating class celebrate their success with a glass of champagne on campus.

“Just like with most of this semester, this is not how we originally envisioned holding this special event,” said President Cevallos, who was joined by Olivia Rothwell, President of the Class of 2020. “I feel so bad for all our students, but my heart especially goes out to you, our seniors, who have been robbed of enjoying your final semester with close friends on our beautiful campus. Many of you lost out on your final athletic season, or the chance to present your work at academic conferences, or simply the opportunity to spend a final few weeks looking back at your college experience with close faculty and friends.”

The President sought to ease the concerns of graduates as they head out into a tumultuous economic environment.

“I’m sure many of you are stressed about the uncertain times that await you, but rest assured that this difficult period will pass and from it will rise new opportunities that you are well positioned to take advantage of,” he said. “You are about to become college graduates and join the ranks of a vast network of FSU alumni working at business and public sector organizations through the state.”

Framingham State University remains committed to holding an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020, and will share information and details about the rescheduled ceremony as soon as they are available.

Students in Non-Profit Giving Course Overcome Pandemic Obstacles and Award $10,000

The COVID19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on non-profits and charitable organizations, as the need for services has skyrocketed while donations have dropped off.

Against that backdrop, students in Dr. Ira Silver’s Non-Profit Giving Course gathered on May 12th for a powerful end-of-semester ceremony over Zoom, where they awarded more than $10,000 to Rooted in Restoration, a Boston-based organization dedicated to providing services to the city’s most marginalized communities.

“This organization is nothing short of amazing,” said senior Michal Gonzalez, who has volunteered with the group and brought them to the attention of his classmates. “These people have a lifelong mission to serve and restore the community. Whatever the gap is, they are determined to fill it. This is what humanity is all about.”

Students in the Nonprofit Giving course are provided with $10,000 from the Learning by Giving Foundation to donate to a charity of their choice. They begin the semester by reading Dr. Silver’s book, Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which shows how philanthropy can enable Americans experiencing hard times to move their lives forward. Students then begin a comprehensive process that involves researching local non-profit organizations, creating an RFP (Request for Proposals), reviewing bids, and doing site visits before determining how to spend the money.

The COVID19 pandemic threw a huge wrench into this year’s effort, when Framingham State was forced to move to an entirely remote format after Spring Break. Class discussions moved to Zoom and site visits to the four finalist charities had to be done remotely.

During the ceremony, which was attended by nearly 70 people, including officials from the Learning by Giving Foundation and alumni from past courses, students walked through the entire process they undertook during the year, speaking passionately about the profound impact it had on each of them. Several students said their experience in the course cemented their desire to work for a non-profit after college, and some expressed a desire to launch one of their own.

Pastor Davie Hernandez, the co-founder of Rooted for Restoration along with his wife, says the award was the first grant the organization has received.
“We are humbled and grateful to be chosen from an amazing group of deserving organizations,” Hernandez said. “We hope you not only see this as an investment, but consider visiting us, volunteering with us, and serving the people in all of our communities.”

In addition to the $10,000, students also raised additional money on their own to donate to Rooted in Restoration, as well as Bottom Line, an organization that has helped thousands of low-income and first-generation students get to college, stay in college, and earn their degrees.

“Many of the organizations we reviewed are helping twice the amount of people they typically see due to the pandemic,” said student Olivia Neiswanger. “It was important to all of us that we do as much as we can to help.”

Congratulations to our Student College Marshals

At the conclusion of each fall semester, a College Marshal is selected for each college from the graduating seniors. The Marshals lead their colleges into the commencement venue and are recognized at commencement. The College Marshals are nominated by faculty in each college and selected by the academic dean.

We are pleased to announce our College Marshals for the Class of 2020:

The College of Arts & Humanities has selected History major Sam DiMatteo as the College Marshal.

The College of Business has selected Accounting Major Aryeesha Majeed as the College Marshal.

The College of Education has selected Spanish and Early Childhood Education coordinate major Kathryn (Katy) Chamberlain as the College Marshal.

The College of STEM has selected Biology Major Alexandra (Allie) Wahr as the College Marshal.

The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences has selected Political Science Major Matthew (Matty) Bennet as the College Marshal.

Beacon Award Winners

The Beacon Award is given to members of the FSU community who go above and beyond their responsibilities to make noteworthy contributions that help advance inclusive excellence on campus. These individuals have demonstrated recognizable efforts related to diversity, inclusion, equity and/or social justice to help enrich experiences for our faculty, staff and students. We were pleased to announce four winners this semester.

Student Recipient: Madison Bruno, President of the Pride Alliance student club

Staff Recipient: Uyen Hong, College Planning Collaborative

Faculty Recipients:

Dr. Catherine Dignam, Chemistry
Dr. Mirari Elcoro, Psychology

Congratulations to all!

Senior Thomas Maye Nominated for National Journalism Award

Senior Thomas Maye, The Gatepost’s Op/Ed Editor for most of this academic year, has been named a national Mark of Excellence Finalist in Column Writing for small schools by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Earlier this spring, he won a first-place Mark of Excellence award for column writing in SPJ’s Region 1 (the New England and mid-Atlantic states). The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism, and SPJ recognized material published during the 2019 calendar year. The Society of Professional Journalists, founded in 1909, is the “nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.”

Here is a link to the announcement of the national Mark of Excellence winners:

The Latest on Social Media

-As FSU celebrates Asian Pacific Islander Desi Heritage month, the Center for Inclusive Excellence Instagram Page has been highlighting some FSU members of APIDA heritage who embody the meaning of #inspirASIANs. Check out this video message from Psychology Professor Dr. Phoebe Lin.

-Did you catch the video faculty & staff created wishing students good luck in finals last week?

-FSU alumna Kristina Wickman (Master of Science in Nursing Program) & her family were featured on the Today Show a little over a week ago. The interviews with the family were conducted outside of North Hall!

-It's a special Mother's Day edition of Living Room Chats with David and Rachel!

-Here was the final episode of the semester of 4 Things You Need to Know This Week.

A Virtual Day in May

Please join the Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship and Service (CELTSS) for A Day in May on Tuesday, May 19th from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. While we won’t be able to gather together in the McCarthy Center, this year’s event will be held virtually. The event will include virtual research presentations and poster presentations by CELTSS funding recipients. There will also be a great faculty panel discussion with Shin Freedman, Wardell Powell, and Ira Silver, as they discuss what it means to be a productive scholar in your field at FSU.

Click here to see a video from CELTSS Director Lina Rincón and Assistant Director May Hara about this year’s virtual format of A Day in May.

COVID-19 Collecting Project

The CoVid-19 Community Collecting Project is the library’s fourth community collecting project. The past few months have been immensely challenging for all of us as a result of the CoVid-19 pandemic. The community collecting project’s goal is to capture the experiences of the campus community during this life-changing time and somehow reflect upon its impact on our lives.

You can access information about the project and the submission form(s) via this link: We accept digital files and physical items.

In order to use the online form, you will need a Gmail address. If you would like to submit a digital file and do not have a Gmail address, please email Millie Gonzalez ( to arrange for another way of completing the online form.

McAuliffe Center AstroNights

Join staff from the McAuliffe Center at 7 p.m. on select Fridays for a half-hour presentation exploring everyone’s favorite astronomy topics. From the colorful characters in our own solar system to the weird and wonderful things far beyond, each program is sure to contain something of interest to armchair astronomers of all ages.

Notable Accomplishments

-FSU Economics Professor Laura M. Lamontagne was recently featured in WalletHub's piece about the best credit cards. You can find her contribution here:

-Dr. Kristen Abbott Bennett and Andrew Jeromski, an M.A. candidate in our English graduate program, co-wrote a peer-reviewed exhibit, '"The Glory of Our Sexe": Elizabeth I and Early Modern Women Writers," for Northeastern University's "Women Writers in Context" series. This project is part of the NEH-funded Intertextual Networks Project. Dr. Bennett has been a contributor to the project since October, 2016.

Here is a link to the exhibit:

-Michael Merriam, Assistant Dean/Director of Graduate and Continuing Education Recruitment, was recently appointed Vice President of the New England Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NEGAP) and was featured as a spotlight in their newsletter.

-The Boston Globe recently published a nice article about Professor Ani Gjika’s translation of her mother’s poems, Memories Pretend to Sleep. Here’s a link:

Upcoming events

Regenerative Agricultural Business Practices to Domestic Plants for Responsible Products with Mario Garcia Quesada

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

12:30 pm - 2:30 pm


Organized by: Dept of Biology, McAuliffe Center & Challenger Learning C

Spanish: Regenerative Agricultural Business Practices to Domestic Plants for Responsible Products, Mario Garcia Quesada

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Organized by: Dept of Biology, McAuliffe Center & Challenger Learning C

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