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New Degree Completion Program for Adult Learners

This fall Mitchell College is launching a Professional Studies undergraduate “Completer Degree” program for adult learners as part of its efforts to expand options for “nontraditional” college students to achieve their education and career goals. Designed exclusively for adult students with some college credit, the accelerated program offers both a 2-year (A.A.) and a 4-year (B.A.) degree.

Competitively priced and flexible, the program allows students to enroll fall, spring or summer, with both full-time (two courses per term) and part-time (one course per term) options. At launch, courses will be offered in a hybrid curriculum combining afternoon/evening in-person classes with online classes, but the goal of the program is to offer 100% online learning in the near future. Students may further accelerate their degree with classes through Mitchell’s MiniMester program or the Mitchell Hub, which offers online learning.

Adults enrolled in this program can benefit from being part of a cohort that is generally highly motivated and has life experience to draw from. Student success is supported by advisors, faculty and staff who are experienced in working with adult learners and understand the challenges they face.

“The Professional Studies program is ideal for anyone looking to complete a degree they have already started, knowing that might give them an edge in advancing their career. In addition to knowledge gained through coursework, students will also develop transferable skills needed to succeed in the workplace, such as interpersonal and communication skills, critical and creative thinking skills and an appreciation for diversity,” said Catherine “Cathy” Hurd, M.S., Ph.D., A.B.D., interim vice president of enrollment management.

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    Wilson Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach

    Ashley Wilson has been named head coach of the Mitchell College women’s basketball team, as announced by Director of Athletics Matt Finlayson.

    Wilson, who will make her collegiate head coaching debut with the Mariners, arrives in New London after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at Division I Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. She takes over for Courtney Burns who compiled a 76-63 record across six seasons at Mitchell while guiding the Mariners to consecutive NECC championships and the program’s first two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

    “We are so excited to welcome Ashley Wilson as our next head women’s basketball coach,” commented Finlayson. “Ashley’s basketball acumen will serve the program well and her leadership will be an asset for Mitchell College. We believe that she will build great relationships with our student-athletes and be able to recruit in a climate that is always changing. We want to continue the success of the women’s hoops program as we enter the GNAC and feel like Ashley is the perfect person for the job.”

    During her time as an assistant coach at Central Connecticut, Wilson had a wide variety of responsibilities, which included serving as an individual position coach for a player who was named All-Northeast Conference Second Team and became the 17th player in program history to score 1,000 points. Wilson served as a 4/5 position coach, led individual workouts, led individual film sessions, handled scouting of opponents, and developed game plans of opponents.

    “I would like to thank my supportive wife, Leana, my parents (Connie, Jeff) and brother (Jeff Jr.),” shared Wilson. “I would also like to thank my college coach/mentor Carrie Lohr. This is a wonderful opportunity for me. I can’t tell you how excited I am to get started. I am honored to lead this group of young women. I look forward to developing the student-athletes on and off the court.”

    Additional roles which Wilson handled while at CCSU included in-game offensive play calling, post-game film breakdown, regional recruiting in Connecticut, game day operations, team travel itineraries and budgeting. She also served as training room liaison, providing health services updates and rehab programs for incoming and returning student athletes, as well as strength and conditioning liaison, producing regular updates and adjustments.

    Prior to arriving at CCSU, Wilson spent the 2020-21 season as the head coach of the women’s basketball program at Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut. While with the Mustangs, Wilson handled all aspects of running the women’s prep basketball program, including scheduling, recruiting, budgeting and practice planning.

    “One of my biggest strengths is being relatable,” Wilson said. “I am a former student-athlete, so I have been through this journey before. Therefore, I can give insight and advice from an athlete perspective. I am very positive, enthusiastic and supportive. I feel my passion for the game is shown through my coaching style. My energy is contagious and will help fuel the team at times.”

    Following her playing career overseas in Portugal and China, Wilson began coaching in China as a basketball trainer for Five Star Sports, working with both male and female athletes and leading Nike, NBA and CBA event clinics. She then spent a year working at Nike Rise Academy as trainer where she instructed young adults in basketball sessions ranging from “Fundamental 1” to “Elite” trainings. It was here where she also crafted various levels of professional training upon assessment of individual skill sets.

    Wilson played collegiately at Division II Wayne State University from 2012-2016. While there, she helped lead the team to the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and graduated as the program’s career leader in free throw percentage. During her career with the Warriors, Wilson averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals per game.

    “I am extremely excited about the future of Mitchell,” continued Wilson. “We have great pieces coming back to the team and will add others as we build our roster for the upcoming season. Our future is bright as we intend to continue the success of previous years. The sky is the limit, that’s how I feel here. I am goal-oriented and disciplined. Expectations will be known upfront. Team goals will be set and every day we will strive to reach our end goals. Every day matters along the way, and we will build day by day.”

    Wilson holds a B.A. in Public Relations with a minor in business from Wayne State University.

    Gilblair Returns to New London, Named Head Baseball Coach

    Shawn Gilblair has been named head coach of the Mitchell College baseball team, as announced by Director of Athletics Matt Finlayson.

    Gilblair, who will make his collegiate head coaching debut with the Mariners, returns to New London, where he served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Mitchell College baseball team from 2019-2022. Most recently he spent a year at his alma mater, Eastern Connecticut State University, where he held the role of pitching coach. Gilblair replaces Travis Beausoleil, who compiled a record of 306-131-2 during 12 seasons leading the Mariners before recently accepting the Athletic Director position at UConn-Avery Point.

    “We are thrilled to announce Shawn Gilblair as the next head coach for our baseball program,” said Director of Athletics Matt Finlayson. “Shawn is no stranger to Mitchell, and we are excited for him to continue the success that he directly contributed to during his time here. His baseball resume as a coach, recruiter and player combined with his character and leadership will help ensure that Mitchell baseball continues its proud tradition of excellence.”

    Gilbalir has encountered nothing but success during his time on the diamond both as a player and a coach. A 2011 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, he was a three-time First Team All-America selection, a two-time New England Player of the Year, a two-time Co-National Player of the Year, a three-time New England Collegiate Baseball League Top Pitcher of the Year, and was named to the All Decade Team.

    “I would like to thank President Dr. Espy, Athletic Director Matt Finlayson and the entire search committee for the time and effort put forth for this search,” Gilblair said. “It is an honor that Director Finlayson has entrusted me to be the next head coach and lead the baseball program. I look forward to building on a great tradition and experience for the student-athletes that has long been established both on and off the field.”

    Before arriving at Mitchell in July of 2019, Gilblair served as pitching coach for Eastern Connecticut State University, Montclair State University and for the New Britain Bees. During his first stint with the Mariners, he worked to develop a pitching staff that entered NCAA regional play ranking top 10 in the country among all major statistical categories including ERA, strikeout to walk ratio and strikeouts per nine innings. Gilblair also recruited 19 players to the program and watched as they received All-Region and All-Conference recognition.

    In addition, Gilblair orchestrated showcase camps and clinics and played an active role in the strength and conditioning of the team, specifically all aspects of physical development for pitchers, many of whom saw significant jumps in velocity.

    “I’ve been so fortunate to have great mentors and coaches in my life,” shared Gilblair. “Many times, learning about the game of baseball came secondary to preparing for life and growing into young professionals in the real world. Because of this, I take great pride in developing players into respected, reliable, disciplined and competitors beyond the game of baseball.”

    After transitioning back to Eastern Connecticut for the 2022-23 season, Gilblair recruited 80% of incoming 2023 class while guiding a pitching staff, which ranked 13th nationally in ERA heading into NCAA regional tournament. Three pitchers from the Eastern staff received All-Conference recognition, while also earning Team of the Week honors, and were named Little East Conference Pitcher of the Week and Rookie of the Week. Additionally, a pitcher on the Eastern staff was named to the All-America Fourth Team.

    “With the upgraded facilities including one of the best fields in all of New England and our transition into a competitive conference in the GNAC, I couldn’t be more excited about the future of not only baseball but all athletic programs at Mitchell,” Gilblair continued. “The future is bright, and I’m eager to work with and learn from all the great coaches in the athletic department.”

    The Mariners finished with a 33-10 record that included an 11-1 mark in New England Collegiate Conference play during the 2023 season. Mitchell picked up their ninth conference title, third in a row, and went on to win a program-best two games in the Regional Round of the NCAA Tournament. Mitchell will be joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) beginning in the 2023-24 academic year. 

    A native of Windham, Connecticut, Gilblair holds a B.S. Degree from Eastern in Sport & Leisure Management.

    Goldsmith and Roberts Leave Indelible Mark

    Professors Marc Goldsmith and Dean Roberts, who began their careers at Mitchell College in different eras of the last century, recently retired after a combined 91 years of teaching tens of thousands of students. Their contributions are hard to measure, but the standard they set for excellence in teaching remains a constant at the college.

    Goldsmith, who came to Mitchell 55 years ago in 1968, arrived in the midst of the Vietnam War. Roberts started 36 years ago, in 1987, years before the explosion of cell phones, laptop computers and smart boards. Times changed for these faculty, as Mitchell College went from a two-year to a four-year school, but their dedication to their students didn’t.

    Marc Goldsmith
    Marc Goldsmith, associate professor of communication, held myriad roles during his tenure, including dean of students, associate dean for instruction and academic programs, assistant dean for special programs and interim vice president of academic affairs/dean of the college. He also founded the college radio station (WRMC) and coached golf.

    “Mitchell has always been a special place, connected to the community. It’s created memories and improved people’s lives,” he said. “I get messaged every once in a while thanking me for what I have done,” he said.

    One thankful student traveled all the way from Texas to New London recently to attend a retirement party given by the college for the two professors. Dr. John Russell ’73 wanted to express his gratitude for his professor in person. The ‘B’ that Goldsmith gave Russell, who was valedictorian of his class, was the lowest grade (and only ‘B’) that he received at Mitchell.

    In a thank you for the celebration, Russell wrote, “…Mr. Goldsmith is an honest grader. As a consequence of this fact, his fall semester course was the first occasion in which I had ever practiced serious self-criticism in my own writing. My writing improved thereafter, but slowly…The practice of self-criticism in English composition proved to be a lifetime benefit for me and I am indebted to Mr. Goldsmith more than anyone else for this blessing.” He added that the first ‘A’ that he received on a paper in Goldsmith’s class was regarded by him as “a particularly significant milestone in my academic career.” Russell went from Mitchell to MIT, where he earned four degrees, including a doctorate, in the fields of mathematics, aeronautics and astronautics.

    Reflecting on his time at Mitchell College, Goldsmith said, “I will miss the camaraderie of the faculty and the challenge of the classroom. I will miss that the most.”

    Dean Roberts
    In addition to teaching exercise science and sport management, Dean Roberts committed himself to coaching two Mitchell teams—soccer for 29 years and baseball for 15 years.

    “I have loved my dual role as a teacher and a coach. I spent a lot of time with the student-athletes in the classroom and on the athletic fields, and I enjoyed seeing their growth as students, from their first year to their final year. In many cases it was a complete transformation, from recruitment to graduation. As I watched students walk across the stage, I gained satisfaction that I had a positive effect on these young people.”

    Parker Beard ’10, ’12 (who earned an associate and a bachelor’s degree) wrote in a thank you to Roberts: “…I was struggling to get the hang of college and I thought about quitting. You took me under your wing, you made sure I didn’t give up, you pushed me to go get help. I remember that you told me you wanted to see me on stage on Graduation Day…without your guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am in my life today!”

    A self-described high school “underdog,” Roberts said he has related to many Mitchell students.

    “I was not the best student and didn’t have many leadership opportunities. But there were people along the way who gave me the confidence to succeed. In turn, here I saw many students flourish in the classroom and on the playing field. They were given the opportunity to become campus and athletic leaders at Mitchell.”

    Through their tireless dedication and steady commitment to student success, Marc Goldsmith and Dean Roberts have had a lasting impact on Mitchell College. They have inspired countless students to find their purpose and achieve their goals. Likewise, they have inspired the faculty who remain to continue their legacy of providing a student-centered learning environment that builds confidence and prepares students to make their mark in the world.


    President Espy Delivers Juneteenth Remarks

    Mitchell College President Tracy Y. Espy delivered the keynote address at the 34th Juneteenth Commemoration Ceremony and Flag Raising in Norwich, Conn., which took place June 16 at the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard at Norwich City Hall. The event was sponsored by the NAACP Norwich Branch and Global City Norwich.

    Dr. Gizelle Tircuit, Mitchell College director of health and wellness, chaired and emceed the Juneteenth event, which included song, dance, an award presentation and remarks from Norwich Mayor Peter A. Nystrom, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and State Sen. Cathy Osten.

    Juneteenth marks the date when the enslaved people in Texas were finally freed — June 19, 1865 —more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

    In her speech Dr. Espy reflected on the power of telling stories on this special day through the lens of the past, present and future. She said that through the simple act of acknowledging Juneteenth “we learn more about the origins of this holiday and the people whose lives were changed by it. It humanizes the experience of a people and the collective stories they share in view of their freedom.”

    She talked about the stories of former slaves passed down through generations of family, “sacred connections to a time long ago,” that made the struggles of slavery real and “preserved the ‘truth’ of its culture” from one generation to the next.

    Espy’s own family story, preserved through storytelling and other records in “a very old family Bible,” includes ancestor Darby Willis, an enslaved man who was purchased in Virginia and taken to Alabama.

    “He was a driver, minister and ultimately founder of a church in Gallion, Alabama,” Espy said. “Darby Willis passed away one year after slaves were released from Texas, in 1866. His children and many descendants thereafter would taste freedom in ways he did not,” she said.

    As a graduate student Espy did more research into her family’s rich history and gained more insight.

    “It would be years, and tears, to bring me to a place of true acknowledgment, gratitude and acceptance of this glorious history that is mine and that of my family…and it exposed the stories of so many others who were marginalized or displaced for reasons beyond their control. This knowledge of these collective stories became a force in opening my eyes and heart to the human nature of pain and suffering. The stories became more real, more painful and more meaningful.”

    Growing up in the South in the 1970s and 1980s, Espy said there was “an ‘air’ of freedom…from the good work of the Civil Rights movement” and “the physical manifestations of a ‘free’ and open society to ‘people of color,’ even a brown girl like me, were visible to the naked eye, but lurking just below the surface were clear undertones of systemic racism and oppression.”

    Espy said her “ancestral stories are my super power” and that she “held both the story of my late ancestors and the realities of my present story as critical to who I was during that point in my life, with the hopes of what I would become in the future.”

    “Each of us, whether our ancestors were enslaved or free, have a story to tell that celebrates the spirit of our humanness,” she said.

    Baseball Hosts NCAA Regional Round for First Time

    The Mitchell College baseball team will serve as the host for a Regional Round in the upcoming 2023 NCAA Baseball Championship Tournament for the first time in College history, as announced by the NCAA on Monday afternoon.

    The Mariners (31-8 overall), who recently won their third consecutive and ninth overall New England Collegiate Conference Championship, will welcome Wheaton College (MA), Tufts University, and Husson University to New London for the three-day double elimination Regional which is set to begin on Friday, May 19. Third-seeded Mitchell will begin their quest for their first Regional title when they play second-seeded Tufts on Friday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:30pm. Prior to that game, the weekend will kick off when top overall seed Wheaton battles Husson at 10:00am. Tournament action continues with three games on Saturday and the title round on Sunday.

    Mitchell was one of 41 teams in the field that qualified automatically by winning its conference championship. The Mariners, under 12th-year head coach Travis Beausoleil, claimed the 2023 New England Collegiate Conference Championship by defeating second-seeded Eastern Nazarene College 15-2. Mitchell is making its eighth overall NCAA appearance (2023, 2022, 2021, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011) and seventh under Beausoleil.

    Wheaton (MA) was ranked #8 in the final Top 25 Poll of the regular season and earned an automatic bid by defeating Babson College 10-2, to capture the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic ConferenceTournament Baseball Championship, while the Jumbos also earned an automatic bid by capturing their seventh New England Small College Athletic Conference title with a 12-1 win over Middlebury College. The Eagles of Husson are making their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance after edging SUNY Cobleskill 4-1 in the North Atlantic Conference championship game.

    The Mariners are 0-1 all-time against Tufts, having suffered an 8-1 setback on the opening day of play at the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional. Meanwhile, Mitchell has never faced Wheaton (MA), and is 8-1 all-time against Husson, most recently sweeping a doubleheader against the Eagles at home in late March.

    General admission tickets are $5 each day and can be purchased at the gate.

    2023 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship
    New London, Conn. Regional
    Hosted by Mitchell College
    May 19-21, 2023

    Friday, May 19
    Game 1 – #1 Wheaton College vs. #4 Husson University – 10:00am
    Game 2 – #2 Tufts University vs. #3 Mitchell College – 1:30pm

    Saturday, May 20
    Game 3 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 8:30am
    Game 4 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – Noon
    Game 5 – Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 3:30pm

    Sunday, May 21
    Game 6 – Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 – 11:00am
    Game 7 – IF NECESSARY – 45 minutes after Game 6

    For additional information, including live video and live stats, visit the Tournament Homepage.