The Children’s Learning Center Earns National NAEYC Accreditation

NEW LONDON, Conn. – October 12, 2021 – The Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College (CLC), located in New London, Connecticut, has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)—the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.

NAEYC Accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 research-based standards to collaborate with early education programs to recognize and drive quality-improvement in high-quality early learning environments.

“Under the expert leadership of director Claudia Murphy, the CLC has earned the mark of quality from the NAEYC. We are proud that our little gem in the woods is recognized by the accrediting body for its commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” said Dr. Elizabeth Beaulieu, vice president for academic affairs.

The CLC, which offers both a preschool and kindergarten program, uses the Reggio Emilia Approach focused on nature-based learning. It also serves as a Laboratory School for Mitchell College students in the Teaching & Learning and Human Services cores. Students are actively engaged as researchers, interns, and student workers. This partnership ensures an innovative approach to best practices in the fields of human development and early childhood education.

To earn NAEYC Accreditation, the CLC went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to verify and ensure that the program met each of the ten program standards, and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria. NAEYC-accredited programs are always prepared for unannounced quality-assurance visits during their accreditation term, which lasts for five years.

In the 30 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. More than 6,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC—less than 10 percent of all child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition. 

“NAEYC-Accredited programs have committed to a process that takes time, energy and dedication to complete” said Alissa Mwenelupembe, senior director of early learning program accreditation. “The Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College has demonstrated their commitment to young children and their families.”

To learn more about the CLC, visit



Mitchell Announces Cabaret Auditions

We know that great talent is out there! Mitchell and Thames students, faculty and staff are invited to submit an act proposal here (singing, dancing, comedy, instrumental) for our Performing Arts Cabaret that will take place as part of Mariner Day! for Families and Alumni on Saturday, October 16 at 7pm!
Auditions will be held September 27-October 8, 2021.


Dr. Espy’s Podcast is Now Live!

In this podcast, Dr. Tracy Y. Espy discusses the very unique value proposition at Mitchell College and what makes Mitchell’s education so distinctive. She talks about how college and the community go hand-in-hand, and why finding ways to help rebuild the community is an important and critical piece of running a successful institution. In addition, Dr. Espy talks about how empathy is the antecedent to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more or listen online at


Mitchell Welcomes Three New Faculty

NEW LONDON, CT – September 16, 2021– Mitchell College announced three new full-time faculty members for the Academic Year 2021-2022 in the areas of education, science and business. Dr. Christopher Clouet is an assistant professor of education; Dr. Lindsay Rush is an assistant professor of science; and Dr. James Patsalides is a visiting professor of marketing, a one-year appointment.

Clouet will teach educational psychology and early childhood education, including on the topic of parent and family involvement. Superintendent of New London Public Schools from 2004 to 2009, he most recently served as a special advisor to the commissioner of education for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Prior to that, for nearly 20 years he led several other school districts as superintendent, including Shelton, Conn., Westchester, N.Y., and Thomaston, Conn. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Southern Connecticut State University, a master’s degree in corporate and political communication from Fairfield University, a master’s degree in international studies from Brown University, and a Doctor of Education in educational administration from Columbia University.

Rush will teach broadly within the sciences including biology, genetics, chemistry, and research compliance. She has taught at several other institutions including at Quinnipiac University as a visiting assistant professor and at the University of New Haven. Her research focus is cancer genetics using the fruit fly Drosophila and zebrafish model systems and previous research has included undergraduate students. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall College and a Master and Doctor of Philosophy in genetics from Yale University.

Patsalides will teach management, focusing on how to use a combination of data analytics and human interaction to help managers make better decisions. He brings more than 20 years of management experience and more than 10 years of teaching experience in higher education, including eight years as associate professor at Albertus Magnus College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology and mathematics from Canterbury Christ Church University, a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Master of Art in teaching from Sacred Heart University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in education from Prescott College.

Dr. Elizabeth Beaulieu, vice president for academic affairs, said, “The addition of these three outstanding educators will contribute to robust learning experiences for Mitchell undergraduates and to our overall goal of academic excellence.”

Dr. Tracy Espy, Mitchell College president, said, “Growing our full-time faculty is a priority of Mitchell College. We welcome the unique perspectives of our newest faculty members as we work to enhance our curriculum with an eye towards innovation and collaboration.”

Mitchell College Faculty Prepares to Help Students Achieve Highest Potential

​Like their students, Mitchell College faculty went “back to school” on Friday, August 27, for its 2021 Fall Conference, a professional development opportunity for full-time and adjunct faculty. There, as in the classroom, knowledge was shared, ideas were exchanged and community was strengthened, as faculty prepared for a stellar academic year.

Traditionally held annually in May, the conference is now biannual, in both fall and spring. Fall conference topics focused on accessibility and universal design issues, along with Ability Based Education. Depending on the topic, presenters are in-house or hired from outside of Mitchell.

Criminal justice professor Jenna Curren, current chair of the Professional Development Committee and one of the organizers (along with behavioral sciences professors Dr. Nancy Parent and Dr. Tara Broccoli and ACE Fellow Dr. Hilton Kelly), said, “Topics for the conference are based on where we are now as a college community. We look at what would be most beneficial for our faculty. With the academic program assessment coming up, plus new leadership at Mitchell, we thought it was a good time to also have a refresher on accessibility for students. This and Ability Based Education are part of the fabric of who we are, so these things will likely always be embedded in our programs going forward. We want to be purposeful and intentional about it.”

Presenter Antaya Lee, accessibility services coordinator at Mitchell, said, “The most important information I try to convey when speaking about accessibility and universal design to Mitchell faculty is that accessibility is our shared responsibility. Think about the impact on a student’s learning when extra steps need to be taken in order to access the same materials as their classmates. The student’s disability isn’t the problem; the lack of access is.”

Lee said, “Putting some thought into accessibility when building and planning our courses take a little extra effort up front but save both time and frustration for all parties later. Often, the things to be aware of in order to foster accessibility are not complicated or complex, but simply need our awareness in order to select, build, and share accessible course materials. Awareness allows for accessibility in the physical sense as well – in how classrooms spaces are set up and how activities are planned. And, most importantly, having an accessible attitude makes the biggest difference so that we can hear and learn about the experiences of our students and colleagues so that we can continue to make our environments inclusive.”

Curren said that 20 adjuncts and 15 full-time faculty participated in the conference. The two groups met separately, allowing the time and space to ask and address questions unique to each group.

“There was great conversation among the full-time faculty. It was open and honest, informational and conversational. The new dean [Dr. Betsy Beaulieu, vice president for academic affairs] was there, and the faculty felt energized. There was also great food at lunch provided by Chartwells, Mitchell’s dining services provider.”

The adjunct faculty experienced something similar.

“I was very excited to see the addition of professional development for adjunct instructors at Mitchell College. For me, the sessions provided a better understanding of the school’s mission and culture. It also increased my sense of belonging and helped decrease my feelings of isolation associated with being a part-time instructor,” said Linda Shields, adjunct instructor in hospitality.

Business adjunct Linda Buhr said that she found learning about LibGuides, a content management and information sharing system for libraries, most helpful and looks forward to being back in the classroom with her students.

Katie Nazarian, interim library director and a conference co-facilitator, said, “What we noticed most was the networking among adjuncts.  They seemed to really enjoy getting to know one another, sharing experiences, and learning about the tools together.  We observed a number of them sharing contact information, helping each other, and talking about connecting again later.”

According to Curren, in addition to the biannual professional development conferences, faculty have other opportunities to connect with each other, including its Faculty Learning Community, offering a guided discussion on a designated topic, taking place six to seven times per year, and a faculty portal where papers and articles of interest can be posted.

Curren said, “In order to foster an inclusive environment in the classroom and help students of all levels learn to their highest potential, faculty professional development enables instructors to adjust their pedagogical style so they are able to engage students and help prepare them for life after college.”

The Day features Dr. Tracy Y. Espy and exciting new initiatives on the horizon for Mitchell.

By Erica Moser Day staff writer | As published in The Day

Published August 25. 2021 6:23PM | Updated August 25. 2021 8:41PM

New London — When Tracy Espy got involved in Mitchell College’s search for a new president, she said there were just “some inklings” of COVID-19, and she didn’t know what it would mean.

Now, she’s been president for more than a year and is entering the second fall semester happening during the pandemic.

“I really didn’t know the impact of accepting a presidency during a worldwide pandemic, and also moving, so it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been a good whirlwind,” said Espy, whose appointment as president was effective July 1 of last year.

She sat down with The Day last week to talk about her first year and what’s ahead.

One of her priorities was setting up a senior leadership team, with a goal of finding people who have a “connection to our mission and vision” and “the ability to lead during a very difficult time in higher education,” Espy said.

In May, the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region announced that Executive Director Nancy Cowser was leaving to become Mitchell’s chief advancement and alumni relations officer.

Mitchell also recently has announced that it welcomed Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Beaulieu as vice president of academic affairs and Alicia Martinez as dean of student experience and belonging. Matt Finlayson joined as athletic director at the end of June.

Hilton Kelly, professor of educational studies and Africana studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, will be at Mitchell just for this coming school year, through the American Council on Education Fellows Program, which “enables participants to immerse themselves in the study and practice of leadership.”

Espy said community collaboration is important to her, and students were able to continue internships this past year despite the pandemic. That included hospitality internships at hotels and restaurants, a marine environment internship at a beach in Massachusetts and field work with energy and environmental solutions company Veolia and the University of Connecticut.

Espy said one of her goals is to increase the number of internship partners, and the college received an anonymous gift to support the student internship experience. She said if students want to participate in an internship but faces a hurdle, such as transportation, they can apply for funds.

Also on the topic of community connections, the president said she has conversations once a month with the mayor of New London, superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy and president of Connecticut College.

Amid doing most of her meetings on Zoom last year, Espy said she spent a lot of time just walking through New London and meeting people. Coming from North Carolina and new to this area, she has enjoyed learning about architecture and the college’s history, and eating at local places like Sellfish, On the Waterfront and Ocean Pizza.

What’s ahead
Espy said faculty this year will be developing Mitchell College’s first master’s program, which will be in mental health.

For other program development efforts, she said science, technology, engineering and math are important, as is industry demand. She said she is focused on further aligning the Mitchell Ability Model, which is about teaching adaptability, with workforce needs.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, has secured $555,000 in federal funding for a planned digital innovation hub at Mitchell, which Espy said would provide students badges and certificates in things like data analytics, digital marketing and cybersecurity. Espy said the college also will seek private donations and do additional fundraising.

Mitchell College also recently was selected for a grant to support vocational exploration among students, with Espy saying it’s about helping students explore natural talents that could lead to a career.

Espy said Mitchell is in the final stages of looking at its branding, and is launching its strategic planning process for the next five years.

The college welcomed first-year students on Wednesday, with returning students arriving Sunday.