College embraces culture, community

KEILA TORRES Staff writer
Connecticut Post Online
Article Last Updated:10/11/2007 11:44:25 PM EDT
For Anita T. Gliniecki, the name of her new school, Housatonic Community College, says it all. Community.

Gliniecki, who will be installed as Housatonic's fourth president today, opened the school to not just students and staff Thursday, but to all who wanted to take a peek at what takes place on the downtown Bridgeport campus. And what they saw and participated in were numerous cultural events, such as dances and lectures on a range of topics.

"A president is only successful if a college is successful," said Gliniecki, of Monroe. "And a college is only successful if it's really seen as an integral part of the community."

Gliniecki wanted to incorporate the community in her inauguration. She said she was happy with the way the faculty, staff and students rallied around her idea and made it a reality by voluntarily opening lectures to the public and organizing more than a dozen theatrical, musical and art performances. "We serve multiple cultures and communities," said Gliniecki. "My idea was to reflect our 11- town service region."

Some of the cultural events included a Rembrandt lecture, a folkloric story skit that included dancing and a comedy skit with singing. Performances by Puerto Rican dancers from the Performing Arts Center and the Fairfield Gaelic Pipe Band, and a capoeira dance demonstration were also highlights of the event. Throughout the day classrooms were open to the public in a variety of topics, including environmental hazards and ego-defense mechanisms.

Henry Schissler opened his class on the sociology of crime and punishment and led a discussion on serial killing and its impact on society. Five non-students attended.

Schissler integrated discussion of modern movies, his experience as a psychotherapist and a light sense of humor to convey his point and create an open discussion that allowed those present to interact with him and ask questions. Schissler said he thought the day's events were a good way to "feel maybe for the first time, or a continuation of, a connection to the Housatonic environment."

Mark Heithaus, 43, a medical major, said he enrolled in the course because of the violence he's seen in the world.

Heithaus, who is retired from the Navy, said that in light of recent school shootings he, as a single father of two teenage boys, felt that learning about why people commit crimes is important. For Gliniecki, opening HCC to the public Thursday was a success.

"I've been able to at least visit all of the activities and it really reinforced to me the quality and caliber of this college and this community," said Gliniecki.

The inauguration ceremony will be held in the college atrium today at 11 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public.