University Of Hartford: Athletic Director Proud Of Her Successes

By OWEN CANFIELD, Special to The Courant The Hartford Courant

January 29, 2012

When Athletic Director Pat Meiser speaks of the sports programs at the University of Hartford, she wears a look that is half determination about where the program is going and half satisfaction about where it has been.

When she addresses the subject of the GPA earned by all UHart athletes combined, it’s a look of pride, as it should be. “The combined average is 3.18,” she says, across a lunch table at Max a Mia in Avon.

She’s entering her 20th year as AD at the university, on the West Hartford-Hartford border. It’s hard to believe it has been that long since Meiser was introduced by Hartford officials in front of a large crowd of well-wishers, including a good number of University of Connecticut sports people. She was coming to UHart from UConn where, for 11 years, she had served as associate athletic director for administration and senior women’s administrator.

I remember saying to Lew Perkins, than the UConn AD, “What do you think, Lew? Is Pat ready for a job like this?”
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He looked at me as if I had asked him if he thought the world would end tomorrow.

“Can she handle this? Ha. No question about it,” he said without the slightest hesitation. “She’s one of the best-qualified people I know.”

Meiser has spent the past two decades proving Perkins right, doing a job that is sometimes thankless because Hartford’s sports programs, particularly the basketball teams, are consistently overshadowed by those of UConn. But University President Walter Harrison and his predecessors recognize that Meiser is an athletic director of sound judgment and that she is made of stern stuff, two elements every AD must have.

“I was the 11th female AD in the country,” she said. “Now there are 28, still not enough but improving.”

“Do you realize,” she asked, “that this is the 40th year of Title IX? My life has been all about Title IX. I’m a product of it.”

Title IX is the NCAA legislation put in place many years ago that decreed women’s sports were to be given all the advantages that men’s sports receive.

Meiser played tennis at Penn State and later got the chance to coach that university’s women’s basketball team. The young coach was delighted when Title IX passed, but everybody in Happy Valley wasn’t. “Four head coaches resigned because of it,” she said.

That didn’t upset her. “In 1974, as head coach, I awarded the first women’s scholarship at Penn State,” she said. “It went to a girl named Margaret Strittmatter. She was 6-4, the daughter of a potato farmer from Altoona, Pa. Four years later we were a Top 20 team. Eventually we got as high as 13th.”

At Hartford, many good things have happened on Meiser’s watch. One of the best was hiring Jennifer Rizzotti as head women’s basketball coach. Many years ago, one of her Hartford Blizzard pro teammates said of Rizzotti, “That girl is like a rock star.” She still has that kind of appeal, even on the sidelines.

Last year, the men’s soccer team, under first-year head coach Tom Poitrus enjoyed a roaring finish, showing the promise of future successes, and Coach John Natale’s women’s soccer club had a regular season record of 13-1-3, losing the last game of the year. The final record was 13-2-3.

The lacrosse team’s 2011 season was a great success. Coach Peter Lawrence’s team upset Stony Brook in the America East tournament to make the NCAAs, earning Lawrence the Coach of the Year honors in the Northeast region.

When the men’s basketball team began the 2011-12 season 0-12, people wondered if second year coach John Gallagher was the wrong guy for the job. Pat Meiser never entertained those doubts for a minute. She believes in him because he has shown all the right instincts and methods, despite hard times. “He starts four freshmen,” said Meiser, showing complete faith in Gallagher.

Gallagher, while young, has a strong coaching resume and like his boss, possesses skill, self confidence and patience. Four recent victories appear to be bearing out his confidence and belief in himself. The Hawks were crushed in their last game, Wednesday, but tough seasons are full of tough defeats. Better days are coming.


Study: Anti-Gay Bullying Pervasive And Harmful In Elementary Schools


By Zack Ford on Jan 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

A new study released today by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) takes an in-depth look at the climate of elementary schools in relation to bullying. The results demonstrate how important it is to be talking with young people about LGBT issues, as homophobia is clearly already playing a big role for the 3rd-6th graders who were surveyed. It’s also clear that teachers need to be better empowered to speak about LGBT issues and same-sex families so they are prepared to interrupt bullying.

Here are some of the key results from the survey:

45 percent of students and 49 percent of teachers hear “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” used negatively sometimes, often, or all the time. This was trumped only by anti-ability comments like “retard” and “spaz,” which were heard more often by students (51 percent).
48 percent of teachers hear students make sexist remarks at least sometimes at school, such as comments about what a boy or girl should do or wear.
26 percent of students and teachers hear “fag” or “lesbo” at least sometimes.
75 percent of students report that students in their school are called names, made fun of, or bullied with at least some regularity, with 36 percent saying they have been the target.

Bullying has a big impact on students’ experiences in the schools:

They are less likely to say that they get good grades (57 percent vs. 71 percent).
They are less likely to say they’re happy in school this year (34 percent vs. 69 percent).
They are four times as likely to not want to go to school for safety reasons (33 percent vs. 8 percent).
They are less likely to get along with their parents (61 percent vs. 75 percent).
They are less likely to say they have a lot of friends (33 percent vs. 57 percent).
They are three times as likely to say they feel stressed (15 percent vs. 4 percent).

Less than half of teachers feel comfortable responding to questions about gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (48 percent) or transgender people (41 percent). Only 37 percent of teachers have received professional development on gender issues and even less (23 percent) have been trained to talk about families with LGBT parents.

Anti-LGBT bullying is clearly underway among students as young as 3rd grade, even if they do not fully understand the terms they are using. Stemming the bullying epidemic and its many negative consequences requires intervention at a young age, and any attempt to censor LGBT issues — such as Tennessee’s proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill or Anoka-Hennepin’s “neutrality” policy — would only exacerbate the harm.


National Gay-Straight Alliance Day message from Secretary Arne Duncan


Poly Prep school attorney argues Title IX moot in sexual abuse case

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An attorney for Poly Prep Day School says the men who claim they were sexually abused by the private school’s longtime football coach fumbled when they asked a judge to amend their lawsuit to include claims that the school violated Title IX by demonstrating deliberate indifference to their allegations.

In papers filed in Brooklyn federal court on Friday, attorney Jeffrey Kohn wrote that the plaintiffs should not be able to make claims against the Dyker Heights school based solely on the school’s tax-exempt status.

Title IX, the 1972 law best known for enforcing equality for women in collegiate sports, prohibits education programs that receive federal aid from discriminating based on gender. Kevin Mulhearn, the lawyer representing nine men who claim they were sexually abused by longtime Poly Prep football coach Phil Foglietta, filed papers last week asking a judge for permission to amend their complaint to invoke Title IX because the law clearly prohibits sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The private school is subject to Title IX even if it has not received direct federal funding, Mulhearn wrote, because it is a tax-exempt institution.

Kohn responded in the filing by saying other courts have barred plaintiffs from making Title IX claims based solely on tax status.

“Plaintiffs will be unable to satisfy the core requirement that Poly Prep has received federal funding,” Kohn wrote.

But the papers do not specifically say whether Poly Prep ever received federal funds.

“I find it interesting that Poly Prep’s attorneys didn’t categorically deny that Poly Prep has received any form of federal assistance during the relevant period,” Mulhearn said. “In fact, our investigation over the last week has revealed that for many years Poly Prep students received thousands of dollars in federal financial aid. We look forward to exploring this issue at greater length.”

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School Bullying Outbreak

School Bullying Outbreak MAT@USC
Via MAT@USC: Masters in Teaching


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