Monthly Archives: February 2009

McCann: Artistic Inspiration in Economic Crisis

Sean McCann, professor or English, director, Center for Career Development, has an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal discussing the artistic bounty generated during the Great Depression in literature and film that hinged on issues of class differences and thwarted social mobility. McCann wonders if the current economic conditions will yield a similar outpouring from authors and film-makers.

Applications to Wesleyan Up 22% From Last Year

Applications for admission to Wesleyan rose 22% this year.

Applications for admission to Wesleyan rose 22% this year.

In November, 2008, when all the first round early decision applications were in, the Wesleyan admissions’ staff knew the initial numbers were not a fluke. Applications from high school students seeking admission during the first early decision period at Wesleyan were up 34 percent from the previous year, 2007. Still, the admissions staff maintained cautious enthusiasm.

“We were elated, but we also remained a bit guarded because, quite frankly, we didn’t know if the early decision increase would be followed by a decrease in overall applications, especially with the economy taking such a dramatic downturn,” says Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid. “So we were holding our breath a bit and continuing to contact students and follow up to convert prospects to applications right through the end of December.”

In January, Hargrave Meislahn and the rest of the admissions staff were officially allowed to not only exhale but to even crow a bit. Early decision applications finished up 34 percent from 2007. Overall applications for admission to Wesleyan saw a 22 percent increase from the previous year; this included more than 2,200 filed electronically at the December 31 deadline.

The end result: Wesleyan received 10,057 applications for the roughly 740 spots that will comprise the Class of 2013.

Grossman On a Turning Point in Economic History

In a Reuters article, Richard Grossman, chair and professor of economics, discusses at length the declaration of bankruptcy of the 150 year-old Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., and why that event marked a major turning point in American economic history.

Basinger on Recession’s Effect on Movie Content

Jeanine Basinger, chair and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, discussed with CNN how the recession may be reflected in the content of upcoming films.

Zilkha Installation Sees the World in Grains of Rice

“Stan’s Cafe: Of All the People in All the World, USA,” is a installation and performance art exhibit that uses grains of rice to bring various comparative statistical data to life. The piece is part of the Feet to the Fire project and was recently profiled on WFSB 3 TV. It runs from Feb. 20 until March 3 at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery.

Coach Reilly Carries on Family Legacy

First year men’s head basketball coach Joe Reilly was profiled on NBC Channel 30. He speaks about the academic and athletc rigors at Wesleyan, and about carrying on the same profession as his father and brother.

Krafft ’09 Speaks on Iraq Experiences at N.Y. Museum

Max Krafft '09 overlooks the city of An Nasiriyah, Iraq during a deployment with the U.S. Army. Krafft will speak about his experience March 7 and 22 as part of an upcoming art show at the New Museum in New York City. Krafft says the image "portrays visually the daunting task of talking about something so large and confusing from one person's perspective."

Max Krafft '09 overlooks the city of An Nasiriyah, Iraq during a deployment with the U.S. Army. Krafft will speak about his experience March 7 and 22 as part of an upcoming installation at the New Museum in New York City. Krafft says the image "portrays visually the daunting task of talking about something so large and confusing from one person's perspective."

As a former U.S. Army sergeant, Max Krafft ’09 has a lot to say about his two stints serving in Iraq.

The English major was deployed in December 2005, and again in January 2007. On both occasions he was touring as the bass player and sound engineer for a rock/pop/country/R&B ensemble affiliated with the 389th Army Band.

“We were there to perform for the members of the military and government contractors who were stationed there during the holidays in an attempt to entertain them and boost their morale,” Krafft explains, regarding his role overseas.

Krafft, who lived and worked within 300 meters of a car bomb explosion and several mortar attacks, will share his thoughts on the War in Iraq as part of an exhibit at the New Museum in New York. The part-installation, part-conversation show

Varekamp Watching Alaskan Volcano Closely

Ascending eruption cloud from the Mount Redoubt volcano in 1990 as viewed to the west from the Kenai Peninsula. The mushroom-shaped plume rose from avalanches of hot debris that cascaded down the north flank of the volcano. A smaller, white steam plume rises from the summit crater. (Photo by R. Clucas)

Ascending eruption cloud from the Mount Redoubt volcano in 1990 as viewed to the west from the Kenai Peninsula. The mushroom-shaped plume rose from avalanches of hot debris that cascaded down the north flank of the volcano. A smaller, white steam plume rises from the summit crater. (Photo by R. Clucas)

About 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, the ground around Mount Redoubt has begun to shake and a smell akin to rotten eggs tinges the air. The last time this happened the 10,197-foot volcano erupted for five months, venting hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide gas and spewing ash into the air. Professor Johan Varekamp remembers it well. He was among scientists who analyzed the direct effects of the 1989-1990 eruption.

The ash he examined was ejected more than 40,000 feet into the sky; the resulting ashfall covered nearly 8,000 square miles of the surrounding landscape.

“As is often quoted in the newspapers, ash is an unpleasant substance for human lungs as well as jet engines, given the sharp edges of small glassy ash fragments,” says Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, who studies volcanoes and their effects. “Inhalation of volcanic ash leads to lung irritation and possibly lung damage. It is often compared to silicosis, which is a lung condition that many workers

Schwarcz Reflects on 30-Year History with China

Vera Schwarcz, professor of history and East Asian Studies and director of the Freeman Center, discusses her experience with China during a presentation Jan. 29.

Vera Schwarcz, professor of history and East Asian Studies and director of the Mansfield Freeman Center, discusses her experience with China during a presentation Jan. 29.

Thirty years ago, the United States opened its first embassy in the People’s Republic of China as our nation began reestablishing its relations with the country. Vera Schwarcz, professor of history and East Asian studies and director of the Freeman Center, remembers the events well. After all, she was part of them.

Schwarcz, an expert on Chinese culture, politics and literature, was one of only seven official exchange scholars invited to visit China in February 1979 when the embassy opened. Her recollections of this time, and her subsequent 30 years of experiences studying in and about China, served as the foundation for her presentation titled “A Thirty Year Harvest: Personal Reflections on U.S. China Relations.”

Schwarcz’s lecture kicked off Wesleyan’s Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies semester-long celebration and recognition of the reopening of community country to the western world.

During the lecture Schwarcz shared her insights, inspiration and challenges that have come from her personal relationship with China for the past three decades.

“I went to China as a so-called expert,” Schwarcz says. “I came back as a perennial student.”

Willis Honored for Efforts with Buddhist Nuns

Jan Willis, professor of religion, professor of East Asian studies, meets with three Buddhist nuns in Ladakh, India. Willis was honored as a "Outstanding Woman in Buddhism" recently for making an "exceptional contribution to Buddhism."

Jan Willis, professor of religion, professor of East Asian studies, meets with three Buddhist nuns in Ladakh, India. Willis was honored as a "Outstanding Woman in Buddhism" recently for making an "exceptional contribution to Buddhism."

In the sparsely populated, mountainous region of Ladakh, India, elderly Buddhist nuns are suffering from isolation, illiteracy and lack of respect from their communities. These women, who spent their lives serving their family or working as laborers, have rarely had the opportunity to become ordained or to worship in a monastery like the highly regarded male monks.

“These women have been devalued from the beginning,” says Jan Willis, professor of religion, professor of East Asian studies. “All they’ve ever wanted to do is serve the dharma and study, but instead, they’ve become servants of their community, or helpers for the monks.”

Jan Willis

Jan Willis

Willis, who has devoted part of the last seven years to helping a group of elderly Ladakhi nuns, is being honored as an “Outstanding Woman in Buddhism” for the year 2009 for making an “exceptional contribution to Buddhism.”

Farrell ’87 Named to National Economic Council

Dianna Farrell '87. (Photo courtesy of the the Milken Institute)

Dianna Farrell '87. (Photo courtesy of the the Milken Institute)

President Barack Obama has appointed Diana Farrell ’87 as deputy director of the National Economic Council. She most recently served as director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), McKinsey & Company’s economics research arm.

In announcing the appointment, President Obama said Farrell “will work day and night with me to advance an American Recovery and Reinvestment plan that not only aims to jumpstart economic growth, but also promotes the long-term investments in our economy necessary to save and create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure energy independence.”

Farrell’s work has appeared in academic journals, books, and on the op–ed pages of leading international publications, and she is a frequent speaker at major US and global conferences. She is the editor of an anthology series based on MGI research, published by Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Together with Lowell Bryan, she is the co-author of Market Unbound, published by Wiley & Sons, 1996.
She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She is a member of Council on Foreign Relations, the Bretton Woods Committee, and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Bassin ’98 Named Deputy Associate Counsel

Ian bassin

Ian Bassin '98.

President Barack Obama has named Ian Bassin ’98 to be a deputy associate counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President. Bassin recently served as a member of the Education Policy Working Group for the Presidential Transition Team, and had earlier served as the Florida Policy Director on the Obama Campaign for Change.

Previously, he served as a law clerk to Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.