Monthly Archives: August 2010

Books by Roach ’81, Junger ’84 and Wasson ’03 are NY Times Best Sellers

Three acclaimed books by Wesleyan alumni were on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best seller list in August. They include: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ’81, a detailed, often funny examination of space travel; War by Sebastian Junger ’84, a powerful look at the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan; and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson ’03, a witty account of the making of the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Grabel, Gruen: Stem Cell Ruling is Wrong

In an opinion piece for The Hartford Courant, Laura Grabel, professor of biology and Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, and Lori Gruen, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, denounce the recent ruling by a federal judge prohibiting federally-funded human embryonic stem cell research.

Four Alumni Win Emmy Awards

The following alumni received Emmy Awards at the 62nd annual Emmy Awards  on August 29.

Bruce McKenna ‘84—Co-Executive Producer, Outstanding Miniseries, The Pacific. The Pacific received 8 Emmy Awards, more than any other program.

Matthew Senreich ’96—Executive Producer, Writer, Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program, Robot Chicken.

Matthew Weiner ‘87—Executive Producer, Mad Men, Outstanding Drama Series; Writer (with Erin Levy), Mad Men, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”. Mad Men received 4 Emmy Awards.

Bill Wrubel ‘85—Co-Executive Producer, Modern Family, Outstanding Comedy Series. Modern Family received 6 Emmy Awards.

A complete list of nominees from the Wesleyan community can be found here, and a complete list of all Emmy winners can be found here.

Simmons ’13 Opines on the Perils of the News Cycle

Writing for New, home of The New Jersey Star Ledger, Amanda Simmons ’13 discusses how the news cycle model embraced by virtually all of the mainstream media will quickly jettison hard news to cover anything salacious or involving celebrity. Simmons’ view is from the inside of the news business as she interned during the summer at The Star Ledger and

Dupuy on Wyclef Jean’s Haitian Presidency Bid

In AOL News, Alex Dupuy, Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of Sociology, discusses the proposed candidacy of singer Wyclef Jean for the presidency of Haiti. Dupuy talks about some of the challenges Jean will face, not the least of which is the lack of time he has spent in Haiti.

Jenkins Publishes Book on Balinese Painter

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, is the author of the 330-page book, Rua Bineda in Bali: Counterfeit Justice in the Trial of Nyoman Gunarsa, published by the Indonesian University of the Arts, 2010. The book focuses on how a Balinese painter, puppet-master and a Brahmin priest perceive a landmark court case involving art forgery and identity theft. Read more about this book in a “5 Questions With . . .” profile at

Lim: Obama’s Current Communication Style Inevitable

A story for NPR explores an interesting, and very noticeable change in Barack Obama: as a candidate, his communication style was bold, inspiring and at times even poetic; but, now, nearly two years later as the country’s chief executive, “President Obama does not hold a candle, oratorically speaking, to Candidate Obama.” Why? Elvin Lim, assistant professor of government, discusses the changes in Obama oratorical style, explaining that, the president’s current approach is an inevitable function of leading in a polarized political environment. Lim adds that the functions of campaigning and governing are completely different: “And poetry is of much less use to him as president.”

Potter on the Tenure and Retirement Question

Writing for The New York Times, Claire Potter, professor of History, professor of American Studies, announces that she will retire from the classroom…in 2025. Potter goes on to say why she believes that, as a tenured professor, planned retirement allows her to leave academia before her skills begin to diminish while simultaneously creating a process that allows the continued infusion of new, younger teacher-scholars.

Odede ’12: Slum Tourism, a Personal View

Writing for The New York Times OpEd page, Kennedy Odede ’12, a resident Kibera, Kenya, the worst slum in Nairobi, discusses the phenomenon of people from developed countries treating slums as curious tourists destinations. Odede says that while some arrive hoping to better understand the conditions through first hand experience, for most it’s just a curiosity bordering on a bizarre form of entertainment, and then they move on.

Odede and Jessica Posner ’09 have co-founded Shining Hope for Communities, an organization that has built a school and health care center in Kibera over the last two years. They have been supported by a start-up grant from the Davis Projects for Peace, as well a grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, a Dell Innovation grant, and a 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship. Posner also was the winner of the 2010 VH-1 “Do Something” award.

Palmer ’10: Job Search Leads to Grad School

In her on-going entries for The Wall Street Journal‘s “Hire Education” blog, Gianna Palmer ’10, says that despite sending out “dozens of cover letters and resumes,” her job search has led her instead to graduate school – an option she hadn’t seriously considered as an undergrad.

Palmer and fellow Wesleyan student (now alumnus) Charles Kurose, blogged for the Journal periodically about their year-long job searches.

Stemler: ‘Tacit Knowledge’ May be Powerful New Way to Identify Effective Teachers

Steve Stemler, assistant professor of psychology, says that acquiring Practical Intelligence is vital for new teachers because roughly 50 percent of new teachers are out of the profession within their first five years of entering it.

Sure, first-year teachers need to be masters of their subject material and their classrooms, but to be truly effective in that first year and beyond teachers also have learn one vital skill: avoiding “bad” decisions.

“Novice teachers, in particular, don’t necessarily need to make good decisions right away, but what they must develop is the tacit knowledge to identify what a bad decision or bad response may be. That may sound easy in theory, but when you consider all of the challenges  that come from outside the classroom such as administrative duties, dealing with colleagues and dealing with parents, it becomes much more difficult,” says Steven Stemler, assistant professor of psychology.

Stemler is the co-author of a new study titled “The socially skilled teacher and the development of tacit knowledge,” which has been published by the British Educational Research Journal. The study spent a year looking the levels of effectiveness experienced by more than 500 teachers in England. The researchers found that the most successful teachers were those who developed the “tacit knowledge”