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Monthly Archive for February, 2012

President Michael S. Roth and Professor Kari Weil have made a $100,000 gift to Wesleyan in support of endowment for financial aid.

In announcing the gift, Joshua Boger ’73, chair of Wesleyan’s board of trustees, said:  “I can’t thank Michael and Kari enough for their generosity. Their gift represents the kind of ‘stretch gift’ that we are frequently soliciting from other alumni and their families, and I hope that all members of the Wesleyan community will follow their lead in making Wesleyan a philanthropic priority. Their support of financial aid underscores Michael’s and Kari’s superb leadership and dedication to Wesleyan’s success.”

Scholarship endowment is Wesleyan’s highest fundraising priority. Wesleyan has long sought to provide access to students regardless of their financial means.  In 2011–12, Wesleyan will spend $47 million on financial aid.

Soon after he came to Wesleyan in 2007, President Roth established a policy of eliminating loans in favor of outright grants for most students with a family income below $40,000. The policy also reduced the amount of loans required in all final aid packages by about 35 percent. This effort and all of Wesleyan’s financial aid grants, including a special scholarship program for veterans, are supported by gifts from alumni, parents and friends.

“Wesleyan’s deep and long-standing commitment to supporting financial aid reflects our belief that we should seek out the best students regardless of what their families can afford,” says President Roth. “The result is a campus community based on equality and freedom, where differences emerge from talent, ambition and creativity.”

An anonymous donor provided the lead gift to name the new College of Letters library in honor of all COL faculty—those who taught in the past, those now teaching presently, and those who will join the COL faculty in the future.

The former Squash Courts Building located at 41 Wyllys Ave. on Wesleyan’s historic College Row has opened as the renovated home for Art History, the College of Letters and the Career Center.

Notably, several College of Letters and Art History alumni have provided gifts for the project to honor faculty members from their undergraduate days.

David Resnick ’81, P’13, joined by his wife Cathy Klema P’13, contributed the lead gift to name the Art History Wing in honor of John Paoletti, the William R. Kenan Professor Emeritus of the Humanities and Art History.

Resnick, now chairman of global financing advisory for the investment baking firm Rothschild Inc., was a European history major at Wesleyan, who earned an M.B.A. and J.D. from the University of Chicago. It was his Introduction to Art History course with Paoletti, he says “that really opened my eyes to art from a historical and sociological perspective.”

He recalls Paoletti as “passionate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable,” and took further courses with him—20th Century Art History and Early Italian Renaissance Art. Later, he served as Paoletti’s teaching assistant for Introduction to Art History.

“The exposure to art and the ways to think about art (more…)

Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, speaks at a press briefing about NASA's IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spacecraft, which sampled multiple heavy elements from within our solar system and beyond. IBEX found some astonishing data in the process.


Seth Redfield had to cut short his first Astronomy 224 class of the 2012 spring semester, but he had a good excuse: he was presenting at an international press conference being held by NASA on one of its recent missions.

Redfield, an assistant professor of astronomy, was chosen by NASA to be a non-mission expert to help verify results from the space agency’s ongoing IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) mission, an unmanned probe that analyzes the interstellar boundary that protects much of our solar system, including the Earth, from deadly cosmic rays from interstellar space.

One of Redfield’s primary areas of research deals with these types of clouds, more generally known as local interstellar medium (LISM), and his models had been used by NASA in the past, (more…)

Nearly half of the nation’s students – 44 percent – are students of color, but only one of every six teachers is a teacher of color. To help recruit, support and retain individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers, the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color offers scholarships to to ensure that greater numbers of highly qualified teachers of color enter public school classrooms around the country.

Randyl Wilkerson '12

This year, the Fund awarded fellowships to two Wesleyan seniors: Randyl Wilkerson ’12 and Nastassia Williams ’12.

Wilkerson, an English major, and Williams, an African American Studies major, were chosen through a competitive selection process. They will each receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a master’s degree in education, preparation to teach in a high-need public school, support throughout a three-year teaching commitment, and guidance toward teaching certification.

Wilkerson, of Chicago, Ill., is a member of Wesleyan’s AIDS Sexual Health Awareness Group and is the university’s campus campaign coordinator for Teach for America. She also volunteers as a sexual education teacher for Connecticut high school students. Wilkerson is a poet with a published collection, Astrobiology. She is a member of the Wesleyan Poetry Slam Team and is a winner of the Best Persona Piece Award, National Poetry Slam. She’s minoring in American Studies.

Wilkerson will use her fellowship to attend graduate school through the Boston Teacher Residency, and receive a M.A. in education.

“After I get my master’s, I want to teach in Boston Public Schools for a few years to understand how best to serve inner city youth today,” she says. “But ultimately, I want to start an enrichment program teaching youth to think and write critically, while empowering them through acts of creativity. I want to help public school students develop their own voices and gain a sense of agency.”

Nastassia Williams '12

Williams, of the Bronx, N.Y., works as a tutor for Middletown’s Traverse Square, an organization for elementary students. She also is a SAT tutor with the Let’s Get Ready program and is currently learning how to deejay. She’s minoring in English.

Williams has already applied to the Bard College Master of Arts Teaching Program, the Boston Teacher Residency and the Newark-Montclair Urban Teaching Residency.

“I’d like to earn a master’s degree in teaching and probably teach English at the middle school or high school level,” she says. “And with the fellowship, I will complete the program and continue to work in a public school in an urban or rural high-needs area.”

Current trends indicate that by the year 2020, the percentage of teachers of color will fall to an all-time low of five percent of the total teacher force, while the percentage of students of color in the K-12 system will likely near 50 percent. This Fellowship offers an opportunity to ensure that greater numbers of highly qualified teachers of color enter public school classrooms around the country.


Yan Li, a graduate student in molecular biology and biochemistry, attended the Graduate Career Symposium Jan. 25 at Usdan University Center. More than 65 students pursuing a M.A. or Ph.D. at Wesleyan participated in the day-long event, which provided information on ways to transition from graduate school to careers in academia and industry. A reception followed the event.

At left, Michael Sciola, director of the Wesleyan Career Center, spoke to graduate students about interview skills and job searching. At right, author and guest speaker Diane Tracey of Executive Coaching Services, held a workshop on networking and etiquette. The event was sponsored by Graduate Student Services, the Graduate Student Association and the Wesleyan Career Center.

Gabriel Valenzuela is working on a Ph.D. in mathematics.


Tula Telfair's oil on canvas, "Built Exclusively for Delight," (2011) was one of 15 paintings featured in Telfair's Imaginary Landscapes exhibit.

Tula Telfair's oil on canvas, "Built Exclusively for Delight," (2011) was one of 15 paintings featured in Telfair's Out of Sight: Imaginary Landscapes exhibit.

Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s latest exhibition, Out of Sight: Imaginary Landscapes, opened at the Forum Gallery in New York, N.Y. on Jan. 5 to a packed crowd. The 15 large panoptic paintings shown in the exhibition, which ran through Feb. 11, depict majestic mountainous landscapes dominated by dramatic skies that reflect a broad range of locations and weather patterns.

As with Telfair’s past work, her landscapes are derived from memory and imagination. Telfair, director of Wesleyan’s Arts Studio Program, finds it fascinating when people tell her they can identify a particular location, since none actually exist.

“Since I have no idea when I begin what the final image will be, it feels like I’m exploring new territory when I start a painting, and that’s very exciting. Because I can easily copy images, I tended to lose interest in the process when I worked from observation,” she explains. But by painting from her imagination and memory, she is challenged intellectually, technically and emotionally. “Successfully painting an image that was not observed, but that viewers are convinced exists, is gratifying.”

Telfair works on many canvases simultaneously. She begins by mixing colors for the skies and starts painting each one intuitively. (more…)

Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat spoke to a full-house at Memorial Chapel Feb. 8. Danticat is Wesleyan's 2012 Fred B. Millett Visiting Writer and a former MacArthur fellow. The Millett Visiting Writer event is held annually in honor of the late Fred Millett, professor of English, emeritus.


Lawrence Jackson ’90

The Indignant Generation:  A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960, by Lawrence Jackson ’90, received two notable awards. In December the Modern Language Association awarded it the 2011 William Sanders Scarborough Prize, calling it a “magisterial narrative history of African American literature,” as well as “[b]eautifully written and rich in historical detail.” The citation noted that it “should quickly become a standard work in 20th-century African American studies and United States publishing history.”

In January, Jackson received news that The Indignant Generation won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association literary award in the nonfiction category. These awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors. Jackson’s work “offers readers rare insights into the lives of key players who contributed to the breadth of writing that flourished between 1934 and 1960,” they noted.

The book was also a finalist for the Hurston/ Wright nonfiction book prize.

Jackson is English and African American Studies at Emory University. His upcoming book My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family After the Civil War, is an exploration into his own ancestry and will be published by The University of Chicago Press in May.

Jackson talks about the research and discovery behind My Father’s Name in this video:

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Pictured in center, Tasmiha Khan '12, founder of the Wesleyan chapter of Brigher Dawns, received a 6-month fellowship from the Movement One to One program.

In Bangladesh, more than 100,000 children die every year of intestinal diseases. About 31 million people are without access to safe drinking water and 99.9 million people lack proper sanitation. About 80 percent of the wells in more than 8,000 villages are contaminated.

Tasmiha Khan ’12, founder of the Wesleyan chapter of Brighter Dawns, has spent the past four years determined to help sanitary and living conditions in a slum in Khalishpur, Khulna. Through fund-raising, partnering with NGOs and grant applications, the Wesleyan chapter has teamed up with other Brighter Dawns chapters in the country to distribute more than 1,000 sanitary kits, teach lessons on proper hygiene and install 15 tube wells and 20 latrines in the slum.

Brighter Dawns also trained local women and provided them with stipends to help maintain the infrastructure and conduct seminars in conjunction with health officials and physicians.

As a newly-awarded 2012 Movement One to One Fellow (Movement 121), Khan will have the opportunity to participate in a six-month online, collaborative experience to enhance Brighter Dawns’ success from Feb. 1 to Aug. 1. Movement 121 enables fellows to discover their true strengths, (more…)

A patron reads about "Passing Time," a new exhibition of recent works by 14 international artists in a range of media which explores the multiple and converging meanings of the phrase "passing time," during the opening reception in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Jan. 31. "Passing Time," curated by Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c2 curatorsquared, is on display through March 4.

Wesleyan students enjoy the work "Lunar Alphabet" (1979) by artist Leandro Katz. The 27 photographs of the phases of the moon have been aligned with the alphabet, enabling Katz to "write" using this language based on the passage of time, creating a visual poetry based on this lunar tempo.


City of Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth cut the ribbon during a solar panel dedication ceremony Feb. 3 in the Freeman Athletic Center lobby. On Dec. 29, the Department of Athletics acquired a new photovoltaic system with two arrays: one on the roof of the athletic center and the other in a neighboring parking lot.

President Roth speaks about the new panels, which will generate approximately 7 percent of Freeman's annual needs for electricity, and 25 percent of what Freeman consumes during daylight hours. All the electricity generated will be consumed within the building.


Skateboarding down Wyllys Avenue Feb. 1.


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