On Marketplace Radio, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth discussed with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal the introduction of a formalized three-year path to a Bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan. While not for everyone, Roth says students deciding to pursue the three-year option will save substantial costs while still engaging in the academic rigor required for a Wesleyan degree. Their conversation was inspired by a guest blog on President Roth wrote for The Washington Post where he introduced the three-year path at Wesleyan.
Monthly Archives: May 2012
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Note: Links to Reunion & Commencement speeches, photos and videos are below this article. Keep reading!
The world is changing at a dizzying pace and uncertainty is rising, but luckily, “Wesleyan has prepared you to live and thrive in this unpredictable world,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87 told the Class of 2012 in his Commencement Address. “This is a school that rewards curiosity. It challenges you to test [your] assumptions. It encourages flexibility—of mind, of approach, even of body, if you took that class in acrobatic yoga. Wesleyan has taught you that having a plan counts for less—a lot less—than having your bearings when that plan falls apart.”
An honorary doctor of laws was conferred upon Bennet at the 180th Commencement Ceremony at Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 27. The ceremony took place on Andrus Field under sunny skies. This year, Wesleyan awarded 713 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 22 Master of Arts degrees; 44 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees; three Master of Philosophy degrees; and 13 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
Bennet—son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94—was elected to his first full term in the U.S. Senate in November 2010. Formerly as the Denver Schools Superintendent, and now as a member of the Senate Education Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for bold, locally driven changes to public education that would ensure every child is prepared to compete in a rapidly changing economy. Senator Bennet also previously served as chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor, now Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper ’74, where he helped balance a historic budget deficit and make city government more responsive to Denver residents. After graduating from Wesleyan, Bennet earned a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.
In his Commencement Address, Bennet described his experiences with two critical institutions—the U.S. education system and political system—that are overdue for “disruptive, transformative change, and reinvention.”
“You generation has so many more opportunities to lead, to make change, than the Class of 1987 ever did. So many more means to uproot entrenched interests… to discard worn-out assumptions… to overcome obstacles to progress,” he told the graduates. He urged them to channel their “Wesleyan impatience […] with the silliness and downright cruelties of the status quo” to address such pressing issues as energy, education, poverty and inequality in America.
“…some period of public service—teaching might be a good idea—is the debt you owe our country for the privilege of attending this remarkable university,” Bennet said.
Honorary degrees also were conferred upon Glenn Ligon ’82—an artist known for his series of text-based paintings, which draw on the writings and speech of individuals such as Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Richard Pryor—and Cecile Richards P’13, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
At the ceremony, two individuals were presented with the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal: Bruce C. Corwin ’62, chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, and William “Bill” Wasch ’52, P ’84, formerly Wesleyan’s director of development and director of alumni programs, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in customized housing options and personalized services for older adults. The Baldwin Medal, named for the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to the school, or for careers and other activities which have contributed significantly to the public good.
In addition, the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics Richard Adelstein, Professor of History Nathanael Greene, and Professor of Art Tula Telfair. Also recognized at the ceremony were retiring faculty members John Biddiscombe, director of athletics; Joseph Bruno, professor of chemistry; Howard Needler, professor of letters; and Wallace “Pete” Pringle, professor of chemistry.
In his remarks, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth pointed to a number of remarkable accomplishments by Wesleyan students—both in the classroom and out in the world. “We want you to remember the pleasure of the camaraderie and openness that have characterized the Wesleyan community to which you will always belong. We want you to remember these pleasures, the feelings of freedom and accomplishment, because we believe that these will stimulate you to continue to be bold, to be rigorous, and to nurture your practical idealism,” he said. “This may not be as easy as you imagine. From all around you will come calls for a practicality that is not so idealistic—calls to be more serious, more attentive to ‘the real world.’ Make no mistake: these are really calls for conformity, demands for conventional thinking that, if heeded, will impoverish your, and our, economic, cultural and personal lives.”
Yet Roth said he has faith that the graduates will “gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect your freedoms. I trust you will act to reduce violence in the world around us, especially those forms of violence that target the most vulnerable. I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege. I trust you will resist the temptations of conformity even as you reject puerile and narcissistic displays of separateness. I have this trust because I have seen what you can do.”
In his Senior Class Welcome, Kennedy Odede ’12 described his journey from growing up very poor in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, to Wesleyan. He recalled his puzzlement early on over things other students take for granted: how to work a printer or use a shower, how money could be stored on a little piece of plastic known as a “Wes Card.” He used to sprint from class to the dining hall to ensure he would get something to eat before the food ran out. One day, a classmate explained to him that his concern was unfounded; food would be available until the lunch period was over.
“What struck me most about the class of 2012 was the kindness exhibited in explanations like this. Never before in my life had I felt valued. I always felt that growing up poor was something to be ashamed of, and at first I was scared to talk about my past. But then the class of 2012 showed me this kindness on many occasions,” Odede reflected. “I had arrived at an incredible place.”
Since his start at Wesleyan, Odede founded the nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities with Jessica Posner ’09, and built the tuition-free Kibera School for Girls.
“I believe we will only live in a better world if we are willing to take risks to make it a reality, only if we are willing to say, ‘Yes.’ My fellow graduates, I hope that we continue to say ‘Yes’ today, tomorrow and throughout our lives.”
The text of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2012 graduates can be found here.
The text of the senior class welcome by Kennedy Odede ’12 can be found here.
The text of Senator Michael Bennet’s address can be found here.
Information on the Binswanger recipients can be found here.
Information on the Honorary Degree Recipients can be found here.
Information on the Baldwin recipients can be found here.
The weekend also saw more than a thousand alumni converge on campus for Reunion. They were kept busy with more than 150 events, including such highlights as an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; the traditional All-College Sing; and an Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders. A number of WESeminars also provided alumni with opportunities to revisit Wesleyan’s excellent academic experience with presentations by scholars, pundits and other experts. Topics included mindfulness-based stress reduction; a sampling of Wesleyan alumnae performance artists; music and literature of the ‘60s; the Beman Triangle Archaeology Project; money, marketing and the media; the environment; highlights of the Israeli Film Festival, and much more.
Seth Davis ’72 of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who is secretary of his class, attended his 40th reunion this year.
“One of my best friends from my college days was attending his first reunion,” Davis said. “ ‘Are they always this good?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘they are.’”
The entire Reunion 2012 photo gallery is online here.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome during the 180th Commencement Ceremony May 27:
Today, I stand before you as the first person from Africa’s largest slum to graduate from an American university.
For most of my life, I never imagined that one day I would be standing here.
For me, Wesleyan is HOPE.
You, the class of 2012, and my time at Wesleyan have changed me forever.
I grew up in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, where more than a million people live in an area the size of Central Park—without sewage systems, roads, running water, or access to basic rights like health care and education.
I was the oldest of eight children in a family that could not afford food, much less school fees. In Kibera, I dreamed of many things: food to eat, clean water to drink, safety from the violence, and relief from oppression that surrounded me.
Today, I want to tell you three stories about hope.
by David Pesci •
In a nearby solar system, a planet the size of Jupiter orbiting a star similar to our own sun is doing something that has astrophysicists very intrigued: It’s dissolving–albeit very, very slowly.
The findings are detailed in a study by primary investigators Adam Jensen, visiting assistant professor of astronomy, and Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy. They made the majority of their observations using the 9.2 meter telescope at The University of Texas’s McDonald Observatory. The paper, “A Detection of Ha In An Exoplanetary Exosphere,” will appear in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
The planet in question, a gas giant similar in size to Jupiter called HD 189733b, orbits a class K star, which is about 63 light years from Earth–a virtual next-door neighbor in astronomical terms.
What Jensen and Redfield observed was HD 189733b discharging significant amount of atomic hydrogen into space.
“This type of evaporation of atomic hydrogen, or what is called ‘hot hydrogen,’ is something that has never been observed before,” says Redfield. “When we first saw the evidence we thought, ‘Wow, can that be right?’ But more careful analysis and cross-checks confirmed it. At that point we got really excited because we knew we’d found an important phenomenon.”
The orbital path of HD 189733b is 12 times closer to its star (HD 189733) than Mercury is to our own sun (a class G star, and 32 times closer than the Earth is to the sun. While somewhat smaller than the sun, the star HD 189733 is more volatile–often discharging massive solar flares hundreds of miles into space–and dangerously close to HD 189733b.
The astronomers’ observations indicate an interaction between the stellar activity and the planet’s atmosphere. This can have implications for understanding other planetary systems, especially those which may have potentially habitable planets.
That is not the case with HD 189733b, a gas giant orbiting very close to a somewhat volatile star. But is it that very degree of proximity that is causing the planet to slowly evaporate?
“This mass loss is almost certainly due to the proximity of the planet HD 189733b relative to its central star, HD 189733, along with the star’s radiation,” says Jensen. “This isn’t to imply it’s not going to last much longer. It is a very slow evaporation, and ultimately the planet will lose only 1 percent of its mass. Still, that is significant.”
What Jensen, Redfield and other observers contributing to the paper saw to indicate this was a significant spike in spectrographic readings suggesting the planet was shedding significant amounts of hydrogen. They were also able to detect it using visible light–another first. Past detections of hydrogen dissipation, which have been rare, used ultraviolet light.
“We’ve only been able to observe exoplanets for about 20 years, and we’ve detected atmospheres in just a few dozen of those, so this is an exciting finding,” Redfield says. “We’re hoping to do more observations of this planet and others that are similar in their composition and positioning to their stars. This will help us determine how rare of a phenomenon this is.”
The astronomers hope to do further studies at the McDonald Observatory, and perhaps try to book time on the Hubble Telescope, which would afford them the clearest view of HD 189733b.
The astronomers were supported in this study by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
by Olivia Drake •
Striking clocks gongs per day from Hartford to Middletown.
Silver wedding anniversary years from Laos to Chad.
Squares on a chess board from Warsaw to Kinshasa.
Can you solve this puzzle? If so, you’ve started a treasure hunt, right on Wesleyan’s campus.
The Wesleyan Treasure Hunt, a permanent campus installation, begins at a plaque located in the southeast corner of Usdan University Center near the Huss Courtyard. It encourages students to explore the nooks and crannies of campus, and interact with the buildings as they look for new clues.
“The hunt encapsulates everything I like about Wesleyan,” says its creator Jack Hoskins ’12. “The students I’ve met here are people who love to explore and think and solve puzzles, so not only is the treasure hunt intellectually challenging, it captures the same adventurous spirit and curiosity that makes people at Wesleyan so incredible.”
Hoskins, a government major, warns that although the clues are “elegant,” most are non-verbal and challenging. He suggests going on the hunt in groups, and bringing along a smart phone with internet-searching capabilities. Pre-frosh and first-year-student may need a campus map and be willing to ask the upperclassmen for help.
“This treasure hunt is very, very difficult, and it can’t be done in an afternoon,” he says. “A lot of people give up when they see the second clue. It’s going to take you a while to finish.”
Hoskins, a native of Olympia, Wash., grew up solving puzzles and making treasure hunts for his friends. His spirit for adventure continued throughout high school and college, and in 2011, he suggested the idea of a treasure hunt to his class dean and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. After approving the idea, the WSA’s Student Budget Committee awarded Hoskins with $500 to cover the cost of supplies and installation.
Wesleyan’s Physical Plant designed the wood plaques and coated them with an environmentally-friendly finish to withstand rain, sun, snow and sleet. Hoskins used the Center for the Arts’ wood burning printer for the lettering.
“I think a lot of people might think of a treasure hunt as something childish, but Wesleyan is a place where people don’t think that the curiosity and love of new things that some people call childish is a bad thing,” Hoskins says.
So far, 15 students have completed the treasure hunt, which was installed in May.
But is there really a treasure at the end of the hunt?
“There’s something there … but I cannot say what,” he says, smiling. “But, like at a real treasure hunt, if you get there second, there’s no gold left.”
by Olivia Drake •
Three Wesleyan faculty received The Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching during the 2012 Commencement on May 27. The Binswanger Prize was inaugurated in 1993 as an institutional recognition of outstanding faculty members. The award is made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., HON ’85
The standards and criteria for the annual prizes shall be excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion. Recommendations may be based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the university including, but not limited to, teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.
This year’s recipients are as follows:
Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics
Richard Adelstein has an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received an M.A.T. from Harvard University, and a J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and its Law School. He has taught economics and social studies at Wesleyan since 1975. He has spent sabbatical years as a visiting scholar at Oxford University, Harvard University, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and as a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Munich.
by Olivia Drake •
To help members of the Wesleyan community be more aware of their environmental impact, the College of the Environment is developing practical and accessible Eco-Tools.
The Eco-Tools prototype, launched in April, provides links and information to Wesleyan’s current projects, the Wesleyan Eco-Map and the Wesleyan Eco-Purchasing site.
“Wesleyan is the first university in the country to create these tools,” explains project coordinator Mary Alice Haddad, associate professor of government, East Asian studies and environmental studies. “The project is just starting to bloom, but once we get it up and operating, it can act as a model for other universities.”
The Wesleyan Eco-Map highlights changes in energy usage in different buildings on campus over time, based solely on changes in human behavior. The prototype currently tracks the monthly pollution index for all wood-framed housing on campus, and in time, may track heat and water usage for the entire university.
“The biggest drive for pollution is who’s living in it,” says Bill Nelligan, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability. “The Eco-Map will provide a real visual for students living in these homes to see their energy use month to month, year to year, and make them think, “How can I improve?'”
The map shows that residents residing at 1 Vine Street used almost twice as much energy (hence, creating twice as much pollution) during the months of December, January and February, as they did in March, April and May. So, students who reside in the home in 2012-13 can monitor their own energy usage on the site, and compare it to the energy use in 2011-12.
Of course, there are environmental factors to take into account. Some homes are heated with gas; others are electric. Some are 4,000 square feet, others are half that size. Some homes, such as 19 and 20 Fountain Avenue and 231 Pine Street were constructed in the past 10 years, while the majority of homes are from the 1900s. And the roof of 19 Fountain Avenue is topped with solar panels.
Wesleyan’s second Eco-Tool, Wesleyan Eco-Purchasing, offers members of the Wesleyan community detailed information about the environmental impacts of the information technology products in use on campus. The site promotes responsible purchasing decisions and encourages companies to act in more environmentally and socially responsible ways.
“I.T. companies and their suppliers are among the worst polluters,
by Bill Holder •
Senator Michael F. Bennet ’87 presented the Commencement Address on May 27:
Thank you, Board of Trustees… President Roth… proud parents and families…the entire Wesleyan community, and of course, once again, the brilliant graduates of 2012.
Brilliant, yes—but, as Kennedy said, no matter how brilliant, not one of you got here by yourself. So, in the most important moment of this day, let’s hear you say thank you.
A round of applause for everybody who got you here.
A quarter of a century ago (and by the way, it was about 20 degrees hotter), I looked up at this podium and saw one of America’s greatest comedians: Bill Cosby.
Today, you face Colorado’s junior senator.
I’m not sure what that means for Wesleyan’s U.S. News and World Report ranking, Mr. President, but it cannot be good.
Nevertheless, I accept this honorary degree, much as I accepted my bachelor’s degree: with gratitude… and disbelief.
Because I know I don’t have what it takes to earn a real one here these days.
Sitting among you are classmates who have taught local elementary and high school kids, worked to prevent water-related illnesses in Bangladesh, and notched the most basketball wins in 110 years.
You have classmates who have worked to stop bullying in Middletown… who have burst out of Eclectic and onto the national music scene… and who, in the person of the remarkable Kennedy Odede, and Colorado’s own Jessica Posner, Class of , have opened a school for girls and transformed a community in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum.
It all makes a person wonder: what in the world will you people do for an encore?
by David Pesci •
President Michael S. Roth’s remarks:
Members of the board of trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty Class of 2012, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.
When most of you began your Wesleyan education in the fall of 2008, the world was in a precarious state. It was an odd time to be investing in the future. But that’s what education is, as Kennedy said: a hopeful investment in the future. When you began here, America was waging two distant wars, the twisted legacies of a vicious attack on our country that took place when most of you were still in middle school. Today America has ended combat operations in Iraq and announced our intention to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan in the next two years. It is Memorial Day weekend, a time to reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made on behalf of our country, as we also reflect on the civilian lives that have been lost during these conflicts. We remember, but what shall we do with these memories?
In the fall of 2008 our country was headed toward the most significant economic dislocation since the Great Depression. Gigantic financial institutions that had ingeniously found ways to make enormous amounts of money, while claiming to have mastered risk with casino-like schemes, were suddenly calling loudly for government help. The entire financial system seemed to be on the brink of collapse, and through a series of measures designed to restore some basic stability to our economic life, the Federal government averted an even greater disaster than the one which has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes and their hopes for the future. We can recall those who suffer still in this economy, even as a fortunate few reap huge rewards. We remember, but what shall we do with these memories?
by Olivia Drake •
During the 2012 Commencement Ceremony on May 27, Wesleyan President Michael Roth awarded U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Glenn Ligon ’82, and Cecile Richards P’13 with honorary degrees.
Michael F. Bennet ’87
Michael F. Bennet was elected to his first full term as U.S. Senator for Colorado in November 2010. He is a pragmatic and independent thinker who embodies the values of the western state he represents, and whose work has contributed to good in the world, in the best of the Wesleyan tradition.
As the father of three little girls, he is driven by a deep-seated obligation to create more opportunity for the next generation. He has been a tireless advocate – first as Denver Schools superintendent and now as a member of the Senate Education Committee – for bold, locally driven changes to public education that would ensure every child is prepared to compete in a rapidly changing economy.
His concern for the next generation has fueled his efforts to build bipartisan consensus around a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction. It has also informed his efforts to ensure the pharmaceutical drugs we take every day are safe and do not harm American families.
As Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, he led an innovative and inclusive reform effort that turned around failing schools and produced strong gains in reading, math, writing and science.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Two Baldwin Medals, which honor the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, were bestowed on Bruce Corwin ’62 and William Wasch ’52, P’84 on May 27. The Baldwin Medal is the highest honor that Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for significant contributions to the public good.
Bruce Corwin is chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, a motion picture theater circuit of 125 viewing screens in California and Colorado. He has served on the executive committee of the National Association of Theatre Owners, as well as with other professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Santa Barbara and Palm Springs International Film Festivals and has been a trustee of the American Film Institute.
Corwin has received numerous awards for his remarkable service to his community. He served on former Mayor Tom Bradley’s Blue Ribbon Commission of 40 in the City of Los Angeles, as president for the Los Angeles Fire Commission, and on the board of directors of Rebuild Los Angeles. He is past president and current chairman of the board of directors of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.
by Olivia Drake •
Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships, were honored at a reception May 9 in Daniel Family Commons. The awards and the recipients are:
George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience Neuroscience and Behavior: Jad Donato ’12, Cassidy Mellin ’12
Alumni Prize in the History of Art Senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major: Sarah La Rue ’12, Alyssa Lanz ’12, Katherine Wolf ’12
American Chemical Society Analytical Award Excellence in analytical chemistry: Chinh Duong ’13
American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Section Award Outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major: Rachel Merzel ’12
American Institute of Chemists Award Outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major: Charles Baron ’12
Ayres Prize The first-year student who attains the highest academic standing in the first semester: Quinta Jurecic ’15, Rebecca Rubenstein ’15
Baden-Württemberg―Connecticut Sister State Exchange Study abroad in Germany: Lana ’12, Jessica Spates ’12
Bertman Prize Senior physics major who displays a particularly resourceful and creative approach to research: Wei Dai ’12, Zin Lin ’12
Blankenagel Prize German studies: Matthew Alexander ’12