Monthly Archives: August 2012

756 Students Join the Class of 2016 on Arrival Day

(NEW! Arrival Day video!)
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Savannah Benis '16 of San Diego, Calif. unloads her belongings during New Student Arrival Day Aug. 29. Benis, who is planning to major in film studies, is living in Clark Hall. "I'm so excited, but nervous," she says.

Savannah Benis ’16 of San Diego, Calif. unloads her belongings during New Student Arrival Day Aug. 29. Benis, who is planning to major in film studies, is living in Clark Hall. “I’m so excited, but nervous,” she says.

At 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 29, Lorin Ferris ’16 of Bellevue, Wash. arrived on Wesleyan’s campus in a rented Jeep, packed with her West Coast belongings.

Susan Fife-Ferris and Frank Ferris of Bellevue, Wa. helped their daughter, Lorin Ferris '16 move into her Butterfield Residences. "I really like my room. It's a lot bigger than I though it would be," Lorin says.

Susan Fife-Ferris and Frank Ferris of Bellevue, Wa. helped their daughter, Lorin Ferris ’16 move into her Butterfield Residences. “I really like my room. It’s a lot bigger than I though it would be,” Lorin says.

“I brought my entire closet,” she says, standing among disheveled heaps of half-unpacked suitcases and boxes in her Butterfield Residence room. “Most of this stuff is clothes and jackets … also bedding, sheets and towels. I did some shopping here (in Connecticut), but I brought a lot with me, too.”

“You couldn’t have brought anything more,” says her father, Frank.

Lorin, who plans to major in mathematics, was one of 756 students who joined the Class of 2016 on New Student Arrival Day. Of these, 64 students are from international countries. An additional 58 transfer students moved into Wesleyan residences on Arrival Day and participated in New Student Orientation.

While students decorated their new home-away-from-home and mingled with their new hall-mates, parents participated in question-and-answer workshops presented by the Dean of Students and Dean for the Class of 2016.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth delivers the President’s Remarks for Families.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and other university administrators welcomed parents and new students during the President’s Remarks for Families.

New Student Orientation, ongoing through Sept. 2, includes information sessions on community standards and responsibilities, resident hall community standards, computer set-ups, money management, studying abroad, working with faculty advisors, course selection and major requirements, health and wellness, Wesleyan libraries, spiritual life, student activism and more.

Savannah Benis ’16 of San Diego, Calif. came to Wesleyan for its superb film program and academic reputation. Her parents, Cherri and Rick, helped move Savannah (and her six suitcases) into her Clark Hall room on Arrival Day.

“It’s going to be hard seeing her leave, but I’m really glad she chose Wesleyan,” Rick Benis says. “All the alumni we’ve spoken to, and everyone else that knows about Wesleyan really loves it, and this is just the type of atmosphere and (student body) size that Savannah wanted.”

Max Atkinson ’16 of Dunnellon, Fla. received Arrival Day help from his parents Mia  and David. The family drove to Connecticut in three days and unloaded Max’s belongings in his West College residence.

His grandfather, John W. Atkinson, was a member of the Class of 1947. “I’m sure if he were alive, he’d recommend Wesleyan to me,” Max says.

More photos of Arrival Day are below and in this Wesleyan Facebook photo gallery.

Max Atkinson ’16 of Dunnellon, Fla. received Arrival Day help from his parents Mia (pictured) and David.

Plous’s “Action Teaching” Model Gaining Traction Worldwide

Scott Plous, professor of psychology.

Scott Plous, professor of psychology.

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous is working to spread the word about a model of teaching that enhances learning while directly contributing to a more just, compassionate, and peaceful world.

Back in 2000, Plous coined the term “action teaching” to describe this model. He was inspired by the work of psychologist Kurt Lewin, who in the wake of World War II, developed the concept of “action research,” or research aimed at solving social problems. Lewin’s action research primarily focused on addressing prejudice due to race or religion.

The first action teaching lesson Plous developed, which he published in the journal Teaching of Psychology in 2000, asked students to role play different scenarios in which one person makes a prejudiced comment, and another responds. For example, in one scenario, a student playing a middle-aged uncle at a family dinner makes an antigay remark. A student playing another family member at the table must then respond in a way that psychological research suggests will reduce the uncle’s prejudice. Two additional students act as coaches who observe the interaction and provide candid feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the response. Over the next hour, students then rotate roles and try responding to other prejudiced comments.

Wesleyan’s Dairy Products Supplied by Alumni Farmers

Rick Osofsky ’66 and his daughter Kate ’94, owners of Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in Ancramdale, N.Y., are providing the dairy products for Wesleyan. 

Rick Osofsky ’66 and his daughter Kate ’94, owners of Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in Ancramdale, N.Y., are providing the dairy products for Wesleyan.

Got milk?

All-natural dairy products, farmed and distributed by two Wesleyan alumni, are MOOving into the university’s Dining Services this semester.

Rick Osofsky ’66 and his daughter Kate ’94 are owners and operators of Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in Ancramdale, N.Y. As second and third generation dairy farmers, the Osofskys pride themselves on their natural farming methods using a small herd of Holstein cows.

“Our dairy products are bottled on site in the morning, and since we’re located less than two hours from Wesleyan, they arrive fresh,” Rick explains. “We’re both so pleased to bring a bit of our farm back to Wesleyan.”

A frothy, white milk Ronnybrook mustache is actually “green.” The Osofsky family grass-feeds their cows in pesticide-free pastures, which may produce milk higher in Omega-3s and anti-carcinogens. All manure generated on the farm fertilizes the crops they grow for feed, and they heat the farm’s water with a 30-panel solar heat collector. They also reuse glass bottles up to 12 times before sending them to a recycling facility.

Ronnybrooks’ all-natural farming methods lead to a better-tasting, and better-for-you dairy product, explains Brian Dagnall, executive chef of Wesleyan’s Dining Services.

“When (Wesleyan’s) Dining Services began carrying Ronnybrook products last March, the drinkable yogurts flew off the shelves,” Dagnall says. “We feel that Ronnybrook is the best possible dairy source to provide us with dairy, and their Wesleyan ties were secondary to us. Their product is by far the best in the area,” Dagnall says.

This fall, students will find Ronnybrook milk and other dairy products at the Usdan Marketplace, Usdan Cafe, Summerfields Dining Hall, Pi Café and Wes Shop. In addition, Wes Shop will participate in a glass bottle milk program where students can exchange their empty bottle for a full bottle.

Ronnybrook Farm originated in 1941 by Nana and Papa Osofsky,

5 Questions With . . . Lisa Cohen on Teaching and Writing

Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English. (Photo by Vanessa Haney)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English and faculty fellow in the Center for the Humanities. Cohen is the author of All We Know: Three Lives, an engrossing biographical triptych about three complicated, glamorous, independent, and influential women of the last century (published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in July 2012).

In a review of her new book in Businessweek, Craig Seligman writes:
“ ‘
All We Know’ is really much more about reflecting on lives … than about chronicling them. Experimental biography, if such a genre can be said to exist, is a high-wire act. Cohen never loses her balance.”

Q: What courses have you taught at Wesleyan and which have you enjoyed teaching the most?

A:  I teach the sequence of nonfiction workshops in the English Department: Techniques of Nonfiction, Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop, and Advanced Nonfiction Workshop. I also teach a Special Topics course on biographical writing, and courses such as Stein and Woolf, and Fictions of Consumption. This fall at the Center for the Humanities,  I will offer a course that engages with the semester’s theme of “Temporality.”

It’s impossible for me to say which I’ve enjoyed teaching the most. I love teaching Wesleyan students—and partly because of them, every time I teach “the same” course it’s a new experience. But the workshops also vary every year because I assign different texts and because every semester we bring different, exciting writers to campus. Alison Bechdel, Lisa Jarnot, and Bernard Cooper are three of the several who will be giving readings and meeting with students this fall.

Q: What do you believe about writing that you have shared with your students?

A: Revise!
Read writing that inspires and challenges you.

Write about what really matters to you and do it so well that it is compelling to others.

Keep editing your work.
Be strict with yourself, but patient with your own process.

Q: How did you decide to write about the lives of these three separate women—Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland—in your new book?

A: I started writing a book about Madge Garland and spent several years doing archival research and conducting interviews about her life. But at a certain point it became clear to me that while I could write a whole book about her, such a book would, ironically, not quite do her justice. Her life was one of accomplishment, but a lot of what she had done was hard to pin down. The same was true for my other subjects. I wanted to say something bigger about the milieu in which Madge had moved, to show what certain women’s lives looked like in the 20th century, and to emphasize previously unseen connections—and the often intangible work of making connections among people, which was work they had all done. In the meantime, I had written a magazine profile of Mercedes de Acosta and was hearing about Esther Murphy from the writer Sybille Bedford (whom I had first met because I interviewed her about Madge Garland).

Biddiscombe, 1983-84 Wrestling Team to Join Athletics Hall of Fame

Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame will induct its sixth class Friday, Oct. 19 as part of the university’s Homecoming/Family Weekend. This year’s inductions will include an outstanding coach, administrator and leader and the championship wrestling team he coached in 1983–84. The coach and team will join the 30 individuals and five teams currently in the Hall.

Being honored and inducted is recently retired and long-time athletics director John Biddiscombe and the New England Championship Wrestling Team he coached in 1983–84, Wesleyan’s last New England wrestling champion until this year’s 2011-12 title squad.

Wesleyan Submits Self-Study Report for Reaccreditation

Wesleyan's self study report includes information on the university's mission, academic programs, finances, faculty, students, technical, physical and library resources, and public disclosure.

Wesleyan’s self study report includes information on the university’s mission, academic programs, finances, faculty, students, technical, physical and library resources, and public disclosure.

Wesleyan submitted its final version of a self-study to the university’s accrediting agency on Aug. 15.

The agency, The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), accredits approximately 240 institutions in the six-state New England area, and universities are accredited every 10 years. A team representing NEASC will visit campus Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and conduct a comprehensive evaluation.

In an all-campus e-mail on Aug. 22, Provost Rob Rosenthal wrote, “We look forward to their constructive criticism and to showing them what an extraordinary institution we are! The self-study is the product of a great many members of our community, and I thank everyone involved.” Rosenthal is the vice president for Academic Affairs and the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology.

For the past year and half, Wesleyan has been engaged in a process of self-study, addressing the Commission’s Standards of Accreditation.

Wesleyan’s final report can be found online.


Summer McNair Scholars Study Water on Mars, Toxins, Black Political Activists

McNair scholar Lavontria Aaron '14 studied "Mars Brine Mineralogy" this summer. Her research was sponsored by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

McNair scholar Lavontria Aaron ’14 studied “Mars Brine Mineralogy” this summer. Her research was sponsored by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

By looking at high-resolution images captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists are able to see gullies, which are argued to be geologically recent. Because they are most likely formed by water, it is believed that they can answer the question of whether or not there is still “active” water on Mars.

As a summer Wesleyan McNair scholar, astronomy major Lavontria Aaron ’14 used a hyperspectral instrument to determine if the gullies contained minerals (salts) which would be left behind by water brines.

“By examining the spectrum of the brines, we’ll be able to learn more about Mars’ history and possibly man’s future in pursuit of exploring the red planet,” says Aaron, who worked on the project with her faculty advisor Marty Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Aaron and her 13 McNair peers are supported by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which serves students in their second, third, and fourth college semesters. It provides career-oriented activities,

Photography, Taiwan, King Lear Topics of Fall 2012 Lifelong Learning Courses

Wesleyan has been devoted to liberal learning since its founding in 1831. The Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning is the latest extension of this mission — a dedication to the improvement of human well-being by means of education throughout the course of life.

This fall, Wesleyan’s Institute for Lifelong Learning will offer courses on 20th-Century Photography, the paintings of Paul Cezanne, ethical eating practices, Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, promoting healthy psychology, Scandinavian culture and more.

The third year of courses begins Sept. 6 and most take place at the Susan B. and William Wasch Center for Retired Faculty at 51 Lawn Ave. in Middletown.

“Our objective is to use the talents of retired faculty members and current members of the Wesleyan faculty, plus others in our community who are similarly qualified, to present a set of short, intellectually stimulating and lively courses to area residents,” explains Karl Schiebe, director of Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.

Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, will teach "Picturing America: Highlights of 20th Century Photography" Oct. 3, 10 and 17.

Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, will teach “Picturing America: Highlights of 20th Century Photography” Oct. 3, 10 and 17.

These courses are offered at minimal cost, are not part of a degree-granting program, and are designed to offer topics of particular interest to members of the Wesleyan and local community.

In the course, “Picturing America: Highlights of 20th Century Photography,” students will discuss Alfred Stieglitz’s promotion of art photography from photo-secession to modernism, the f/64 group including Ansel Adams, and street photography of the 1960’s and 1970’s by Garry Winogrand and others.

In the course “All About Food: Enlightened Eating,” Wesleyan’s Executive Chef Brian Dagnall will explore the dynamics of food selection (shopping), food preparation (cooking), and food consumption (eating). Each class meeting will include a lecture/discussion component, cooking demonstration and food tasting.

And in “King Lear,” Gay Smith, professor of theater emerita, will look into three modern screenings of the play and question, “How does Lear, a character from Celtic Britain’s pagan past, speak to us today? Do the play’s terrifying scenes of war and torture parallel ours? Or is it the tale of a father who fatefully misjudges the children he wants to rely on in his retirement, that haunts us?”

Enrolled students will have access to the academic resources of Wesleyan including Olin Library. Classes are conveniently scheduled in the afternoons and early evenings.

The Fall 2012 classes are listed below. Click on the course title for more information.

For more information on WILL or to register, see this link.

Wesleyan Welcomes 64 International Students

Sixty-four international students hailing from Algeria to Zimbabwe joined the Class of 2016. International Student Orientation began Aug. 26. The program is designed to introduce international students to campus life at Wesleyan and ease their transition to the United States. Students took campus tours, went shopping, learned about writing programs, health matters, counseling and psychological services, performed a skit, and attended a workshop on managing U.S. academic and Wesleyan culture. The international students transitioned into New Student Orientation on Aug. 30.

Photos of International Student Orientation are below:

Class of 2016 Poses for Group Photo

As part of New Student Orientation, the Class of 2016 gathered for a group photo on Aug. 29.

New Student Orientation leaders help set up the group photo.

Graduate Students Welcomed with Orientation, Picnic

More than 60 new graduate students and Ph.D. candidates attended orientation and a picnic on Aug. 28. Photos of the event are below:

WILD Wes Grows Labyrinth, Rain Gardens at WestCo Courtyard

Wesleyan’s WILD Wes organization (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design) has planted hundreds of perennials, fruit trees, vegetables, herbs and ground cover this summer in the West College Courtyard.