Cynthia Rockwell

Cynthia Rockwell, MALS ’19, P’11

Sender ’85 joins Yale Center for British Art

Rebecca Sender ’85

Rebecca Sender ’85 was appointed deputy director for finance and administration for The Yale Center for British Art. She comes to the Center from the Princeton University Art Museum, where she served as associate director for the last decade; she was also its acting director from January 2008 to June 2010.

At Yale, she will manage the operating budget for the Center for British Art, as well as oversee the institution’s security, facilities and operations, human resources, Information Technology and the Museum Shop. She also will manage the institution’s emergency plan and will work with the center’s partner institution, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London.

Prior to her time at Princeton, Sender worked for several prominent arts organizations, including the American Federation of Arts, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Carnegie Institute and Carnegie Library, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Director of the Yale Center for British Art, Amy Meyers, praised Sender as “a stellar professional on all fronts,” and adds, “She will be a magnificent addition to the Center and to the extended Yale community.”

A theater major at Wesleyan, Sender earned her M.B.A from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh in 1992. She earned her M.A. in art history and archaeology from Columbia University in 1999.

Bennett ’75 Appointed Chevron Treasurer

Paul Bennett '75

Paul Bennett ’75 was appointed vice president and treasurer of Chevron Corporation in May 2011.

He  joined Chevron in 1980 as a financial analyst in the comptroller’s department. Over the course of his career, Bennett earned positions of increasing responsibility in the finance department. Previously, he served as vice president of finance, downstream and chemicals, from 2009 to 2011

A cum laude graduate of Wesleyan, he majored in history. He earned his master’s degree in finance at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980.

Melillo ’65 Chairs National Climate Committee

Jerry M. Melillo ’65

Jerry M. Melillo ’65, Distinguished Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), was named chair of a joint public-private sector committee that will produce the next National Climate Assessment report for the United States.

Gary Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and environmental studies, is also a vice-chair of the National Climate Assessment.

The National Climate Assessment analyzes the latest science and information about the current and projected effects of climate variability and change across the United States. The committee is an advisory body to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

His appointment to lead the National Climate Assessment committee was announced by Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The committee includes individuals from academia, the private sector, local and state government, and the nonprofit sector from 22 states.

Mellio brings a wealth of experience to the position: He is co-author of the landmark report to Congress, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” issued by the USGCRP. He was also a lead author on both the 1990 and 1995 Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and he served in President Clinton’s Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1996 to 1997.

He has been on the scientific staff at MBL since 1976, and is also a professor of biology at Brown University. At Wesleyan, he majored in biology and then earned his MAT in 1968. Followed by his doctorate from Yale. he His research focuses on the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems, and modeling analysis of the feedbacks and impacts of climate change.

Leavitt ’92 Studies ‘Spoilers’: Tell Us What Happens

Jonathan Leavitt ’92

A new study by University of California – San Diego Professor of Psychology Nicholas Christenfeld and graduate student Jonathan Leavitt ’92 suggests that people enjoy a story more when they they already know how it ends.

Writer Mary Elizabeth Williams, for suggests that those on constant  alert for “spoilers” in media reviews should chill out: “For their study, Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt provided participants with a variety of ‘ironic-twist, mystery and literary’ short stories…. Some readers read the stories in their original forms. Some were given a preface with the spoiler. Others had a spoiler rewritten into the middle of the story. Now here’s the SHOCKING TWIST: Nearly every time, the readers preferred the ‘spoiled’ versions.”

An upcoming issue of Psychological Science will report on this, also.

While Christenfeld and Leavitt’s study did not garner results that explained the preference for knowing what happened, the researchers have speculated:

“…[I]t could be,” said Leavitt, “that once you know how it turns out, it’s cognitively easier—you’re more comfortable processing the information—and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.”

A UC San Diego press release noted that “The overall findings are consistent with the experience most of us have had: A favorite tale can be re-read multiple times with undiminished pleasure. A beloved movie can be watched again and again.”

They conclude their report questioning whether our  “other intuitions about suspense may be similarly wrong” —questioning whether cellophane, rather than opaque paper, might be the better covering for a birthday or holiday gift.

While Christenfeld also speculated that we might be “well-advised to reconsider surprise parties,” the two continue to explore the qualities that make for a successful story. Apropos the recent scandals about fictionalized memoirs, they are asking why it matters that an interesting story also be true



Fins ’82 Named to Davis ’47 Medical Ethics Professorship at Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Joseph Fins '82 and Dr. E. William Davis Jr. '47.

Dr. Joseph J. Fins ’82, an internationally renowned medical ethicist and pioneer in the field of neuroethics and disorders of consciousness, was named the first recipient of a newly established professorship, The E. William Davis Jr. ’47 M.D., Professor of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr. Fins serves as chief of the Division of Medical Ethics and is a tenured professor of medicine, professor of public health, and professor of medicine in psychiatry. He is also director of medical ethics and a physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and on the adjunct faculty of Rockefeller University. His scholarly interests include ethical and policy issues in brain injury and disorders of consciousness, palliative care, research ethics in neurology and psychiatry, medical education and methods of ethics case consultation. He is a co-author of the 2007 Nature paper describing the first use of deep brain stimulation in the minimally conscious state.

The Davis Professorship was created in honor of Dr. E. William Davis Jr., who was instrumental in the founding of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell’s Ethics Committee in 1994, when Dr. Fins was named as its founding chair. Dr. Davis served as professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College and is currently vice president for medical affairs emeritus at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

In a press release from the medical center, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., praised Fins, noting the important role that Davis had on his career. “Starting out as a practicing internist, and with Dr. Davis as a mentor, Joe’s career has bridged medicine

Reason.TV: Rommelmann’s [’83] Hollywood is ‘Bad Mother

Nancy Rommelmann '83

Tim Cavanaugh of Reason.TV interviews writer Nancy Rommelmann ’83 about her newest work, The Bad Mother, a short (144-page) piece of fiction set on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox. The plot follows the lives of three homeless girls—one a pregnant teen— and their friends, over the course of six months. Rommelmann, who is an award-winning journalist, makes it clear to Cavanaugh that this is entirely fictional, despite a style that seems reportorial, and a topic—the homeless who show up in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, hoping for a better life—that is not dissimilar to other stories which she covered as a journalist.

“It’s in a real minimalist style,” notes Cavanaugh of The Bad Mother.

Says Rommelman: “I don’t ever—either in fiction or in journalism—want to tell the reader how to feel. I don’t really think that’s my job. I’m going to tell them what happens. And they can take it and they can figure out how they feel about it. I don’t want to hand-lead them anywhere.”

As for Rommelmann’s observations on the city in which this is set: “I think Hollywood exerts this… it sends this message, and it says, ‘If you show up, I’m going to deliver your destiny. But you got to stay. You have to believe in me.’ So they come. And a lot of people, you know, it doesn’t happen, and they leave. But other people, they just keep… they just stay, and they just stay and they just stay, And maybe that next break is going to happen. And Hollywood is not going to disabuse you of that notion. It needs you here.”

On her web site, she describes her journalism as writing “about people and how they do and do not fit themselves into the culture, their dreams, delusions, and sometimes criminal behavior.” Her work has received numerous awards, including Best Arts Feature 2008 for No Exit Plan: The Lies and Follies of Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy, from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN), as well as Best Entertainment Arts Feature 2008 from the Los Angeles Press Club.

See the video here.

To learn more about Rommelmann’s work, visit her web site,

NYT Praises Fly Away (Grillo ’80) for ‘Commendable Subtlety’

Janet Grillo ’80

The recently released indie film, Fly Away, written and directed by Janet Grillo ’80, explores the question every parent faces—how to learn to let go when the child becomes a teen. However, Grillo ups the emotional ante: Jeanne (Beth Broderick) is a single mother, and her daughter, Mandy (Ashley Rickards) is severely autistic. As Grillo begins the film, it becomes clear that all the coping strategies, all the interventions that Jeanne had developed for Mandy when she was a child, are no longer effective.

Released in mid-April, the film had its world premier in mid-March at the prestigious South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. An April 15 review in The New York Times by Jeanette Catsoulis praises the film for “treading warily into territory that few dramas dare explore.”

Catsoulis continues: “Fly Away faces some harsh realities with commendable subtlety. Without overplaying her hand or taking cheap emotional shots, the writer and director, Janet Grillo, examines the assumption that home is always the best environment. As Mandy matures and her aggressive behavior—as well as a growing interest in the opposite sex—becomes more difficult to manage, the film is attentive to the emotional damage sustained by parents who refuse to accept that love may not be enough.”

Related links:


Wetlaufer ’84 Joins CPP Investment Board as Senior VP

Eric Wetlaufer ’84

Eric M. Wetlaufer ’84 was named senior vice president, heading CPP Investment Board’s public market investments division.

Prior to joining CPPIB this June, he was the group chief investment officer of the international division at Fidelity Management and Research in Boston. Previously, he was a chief investment officer at Putnam Investments, and a managing director at Cadence Capital Management.

At Wesleyan, he earned his bachelor’s degree with a major in earth science. He is a chartered financial analyst.

Soccer Alumni Lacey ’89, Ashe ’07 Provide Lazard’s Winning Edge

Jared Ashe ’07 and Andrew Lacey '89.

Wesleyan soccer alumni Andrew Lacey ’89 and Jared Ashe ’07 recently played (May 23) in The Macquarie Football Tournament for financial professionals in London at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea Football (soccer, on this side of the pond) Club’s playing ground.

“We were representing Lazard Asset Management,” explains Ashe. Lacey, deputy chairman, has been with the firm since 1995; Ashe, who had met Lacey thought their Wesleyan soccer connection, was hired by the firm in 2007.

The 14 players on the Lazard team included a dozen players from their London office and two—Lacey and Ashe—based in New York City.

The other three financial firms sending a team were JP Morgan, SAC Capital, and Macquarie.

Reports Ashe: “Andrew played every minute of the tournament at right fullback, supporting a Lazard defense that kept a clean sheet during the night’s play. Andrew played quite well, as he was also an outside back/midfielder during his Wesleyan playing days under Terry Jackson. I played centrally at a stopper position and assisted on the goal in the 1-0 win over Macquarie.

“After some heated, competitive round-robin play, Lazard came out on top and took home the trophy—a signed Chelsea trophy!”

Ashe adds, “I can’t say enough about how helpful and important the Wesleyan connection is for young athletes out of Wesleyan; it can help shape a graduate’s career in the first few years post-college.”

Ruane ’97 Appointed L.A.’s Immigration Judge

Judge Rachel Ann Ruane ’97

The Hon. Rachel A. Ruane ’97 was appointed Immigration Judge, Los Angeles Immigration Court, by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in December 2010.

Previously, she was affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the Office of the Chief Counsel in Los Angeles, Calif. serving in a number of different roles, most recently as deputy chief counsel.

At Wesleyan, she double-majored in government and American studies, with Professor of Government John Finn and Professor of American Studies Claire Potter as her advisors. She earned her juris doctorate from Emory University and was a judicial law clerk for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, first in Boston and then in Los Angeles.

Judge Ruane is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Conrad ’81 Hired for GSA’s Innovative Technologies Post

Kathy Prager Conrad '81

Kathy Prager Conrad ’81 was named the principal deputy associate administrator of the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. Honored as a Federal 100 award winner by Federal Computer Week in March, she was previously senior vice president of Jefferson Consulting Group. In an interview with Federal Computer Week, Conrad noted that she was honored to have the opportunity to advance the Administration’s open government and innovation initiatives.

Her new responsibilities include fostering adoption of innovative technologies such as cloud services and mobile computing and enhancing use of government data to improve government and citizen engagement.

“This job and office represent an amalgam of the issues I have been committed to – including promoting government IT as an enabler, not as an end in itself,” she says.

At Wesleyan, she was a biology/psychology major.

Smith ’92 Delegate for Mission to Indonesia

Jonathan Smith ’92

Jonathan Smith ’92 will be one of 14 delegates selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) Mission to Indonesia in July. The delegation, made up of U.S. investors, entrepreneurs and academics, will offer individualized mentoring to Indonesian early-stage and growth-stage companies. Additionally Indonesian start-ups will have an opportunity to present their ideas to the delegation with the hopes of obtaining investors.

Smith, who earned his Wesleyan bachelor’s degree with a College of Social Studies degree, also holds a master’s degree in accounting, as well as a certificate in Homeland Securities Studies from Michigan State University. He is the president and chief operating Officer of Wave Dispersion Technologies ( Under his leadership, the company was ranked in Inc, Magazine’s 500 List.