Editorial Staff

Bhupathi ’20 Delivers Senior Class Address at 2020 Commencement


Caroline Bhupathi ’20 is a graduating senior from Dallas, Texas, majoring in computer science and minoring in data analysis. While at Wesleyan, she often served as a course assistant for various economics, computer science, and data analysis courses and tutored and managed the Scientific Computing and Informatics Center (SCIC). She was also the recipient of the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award in Economics and the Mike Rice Prize in Computer Science. In addition to her academic commitments, Caroline was a member of Wesleyan’s only sorority, Rho Epsilon Pi; co-captain of the Wesleyan Club Tennis Team; and a participant in numerous first-year orientation performances, including “In the Company of Others” and “We Speak We Stand.” An active member of Wesleyan’s multicultural community, Caroline considers Wesleyan to be a second home. She made the following remarks (as prepared and previously recorded) during the 188th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 24:

Thank you, President Roth.

Before I begin, I would like to address the elephant in our respective rooms: we are watching our graduation through a screen. To be honest, I was debating whether or not I should even mention the situation. I thought to myself, “We’ve heard enough of it already, what else is there to say?” And there isn’t really more to say, other than to hear it from a fellow student who understands what you are going through.

A day after being told that campus would be closed for the remainder of the semester, I found myself packing up my room in my senior wood-frame house with my brother. The day also consisted of me giving him a tour of the entire campus, a trip down to my favorite restaurant on Main Street, and an endless stream of stories that I shared with him in the car as we drove to and from the store to buy boxes. Once all my belongings were packed, and we were back on the road, my brother said, “Seeing and hearing about your time at Wesleyan reminds me of this quote from a show called After Life, ‘Everybody deserves to be in their local paper.’” It wasn’t until I started writing this speech that I pieced it, this quote, into my own narrative at Wes.

I am a mixed-race woman who never really knew her place. Not saying that I entirely do now, but I am as close as I have ever been to figuring it out, thanks to Wesleyan. Wesleyan, for many of us, is a safe place where we are given the space to not only learn and grow, but to be heard. Can you think of the last time you had five—maybe ten—uninterrupted minutes to speak? I had mine my sophomore year, when I tried to find any excuse I could to come back to Wesleyan early. That excuse took the form of participating in ‘In The Company of Others.’

When I came back to campus a week early for orientation that school year, I went to the first rehearsal to find out that I would be speaking in front of the entire first-year class for ten whole minutes about my identity. Up until then, being mixed meant that I was wedged between contradicting cultures, not being sure which was mine to claim. So this was something that was never asked of me before. After many rehearsals, the day finally came where I stood in front of the first year class to tell them my experience in being mixed as one that meant not knowing if whether or not I’ll find a community already spelled out for me when walking into a new space–that being mixed meant trying to find a sense of belonging.

Those ten minutes gave me the opportunity to take back and redefine my complex identity that had once been defined by others. Not only that, but I had the chance to hear other students’ ten-minute stories of their experiences. Their stories made me realize that there are and always have been many people like me with racially or non-racially mixed backgrounds who feel like their identities have been predetermined. That is, until coming to Wesleyan.

My Wesleyan experience, like many, is not only being heard for the first time, but hearing others. The people at Wesleyan have taught me that we don’t necessarily have to have the same experiences to relate to one another. Wesleyan has meant that I was able to express, for myself, my own everchanging narrative. So, whether it be speaking in front of the first years for ten minutes, being featured as a Wesceleb in the Argus, discussing important campus matters in WSA, leading a protest across campus for an important cause, being inducted into a not-so-secret, secret society, having your band play at MASH, growing food at Long Lane Farm, winning NESCACs with your team, directing a Second Stage play, creating a club to provide a space that was not already there, or writing an honors thesis, Wesleyan has given us the opportunity to discover ourselves and celebrate us, not only as individuals, but as a collective. The lessons we learned and the knowledge that we gained did not diminish once we left campus. We should all be extremely proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished these past few years, and what we have done to finish despite being caught in the midst of history in the making.

I believe I speak for the Class of 2020 when I say we wish we could be there in-person to say, “Thank you, Wesleyan.” Thank you for letting all of us, in one way or another, be featured in your local paper.

Thank you.

Bendall Remembered for Teaching Philosophy 29 Years at Wesleyan

L. Kent Bendall, professor of philosophy, emeritus, died on May 15 at the age of 88.

Bendall received his BA from Rice University and his MA and PhD from Yale University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1963, where he taught philosophy until his retirement in 1992. During his 29 years at Wesleyan, Bendall was an integral part of the University and the Philosophy Department. He served many terms as chair of the Education Policy Committee and of the Philosophy Department; he also served as chair of the University Senate and was a member of the planning committee for the new African American Institute in 1974.

He was a philosopher who was devoted to the ideal of truth and a rigorous search for it. Joe Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science and Professor of Philosophy, recalled: “Kent Bendall was an excellent logician and philosopher, and a generous colleague and friend. Two considerations will always stand out in my recollection of Kent: his extraordinary clarity of thought and expression, and his utterly unquestionable personal and intellectual integrity.”

Aaron, Autry, Shinohara Honored with the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Every spring, Wesleyan recognizes outstanding faculty with three Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching.

This year’s recipients include Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, Robyn Autry, associate professor and chair of sociology, and Keiji Shinohara, artist-in-residence.

Made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, these prizes underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the University’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Rosenthal to Receive Baldwin Medal

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal

At the University’s 188th Commencement on May 24, Wesleyan will present the Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Alumni Association, to Rob Rosenthal, John Andrus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus.

The Baldwin Medal pays tribute to the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, the only man to have held the offices of Connecticut governor, U.S. senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. First awarded Sept. 20, 1981, during the opening convocation of Wesleyan’s Sesquicentennial, the Baldwin Medal is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for careers and other activities that have contributed significantly to the public good.

Rosenthal served as Wesleyan’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs from 2010 to 2013, and as director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life from 2014 to 2017. He returned to serve as interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs again from July 2019 through May 2020.

Wesleyan to Hold Virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 24

monogramWesleyan’s 188th Commencement Ceremony, honoring the graduating Class of 2020, will be held through a virtual setting at noon on May 24.

(View the Commencement website here.)

The commencement address, honorary degree recipients, and the senior class address will be pre-recorded and offered for viewing on Commencement Sunday. The conferral of degrees and remarks made by Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 will be presented live. The Binswanger Awards for Teaching will be presented on a future occasion.

The Class of 2020 will be invited back to campus next year for an in-person ceremony.

“We will miss the marching, the music, and the mortarboards in the air,” President Roth wrote in a campus-wide email on May 6. “Nonetheless, there will be much to celebrate: primarily, the resiliency of our seniors and our graduate students who managed to hold the course in the face of unforeseen difficulties and disappointments.”

A formal e-invitation to graduating students and their families and the Wes community is forthcoming.

“Normally at Commencement, celebrants sit close together on Andrus Field, or up behind the podium on Denison Terrace or over on Foss Hill,” Roth said. “May 24 will be different, but even if we sit far apart from one another, the power of togetherness will be strong.”

Wesleyan Announces 2020 Honorary Degree Recipients

At the University’s 188th Commencement on May 24, Wesleyan will present honorary degrees to three recipients whose work exemplifies inclusive engagement.

Jacqueline Woodson, an award-winning and best-selling author, is this year’s speaker. Actor and political activist Bradley Whitford ’81 and William Joseph Barber II, a social justice advocate and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, will also be honored. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their significant contributions to civic life in the United States, including the example they set in bringing new voices into the public sphere and spurring others to productive dialogue and action.

“I am honored to celebrate at Commencement three remarkable individuals whose work has educated people across the country,” President Michael Roth ’78 said. “Through their creative and inspiring contributions, they empower and encourage us to work toward creating a better world.”

2020 Commencement Ceremony, Class Reunions Postponed

commencement

Wesleyan’s 188th Commencement Ceremony will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 announced that Wesleyan will delay its 188th Commencement Ceremony, originally scheduled for May 24, 2020. Wesleyan’s reunion gatherings, typically held during the same weekend, will be celebrated in alternate formats.

“Although I’d been delaying this decision in hopes that we might still have an opportunity to gather together in late May, I’m writing now to let you know that we will have to find another time and place to celebrate the 2020 graduation. There is so much uncertainty about what the next few months will hold, and we don’t think it is responsible to plan to bring a large group together on Andrus Field in May,” Roth wrote in an all-campus email on April 2.

“I know this will be greatly disappointing for many, particularly for graduate students, seniors and their families, who were looking forward to the Commencement ceremony this spring. I do expect the Board of Trustees to vote (remotely) to award degrees at its May meeting. For official purposes, the University will graduate all those who qualify, and we will find a way to mark that event in some festive (if still virtual) way at that time. We will be writing again soon with our plans in that regard. Please know that we have every intention to bring people together in-person at some point in the future to celebrate this year’s graduates. We are reaching out to seniors to ask for their input in designing meaningful alternatives. Similarly, our colleagues in Advancement will work with the reunion committees to seek input regarding reunion celebrations. When this pandemic recedes, there will be plenty to celebrate together. Please stay safe, and take care of one another. I look forward to celebrating these important milestones with you in the future.”

Like President Roth, Frantz Williams ’99, vice president for advancement, hoped that the trajectory of the pandemic might be such that reunions could happen. But under current conditions, the University decided that gathering a large group of alumni, guests, students, faculty and staff in May would pose too large a risk to the health and safety of the community and beyond.

“We are keenly aware that many classes have been actively preparing for and anticipating their reunions and can assure you that we are working on alternate plans for in-person celebrations at a later date,” Williams wrote. “In the meantime, some classes have already been taking advantage of technology to gather remotely, and this spring Wesleyan will encourage and support more of these gatherings. In addition, we will find other new ways to come together at a time when we are physically separated but eager for connection.”

Wesleyan staff are currently reviewing a variety of options for the postponed ceremonies, and actively seeking input from both students and alumni on their preferences and recommendations for both. The University expects to finalize these plans in the coming weeks and in accordance with official local, state, federal and health officials’ guidance about the pandemic’s trajectory, and will be in touch with the Wesleyan community as soon as possible with updates.

NESCAC Announces Winter All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship Honorees

Andrew Schwartz

Andrew Schwartz ’20, of the men’s swimming and diving team, was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship Team. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin)

Coleen Castro,

Women’s hockey player Coleen Castro ’20 was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.

Wesleyan’s winter athletic teams put a total of 80 student-athletes on the 2019–20 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Winter All-Academic Team, while eight earned a spot on the 2019–20 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of study at the institution.

Wesleyan ranked seventh out of 11 schools with its 80 honorees.

Wesleyan Transitions to Online Classes for the Safety of the Campus Community


For the safety of the campus community, amid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting thousands of known cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide, Wesleyan is transitioning all classes to distance-learning models for the remainder of the spring semester.

“As hard as we work to make the on-campus Wesleyan experience the best it can be, we must apply that same diligence and care to protecting our community’s well-being in light of this growing threat,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campuswide email.

While there are no confirmed cases at Wesleyan, there are five confirmed cases in the State of Connecticut, and Governor Ned Lamont declared a public health emergency.

After consulting with a variety of public health experts and other higher education institutions around the country, Wesleyan announced the following preventive measures:

  • In-person classes are suspended for the remainder of the spring semester; all courses will transition to distance learning models.
  • Effective immediately, all University-sponsored, connected, or funded domestic and international travel for students, faculty, and staff is prohibited. The University also strongly discourages all personal domestic and international travel by students, faculty, and staff, except for the purposes of students returning home.

Hockey Wins First-Ever NESCAC Championship

hockeyOn March 8, the men’s hockey team celebrated its first-ever NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Trinity College. Although the win secured the league’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors decided to cancel all remaining winter championships as well as the spring sports season across all divisions (I, II, and III). Wesleyan had several winter sports scheduled to compete in their respective NCAA Championships, including men’s hockey, which are affected by this news.

The Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to thunder past No. 8 Trinity at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.

hockeyThe victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in a span of just 10:25 between the second and third periods to take a commanding 4–1 lead that proved enough in the end. Six different goal scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris ’20 finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship game record for the highest point total by a single skater. One night removed from making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak ’20 was tremendous once again, posting 38 saves on 40 shots-on-goal from Trinity as he continues to deliver in the postseason for Wesleyan throughout his career.

Wesleyan Vows to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments by the End of the Decade

At its most recent meeting on Feb. 29, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees discussed how to better align endowment investment practices with the University’s broad sustainability efforts.

In a recent campus-wide email, President Michael Roth ’78 and Board of Trustees Chair Donna Morea ’76, P’06 shared the following message:

Given the climate emergency, the investment and ecological risks associated with fossil fuels and the Investment Committee’s own environmental, social and governance guidelines, there was broad agreement among trustees not to make new fossil fuel investments and to wind down current investments in this sector as quickly as possible while minimizing the negative impact to the value of the endowment. The University will be divested from direct fossil fuel investments by the end of the decade.

Wesleyan has already made a climate commitment aiming at carbon neutrality and will now be accelerating work in this direction. This weekend, the Board authorized the first phase of converting our energy infrastructure from steam to hot water. When complete, this project will reduce Wesleyan’s carbon footprint by thousands of metric tons per year.