Eric Gershon

Eric Gershon is editor and new media writer in the Wesleyan University Office of University Communications.

A Pictorial Look at the 179th Commencement Ceremony

Below are several photos taken at Wesleyan’s 179th Commencement Ceremony:

From left, are Robert Patricelli '61, P'88, P'90, Margaret Sweetland Patricelli who were awarded Wesleyan's Baldwin Medal; Board of Trustee Chair Joshua Boger '73, P'06, P'09; Wesleyan's Honorary Degree recipients Ralph "Biff" H. Shaw '51, P'79, Jean Adams Shaw P'79, Dr. Paul E. Farmer, Alberto Ibarguen '66, P'97 and Barbara Nell Cook. With them is Wesleyan President Michael Roth '78. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Professor Peter Patton leads graduates onto Andrus Field. (Photo by Charlotte Christopher '12)

The graduates make their way from Foss Hill to their seats for the ceremony. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Dr. Paul Farmer delivers the Commencement Address.

President Michael S. Roth '78 addresses the Class of 2011. (Photo by Nam Anh Ta)

The Class of 2011 and guests on Andrus Field. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Members of the Class of 2011 applaud their fellows. (Photo by Nick Russell)

CaVar Reid '11 is a miracle! (Photo by Charlotte Christopher '12)

View additional photos of Reunion & Commencement Weekend on Wesleyan’s Flickr site.


55th Wesleyan Writers Conference Convenes in June

Publisher Pamela Dorman '79, vice-president of Pamela Dorman Books/Viking of New York, N.Y., will be on the faculty of the 55th Annual Wesleyan Writers Conference. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

For more than five decades, late spring has been a season for writing at Wesleyan, and a distinguished cohort of literary talents will assemble in Middletown next month for the 55th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference.

Roxana Robinson, Amy Bloom, Honor Moore and Arthur Phillips – whose new novel, The Tragedy of Arthur, was reviewed on the cover of the May 1 New York Times Book Review – will be among more than 20 professional literary artists, editors and publishers on campus from June 16 to June 20.

“We are very serious about the work that we do,” says Anne Greene, director of the conference, which counts literary titans Eudora Welty, Edward P. Jones, Robert Stone and David Halberstam among its past faculty.

Well established as an attraction for fiction and literary non-fiction writers, the conference this year also offers a number of new panels, including writing about science and medicine, featuring Joseph J. Fins ’82, MD, and writing for television, featuring Peter Blauner ’82. An award-winning mystery writer, Blauner now writes for Law and Order Los Angeles.

In all, about 70 writers are expected to participate this year, including  established and aspiring writers, teachers, judges, physicians, bankers and at least one former U.S. ambassador. They’ll refine their skills in close work with the professionals.

As always, students will be able to submit manuscripts for review by conference faculty and consult with them one-on-one.

A distinguished group of top editors and agents will advise participants about preparing their work for publication. Speakers include:

Pamela Dorman ’79, a veteran of Viking Penguin and Hyperion; Andre Bernard, former publisher of Harcourt Brace; Johnny Temple ’88, editor and publisher of Akashic Press; and agents John Silbersack and Mel Flashman of Trident Media.

The full conference, which has rolling admission, has a $975 tuition fee, with additional (optional) costs for meals and accommodations for five nights.

A one-day program will be held June 18.

For a schedule of the 2011 Wesleyan Writers Conference and a complete listing of faculty, see

Toxin Study by Olson, De Published in PNAS

In a newly published paper, Rich Olson, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, describes studies of a toxin produced by the bacterium that causes cholera.

The paper –“Crystal structure of the Vibrio cholerae cytolysin heptamer reveals common features among disparate pore-forming toxins” – is the culmination of nearly eight years work. Co-authored with Swastik De, a graduate student in Olson’s lab, the paper has been published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and will appear in a print edition later this spring.

Olson’s lab studies the molecular details of how pathogens invade human hosts.  Bacteria produce toxins to protect themselves from hosts’ immune systems and to scavenge materials necessary for colonization. Understanding how toxins affect host cells could lead to better treatments in some cases.


Wesleyan To Host Symposium on Great Apes, Ethics, Conservation

Lori Gruen is organizing the upcoming symposium titled “Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation.” (Photo by John Van Vlack)

A diverse group of primate researchers will convene at Wesleyan on April 22 for a day-long symposium about the relationship between humans and the other great apes – chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas. The schedule is online here.

“Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation” will feature presentations by anthropologists, psychologists, primatologists and conservationists who study or advocate for non-human great apes in the wild and in captivity. Discussions will follow each talk, with an emphasis on chimpanzee behavior and the ethical treatment of non-human great apes.

“We’re in this complicated and increasingly intense relationship with the other great apes,” says Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy and the symposium’s principal organizer. “If chimps and other great apes were living in their worlds undisturbed by our activities, we wouldn’t have to raise questions about our relationship to them.”

Gruen is currently teaching a course called “Primate Encounters,” in which students examine

Jakobson ’52 Speaks to Students about Markets, Investing

Trustee emeritus John Jakobson '52, P'05, who bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $85,000 in 1955, addressed students on campus on April 4, an event sponsored by the Career Resource Center. “Investment is all about tomorrow, not yesterday,” he said. “People don’t give a damn about anything that’s not the next big thing.”

Jakobson engages with David Goldman, president of the Wesleyan Investment Club.

Former Red Sox Pitcher Tiant Speaks at Americas Forum

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant responds to a question after the April 7 screening of “Lost Son of Havana,” a 2009 film about his first return to his native Cuba in 46 years. Tiant and filmmaker Jonathan Hock participated in the Center for the Americas’ 2011 Americas Forum, held on campus April 7 and 8.

Tiant and Hock address the audience at the Center for the Arts Hall. The forum, “Sports Documentary Filmmakers in the Americas: The Politics of Access,” also featured a screening of “The Two Escobars,” by Jeffery and Michael Zimbalist ‘02, about drugs power and soccer in Colombia. (Photos by Cora Lautze '11)

Librarian Konerding Contestant in Millionaire

Documents Librarian Erhard Konerding will appear on the April 14 broadcast of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire."

Will Erhard Konerding become a millionaire?

The Wesleyan librarian may know already, but the rest of us will have to wait until a mid-May broadcast of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” quiz show. Originally scheduled for April 14, the broadcast is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 10 a.m.

Konerding, a documents specialist in Olin Library, is a contestant in an episode that taped Nov. 17, 2010, in New York City. The top prize is $1 million.

Renowned on campus for his handlebar mustache, Konerding has previously been a contestant on three other television game shows –”Jeopardy” (1994), “Remember This” (1996) and “History IQ” (2000).

One of his opponents on “History IQ” was Leszek Pawlowicz, Wesleyan ’75, who has been called “the Michael Jordan of game shows” in The New York Times Magazine. Pawlowicz won “Jeopardy” in 1992, among many other victories.

“I won a mountain bike, Leszek got the $5,000,” said Konerding. “He went on to take second place overall in the tournament.”

By agreement with ABC-Disney, contestants on “Millionaire” may not reveal how they performed prior to broadcast.

“Any proceeds do not come until 30 days after the show’s air date, so there is that incentive to keep quiet,” says Konerding, who joined the university staff in 1972 and received an MALS from Wesleyan in 1982.

In any event, he has no immediate plans to quit his day job at Olin: “I’ll definitely stay at least until my 40th anniversary party,” he said.

That’ll be in 2012.

“Millionaire” broadcasts locally on WTIC Fox 61.

On the Stages of Bucharest, Kordonskiy is a Familiar Name

Yuriy Kordonskiy, associate professof of theater, directs “Bury Me Under the Baseboard" in Bucharest, Romania. Actress Andreea Bibiri is pictured at left.

Even when he’s in Connecticut, Associate Professor of Theater Yuriy Kordonskiy never really leaves Romania – his work is almost always on display there.

During a fall sabbatical from Wesleyan, Kordonskiy returned to Bucharest to find that “Uncle Vanya” – the Anton Chekhov classic he directed there in 2001 – was not only in performance, but still had its original cast.

“They didn’t replace a single actor,” he says, 10 years later. “And the shows are still sold-out.”

Today, no fewer than five Kordonskiy productions are in rotating performance at the Bulandra, Bucharest’s top repertory theater, including his latest, “Bury Me Under the Baseboard.” It opened in January with one of Romania’s best-known actresses, Mariana Mihut, in the lead role.

Kordonskiy adapted “Bury Me” from a best-selling contemporary Russian

Budding Architects Design Wildlife Viewing Station Under Huge’s Wing

Elijah Huge, assistant professor of art

Assistant Professor of Art Elijah Huge and 11 of his students have designed four proposals for a bird-viewing observatory for a 700-acre nature preserve in Southbury, Conn., and plan to build one by the end of April.

It is the third major design-build project for North Studio, the faculty-student design collaborative Huge established in 2006. The students are all members of his Architecture II class.

Previous North Studio projects have included a bird-viewing platform for an Audubon Society sanctuary in Portland, Conn., and a Sukkah, or temporary Jewish ritual structure, at Wesleyan.

Audubon wildlife sanctuary Bent of the River is expected to pick one of the four designs by the end of March to allow for April construction.

“Everyone involved in the studio – the students, the teaching apprentice, the instructor, the clients – are all working together to leverage individual talents and creativity,” says Huge, who returned to Wesleyan this semester from a sabbatical at The University of California-Berkeley. “The studio offers students an opportunity to engage a ‘real-world’ architectural project.”

Cuban Emigre, Red Sox Hero Tiant to Speak at 2011 Americas Forum

In the film, "The Lost Son of Havana," former major league baseball star Luis Tiant returns to Cuba, where he encounters unexpected demons and receives unexpected gifts from his family.

Former Boston Red Sox hero Luis Tiant will visit Wesleyan on April 7 to attend a screening of “Lost Son of Havana,” a 2009 film about the charismatic pitcher and Cuban émigré’s first return to his homeland in 46 years.

The screening and a subsequent discussion with Tiant and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock are part of the Center for the Americas’ 2011 Americas Forum, which will take place on campus April 7-8.

The forum, “Sports Documentary Filmmakers in the Americas: The Politics of Access,” also will feature a screening of “The Two Escobars,” a documentary by Jeffrey and Michael Zimbalist ’02 about drugs, power and soccer in Colombia.

The annual interdisciplinary forum addresses a topic of mutual interest to North and South or Central America, and reflects the center’s

Gamelan Ensemble Performs at Indonesian Embassy

Wesleyan's gamelan is an ensemble that consists of predominantly metallophone and gong type instruments. The instruments produce tones when struck with mallets.

Fresh off a performance at Crowell Concert Hall last week, Wesleyan’s Indonesian gamelan ensemble packed its gongs for Washington.

Led by Adjunct Professor of Music Sumarsam and artist in residence I.M. Harjito, the ensemble performed at the Indonesian Embassy March 4, in an opening event for a festival celebrating composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003). Harrison is the American composer credited with merging gamelan music and Western concert traditions.

Gamelan refers to several varieties of Indonesian ensemble music performed mainly with metallophone and bronze gong-type instruments played with mallets. (Listen to the Wesleyan gamelan ensemble perform “Ladrang Gegot laras pelog pathet nem” in this audio clip, courtesy of the World Music Archives.)

Wesleyan’s gamelan ensemble also played at The George Washington University on March 5.

“Diplomacy is not necessarily

Say Fromage: Wesleyan Cheese Co-Op Debuts with 400 Members

The cheese co-op established a blog for sharing recipes.

At first blush, it’s all about the cheese.

But Zachary Malter ’13 says the new Wesleyan Cheese Co-op can be more than a source of variations on Gouda, Cheddar and Provolone – it’s a social and political experience in the making.

“Food is not just a source of nourishment,” says Malter, chair of the Wesleyan Student Association’s dining committee and an organizer of the cheese co-op, which made its first distribution on Feb. 16. “It’s also a source of community building.”

Malter envisions wine-and-cheese socials where Wesleyan’s cheese lovers, other foodies and friends-of-foodies mingle. The co-op has already established a blog for sharing recipes:

Suggested by managers at Bon Appétit, which operates dining facilities at Wesleyan, the co-op was established by students and the company this fall.