Laurie Kenney

Campaign Celebrated at Grand Central in NYC

More than 200 members of the Wesleyan community—decked out in red and black—gathered in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York City on June 16 to celebrate the success of the THIS IS WHY campaign, which draws to its end on June 30, 2016. The event was hosted by THIS IS WHY campaign chair John Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18.

At the event, President Michael Roth ’78 acknowledged some of the campaign leaders—including Usdan; Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09, retiring chair of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees; Ellen Jewett ’81 P’17, trustee emerita; Alan Dachs ’70, P’98, Hon ’07, chair emeritus of the Board; and Donna Morea ’76, P’06, chair-elect of the Board—and thanked the entire Wesleyan community for its support.

“Thank you all for being generous donors to and supporters of this campaign,” said Roth, addressing the crowd. “We have faculty here who have mentored for decades, coaches who have helped athletes thrive, and parents whose kids have discovered what they love to do at Wesleyan. We are a family of people who support one another—not just for the sake of alma mater but also to send people out into the world to do great things.”

Photos of the event are below and the full gallery is in this Wesleyan Flickr album. (Photos by Robert Adam Mayer)

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

THIS IS WHY campaign chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18 hosted a campaign celebration at Grand Central Terminal, New York, N.Y., on June 16, 2016.

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

Pictured, from left: John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18; Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78; and Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09.

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

From left: Wesleyan trustee David Resnick ’81, P’13, with Helen Haje P’13 and Peter Haje P’13.

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

Pictured, from left: Connie McCann ’76, trustee emerita; Alan Dachs ’70, P’98, Hon ’07, chair emeritus of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees; and Karl Scheibe, professor of psychology, emeritus.

From left: Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for university relations; John Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18; and Eva Usdan P'15, P'18, P'18.

From left: Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for university relations; John Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18; and Eva Usdan P’15, P’18, P’18.

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

From left: Cristhian Escobar ’00, Miguel Guadalupe ’98 and Jamie Novogrod ’02.

Wesleyan University and Campaign Chair John Usdan ’80 P’15, P’18, P’18, hosted a THIS IS WHY Campaign Celebration at Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. on June 16, 2016. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

Amy Appleton ’83 P’16, ’19 sports her homemade Wesleyan University dress.

Wesleyan’s $1M Cardinal Challenge Is On!

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This month, the Cardinal community is joining together to secure up to $1 million for financial aid for Wesleyan students by taking the $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. “Thanks to the generosity of John L. Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18, this is the perfect time to make a gift to Wesleyan,” says Chuck Fedolfi ’90, director of annual giving for the Wesleyan Fund. “John will give $500 for financial aid for every gift of any amount to any Wesleyan cause received this month—for a total of up to $1 million.”

So far, more than 568 people have accepted the challenge, which translates to $284,000 so far for financial aid. The challenge ends June 30, 2016. Please join fellow Cardinals and give now at $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. 

Wesleyan Staff Perform in Beatles Benefit Concert

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Wesleyan’s Andy Chatfield and Shona Kerr performed along with 21 other singers and musicians at the second annual “Blackbird” Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship Fund on June 18.

On June 18, a 23-piece all-star band performed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety at Chapman Hall at Middlesex Community College at a benefit concert in memory former Wesleyan Center for the Arts intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away last year at the age of 25. This was the second annual benefit concert held in Nelson’s name. The first, held last summer, featured the Beatles’ White Album and raised almost $5,000 to establish the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at Middlesex Community College (MCC), Nelson’s alma mater.

This year’s concert was organized by Andy Chatfield, press and marketing director for Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. Nelson was Chatfield’s intern at the CFA. “This year, we played all of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is one of my favorite Beatles albums. Stephanie’s dad requested that we hold the event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, and clarinet player Catherine Rousseau, one of the musicians returning to perform with us this year, told me that June 18 also happened to be Paul McCartney’s birthday. So we played ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ the day that Sir Paul turned 74.”

Hamilton Wins 11 Tony Awards

(Photo by Joan Marcus/The Public Theater)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, center. (Photo by Joan Marcus/The Public Theater)

Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, won 11 Tony Awards, including the award for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Kail), Best Actor in a Musical, Best Book (Miranda), Best Original Score (Miranda), Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations, at the 70th Annual Tony Awards ceremony held at the Beacon Theater in New York on June 12.

The award-winning musical, which tells the story of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, received a record-breaking 16 total nominations.

Wesleyan Awards 731 BA Degrees at 184th Commencement

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by Jonas Powell '18)

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

Graduates, their families, and other members of the Wesleyan community who gathered for the 184th Commencement ceremony on May 22 were offered advice on how to change the world by Bryan Stevenson, this year’s Commencement speaker, a human rights lawyer and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

Weaving in stories from his decades of work fighting racial injustice and discrimination in the criminal justice system, Stevenson told the Class of 2016 that changing the world requires four things: Getting proximate to the places “where there’s suffering and abuse and neglect”; “changing the narrative” about race in this country; staying hopeful; and being willing to do uncomfortable things.

“I wish I didn’t have to say that because it’s so nice if you can only do the things that are comfortable,” he said. “But the truth is we can’t change the world by doing just what’s convenient and comfortable. I’ve looked for examples where things changed, where oppression was ended, where inequality was overcome, when people did only what was convenient and comfortable, and I can’t find any examples of that. To change the world, you’re going to sometimes have to make uncomfortable choices, to be in uncomfortable places, and be proximate and be hopeful and change narratives. But know that if you do it, there is some great reward, all of that knowledge that you have accumulated will resonate. You will have ideas in your mind that match the conviction in your heart.”

Stevenson concluded, “There is a different metric system for those of you who want to change the world.” Success won’t be measured by grades or by income. He recalled an older black man he met after giving a talk. The man showed him cuts, bruises and scars he got while working to register people of color to vote in the south in the 1960s.

“There aren’t my cuts, these aren’t my bruises, these aren’t my scars,” the man told Stevenson. “These are my medals.”

Read the full text of Stevenson’s speech.

Wesleyan conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters degree upon Stevenson. Also recognized with honorary degrees were Kwame Anthony Appiah (doctor of letters)—a professor of philosophy and law at New York University who is renowned for his insights into moral theory and practice, racism and identity, cultural differences, and political development; and Patti Smith (doctor of fine arts)—a writer, performer, and visual artist whose recordings include her seminal album, Horses (1975), and whose books include Just Kids, winner of the 2010 National Book Award. Read more about the honorary degree recipients here.

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

(Photo by John Van Vlack)

This year, Wesleyan conferred 731 bachelor of arts degrees; 33 master of arts degrees, including 4 in the new master of arts in performance curation; 28 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; 2 master of philosophy in liberal arts; and 15 doctor of philosophy degrees.

Three faculty members were honored with the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Sally Bachner, associate professor of English; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and James Lipton, professor of computer science. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

In addition, John Lemberg Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18, was awarded the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest honor presented by Wesleyan’s alumni body for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for careers or other activity which have contributed significantly to the public good. Usdan is president of Midwood, a New York-based real estate investment and development firm. His remarkable record of service to Wesleyan over more than three decades has included 12 years as a trustee as well as serving as chair of the THIS IS WHY campaign—the most successful fundraising effort in Wesleyan’s history. Read more about Usdan here.

Also recognized were four retiring faculty members who were given emiriti status. They are: Abraham K. Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music; Philip H. Bolton, professor of chemistry; Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology; and Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

In his remarks to the graduating class, President Michael Roth spoke about Wesleyan’s core values of justice, generosity, and care.

“Justice, generosity, and care—these are the core values at Wesleyan. Students at this university demand that their school stand for justice—in words and in actions—and over the past four years your demands have included making our academic core more diverse and our residential life free from sexual violence that has become a scourge on college campuses across America,” he said.

Roth added, “Just as the aspiration for justice has been a powerful feature of campus culture, so too has recognizing that not everyone has the same view as to what constitutes justice, which means that part of the work of political engagement includes discussions in which we can build on our commonalities and explore our differences without fear. A university is a place to have one’s opinions tested—not protected.”

Roth also acknowledged, “As loud as calls for justice sometimes are, the soft but persistent voice of generosity has also been a feature of the student culture that you have created. Many of you work in the community . . . . And a number of you gave your time and labor to ease the plight of refugees—helping those in camps in the Middle East and smoothing the way for refugee families settling here in the United States. I am inspired by all your efforts.

“Linked to these acts of generosity—and to the calls for justice—is, I think, a deep ethics of care. . . . I very much admire the ways in which you have looked after one another, inspired one another, or simply cheered each other on. It may well be that the quest for justice and the impulse for generosity depend on this ethics of care, this commitment to seeing those around you fulfill their potential, flourish. . . . It builds our community and makes the work we do relevant beyond the university.”

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Khalied ’16. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Roth challenged the graduates of the Class of 2016 to put what they’ve learned at Wesleyan to promote positive changes in the world. “We Wesleyans have used our education to mold the course of culture ourselves lest the future be shaped by those for whom justice and change, generosity and equality, diversity and tolerance, are much too threatening. Now we alumni are counting on you, Class of 2016, to join us in helping to shape this culture, so that it will not be shaped by the forces of violence, conformity, and elitism.”

In her Senior Class Welcome, Tahreem Khalied ’16, who came to the U.S. from Pakistan four and a half years ago, shared some of the many firsts she experienced at Wesleyan.  She also spoke about how her experience at Wesleyan taught her about the beauty and power of diversity. “As a student studying race and ethnicity as part of my American studies major, I was introduced to the possibility that there can be more truths than the one I believe in. . . . I learned about colonialism, indigenous politics, queer politics, anarchy, racial and ethnic politics, latinidad, South-Asian diasporic writing, all as part of this one, very inclusive major. I was learning that diversity, whether in thought, or in person, is indeed beautiful.”

The full Reunion & Commencement Weekend photo gallery is here.

The Commencement gallery is here.

The text and video of Bryan A. Stevenson’s address is here.

The text of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s address is here.

The text and video of Patti Smith’s address is here.

The text and video of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2016 is here.

The text and video of the senior class welcome by Tahreem Khalied ’16 is here.

Information on the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching recipients is here.

Information on alumni receiving Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service, and McConaughy awards is here.

 

Hamilton Breaks Tony Award Nomination Record

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations on May 3, including nods for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Kail) Best Actor in a Musical (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.), Best Book (Miranda), Best Original Score (Miranda), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (three nominations), Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations. The 16 total nominations broke the previous record of 15, shared by Billy Elliot (2009) and The Producers (2001). The Producers holds the current record for most Tony Award wins for a musical, with a total of 12.

The 70th Annual Tony Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 12, 2016, at the Beacon Theater in New York. The event will be televised live on CBS from 8 to 11 p.m. ET.

Last month, Miranda won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Hamilton. 

Art Studio Seniors Exhibit Theses at Zilkha

On April 6, artists and visitors gathered at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery for a reception for week three of the Senior Thesis Exhibition. This week’s exhibition features work by seniors Sophie Becker, Casey Herrick, Samantha Ho, Gla, and Zach Scheinfeld from the Department of Art and Art History’s art studio program. The exhibition will be on display through April 10. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

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Casey Herrick’s senior thesis, “Safe Conduct.”

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“Wednesday,” by Gla.

Connect@WES Helps Students Develop Networking Skills

On Friday, April 1, almost 70 students and 38 expert advisors (including 31 Wesleyan alumni and parents) came together for one-on-one speed networking sessions during Connect@WES: Creating Connections in Beckham Hall. Sponsored by the Gordon Career Center, the annual event is designed to teach students how to develop professional relationships outside of the Career Center and Wesleyan.

This year’s event included advisors representing Peatix, RNSights, Northeastern, JP Morgan, NBC Universal, Merrill Lynch, Planned Parenthood, the State of Connecticut, Aon Hewitt, Epsilon, Perella Weinberg, FCTRY, Citi and many others.

Southard ’78 Receives Lukas Book Prize

Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War, by Susan Southard ’78, has been awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, administered by the Columbia University School of Journalism and Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear WarOne of three annual Lukas Prizes honoring the best in American nonfiction writing, the Book Prize is given to a book exemplifying “the literary grace, commitment to serious research, and the social concern that characterized the distinguished work of the award’s namesake, J. Anthony Lukas.”  The prize comes with a $10,000 award.

“I couldn’t be more honored that Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War has been included among the remarkable books of narrative journalism that have received the Lukas Book Prize since 1998,” said Southard. “And I am elated that, 70 years after the atomic bombings of Japan, the survivors’ stories have been recognized in this way.”

The judges in their citation noted, “Susan Southard’s Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War will upset you. With lean and powerful prose she describes the indescribable taking the reader almost minute by minute through the bombing of Nagasaki and then the aftermath. With thorough careful research she exposes a half-century of lies and half-truths about the reasons for the bombing and the results, even denying that radiation poisoning was real. Seventy years later, following the lives of survivors, she reaches the final chapter and at last tells the complete story. Without diatribes or polemics she leaves the reader with a resolve that such a thing must never happen again.”

Jewett ’81 P’17 Honored with Naming of Center for Community Partnerships

Wesleyan honored Ellen Jewett '81 P'17 with the naming of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships on February 26. Left to right: Ellen Jewett, Wesleyan President, outgoing board chair Joshua Boger and JCCP director Cathy Lechowicz.

From left: Ellen Jewett ’81, P’17; Michael S. Roth ’78; Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09; and Cathy Lechowicz cut the ribbon at the official naming ceremony for the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.

On Feb. 26, Wesleyan honored Ellen Jewett ’81, P’17, a former trustee and incoming co-chair of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, for her many years of service to the university with the naming of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside of the center, located on the third floor of the Allbritton Center. The ceremony was part of the university’s Board of Trustees reception.

The event was attended by more than 150 guests, including Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78, outgoing board chairman Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09, and JCCP director Cathy Lechowicz, as well as by current, former and emeriti trustees; faculty, staff, students, alumni and local community members; and Jewett’s family and friends.

Kail ’99 Directs Musical Extravaganza Grease: Live

Grease: Live

Thomas Kail ’99, far right, oversaw the stage direction for Grease: Live.

Thomas Kail ’99, who is currently directing the blockbuster hit Hamilton on Broadway, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, brought the energy of live theater to the small screen as he set the stage direction for Grease: Live, a musical extravaganza starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, along with Aaron Tveit as Danny, Carly Rae Jepson as Frenchy, Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine and Boys II Men in the role of Teen Angel. The musical, which was staged in front of a live audience, aired on Fox on Jan. 31. 

Wesleyan Recognizes Boger Family’s $20M Gift with Naming of Boger Hall

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Next May, the building located at 41 Wyllys Avenue will be named Boger Hall in honor of the Boger family’s $20 million gift to Wesleyan.

#THISISWHY

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth ’78 has announced a $20 million gift from outgoing Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Joshua ’73, P’06, P’09 and Dr. Amy Boger P’06, P’09 to the university’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign. In recognition of the Boger family’s generosity and leadership, the building located at 41 Wyllys Avenue on the university’s College Row will be named Boger Hall.

The Bogers are the largest donors to the campaign. Their gifts include $11 million to establish the Joshua ’73 and Amy Boger Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship Program, which has already benefited more than a dozen Wesleyan students and will provide access to Wesleyan to many more in the coming years; $3 million to endow the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, currently held by Professor of Chemistry David L. Beveridge; and $2 million for the Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09 Endowed Fund for Student Research, which provided lead funding for 50 faculty-mentored student research fellowships in 2015.

“It is truly gratifying to honor a family that exemplifies Wesleyan’s ideal of passionate, generous, forward-thinking individuals who believe in the importance of a pragmatic liberal arts education,” Roth said. “The Boger family’s commitment to Wesleyan will provide students now and in the future with an opportunity to face 21st century challenges head-on to make positive and profound changes in the world.”