Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Gilmore Discusses Future of Space Exploration With Buzz Aldrin

Gilmore is a founding member of the Planetary Science Group at Wesleyan.

Professor Gilmore is a founding member of the Planetary Science Group at Wesleyan.

Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, joined legendary astronaut and engineer Buzz Aldrin and Hoppy Price of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a discussion on WNPR about the past, present and future of space exploration. The three were guests on The Colin McEnroe Show on May 25.

Aldrin, who was one of the first two humans to walk on the moon, is the author of a new book, No Dream is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon.

McEnroe asked Gilmore about our current level of understanding about Mars.

“Our knowledge of Mars has really increased over the last two decades, and that’s because of a sustained series of missions, a flotilla of spacecraft in orbit, roving and on the surface of Mars that have been able to learn upon each other’s discoveries and leverage each other’s assets. We understand now not only that it was habitable on Mars at the same time that life evolved on Earth, but also where it’s habitable. And so the last rover we landed on the surface of the planet has landed in a place where there was mud and there were rivers and there was sustained water over long periods of time. So we understand now a lot about the history of Mars and the history of water on Mars and the environments that exited on Mars at the same time life was evolving on Earth.”



Registration Opens for Green Street’s Discovery AfterSchool Program

Students in the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center's after school program take classes in the arts, culture and science.

Students in the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s Discovery AfterSchool Program take classes in the arts, culture and science.

Registration is now open for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s fall Discovery AfterSchool Program, a high-quality program for children in grades 1–5 offering a wide range of arts, culture and science classes. Faculty and staff receive a 50 percent discount on tuition.

The fall program runs from Sept. 12 through Dec. 9, and includes challenging and fun classes in music, art, dance, theater, science, and more, as well as optional homework help. Classes are taught by Wesleyan students and professional teaching artists. Children may be enrolled in classes Monday through Friday, or only one day of the week.

Barth, Patalano Receive Major Grant from National Science Foundation

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth

Andrea Patalano

Andrea Patalano

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, and Andrea Patalano, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation. The $1,101,456 grant will support collaborative research on quantitative reasoning conducted in the Cognitive Development Lab (directed by Barth) and the Reasoning and Decision Making Lab (directed by Patalano). The research project will be conducted in collaboration with Sara Cordes at Boston College, which will receive an additional $177,496.

According to the NSF abstract, humans have an innate ability to estimate quantities yet their intuitions often contain biases that interfere with learning new ways to think about quantity. Weaving together strands of psychology, neuroscience, economics, and education, the researchers hope to shed light on the cognitive processes underlying our abilities to estimate 4 kinds of quantities: number, space, time, and probability. By comparing processes across these four distinct areas, the researchers aim to provide a unifying account of how children and adults estimate quantities, which has the potential to transform current understanding of the cognitive bases of how people learn in and across STEM disciplines. Achieving a simple unifying account is important because the ability to think well about quantity in all of these areas is fundamental to STEM learning.

Wesleyan Issues ‘Century’ Bond

Wesleyan University has issued $250 million of 100-year, fixed-rate taxable bonds, refinancing the majority of its existing debt. University officials said the current market for “century” bonds offers a historically unique opportunity to obtain long-term debt at favorable rates (4.781 percent).

Over the last 30 years, bond rates have been below this point less than 2 percent of the time. Wesleyan is the first educational institution in over a year to successfully issue a century bond.

After refinancing the existing debt, the remainder of the proceeds will be invested alongside the endowment for future needs. The university has not made any commitments to specific projects. The sale also acts as an inflation hedge with a fixed interest rate for 100 years, and will help manage the university’s debt service costs. The bonds are payable in 2116.

“This is a move toward solidifying our economic future,” said President Michael Roth. “We have no immediate plans to spend these funds, but rather are restructuring our debt to ensure greater security and flexibility in years to come.”

“It is gratifying to see the high level of interest among investors in Wesleyan’s bond sale, signaling their confidence in Wesleyan’s future and fiscal sustainability,” said John Meerts, vice president for finance and administration.

The sale was approved by Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees.

Wesleyan’s excellent credit rating from Moody’s (Aa3) and S&P (AA stable) will not be affected by the bond sale.

Other schools have successfully issued 100-year bonds in recent years, including Hamilton College, Tufts University, Bowdoin College, the California Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

7 Faculty Promoted, 4 Awarded Tenure

In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on four faculty members. They are Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Professor of African American Studies Kali Gross, Associate Professor of English and American Studies Amy Tang, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Erika Taylor. They join eight other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

One faculty member, Louise Neary, was promoted to adjunct associate professor of Spanish.

In addition, six faculty members are being promoted to full professor:

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American Studies and anthropology
Matthew Kurtz, professor of psychology
Cecilia Miller, professor of history
Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, professor of theater
Andrea Patalano, professor of psychology
Michael Singer, professor of biology

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Associate Professor Fowler specializes in political communication and directs the Wesleyan Media project, which tracks and analyzes all political ads aired on broadcast television in real-time during elections. Her work on local coverage of politics and policy has been published in political science, communication, law/policy, and medical journals. Most recently, she co-authored Political Advertising in the United States (Westview Press, 2016). Professor Fowler teaches courses on American Government and Politics; Media and Politics; Campaigns and Elections; and Polls, Politics and Public Opinion.

Professor Gross is a scholar of African American history whose research concentrates on black women’s experiences in the United States criminal justice system between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her book, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America (Oxford University Press, 2016), explores a crime and trial in 1887 against broader evidence of biased police treatment of black suspects as well as violence within the black community. Professor Gross will offer courses on race, gender and justice and Black Women’s Studies.

Professor Kauanui’s research lies in the fields of comparative colonialisms, indigenous politics, critical racial studies, and anarchist studies. Her book, The Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty (Duke University Press, due in 2017), explores the cultural and legal politics of the contemporary Hawaiian nationalist movement in relation to land, gender, and sexuality. Professor Kauanui teaches courses on Colonialism and Its Consequences; Race and Citizenship; United States in the Pacific Islands; Hawai’i: Myths and Realities; Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown; and Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.

Professor Kurtz’s research seeks to clarify the cognitive and social impairments associated with schizophrenia, to develop and assess behavioral treatments for these impairments, and to critically evaluate the history and current status of ideas regarding treatment of the severely mentally ill. He has received significant grant support from the NIH, and has received a Fulbright-Nehru U.S. Scholar Award for Academic and Professional Excellence. He offers courses on Schizophrenia and Its Treatment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Statistics, and Behavioral Neurobiology.

Professor Miller is a European intellectual historian with a focus on the long eighteenth century. Her recent book, Enlightenment and Political Fiction: The Everyday Intellectual (Routledge, 2016), examines five works of fiction to argue that the accessibility of political fiction in the eighteenth century made it possible for any reader to enter into the intellectual debates of the time and that ideas attributed to philosophers and political and economic theorists of the Enlightenment actually appeared first in works of fiction. She offers courses on European Intellectual History, Political Fiction, Theories of Society, and Contemporary Europe.

Professor Tatinge Nascimento is a theater artist and scholar with a special interest in experimental performance and Brazilian contemporary theater. She has performed and published internationally, and most recently is the author of a book manuscript, The Contemporary Performances of Brazil’s Post-Dictatorship Generation, under review with Palgrave Macmillan for the series Contemporary Performance InterActions. At Wesleyan she directs main stage productions and teaches courses on acting, theory, and performance studies.

Adjunct Associate Professor Neary teaches beginning and intermediate Spanish. She is currently collaborating with a colleague on an online Spanish course for the general public, titled Wespañol, and with McGraw Hill on a test bank project for an elementary Spanish language textbook. She has served as head of Spanish, has chaired the Romance Languages and Literatures Honors Committee, and has served on the Language Resources Center Faculty Committee.

Professor Patalano is a cognitive scientist whose research focuses on mental and neural processes involved in human reasoning, judgment, and decision making. Her lines of research address indecisiveness and decision deferral, clinical and neural correlates of discounting, numeracy and choice behavior, and the role of categories in thought. She teaches courses on Cognitive Psychology, Psychological Statistics, Decision Making, and Concepts and Categories.

Professor Singer is an evolutionary ecologist whose research focuses on the plant-feeding habits of caterpillars in the context of threats from predators and parasites of caterpillars. He uses this research focus to inform issues of broad biological interest, such as animal medication, dietary specialization, dynamics of ecological networks, and evolutionary diversification. He teaches courses on Ecology, Conservation Biology, Evolutionary Biology, and Plant-Animal Interactions.

Professor Tang’s research focuses on the relationship between aesthetic form and politics in Asian American literature and theory. Her first book, Repetition and Race: Asian American Literature After Multiculturalism (Oxford University Press, 2016), explores how Asian American writers use structures of repetition to register, and creatively inhabit, the impasses generated by multiculturalism’s politics of identity and recognition. She teaches courses on Asian American Literature, Afro-Asian Intersections, and Literary and Cultural Theory.

Associate Professor Taylor’s multidisciplinary research investigates problems at the intersection of biology and chemistry. Her work strives to advance medicine and environmental sustainability with two long-term goals – developing bacterial enzyme inhibitors and other small molecules with medicinal applications, and engineering microorganisms to improve the efficiency of biomass to biofuel conversion. Professor Taylor has received significant grant support from both the NIH and the Department of Energy, enabling numerous impactful publications in her field. She offers courses in Organic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, and Biomedicinal Chemistry.

Honorary Degree Recipient Bryan Stevenson Delivers 2016 Commencement Speech (with video)

Bryan Stevenson speaks to the Class of 2016 during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Bryan Stevenson speaks to the Class of 2016 during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Bryan Stevenson delivered the following remarks during Wesleyan’s 184th Commencement ceremony May 22: 

It’s a great honor to be a part of this celebration with you today. I hate to ask one more thing of you graduates but I can’t resist. I’m going to ask you to do something when you leave this college, and it’s kind of a big thing. I’m going to ask you to change the world.

And I hate doing this, I actually feel guilty doing this—I really do—but we need the world to change. We are living in a country where we need more mercy, where we need more hope, where we need more justice. In my work in the criminal justice space, I’ve seen some radical changes in this country over the last 40 years. In 1972, we had 300,000 people in jails and prisons. Today we have 2.3 million. The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We have 6 million people on probation or parole. There are 70 million Americans with criminal arrests, which mean when they apply to get a job or to get a loan, they are disfavored. The percentage of women going to prison has increased dramatically, 640 percent increase in the number of women being sent to prison, 70 percent of whom are single parents with minor children. And when they go to jails or prisons, their children get displaced.

We’re doing some terrible things in poor communities where there’s hopelessness and despair. I sit down with 12 or 13 year old children who sometimes tell me that they don’t expect to be free by the time they’re 21. They’re not making that up. The Bureau of Justice now predicts that one in three black male babies born in this country is expected to go to jail or prison during his lifetime. One in three. That was not true in the 20th century, it wasn’t true in the 19th century, it has become true in the 21st. The statistic for Latino boys is one in six. There is this distance between people who have the capacity to change things and the people who are suffering because of the lack of change, and I want to talk to you very briefly about what I think we need to close that distance.

There are four things I think you can do to change the world. And if you do them, I absolutely believe that whether the issue is criminal justice, whether the issue is food security, whether the issue is the environment, whether the issue is income equality or international human rights, I believe you can change the world.

The first thing I believe you have to do is that you have to commit to getting proximate to the places in our nation, in our world, where there’s suffering and abuse and neglect. Many of you have been taught your whole lives that there are parts of the community where the schools don’t work very well; if there are sections of the community where there’s a lot of violence or abuse or despair or neglect, you should stay as far away from those parts of town as possible. Today, I want to urge you to do the opposite. I think you need to get closer to the parts of the communities where you live where there’s suffering and abuse and neglect. I want you to choose to get closer. We have people trying to solve problems from a distance, and their solutions don’t work, because until you get close, you don’t understand the nuances and the details of those problems. And I am persuaded that there is actually power in proximity. When you get close, you understand things you cannot understand from a distance. You have been on this beautiful campus, and many of you have found ways to get proximate to issues and problems around you, but all of us have to continue to do that. There is power in proximity.

Remarks for Honorary Degree Recipient Kwame Anthony Appiah

Michael Roth and Kwame Anthony Appaih.

Michael Roth and Kwame Anthony Appaih.

Honorary degree recipient Kwame Anthony Appiah made the following remarks during the 184th Commencement ceremony May 22:

Nearly 35 years ago I came to this country to teach at a small college down the road in New Haven. Less than a year later, the first university to which I was invited to give a public lecture, was this one. Professor Gene Golob invited me to speak at the College of Social Studies, of which he was one of the founding spirits, and I gave a talk on “Other People’s Gods.” It was about understanding the traditional religions of West Africa. I thought it was a pretty good talk … but I was less and less sure as I waited to see if I’d be invited back to lecture here again. Well, just thirty-three years later, I got a message from President Roth asking me if I’d come back once more and join you today to receive an honorary degree. And my first thought was, “Finally, they’ve asked me back. Maybe, that talk wasn’t so bad after all.”

But actually it was all fated from the start. You see, I was baptized in the Wesley Methodist Cathedral in the center of Kumasi, capital of the Asante region of Ghana. And it was named, like this University, for John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. So I guess that I had an inside track to this day.

My father and grandfather were elders of that church. I grew up with a great respect for the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. In my father’s language, we have a proverb that runs:

Ösaman pa na yéto no badin.

It’s a great departed spirit after whom we name a child.

Same, of course, for a university. So, for me, as a child of Kumasi Wesleyan, today is an especial joy. And now that I’m going to be a proud member of the class of 2016, I guess I won’t need to wait 33 years for the next invitation.

So, thank you so much, for this great honor … and I’d like to leave you with one more of our wonderful Akan proverbs.

Abé se: wannya opuro dwonsö a, anka öremmere da.

The palm tree says: if it had not received the urine of the squirrel, it would never have ripened.

Pity. If I had more time, I could have told you what it means. But I guess I don’t need to. Everybody knows that Wesleyan grads are among the smartest people on the planet. May your curiosity advance with your knowledge, and may adversity only speed your ripening.

Khalied ’16 Delivers Senior Class Welcome (with video)

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

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 speaks to fellow graduates. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 delivered the following Senior Class Welcome during the 184th Commencement Ceremony May 22:

Five years ago, when I was still living in Karachi, Pakistan, and studying for an accounting certification, I logged on to my Facebook and realized that my wall was flooded with graduation pictures. I wrote the following status in a fit of passive-aggressive jealousy (and I quote): “I just realized that I will never have a regular graduation with a convocation where I get to wear a gown and that flat hat thingy.”


Tahreem Khalied ’16 (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

I wasn’t just jealous…I was extremely sad. I believed wholeheartedly that I would spend my life auditing companies, and that was just depressing.

When I came to the U.S. four and a half years ago I did not know what to expect…and needless to say the first few months here were a cultural shock, completely nerve-wracking. Born and raised in Karachi, it was extremely difficult for me to adjust to the Wesleyan environment. I was scared on so many levels: scared about my future; scared about being the odd one out, the adult, foreign student in a sea of smart, articulate young people; scared about not being American enough to understand what it meant to be a Wesleyan student. Coming to Wesleyan was the first decision I had taken for myself, and it scared me that this one independent decision might turn out to be a big failure.

President Roth Makes Remarks to the Class of 2016 (with video)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth made the following remarks during the 184th Commencement ceremony May 22:

President Roth delivers his remarks. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

President Roth delivers his remarks. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Members of the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees, and the very mighty Class of 2016, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this Commencement.

When you began your time at Wesleyan in the fall of 2012, the presidential elections were moving into high gear. Barack Obama, who spoke from this podium eight years ago as a presidential candidate, was arguing for a renewed mandate for change, for finding ways to make even small amounts of progress on environmental issues, social justice concerns, and economic growth. There were many who opposed this vision, and they offered an alternative framework for imagining individual freedom, prosperity through work, and respect for tradition. Today you are graduating into another election cycle, and now differences in the visions for the future of this country seem greater than ever. Our politics have grown ever nastier, cruder, more vulgar, more juvenile. Many Americans, turned off by the triumph of vulgarity and corruption, seem ready to dis-engage from the political process. I trust this will not be the case for you. Resignation should not be an option. We so need your participation, your vision, your commitment to put justice, generosity, and care at the center of your lives and our communities.

Gruppuso, Tamaddon, Nury Deliver “Senior Voices” Addresses

Abigail Gruppuso ’16, Austin Tamaddon ’16, and Cyrus Nury ’16 delivered “Senior Voices” Addresses on May 21 in Memorial Chapel. Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:


Abigail Gruppuso ’16 (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Abigail Gruppuso ’16

The lunch table in Usdan is where my friends and I split into two camps and argue whether Cherry Berry or Froyo World is better. It’s where Mike and I exchange stories about our study abroad experiences in Nepal and Beijing. It’s where I was urged to Feel the Bern and taught how to eliminate food waste. At the table by the window, Sarah tells me about her research to find a chemical solution to antibiotic inhibitors. And Wolfi and I blabber about our ridiculous idea to start a popup restaurant on campus. Our laughs echo through the dining hall when Lainey and Sam simultaneously yell “Anotha one!” because DJ Kahled is so engrained in their vocabularies. We know everyone is staring at us when we sing Justin Timberlake at the top of our lungs but we don’t care. The long rectangle table is where we support each other in times of crisis—where we tell one another they’re gorgeous and too amazing for that guy, it’s okay to get a bad grade once in a while and your mental health is more important than sticking with pre-med.

73 Seniors Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony.  (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P’12 P’14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony. (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society, in a ceremony May 21 at Memorial Chapel. The event was held in conjunction with Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony.  (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth welcomes the new members of Phi Beta Kappa. 

The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country. Membership is conferred for high scholastic achievement. Fall election eligibility is based on a student’s grades at the end of junior year; spring election is based on four-year achievement.

Seventy-three students were inducted at the ceremony. They join fifteen other seniors inducted in December 2015.


Holt Akers-Campbell
Elizabeth Marie Alexion
Hannah Monica Ang Ang
Leah Ruth Bakely
Maya Sarah Berkman
Stephanie Rose Blumenstock
Rebecca E. Brill
Kristin Ione Bumsch
Christopher O’Neal Caines
Matthew Werner Chilton

Wesleyan Commencement Weather Information

Wesleyan’s Commencement ceremony will take place outside on Andrus Field, as planned. Our best advice is to come prepared for cool, wet weather conditions, and bring along an umbrella. Please keep in mind the field may be wet and muddy.

A reminder that rain or shine the Commencement ceremony will be simulcast in the Memorial Chapel, Patricelli ’92 Theater, Ring Family Performing Arts Hall and Tishler Lecture Hall (150 Exley Science Center). The ceremony will also be available to view on the website

For additional information about Commencement, please see the Reunion & Commencement website.