Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Cassidy in The Conversation: No, the War in Afghanistan Isn’t a Hopeless Stalemate

Col. Robert Cassidy, Retired Officer Teaching Fellow at Wesleyan.

Col. Robert Cassidy, Retired Officer Teaching Fellow at Wesleyan.

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.”  In a new article, Col. Robert Cassidy, Retired Officer Teaching Fellow at Wesleyan, writes about both the apparent stalemate in the war in Afghanistan, as well as why he harbors hope of an eventual resolution. Cassidy is a scholar of Afghanistan and strategy, as well as a soldier who served four tours in the country.

No, the war in Afghanistan isn’t a hopeless stalemate

The war in Afghanistan has become so protracted that it warrants the epithet the “Groundhog Day War.”

Fighting has gone on for nearly 17 years, with U.S. troops in Afghanistan seven years longer than the Soviets were.

The U.S. leadership claims to have a strategy for victory even as warm weather brings in yet another “fighting season” and new rounds of deadly violence in Kabul.

Sixteen years and seven months of violence, loss, sacrifice and significant investment, without victory, is alarming – but is it without hope?

As a scholar of Afghanistan and strategy and a soldier who has served four tours in the country, I’d like to explore both the apparent stalemate and the reasons for harboring hope of an eventual resolution.

The ‘Groundhog War’

In terms of fighting battles and taking ground, momentum in the war in Afghanistan has ebbed back and forth from the coalition formed by the U.S., NATO and Afghan troops to the Islamist insurgents who call themselves the Taliban, or “the students.”

Student-Athletes Honored at 6th Annual Dinner, Awards Ceremony

On May 2, the sixth annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner was held in Beckham Hall to honor top scholar-athletes in all 29 varsity sports.

Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Francine Rivkin '78 was honored with the Cardinal Award, the Athletic Advisory Council's recognition of extraordinary contributions and dedication to the success of the Wesleyan Athlete Program. Rivkin is pictured with Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, at left.

Francine Rivkin ’78, a former five-sport athlete at Wesleyan and an ardent supporter of Wesleyan Athletics, was honored with the Athletic Advisory Council’s Cardinal Award. Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, presented the award to Rivkin in recognition of her extraordinary contributions and dedication to the success of the Wesleyan Athletics program.

Eisner Participates in Prestigious Department of Defense Program

Dean of the Social Sciences Marc Eisner was selected to participate in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC), a program hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Defense. It is the oldest and most prestigious public liaison program in the Department of Defense, and has been held since the 1940s.

Marc Eisner

Marc Eisner

On April 22–25, Eisner joined other college and university deans, provosts, and presidents at military installations in Virginia, where he engaged with senior military officers and U.S. service members. He participated in a variety of tactical training exercises and, through conversations and experiences, gained a better understanding of the roles and mission of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as their skills, capabilities, and equipment.

According to Eisner, the goal of the program is to help bridge the civilian-military divide. Leaders in the fields of education, business, and religion are invited to gain a better understanding of the military in order to help them better serve veterans.

“Unlike past periods in our country’s history, we have an all-volunteer Armed Forces now. The vast majority of students at Wesleyan would likely never know anyone who has served in the Armed Forces or been deployed to one of our recent wars,” said Eisner. “There’s a lack of understanding as to the nature of the wars and the people fighting in them.”

Bringing veterans to campus—as students, such as through the Posse Veteran Scholars program, or as faculty, such as through the Retired Officer Teaching Fellowship (ROTF)—is an important way to introduce students to new and different viewpoints. According to Eisner, Wesleyan’s first retired officer teaching fellow, Col. Bob Cassidy, just signed on for a second year at Wesleyan. His course on “Policy and Strategy in War and Peace” has been extremely popular, with students being wait-listed, and he has also guest lectured in other courses and given presentations on campus.

At the same time, said Eisner, many people in the military lack understanding of college campuses. It was interesting for him to speak to service members and learn why they decided not to pursue college, or left college early to join the military. He also observed that many service members were now taking classes online or at nearby institutions.

Eisner also is the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair in Public Policy, professor of government, professor of environmental studies.

Haddad, Cho in The Conversation: The Goal in Korea Should Be Peace and Trade–Not Unification

Mary Alice Haddad

Mary Alice Haddad

Joan Cho

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Mary Alice Haddad, professor and chair of the College of East Asian Studies; Joan Cho, assistant professor of government, assistant professor of East Asian studies; and Alexis Dudden, professor of history at the University of Connecticut provide historical context to the negotiations happening between North and South Korea, and argue that the focus now should be on peace and trade. Haddad also is professor of government, professor of environmental studies.

This article emerged as a direct result of Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Jin Hi Kim’s One Sky II project. Haddad, Cho, and Dudden spoke on a panel April 17 at a Music Department Colloquium on the current political conflict, and U.S. and North Korean policy, as well as Korean urban culture.

The goal in Korea should be peace and trade – not unification

Last week, the world witnessed a first tangible step toward a peaceful, prosperous Korean peninsula.

On April 27, 2018, Kim Jong-Un became the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea – where he was welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

A few days later, the South Korean government reported that Kim had promised to give up his nuclear arsenal under certain conditions.

While some viewed the summit with skepticism and issued reminders about Kim’s villainous past, others began talking of a unified Korea – a reasonable reaction considering that the leaders signed a document called the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.

The intentions of these two leaders is key. For while Donald Trump and Xi Zinping and Vladimir Putin may tweet and hold meetings, it is the nearly 80 million Koreans who will determine the future of how they will share their peninsula.

Taylor in The Conversation: Why Are Some E. coli Deadly?

Erika Taylor

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.”  In a new article, Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, explains why some E. coli live peacefully in our bodies while others make us very sick. Taylor also is associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of integrative sciences.

Why are some E. coli deadly while others live peacefully within our bodies?

E. coli outbreaks hospitalize people and cause food recalls pretty much annually in the United States. This year is no different.Obviously some E. coli can be deadly for people. But not all strains of these bacteria make you sick. In fact, you have a variety of strains of E. coli in your intestines right now – including one that’s busy making the antioxidant vitamin K, crucial for your and its survival.Scientists like me often characterize E. coli by the sugar coat they display on their cell surface. A molecule called a lipopolysaccharide is the anchor that displays a collection of sugars to their environment.These sugars help the bacteria stick to surfaces and reveal their identity to your immune system. Human cells do this, too – your blood type is defined by sugars displayed on your blood cells, for instance.

The sugars E. coli display vary from strain to strain. Some sugar coats are associated with strains living symbiotically in your stomach – E. coli HS, UTI89 and CFT073 are some of the most commonly found to be helpful. Others are associated with illness – like E. coli O104:H4, also called enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which caused a major outbreak in Europe in 2011. According to the CDC, this latest outbreak is due to E. coli O157:H7 – a strain that’s caused at least one food-borne outbreak in the U.S. each year since 2006.

The letters and numbers that name a strain serve as a code for which sugars are present. While the sugars bacteria display aren’t what makes you sick, they’re quickly and easily detectable and help scientists and doctors differentiate whether a present strain will generate toxins that can make you ill.

File 20180424 94157 1hsgfxd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

From a human perspective, some strains are good, some are evil. (Photo by fusebulb/Shutterstock.com)

Bacteria rely on what researchers term virulence factors: molecules that aid their survival while undermining your immune system. Both the EHEC and O157 strains of E. coli are able to make a virulence factor called a Shiga toxin. Shiga toxins were discovered first in Shigella dysenteriae, the bacterium that causes dysentery. Later researchers discovered that the EHEC and O157 strains of E. coli had gained the gene for Shiga toxins from the dysentery bacterium through a process called horizontal gene transfer.

When bacteria reach a critical mass in your body after you eat a contaminated food, they secrete these toxins as part of their strategy for finding a new host. The toxins enter the cells of your intestines, causing symptoms including low-grade fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.

It’s virulence factors like these that are to blame for human illnesses and that give E. coli a bad name – even if all strains don’t deserve it.

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation, and also appeared in Scientific American and Newsweek, among other news outlets. Read the original article.

Weissman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Striegel Weissman

Ruth Weissman

Ruth Striegel Weissman, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences, Emerita, was presented with the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony in Chicago on April 21. The award honors senior AED members for their lifetime of contributions to the field of eating disorders.

In presenting the award, Marsha Marcus, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, spoke of Weissman’s “impressive history of NIH-supported research, [which] has led to findings that have elucidated eating disorders risk, epidemiology, classification, psychopathology, treatment, health care policy, and cost-effectiveness.” This scholarship “has had a major and enduring influence on the field,” Marcus said.

Weissman taught in Wesleyan’s Department of Psychology for nearly three decades, serving twice as chair of the department. She also served the University as vice president for academic affairs and provost.

In addition, Weissman was a member of the Working Group of the Eating Disorders Task Force of the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). She has served on numerous grant review committees and editorial boards. She is a member or fellow of numerous scientific societies, and has served as president of both the Academy for Eating Disorders and the Eating Disorders Research Society (EDRS). According to Marcus, Weissman was essential to the establishment and growth of both organizations, and has been recognized previously for her scholarly and organizational contributions. In 2005, Weissman was given the AED Leadership Award in Research, and in 2008 she gave the James E. Mitchell Lecture at EDRS.

Weissman currently serves as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the leading scientific journal in the field, and as chair of the Board of Directors of the Livingston HealthCare Foundation.

Wesleyan Students Win Prestigious Consulting Competition

From left, Justin Liew ’18, Rosanne Ng ’19, Carlo Medina ’18, and Jake Kwang ’20 won first prize in Roland Berger's "Case for a Cause" competition in April.

From left, Justin Liew ’18, Rosanne Ng ’19, Carlo Medina ’18, and Jake Kwang ’20 won first prize in Roland Berger’s “Case for a Cause” competition in April.

Imagine you are advising a company that is a leading producer of a certain type of fruit product in the United States. The Chinese market has recently opened for export of this fruit product. How should the company best respond to this new market opportunity in China? What is the competition likely to do?

This was the scenario facing 30 teams of students from across 16 schools in the Roland Berger Case for a Cause 2018 competition, which simulates the work of a strategy consultant. Wesleyan’s team of four students, sponsored by The Gordon Career Center, tied for first place in the competition, which benefits Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

According to Anne Laskowksi, business career advisor at the Gordon Career Center, this was Wesleyan’s second year participating in the competition. This year, the four students—Jake Kwang ’20, Rosanne Ng ’19, Carlo Medina ’18, and Justin Liew ’18—formed the team on their own. The group met up to three times each week to work on the case, with many additional hours of individual work each week.

Wesleyan University Press Book Is a Pulitzer Prize Finalist

semiautomatic, a book of poetry by poet and literary scholar Evie Shockley, published by Wesleyan University Press, has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

“Evie Shockley’s semiautomatic is an urgent, energized poetry giving voice to the pain at the intersection of racism and gender-based violence. These vibrant and musical poems turn rhetoric to poetry while questioning our ‘semiautomatic’ performance of daily life,” said Wesleyan University Press Director Suzanna Tamminen. “We are thrilled to see her work receive such a prestigious recognition.”

According to the Press’s website, semiautomatic “responds primarily to the twenty-first century’s inescapable evidence of the terms of black life—not so much new as newly visible. The poems trace a whole web of connections between the kinds of violence that affect people across the racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national, and linguistic boundaries that do and do not divide us. How do we protect our humanity, our ability to feel deeply and think freely, in the face of a seemingly endless onslaught of physical, social, and environmental abuses? Where do we find language to describe, process, and check the attacks and injuries we see and suffer? What actions can break us out of the soul-numbing cycle of emotions, moving through outrage, mourning, and despair, again and again? In poems that span fragment to narrative and quiz to constraint, from procedure to prose and sequence to song, semiautomatic culls past and present for guides to a hoped-for future.”

Wesleyan in the News


In this recurring feature in 
The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

 

 

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Hartford Courant“Connecticut Natives at Wesleyan Organize TEDx Conference”

Wesleyan hosted its inaugural TEDx conference on April 7, featuring talks by many distinguished alumni, local officials, and others. Two of the student organizers, Eunes Harun ’20 and Leo Marturi ’20, are interviewed about the event.

2. The Hill: “Trump, Pelosi Appear Most in Early Ads—for the Other Side” 

A new analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project finds that Donald Trump has been the top target of political attack ads this year, with Nancy Pelosi the second favorite target, as both parties seek to drive their political bases to the polls. “Although presidents and presidential candidates are the most common targets in congressional campaign ads, it is noteworthy that Pelosi has consistently been singled out more than any other congressional leader since 2010 despite her minority party status for the bulk of that time,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and WMP co-director.

3. Faith Middleton Food Schmooze: “Funeral Food with a Twist, a Seductive Rosé and Amy Bloom”

In connection with her new book, White Houses, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing Amy Bloom talks about food in the Franklin Roosevelt White House. Bloom comes in around 21 minutes.

4. Naturally Speaking: “Extending Evolution, an Interview with Prof. Sonia Sultan”

On this podcast, Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, discusses her research on phenotypic plasticity and transgenerational effect in plants, and shares her thoughts on one of most controversial ideas currently circulating in mainstream evolutionary biology: the so-called “extended evolutionary synthesis.” Sultan was honored at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine’s annual Darwin Day lecture.

5. Inside Higher Ed: “The Data Should Make You Happy!”

President Michael Roth ’78 reviews Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Roth writes: “We don’t need cheerleading psychologists telling us we should be happier than we are.”

6. Squash Magazine: “Teaching the Game: Women and Squash”

Shona Kerr, Wesleyan’s head coach of men’s and women’s squash, is interviewed for a story about gender bias in the world of squash coaching. Kerr is one of only three women in the country who coaches a men’s collegiate squash team.

Recent Alumni News

  1. NDTV Profit: “Wipro Director, Harvard Alumnus Rishad Premji [’99] Appointed Chairman Of Nasscom” Rishad Premji, who was an economics major at Wesleyan and holds an MBA from Harvard, was appointed chairman of IT industry body Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies) for 2018–19. Previously, he was chief strategy officer and board member of Wipro Ltd, which he joined in 2007. In 2014 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. [See the site for a video message from Premji, on accepting this new position.]

2. NPR: “Mary Halvorson [’02] Re-Engineered Jazz Guitar. Now, She’s Hacking Her Own Code”

In this review of Halvorson’s new double album, Code Girl, Nate Chinen, director of editorial comment at NPR Music, calls Halvorson’s style “staunchly unplaceable in style—art-rock? avant-prog?—and mysterious in several other respects.” The article also refers to John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, Anthony Braxton as her “august mentor.” Code Girl is out on the Firehouse 12 label.

3. Harvard Medical School News: “Why the Fly? Geneticist Stephanie Mohr [’93] Delves into Science’s Favorite Winged Model Organism”

“[S]elf-described ‘fly person’ Stephanie Mohr,” a lecturer on genetics at Harvard Medical School and author of the book First in Fly: Drosophila Research and Biological Discovery (Harvard University Press, 2018)explains her fascination with the insect and its importance in genetics research.

4. New York Times: “Even With Scholarships, Students Often Need Extra Financial Help“

This article by Janet Morrissey profiles a number of programs at prestigious universities that are designed to assist low-income scholarship students with living expenses. Richard Locke ’81, provost at Brown University, is mentioned as “help[ing] prepare Brown’s E-Gap (Emergency, Curricular and Co-curricular Gap) Funds, and its FLi (First Generation Low-Income) Center in late 2015 after hearing stories from students who were struggling financially.”

5. WBAL 1090—Educator Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, P’04, Hon. ’15] to Speak at Towson Commencement

WBAL NewsRadio 1090’s Tyler Waldman reported Towson University President Kim Schatzel said: “We are honored to welcome Beverly Daniel Tatum to campus as our commencement speaker. Not only is she a thought leader in the higher education community, her expertise in diversity, inclusion and race relations supports Towson University’s relentless pursuits in these areas.” Tatum will speak at Towson’s College of Liberal Arts commencement on May 23, 2018, and will receive an honorary doctorate. A former Wesleyan trustee, Tatum was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan in 2015.

Khamis Named a Harvard Kennedy School WAPPP Fellow

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics and of Latin American studies, was named a fellow of the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) at Harvard Kennedy School for the 2018–2019 academic year.

In this fellowship, she hopes to continue and expand her research on “Gender in the Labor Market,” with a particular focus on the gender wage gap and occupational choices of women.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to join and work with a community of leading researchers in this field,” said Khamis.

According to its website, WAPPP is dedicated to closing “gender gaps in economic opportunity, political participation, health and education by creating knowledge, training leaders and informing public policy and organizational practices.” The fellowship program brings in exceptional scholars to conduct gender-related research in one of these areas and to engage with faculty and students at Harvard Kennedy School, enriching the intellectual life of the center.

Wesleyan Center for Prison Education Awarded $1M Mellon Grant

Photo courtesy of Dave Zajac/Record-Journal

Mathematics teacher Cameron Bishop instructs a calculus class at Cheshire Correctional Institution, Wednesday, August 2, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Dave Zajac, Record-Journal)

Wesleyan has received a $1 million, four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support operations at the Center for Prison Education (CPE). The grant will allow CPE to expand its advanced course offerings, recruit new faculty, and bolster its partnership with Middlesex Community College (MxCC) and the Connecticut Department of Corrections.

Since 2009, CPE has offered accredited Wesleyan courses to students at the Cheshire Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison for men. In 2013, the program expanded to offer the same coursework to students at York Correctional Institution for women. Courses range from English to biology to philosophy, and have the same rigor and expectations as courses on Wesleyan’s Middletown campus.

“The Center for Prison Education is a wonderful example of the commitment by Wesleyan students and faculty to serving our broader community through the transformative power of the liberal arts. CPE has made a powerful difference in the lives of incarcerated people—one I’ve seen firsthand when I’ve lectured at the Cheshire prison,” said President Michael Roth. “This generous grant from Mellon will enable CPE to have an even greater impact, particularly for those students who decide to continue their education beyond our program.”

Wes Press Poet Wins Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCraeIn the Language of My Captor, a much-lauded book of poetry by Shane McCrae published by Wesleyan University Press, is the recipient of the 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in the category of poetry. This is the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity.

According to the Cleveland Foundation, which presents the award, McCrae “interrogates history and perspective” with In the Language of My Captor, “including the connections between racism and love.”

“He uses historic persona poems and prose memoir to address the illusory freedom between both black and white Americans,” according to the foundation’s press release.

“These voices worm their way inside your head; deceptively simple language layers complexity upon complexity until we are shaped in the same socialized racial webbing as the African exhibited at the zoo or the Jim Crow universe that Banjo Yes learned to survive in (‘You can be free//Or you can live’),” said Rita Dove, one of the jurors for the prize.

In the Language of My Captor was previously long-listed for the National Book Award and chosen as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.