Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

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.

Savage ’18 Awarded Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Anna Savage ’18 will complete a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellowship in the Dominican Republic.

Anna Savage ’18 has received a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellowship to work with the Mariposa Foundation in Cabarete, a town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. She will begin the fellowship after graduation in May.

Savage follows a proud tradition of Wesleyan students participating in PiLA fellowships. The Mariposa Foundation works to end generational poverty by providing a space in which girls and young women can receive high-quality academic and artistic instruction, as well as comprehensive sexual health education. The Mariposa center serves about 150 girls and places particular emphasis on musical and artistic expression, as well as on the cultivation of leadership skills.

Savage will teach music, yoga, and English at the center, where she will develop her own curriculum and instruct girls aged seven to 18 in daily classes.

Naegele in The Conversation: Are Neurons Added to the Human Brain after Birth?

Jan Naegele is one of 19 women faculty in the country to receive a Drexel Fellowship.

Jan Naegele

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, writes about the implications of a controversial new neuroscience study from the University of California, San Francisco. Naegele also is professor of biology and professor of neuroscience and behavior. Read her bio on The Conversation.

Scientists have known for about two decades that some neurons—the fundamental cells in the brain that transmit signals—are generated throughout life. But now a controversial new study from the University of California, San Francisco, casts doubt on whether many neurons are added to the human brain after birth.

Chitena ’19 Named 2018 Newman Civic Fellow

As a Newman Civic Fellow, Alvin Chitena ’19 will receive a variety of learning and networking opportunities.

Alvin Chitena ’19 has been named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.

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. Inside Higher Ed“Against Conformity”

President Michael Roth ’78 reflects on the questioning of liberal education—both in China and the United States.

2. China Daily: Stephen Angle: Practicing the Confucianism He Preaches”

A top Chinese newspaper profiles Stephen Angle, Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of philosophy, from his early embrace of Confucianism and Chinese culture through his successful academic career. He was recently named Light of Civilization 2017 Chinese Cultural Exchange Person of the Year.

3. New York Times: “An Opera Star’s Song Cycle Conjures a Black Man’s Life in America”

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey’s (MA ’11) collaboration with opera star Lawrence Brownlee is featured.

4. Hartford Courant: “Wesleyan’s Carrillo, Bellamy Pinning Hopes on Regional Success”

Wesleyan wrestlers Devon Carrillo, a graduate student, and Isaiah Bellamy ’18 are ranked #1 and #2 in the country in pins in all NCAA divisions.

5. Oakland Press: “Wesleyan Lacrosse Player from Bloomfield Hills Named to Watch List”

Taylor Ghesquiere ’18 is one of just 12 lacrosse players in the country to be named to the first-ever United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division III Player of the Year watch list.

Recent Alumni News

  1. NPR’s Morning Edition: “Gov. Hickenlooper on Trump’s Priorities to Prevent Gun Violence”

Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper ’74, MA ’80, HON ’10 talks to NPR’s Morning Edition host Rachel Martin about President Trump’s meeting at the White House with governors to discuss gun policy and school safety.

2. New York Times: “Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Next Lion of New York” [Also: Repeating Islands, Pulse.com, CTLatino.com]

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, the creator of Hamilton reflects on his life in—and love of—New York City: “‘You’re in a different century for exactly one block, and then you go down the steps and there’s a C-town, and you’re back in 2017,’ Mr. Miranda said. ‘That’s to me what makes New York great—it’s all these things together at the same time. The feeling that you’re on the train with the Wall Street guy and the mariachi bands. We’re all in this thing together.’”

3. Broadway World Dallas: “Stage West Presents the Regional Premiere of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City”

New York–based playwright Halley Feiffer ’07 has created a work that The New York Times called “. . . as deeply felt as its name is long.”  The director, Dana Schultes, said, “I love the freshness of the script. . . . It definitely pushes some boundaries—like all great theatre—while retaining a through-line of warmth and heart. It’s really lovely . . . with some mega-edge sprinkled on top.”

4. HuntScanlonMedia: “Coulter Partners Secures Chief Medical Officer for Proclara Biosciences”

David Michelson ’76, MD was appointed chief medical officer at Proclara, a biotechnology company, where he joins the executive team in research on a number of therapies, including those for Alzheimer’s. Previously he was vice president and therapeutic area head at Merck Research Laboratories, responsible for clinical research in neuroscience, pain, anesthesiology and ophthalmology.

5. HakiPensheniMonitor“Innovation Helps Traders Get Loans in Less than Five Minutes”

In an interview with this Tanzanian news source,  Shivani Siroya ’04, founder and global CEO of Tala, explains how her company works with local merchants who have been “shunned by banks” to obtain loans through Tala’s Android platform.

 

 

Local Youth Learn How to Use Technology for Social Good at “Hackathon”

Thafir Elzofri ’19

Thafir Elzofri ’19, at left, assists Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. participants in Beckham Hall.

On Feb. 24, Wesleyan hosted a “hackathon” for social good in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. The free event introduced more than 50 local children in grades 4 through 8 to technology and showed them how it could be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. About half the children came from Middletown, while others came from as far away as Greenwich, Griswold and West Hartford to participate.

Seven Wesleyan students and two staff members served as volunteer mentors, working with the children to devise computer applications that addressed a range of problems facing local organizations. Five nonprofit social good organizations founded by Wesleyan students through the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship were the beneficiaries of these apps. Using MIT App Inventor, students learned the basics of app design, as well as the ideation and brainstorming process required to build a successful prototype mobile application.

Ahmed Badr ’20 gave a keynote address, in which he discussed Narratio, the platform he created for refugees to tell their stories.

Higgins in The Conversation: Letting Audiences Twist the Plot

Scott Higgins, the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, writes in The Conversation about a film innovation flop.

Scott Higgins, the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, writes in The Conversation about a film innovation flop.

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Ahead of the 2018 Oscars ceremony that celebrates the best in film, The Conversation explores some of the worst film innovations of years past. Scott Higgins, director of the College of Film and the Moving Image, writes about Interfilm, a “choose your own adventure” theater technology that flopped in the early 1990s. Higgins is also the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, chair of Film Studies, and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. Read his bio on The Conversation.

Letting audiences twist the plot

Artists have long sought to erase the boundary between a film and its viewers, and Alejandro Iñárritu’s 2017 Oscar-winning virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena” has come close.

But the dream of putting audiences in the picture has fueled a number of film fiascoes, including an early 1990s debacle called Interfilm.

Veritas Forum to Explore Religious Liberty Issues in American Society

On March 1, Wesleyan will host the Veritas Forum featuring a discussion between Michael Wear, previously Faith Outreach Director of the Obama Administration, and President Michael Roth. Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad will moderate. The event, titled, “The Trouble with Freedom: A Dialogue on Freedom in 21st Century America from a Religious and Secular Perspective,” will take place at 7–8:30 p.m. in Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center. It is free and open to the public.

The forum will explore the political, social, cultural, and religious implications of religious liberty. The presenters will share their past experiences and worldviews on religious liberty on college campuses and beyond.

“Having rich, deep, and meaningful dialogue is increasingly difficult in this polarized world, and I am looking forward to this event that brings together thoughtful, committed individuals who are willing to respectfully engage with one another publicly on topics that are complex and personal,” said University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska. “I am proud of my students for the phenomenal effort they have put into this program and their continued commitment to learning and dialogue.”

Wear is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert and strategist at the intersection of faith, politics, and American public life. He directed faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and was one of the youngest White House staffers in American history, leading evangelical outreach and helping manage the White House’s engagement on religious and values issues. Today, Public Square Strategies LLC is a firm that helps religious and political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape. Wear is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, and frequently writes articles for The Atlantic, USA Today, Christianity Today, and other publications.

Strong ’18 Presents Research at Notre Dame Human Development Conference

Alicia Strong '18 presented research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23-24.

Alicia Strong ’18 presented research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23-24.

Alicia Strong ’18, a government and religion double major, was invited to present her undergraduate research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23–24. The annual student-led conference, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, is an opportunity for students from many academic disciplines to share their development-focused research and to network with other student researchers from across the country and the world.

Strong was one of about 50 students to present at the conference, and one of only 18 to receive a competitive grant from the School for International Training to attend. Strong conducted an independent research project in spring 2017 on the SIT study abroad program “Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans.”

Strong’s research project is titled, “The Patriarchy Knows No Bounds: The Intersection of Gender & Islam in Kosovo.”