Lauren Rubenstein

Director of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Rasmussen in The Conversation: Using Computers to Crack Open Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzles

Christopher Rasmussen

Christopher Rasmussen

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, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen writes about his recent collaboration with other number theorists to create a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation.”

Using computers to crack open centuries-old mathematical puzzles

In mathematics, no researcher works in true isolation. Even those who work alone use the theorems and methods of their colleagues and predecessors to develop new ideas.

But when a known technique is too difficult to use in practice, mathematicians may neglect important—and otherwise solvable—problems.

Recently, I joined several mathematicians on a project to make one such technique easier to use. We produced a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation,” with the hope that number theorists of all stripes can more easily attack a wide variety of unsolved problems in mathematics.

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. Gizmodo: “What’s the Oldest Disease?”

Douglas Charles, professor of anthropology, professor of archaeology, says “we don’t know” the answer to this question because of limitations in fossil records. However, he says that there are indications of tuberculosis, leprosy and tumors found in ancient human and Homo erectus skeletons.

  1. The Middletown Press: “Wesleyan University to Move 90 Employees to Main Street Middletown”

Wesleyan’s University Relations staff and most Finance staff will move to the Main Street building as part of the University’s strategic facilities plan. This move further strengthens ties between the University and the community.

2. The Wall Street Journal: “Five Best: Andrew Curran on Intellectual Freedom”

Williams ’81 Named Vice President for Equity & Inclusion

Alison Williams ’81

Alison Williams ’81

Alison Williams ’81 has been hired as Wesleyan’s new vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX Officer, President Michael Roth announced in a campus email on March 26. Williams, who earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Wes and later served as an alumni-elected trustee in the 1990s, will begin on July 22.

She is currently the associate provost for diversity and intercultural education at Denison University. There, she is responsible for directing and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives across all sectors of the University, with a focus on faculty recruitment and retention and inclusive pedagogies. She also supports Title IX work at Denison, and has helped to increase consciousness on that campus about sexual violence and encourage reporting.

Previously, Williams worked as the associate dean of academic diversity and director of the Multicultural Resource Center at Oberlin College. Prior to becoming an administrator, she worked as a chemistry faculty member for 24 years at several institutions, including at Wesleyan from 1997-99. On the national level, she serves on the steering committee of the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, and is a member of the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers Consortium.

Outside of work, Williams is a mom to two teenage children, a semi-professional oboist, and a die-hard fan of Cleveland and Ohio State sports teams.

In the email, Roth thanked the faculty and staff who worked to fill the role, and especially thanked Debbie Colucci for her service over the past several months.

“Debbie will continue in this interim role through June 30, and Alison and I look forward to her continued and valued contributions as Equity Compliance Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator,” he wrote.

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. The GlobePost: “Trump’s Foreign Trade Policy and the Art of the Deal”

In this op-ed, Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, co-chair of the College of Social Studies, argues that Donald Trump’s approach to U.S. trade policy is shaped by his career as a real estate mogul and businessman.

2. The Hartford Courant: “Don’t Let the ‘Green New Deal’ Hijack the Climate’s Future”

This op-ed coauthored by Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Gary Yohe expresses concern that the broad, aspirational goals contained in the “Green New Deal” proposal from Democrats in Congress “will impede continued progress on the climate front for years to come.”

3. The Tyee: “Lessons in Democracy from Haida Gwaii”

This review calls Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life Beyond Settler Colonialism by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Joseph Weiss a “remarkable book” that explores “the whole relationship of ‘settler’ Canada to the peoples whose lands we’ve occupied.”

4. Hartford Courant: “Middletown to Host LGBTQ Pride Parade in June”

Wesleyan, together with the City of Middletown and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, will coordinate Middletown’s inaugural LGBTQ pride parade on June 15. The event, which will also feature a festival on the South Green, will celebrate and affirm respect for members of the local queer community. Its timing coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which marked the beginning of the gay rights movement in June 1969.

5. South Dakota Public Broadcasting: “Fishbacks’ Gift Opens SDPB Basinger Studio at SDSU”

A satellite broadcast studio at South Dakota State University has been named in honor of Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, special advisor to the president, and an alumna of SDSU. “We are pleased to recognize SDSU Distinguished Alumni and world-renowned film educator and author Jeanine Basinger with the new SDPB Basinger Studio on SDSU’s campus in Brookings,” said Barb and Van Fishback, the donors who made the gift possible.

Recent Alumni News

  1. SXSW.com: “Bozoma Saint John [’99]: How Marketing Can Spur Social Change”

Bozoma Saint John ’99 was the Convergence Keynote Speaker for SXSWORLD, March 8-17, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Writes Doyin Oyeniyi for the official website: “Bozoma Saint John thinks and talks about empathy quite a bit. For the marketing executive and SXSW 2019 Convergence Keynote speaker, this is integral to the work that she does currently as chief marketing officer for Endeavor, and it’s been an important feature of her previous work with companies such as PepsiCo, Apple and Uber. As she explains, empathy is what makes the difference in actually being able to establish impactful connections through storytelling and marketing.”

2. New York Times Book Review: “Growing Up With Murder All Around,” by Eric Klinenberg

The March 4, 2019, issue of The New York Times Book Review features Eric Klinenberg’s review of An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, by Alex Kotlowitz ’77 on its front page. “Like Kotlowitz’s now classic 1991 book, There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in a Chicago housing project, An American Summer forgoes analysis and instead probes the human damage that stems from exposure to violence. What he finds is important,” writes Klinenberg. He calls Kotlowitz’s latest work “a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register the depth of their pain.”

3. International Documentary Awards: “Reflections on Andrew Berends [’94],” by James Longley ’94

An editor’s note begins the piece: “Documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Andrew Berends passed away—just a week after Free Solo, on which he was one of the cinematographers, won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary…. We thank Longley for sharing his reflections with us.”

Longley recalls meeting Berends in 1991, when they both entered Wesleyan as transfer students and became film majors. “I was the DP on his thesis film, and I could see his determination and commitment to filmmaking taking shape,” writes Longley. “After college we were off finding our parallel paths; I made a film about the Gaza Strip and he made a film about North Sea fishermen in the Netherlands. We reconnected in Iraq. I arrived before him; he was looking for advice and contacts. He wanted to know how he should dress for the place. Maybe grow a beard, I suggested. Andy showed up in Baghdad looking like a werewolf with mange. Lose the beard, I suggested.” Tracing their “parallel paths” with warmth, admiration, and deep sorrow, Longley—himself the director of award-winning documentary films including Iraq in Fragments and Sari’s Mother—notes that “Andy was my friend, he was my brother, he was as strong a person as I’ll likely ever know.”

4. Boston Globe: “Grad Schools Lag in Promoting Diversity,” by Syed Ali [’13]

The author, a master in urban planning candidate at Harvard University, responded to an earlier article in the newspaper that called for Harvard to increase its commitment to diversity across its graduate school hirings and admissions. “This semester, I am enrolled in five classes at five different graduate schools (three at Harvard, two at MIT), and I believe that my peers and I would benefit from additional perspectives in each case. This extends to the faculty. Of the 15 courses I shopped across three Harvard graduate schools, 11 were taught by white men, four by white women,” he writes. Ali was an English and government double major at Wesleyan.

 

 

 

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 4.4 Percent

At its meeting on March 1, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 4.4 percent for the 2019–20 academic year.

Tuition and fees for the 2019–20 year will be $56,704. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $15,724, and for juniors and seniors will be $17,874. The percentage increase in student charges aligns with the University’s projected increase in total expenses.

Wesleyan meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students and devotes millions of its operating budget to support of scholarships. In 2018–19, 42 percent of students are receiving need-based scholarship awards averaging nearly $46,800.

Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. In January, Wesleyan raised the minimum wage for student workers to $11 an hour, in part to allow students on work-study to reduce the number of hours worked. Additionally, in recent years, Wesleyan lowered the summer earnings contribution for all financial aid students and expanded eligibility for the reduced student contribution. As always, the university remains committed to exploring new ways to help low-income students and families afford a Wesleyan education.

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. Forbes: “Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the Beginning of Your Career”

Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon Career Center, offers career advice for young people just starting out.

2. The Times Literary Supplement: “Multiple Lives”

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian studies, explores the “complicated existence” of Mahatma Gandhi.

3. The Washington Post: “The Delight of Being Inconspicuous in a World That’s Always Watching Us”

President Michael Roth reviews a new book, How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, by Akiko Busch.

Tavernier, Students Coauthor Paper on Psychological Trauma of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are becoming more common all over the world. While the focus is often on restoring physical damage, these disasters also impact residents of the affected region psychologically in ways that are less well understood.

In a paper published in the journal Traumatology on Feb. 7, Assistant Professor of Psychology Royette Tavernier, along with five student coauthors, examined the psychological impact of tropical storm Erika, which hit the Caribbean island of Dominica in August 2015. The data analyzed was based on a sample of 174 college-aged individuals who completed survey-based assessments of several psychosocial variables six months after the storm.

Results showed that more negative exposure to the storm (e.g., displacement, lack of access to food and water) was associated with poor quality sleep, which, in turn, was associated with poorer psychological adjustment (higher rumination, less effective emotion regulation strategies and less perceived psychological growth from the experience of the storm). Furthermore, those who were more negatively affected by the storm had higher religious coping (praying, meditating). Interestingly, higher religious coping was linked with both positive (higher perceived psychological growth from the experience of the storm) and negative (higher rumination and PTSD symptoms) aspects of psychological adjustment.

According to Tavernier, these findings highlight the important roles that both sleep and religious coping play in explaining psychological adjustment in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Smolkin in The Conversation: Why a Centuries-Old Religious Dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Matters Today

Victoria Smolkin

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, Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin explains the historical context and significance today of a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. Smolkin is also associate professor, Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, and a tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Why a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church matters today

A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine.

Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and transferred its jurisdiction from the church of Moscow to the church of Constantinople, located in Istanbul.

This competition between the churches of Constantinople and Moscow for dominance in the Orthodox Christian world is not new – it goes back more than 500 years. But the birth of the new Orthodox Church in Ukraine opens a new chapter in this history.

So what is Ukraine’s new church, and how will it change the global political and religious landscape?

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. Wall Street International Magazine: “Tula Telfair: Reverie”

Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s new exhibition of landscape paintings, “Reverie,” is presented Feb. 7 through March 30 at the Forum Gallery in New York. According to the article, “In the fourteen paintings that comprise ‘Reverie,’ she explores the inner reaches of her dreams and memories, taking us to places she has been or believes in so fully that she is able to portray and take the viewer to the essential, emotional center of every location as she recalls not only the place, but the sense of discovery, of wonder she felt as she found it.”

2. Hartford Courant: “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: Wesleyan University Expands Hamilton Prize for Creativity Scholarship”

The Courant reports on news that beginning this year, three incoming students will have an opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding creative work under Wesleyan’s prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity. In addition to the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan—the University will also award two honorable mentions, along with $5,000 grants to support creative work. The announcement was also covered in Playbill and The Middletown Press.

3. NBC Connecticut: “National Girls and Women in Sports Day Encourages Girls to Get Out and Play”

Jacobsen Named President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen

On Feb. 8, President Michael Roth announced in a campus-wide email that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen will become the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., beginning July 1.

In announcing Jacobsen’s appointment as president, Hobart and William Smith’s Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Bozzuto said, “President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith. In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values, and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”

Jacobsen joined Wesleyan’s Economics Department in 1993 and has contributed to the University in myriad ways—as a scholar, teacher, and administrator—since that time.

In the all-campus email, Roth wrote, “As a leader of the University, Joyce has touched nearly every aspect of university operations—overseeing the entire academic enterprise at Wesleyan, including Athletics, Institutional Research, and Community Partnerships. She has also been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, and has helped create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborated on admission and enrollment strategies.”

Wesleyan to Expand Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Wesleyan has announced that it will expand opportunities for incoming students under its Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which was established in the 2016–17 academic year in honor of Wesleyan alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (writer/creator/original star) and Thomas Kail ’99 (director) of the international phenomenon, Hamilton: An American Musical.

Over the past two years, more than a thousand students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration. A distinguished selection committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, headed by honorary chairs Miranda and Kail, reviewed submissions and chose one winner each year to receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan. Read about past winners here and here.

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. The New York Times: “Anthony Braxton Composes Together Past, Present and Future”

Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, is profiled. Among other ongoing projects, Braxton has spent much of the past four years working on his newest opera, “Trillium L,” which, he says, “is a five-day opera”—if it is ever performed.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: “That Bit of Philosophy in All of Us”

Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, is interviewed about his book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus.

3. The Guardian“The Blake-Wadsworth Gallery of Reborn Dolls”

This original short story by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and professor of the practice, English, follows a woman coping with her elderly mother’s memory loss.