Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Dupuy Comments on Development in Haiti

For an article on economic development in Haiti, The Miami Herald turned to Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, chair of the African American Studies Program. “Very few of the dollars that are invested in Haiti in these assembly industries are going to remain in Haiti,” Dupuy tells the Herald. “And since the assembly industry is the only game in town, and there is nothing else being planned around it to grow the economy, it’s not going to have any long-lasting effect on the growth of the economy.”

Do Campaign Ads Work?

In an article in The Washington Post examining the effectiveness of political advertising in presidential campaigns, Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, director of the Wesleyan Media Project, says political advertising “matters at the margins” and “might help in a close election.” However, factors such as the state of the economy and partisan identification are much more influential, she says.

713 Undergraduates Receive Wesleyan Degrees at Commencement (with photos, videos)

Seven-hundred-and-thirteen undergraduates received degrees during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony May 27.

The world is changing at a dizzying pace and uncertainty is rising, but luckily, “Wesleyan has prepared you to live and thrive in this unpredictable world,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87 told the Class of 2012 in his Commencement Address. “This is a school that rewards curiosity. It challenges you to test [your] assumptions. It encourages flexibility—of mind, of approach, even of body, if you took that class in acrobatic yoga. Wesleyan has taught you that having a plan counts for less—a lot less—than having your bearings when that plan falls apart.”

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87.

An honorary doctor of laws was conferred upon Bennet at the 180th Commencement Ceremony at Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 27. The ceremony took place on Andrus Field under sunny skies. This year, Wesleyan awarded 713 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 22 Master of Arts degrees; 44 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees; three Master of Philosophy degrees; and 13 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Bennet—son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94—was elected to his first full term in the U.S. Senate in November 2010. Formerly as the Denver Schools Superintendent, and now as a member of the Senate Education Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for bold, locally driven changes to public education that would ensure every child is prepared to compete in a rapidly changing economy. Senator Bennet also previously served as chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor, now Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper ’74, where he helped balance a historic budget deficit and make city government more responsive to Denver residents. After graduating from Wesleyan, Bennet earned a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.

In his Commencement Address, Bennet described his experiences with two critical institutions—the U.S. education system and political system—that are overdue for “disruptive, transformative change, and reinvention.”

“You generation has so many more opportunities to lead, to make change, than the Class of 1987 ever did. So many more means to uproot entrenched interests… to discard worn-out assumptions… to overcome obstacles to progress,” he told the graduates. He urged them to channel their “Wesleyan impatience […] with the silliness and downright cruelties of the status quo” to address such pressing issues as energy, education, poverty and inequality in America.

Happy graduates.

“…some period of public service—teaching might be a good idea—is the debt you owe our country for the privilege of attending this remarkable university,” Bennet said.

Honorary degrees also were conferred upon Glenn Ligon ’82—an artist known for his series of text-based paintings, which draw on the writings and speech of individuals such as Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Richard Pryor—and Cecile Richards P’13, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

At the ceremony, two individuals were presented with the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal: Bruce C. Corwin ’62, chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, and William “Bill” Wasch ’52, P ’84, formerly Wesleyan’s director of development and director of alumni programs, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in customized housing options and personalized services for older adults. The Baldwin Medal, named for the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to the school, or for careers and other activities which have contributed significantly to the public good.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, second from left, congratulates Binswanger Prize recipients, from left, Richard Adelstein, Nathanael Greene and Tula Telfair.

In addition, the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics Richard Adelstein, Professor of History Nathanael Greene, and Professor of Art Tula Telfair. Also recognized at the ceremony were retiring faculty members John Biddiscombe, director of athletics; Joseph Bruno, professor of chemistry; Howard Needler, professor of letters; and Wallace “Pete” Pringle, professor of chemistry.

In his remarks, Wesleyan President Michael Roth pointed to a number of remarkable accomplishments by Wesleyan students—both in the classroom and out in the world. “We want you to remember the pleasure of the camaraderie and openness that have characterized the Wesleyan community to which you will always belong. We want you to remember these pleasures, the feelings of freedom and accomplishment, because we believe that these will stimulate you to continue to be bold, to be rigorous, and to nurture your practical idealism,” he said. “This may not be as easy as you imagine. From all around you will come calls for a practicality that is not so idealistic—calls to be more serious, more attentive to ‘the real world.’ Make no mistake: these are really calls for conformity, demands for conventional thinking that, if heeded, will impoverish your, and our, economic, cultural and personal lives.”

Yet Roth said he has faith that the graduates will “gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect your freedoms. I trust you will act to reduce violence in the world around us, especially those forms of violence that target the most vulnerable. I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege. I trust you will resist the temptations of conformity even as you reject puerile and narcissistic displays of separateness. I have this trust because I have seen what you can do.”

Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome.

In his Senior Class Welcome, Kennedy Odede ’12 described his journey from growing up very poor in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, to Wesleyan. He recalled his puzzlement early on over things other students take for granted: how to work a printer or use a shower, how money could be stored on a little piece of plastic known as a “Wes Card.” He used to sprint from class to the dining hall to ensure he would get something to eat before the food ran out. One day, a classmate explained to him that his concern was unfounded; food would be available until the lunch period was over.

“What struck me most about the class of 2012 was the kindness exhibited in explanations like this. Never before in my life had I felt valued. I always felt that growing up poor was something to be ashamed of, and at first I was scared to talk about my past. But then the class of 2012 showed me this kindness on many occasions,” Odede reflected. “I had arrived at an incredible place.”

Since his start at Wesleyan, Odede founded the nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities with Jessica Posner ’09, and built the tuition-free Kibera School for Girls.

“I believe we will only live in a better world if we are willing to take risks to make it a reality, only if we are willing to say, ‘Yes.’ My fellow graduates, I hope that we continue to say ‘Yes’ today, tomorrow and throughout our lives.”

The text of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2012 graduates can be found here.

The text of the senior class welcome by Kennedy Odede ’12 can be found here.

The text of Senator Michael Bennet’s address can be found here.

Information on the Binswanger recipients can be found here.

Information on the Honorary Degree Recipients can be found here.

Information on the Baldwin recipients can be found here.

The entire Commencement 2012 photo gallery is online here and videos of the 180th Commencement Ceremony are online here.

The weekend also saw more than a thousand alumni converge on campus for Reunion. They were kept busy with more than 150 events, including such highlights as an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; the traditional All-College Sing; and an Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders. A number of WESeminars also provided alumni with opportunities to revisit Wesleyan’s excellent academic experience with presentations by scholars, pundits and other experts. Topics included mindfulness-based stress reduction; a sampling of Wesleyan alumnae performance artists; music and literature of the ‘60s; the Beman Triangle Archaeology Project; money, marketing and the media; the environment; highlights of the Israeli Film Festival, and much more.

Seth Davis ’72 of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who is secretary of his class, attended his 40th reunion this year.

“One of my best friends from my college days was attending his first reunion,” Davis said. “ ‘Are they always this good?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘they are.’”

The entire Reunion 2012 photo gallery is online here.

The parent paparazzi and graduates.

Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome.

Michael McAlear, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, served as Marshal of the Faculty. At right is Kennedy Odede ’12.

Ellen Jewett ’81, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, delivered the Board of Trustees Welcome.

The hat toss.

The Class of 2012.

The Class of 2012 parades onto Andrus Field from Foss Hill.

Wesleyan faculty members Wai Ku Chan, professor of mathematics, and Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy.

Congratulations Class of 2012!

Odede ’12: From an African Slum to a Wesleyan Graduate

Kennedy Odede '12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome during the 180th Commencement Ceremony on May 27. (Photo by Nick Lacy)

Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome during the 180th Commencement Ceremony May 27:

Today, I stand before you as the first person from Africa’s largest slum to graduate from an American university.
For most of my life, I never imagined that one day I would be standing here.
For me, Wesleyan is HOPE.

You, the class of 2012, and my time at Wesleyan have changed me forever.

I grew up in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, where more than a million people live in an area the size of Central Park—without sewage systems, roads, running water, or access to basic rights like health care and education.

I was the oldest of eight children in a family that could not afford food, much less school fees. In Kibera, I dreamed of many things: food to eat, clean water to drink, safety from the violence, and relief from oppression that surrounded me.

Today, I want to tell you three stories about hope.

Class of 1962 Celebrates 50th Reunion

Members of the Class of 1962 and guests celebrated their 50th Reunion during Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 24-27.

During the reunion, Hank Sprouse ’62 presented a cardinal carving to Wesleyan on behalf of his class. The carving will be permanently displayed in Daniel Family Commons. Sprouse and Bruce Corwin ’62 also led a discussion on “Reinventing Ourselves As We Move Along” followed by a class discussion. In addition, the Class of 1962 dedicated the Highwaymen Common Room, located in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department. Photos of the 50th Class Reunion are below:

West African Drummers, Dancers Perform on CFA Green

Wesleyan’s West African Drumming and Dance performers.

Wesleyan’s annual West African Drumming and Dance concert, which took place on the Center for the Arts Green, was recently featured by the Middletown Patch.

The article, published on May 15, notes: “The exhilarating performance featured the work of Ghanian choreographer Iddi Saaka, Wesleyan world dance artist-in-residence; and master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, whose energetic and spirited students gave a sampling of what they’ve learned in West African dance courses this semester, accompanied by guest artists and drummers. ”

Read the article and see the video of the performance here.

Smith Expert on 17th and 18th Century Literature

Courtney Weiss Smith, assistant professor of English, will teach an upper-level seminar on 18th Century poetry, and a class cross-listed with the Science in Society Program next year. She recently celebrated her first year teaching at Wesleyan. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Assistant Professor Courtney Weiss Smith is finishing up her first year in the English Department, where she shares with students her enthusiasm for 18th century English poetry, literature and culture.

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Smith earned a B.A. from the University of Dayton and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. She originally intended to study the 19th Century novel in graduate school, but became increasingly drawn to earlier literature of the 17th and 18th Centuries. “I was curious where these 19th Century novels came from,” Smith remarks. “I became fascinated by the novelistic experiments of the 18th Century. Then I started thinking about what preceded and influenced these—the new kinds of scientific and economic prose, the strange, not-quite-novelistic fictional forms, the unexpected genres of poetry.”

Before coming to Wesleyan, Smith taught for one year in the English and Foundations of the Liberal Arts departments at Transylvania University, a small liberal arts school in Lexington, Ky.

She taught four courses in Wesleyan’s English department over the past year.

Lensing Co-Edits Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Journal

Book edited by Leo Lensing

Leo Lensing, chair and professor of German studies, professor of film studies, is the co-editor of the book, Träume. Das Traumtagebuch 1875-1931, published by Wallstein Verlag in 2012. Träume is the dream journal of Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931). Schnitzler is the author of La Ronde, Fräulein Else and other classics of early 20-century Austrian literature.

Prepared together with Peter Michael Braunwarth to celebrate Schnitzler’s 150th birthday, the revised and expanded version of the dream texts originally included in Schnitzler’s diaries can be read as an implicit challenge to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Schnitzler’s Träume (Dreams) is both an “unconscious” autobiography of its author, whom Freud called his doppelgänger, and a dark, surreal reflection of the era between the final phase of the Habsburg Empire and the rise of fascism in the 1920s. His dreams are peopled not only by his family and famous Viennese contemporaries, including Freud, Mahler, Klimt, Karl Kraus and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, but also by Goethe, Mozart, Wagner, Emperor Franz Joseph, Kaiser Wilhelm and even Marlene Dietrich.

Träume has elicited an unexpectedly wide and positive response in the Austrian and German media. An early review of the book in the Viennese music journal Der neue Merker marveled over the “profound richness” of the dream texts and praised commentary and afterword as a “compendium of knowledge” about Schnitzler’s world. ORF TV (Austrian National Television) presented a feature on the book in the evening news on May 6, and Austrian Public Radio included a review a month earlier in “Ex libris,” a weekly program discussing new books. Deutschlandfunk, Deutschland Radio and Westdeutscher Rundfunk, three of Germany’s most prominent public radio stations, broadcast extensive reviews; Deutschlandfunk also named Träume “Book of the Week” on May 15 (Schnitzler’s birthday).

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a full-page excerpt from the book in its Sunday edition in February and followed up with a positive review and the designation as one of five “Books of the Week” on May 15. The reviewer for the prestigious Arts pages of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich) called Träume “the most fascinating new book of the season,” and Die Welt (Berlin) published a two-page spread that combined a review with lengthy excerpts. Austrian Public Radio has just named the book to its May “Bestenliste,” the 10 best books of the month. Sales have been brisk, and a second printing is due out in mid-June.

Sanislow, Bartolini ’11, Zoloth ’10 Published in Human Behavior Encyclopedia

Charles Sanislow, assistant professor of psychology; Ellen Bartolini ’11; and Emma Zoloth ’10 are the co-authors of an article on avoidant personality disorder, published in the Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2nd Edition by the Elsevier imprint Academic Press, pages 257-266, 2012.
According to an abstract of the article, “Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is characterized by severe and chronic social anxiety. Prospective studies demonstrate modest symptomatic stability and chronic functional impairment. Current diagnostic conceptualizations distinguish APD from other distress disorders, such as anxiety and depression, by a long-standing pattern of social avoidance accompanied by fears of criticism and low self-worth so pervasive that it defines who a person is. New proposals to refine the diagnosis include the addition of trait components focusing on negative emotionality, introversion, anhedonia, and compulsive risk aversion to better distinguish APD from other anxiety-related disorders. APD is a useful diagnostic construct that captures an entrenched manifestation of social anxiety driven by feelings of low self-worth and the expectation of rejection.”

 

Seniors, BA/MAs Present Thesis Research at NSM Poster Session

Seth Hafferkamp '12 presents his thesis titled, "Autoionization Lifetime Measurements of Na2 Rydberg States" at the "Celebration of Science Theses" April 19 in Exley Science Center. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Fifteen Wesleyan students presented posters on their research in the sciences and mathematics at the seventh annual “Celebration of Science Theses” event held April 19.

“You help keep our sciences here vibrant and alive,” Ishita Mukerji, dean of natural sciences and mathematics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, tells the students gathered in the lobby of Exley Science Center as she congratulates them. Mukerji says she hopes that after pausing to celebrate their achievements, the students will continue to pursue research for many years to come.

The work presented by seniors and BA/MA students spans a wide range of disciplines.

Micah Wylde ’12 presents his research on “Safe Motion Planning for Autonomous Driving."

For his project, Micah Wylde ’12, a computer science major, developed algorithms for self-driving cars, like the cars reportedly being developed by Google. The algorithms translate high-level navigation goals (eg. Drive from home to the grocery store) into actual turns of the steering wheel. “I was working particularly on safety, which is a big deal when you have one-ton cars hurtling down the road,” he explains.

Wylde says self-driving cars are no longer the stuff of science fiction. “Everything has come together in the last five years—algorithms, sensing technology,” he says. “Now it’s just refining it.”

He adds, “In the next decade, there are going to be autonomous cars on the road—no question.”

Tom Oddo ’12, a Science in Society Program major, studied the work of D. D. Palmer, who founded chiropractics at the turn of the 20th century. Oddo plans to train to be a chiropractor after graduation, and sought to explain the stigma attached to the practice.