Mike Sembos

Mike is a writer and musician from New Haven who is happy to be a part of the Wesleyan communications team. He plays in several bands, travels to faraway lands whenever possible and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

Selig ’84 Nominated by Obama Administration

Stefan Selig '84

Stefan Selig ’84

In November 2013, the White House nominated Stefan Selig ’84 as under secretary of international trade for the United States Department of Commerce. Since 2009, he’s served as executive vice chairman of global corporate and investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The Obama administration rarely appoints Wall Street bankers, especially from Bank of America, so this is an exceptional case.

If confirmed by the senate, Selig will head the International Trade Administration, working toward the expansion of American industry, job creation and the promotion of exports.

Selig earned his BA from Wesleyan and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before joining Bank of America in 1999, he worked for First Boston, Wasserstein Perella & Company, UBS and Société Générale.

“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” at the Davison Art Center through March 6

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles," opened Jan. 30 at the Davison Art Center. The photo-rich exhibit captures the essence and excitement of speed and machinery via images of some of the more romantic modes of transportation from the past 150 years.

“Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” opened Jan. 30 at the Davison Art Center. The photo-rich exhibit captures the essence and excitement of speed and machinery via images of some of the more romantic modes of transportation from the past 150 years. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Four gelatin silver prints by Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) are in the exhibit, including "Gasoline Station, East Tremont Avenue and Dock Street, 1936. A young expatriate in Paris in the 1920s, Abbott was a studio assistant to Man Ray before establishing herself as a portrait photographer. In 1929 she returned to the United States and, inspired by Eugene Atget’s photographs of Paris, she started on her “immense subject,” documenting New York City. Funding the project remained difficult until 1935, when she was hired by the Works Progress Administration.

Four gelatin silver prints by Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) are in the exhibit, including “Gasoline Station, East Tremont Avenue and Dock Street, 1936.” A young expatriate in Paris in the 1920s, Abbott was a studio assistant to Man Ray before establishing herself as a portrait photographer. In 1929 she returned to the United States and, inspired by Eugene Atget’s photographs of Paris, she started on her “immense subject,” documenting New York City. Funding the project remained difficult until 1935, when she was hired by the Works Progress Administration.

Rudensky’s Photo Series Featured in Rangefinder Magazine

Sasha Rudensky's "Hannibal Lector," 2010.

Sasha Rudensky’s “Hannibal Lector, 2010.”

Sasha Rudensky

Sasha Rudensky

The artwork of Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01 has been featured in a multi-page spread in the January 2014 issue of Rangefinder, a monthly magazine for the professional wedding and portrait photographer.

The story is called “Culture of Brightness,” and it explores Rudensky’s “Brightness” photo series, in which she documents the lives of everyday Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. The collection was four years in the making.

Rudensky herself was born in Moscow in 1979, and in the article she explains that in Russian-Ukrainian culture, the concept of “bright” is a synonym for “being beautiful, unforgettable — something that leaves a mark.” The photos in the series seem mundane in their subject matter, but they capture the spirit of a people who have adapted to dramatic political change, having endured the fall of the Soviet Union and the transition to a new government.

Rudensky received her BA in studio art and Russian literature in 2001 at Wesleyan, and went on to earn an MFA in photography from Yale in 2008.

"Custodian, 2009" from Rudensky's series "Brightness."

“Custodian, 2009” from Rudensky’s series “Brightness.”

"Emerald Fountain, 2009" from the series "Brightness."

“Emerald Fountain, 2009” from the series “Brightness.”

"Dressing, 2009."

“Dressing, 2009.”

Netsky Ph.D. ’04 Selected Among The Forward’s 50 Most Influential American Jews

Hankus Netsky Ph.D. '04

Hankus Netsky Ph.D. ’04

Hankus Netsky, who received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan in 2004, has been chosen by the editorial staff of The Forward — a well-respected weekly newspaper covering the Jewish world — as one of the 50 American Jews who have had the greatest impact on the world in 2013, alongside the likes of Harvey Fierstein, Mandy Patinkin and Janet Yellen.

Netsky is the chair of the contemporary improvisation department at the New England Conservatory of Music. He has mentored countless young Jewish musicians, many of whom attended NEC primarily to study with him, and has guided jazz and classical instrumentalists as they expand and evolve the Jewish repertoire to coincide with modern times.

At a recent performance by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Netsky was the less-visible but highly influential musical director.

The Forward refers to him as, “a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music.”

Read more about Netsky in this New England Conservatory press release.

Suniewick ’97 Named SVP of Strategic Integration for NBCUniversal, Comcast

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97, who served as vice president of programming for Comcast Cable, has been named senior vice president of Strategic Integration, linking NBCUniversal and Comcast. It is now her task to find creative, technological and strategic opportunities between Comcast, the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider, and NBCUniversal’s portfolio, which includes broadcast networks (17 cable networks and more than 50 digital properties), a motion picture company, television production operations, a television stations group and theme parks.

Suniewick — an economics major at Wesleyan who went on to obtain an MBA from Columbia — will lead the charge on NBCUniversal’s “Symphony” initiatives along with Comcast to promote upcoming programing, movies and events, including the Olympics.

Armandroff ’82 Announced as McDonald Observatory Director

Taft Armandroff ’82

Taft Armandroff ’82

Taft Armandroff ’82 has been appointed as director of the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. He’ll be moving to the Lone Star State in June 2014 to claim his new position.

Armandroff’s specialties include dwarf spheroidal galaxies, stellar populations in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and globular clusters. He will soon be leaving his current position as director of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Prior to Keck, he worked for 19 years at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Ariz., having earned his BA in astronomy with honors at Wesleyan and his Ph.D. from Yale.

“I’m tremendously excited to be joining the Texas astronomy program, and to develop the McDonald Observatory further with new instrumentation and research programs, and to continue the observatory’s stellar efforts to communicate astronomy discoveries to the public,” says Armandroff, in a press release. “There are very few places like UT Austin that can boast such a strong astronomy faculty, total access to a facility like the McDonald Observatory, and participation in a next generation telescope such as the Giant Magellan Telescope.”

Tatum ’75 Receives Carnegie Award

Beverly Daniel Tatum '75

Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75

Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75 was presented with a national academic leadership award from the Carnegie Corp. of New York in December 2013. She was the first recipient from a historically black college and the first ever in the state of Georgia.

Tatum was selected because of her work supporting female students pursuing  science, technology, engineering and math at the university.  More African-American women earned doctorates at Spelman in those fields between 1997 and 2006 than at Georgia Tech, Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined. Tatum was a psychology major at Wesleyan who went on to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

With the award comes a $500,000 grant toward Tatum’s academic initiatives. She plans to use half to help establish an endowed computer science faculty position at the college and the other half to help create the President’s Safety Net Fund, to financially assist students in emergency situations who are nearing graduation.

Chill ’78 Named Associate Dean at UConn School of Law

Paul Chill '78

Paul Chill ’78

Since September 2013, Paul Chill ’78 has been presiding as the associate dean for clinical and experimental education at the University of Connecticut School of Law. He first joined the UConn faculty in 1988 and is known for his advocacy on behalf of parents and families.

Chill teaches legal ethics, legal interviewing, counseling and negotiation, torts and criminal law and has supervised clinical programs relating to child protection, civil rights, disability, mental health law and mediation.

Between his time as a government major at Wesleyan and the present, he has worked with dangerous juvenile offenders, graduated from UConn Law (in 1985), worked as a plaintiff’s employment litigator at Garrison, Kahn, Silbert & Arterton in New Haven and as a part-time state magistrate.

McCann ’09 is on Time’s “30 Under 30” List

Laurenellen McCann ’09

Laurenellen McCann ’09

Laurenellen McCann ’09 is the executive producer of the hour-long, weekly podcast/radio show The Good Fight with Ben Wikler, a program that covers grassroots activism and politics with a humorous edge. Its listener base includes fans of NPR and The Colbert Report.

She was formerly the national policy manager at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that calls for heavier government accountability.

Time magazine editors and a panel of millennials recognized Larenellen’s achievements by including her on their list of “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.”

Follow Larenellen on Twitter @elle_mccann to keep up with her daily activities.