Olivia Drake

Nominate Wesleyan Professors for Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2016. Nominations are now open for 2017 recipients.

The Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching recognizes Wesleyan faculty who have had a lasting impact on the academic and personal development of their students. Juniors, seniors, graduate students and Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) are able to nominate up to three professors for 2017 Binswanger Prizes, which will be awarded during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony on May 28.

The Binswanger Prize is made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85, and underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Current faculty who have taught at Wesleyan for at least 10 years are eligible. Previous recipients are excluded for a period of 12 years after which they become eligible once again. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

(Read a Q&A with 2016 Binswanger Prize recipient James Lipton online here).

The criteria for selecting the recipients is excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity and passion. Recommendations may be based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the university including, but not limited to, teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Nominate now.

Thomas Honored by Micropalaeontology Society

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas holds two enlarged samples of microfossils in her lab at Wesleyan. Thomas was recently awarded a medal for her research efforts.

For her outstanding efforts in pioneering studies in micropalaeontology and natural history, The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) awarded Wesleyan’s Ellen Thomas with the 2016 Brady Medal.

The Brady Medal is TMS’s most prestigious honor and is awarded to scientists who have had a major influence on micropalaeontology by means of a substantial body of research.

Thomas was honored for “communicating to an extremely broad audience fascinating, impactful and often thought-provoking research” and “academic encouragement of students and peers over the years with [her] generosity of time in a very busy and successful career,” noted TMS President F. John Gregory.

Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences and the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, investigates the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales, with the common focal point of benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms). She studies their assemblages, as well as trace element and isotope composition of their shells. Foraminifera live in salt or at least brackish water, so she concentrates her research on the oceans, from the deep sea up into tidal salt marshes.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze from original sculptures commissioned by The Micropalaeontological Society in 2007.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze.

The Micropalaeontological Society exists “to advance the education of the public in the study of Micropalaeontology” and is operated “exclusively for scientific and educational purposes and not for profit”. It was initiated as The British Micropalaeontological Group in 1970.

The Brady Medal is named in honor of George Stewardson Brady (1832-1921) and Henry Bowman Brady (1835-1891) in recognition of their outstanding pioneering studies in micropalaeontology.

Read more about Ellen Thomas in these past News @ Wesleyan articles.

Thomas’s Research on Marine Biota during a Period of Rapid Global Warming Published

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of “Pteropoda (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Thecosomata) from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum of the United States Atlantic Coastal Plain,” published in Palaeontologia Electronica, Article 19 (3) in October 2016.

The Paleocene Epoch lasted 65 to 54.8 million years ago and the Eocene Epoch lasted from 56 to 33.9 million years ago, and was a period of rapid global warming.

The response of many organisms to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) has been documented, but marine mollusks are not known from any deposits of that age. For the first time, Thomas and her co-authors describe a PETM assemblage of pteropods (planktic mollusks), consisting of six species representing three genera (Altaspiratella, Heliconoides and Limacina). Four species could be identified to species level, and one of these, Limacina novacaesarea sp. nov., is described as new. Only the genus Heliconoides was previously known from pre-Eocene sediments, with a single Campanian specimen and one latest Paleocene species.

Brazilian Play on Cannibalism, Translated by Jackson, to Make American Debut

A Brazilian play, translated by Wesleyan’s Elizabeth Jackson, will make its American premiere at The Yale Cabaret in early February.

“The Meal: Dramatic Essays on Cannibalism” tells three stories about people consuming — and being consumed. This poetic piece by Newton Moreno, one of Brazil’s leading contemporary playwrights, was translated into English by Jackson, adjunct associate professor of Portuguese for Wesleyan’s Romance Languages and Literatures Department.

Jackson’s translation of “The Meal” first appeared in Theater, Yale’s journal of criticism, plays, and reportage (Vol. 45 No. 2, 2015). “The Meal” is one of four texts by different playwrights that Jackson translated for the journal. In addition, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, professor of theater, co-edited this special issue on contemporary Brazilian plays.

“The Meal” will be performed at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Feb. 2-4 at The Yale Cabaret. Tickets can be purchased online.

Hornstein Presents Papers at American Economic Association Conference

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, presented two papers at the 2017 American Economic Association meeting held Jan. 6-8 in Chicago.

In her working paper, “Words vs. Actions: International Variation in the Propensity to Honor Pledges,” Hornstein used data on contracted and utilized foreign direct investment in China to show that firms fulfill an average of 59 percent of their pledges within two years. “The propensity to fulfill contracts is lower for firms from countries with greater uncertainty avoidance, power distance and egalitarianism; and is higher if the source country is more traditional,” she explained. Prior literature has shown that these cultural characteristics are associated with higher levels of utilized foreign direct investment, while Hornstein shows that these cultural characteristics also affect the likelihood that planned corporate investments are actually made.

Her other working paper, “Board Overlaps in Mutual Fund Families” (co-authored by Elif Sisli Ciamarra of Brandeis University), is based on hand-collected data on directors at 3,948 U.S. equity mutual funds belonging to 328 fund families. Hornstein and Sisli Ciamarra used this data to document the prevalence and effects of a common board structure whereby a set of directors serves simultaneously on the boards of multiple funds within the family. Fifty-nine percent of all funds have unitary board structures where a single board serves all funds within the complex. “We find that overlapping boards generally represent 74 percent of the funds within a family, and that this overlapping board structure provides limited benefits to investors while benefiting the fund family,” she said.

In addition to her paper presentations, Hornstein also was elected to the executive board of the Association for Comparative Economics Studies, for a term ending in 2020.

Coach Kenny Inducted into Middletown Sports Hall of Fame

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Former men’s head basketball coach Herb Kenny will be inducted to the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 26.

The Middletown Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was created to honor the numerous outstanding athletes and other sports-minded individuals, and to preserve the deep and rich history of sports in the life of the City of Middletown.

Kenny, an adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, coached the Cardinals from 1968-1995 and ended his career with a 312-280 record.

Kenny was known for his intense coaching style and intricate offenses. To honor Kenny for his 27 years of coaching, Wesleyan annually holds a Herb Kenny Tournament.

He was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1992-93 and last year was chairman of the NABC’s Division III committee and a member of its committee on academics. He is on the board of directors of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

A resident of Meriden, Kenny came to Wesleyan as freshman coach in 1964 after coaching basketball, baseball and football at Platt High School-Meriden. He has served on the board of directors of the Meriden Boys Club.

Kenny is a 1955 graduate of St. Bonaventure. In 1964, he received a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Connecticut.

Kenny will join Wesleyan’s Mike Whalen, director of athletics, and John Biddiscombe, the former director of athletics, on the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame roster.

The 24th Annual Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn. Tickets are $50 a person and $15 for children 12 and under. For tickets, call 860-347-6924.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Athletic Hall of Fame.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

More than 100 Students Are Enrolled in Winter Session 2017 Courses

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class is one of seven being taught this January during Wesleyan's fourth Winter Session.

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class is one of seven being taught this January during Wesleyan’s fourth Winter Session. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

More than 100 Wesleyan students are completing a full-semester course in two weeks as part of Winter Session 2017. Now in it’s fourth year, this is the highest enrollment to date.

Winter Session is held Jan. 9-24 and classes typically meet for four hours a day for 10 days.

Courses this year include Introduction to Digital Arts, taught by Christopher Chenier; The Dark Side of the Universe, taught by Edward Moran; Homer and the Epic, taught by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak; Introduction to Programming, taught by James Lipton; U.S. Foreign Policy, taught by Douglas Foyle; Masculinity, taught by Jill Morawski; and Applied Data Analysis taught by Lisa Dierker.

The small class sizes allow students to develop close relationships with one another and faculty. Students complete reading and writing assignments before arriving on campus.

“A quieter campus, and a singular focus on just one course,

Register Children for Green Street’s AfterSchool Spring Semester Program

This spring, AfterSchool Program participants can take classes in hip hop, scrapbooking, creative movement, environmental art, African drumming, art and science, and more. 

This spring, AfterSchool Program participants can take classes in hip hop, scrapbooking, creative movement, environmental art, African drumming, art and science, and more.

Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is currently accepting applicants for its Discovery AfterSchool Program. Spring semester classes will be held Jan. 30 through May 12.

The Discovery AfterSchool Program offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences, and math for children in Grades 1- 5. The program encourages children to be curious and creative while they build self-esteem and problem-solving skills. For middle school students in Grades 6-8, GSTLC offers the Wesleyan Bound college experience class on Friday afternoons.

“Classes range from visual arts to dance, even to kung fu this semester,” said Sara MacSorley, director of GSTLC. “We offer many choices every day of the week.”

Hamilton’s Miranda ’02 Named Associated Press Entertainer of the Year

Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed up with Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single "Love Make the World Go Round." (Associated Press photo)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 teamed up with Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single “Love Make the World Go Round.” (Associated Press photo)

“Hamilton” writer-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, bested Beyonce, Adele and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, among others for the title Associated Press Entertainer of the Year for 2016. The award is voted by members of the news cooperative and AP entertainment reporters.

In 2016, Miranda also won a Pulitzer Prize, multiple Tony Awards, a Golden Globe nomination, and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. He also hosted Saturday Night Live, asked Congress to help dig Puerto Rico out of its debt crisis, performed at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Broadway, lobbied to stop gun violence in America and teamed up with singer/songwriter Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single “Love Make the World Go Round.”

“I’ve been jumping from thing to thing and what’s been thrilling is to see the projects that happen very quickly kind of exploding side-by-side with the projects I’ve been working on for years,” Miranda said in the AP article.

Erin O’Neill of The Marietta Times said Miranda dominated entertainment news this year but, more importantly, “opened a dialogue about government, the founding of our country and the future of politics in America.”

According to the Associated Press, there’s more Miranda to come in 2017, including filming Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt (due out Christmas 2018) and a TV and film adaptation of the fantasy trilogy “The Kingkiller Chronicle.”

68 Student-Athletes Named to NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team

Women's soccer player Sarah Sylla '17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC's Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Women’s soccer player Sarah Sylla ’17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Sixty-eight Wesleyan student-athletes were honored for their excellence in the classroom when the New England Small College Athletic Contest (NESCAC) announced its 2016 Fall All-Academic Team. Nine others were named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.

To be honored on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The women’s soccer team led the way for Wesleyan with 14 selections, followed by men’s soccer with 12, golf with nine and football with eight. The cross country teams put a combined 14 student-athletes on the list, while field hockey and volleyball had seven and four All-Academic honorees, respectively.

“The Wesleyan Athletics pursuit of excellence ideology extends beyond performance in an individual’s sport and I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes, especially those who also excel in the classroom,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen. “Our coaches seek student-athletes who demonstrate equal passion and commitment to academic challenges as they do for winning a NESCAC or Little 3 championship.”

Men's soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell '18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

Men’s soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

The All-Sportsmanship Team is composed of one student-athlete from each institution for each sport, and is selected by the players and coaches from their respective team for their positive contributions to sportsmanship. It recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship. These student-athletes exhibit respect for themselves, teammates, coaches, opponents and spectators. They display sportsmanship not only as a participant in their sport but also as a spectator and in their everyday lives.

Representing the Cardinals on the All-Sportsmanship Team are Will Dudek ’17 (Men’s Cross Country), Joie Akerson ’17 (Women’s Cross Country), Saadia Naeem ’20 (Women’s Golf), Zach Lambros ’17 (Men’s Golf), Colleen Lynch ’17 (Field Hockey), Lou Stevens ’17 (Football), Jack Katkavich ’17 (Men’s Soccer), Sarah Sylla ’17 (Women’s Soccer), and Rachel Savage ’17 (Volleyball).

NEA Supports Center for the Arts, Wesleyan U. Press

As part of a recent National Endowment for the Arts grant, Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts was awarded funds for the 2017-2018 Breaking Ground Dance Series. Upcoming performances this season include the return of Urban Bush Women, performing the Connecticut premiere of ‘Walking with 'Trane’ on March 3.

As part of a recent National Endowment for the Arts grant, Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts was awarded funds for the Breaking Ground Dance Series. Upcoming performances during the 2016-2017 season include the return of Urban Bush Women, performing the Connecticut premiere of ‘Walking with ‘Trane’ on March 3.

The National Endowment for the Arts approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement are Art Works grants of $30,000 for Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts‘ Breaking Ground Dance Series and $25,000 to support Wesleyan University Press in the publication and promotion of books of poetry.

The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

The Breaking Ground Dance Series at the Center for the Arts, now in its 17th season at Wesleyan, features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned companies and companies pushing the boundaries of the art form. Upcoming performances this season include the return of Urban Bush Women on March 3. The company will be performing the Connecticut premiere of ‘Walking with ‘Trane,’ an ethereal investigation conjuring the essence of John Coltrane, inspired by the musical life and spiritual journey of the famed jazz saxophonist.

Past companies from the U.S. and abroad that have been featured on the Breaking Ground Dance Series include Bebe Miller Company, Camille A. Brown, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Chunky Move, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. The Center for the Arts partners with Wesleyan’s Dance Department and a subcommittee of their faculty and students to select the companies and plan their residencies.

“Dance is arguably the most under-supported of the performing arts, so funding from the NEA significantly enhances the CFA’s ability to bring dance artists of the highest caliber to Connecticut audiences,” said Laura Paul, interim director of the Center for the Arts. “And beyond the dollars, it is a real point of pride to have the NEA as a funding partner.”

Wesleyan University Press will publish authors Kamau Brathwaite, Camille Dungy, Shane McCrae, Erin Moure, Evie Shockley and Gina Athena Ulysse, who is professor of anthropology and feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan. Books will be accompanied by online reader companions, and will be promoted through author readings and workshops, social media, and the press’s website, among other means.

“We are delighted to have the support of the National Endowment for the Arts for the poetry titles that will be published in 2017,” said Wesleyan University Press Director Suzanna Tamminen. “The books coming out this year are tuned to concerns about the planet, about violence in the streets, faraway and in our own homes. At the same time these poems uplift us, and break us out of routine molds of thought. Over the years, this kind of support from the NEA has helped us to reach thousands of people, with readings at libraries, universities, public parks, museums, theaters, schools, bookstores and clubs. We are very excited about this year’s books, and grateful to the NEA for supporting the Press and these works of art.”

A portion of the grant will also enable reading tours for each author.

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Wesleyan University Press, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”