Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu.

Roth Speaks about Liberal Arts Education in 92Y Interview

Wesleyan President Michael Roth recently spoke about “Why Liberal Arts Education Matters” as part of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) American Conversation series. 92Y connects people all over the world through culture, arts, entertainment and conversation.

In the Oct. 15 episode, New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni interviews Roth about the contentious debate over the benefits—or drawbacks—of a liberal education. In the interview, Roth, who is author of Beyond the University, Why Liberal Education Matters, makes the case for the great American tradition of humanistic education.

Watch a video of the conversation below:

Roth also discussed “The Future of Education” at the 92nd Street Y’s Social Good Summit on Sept. 21.

6 Inducted to Wesleyan’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Wesleyan’s Athletics Department welcomed five notable former athletes and one coach into the seventh class of Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame Oct. 17. The inductees include Joe Barry Morningstar ’39; Cochrane Chase ’54; Marion Stoj, M.D. ’74; Thomas Vincent Reifenheiser III ’94; Sarah Hann, DVM ’95; and J. Elmer Swanson, track and cross country coach. Chase, a tremendous football and wrestling talent, was unable to attend the event.

The Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame grew out of the collaborative work of the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC), founded in the fall of 2006, and the Wesleyan administrative. Though the inventory of outstanding coaches and competitors was especially daunting for early class selection, with significant research and considerable discussion the selection committee was able to provide a slate of inductees representing over 100 years of Wesleyan athletics.

The event included an Athletic Hall of Fame reception, dinner and award ceremony. John Biddiscombe, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, presented the awards. Read past Athletics Hall of Fame stories here.

(Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

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J. Elmer Swanson joined the Cardinal staff in 1963 as a track and cross-country coach, adding the women’s teams in both sports to his portfolio when they turned varsity during the 1970s. He served as a mentor to hundreds of Wesleyan student-athletes during his 30 years as a full-time head coach.

Tailgating, Athletic Contests, Middletown Day Part of Homecoming 2014

Wesleyan's Homecoming Celebration included six athletic contests.

Wesleyan’s Homecoming Celebration was held Oc. 17-19 on campus.

Hundreds of Wesleyan alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the university took part in an array of Homecoming Weekend events Oct. 17-19 on campus.

Events included campus tours, a luncheon for the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC) and AAC meeting; the Athletics Hall of Fame Ceremony and Dinner; the Class of 1965 50th Reunion Planning Reception and Dinner; a 35mm screening of the 1935 picture Top Hat; a celebration of Rabbi George Sobelman, Wesleyan’s first Jewish Chaplain; a Leadership Donors Reception; Skull and Serpent Society Annual Meeting; Alpha Delta Phi Banquet Dinner; Wesleyan Old Methodist Men’s Rugby Club Scrimmage; and Middletown Day Festivities, featuring a spirit tent, live bands, face painting, balloon animals, bouncy house and snacks. As part of Middletown Day, all events, including the Homecoming Day football game, were free to Middletown residents. View photos of Middletown Day here.

Athletic contests included Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Field Hockey and Women’s Volleyball. View highlights of Homecoming athletic contests here.

Team tailgates and concessions were held by Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Hockey, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s Baseball and Women’s Softball.

View photos of Homecoming 2014 below and in the full Homecoming 2014 photo gallery. (Photos by John Van Vlack and Olivia Drake)

Homecoming Weekend at Wesleyan, Oct. 18, 2014. (Photo by Olivia Drake) eve_hcf_2014-1018153143

Autumn Colors in Full Glory on College Row

Campus is bursting with fall colors this October. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Tail Wags, Furry Friends at Wesleyan’s Homecoming

Go HOME(coming), dogs! Many canine companions joined their humans for Wesleyan’s Homecoming football game Oct. 18. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Balloon Animals, Marching Band, Music During 2nd Annual Middletown Day

Wesleyan welcomed about 150 local residents to campus for the second annual Middletown Day on Oct. 18. Families enjoyed a day of fun — including face painting, balloon art, and a bounce house for kids — food and football, as Wesleyan battled Amherst College in the Homecoming game. The Middletown High School marching band played at halftime, and Middletown residents were offered free admission to the game.

View photos of Middletown Day below, and in the Homecoming 2014 photo gallery. (Photos by John Van Vlack and Olivia Drake)

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Jewish Community Celebrates the Life of Wesleyan’s First Chaplain

On Oct. 19, members of Wesleyan’s Jewish community gathered to celebrate a fundraising effort spearheaded by David Rabban ’71 to raise gifts in memory of Rabbi George Sobelman. Sobelman was Wesleyan’s first Jewish Chaplain from 1969-1973.

In addition, the Sobelman family is donating 43 volumes of the Babylonian Talmud with translation and commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz to Olin Library.

Rabbi Sobelman died Sept. 11, 2010 in Rehovot, Israel. During his time at Wesleyan Sobelman taught Modern Israeli Literature.

The event was hosted by University Relations. (Photos by John Van Vlack)

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WESU Seeking Donations for Fall Record Fair Oct. 26

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

WESU 88.1 FM will host a Fall Record Fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 in Beckham Hall.

Dozens of vendors from across the Northeast will be selling vinyl records, CDs, posters, T-shirts and more. WESU DJs will sell WESU gear and records to support the station. The station also is seeking donations to be sold at the event.

“Cleaning out your shelves but can’t make it to the event? Please consider donating your records for WESU to sell to aid in our fundraising efforts,” said WESU member Tess Altman ’17. “Come support the station and invite your friends! Why? You can’t scratch an MP3.”

Interview, Paper by Smolkin-Rothrock, Fusso Focuses on Russian Atheist

Wesleyan faculty Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock and Susanne Fusso are the co-authors of “The Confession of an Atheist Who Became a Scholar of Religion,” published in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Volume 15, Number 3, Summer 2014. The paper is based on an interview Smolkin-Rothrock completed on Russian atheist Nikolai Semenovich Gordienko.

Smolkin-Rothrock is assistant professor of history; assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies; Faculty Fellow Center for the Humanities; and tutor in the College of Social Studies. Fusso is professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies.

Among the most prominent professors of “scientific atheism” in the Soviet Union, Gordienko also was the author of the Foundations of Scientific Atheism textbook and a consultant to the political elite on religious questions. Over the course of his life, he was connected with every institution that managed Soviet spiritual life in both its religious and atheist variants. Read the paper’s abstract online here.

Staff on the Move, September 2014

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires and departures for September 2014:

Newly hired
Janani Iyer was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Ilona Bass was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Paul Wilson Cauley was hired as a researcher in the Astronomy Department on Sept. 8.
Franklin Huynh was hired as a senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning on Sept. 15.
Michael Schramm was hired as assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund on Sept. 15.
Luigi Solla was hired an associate director of admission for the Office of Admission on Sept. 22.

Transitions
Thomas Diascro was hired as director of alumni and parent relations for University Relations on Sept. 8.

Departures
Rani Arbo, fellow in the College of the Environment.
Christopher Andrews, senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning.
Linnea Benton, library assistant in Olin Library.
Edward Chiburis, facility and events manager for Memorial Chapel/ ’92 Theater.

Wesleyan, City Officials Sign Memorandum of Understanding

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault.

The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime, sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault.

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault. The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime,  sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault. Pictured from left, signing the document are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Pictured from left, signing the Memorandum of Understanding, are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rodhe; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rohde; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In addition, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., came to Wesleyan Oct. 6 to hear students’ concerns about sexual violence, survivor support and penalties for perpetrators. In his discussions with students he shared details of legislation he has proposed to provide better frameworks on campuses for handling sexual assault cases. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Twagira’s Paper on Cosmopolitan Workers Published in Gender & History

coverLaura Ann Twagira, assistant professor of history, is the author of an article titled, “‘Robot Farmers’ and Cosmopolitan Workers: Technological Masculinity and Agricultural Development in the French Soudan (Mali), 1945–68,” published in the November issue of Gender & History, Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 459-477.

In 1956, Administrator Ancian, a French government official, suggested in a confidential report that one of the most ambitious agricultural schemes in French West Africa, the Office du Niger, had been misguided in its planning to produce only a ‘robot farmer’. The robot metaphor was drawn from the intense association between the project and technology. However, it was a critical analogy suggesting alienation. By using the word ‘robot’, Ancian implied that, rather than developing the project with the economic and social needs of the individual farmer in mind, the colonial Office du Niger was designed so that indistinguishable labourers would follow the dictates of a strictly regulated agricultural calendar. In effect, farmers were meant simply to become part of a larger agricultural machine, albeit a machine of French design. Read the full article, online here.