Olivia Drake

Uprooting Racism through Education, Discussion


Brandon Buehring, area coordinator for Residential Life, helped develop a campus-wide anti-racism discussion board. He also works with the student residents of West College, Clark Hall and Fauver Apartments.
 
Posted 11/16/05
Growing up in southern Texas, Brandon Buehring was taught by his elders, teachers and textbooks that he was living in a post-Civil-Rights-movement racial utopia. Meanwhile, all of his Mexican-American classmates, whose family trees stretched down at least three centuries in to America’s soil, were struggling with the state’s educational system and government. They were treated, he explains, like invaders.

At the time, Buehring chose to believe that these families weren’t trying hard enough to do better for themselves. But that all changed when every-day activists – friends, professors, authors, supervisors and even strangers – encouraged him to open his heart and think critically about his own identity and the country’s institutions.

As an area coordinator for the Office of Residential Life, Buehring wants to also help members of the Wesleyan community tap into their capacity for empathy while challenging their assumptions about race and systems of power and oppression.

With the help of his colleagues he has developed an online vehicle titled “Uprooting Racism,” to help people process the ideas and theories they are hearing in classes and at campus events, and then work together to bring actions to those ideas.

The Wesleyan community can join the discussions and check out the project’s Web resources by logging in to Wesleyan’s Blackboard Learning Systems at www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/uprootingracism.htm and type “Uprooting Racism” in the search box.

“I believe that racism is tightly woven into the fabric of this country and that it is still very much working to destroy the lives of people of color here and abroad,” Buehring says. “This is not a belief that people in this country like to consider. It was certainly a belief that I refused to consider for most of my life.”

The online discussion Buehring has created seeks to engage members of the Wesleyan community in a critical examination of their racial identities and their positions within an intricate system of racial power and oppression in the United States.

The process began when an Uprooting Racism planning committee convened in July. Soon after, potential staff and student collaborators were contacted in late August and early September to get feedback on the project and help to generate interest and support. In late September, a steering committee was formed. They meet about once a month.

The Uprooting Racism Steering Committee consists of Buehring, Rich DeCapua, Dawn Brown, Eric Heng, Maureen Isleib, Robin Hershkowitz, Sharise Brown, Frances Koerting from the Office of Residential Life; Leilani Kupo and Nicole Chabot from Student Activities and Leadership Development; Dianna Dozier from the Office of Affirmative Action; Lucy Diaz from Academic Affairs; Marina Melendez of Graduate Student Services and residential advisors Iris Jacob ‘06, Lashawn Springer ‘08, and Celia Reddick ’06.

“The project will very much be a work-in-progress for the rest of the academic year and one of the steering committee’s main responsibilities will be continually assessing in which ways the project needs to grow to more closely meet our goals,” Buehring says.

Committee member Melendez admires her colleague’s involvement.

“Brandon is a good person to work with, and has a compassion and clear understanding of what his role is,” Melendez says. “He understands that he must fight racism by opening dialogue for all people. He is not just a bystander. He is a real activist.”

Overseeing the Uprooting Racism project is just one part of Buehring’s busy day. As an area coordinator, he works with the residents of West College, Clark Hall and Fauver Apartments. He spends his days meetings with colleagues, students and project committees, and during the evening, he gathers with his 18 residential advisors and student residents.

“Being an area coordinator really means connecting students with campus resources and helping build enjoyable, respectful, engaged and accountable residential communities,” he says. “We work hard to infuse our communities with the idea that education is an everyday, life-long process that requires self-accountability, respectful conduct and critical optimism.”

Buehring holds a bachelor’s of art in cinema and studio art from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a master’s of education in counseling from North Carolina State University. He came to Wesleyan in 2003.

“I felt that my own values matched up with Wesleyan’s educational and community values,” he says. “I had also faced a lot of homophobia and persecution in all previous communities and was looking for a home and working environment that would be much more welcoming.”

Buehring, of Middletown, enjoys practicing Buddhism, crafting, knitting and reading non-fiction books about politics and education.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Examining Venezuela’s Economic and Political Struggles


Francisco Rodríguez, assistant professor of economics and Latin American studies, worked as the chief economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly prior to coming to Wesleyan.
Posted 11/16/05
In the recent Summit of the Americas in Argentina, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez openly defied President George Bush by reportedly declaring that the meeting would mark the end of Bush’s push for free-trade era in Latin America. However, the meeting marked another step in the contentious relationship that Chávez has staked out with the American president.

According to Assistant Professor of economics and Latin American Studies, Francisco Rodríguez, this increasingly vocal and confrontational posturing by Chávez is typical. Rodríguez knows this first hand. He’s met Chávez. In fact, Rodriguez has even been a guest at the Venezuelan Presidential Palace.

That was in 2002, when Rodríguez was working as the chief economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly (2000-2004) where it was his job to compile economic outlook prediction reports for the country.

One of Rodríguez’s reports caught the attention of the moderates within Chávez’s administration. It warned of a looming Venezuelan financial crisis and deep recession.

“At that moment, it seemed that the meeting was a positive step towards Chávez becoming a more progressive, democratic leader,” says Rodríguez.

“Shortly after the meeting, however, Chávez realigned himself with the more radical advisors within his administration and our report was widely ignored.”

It wasn’t long after Rodríguez’s meeting with Chávez when Venezuelan citizens tried unsuccessfully to oust the dictator from power. The repercussions are being felt to this day. Numerous citizens, journalists and politicians have been thrown in jail for simply speaking out against Chávez.

Since joining Wesleyan, Rodríguez has continued much of the same research he conducted while working for the Venezuelan National Assembly.

At Wesleyan, he examines economic growth, the political economy and international trade relations of Latin American countries, like Venezuela. One of his most recent papers studies how economic policies like openness, redistribution and liberalization, which are successful within one country, cannot necessarily succeed in another.

“There are many relevant interactions between policies, institutions and economic structure that make it problematic to use one country’s growth experience to make inferences about other countries,” says Rodríguez.

Similarly, his recent research outlines how open trade could be harmful to Latin American countries. In fact, Rodríguez predicts the free and open trade agreement, proposed by the Bush administration at the recent Summit of the Americas, is bound to fail.

“Latin American countries run the risk of not being able to compete with U.S. high-tech goods or East Asian low-skill intensive manufactured imports,” says Rodríguez. “Therefore, they’re forced to specialize in less dynamic sectors such as natural resource and agricultural exports.”

Rodríguez is both academically and personally interested in Venezuela’s economic issues. He was born in Venezuela, yet admits he is critical of elements of the leftist Chávez administration.

“His human rights violations are simply atrocious,” Rodríguez says.

Even the new television station, Telesur, whose signal is broadcast over Latin America on a satellite, which Venezuela recently purchased from China, proves what a powerful hold the Chávez administration has on the people.

“It’s Latin America’s version of Al Jazeera,” says Rodríguez.

However, despite the negativity surrounding Chávez and his government, Rodríguez admits the administration has recently developed some positive social programs to assist the needy.

One called “Barrio Adentro” places doctors to live and work in the poorest areas of the country and other, “Mercal,” sells food to the needy at subsidized costs.

While Rodríguez admits that these social programs have raised living standards among the poor, he is skeptical of the government’s intention as well as of the sustainability of their policies.

He claims that Venezuela’s economy continues to be threatened by high budget deficits and an overvalued exchange rate.

“Before Chávez, oil cost $9 a barrel and after he came into power it rose to as high as $60 a barrel,” explains Rodríguez. “While some of the revenues are being spent on social programs, a considerable proportion is spent on lavish government projects.”

These include such “projects” as a luxurious $54 million A319CJ Airbus plane for Chávez’s personal use. Rodríguez says that Chávez and the Kuwaiti royal family are the only developing country government to have purchased the airplane for official use.

Another is a case of missing money — $3.2 billion. In 2002, the Venezuelan National Assembly assigned the money to the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund – a fund the nation uses to protect itself against sudden changes in oil revenues.

However, Rodríguez says the funds were never deposited and the government cannot account for their whereabouts. Rodríguez says the funds are thought to have been used to finance political destabilization in other Latin American countries.

“These revenues could instead be saved, invested and used to pay off Venezuela’s current debt,” he says.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media relations

Family Moves into Wesleyan’s Habitat Home


The McNeil family will celebrate Thanksgiving in their new home built by more than 250 students, faculty and staff and community volunteers.
Posted 11/16/05
Wesleyan University and Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity formally welcomed Jennifer McNeil and her family into their new home on 34 Fairview Avenue on Nov. 13.   Wesleyan donated the four bedroom, white colonial to Habitat for Humanity last year and faculty, staff, students and other members of the Wesleyan community assisted with the home’s renovations.

McNeil is looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner next week with extended family members and her five children, Darryl, Tyquan, Titeana, Taquana and Jamarea.
 

Renovations are currently underway on a second house that Wesleyan also donated to Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity at 15 Hubert Street.

For more information go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/1005habitathouse.html
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Economics Professor Concerned with the Climate


Posted 11/02/05
Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, wasn’t surprised to learn that Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma were churning in the Gulf of Mexico. But along with scientists across the globe, the economist was surprised by how quickly the storms intensified into catastrophic proportions.

The unpredictability of what these storms and global warming’s possible effect on their intensity and increased frequency is what Yohe, a climate change economist, has been studying along with scientists for nearly 25 years.

Climatologists, biologists, and climate modelers often collaborate with Yohe as they contemplate what could happen in certain scenarios.

“They take what economists like me give them and they produce climate scenarios and impact trajectories,” says Yohe. “Economists then take their products as ‘inputs’ for vulnerability assessments.”

Last fall, Yohe co-authored a paper in the journal Science outlining a possible deterrent to global warming. The paper suggested attaching a tax on the carbon content (which generates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide) in fossil fuels of $10 per ton (or about 5 cents per gallon of gasoline) and gradually increasing it each year.

Yohe compares this possible tax increase to buying insurance against global warming. In economic terms it’s known as “hedging” – doing something that reduces the likelihood of an unpleasant outcome.

He says that hedging global warming is like diversifying governments’ policy portfolios just like individuals diversify their financial portfolios.

“In no case is buying insurance like paying premiums into a pot from which you collect payment to cover a climate induced loss,” he says. “Instead, investments in hedging strategies are designed to reduce the anticipated cost of climate impacts. We need to accept that the climate is changing, perhaps increasing the intensity of hurricanes, for example, and make complementary investments in our capacity to adapt.”

Yohe will be sharing his research on how scientists may adapt to the ever-changing climate when he presents his findings in January to the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) – the international gathering of natural and social scientists who routinely assess climate change. He and his fellow study authors hope to ultimately provide environmental policy-makers some insight into how they may intelligently voice their concerns about climate change.

Yohe also hopes that his upcoming journal article in Climatic Change will help magnify the importance of integrating climate into development plans. He is currently collecting contributions from scientists who participated in the Aspen Global Change Institute workshop of Abrupt Climate Change last summer for the article.

However, Yohe admits that it could be a while until we see any real action by policy-makers regarding global warming as the United States has withdrawn from discussions under the Kyoto Protocol. (An international agreement between more than 150 countries to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are suspected to be the cause of global warming). Still, Northeastern states have been joined by California and some Canadian provinces in an effort to reduce emissions in spite of Washington’s reluctance to proceed.

“Citizens of these states can work to support and to expand these efforts to manage climate risks in anticipation that, over the coming years, the threat of climate impacts, particularly abrupt impact of the sort observed in the Arctic over the past few years, becomes so clear that the federal government will follow their lead,” explains Yohe.

 
By  Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

The Puck Stops Here


Donna Wright, women’s ice hockey head coach, learned to play hockey on a pond.
 
Posted 11/02/05
Q: How many years have you been the women’s ice hockey head coach?

A: I began my coaching career at Wesleyan in September 1995. I was hired as the head women’s hockey coach and assistant lacrosse coach. Because the position was not an adjunct faculty position at that time, I also took a part-time position in the Physical Plant as a network desktop support person. It enabled me to be at Wesleyan full-time.

Q: When does the season begin and end?

A: Our season officially begins each year on November 1. Our regular season games end in late February and then the playoff season begins. The New England Small College Athletic Conference playoffs are usually the last weekend of February and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships are the third weekend of March. The goal is to play into March!

Q: How difficult is it to find talented women’s ice hockey players among all the secondary schools?

A: Recruiting is a challenging task. Women’s ice hockey is a very regional sport with the majority of players coming from New England and Minnesota. More and more opportunities have been created in other Midwest states like Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as New York, New Jersey and Maryland. There are very few public high school varsity teams. Most of these are in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut, so many of the players still come from youth hockey programs and New England prep schools.

Q: How early are some of your players getting into their sport? Were they involved in other sports prior to hockey?

A: Many of my student-athletes currently play or have played other sports. Three of my current athletes are varsity field hockey players, one is a varsity soccer player and one is a rower. On average, the current student-athletes have been playing hockey more than 10 years.

Q: What are some of the skills and lessons that you stress year after year?

A: We will win as a team and lose as a team. I stress fundamentals, discipline and support. We will always work to continue to develop our individual skills, have the discipline to play as a team and always support each other on and off the ice.

Q: At what age did you take up the sport and why? What were some of the challenges of picking up what is thought of as a male-dominated sport?

A: I began hockey later than most of my players. I started when I was 14 years old. It began as an obsession on the pond with my male friends. Those were the days of playing on the pond from early morning until dark on Saturdays. I quickly developed a passion for the game and begged my parents to let me play. I grew up in Danbury, Conn. and the closest girls program was in West Haven, Conn. My parents were wonderfully supportive and not only allowed me to play but drove me several days a week to West Haven for practices and games. In the 80’s, there were limited opportunities for women to play in their own league. I always attended summer camps mainly for boys and played pickup games with boys. The biggest challenge was to get the boys to treat you as they treated the other boys.

Q: There’s a perception that it takes a certain emotional edge to play ice hockey. Is the perception true?

A: Hockey is a fast paced game that is best played with decisive players. The best players play with passion and determination. Sometimes relentless determination can decide a game or season. The Wesleyan 1997-98 team was such a team. With only 12 players that season, they ended their season by playing for the ECAC Alliance title against Middlebury. They finished with the best record in Wesleyan Women’s Hockey history of 17-8-1.

Q: Could you tell me a bit about your new assistant coach?

A: We are happy to have Heather Hoffay join our program. Heather has a lot of NESCAC playing and coaching experience. She is a 2003 Hamilton College graduate and spent the last two seasons assisting in the Trinity College women’s hockey program. She is passionate about the game and about coaching. She is a great addition!

Q: Briefly, where have you played and coached?

A: I was fortunate to play at Providence College. I learned a lot about the game during my time there. Soon after graduation, I began coaching youth hockey in South Windsor, Conn. It was an outlet for me to cultivate my love of hockey while working full-time at Pratt and Whitney as a systems analyst. Before long, I realized that coaching was my real passion and aggressively began coaching with the goal of coaching full time some day. Before coming to Wesleyan, I was an assistant for Manchester, Conn. boys’ varsity hockey, Brown University’s women’s hockey and Yale University’s women’s hockey.

Q: How would you compare the nature of women’s ice hockey at Wesleyan with your experience as a player at Providence and a coach in the Ivy League?

A: Women’s collegiate hockey has growth exponentially since my playing days and my Ivy coaching days. Since that time, Division III opportunities have been officially sanctioned and more than 50 collegiate teams, both Div I and Div III, have emerged. I find the student athletes here at Wesleyan are as committed and work just as hard as the Div I student athletes. We have a slightly shorter official season playing in the NESCAC conference, but these athletes train year round.

Q: How difficult is it to compete in the NESCAC with such national powers as Middlebury and Bowdoin to contend with every year?

A: It is a challenge to play in the NESCAC, but it is also great hockey! Our athletes are competitive and want to challenge themselves and the play best that Division III can offer. For most women, collegiate hockey is the most competitive hockey they will play in their careers.

Q: Do you root for any National Hockey League teams?

A: Coaching is not a career but a lifestyle. I watch a lot of hockey on all levels. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to catch NHL games with my responsibilities here and raising a family. However, I am still a die-hard Ranger fan!

Q: Do you use tapes as a tool for the women?

A: We tape all home games and have tapes of all NESCAC away games. We do use the footage as a teaching tool for both players and coaches.

Q: I’ve heard rumors your husband, Bill, attends a lot of games with your boys, Nicholas and Kyle. Does he enjoy the sport as much as you, and what about the boys?

A: I am blessed with a great husband! Bill and the boys do come to all home games and some on the road. They are our biggest fans. Bill was not a hockey aficionado before we dated but has come to love the sport. He doesn’t even mind getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get Nicholas to the rink for practice on Saturday mornings. As for Nicholas and Kyle, they love coming to Wesleyan. They enjoy watching the team play as well as get on the ice themselves. Game day is just part of the Wright family life.

Q: When you’re not in the rink, what are you doing? What are your hobbies?

A: Bill and I spend a lot of time working on our home in Colchester. It is our hobby I guess. We have done everything from remodeling to landscaping. Besides that, we love to be outdoors as a family. As the boys are getting older, it is fun to ride bikes and play lots of sports.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Government Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor


Posted 11/02/05
Kelly Greenhill joined the Government Department as an assistant professor in July.

Greenhill’s current research focuses on non-traditional coercion, counterinsurgency operations and barriers to conflict resolution. Such research has appeared in a variety of books and journals, including Security Studies, International Migration, and Polity.

This semester, Greenhill is teaching a course on civil wars and international conflict management and another on geography and international conflict. In the spring, she will teach an introductory international relations course, as well as another that offers a more in-depth exploration of international relations theory.

“I was attracted to Wesleyan for myriad reasons, but was especially drawn by the high caliber of the student body and by the university’s clear commitment to cultivating amongst its faculty both strong teachers and scholars,” she says. “I very much look forward to becoming an integrated and engaged member of the Wesleyan community.”

Greenhill holds a bachelor’s of arts degree (double major) in political economy and Scandinavian studies from the University of California at Berkeley; a certificate of special studies in international management from Harvard University; and a master’s of science and doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition to her appointment at Wesleyan, Greenhill is a research fellow in the International Security and Intrastate Conflict Programs at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Her studies have been supported in part by the Social Science Research Council, the MacArthur Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Eisenhower Foundation.

Before coming to BCSIA, Greenhill held pre-doctoral fellowships at Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. She served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a defense program analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, and as an economic policy intern in the Office of Senator John F. Kerry.

Greenhill’s other interests include rock climbing, hiking, skiing and kayaking. She also enjoys cooking, watching films and “reading practically anything I can get my hands on.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Class Dean Guides Students to Make Good Decisions


Lisa Gates, dean of the class of 2007, holds a photograph of her class inside her office in North College. Gates monitors the academic performance of 760 students.
 
Posted 11/02/05
Steering students toward success is Lisa Gates’ top priority. As dean of the class of 2007, she’s constantly helping students meet or exceed their academic goals on the way to graduation.

Gates meets with many of her 760 students during the academic year. As a class dean, she is responsible for monitoring the academic performance of her class and ensuring students are making appropriate progress toward earning their degrees. But she also helps students resolve academic or personal problems, including working with faculty and staff in many other departments to assist students.

“Sometimes they just need my signature for a form,” she says. “But sometimes they’re having difficulty in a particular class or there’s an urgent personal situation and a midterm looming the next day. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Gates says that one of the principal challenges in being a dean is helping students learn to make good decisions and take responsibility for their actions.

“We expect students to be capable, reasonably organized, and responsible,” she says. “But we forget that these are adult abilities have to be learned and developed with time and experience. It’s my job to both support them through a difficult situation but also push them to take something constructive away from the experience. You can be an extremely bright person, but if you aren’t getting to class and managing your time effectively for whatever reason, you’re going to run into trouble.”

She also serves as a general resource for students, discussing different academic directions, internships, leaves of absence and study abroad opportunities. For many students, making a connection to a particular faculty member or a specific program on campus can shape their undergraduate experience in a fundamental way, Gates says.

“That’s one of the most satisfying aspects of this position, when a student comes to me with a vague interest and I can give a few names of people that they might want to talk with,” she says. “It’s nice to have a role in that process.”

In 2004, the Dean of the College Office’s model for class management was revised. Deans who normally worked with just one class now follow the same group of students throughout their academic career.

“What’s good about this new model is that, students can easily remember who their dean is, and they can get to know us better,” Gates says. “By working with a student multiple years, we’ll be able to support them better.”

Gates usually splits her time between meeting with students and following up with student issues. Nishita Roy ’07, met with Dean Gates this semester to discuss a pressing problem.

“My first impression of Dean Gates was that she is extremely personable, but also very serious about her work,” Roy says. “She listened attentively to my problem and took notes when I was talking, which proved that she was intent on ensuring that she had all of the facts straight. I felt extremely comfortable talking with Dean Gates and confident in her desire to assist me to the best of her abilities.”

Roy says her interaction with Dean Gates reaffirms her opinion that the class deans are generally a valuable resource for students.

“They’re committed to improving students’ lives at Wesleyan,” she says.

Gates usually splits her time between meeting with students and following up with student issues. She holds daily open-office hours. Gates also serves on the International Student Coordinating Committee, coordinates the Beinecke Scholarship Committee and the Janina Montero prize, and participates in various other committees and Dean of the College Office initiatives.

Gates moved to Connecticut in 1996 with her husband, Michael Roy, director of academic computing in Information Technology Services. In 2001, she joined the Dean of the College Office as an associate dean and director of New Student Programs. In this position, she worked on redesigning the orientation program for new students and other student programs to help students transition into the university. In 2004, she became a class dean.

Gates holds a bachelor’s degree in German language and women studies from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D in Germanic languages and literatures from Harvard University. She studied abroad in Berlin, Germany and received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of Hamburg. Her dissertation focused on the representation of blackness in late-19th and 20th-century German culture, looking specifically at the way in which “racial otherness” served as a vehicle for exploring how Germans understood their own cultural identity.

“I’ve always been interested in the German culture. It is rich with literary history, and this was an interesting way of connecting my professional experiences on issues of race in American culture with my graduate work in German,” Gates says.

Prior to Wesleyan, she worked at Duke University as a project manager for the Black Periodical Literature Project, a collection of fiction, literary materials and poems produced by the African-American press between 1827 and 1940. She also taught German language and literature courses at Harvard and the University of Connecticut.

“Teaching is something I’d like to do again,” she says. “I would enjoy interacting with students in another setting. It’s a part of my former life that I miss.”

Gates and Roy live in Higganum with their three children, Ethan, 12; Anna, 9, and Julian, 3. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening herbs and flowers, cooking and writing. Her work is often published in Preview Connecticut’s art section.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Working with Deans, Course Assistants and Teaching Apprentices


Lucy Diaz, administrative assistant to the academic deans, is co-chair to the Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance (AFCA).
 
Posted 11/02/05
Q: When were you hired as the administrative assistant to the academic deans?

A: I started at Wesleyan in October 2001.

Q: What are some of your duties?

A: The majority of my day is spent on the phone responding to inquiries from faculty and staff, reconciling accounts, gathering financial data, and maintaining various files and databases.

Q: What goes on during a day in the Office of Academic Affairs?

A: My job is a little different each day and I really enjoy the variations. Some days I spend most of my time maintaining the deans’ calendars and discretionary accounts, or working with proposals for internal sources of funding such as pedagogical, fund for innovation and seed grants. I also spend a great deal of time providing administrative support to the Educational Policy Committee and managing the Course Assistant and Teaching Apprentice programs.

Q: What are the Course Assistant and Teaching Apprentice programs?

A: A Course Assistant helps a faculty member by preparing course materials, managing logistics of a course and working with technology. They can receive a $400 stipend for completing the work. Students in the Teaching Apprentice Program work closely with a faculty mentor to understand the pedagogical issues related to a particular course and discipline and to deepen the student’s understanding of the subject matter. They receive course credit.

Q: Do you interact much with the students?

A: Unfortunately, my job doesn’t provide me the opportunity to interact with students on a regular basis. When I do engage with students, it is through AFCA or as a result of my role in Wesleyan’s Course Assistant and Teaching Apprentice programs. I ensure the students who are involved in these programs are properly registered for the tutorials, receive course credit and issue their payroll.

Q: What are some of the challenges of your job?

A: One of the most recent was working with Jen Curran in Information Technology Services in developing an electronic application and registration process for Course Assistants and Teaching Apprentices. It was a lot of work to orchestrate but it has really paid off because what was once a process of shuffling 400 pieces of paper per semester is now wonderfully organized within electronic portfolio.

Q: Who are the key people you work with in the Academic Deans section of the Office of Academic Affairs?

A: I work closely with the deans of the three academic divisions, LiLy Milroy, Don Moon and Joe Bruno, as well as with Billy Weitzer, senior associate provost, and Joy Vodak, coordinator for the Dean of the College Office.

Q: Tell me about your role as co-chair to the Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance (AFCA).

A
: I work closely with my co-chair and friend Andy McGadney of University Relations in planning and implementing current and future AFCA programming. I also work closely with members of the AFCA executive committee; Marina Melendez, Frank Kuan, Migdalia Pinkney, Lori Hunter, Ricardo Morris and Dianna Dozier. Being a part of AFCA has provided me the opportunity to give back to the Wesleyan community. It has also afforded me the opportunity to meet and interact with members of the Wesleyan community whom I ordinarily wouldn’t have met as part of my job in Academic Affairs.

Q: What is the purpose or goal of AFCA?

A: AFCA is a volunteer organization which seeks to strengthen and enhance the relationship between the Wesleyan community, its employees and students of color. Right now AFCA is going through a truly exciting period because we are currently working on creating a strategic plan which will help us to identify the organization’s key goals and objectives and to clearly articulate our mission, values and responsibilities. We really want the AFCA membership as well as the larger Wesleyan community to have a better understanding of our goals and priorities.

Q: Where did you receive your education and in what?

A: I received a bachelor’s in psychology from Quinnipiac University in 1998 and I recently completed my master’s of arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan in May 2005.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I am avid reader and I really love planning and hosting parties.

Q: Where do you live, and do you have children?

A: I live in Meriden with my 5-year-old son, Josiah. We spend a lot of time playing with our energetic dog, Sunny, and working on our soccer skills.

Q: What would you say is the most unique thing about you?

A: I guess one could say I have a passion for fashion.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working here?

A: I love working at Wesleyan. I think it is great to work in an environment where learning is fundamental and ongoing, even among faculty and staff.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Professor Explores Stardom at Benefit Dinner


Posted 11/02/05. Updated 11.07.05
Several Hollywood female stars were introduced to Middlesex County women and girls during a benefit dinner Nov. 6, titled “Stardom Then and Now.”

The presentation, by Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film studies and chair of the Film Studies Department Jeanine Basinger, provided an insider’s look at the star system in Hollywood and how it has evolved through the years.

Basinger, who is also the curator of Wesleyan’s Cinema Archives, offered an exploration of the power and limitations female stars dealt with in the early Hollywood years and the influences that changed the nature of stardom into its present incarnation. She discussed the long road to creative independence in the 21st century that now sees successful female stars frequently running their own production companies, selecting their own directors and often having script approval.

“Stardom in the 30s, 40s and 50s projected glamour, fashion and sex to the public,” Basinger says. “Yet at the same time, the system often dictated the stars’ personal as well as professional lives.”

“Stardom Then & Now” benefited The Fund for Women & Girls, an endowed fund of the Middlesex County Community Foundation created by women to teach Middlesex County women and girls to be self-reliant and reach their potential.

The event was held at the Film Studies Center. For more information contact the Middlesex County Community Foundation at (860) 347-0025 or email info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org.

Retired Faculty Center Opens


The Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty opened Nov. 5 during an Open House.
Posted 11/02/05. Updated 11.06.05
The Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty at 51 Lawn Avenue held its Open House Nov. 5 during Homecoming/Family Weekend.

The Center is named for Susie and Bill Wasch ’52, P’84, who contributed their vision and support for the project.

This new center creates a shared intellectual and social community where retired faculty members can continue their scholarly activities and participation in university life.

Trustee Emeritus Bob McKelvey ’59 believes the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty will provide invaluable connections between different generations of Wesleyan faculty. In supporting this project, he honored former “first lady” Katharina “Kay” Butterfield with the naming of the “Butterfield Room”.

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

A NEW OCTAVE: Bruce Harkness of the Verdin Bell Co. prepares to install a new bell into the South College belfry Oct. 3. Eight new bronze bells were hoisted to the top by a crane, adding a full octave to the instrument.

Harkness and Bill Burkhart, university photographer, discuss cable rack hardware for the new bells. Metal “tracker squares” connect the bells in the tower via the cable to the clavier — or keyboard — on a floor beneath the belfry.
Bell installer Don Swem performs the balancing act inside and outside the belfry dome.
Wesleyan Connection editor Olivia Bartlett and Lisa Dudley ’08 received a bellfry tour by the Verdin Bell Co. staff. To get into the cramped bell tower, they climbed scaffolding-steps, two ladders, crossed a wood plank and “limboed” under the bells’ frame.
Verdin Bell Co. installer Tina Harkness uses a ladder to climb through four tiers of bells. The original bells hang from the lower two levels, and the new bells hang from the top two levels.
Tina Harkness, Peter Frenzel professor emeritus of German Studies and Wesleyan chimemaster, Swem and Bruce Harkness gather around the clavier after installing the cables that lead to the bells above Oct. 10. Frenzel was the first to test-out the new bells. (Photos by Bill Burkhart, Olivia Bartlett and Don Swem)

Sports Information Director Promotes Student Athletes


Brian Katten, sports information director, is responsible for photographing Wesleyan athletic teams, maintaining the athletic Web site, preparing game programs, writing press releases and promoting student athletes.
 
Posted 10/18/05
Q: When were you hired at Wesleyan, and what was your job title then?

A: I started as the first, and fortunately to date, only full-time sports information director at Wesleyan in July, 1982. I had been an intern in that position for the 1979-80 year. I also served as intramural sports director from 1982-2002 but turned that title over to Mark Woodworth in 2002-03.

Q: When did you graduate from Wesleyan, and what was your major? Do you have degrees from anywhere else?

A: I received my B.A. in economics from Wes in 1979 — and it’s amazing how many of my former professors are still around — and went on to get an M.S. in sport management from UMass in Amherst in 1982.

Q: Did you play sports here at Wes?

A: I was the only member of the frosh soccer team in 1975 to sit the bench the entire year. I still went out for the varsity as a soph, but Terry Jackson knew better than to keep me on the squad. I ran the lines for soccer games instead. I also cheated and played one JV tennis match for Wes during my intern year because they needed a player. And I played one match in New Haven for the faculty squash team. I lost both the tennis and squash match, by the way.

Q: What led you into working in sports information?

A: Working in sports info was my first job right out of college. I thought I was going to be a sales rep for Proctor & Gamble but that fell through. Then I ran into the person working as Wesleyan’s sports information director intern (John Herzfeld ’78) and he told me about the position. He knew I was into sports and suggested I apply for the internship. Jack McCain, then assistant director of public information, hired me. I truly didn’t think I wanted to do sports info for a living and that’s why I went off to grad school the next year, but a year working at Yale in athletic administration in 1981-82 made me look back to Wesleyan for permanent employment.

Q: How has Athletics changed over the years?

A: Athletics at Wesleyan has taken off since 1990 when the Freeman Athletic Center was built. Now with the latest addition, we are first-rate in every way. Basically it just makes playing sports at Wesleyan more worthwhile and less of a hardship. In terms of disseminating sports information, when I started we were using typewriters, mimeographs and stencils, and our copiers made about 10 a minute. Then we got a Xerox 860 word processor, then our first Mac Classics and fax machines. Now we have the Web. What’s next? Who knows? But sports info has grown in leaps and bounds with technology.

Q: What are your thoughts on the student athletes?

A: The student-athletes here are amazing. I marvel at what it takes for them to be a talented athlete and still maintain their studies. I think varsity athletes should receive university credit for being on a team.

Q: What are some of your job duties as sports information director?

A: I am responsible for maintaining the athletic Web site; taking action and still photos and coordinating other photo needs; preparing game programs, recruiting guides and alumni newsletters; getting results to the media; sending out releases to papers throughout the country to promote our athletes; reporting to the NESCAC and NCAA offices; nominating players for regional and national honors; maintaining statistics at various events and coordinating stats when I can’t be at an event; and occasionally singing the National Anthem. I’m sure there are a few things I’ve forgotten but you did say “some.”

Q: How often are you interacting with the coaches and teams?

A: All the time. It used to be more difficult the first eight years when I was physically located in South College. But I moved into Freeman when it was built and I much prefer being in with the coaches and athletes. It makes the job substantially easier.

Q: What is your work schedule like?

A: No sports information director works a nine-to-five. The schedule varies from day-to-day depending upon the athletic schedule. Saturday is usually a 12-16 hour day and then another three to six hours on Sunday depending on the schedule. It’s not unusual to go several months — like from Labor Day to Thanksgiving — without a complete day off. I do have some flexibility midweek and can get out in the middle of the day to help my kids, run an errand or officiate a soccer or basketball game at a nearby private school. And the summer is very calm.

Q: What are some of the biggest stories you’ve had to manage?

A: The most attention Wesleyan gets from an athletic standpoint seems to come from the NFL, mostly Bill Belichick ’75, head coach of the New England Patriots. Hunting down info about his playing experience, photos and such has been something everyone from the New York Times, to Sports Illustrated, to ESPN has asked me to do for years. But as long as we have Dick Miller in the economics department, who was Bill’s faculty advisor, we’re covered. Eric Mangini ’94, who is the defensive coordinator for the Patriots, has been getting more press lately, too. When Jeff Wilner ’94 made the Green Bay Packers as a tight end, it was huge. And we have other illustrious alums like marathoner Bill Rodgers ’71 who got us a lot of national attention, but I didn’t start writing about him until 1979. For the most part, our stories are small market.

Q: How challenging is your position?

A: Extremely. It can be very pressure-packed, especially when 12 teams are in action on a single day. And success, while infinitely preferable to failure, can be very taxing. The better we do, the more people I need to tell. I think I have pretty good people skills and a decent instinct for the job, so that helps keep things under control.

Q
: Are there any former students, now alums, who played on the teams in the past who you’ve kept track of over the years? What are they doing now?

A: I know our all-time leading scorer in men’s soccer, Amos Magee ’93, is playing professionally in the A-League with the Minnesota Thunder. We have a lot of success stories. Jed Hoyer (baseball) ’96 is an assistant general manager for the Red Sox. Jenna Flateman ’04, (national champion in track) is on the national-under 23 women’s rugby team. Seb Junger ’84 (track and cross country) is a nationally recognized author. Dennis Robinson ’79 (football), who was my roommate up at UMass, is a vice-president with the NBA. Frank Hauser ’79 (football and wrestling) is our 14-year veteran head football coach and Mark Woodworth ’94 (baseball) is going into his fifth season in charge of the baseball team. Like me, it’s great to stay home.

Q: What sports do you watch or enjoy now?

A: I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and my grandfather had connections with most of the major sports teams so I got to see a lot of games. As a youngster, I ate that up. I still root for all the Philly teams. My favorite sport to watch is football but I find many sports very interesting. My favorite to play is tennis, but I also like golf, ping-pong, bowling and well, almost anything.

Q: Do you have interests outside of sports?

A: I am a consummate grocery shopper. I have turned what most people regard as drudgery into a fine art. Let me tell you how to use a coupon some day.

Q: Tell me about your kids.

A: I have a son, Ross, who is almost 18, and a daughter, Anna, 16, from my first marriage and I love being around them especially when they are involved in an activity. Anna has made high honors every quarter at Middletown High and has experience in volleyball, indoor track, crew and golf. She also is quite a horsewoman. She is drama club publicity chair and just started a knitting club. She has won regional and school awards in Spanish, science, writing and Vo-Ag. Ross has been a top golfer at MHS for two seasons, competed in indoor track, played baseball and made numerous all-star teams in his youth, managed the cross country team and went to Nashville as a state runner-up in the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) competition. He has had his picture in the Middletown Press five times already.

Q: Do I hear wedding bells in the air?

A: I am living with my fiancée, Cheryl, in Cromwell. We met through Yahoo Personals on May 7, 2003 and fell for each other right away. We plan to get married on Block Island, where she has family, this coming May.

Q: And do you really sing the National Anthem at sporting events?

A: Yes, I just did it at our last football game and have done many venues here at Wesleyan. I also have done it at NCAA national tournament games in men’s lacrosse, football and women’s basketball at other colleges. It’s fun!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor