Olivia Drake

Saturday Program is All About The Kids


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Pictured above, Lydia Bell ’07 (center) and area children watch the Footnotes Dance Theater perform during the Saturday for Kids Program’s “Buddy Day.” Bell is a substitute teacher at Saturday for Kids, a recreation/respite program for children with disabilities.

At right, Saturday for Kids Program Director and Wesleyan administrative assistant Debbie Sierpinski helps a child with a craft project. Sierpinski is recruiting volunteers and performers for the program.

Posted 04/15/05

Twice a month, Lydia Bell ’07 gets to mingle with an aspiring rock star.

“He really loves to get everyone singing ‘Yankee Doodle,’ or doing the moves for the ‘YMCA,’” Bell says about her 10-year-old friend, David*.

Bell and David meet during The Saturday for Kids program, a recreation/respite program for children with disabilities. Several Wesleyan students, staff and faculty are donating a few hours a month to socially interact with the youngsters, and they’re always looking for more Wesleyan volunteers to work with children ages 6-12.

Saturday for Kids program Director Debbie Sierpinski, administrative assistant for the Classical Studies Department, Medieval Studies Program, and the Archaeology Program, says this is an ideal opportunity to give back to the community, while meeting other Wesleyan student and employees who they normally wouldn’t meet on campus.

“Since Wesleyan has really pushed for community services to be an important aspect of the Wesleyan community, I feel that the Saturday for Kids program is a vital avenue for Wesleyan students, faculty and staff to accomplish this,” she says.

Saturday for Kids is part of the Middlesex Association for Retarded Citizens: Community Resources, Ltd., most commonly known as MARC. The private, non-profit organization provides services to adults and children with cognitive disabilities and their families.

The Saturday for Kids Program is held two to three Saturday mornings a month. Structured activities, crafts, toys and free time for play offer valuable social interaction for the children.

Bell started volunteering in 2004 and was hired as a sub this year. She says the most rewarding part of working with the program is having the luxury of working one-on-one with a child. 

“With time and patience I have found rewarding connections through games and lots of smiling and laughing,” Bell says. “Working with special needs children is a great way to prepare for a teaching career or to be active in the greater Middletown area. I would recommend it to other students as a great way to get off campus and get involved with the community around us.”

Sierpinski has already written several recommendations for students who are applying for fellowships in this field or who are looking for summer employment working with children. 

Wesleyan’s Community Relations co-sponsors the program to enable some meetings to be held at Wesleyan. When the organization holds its Community Service Fair in September, Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations, recruits Wesleyan students and staff to man the information booth.

“Debbie and her student volunteers have been the heart and soul of the Saturday for Kids program,” Kuan says. “It’s a very worthwhile, service-orientated cause.”

Some Wesleyan employees have got involved in the Saturday for Kids Program through their talents. Helen Mensah, an artist in residence in dance, played African drums for the children. Juliana Shortell, collections manager of the Archaeology Program and member of the Footnotes Dance Theater performed a dance for the kids. Kids on the Block, a volunteer group associated with Oddfellows Playhouse and Wesleyan students, put on a play with puppets that have disabilities. 

Shortell says Footnotes has performed at schools and libraries around the state, but the Saturday for Kids Program is her favorite group to work with.

 “Usually there is a fair bit of snickering and shyness,” she says. “Not so with these kids.  They welcome us and jump right in, and because everyone cannot necessarily move or communicate in the same way, we all learn about different ways to relate to words, music, and movement. In the end, there is very little ‘performing’ going on, as we are all just playing together. And that is the way we like it!”

These special performances take place once a month during “Buddy Day.” During this event, the children can invite friends and siblings and anyone from the community to join in on the fun.

“It is a way to educate the community about what special needs means and makes the program more inclusive,” Sierpinski says.

Sierpinski is hoping more students and faculty from the theater, music and other departments donate their skills to entertain the children.

 “We have found that the common link with all of these children, no manner what level of functioning they are at or what kind of cognitive and physical disabilities they have, is music and dance,” she says. “Some of our non-verbal children give us a huge smile and we know that we have touched their soul.”

Sierpinski says the Classical Studies Department supports her working for the program. For a while, she was storing toys in the Classical Studies’ library. 

“One day, one of the visiting faculty members was riding one of the kids adult trikes down the hall,” she says. “I thought I was seeing things. He said the tires were flat, he had inflated them and was checking out the bike. I am very lucky to work at Wesleyan, a place very committed to community service.” 

The Saturday for Kids Program meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Woodhead Lounge, Mercy High School or at the MARC administration building, 421 Main Street in Cromwell.

“These are a fabulous group of kids,” Shortell says, “and you will always get back as much, if not more, than what you put in.”

For more information or to become a volunteer or performer, email Debbie Sierpinski at dsierpinski@wesleyan.edu or call Lou Alperowitz at 860-635-5151 extension 305.

(* last name withheld by request.)

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Vice President for Finance and Administration Retiring


Posted 04/15/05

Vice President for Finance and Administration Marcia Bromberg will retire from Wesleyan at the end of the fiscal year.

In her four years at Wesleyan, Bromberg has overseen numerous improvements. When she was hired she was charged with providing a more transparent financial planning and reporting system. This led her to a revamping of the budget planning cycle, budget and long-range planning materials, and the annual budget and financial statements. The result has been a more open and understandable set of processes and documents.

Bromberg also opened up the facilities planning process with the establishment of the Master Plan Executive Committee, which has coordinated on-campus planning and oversight for all facilities projects.

She recognized the need for a specialist to manage the university’s auxiliary services and created a director position to oversee those areas. She led in the recasting of the university’s bookstore, now operated by Follett College Stores, which has succeeded in providing the level of textbook services and support required by students and faculty.

In collaboration with a committee she established, Bromberg developed a new administrative staff evaluation and compensation system that links performance assessment to individual and University goals and provides a reward system for meaningful accomplishments. More recently, in collaboration with the faculty’s Compensation and Benefits Committee, she conducted a health plan review which led first to moving the university from a fully insured to a self-insured plan, and this past year, to an improved program that incorporates new plan designs and healthy living options.

Bromberg’s creative vision enabled Wesleyan to construct new residence halls on Fauver Field that will allow the university to house almost all students in university-owned housing.

March 30 was the culmination of another initiative: Wesleyan’s first Environmental Awareness Day. Students, faculty, the Connecticut Consortium of Independent Colleges and local civic and political leaders celebrated campus energy conservation initiatives, recycling activities and our plan to incorporate clean-energy electric vehicles into its campus service fleet. Through this initiative, Bromberg channeled student interests and concerns towards collaborative and positive results.

Wesleyan will soon begin a national search for Marcia’s successor. In the interim period after June 30, Vice President and Secretary Peter Patton will provide oversight to the Facilities and Auxiliary Services offices. Vice President for Information Technology John Meerts will provide oversight to the offices of Finance, Human Resources, Legal Projects, and Project Coordination. Tom Kannam, director of investments, will report to President Douglas Bennet while maintaining a dotted-line relationship with the interim and then the permanent vice president for finance.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Assistant Professor Researches Theories of Rhythm and Meter


 
Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music, came to Wesleyan in in August 2004. He learned to play piano as an undergraduate.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Yonatan Malin joined the faculty in the Music Department as an assistant professor in August 2004. Malin instructs classes on music theory and analysis and the history of western music, including the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.

Prior to coming to Wesleyan, Malin taught music at the University of Colorado. He completed his undergraduate work at Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago. His dissertation is on “Metric Dissonance and Music-Text Relations in the German Lied,” and his primary areas of research include German Lied, Romanticism, relations between music and text, and theories of rhythm and meter. Malin is also interested theories of metaphor, and traditions of Jewish liturgical chant.

“Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the students. I have found them to be bright, engaged, and open,” he says. “Wesleyan also attracted me because of the range of musical activities in the department and on campus. And finally, Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the faculty, in the music department and throughout the university.”

Malin recently presented a paper at the meeting of the Society for Music Theory, on “Metric Analysis and the Metaphor of Energy: A Way into Selected Songs by Schumann, Wolf, and Schoenberg.”

A review of a book on Schumann’s Dichterliebe is coming out soon in the journal “Music Theory Spectrum.”

Malin lives in Middletown, with his wife Diana Lane, and two daughters Avivah, 5, and Sarah, 8 months. Aside from music, Malin enjoys hiking, skiing and being outdoors with his family.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Professor Studies Brooklyn Neighborhoods


 
Henry Goldschmidt, assistant professor of religion and society, joined the Religion Department in 2004.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Henry Goldschmidt joined the faculty in the Religion Department as an assistant professor of religion and society. Goldschmidt completed his undergraduate work at Wesleyan in 1991, and earned his Ph.D at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2000.

His dissertation, which he is currently revising for publication, focuses on Jewish identities and Black-Jewish differences in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, a neighborhood known for its history of conflict between Lubavitch Hasidic Jews and their predominantly Afro-Caribbean neighbors. The manuscript is titled “Race, Religion and Other Differences among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights.”

Goldschmidt, born and raised in Brooklyn, said his research in Crown Heights reflects an interest in the relationships between racial and religious identities, and, more broadly, in critical theories of collective identity.

“My work has been focused in Jewish studies and American religion, but I’m also very interested, to say the least, in Brooklyn,” he says. “I’m a Brooklynite and a Brooklynist. When I finish my research on Crown Heights, I’d like to do research with Jews and others who left Brooklyn in the 50s, 60s and 70s – the Brooklyn Diaspora.”

Goldschmidt says he wanted to return to his alma mater after receiving a “fabulous education” here as an undergraduate. The Religion Department also drew him back.

“The innovative and interdisciplinary religion department attracted me, which is built around the social and critical analysis of religion,” he says.

Last year, Goldschmidt co-edited a collection of essays with Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion and African American studies, titled “Race, Nation and Religion in the Americas,” published by Oxford University Press in 2004. Another essay, titled “Food Fights: Contesting ‘Cultural Diversity’ in Crown Heights” was published in a collection of anthropological research on American politics called “Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America.”

Goldschmidt lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jillian Shagan and two cats, Junior and Cleo.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Community Service and Volunteerism Connects People with Projects


 
Cathy Crimmins-Lechowicz, director of Community Service and Volunteerism, stands outside a Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity house, where she places volunteer workers.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Q: The Office of Community Service and Volunteerism (OCS) fosters community building within Wesleyan and with the communities of Middletown and Middlesex County. How are some ways the department goes about this?

A: We, meaning my colleagues and I here at the Center for Community Partnerships, meet with community organizations and students regularly to hear about the needs, interests and possible connections that we can facilitate. We support current programs and encourage students and community members to think creatively about new initiatives and collaborations. We try to meet students needs by providing a variety of ways to connect with the community: they can volunteer through one of our programs, obtain a work study position in the community, take a service-learning course which will provide a connection to the community or we’ll work with students to find a good fit if one doesn’t already exist.

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I started here in August 2003. I had just finished grad school at NYU and one of my professors there is a Wesleyan alum. I told her about this job I was applying for and she raved about Wesleyan.

Q: How do you spend a typical day?

A: It totally depends. Some days I spend a lot of time at my desk, other days I’m not even in the office. Typically, I come in and check e-mail, may have a meeting with a community organization or group, meet with some students, meet with my student staff, maybe drive students to a volunteer opportunity and try and get stuff done in between.

Q: Can anyone in the campus community volunteer? Who generally volunteers for these projects? Students, staff, faculty?

A: This office primarily works with students, although I am more then happy to talk with faculty, staff and community members about volunteer opportunities they may be interested in. Students do not have to apply for the opportunities unless it’s a work study position – then they do need to fill out paperwork. At the beginning of the year, we do our biggest recruitment with the student activities fair and the community service fair. And then throughout the year, the OCS student staff will hold information sessions and answer questions of interested students.

Q: Is working with student volunteers rewarding?

A: My position is incredibly rewarding. It’s wonderful that students are willing to give of their time and energy and wonderful that the community welcomes them into their organizations and so appreciates their work. I love talking with students after they volunteer and hearing how their experience is meaningful to them and how it affects their time here at Wesleyan. I am constantly amazed at how invested our students become in their community work and how much they come to care about the individuals and organizations with whom they work. It is incredible to witness and support. Each positive experience students have in the community is a small step forward in breaking down the barriers between town and gown.

Q: What are some of the programs your office places volunteers with?

A: I have a student staff of 12 who run programs in the following areas: AIDS/HIV, Women and Children, North End Mentors, Senior Services, Tutoring, Hunger and Homelessness and Special Events. Through those programs, students work with a wide range of local organizations such as Oasis Center, Women and Children Center, North End Action Team, Habitat for Humanity and many local schools. In addition to the programs listed here, students work with other organizations either independently, for work study or through other student groups on campus that may not run through our office.

Q: Why is it important to volunteer in the community?

A: This is a difficult question to answer because everyone is different and may have a different reason. For me, I think it’s a critical part of society and that there should be this constant flow of give and take, and an active participation of its members. Far too often there is a lack of a sense of community and I think by volunteering and getting out of our chosen environment, there is opportunity for personal growth and better understanding of those with whom we share a community but may never ordinarily interact.

Q: Do you volunteer with any of these programs yourself?

A: I volunteer with a variety of organizations in Middletown and outside.  I am on the Core Services Team at the United Way and work with six local organizations who are applying for United Way funds. I also sit on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Children, a local advocacy group which fights for the rights of children in Middlesex County. I’m also on the advisory board for Idealist on Campus which is a national organization working with students interested in non-profit careers. A few weeks ago, my husband and I worked with the OCS student staff and the students I advise in the Community Service House on the Habitat House on Fairview Avenue and I would love to do more of that!

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Virginia in 1999; I then took two years off and participated in AmeriCorps and then returned to UVA for a fellowship. After that, I went to NYU for my master’s in public administration. 

Q: What led you to work in this type of career?

A: Service has always been an important part of my life and it helped me discover more about myself and my career aspirations. I think service can help students unwind, have more self discovery, explore career interests and build a sense of community – all while contributing to the greater good of our community – whether here in Middletown, in their home town or abroad. I think it’s important to plant the seed of service early so that our students will continue to actively participate in their communities where ever they live after Wesleyan.

Q: What do you do for entertainment when you’re not working or volunteering?

A: I got married last summer to my husband Joe. I love to spend time with family and friends – I’m one of four children and Joe is one of three so we do a lot of visiting and hosting.  We have three nieces who we adore and love to spend time with.  We enjoy spending time outdoors – whether hiking, running, exploring new areas or taking pictures.  We love live music and traveling to new places.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Davison Curator has Life-Long Interest in Art


 
Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, looks over “Self-Portrait in Profile,” sketched by German artist Kathe Kollwitz in 1927. The piece is included in “A Passion for Prints” on exhibit through May 22.
 
Posted 03/31/.05

Q: You started here on February 14th. What attracted you to the university?

A: I was attracted to the position of curator at the Davison Art Center because it is a wonderful combination of museum curatorial work and academia. I am very much looking forward to teaching in the fall. At the same time, I get to do the curatorial work I love. It is a perfect combination.

Q:  How did you get into this type of work?

A: I have been interested in art for a long, long time. The first one-page essay I wrote in grade school was titled “What is Art?”  In fact, a classmate swears that on the first day of high school, I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to be a museum curator, but I have absolutely no recollection of this!  Along the way I thought about architecture, geology, and a few other things, but always came back to art history and museum work.

Q: What kind of perspective does a curator need for this type of job?

A: A curator needs to be interested in the physical condition of the art work as well as the aesthetic issues. To follow the art market in order to acquire new art wisely. To research and present their findings in a clear, understandable fashion.  To develop his or her “eye” for art, so that they can trust both their research and their gut response to new work. Curators need to work well with other people, because every exhibition requires collaboration with installers, registrars and many, many others.

Q: What type of education is required?

A: To be a curator you need an advanced degree in the relevant specialty.  For art museums, either a master’s or Ph.D. in art history or a related field like archaeology. These days a Ph.D. is preferred, and I am finishing up mine at Brown University. While the subject knowledge is learned in university programs, you need to learn the museum skills on the job. I learned a vast amount during my ten-month fellowship at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, working under the supervision of Marjorie B. Cohn, Curator of Prints.

Q: What is most unique about the Davison Art Center?

A: The DAC has a world-class collection, which it makes available for direct study by students. The amount of student involvement and access to the collection is unique.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the current exhibit, A Passion for Prints, that ends May 22?

A: The exhibition, “A Passion for Prints: The Davison Legacy” focuses on the amazing collection of George Willets Davison, class of 1892, who donated more than 6,000 prints over two decades. The curators of the DAC will be represented by key acquisitions made to complement and expand upon Davison’s original vision. Working with Interim Curator Ellen D’Oench, student curators Jesse Feiman ’05, and Dan Zolli ’07, have spent the year researching the  collection and selecting the prints. Highlights will include prints by Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn

Q: How do you spend the bulk of your day? Are you at a desk, out in the gallery or meeting with people?

A: A little bit of all three.  Doing email and correspondence. Meeting with various people. Advising students. Regularly going to exhibitions, etc.

Q: In a nutshell, how do you create an exhibit? What is the process? And where do you find the art for the exhibit?

A: For me, exhibition ideas come from studying the prints, drawings, and photographs in the collection, and beginning to explore themes or narratives across individual works and individual artists. These can be developments in technique, such as chiaroscuro woodcuts, or connected to recent studies in art history. For some exhibitions, the work comes from the collection. Other exhibitions are based on loans from collectors, artists, or other institutions. I’m still mulling over the exhibition possibilities for the fall.

Q: Do you find your job rewarding?

A: My job is extremely rewarding.  It offers the chance to continue to build a renowned art collection. I work with wonderful people, and will teach in the fall.

Q: Tell me about your hobbies outside of work.

A: Graduate school severely curtailed my hobbies. I play a terrible game of squash. I also enjoy sewing and knitting, which help fulfill my creative urge. And I spend time with my partner, Michelle Emfinger, who works in information technology and plays the double-bass.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Cruz-Saco to Become Dean of the College at Wesleyan


Maria Cruz-Saco will become dean of the college.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Maria A. Cruz-Saco, interim dean of the college at Connecticut College, will become dean of the college at Wesleyan University on July 18.

Wesleyan’s dean of the college is responsible for the programs and services that support student learning and development. The office of the dean encompasses the class deans, the Office of Residential Life, student and behavioral health services, the Office of Student Activities, the Office of Community Service, the chaplains, and the new Usdan University Center. The dean serves as a member of the university’s senior staff.

“This is a moment of unusual opportunity,” says President Doug Bennet. “We are thinking afresh about how we link students’ academic experiences with their lives in the community and about how we can take full advantage of the diversity of student experience as a resource for learning. Wesleyan is also strengthening our residential life and student programming  in concert with the addition of new housing and the Usdan University Center. Maria Cruz-Saco will provide strong leadership in all these areas, and we welcome her to Wesleyan.”

Cruz-Saco is an economist and expert in social protection and the reform of social security systems with a regional emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has authored three books, co-edited one, and contributed many articles and chapters to professional journals and books. She earned her B.A. at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru, in 1979 and her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1983.

She is a full professor of economics at Connecticut College.

Cruz-Saco has served as interim dean at Connecticut College since July 2003. She joined the college in 1990 and held leadership positions including chair of the economics department, chair of the Priorities, Planning and Budget Committee, member of the Grievances Committee, and member of the faculty steering committee of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. In 2002-03, she chaired the Presidential Commission on a Pluralistic Community charged with delineating the college’s vision for a multicultural experience and inclusive excellence. 

As interim dean, Cruz-Saco led an internal self-study of her division in comparative perspective, redrafted its vision, mission and goals and designed an action plan for 2004-2006. Under her leadership, the Dean of the College division produced a student quality of life report, concluded and implemented the results of a self-assessment of the Multicultural Center, secured an increase in the operational budget for pluralistic initiatives and supported the creation of a peer-mentoring pilot.

“Professor Maria Cruz-Saco has been a leader in strengthening the entire educational program at Connecticut College,” says Connecticut College President Norman Fainstein. “In 2002-03 she chaired a presidential commission on creating a genuinely pluralistic community. As interim dean of the college, she has continued to support efforts to improve equity and diversity, to further student achievement, and to better integrate the curricular and co-curricular sides of the college. She has worked closely with students, faculty and staff to establish a collegial climate and institutional structure where students can truly put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society. Her enthusiasm, energy, and intellect will be sorely missed.”

“I look forward to joining the Wesleyan community and to being a part of this vibrant and engaged campus,” says Cruz-Saco. “Wesleyan offers an extraordinary liberal arts education, and I feel fortunate that I will contribute to the continued excellence of student life and development.”

Billy Weitzer, senior associate provost and dean of continuing studies at Wesleyan, will continue in his role as acting dean of student academic services during Cruz-Saco’s transition. The role of dean of student academic services was established as part of a reorganization of the dean of the college office led by Wesleyan’s interim dean, Peter Patton.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Director of Scientific Imaging Scopes out the Microscopic


 
Jeff Gilarde, director of Scientific Imaging, helps students and faculty members use Wesleyan’s newest confocal microscope inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Jeff Gilarde loves to scope out new research. But to explore his big ideas, he has to look small.

As the Biology Department’s director of Scientific Imaging, Gilarde spends his days looking through the lab’s five microscopes. He also assists faculty and students with their microscopic research inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center, located under the pathway between Hall-Atwater Laboratory and Shanklin.

“Look, these are liver cells,” he says, pointing out a cell’s image, glowing through a transmission electron microscope, or TEM. “Do you see the nucleus?”

The lights are off, and Gilarde explains how electrons are shot down through the scope’s vertical column and are scattered through the sample, mounted on a 1/8-inch circular copper grid. The result is a clear, two-dimensional image magnified 15,000 times.

This is one microscope Gilarde is extremely familiar with. Prior to coming to Wesleyan in 1984, he worked for Yale University as a microscopist in the Department of Pathology. There, he used a similar scope to examine segments of liver, kidney or lung for autopsies.

“It was kind of icky at first, but I got used to it,” he says.

Gilarde’s favorite, most commonly used – and most expensive – microscope uses lasers to illuminate specimens under the Zeiss LSM 510 confocal scope. This high-tech machine came to Wesleyan in 1999 at the price of $259,000, funded in part from a National Science Foundation grant. It has the ability to magnify objects more than 400 times and produces crisp, colorful multi-dyed images. Many of these images have been published in a variety of scientific journals.

Another microscope that receives extensive use is the scanning electron microscope, known as a SEM. The SEM creates detailed three-dimensional images by bouncing and collecting electrons instead of light waves. Some SEM images are even making their way on TV through programs like CSI.

This scope is often used to examine micro-fossils, rocks and even brain tissue. Physics students have used the scope to examine heat-treated metal.

“You know those nature shows that show the ant head close up or the Gillette commercials that show the stubble sliced close to his face? Those were made on an SEM like this,” Gilarde explains.

At most universities, undergraduate students would not have access to an SEM, Gilarde says. But at Wesleyan, undergrads use the all the microscopes regularly. One biology student is currently using the SEM to count chambers in moths’ wings. Other students are using the microscope to examine sediment core samples taken from the ocean as part of Associate Professor Suzanne O’Connell’s earth and environmental sciences classes. Students also have identified surface features on quartz grains that have been transported by glaciers under the scopes. 

“Jeff is always accessible and willing help students learn how to use the equipment,” says O’Connell, chair of the Earth and Environmental Sciences department.

Gilarde also oversees a Zeiss Axioplan florcent microsope and “babysits” two mammoth nuclear magnetic resonance machines in the lab. Step past the danger sign and anything magnetic will be erased, Gilarde warns.

On a marble counter top, among shelves of chemical dyes and powders, there are also a traditional light microscope.

“I still get a lot of use out of that one,” he says. “We use it for low magnification quality control of samples before we go to the big scope.”

Gilarde has put his knowledge to use beyond the center, he served as the president and vice president of the Connecticut Microscopy Society, and he sat on the nomination board for the Microscopy Society of America.

He also co-instructs BIOL 344, Biology Structure, with Professor of Biology Jason Wolfe, teaching students the theory, methods and interpretation of cellular structure by using scanning electron microscopy, fluorescent immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy.

Gilarde, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan, is a member of Wesleyan’s Local Emergency Planning Committee. He’s also received certification by the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, also known as HazMat, to handle certain types of hazardous materials emergencies.

Gilarde and his wife, Lisa, live in Cobalt with their 9-year-old twins, Alec and Graham, and 6-year-old daughter, Camille. When he’s not busy spending time with his family, this shade tree mechanic races his self-customized 1995 BMW M-3 at speeds up to 150 mph around Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

 “Cars have been my passion for years,” he says, pointing out a racing plaque he earned for placing in the top 10 in a recent BMW Car Club of America race at Lime Rock.

Gilarde’s other hobby is a bit fishy. Along with Biology Department Lab Coordinator and officemate Bruce Libman, Gilarde cares for saltwater aquariums, raising coral.

Libman, who has worked with Gilarde for six years, says Gilarde has bonded with many students over his 20 years at Wesleyan.

“All the grad students love him because he doesn’t pretend to be above or below them,” Libman says. “He makes sure they get the best possible pictures with the confocal, there is no “good enough.”

Gilarde, who is also Wesleyan’s assistant golf coach, leads construction projects for Habitat for Humanity of Horry County during vacations to South Carolina four times a year. For the past 15 years, he has also taken to the slopes as a volunteer for Skiers Unlimited. The organization’s members team up with physically challenged patients from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. To date, Gilarde’s taught more than 30 children, including one young man with only one leg, to ski comfortably.

“One of them is now skiing all by himself, and he can go faster than I can,” Gilarde says, pointing out another prized skiing photo of Matt, using a walker on the slopes.

“I want to leave the world a better place. That’s my mission in life.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Director of Residential Life Helps Students Find Comfortable Place to Live, Study, Socialize


 
Rich DeCapua, assistant director of Residential Life, lounges in the newly-remodeled Clark Hall.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Q: Were you hired in as assistant director of Residential Life in 2002?

A: I was originally an area coordinator for Clark Hall and Foss Hill, and I was then promoted to assistant director at the end of my first year. This is my third year at Wesleyan, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: Well, I was looking for a place where I knew I could be successful professionally, but would also be challenged. The nature of our student body and the quality of our student services staff has really made working here a wonderful experience. I especially liked the fact that the campus was starting to renovate existing residence halls and had plans for new ones. That is hard for anyone to not be a part of. Also, the issues that our campus faces collectively usually comprise subjects that would be taboo at other places. I feel here that students, staff, and faculty have the ability to really discuss valid issues on this campus in an honest and open way.

Q: How did you get into this type of work?

A: I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a B.A. in psychology and sociology and then received my master’s of education from Springfield College in student affairs administration. I’m currently working on my doctorate in educational leadership. The biggest reason why I became involved in Residential Life as a career was my experience as a resident advisor. In my early college days I was a communications major hoping to be on ESPN one day — I wanted to broadcast Red Sox games — but the whole world of student affairs lured me away. After I made my decision to change majors I never looked back.

Q: What factor can a living arrangement play in a student’s academic success?

A: Who students live with impacts everything. Where a student resides is the place where they get their sleep, where they probably study and create their social circles.

Q: How does Residential Life go about providing students with resources and direction needed to be academically successful at Wesleyan?

A: My office tries to make sure that when roommate problems occur that we are dealing with them quickly and effectively. We also have many resources for students such as their resident advisor, house manager or head resident; these are student peers employed by our office who are extensively trained to handle conflict resolution and roommate issues. Residential Life also has five Area Coordinators; professional staff who have advanced degrees in counseling or student services administration that supervise all the student staff in a particular area and will resolve all sorts of problems or issues in their area. My office knows that if a student resides in a good residential environment, we are creating a place where they can be academically successful.

Q: How do you determine their housing and roommates?

A: I meet with students on a fairly regular basis, usually relating to housing assignments or the room selection process. We house all first year students by the preferences they submit to our office in May via an on-line process. We give first-year students roommates based on similar housing preferences. All continuing students receive housing through the General Room Selection Process. This process is based on student seniority at Wesleyan through a ranking system, giving all seniors the first pick of housing, then juniors, etc. Students self-select their roommates.

Q: What are students’ housing options?

A: Oh that’s a big question. Undergraduate students can live in a variety of housing options including traditional style residence halls, program houses, apartments, or senior house. Their options range so that they can live by themselves or up to six people, so there are a lot of configurations students can put themselves in to get a good place to live. Graduate students really have two choices. They can live in either a group house — a one person single in a house with other grad students — or a family house, which is obviously for those grad students who have a partner or children or both.

Q: Please explain what Program Housing is.

A: Program Housing is tremendously important asset to Residential Life at Wesleyan. It consists of 25 houses on campus that all have different missions; these can be spiritual, religious, cultural, or academic. Each year my office sponsors a very competitive application process as part of general room selection to apply to these houses. There are almost 300 students who live in this programmatic housing option and its one of the things that makes Wesleyan so unique.

Q: What is the role of a resident advisor?

A: RAs are student staff members who have a wide variety of duties; some of these include being on duty, planning programs for their residents, and creating an overall positive community in their residential area.  But the most important role an RA plays is that they are a doorway to campus services for their residents. Many offices on campus whose main objective is to help students in some important way like Behavioral Heath, their class dean, or health education hear about students issues from the RA staff. They are the ones who really dissolve the line between students and administrators and are vital to continued success of the Residential Life program.

Q: Take me through a typical day here.

A: Everyday is truly something different and it’s always interesting. Even though the nature of my job includes a lot of computer work, students are always coming in asking questions about assignments or different housing options. Since we’re in the midst of room selection I’m meeting with many students daily.

Q: What are your personal hobbies or interests?

A: I am an avid runner and I’ve ran many races in the past couple of years. The highlight has been running the Boston Marathon in 2002. Also, being raised in Boston I am a sports nut and these past couple of years have been great. There’s nothing better than beating the Yankees!  My wife and I try to get to as many Sox and Patriots games as I can. She is a registered nurse at New Britain General Hospital. 

Q: Do you have any children?

A: We’re expecting our first child next month which is tremendously exciting.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Red & Black Cafe Donates 1% to Financial Aid


 
Posted 03/31/05

The next time you grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink at the Red & Black Café, you’ll also be helping students in need at Wesleyan.

Ed Thorndike, Jr. ’89 and Karen Kaffen-Polascik, owners of Wes Wings and Red & Black Cafe, will donate 1 percent of their gross sales from Red & Black Cafe to support financial aid through the Wesleyan Annual Fund (WAF).

“This is something we’ve really been wanting to do,” says Thorndike. “I contacted University Relations and we were able to set it up and make it work. It’s really gratifying to know that this money will be going to help Wesleyan students in need.”

Their intention is to give semi-annually in May and January.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

NASA Awards Wesleyan Astronomer Major Grant


 
Astronomy Professor William Herbst studies the star, KH 15D. Pictured are images of KH 15D out of eclipse (left) and in eclipse (right) as taken from Wesleyan’s observatory.
 
Posted 03/31/05
It’s 3 million years old and 2,400 light years away, but a distant star discovered by Wesleyan researchers has given insight into how our solar system may have formed. NASA wants to know more, and has given William Herbst almost a quarter of a million dollars to keep looking.
 
This month NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) awarded Wesleyan Professor of Astronomy William Herbst a $216,000 grant to continue his studies of the star, KH 15D, and other emerging stars and their possible link to the creation of our solar system.
 
The grant for Herbst’s proposal titled “Synoptic Studies of T Tauri Stars in Nearby Clusters and Associations” will span three years. It was approved by NASA’s Origins of Solar Systems Program and is one of only 39 proposals of the 94 submitted that received funding.
 
“NASA is particularly interested in this work because they want to find planets that may support life,” says Herbst, the Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of the Van Vleck Observatory. “As far as we know, life can only get started on a planet. Understanding how these types of planets form can help us pinpoint where they may exist and when the conditions for the creation of life first occur.”   Three years ago, Herbst reported how KH 15D, a star in the constellation Monoceros that he and graduate student Kristin Kearns discovered, and that physics Ph.D. candidate Catrina Hamilton further helped identify, seemed to displaying the early stages of planet formation. KH 15D was periodically going through “winking” eclipses, determined by Herbst to be he swirling waves of rock and dust clouds typical of early planet formation. The discovery sent excitement through the astronomical community. He continues to study KH 15D and other young stars looking for more clues.   “Wesleyan has been recognized as a world leader in monitoring these young stars,” Herbst says proudly. “And we are able to do many of our observations using our own observatory on campus.”   Herbst also notes that in the awarding of the grant, the officials at NASA went out of their way to applaud the way undergraduates have been involved in the studies. Specifically, the reports says Herbst “is to be commended for his extensive work in student training, where he has done a first rate job in engaging undergraduates in research and launching them along productive career paths.”
 
“Involving undergraduates in the research is not required for the grant. In fact it’s pretty atypical for this level of research,” Herbst says, then smiles. “But it is what we do here at Wesleyan. I was glad NASA made note of it. It’s a part of our program that we are very proud of.”

Related resource: Animation of KH 15D.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Assistant Professor Receives NSF Grant


 
Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani researches pathways that lead to carcinogenesis.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani recently earned an award totaling more than $571,700 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research on pathways leading to carcinogenesis, including the development of colon, rectal, stomach, and ovarian cancers.

The five-year grant will specifically fund the research of Hingorani’s laboratory focuses on the workings of proteins responsible for DNA mismatch repair with the long-term goal of understanding how defects in repair are linked to many forms of cancers.

“I am tremendously grateful to the National Science Foundation for its strong commitment to basic science research and education, especially in this time of constrained budgets,” says Hingorani.

Hingorani earned the award thanks to the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. This program recognizes the critical roles faculty members play in integrating research and education, and in fostering the natural connections between the processes of learning and discovery.

To date, eight Wesleyan University faculty members have received this award including Hingorani, Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kathryn Johnston, Professor of Physics Reinhold Blumel and Associate Professors of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Scott Holmes and Michael McAlear.

Hingorani plans to use the funds to support graduate and undergraduate research projects in her laboratory, and to develop innovative courses on science writing and on science documentary filmmaking in collaboration with faculty from Wesleyan’s Department of Film Studies.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of media relations