Olivia Drake

Wang Joins Asian Languages and Literatures Department


 
Lingzhen Wang, assistant professor of Asian languages and literatures stands outside Fisk Hall, where she teaches a class on 20th century Chinese literature and film.
 
Posted 03/15/05

Lingzhen Wang joined the Asian Languages and Literatures Department as an assistant professor of Asian languages and literatures in January 2005. She teaches China Modern: An Introduction to the Literature and Film of Twentieth Century China and Intermediate Chinese at Wesleyan.

Wang completed her undergraduate work at Nanjing University and earned her Ph.D at Cornell University. Her master’s thesis is a comparative study of a well-known Chinese writer, Shen Congwen, and Thomas Hardy, and her dissertation is on modern Chinese women’s autobiographical writing.

Wang’s main areas of interest are modern Chinese literature, gender studies, feminist and literary theories, and modern Japanese literature. She is currently researching Chinese female film directors.

She was drawn to Wesleyan in part because of its top-notch faculty.

“Wesleyan has some leading scholars and professors in Chinese Studies and Women Studies,” she says. “And the role of East Asian Studies is quite prominent at Wesleyan compared to many other places.”

The Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies and proximity to her husband’s workplace were also big attractions.

In September 2004, Wang’s book “Personal Matters: Women’s Autobiographical Practice in Twentieth-Century China” was published by Stanford University Press. She recently edited a translation anthology of a famous contemporary woman writer, Wang Anyi, titled “Years of Sadness,” which is pending publication. Wang is currently working on two essays, “Peeling Onion: Teaching China and Gender in the United States” and “The Ambivalence of Maternal Body and Voice in Contemporary Chinese Women’s Cinema.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Working to Minimize Brain Cell Damage in Stroke Victims


 
Biology visiting assistant professor Stanley Lin researches ways to prevent brain cell death in stroke patients.
 
Posted 03/15/05
Q: Professor Lin, you’re among only a handful of scientists, nationwide, studying excitotoxic cell death. Please explain your research, and what this means for stroke victims.

A: After a stroke, millions of brain cells can get over excited and the cells can die. This cell death is an ongoing process. This condition can be prevented if the neurological signaling pathways that that cause cell death are inhibited. If we use proteins that block excitotoxic pathways, we could prevent post-stroke death.

Q: How do you describe an “excitoxin?”

A: An excitoxin, is an excited poison. It is a normal neurotransmitter that damages neurons when released in large amounts. An excitoxin binds to certain nerve cell receptors, stimulates the cell, and either damages the cell or results in neuronal cell death. Excitatory amino acids, can produce lesions in the central nervous system and set off progressive diseases such as. It’s also a factor in nerve damage in patients who have epilepsy or asphyxiation.

Q: In addition to strokes, what types of medical problems can arise from cell death?

A: Excitotoxic cell death is thought to be a central and underlying cause of brain damage in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s disease. An understanding of what causes cell death and lesions after strokes will lead to prevention of the paralyzing cell loss.

Q: Where did you study this subject before coming to Wesleyan?

A: I earned my bachelors and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. Most recently I’ve collaborated with professors at Yale University on this subject. Prior to coming aboard at Wesleyan in 2002, I worked in both the oncology and neuroscience fields, studying serotonin-associated signaling pathways, cloning novel signaling molecules from the brain, and studying the mechanism by which salmonella can target tumors and slow tumor growth.

Q: What are some of your recent publication topics?

A: They cover a broad range of topics, including neuroscience, immunology, oncology, and microbiology. My most recent articles include “Oxidative damage and defective DNA repair is linked to apoptosis of migrating neurons and progenitors during cerebral cortex development in Ku70-deficient mice,” which will be published in “Cerebral Cortex,” and “Role of SptP in enhanced tumor necrosis factor-a secretion and ERK activation in murine macrophages by Salmonella typhimurium,” which appeared in “Cellular Microbiology.”

Q: Do you collaborate with any of the other professors?

A: I perform research with Janice Naegele who is an associate professor in biology and neuroscience and behavior. She investigates the role of DNA repair in neuroprotection. She’s more anatomical, and I’m more molecular, so our work complements each other’s. We, and student Jia Liu, study cell cultures and segments of rodent brain. Under a microscope, we study the activity of a specific molecule, technically called “striatal-enriched tyrosine phosphatase,” or STEP, a brain-specific molecule that turns off cell death pathways.  During nerve death, the STEP molecule gets degraded, and is no longer present to prevent cell death.

Q: Please explain more about these STEP molecules.

A: The STEP proteins, both normal and mutated, are fused to amino acids that allow the STEP proteins to enter cells, bind to enzymes in the cell death pathway, and block death-associated signaling. So far, we’ve shown that addition of certain STEP mutants, but not others, can block excitatory cell death. I plan to study the differences in action of the individual STEP mutants in order to identify the critical cellular reactions involved in cell death.

Q: What classes do you teach here and what do you want students to get out of your classes?

A: Last fall, I taught neuropharmacology and this spring, I’m teaching a molecular and cellular neurobiology laboratory course. I want students to get a fundamental understanding of how cells work in the brain, the anatomy of the brain, and hope they can visualize paths in the brain.

Q: How do you study the brain?

A: We study them directly. Along with graduate students Jia Liu and Mohit Neema, we bring out a mini ‘bologna slicer’ and will slice apart mice brains for students to study under the scope.

Q: Do you enjoy research or teaching more?

A: I’ve always done research, but I’m enjoying teaching, too. Research keeps me mentally active, whereas the students can really keep you on your toes. Those students who really get into neurology are the most rewarding to teach.

Q: I understand working here has some sentimental value to you.

A: Yes. My father, Po Chen Lin, earned his master’s degree in English literature from Wesleyan in 1948 under Professor Fred Millett.

Q: What do you do after a long day in the lab?

A: I studied violin at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins, so I like to meet up with my trio. We call ourselves Youth ‘n’ Asia. We have performed at various local venues, including Connecticut Hospice and the Neighborhood Music School. I also enjoy reading and spending time with my daughters, Shau-Ru a recent graduate of Smith College, and Fu-Fu.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Officer Spends 23 Years Keeping Campus Safe


 
Public Safety Senior Officer William Heckstall has worked for Wesleyan more than 20 years.
 
Posted 03/15/05

In his distinctive black, gray and red uniform, a shimmering silver badge and a belt equipped with a jingling set of keys and nightstick, Public Safety Senior Officer William Heckstall appears daunting from afar. But once eye-contact is made with this 6-foot-3, broad-shouldered officer, his sweet, signature smile overwhelms his face.

“I like to greet everyone with a friendly smile, and let them know I’m a nice guy and can be trusted,” officer “Hex” says, modeling his beaming grin.

For 23 years, Officer Heckstall has patrolled Wesleyan’s campus. Originally hired by Wesleyan as a guard, Heckstall was promoted to a senior officer in 1993. When he started, there were seven patrol people; the department now has 17 officers and three patrol people working day and night shifts.

He spends his days with one mission in mind – to promote a safe environment for Wesleyan’s students, staff and faculty. When he’s not responding to reports, he is checking buildings on campus, doing parking enforcement and responding to calls for service such as medical escorts.

“I’m always on the lookout for safety hazards,” he says. “This could be anything from blown-out light bulbs to cracks in the sidewalk.”

While on duty, Heckstall takes turns with other officers, patrolling sections of campus by car. He routinely stops to talk walk-through the dorms and other buildings, looking for any hazards and making sure there are no broken locks.

Near the end of his shift Heckstall reports back to his office at 208 High Street for his least-favorite part of the job – writing reports.

“I much rather be out with public than in here, writing reports, but that’s a big part of the job, too,” he says.

Heckstall, an avid weight-lifter and long-distance runner, looks forward to campus-patrol duty in April. In 1995, Public Safety initiated bike patrol, which commences after the snow melts and continues through late fall.

Public Safety personnel on the bicycle are able to navigate through campus with greater ease than officers in patrol vehicles and faster than personnel on foot.

“Many areas of the campus are only accessible by walkways or one-way roads,” Heckstall says. “The bike patrol ads a great dimension to our work. We can respond to an event in a matter of minutes, rather than having to get through traffic.”

The bike patrol is just one way Public Safety strives to make Wesleyan a safer environment. Throughout Heckstall’s double-decade career, the department has set up emergency police/fire boxes and blue light phones, a campus shuttle service and an electronic card access system. Residence halls have been further secured with locking exterior doors. Public Safety also offers tips on its website regarding identity theft, bicycle security, jogging security, sexual assault awareness, and nuisance/harassing telephone calls.

In addition, all first-year students receive a campus safety brochure.

“Students can feel real safe here at Wesleyan,” Heckstall says. “Our office works very hard to keep the campus safe. Crime prevention is a partnership we share with our entire community and we need everyone’s help.”

Maryann Wiggin, director of Public Safety says the officers can always rely on Officer Heckstall for special assignments.

“William takes his responsibilities very seriously,” Wiggin says. “He has tremendous people skills, provides great customer service. He’s someone I depend on and it’s great to have him on the public safety staff.”

When not in uniform, Heckstall said he can be found at the gym or spending time with his twins. His son, Elijah, attends Trinity College; his daughter, Ebony, goes to Syracuse University.

He also likes to watch sports, especially basketball. The 1979 graduate of North Carolina’s Campbell University played Division 1 hoops.

“I’ve played against some of the pros,” he says, grinning. “Sometimes, I think I should have stayed with it.”

Being a dad of college-age kids helps him relate even better with Wesleyan’s student body.

 “I think I have a great rapport with the students,” he says. “If I can help one, two, 50 or 100 of the students out there, I feel that I have done my job.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Digitization Specialist Creates Digital Instruction Materials


Allynn Wilkinson, digitization specialist, works on scanning and piecing together a map of Middletown inside the Information Technology Services digitization lab.
 
Posted 03/15/05

Allynn Wilkinson is leading Wesleyan into a digital world.

As Wesleyan’s digitization specialist, Wilkinson support curricular instruction by converting and creating multimedia instructional materials.

And campus wide, technology seems to be contagious.

“We give faculty members what they need, and that gets other people interested in these types of services,” she says. “It’s just amazing what we can do nowadays with technology.”

Wilkinson works in her own digitization lab at Information Technology Services. There, she uses five computers to convert one medium into another.

Music from a cassette tape can be transferred to a digital audio tape; video from a High 8 tape can be burned onto DVDs, slides from an art portfolio can be scanned and put on Web sites; and data from floppy disks can be burned to CDs.

“Right now, I’m converting a concert that was shot on mini digital video, to a DVD,” Wilkinson says, pointing to a computer, processing information. “And here, I’m scanning a giant map for a geology class. It’s so big, it won’t fit on the scanner all at once, so I scan it in pieces and put it together on the computer.”

Adobe PhotoShop is Wilkinson’s most-used program for digital image manipulation. She also uses Final Cut, DVD Studio Pro, Adobe Audition and iMovie.

“I set them up, but the computers do most of the work,” she says.

Although she devotes much of her day to technical processes such as scanning slides, posters or transferring data, she loves to tackle creative projects that come by her desk. Wilkinson opens her latest project, a digital photography slide show, for Jerry Wensinger, a professor emeritus for the German Studies Department. Wensinger photographed scenes in Munich, Germany, in 1948 and shot the same scenes in 2004.

Wilkinson morphed the 1948 black and white images with the recent color photographs to show the before and after. Wensinger will present the slide show to German classes or public talks.

“This is one of my favorite projects,” Wilkinson says, watching the presentation.

Each computer is set up to do different tasks. One has a flatbed scanner, another prints directly onto CDs and DVDs. Another computer is setup to make mini-movies called videostreams, which are becoming a popular teaching tool campus wide.

Anthropology Professor Betsy Traube uses Digitization Services to transform episodes of  “The Sopranos” TV show into streaming videos for television course; Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Associate Professor Michael McAlear records his lectures onto VHS tapes, which Wilkinson transfers to videostreams for students to view online.

“I think having video streams is a great idea, because it gives students the opportunity to see classes that they might want to review, or might have missed due to sickness or other obligations,” McAlear says. “Seeing the video of the lecture is a much better way to get the information, rather than copying notes from friends. I’ve only had good feedback from it.”

Wilkinson said professors and students alike appreciate the convenience of on-demand video. “It saves class time when students can watch video assignments on their own time and they can review the material as often as they want,” she says.

One of Wilkinson’s up and coming projects is to turn videos of a brain dissection into streaming videos for Psychology Professor Harry Sinnamon’s neuroanatomy class. He formerly used VHS tapes.

 “Allynn did a fine job converting the tapes to the streaming video format,” Sinnamon says. “With no significant cost in resolution, we gained the benefits of convenient access, increased security, and minimized wear and tear on the tapes. I would recommend this service to any instructor who uses the same tapes from year to year.”

Wilkinson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Victorian studies, and master’s degrees in pop culture and library science, acquired much of the technology on her own time.

She learned to stream videos by recording soap opera clips, and time-lapse movies of flowers blooming.

“I have all these machines here. If someone brings me something I’ve never seen, I’ll figure it out,” she says.

She’s had a few cases where professors have brought her outdated hard drives, audio recorders and “little silver things,” but she’s always found a way to open, extract and re-record the material on more up-to-date formats.

“We’re always up for learning new things,” she says.

When not in the lab, she’s attending intellectual property committee meetings and works as a media digitations specialist for Leaning Objects, which are graphical simulations, data sets or learning modules that can replace text or lectures on a subject.

Wilkinson, 44, celebrated her one-year anniversary at Wesleyan in December 2004. Prior to Wesleyan, worked part-time for Brown University, also as a digitization specialist.

Wilkinson, who lives in Pawcatuck with her pet parrot and cat said once she’s home, she resorts to less techy hobbies, such as decorating her house and gardening.

“I have a lot of computers at home, but I try hard not to turn them on,” she said.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

25 Years with All That Money and Never a Dull Day


Katy Wichlac, CPP, is Wesleyan’s payroll manager and works in Financial Services.

 
Posted 03/15/05

Q: I’ve heard of a CPA but not a CPP. What does that stand for?

A: A Certified Payroll Professional.

Q: Are you a math person? What skills do you need to work in payroll and what is your educational background?

A:  I graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, Connecticut.  I have a bachelor of arts degree in American Studies and British History from Cardinal Cushing College in Brookline, Massachusetts I am currently taking classes through the Graduate Liberal Studies Program here at Wesleyan.

Q: What courses have you taken?

A: I have taken Irish Music and Dance and International Organization and Evolution of Government: The Rise of the Modern Nation State.

Q: When did you become manager of payroll services?

A: In May 2000, I was new to Wesleyan, but I have been a payroll manager for over 25 years.

Q: You must be a real payroll pro. How would you describe a typical day working in payroll?

A:  Are you kidding? A typical day in payroll? That would be something to see. On a regular day I oversee the payroll staff – Evelyn Harris and Gladys Fountain. We process payroll for all the students and employees of the university. We get a lot of phone calls and e-mails every day. I spend a lot of time on the computer and not as much as I would like getting out to meet with employees. We see many of the students, but I am sorry to say I know most of the employees via phone or e-mail only.

Q: What do you like most about your job as a payroll manager?

A: Every day brings something new, something different. Payroll is never dull or predictable! We all try to have a laugh every day – it helps.

Q: Outside of work, what are your hobbies or interests?

A: I love to travel. I especially love London, and I serve on the board of the New England Payroll Conference. This year I will chair the conference for the third time. I also have spent a lot of years as member of a community theater group, the Windsor Jesters.

Q: Are you a performer? Or do you work behind the scenes?

A: I have been a member of the group and board member. I served as president for several years. Yes, I have been known to get on the stage. I have done a lot of musicals and my last play was “Dangerous Liaisons.”

Q: Do you have any children?

A:  I have two children. My son is Stephen and my daughter is Maria. My first grandchild was born on December 12th. Her name is Hollace Katherine Grace Grove, named after her two grandmothers, and she weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

WESU Premiers New Format


Luke Snelling ’05, a DJ with WESU 88.1FM, speaks on air during his talk show March 3. The student-run station now broadcasts shows via the Internet.
 
Posted 03/15/05

On March 14, Wesleyan’s student radio station, WESU 88.1 FM, introduced a new broadcast schedule that combines original programs by students and community members with program feeds from WSHU in Fairfield, Conn.

For the first time, WESU will begin to broadcast via the Internet, a move that should add listeners both on campus and among alumni and parents. In addition, WESU will begin to raise funds from its alumni, local underwriters, and its listeners.

Live streaming of the stations broadcasts can be heard here: http://www.wesufm.org/.

The format changes are intended to provide additional programming options, to enable the station to meet FCC broadcasting requirements when local programming is not available, and to add crucial financial support that can allow it to upgrade its operations and equipment, according to University Communications Director Justin Harmon, who serves as administrative liaison to the station.

Programs produced by students and community members will continue as the mainstay of the WESU lineup. An eclectic mix of ethnic and alternative music will remain the primary feature of the station’s original programming. In addition, WESU is initiating a program to produce public affairs shows about local issues as part of a plan to further serve the listening community and the educational mission of the University. Monday’s community-based show “Talk For Your Rights” (4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.) will serve as a model for such programming. Other talk shows, such as “The Audio MTO” on Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m., feature comedic and other live talent.

Student leaders at WESU and the Wesleyan administration have developed a weekday schedule that features National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m., “The Diane Rehm Show” from 10 a.m. until noon, and “Talk of the Nation” from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. On weekends, the lineup will include NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and “Car Talk.”

Students have re-organized WESU’s board and operations to put programming and operating decisions firmly in the hands of students while at the same recognizing Wesleyan’s ownership of the license and broadcast equipment. Wesleyan will hire a general manager for the station who will be accountable to the board and will report through the University Communications Office. Ben Michael, a long-time station volunteer, will serve as consulting manager for the station pending a search for a full-time general manager. Wesleyan students and members of the community will continue to serve as on-air talent, producers and technicians.

“We have maintained WESU’s distinctive blend of music and community programming and added high-quality programs from NPR,” says WESU President and Station Manager Jesse Sommer ’05. “We intend to build our listener base on campus and in the greater Middletown community, and we hope that our alumni will tune in to our new online service. We are counting on the active support of all these audiences as we move forward with our campaign to revitalize the station.”

The station’s financial support will come from a variety of sources. The University will continue to subsidize the station by providing offices and utilities. The station will continue to depend on allocations of student activity fees through the Wesleyan Student Assembly. A new non-profit affinity group, the Friends of WESU, will provide fund-raising support and structural guidance.

WESU will receive a portion of the receipts generated by WSHU’s fund-raising staff from listeners to the NPR programs WESU carries. Wesleyan will cover the station’s remaining budget until these fund-raising sources can sustain the new cost associated with hiring the general manager. It is hoped that, in the third year, fund-raising will attain levels needed to begin investments in much needed production equipment and facilities.

The contract with WSHU runs for 18 months. It places no limits on the content or format of WESU’s original programming.

“WESU’s purpose is to provide Wesleyan students the opportunity to learn radio as a medium for culture and public service,” says Harmon. “Our goal is to keep the station strong and independent. We think this partnership of students and community members, alumni and broadcast professionals best serves this goal.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Student Recovering from Illness


Posted 03/15/05
On March 4, Tom Cornish ’05 was transported to a local hospital with symptoms consistent with meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tom was infected with strain B of Neisseria meningitidis, a strain not protected against by any existing vaccine, though one is in development.

Based on this information, Tom had meningococcal meningitis, which is a type of bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Tom’s condition has improved significantly since being admitted to the hospital and he is making steady progress toward recovery.

Wesleyan’s Office of Health Education has compiled a page with information about this disease:

www.wesleyan.edu/weswell/atoz_topics/atoz_meningitis.html.

There are different strains of Neisseria meningitidis. Tom was infected with a strain not protected against by the vaccine mandated for Wesleyan undergraduates. The bacteria can be spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (such as through coughing or kissing). Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as agents that cause the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. A vaccine for strain B Neisseria meningitidis is in development.

Persons in the same household or who have had direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions would be considered at increased risk of acquiring the infection. Even though the risk of getting meningococcal disease is generally very low; as a precaution, close contacts are often advised to take an antibiotic, usually rifampin or ciprofloxacin. Even when that step is deemed necessary, it does not imply an increase in risk for the broader community.

The University Health Center has contacted and provided or arranged treatment for those identified as having close contact with Tom. Medical staff maintained a telephone hotline around the clock to answer questions from members of the community and to direct them to further medical consultation or treatment, as appropriate.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Banking on Emerging Financial Institutions


Economics Professor John Bonin is the editor of “Journal of Comparative Economics.”
 
Posted 03/15/05
As John Bonin recalls a recent overseas trip, one scene in particular stands out.

“The tree-lined streets with boutiques sprinkled among retail giants like the Gap could have easily been in a European city,” says Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science and editor of theJournal of Comparative Economics.”

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this recollection is that the streets he describes weren’t in Europe or even the west. They were in Shanghai, China. The image is important because it illustrates how quickly China is growing economically.

And yet, when Bonin traveled to the nearby city of Wuxi, he encountered another image along the way that impressed him just as much.

“There were huts sitting in mud with peasants attempting to eke out an existence from farming or fishing in small ponds,” he says. “It was as if these people were from another time entirely.”

Much like the two extremes of China, Bonin studies extremes within the world of banking. His research focuses on financial sector reform and bank privatization  — the successful transition of financial institutions away from the controlling hands of the government towards private control.

His travels and research have landed him in many far away countries, including China, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia.  Bonin’s love for far away countries developed during grade school after he wrote a paper about China’s Yangtze River. Ever since, it’s been this country that has captured Bonin’s attention the most. 

“I’ve always had this romantic notion of China,” he says. “I guess you could say I came full circle.”

Bonin’s most recent visit to Shanghai last May stemmed from an invitation to speak at a conference on the governance reform of state-owned enterprises in China.

“When I lectured at Peking University in Beijing in 2001 to a room full of about 50 Chinese students, it was incredibly rewarding,” he says. “They were the most inquisitive, captivated audience I’ve ever had.”

Bonin is also asked several times a year to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with World Bank leaders who are eager to collaborate with economists and research groups. Some of his research has even been circulated as policy briefs in Washington for government officials and members of Congress.

In addition, he compiled a case study of a privatized Polish bank for a U.S. Treasury Department funded project about banking in Central Europe and Russia.

It can take years for emerging-market countries to develop efficient financial institutions, he explains.”My job is to supply them with background information based on the experiences of other countries,” he says.  

For example, while in Beijing, Bonin met with an official from the banking supervision department of the People’s Bank of China. This person eventually became very interested in Hungary’s experiences with bank privatization.  

One of Bonin’s newest project includes collaboration with assistant professor of economics Masami Imai. They are researching how stock prices of companies in Korea, including Daewoo and Hyundai, are affected by news of changes in their main bank’s ownership.

The study will shed light on the impact that foreign owners of domestic banks have on domestic lending, especially lending to long-standing large corporate clients.

Bonin enjoys the research, but enjoys his work with students even more. He recalls one former student, David Lipton, ’75 who went on to become the Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1990’s.

“I was sitting across from Lipton one night over dinner and he looked at me and said ‘You’re the reason I’m an economist,'” Bonin says. “To hear that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.”

Bonin will also travel to Paris in April to teach a master’s class on financial economics in transition countries at the Sorbonne.  

“First hand experience compliments standard research sources,” Bonin says. “Experiencing other places and cultures allows me to bring the real world into the classroom and enliven the learning process.”

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Haddad Joins Faculty in Government Department, East Asian Studies Program


 
Mary Alice Haddad, assistant professor of government and East Asian studies, came to Wesleyan in June 2004.
 
Posted 03/05/05

Mary Alice Haddad joined the faculty in the Government Department and East Asian Studies Program as an assistant professor in June 2004.

Haddad, a native of Washington, D.C., completed her undergraduate work at Amherst College and earned a Ph.D at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her dissertation, “Creating Citizens: Volunteers and Civil Society, Japan in Comparative Perspective,” was about civil society in Japan. Her primary area of research is comparative civil society, with a focus on Japan. 

“I am especially interested in traditional organizations like neighborhood associations and volunteer fire departments that have largely been overlooked by other scholars,” she says.

Haddad taught Japanese politics this past fall and is developing a course in Chinese politics that she expects to teach in 2006. 

Her current research includes an examination of the ways traditional Japanese civic organizations such as neighborhood associations, which were instruments of social control used by the fascist state to manipulate the people, have become institutions of democratic accountability now used by citizens to lobby the government.

Haddad is the author of a journal article “Community Determinants of Volunteer Participation: The Case of Japan” published in “Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Research” 33:3, September 2004 and a book review “The Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector in Japan” published in “Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Research” 33:2, June 2004. She is working on a manuscript titled “Performing Their Civic Duty: Voluntary Participation in the US and Japan in Comparative Perspective.”

Haddad said she is very committed to liberal arts education, and that’s among the reasons she came to Wesleyan.

“I was also attracted to the ways that Wesleyan promotes both teaching and scholarship among its faculty, without privileging one over the other,” she says.

Haddad lives in Middletown with her husband Rami. She enjoys sports, outdoor activities and pottery. Her first child is due May 3.

“May 3rd is the last day of class, so people can see me waddle around campus this semester as I grow increasingly round,” she says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

   
COOKIN’ IT UP AFTER WWII: An exhibition titled “Cookbooks and Gender in Postwar America,” is on display at Olin Memorial Library through March 31. The exhibit brings together 30 cookbooks and printed ephemera that document cooking and gender in midcentury America, and explores the changing social conditions under which Americans lived and worked after the war.

Director of Community Relations Focused on Wesleyan as a Partner with the Community

Frank Kuan, director of community relations, stands outside the Center for Community Partnerships.
Posted 02/23/05
Q: Community Relations collaborates initiatives between the university and the greater Middletown community. How does this benefit Wesleyan and the community?A: I would echo President Bennet’s sentiment: what is good for Middletown is good for Wesleyan, and vice versa. Wesleyan is a key employer and economic generator in Middletown. Under President Bennet’s leadership, Wesleyan has taken a proactive approach to town-gown relations – of course, the leadership of the City of Middletown has also reciprocated on this positive connection. One of our most recent efforts has been the establishment of the Center for Community Partnerships. The Center is comprised of the Service-Learning Center with Professor Rob Rosenthal, the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism with Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, our administrative assistant is Migdalia Pinkney and the Office of Community Relations. Our goal is to look for opportunities that further collaborative relationships between Wesleyan and greater Middletown.

Another key contribution of Wesleyan to the community is in the form of employee contribution to the Middlesex United Way annual community campaign. This past year, I have the pleasure of serving as chair. Because of everyone’s diligence and effort, we raised a record amount of $140,018.18. This money stays in the local community to help with critical needs. Wesleyan University is one of the top three contributors in the County to the Middlesex United Way Community Campaign.

Q: What are some of your personal goals to strengthen partnerships with the city?

A: One of my goals is to be visible in the community and to actively participate in local events. Building partnerships between the city and Wesleyan University requires strong collaboration. I try to foster relationships with a diverse constituency. Working with my colleagues in the Center for Community Partnerships will also be a goal. There’s a great deal of synergy in this operation, and it will have a positive impact on strengthening town-gown partnerships. I work for Peter Patton, vice president and secretary of the university, and I look to support the work of his office as well in any way I can.

Q: How would you describe Wesleyan’s image in the city of Middletown?

A: I would say that our current relationship and image are generally positive. Folks in town are aware of the myriad of work with which Wesleyan is involved. Main Street Middletown, Inc., The Inn at Middletown, the Green Street Arts Center, Community and University Service for Education, and our work with Macdonough School are just a few of the many community collaborations of Wesleyan. The volunteer involvement of our students and faculty, staff and administration is also significant and appreciated by the local community. Not to say that everything is perfect; town-gown relations are not static. There are always issues to work on, and improvements could always be made. It takes all of us to work together to maintain communication and connection.

Q: How does Wesleyan help the local economy?

A: Because of Wesleyan, Middletown receives PILOT funding (Payment in Lieu of Taxes); in 2001, this was $3.6 million. The indirect economic impact of Wesleyan is estimated at $107.3 million this past year. The Center for the Arts brings world-class artists to Middletown, and this certainly enriches the cultural landscape locally. The CFA has increased its community audience by 60 percent over the past four years. Through the Admission Office, we have 15,000 visitors a year to Middletown, and this certainly adds to the vitality of Middletown.

Q: When did you come to come to Wesleyan, and were you hired in as director of community relations?

A: I began my work at Wesleyan as the director of community services in June 1998 and worked in this position until June 2002. On a temporary basis, I worked with the Green Street Arts Center. In November 2002, I was appointed to be the director of community relations.

Q: What is your education background, or what led you to this position?

A: I have an undergraduate degree in biology with minors in Asian-American Studies and chemistry from California State University, Fresno. I also earned a master’s degree from CSUF in counseling, with an emphasis in career counseling. I would say that having the scientific education helps me to be more analytical with my work. I feel that the counseling background has been helpful in my previous work in community service and now in community relations.

Q: Are you involved in any community service, personally?

A: I do my share of volunteering and am involved with a few boards locally – Girl Scouts Connecticut Trails Council, Inc., Northern Middlesex YMCA, North End Action Team, Main Street Middletown, and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce – Central Business Bureau Executive Board. Over the years I have been active with the Chamber’s Holiday on Main Street and Annual Business After-work Auction. For the past few years, I have also worked with the Friends of Long Hill Estate on a dinner/dance gala to fundraise for the annual summer concert series at Wadsworth Mansion, which is free to the public.

Q: Why do you feel as though you should volunteer in the Middletown community?

A: Middletown has been a great place for me over the past twelve years. Being able to give back a little through my volunteer work is one way I can contribute to making Middletown a better community in which to live, work and play.

Q: On a personal note, let’s be ‘Frank.’ You sound very busy. Do you have any free time?

A: My life is fairly ordinary, actually. During our free time, my partner, Mike Sciola, and I enjoy going to the movies – Mike would say that this is one of two foundations of our relationship – the other being dining out. Our taste runs the gamut – independent films, blockbusters, B-movies, and horror flicks. We’re not too discriminatory but just enjoy movies in general. It’s a great escape. I also enjoy shopping – Mike would say that I am a “clothes-horse.” I do have a fun tie and watch collection.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Study May Affect Future Land Use in Middlesex County


Jessica Pfund, ’05 and Phillip Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, observe one of Middletown’s few remaining agricultural sites.
 
Posted 02/23/05

It started out with little more than an idea, some old aerial photos and a handmade map. Several months and a lot of hard work by three dedicated people later the result may provide a whole new way to evaluate and influence the look and growth of towns in Middlesex County for years to come.

Not bad considering it all started out as a question from an inquisitive undergraduate.

The undergraduate, earth and environmental sciences major Jessica T. Pfund `05, was a student Earth and Environmental Science 322: “Introduction to GIS (Geographical Information Systems),” in the spring of 2004. The class’s instructor, Phillip Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, had brought in a guest speaker, Sandy Prisloe, a geospatial extension specialist from the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land-use Education and Research (CLEAR).

Prisloe’s presentation included a discussion of how satellite data were being used to quantitatively measure changes in Connecticut’s landscape and to infer the impacts of these changes on the quality of life and the environment.

“Sandy mentioned that he had a map from the 1970s that showed the areas that were farmland at that time,” says Resor. “He also mentioned that, if someone was motivated to use data that was recently created by a the group at the University of Connecticut showing the land cover in 2002 and compare what was found to the data from 1970, it would be interesting to see how things had changed.”

Pfund was intrigued, and she was looking for a possible research project.

“Many of my classmates were doing studies that were more theoretical and scientific,” she says. “This seemed to have scientific and social implications for the local area that could have a relatively immediate impact.”

After discussing the idea further with Resor, Pfund decided: this would be her project. 

Aided by a $2,500 grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation and additional support from the Mellon Foundation and The University of Connecticut, Jessica, who was responsible for the bulk of the data collection, got to work.

“I don’t think when I started I had an idea of exactly what I was getting into,” Pfund says, now almost a year into the project. “It’s been very interesting and exciting, but it’s also been a lot of work.”

Much of this was linked to the differences in how the information being examined was generated. The images from the 1970 study were based on a hand-made mylar map that was in turn based on aerial photographs of the county. The information this would be contracted with was generated by images derived from satellite images of the same area in 2002.

“The images and data didn’t match up,” says Resor. “The satellite images are way precisely located, but can’t image anything smaller than 30 meters. By contrast, the 1970s map was generated by aerial photographs and on the ground surveys that could capture small details, but weren’t necessarily as well located. So we had to find ways to account for the differences.”

There were some other challenges too. For instance, the old maps identified the land as: “active agricultural,” “inactive agricultural” or “nonagricultural.” GIS images provided more than a dozen different characterizations, including assessments of soil viability for agricultural use and disposition of wetlands.

Translating the GIS data also had some interpretive challenges that were produced because of how things have been done in the state over the years.

“Because of the way small plots of land are often used in Connecticut, what LandSat (the satellite) may identify as a large lawn area may actually be an active or inactive cultivated field,” Pfund says. “This meant we had to visit some locations in person to verify exactly what the use was.”

Currently there is still a substantial amount of data to crunch and quantify, but Resor and Pfund anticipate having the study done sometime in the spring. They will publish a report with Prisloe detailing their findings. There will be public presentations and discussions of the data at town meetings in Middlesex County. The towns can then use the data to better plan new housing and business construction.

“A lot of towns in Middlesex County are proud of their rural atmosphere,” Resor says. “This information can help them maintain that atmosphere as they move forward with new developments.”

However, the study has already generated a result that will be producing more benefits for the county. Resor received a service-learning grant from Wesleyan to expand his efforts in these types of studies. This spring, his students are working on similar projects for The Nature Conservancy, The Connecticut River Costal Conservation Commission, The Middlesex Land Trust and the Town of Portland.

“It’s been pretty interesting to do a scientific study that actually has social implications and affects local issues,” says Pfund. “People don’t often think of scientists working that way.  It’s been a very rewarding project.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations