Olivia Drake

Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement


Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan will commemorate its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremonies May 25-28. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.

John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University will give the principal address at commencement and will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony.

In addition, Wesleyan will award honorary doctors of letters to Mary O. McWilliams ’71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.

Franklin is an internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist. He has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President’s Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin’s numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.

McWilliams ’71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan.

Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P‘79 and Biff Shaw ‘51, P’79. As an alumni leader, Biff Shaw’s diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown. She played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.
 
The commencement ceremony is scheduled to be held on Andrus Field, where seating will be unlimited. President Doug Bennet invites all parent-educators to participate in the academic procession.

“This initiative was introduced at the 1997 commencement and is becoming a much-beloved tradition at Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “I look forward to welcoming everyone to Wesleyan on this wonderful occasion.”

Academic regalia will be worn by all who participate in the procession and can be ordered through the campus bookstore.

The Office of the Dean of the College will contact graduating seniors with information regarding graduation announcements and activities for Reunion and Commencement Weekend.

Science Explored through Series of Films, Discussion


Posted 04/01/06
In an ongoing initiative to increase connections between science and film at Wesleyan, a series of programs will be presented in April. This part of the series, arranged by Film Studies and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the last in the “Celebrating the Liberal Arts Tradition Through Film” program in which over 18 departments have participated.

This is the fifth semester the Film Studies Department has hosted the series of seminars, lectures, screenings and discussions.
 
“Film was born out of science, and now science is being reborn through film,” says Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of the Film Studies Department and curator of Cinema Archives. “Both film and science are about time and space and require the ability for acute observation. We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with our science colleagues.”
 
The programs are of particular interest to students enrolled in “Science and Film: Defining Human Identity,” taught by Bob Lane, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Scott Higgins, assistant professor of film studies.
 
The upcoming programs include:
 
“A “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program will begin at 5 p.m. April 10 with a screening of “CONTACT” from 1997, starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. It will be shown in The Goldsmith Family Cinema at 5 p.m. April 10.
 
Around 8 p.m. there will be a panel discussion led by Bryan Butler, staff scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and science advisor to the film; Fred Cohan, professor of biology at Wesleyan; and Peter Gottschalk, associate professor of religion at Wesleyan. Butler will comment on the “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program depicted in the film and for which radio wavelength observations have been a major component. He will also discuss his experiences as a science advisor to this film, and share his perspectives about the use of science in Hollywood film-making. 
 
Cohan will comment on the origins of life on this planet, and the prospects of finding life elsewhere in the universe. Gottschalk will discuss how empirical science has historically challenged both anthrocentric and theocentric views in Western cultures and religions, and compare how discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would mirror the Copernicus revolution.
 
Following the short presentations, the audience will be invited to ask questions and share perspectives on these topics. This event is open to the public.
 
The films and lectures are supported by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund; the Fund for Innovation; the Deans of Divisions I, II, and III; the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; the Astronomy Department; the Film Studies Department and the Cinema Archives.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Fauver Takes First Place in Building Competition


First-year student relax in the Fauver Residence Hall lounge. The Fauver Field Residences were recently honored by the Connecticut Building Congress.

Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan’s Fauver Field Residences received a First Place Award in the 2006 Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) Project Team Awards competition. It placed in the New Construction category, and competed against other buildings, of which construction costs exceeded $10 million. Fauver’s construction began in August 2004 and the student residences were completed in September 2005. The CBC requests that projects submitted in the competition be located in Connecticut and substantially completed during 2005.
 
“We’re honored Fauver is setting a positive example for other new constructions in the state,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president of facilities. “A great deal of time and effort went into the planning, and it shows. It’s a lovely facility, and one that not only affords more students a comfortable place to live, it has made the campus more beautiful. This is something the entire Wesleyan community should be very proud of.
 
Each year, the Connecticut Building Congress looks for outstanding nonresidential building projects that exemplify project team excellence by representing building owners, architects, engineers and constructors. CBC’s goal is to recognize project team members who have adopted this close collaboration as an industry standard for improving a project’s quality.

A panel of judges is selected to include representation from each of the major disciplines that form the project team: owners, architects, engineers and constructors.

Susan Labas, associate and director of marketing for van Zelm Heywood & Shadford Inc. of West Hartford and CBC member says Wesleyan was judged for meeting the its budget and schedule constraints; documenting team cooperation and collaboration from conceptual design through project completion; having a team which approached the project’s unique challenges; and considerations made for the project’s social, economic or sustainable design.

Fauver Field Residences consist of two buildings on the corner of Vine Street and Cross Street. The units comprise of about 85,500 sq-feet. The Fauver Apartment Building houses 104 upperclass students and the Fauver Residence Hall for first-year students, houses 166 students. It opened for the 2005-06 academic year.

The Connecticut Building Congress was formed in 1952 and initiated the Project Team Award program 11 years ago to recognize and promote teamwork among participants in the construction process. Plaques will be presented during the CBC Awards Program in New Haven, Conn. May 18.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

FEMINIST POLITICS: Carolle Charles, associate professor of sociology from Baruch College, City College of New York, presents “From Confrontation to Negotiation: CONAP and a New Form of Doing Feminist Politics in Haiti” in the Center for African American Studies Lounge Feb. 27. Charles is the mother of Jane Charles-Voltaire ’07.

The well-attended event was sponsored by the the Center for African American Studies.  (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

WesGuitars Club Strummin’ Up Worldly Music on Campus, Local Community


Pictured at top, Alex Gorelick ’09 performs during a WesGuitars meeting March 9. Pictured in back, from left, are Bolivian guitarist, Marcos Puña and Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar and WesGuitar coordinator. Pictured below is WesGuitars member Sylvia Ryerson ’09.
(Click the speaker button to hear
Gorelick playing Prelude No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
Posted 03/16/06
Sylvia Ryerson ’09 came to Wesleyan with an interest in classic guitar, but no real ability to play the instrument. But after joining a new club called WesGuitars, she’s already memorized pieces by Brazillian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cuban conductor Leo Brouwer.

“I’ve always loved the sound of classical guitar,” she says. “It’s great to sit in a room with a bunch of other guitarists and share what I’ve been working on, and hear music by others. It’s a really fun and encouraging group.”

WesGuitars, a campus group generated last semester, meets twice a month in the Davenport Campus Center. During the March 9 meeting, Ryerson played a Villa-Lobos composition live for the club. Afterwards, fellow WesGuitar members complemented her efforts and offered constructive criticism.

The performance-oriented meetings serve as an opportunity for players to get feedback, tell stories, discuss different composers, ask questions, meet guest artists and be inspired. Sometimes, the WesGuitars will break out into a jam session.

The Music Department’s Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar, coordinates the informal club gatherings. He says the club’s purpose is to promote classical guitar awareness at Wesleyan and the Middletown community. The students may also perform in various concerts throughout the year.

Although the guitar originated in Spain, the students study music from American, Mexican, Turkish, Brazilian, Japanese musicians, among others.

“Everyone has their own diverse interests, so we encourage each other to learn music from all over the world,” says Duruoz, who has studied and performed internationally. “The students are always free to write their own music, too.”

Alex Gorelick ’09, a chemistry and music major, has played guitar for seven years. During the recent meeting, he performed “Prelude No. 1” by by Villa-Lobos and “Sakura,” a popular fast-fingered folk song from Japan. The song took him three months to master and memorize. Afterwards, guest artist Marcos Puña of Bolivia inspired Gorelick by playing the same song an octave higher.

“There are many variations on how to play a song, and writing the music for guitar is close to impossible,” Duruoz explains. “So much the way someone plays a song comes from the way they were influenced. I just recommend that they play the way they are most confident with.”

Graduate student Glenn Henshaw says audiences respond the varied sounds of the guitar. The instrument can be tender and sonorous or it can be deeply rhythmic and angular, he explains.

“The guitar is a relatively young instrument but it has timeless qualities,” says Henshaw, who is learning “Homenaje – Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy” by Manuel de Falla. “We want people to walk away from our performances and say, “I had no idea the guitar could do that.’”

The guitar repertoire is diverse and affective. Some members of the group have performed duets with pianists, flautists and vocalists. Guitar newbie Ryerson says her life-long experience with the violin and reading music has helped the learning process tremendously, even though the fingering on the violin and guitar are backwards.

Most of the club members take or have taken private lessons with Duruoz, however WesGuitars welcomes all musicians from campus and the surrounding area to join. Henshaw says the relaxed environment ensures that beginners or non-classical players can feel comfortable enough to pick up a guitar and play.

“Despite the fact that the Wesleyan music program is decidedly theory based there is widespread interest in performance; groups like ours will cater to both the casual and serious musicians on campus and in the community,” Henshaw says. “We’d really like to make Wesleyan and Middletown a mecca for classical guitar.”

The club will culminate this year with a concert as part of the Chapel Music Series on April 7. They also are sponsoring a concert by Spanish guitarist Juan José Sáenz at 7 p.m. April 9 in Crowell Concert Hall. He will play a program of Spanish works.

For more information on WesGuitars e-mail Cem Duruoz at cduruoz@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

’06 Class Dean Sad to See the Seniors Go


David Phillips, senior class dean, talks to seniors about their personal challenges, academic records, postgraduate options, and academic goals.
 
Posted 03/15/06
Sometimes a student’s academic problems are caused by something not-so-academic.

As a class dean, David Phillips spends much of his time advising students – discussing academic, social, and personal challenges and achieving personal goals. He’ll work with individual students, professors and even parents, to support students in their pursuit of a positive learning experience.

“What I like about my job is that I get to deal with the whole student rather than just a particular aspect of a student’s life,” Phillips says. “That’s our mission as class deans. We want to get to know them on an academic and personal level.”

Phillips, associate dean of the college and dean for the Class of 2006, oversees about 725 students in his class. He’s a source of information on academic standing; major choices; graduation requirements; university policies and procedures; and services, opportunities and resources available at the university and surrounding Middletown community.

As this year’s senior class dean, Phillips certifies students for graduation. He talks to the seniors about their academic records, postgraduate options and preparing themselves for life after Wesleyan. He runs an audit on every student to insure they have 32 credits and meet other graduation requirements.

“Each student’s credit analysis is about five pages long, so I go through a stack of papers about two feet high,” Phillips says, smiling. “It’s exciting to know that these students will be graduating soon and they will go off and begin their life-long careers.”

The New Haven, Conn. native has a special bond with the international community. Phillips, whose father worked for the State Department, considers himself an “international student” having lived in Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand and India before returning to the States for college.

Some seniors he knows only through phone calls and e-mails, but others he sees on a regular basis during daily drop-in hours.

“I wish more would come by and say hello,” he says. “I get to meet a lot of the students that way.”

Class of 2006 president Pacho Carreno is a frequent visitor in the Dean’s Office. Phillips helped Carreno prepare for his post-Wesleyan career, at a real estate consulting firm in Boston.

“Dean Phillips has been my most helpful academic advisor at Wesleyan,” Carreno says. “His advice has enhanced my experience and has helped me to take advantage of the best that Wesleyan has to offer. I’m ready to graduate but I wish I could have an advisor like him guiding me through the real world.”

Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, says as senior class dean, Phillips is instrumental in helping students complete their educational pathways at Wesleyan and as they move out into careers.

“David has a deep knowledge of Wesleyan’s students and the curricular requirements,” she says. “He is insightful, supportive, a problem-solver by-excellence and loves his advising role.”

Phillips came to Wesleyan six years ago as the associate dean of the college and dean for the class of 2006. It is his first administrative job, but his background in social history, cultural studies, and the history of technology makes him an ideal advisor for students with interests across the curriculum.

Phillips earned his bachelor’s of art in photography and printmaking and his master’s of art, in comparative social history from the University of California Santa Cruz. He earned his Ph.D in American studies from Yale University. His dissertation is titled “Art for Industry’s Sake: Halftone Technology, Mass photography, and the Social transformation of American Print Culture 1880-1920.”

Prior to Wesleyan, Phillips worked as an assistant professor at Bennington College; a site editor for the Center for Electronic Projects in American Culture Studies at Georgetown University; a teaching fellow at Yale’s American Studies Program; assistant director of the Asian American Cultural Center at the Yale University; and a Web developer for the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.

In 2004, he taught a class on mass culture titled “The Culture Industry” for Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

“I enjoy teaching, but I really love being a class dean because you get to work with real people who have real issues in need of real solutions,” he says.

Next year, Phillips will become the first-year dean, as part of the Office of the Dean’s class management system implemented in 2004. He will stay with this class throughout their four years at Wesleyan.

“With Dave’s leadership we’re planning ways to enhance the first year experience,” Cruz-Saco says. “His position is at the moment more challenging that usual: helping seniors graduate, while at the same time, planning the transition for incoming students next year.”

This summer, Phillips will acclimate himself to the new student orientation program, but during his time off, he plans to continue learning guitar, develop online projects related to American studies and social history, and going for walks at the Portland reservoir with his wife Christina and his dog Lucky.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

New Manager is Booking on a Successful Career at Broad Street


Nancy Healy, manager of Broad Street Books, says the shop’s new cosmetic changes, like the new bookshelf behind her, are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore.
 
Posted 03/15/06
Q: When were you hired to manage Broad Street Books and how is it going so far?

A: I was brought on board in the last week of January. It has been an interesting and eventful month! I have spent this first month learning about the history of the store and getting to know my staff, as well as getting acquainted with Wesleyan. Things are going very well so far, and I am confident that things will continue to get better and better as we move forward.

Q: Please describe the purpose of Broad Street Books.

A: Broad Street Books is a full service bookstore. Our goal is to serve both the Wesleyan and Middletown community’s needs. Students can find all their text materials, a wide selection of trade books, basic supply needs, as well as Wesleyan clothing and gift products.

Q: I hear there has been some changeover at the bookstore.

A: There certainly has been some changeover! In addition to myself, we have a brand new textbook manager, Ben Brown. Ben had been our textbook coordinator for the last year and has had an opportunity to learn about the business from the ground up. Carrie Brochu has also recently come on board as our general merchandise coordinator. Carrie also comes from Barnes and Noble and will be involved in building and promoting our apparel and gift sections.

Q: How many employees are there?

A: Our store employs roughly 20 to 25 people at any given time.

Q: What was the purpose of the bookstore’s recent remodeling?

A: The bookstore recently underwent some cosmetic changes. The changes are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore, while still promoting our Wesleyan home. Shoppers will find a redesigned trade book floor, as well as the addition of display bookcases on our mezzanine level. We are in the process of redefining the Broad Street “brand.” I believe it is important that our presentation and selection are reflective of Wesleyan’s reputation, as well as respectful of the diverse community that we serve.

Q: As a manager, do you spend more time behind the scenes or do you get much time to mingle with customers and staff?

A: I believe that establishing relationships with my staff and with the community that our store serves is the single most important component to building our success. Our hours differ from many campus bookstores. We are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work weekdays and at least one weekend per month and one night per week. This allows me to interact with all of my staff members, as well as the different segments of our shopping community.

Q: What are typical job duties as a book store manager?

A: I am involved in all facets of our business. Of course, I am responsible for ensuring the operational soundness of the business, customer satisfaction, and sales growth. Currently, two of my main focuses are increasing awareness of the bookstore through the promotion of unique events and networking within the Middletown community, and the re-design of our store website. This will help to provide family, alumni, as well as prospective students access to Wesleyan apparel and gifts, as well as giving students additional access to textbooks during the school year.

Q: What are your daily challenges?

A: Learning all the many aspects of a new company can be challenging. There is something new to confront everyday. However, while I have many friends who can’t imagine why I have stayed in retail all these years, the answer is simple. It is never boring. There are always new challenges in creating something. I find managing similar to directing a play. Somehow you are constantly engaged in creating the right dynamic both within your staff, as well as visually to entice your audience, grab their attention. When you finally get the right combination the results are extraordinary.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan and what type of field were you working in before?

A: Actually, I was contacted by a recruiter from Follett Higher Education, the company that runs the bookstore. At that time I was working for Barnes & Noble in the superstore division. I was immediately excited about the possibility of working in an atmosphere that promotes learning, growth and creativity. Previously, I had been an executive team leader for Target stores specializing in operations and merchandising.

Q: What is Follett Higher Education Group and what is the relationship with Wesleyan?

A: Follett Higher Education Group is the company contracted by Wesleyan to operate the bookstore. Follett operates over 700 bookstores at college campuses across the United States, as well as in Canada. Follett’s resources provide the store access to many text materials, in particular, a variety of used text titles to help ease costs for students.

Q: What is your favorite book section at Broad Street and why?

A: I’m not sure that I have a favorite section. I am quite intrigued by our faculty author sections. I find it fascinating what people are captivated by, and what they choose to write about. The same held true when I worked for Barnes & Noble. I was always interested in the local authors who came in. There are so many wonderful books published by smaller presses that simply don’t have the capital to promote them as vigorously as the larger publishing houses. I also love the children’s section.

Q: Do you enjoy reading, yourself? What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: I do enjoy reading. You would be most apt to find me with a biography or history book. I have many interests! I have been engaged in a genealogy project for over a year. It has been an extremely rewarding and fascinating experience. It certainly gives history a new face. I also enjoy music. I play the tenor saxophone and flute. And then there’s going to the theater, tennis and I am determined to learn to golf this year.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family. My life partner, Melissa, is a trainer with the Hartford Insurance Company. My 15 year old son, Chris, is the best part of everyday. We enjoy doing all kinds of things together. The beach, musicals, museums, and Red Sox games are some of our favorite things to do.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your new Broad Street customers?

A: I am always available and open to new ideas. I am excited about the coming months and thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a thriving campus. Please come visit!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

5 Faculty Awarded Career Enhancement Grants

Posted 03/15/06
Five Wesleyan faculty members received Mellon Career Enhancement Grants for the 2006-07 academic year.Wesleyan, along with Amherst College, Grinnell College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, Reed College, Smith College and Williams College, are in the third year of a major collaborative grant from the Mellon Foundation to enhance faculty career development. Faculty members from each of the institutions compete for semester research leaves, summer stipend grants, and workshop grants designed to encourage and promote increased scholarly activity for the faculty of the eight institutions.

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, and Abigail Hornstein, assistant professor of economics, received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants. Laurie Nussdorfer, chair of the College of Letters and professor of letters and history, and Ethan Kleinberg, associate professor of letters and history, received a Mellon Workshop Grant. Stephen Angle, associate professor of East Asian Studies, associate professor of philosophy, chair of the East Asian Studies Program and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, received a Mellon Semester Research Leave.

Proposals for these grants are reviewed at each participating institution by a committee including the academic deans. This is the fourth year the Mellon grants were issued.

  
Barth (pictured at left) and Hornstein (pictured at right) are among 16 professors from the eight colleges who received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants to be used in summer 2006. Recipients receive $4,500; an additional $3,500 is available for student research assistance for each recipient.

Barth’s research project is titled “Visual statistical processing in young children.” The project is based on the previous finding that adults can rapidly extract certain kinds of quantitative information from visually-presented sets.

“For example, after a very brief look at a large set of elements, we have a good idea of the average size of all of the elements in the set,” Barth explains. “We don’t have to be told beforehand to try to figure out the average size of this bunch of objects: we seem to extract this ‘statistical summary information’ about the set very quickly and automatically.”

This finding is relevant to her broader research program, which concerns the remarkable quantitative skills children possess even prior to formal education. The rapid extraction of statistical summary information from visual stimuli is likely to play an important role, yet scientists know very little about this ability in children. This summer, Barth and her lab assistant will explore the way this ability contributes to young children’s quantitative cognition.

Hornstein plans to work with Minyuan Zhao from the University of Minnesota to study the relationship between effective capital budgeting and the internalization of research and development using a panel dataset of U.S. firms in the 1990s. To estimate the efficacy of a firm’s capital budgeting decisions, she will use a self-developed process, and acquire patent application data from the U.S. Patent Office. Hornstein’s proposed study will examine issues that she discusses regularly with her Wesleyan students, for example corporate investment criteria, how firms make capital budgeting decisions, and how firms evaluate investments.

“This research may also be of interest to my colleagues who teach industrial organization courses as firms use patents to buttress firm boundaries and maintain first-mover advantages,” she explains.

In the long-term, Hornstein anticipates teaching courses that combine corporate finance and corporate strategy. These courses would share a common theme: how to develop and maintain a firm’s competitive edge while maximizing shareholder wealth.

  
The Mellon Workshop Grant received by Nussdorfer (pictured at left) and Kleinberg (pictured at right) is worth up to $25,000 and supports workshops designed and organized by faculty members on scholarly and pedagogical topics.

Nussdorfer and Kleinberg are spearheading a workshop collaboratively. It will be titled “Philosophy and Literature: Reading across the Disciplines,” and is scheduled for May 9-10, 2007. The professors are inviting several scholars to explore the intersections, relations and tensions between literary and philosophical studies.

The workshop’s morning sessions will be open to the public and academic community, in which two invited presenters, one from literary studies and one from philosophy, tackle the same text, each from his or her perspective. In addition, experts from Wesleyan and other area institutions will convene to explore specific aspects of topics raised in more detail, drawing on the insights of the public sessions.

“The focus will be not so much on what the two different disciplines are as on what literary scholars and philosophers actually do when they interpret a text, and what assumptions or mechanisms guide their arguments and interpretations,” Kleinberg explains.


Angle was one of 10 professors across the eight colleges awarded a semster leave. He could receive one semester leave with pay during the 2006-2007 year. Awards for semester research leaves are based on the strength of the proposal and evidence of previous scholarly accomplishment, with priority given to projects that show promise of substantial progress and that can result in products that will be ready for peer review by the end of the leave period.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Wrestling Coach Says Recruiting Top Students, Top Athletes Secret to Success on the Mat


Drew Black, wrestling coach, stresses intelligence, power, quickness, superb conditioning, flexibility and a high degree of self-confidence with his Wesleyan athletes.
 
Posted 03/15/06
Q: You’ve been coaching wrestling at Wesleyan since 1998. What spurred your interest in the sport initially?

A: It all started my freshman year of high school in Mahwah, N.J. My brother was a sophomore wrestler on the team. My intention was to go and play basketball at the vertically challenged height of 4-foot-9 and 75 lbs. The wrestling coach spoke to me in the locker room just before the wrestling season was about to begin and said, “You may play basketball as a freshman, but after that JV and Varsity you will probably not play much. You should really think about coming out for wrestling. That weekend, my brother and I talked and I decided to try something new and took my basketball sneakers to the mat that Monday afternoon. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Q: What is the objective in wrestling?

A: Wrestling is the oldest sport known to mankind. It was part of the first Olympic games. I find that people who have never seen wrestling, all they need to do is come to one wrestling event and they will be hooked. It is difficult at first to understand the points awarded, but in basic terms, you have two people out at the center of the mat. The wrestlers start on their feet and look to take the other down to the mat. Next goal is to turn your opponent over and pin his shoulders to the mat for the pin and the win. In and around the takedown and pin there is a lot of maneuvering for an advantageous position to dominate your opponent. A college match lasts seven minutes with three periods.

Q: In addition to strength, what skills are needed to do this sport?

A: Wrestling takes intelligence, power, quickness, superb conditioning, flexibility and a high degree of self-confidence. In the sport of wrestling there is no place to hide. There are no time-outs or substitutes. It is you versus another opponent. One of the greatest feelings in the world is to work so hard for something and then achieve that goal within the circle on the mat.

Q: As an adjunct assistant professor of education, what classes do you teach?

A: I currently teach indoor technical climbing and fitness swimming, but have also taught the strength training classes as well.

Q: In addition to coaching wrestling, you’re also the strength and conditioning coach, and fitness center coordinator. In these roles, are you working with all Wesleyan athletes?

A: I work with many of our athletic teams. My goal is to have our student-athletes receive the best and most advantageous strength and conditioning programs needed for each student-athlete to reach his/her individual and team goals. Our student-athletes are some of the best and most dedicated people you will meet. Here they are at one of the best schools in the country, no one is getting a scholarship to play, yet so many of our student athletes want to train and prepare themselves to compete at a national level and represent Wesleyan with pride and honor.

Q: What is the Cardinal Speed and Agility Program?

A: It’s a program that has become extremely popular over the past eight years. I have come to learn that most of our student-athletes call this “Drew Black.” They say, “I have Drew Black today.” This is a voluntary program where in the fall and spring we have 75-90 athletes in our field house going through speed drills, agility drills, games and conditioning activities. I have even had a professor or two come and join in the fun.

Q: Where did you go to college and when did you decide to become a coach?

A: At Syracuse University I majored in athletic training and wanted to work with athletes in prevention and care of injury setting. I also wanted to get my teaching certification so I could be more marketable in a public school setting. This led me to Kent State where I was a graduate assistant in the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport. I did attain my teaching certification and this is where coaching became a love and passion. It was during my student-teaching experience at Stow-Monroe Falls High School in Ohio. The varsity wrestling coach needed a freshman/JV coach to help. It paid $2,000 dollars and to a college student that is like being a millionaire. I took the job and at my first tournament I said to myself, “Coaching is awesome, I think I want to coach and teach at the college level.”

Q: Before coming to Wesleyan, where did you work? What attracted to you to Wesleyan?

A: Before Wesleyan, I was the head wrestling coach, strength and conditioning coach and fitness center coordinator at Phoenix Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. When I applied to Wesleyan, I was not familiar with Wesleyan at the time, but soon came to realize what a great school and opportunity this was for me.

Q: You led Wesleyan’s wrestling team to the highest-winning season in history in 2001-02 with a 17-2 mark and four winning seasons over the past five years. The team has earned scholar All-American status in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. What is your secret?

A: To be honest, the secret lies within the people you are able to work with. Wesleyan is a great school, which does attract top people to this campus. As a faculty coach, I need to get in touch with the very best and brightest young men all around the United States. Part of the secret to successful teams and consistent successful seasons is having top students who are also dedicated and committed to the sport of wrestling.

Q: What do you look for in student-athletes and what lessons do you stress?

A: I have been fortunate to have some great student-wrestlers in my eight years here. I stress hard work, smart work and teamwork. This all starts with setting goals so there is a destination set. The process of being a top student and a top athlete is the secret to success. These are the things that each member of our team has 100 percent control over. They have control over attending every class, studying, seeking out professors for help and guidance. They have control over how much strength training, running, conditioning and mat-time they do throughout the year. They also have control over their nutrition, eating smarter and healthier. The last thing they have control over and something we talk about a lot is being a quality community member, their actions away from the classroom and the mat. At Wesleyan, we want the total package of a top student, top wrestler, and a top citizen in the community and beyond. Set these as priorities, focus on them, and have the student-athlete take responsibility and there you have it.

Q: What are your thoughts on Dan deLalla ’07, who received the New England College Conference Wrestling Association Championship title after sitting out the regular season with an elbow injury?

A: Dan is one of those special kids you get to work with at Wesleyan. He is a competitor and someone who is so positive. He believes in himself because he works extremely hard all throughout the year. I must admit that it was difficult for me to believe that Dan could sit out the entire season, train for two weeks and then win the New England Championship to qualify for the national tournament. It brought great life and excitement to our team and really boosted our team morale. The outlook and future of this wrestling program is bright due to Dan’s accomplishments, his leadership and also the great young talent that this team has right now.

Q: Josh Wildes ’08 and Mike Lima ’08 also took conference titles this year. Do you foresee them going far in the next few years?

A: The team and I are so excited about next year and the next three years. We did not having a winning season this year mainly due to the amount of injuries our team sustained. The future is very bright with quality wrestlers such as Josh and Mike. Both of these guys can be impact wrestlers for our program in the next two years, but both need to continue to dedicate themselves throughout the year, not just from November to February. There are many bright spots throughout our team. Jeremy Stuart ’08 is going to be tough the next two years as well. I should basically name our entire team right now because I see the potential in each of them to be very successful in the next few years.

Q: In 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps awarded you with a Coaching Leadership Award for your outstanding work in the development of leaders at Wesleyan and in the state. What was your reaction to this honor?

A: It was a great surprise. It was awarded to me at our annual National Wrestling Coaches Conference. I am just trying to give back to the sport of wrestling which has given me so much in my life. It is my pleasure to work hard for this great sport and to be involved in young people’s lives and try to set them in the right direction so they too can be successful people in the world today.

Q: What wrestling organizations are you a member of?

A: I have been a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Association for 11 years now, and member of the executive committee for eight years, and the president of our New England Wrestling Conference for four years.

Q: Does your family get into wrestling or other sports?

A: My wife, Jennifer; son Sean, 6; daughter Leah, 1 attend many of my colleague’s games and competitions. Right now, lacrosse games are Sean’s favorite and Leah is just happy to be with her brother. We also love to use Wesleyan as our playground. This is such a great environment to raise a family. My son Sean gets to be around great people, use the great facilities and play different sports and activities.

Q: Aside from wrestling, what are your other hobbies and/or interests?

A: I am pretty simple. I love to go out to eat. I also try to stay fit partaking in weight training, running, and the occasional noon faculty hoop games, especially after wrestling is over. My other hobbies are quality family time and playing with both Sean and Leah. My family is my pride and joy. Seeing them laugh is the best hobby.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Campus Safety Upgrades Continue


Passers-by walk across Cross Street at a pedestrian walkway. Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the center of the street in an effort to improve campus safety.

Posted 03/15/06
In its on-going efforts to continually improve campus safety, Wesleyan has been taking various measures to upgrade services and capabilities appropriately. These include:

Pedestrian Safety
Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the middle of crosswalks on Church Street and Cross Street reminding motorists that they must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Lighting has been improved at several crosswalks and a new crosswalk signal will be installed on Washington Street.

Public Safety’s on-going dialogue with the city to investigate other areas for crosswalk improvement has yielded a plan for further improvements that will add traffic calming measures by moving curbs, removing on-street parking in some areas, adjusting crosswalk locations to fit pedestrian traffic patterns, installing raised crosswalks and improving signs both on the sides of the road and painted on the roadway. The plan is pending approval and funding by the city.

Fire Safety
During the last 12 months, new fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems were installed at Low Rise Apartments, and the wood-framed residences on Vine Street, Warren Street, Home Avenue.

Other renovations include fire alarm upgrades to 200 High St., 200 Church St., Center for the Arts Art Studio North and South, the CFA Cinema, 5A & B Fountain, 14 A, B & C Warren, and Physical Plant’s Cady Building on Long Lane.

In addition, part of a recent $10 Million Bond-funded project includes $2.5 Million for fire alarm and fire sprinkler upgrades to existing wood frame houses.

Campus Shuttle Program
The “RIDE” Campus Shuttle Program was expanded in the past year to insure safe and convenient transportation services for students during evening hours. The new Shuttle Program operates seven nights a week during the academic year from 7 pm until 4 a.m. In addition to the two shuttle lines, the program now offers a downtown shuttle every Wednesday through Saturday nights from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The shuttle stops at several locations on Main Street every 20 minutes. Access for people with disabilities is available during the same times and over the same routes. All shuttle locations are in the vicinity of a blue light emergency phone and in well lighted areas. Pick up times have been added to all shuttle locations. Times and locations can be found at www.wesleyan/transportation.

In addition, all shuttle drivers have completed a driver safety course and attend several meetings each semester on driver safety and customer service skills. Each shuttle van has comment cards students can complete and send to the transportation services manager. All comments, complaints and suggestions are followed up on immediately.

Residence Hall Card Access
In the fall of 2006, Wesleyan will complete a comprehensive installation of electronic proximity access equipment on all undergraduate residence hall facilities accommodating more than 20 students. The new proximity access program uses student picture identification cards to provide visual verification of users, and create information related to who enters residences, as well as the time and date of entry.

Wesleyan is always looking for ways to improve campus safety. Please direct suggestions to David Meyer, interim director of public safety, at dmeyer@wesleyan.edu.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Board of Trustees Approves Tuition, Fee Increases


In 2006-07, room rates for students will increase.
Posted 03/01/06
On Feb. 25, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees set tuition, room and board rates for the 2006-2007 academic year. Tuition and fees will increase 5 percent to $34,844. Room rates will increase 8 percent, bringing the base double room rate to $5,808, and the base 12-meal dining plan rate will increase 5 percent to $3,732.

The increase in the room rate reflects the escalating cost of utilities in the residence facilities. Wesleyan is also continuing a program to renovate residence halls to improve safety and security. This summer will see completion of the installation of proximity access locks on all undergraduate residence hall facilities accommodating more than 20 students. Tamper-resistant ground-floor windows in the Foss Hill residences and improved fire alarm and sprinkler systems will be installed; lounges will also be renovated.

Additionally, in response to requests from students and parents, senior houses and apartments will be furnished; $200 will be added to the room rate for these units for this purpose. This change was endorsed by the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee, which includes representatives from the Wesleyan Student Assembly, Physical Plant and Residential Life.

Maintaining Wesleyan’s commitment to providing access to students from all backgrounds remains one of the university’s highest priorities. Wesleyan provides financial aid awards that meet 100 percent of demonstrated need. Awards typically include loans, campus employment and grants. In 2005-06, 44 percent of students received grant awards averaging $24,756; scholarships for all four classes totaled $29.3 million.

Wesleyan continues to manage its finances strategically and prudently. The university administration has been efficient in this endeavor, having one of the lowest ratios of administrative costs to educational expense among our peers. While Wesleyan continues to identify new efficiencies, the university administration has been mindful to do so in a way that does not compromise support of the primary academic mission of the university. Wesleyan remains committed to strong financial discipline while providing a first-rate liberal arts and science education that prepares its students to be leaders in a global society.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Recycle Maniacs at Wesleyan


Posted 03/01/06

Wesleyan University is one of 93 colleges and universities nationwide competing in a recycling program through April 8.

 

As part of RecycleMania 2006, Wesleyan aims to collect the largest amount of recyclables, the least amount of trash, and have the highest recycling rate over a 10 week period. A RecycleMania trophy will be presented to the winning school.

 

Schools participating in RecycleMania 2006 represent 33 states, 880,000 students and more than 275,000 faculty and staff. Eight of 11 campuses in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), including Wesleyan, are RecycleManiacs.

 

Bill Nelligan, associate director of Environmental Health and Safety works with Dainty Rubbish Service of Middletown to determine the totals in each collection category. Dainty collects and removes trash and recyclables from campus. Nelligan reports measurements on a weekly basis, via RecycleMania’s Web site, www.recyclemaniacs.org, which also has more information on the project.

 

RecycleMania is endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program, the National Recycling Coalition’s College and University Recycling Council and the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor