Olivia Drake

Assistant Dean of Admission Reads Applications, Recruits Students, Plans WesFest


Leah Kelley, assistant dean of admission, looks through a student’s file in the Office of Admission.
 
Posted 05/02/05

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I came to Wesleyan as an assistant dean last fall after graduating from Yale in the spring.

Q: What led you into working in an admission office?

A: I have a bachelor’s of arts in psychology, but in college, I became very involved in college awareness and SAT prep outreach programs. The different programs that I worked with opened up my eyes to the complexity of admissions. After working with high school students for three years, I knew that I wanted to work on the inside as well to get a better understanding of the process before returning to the advising/counseling side again someday.

Q: What are you enjoying most about working here so far?

A: Wesleyan is a wonderful place to work, but what I enjoy most about this job is the opportunity to travel and interact with students at their schools and in their communities.

Q: Working in the Office of Admission, do you get to work face-to-face with the students and parents or are you behind the scenes?

A: Both. All of the deans in the office spend time meeting students and parents at college fairs, school visits and information sessions. But of course a lot of the work in admissions goes on behind the scenes. We spend a lot of time reading applications, coordinating alumni outreach, planning travel and putting special programs together just to name a few duties.

Q: And what about that successful WesFest?

A: It was a community wide effort that Wesleyan can be proud of!

WesFest is our admitted student’s weekend, and I was involved with the planning of it. It could be thought of as a celebration of all things Wesleyan and requires coordination between the Office of Admission and dozens of faculty and student groups on campus. Around 400 admitted students visited that weekend and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things from both parents and students.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Wesleyan students?

A: I absolutely love working with both our prospective students as well as our current students. One of the greatest parts of this job is getting to meet so many individuals and hearing their stories and plans for the future.

Q: What are typical questions that high school students or parents have about Wesleyan?

A: Our information sessions are driven by the audience’s questions so we get asked almost everything and anything about Wesleyan. Some common themes are social life on campus, study abroad opportunities, campus culture and academic programs. One of the neat things about our information sessions is that a current senior sits on the panel with an admissions dean. Having a student on the panel is invaluable to families that are trying to find out what it’s really like to be a student at Wes.

Q: Students are also tour guides, correct?

A: Yes. Our tour guides are also excellent and we get a lot of great feedback about them. The Cardinal Key Tour Guide Program is a volunteer program and so the students who give tours really do it for the love of the university, which makes for a wonderful tour. 

Q: How does your job change throughout the year?

A: Admissions is a cyclical process, so I’ll describe the different seasons of admissions. In the fall, the deans in our office travel all over the country — and the world — to visit high schools, meet students, work at college fairs and host receptions. It’s a hectic schedule where we visit up to five schools during the day and then host a reception or attend a fair at night. In the winter, you will find most of the deans reading applications. Once decision letters go out in the spring, our office gets busy planning for WesFest, reaching out to admitted students though phone-a-thons and recruiting the next year’s class. Throughout the year, we hold daily information sessions and answer questions from students, parents and counselors.

Q: Is reading applications a pretty intense process?

A: Yes. Last winter, I often found myself reading applications six days a week, sometimes from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Most of the deans work at home to avoid office distractions.

Q: Are you involved with any Wesleyan activities?

A: The on-campus activity that I am most heavily involved in is varsity softball. I played in college and jumped at the opportunity to volunteer with the team here at Wesleyan. It’s a great way to spend more time interacting with students and sharing a passion that they have. 

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Probably the most interesting “hobby” of mine, if you can call it that, is football. This past winter I joined a women’s professional football team here in Connecticut called the Connecticut Crush (www.ctcrush.com).  Few of the women on the team have played full-contact football before, so we put in a lot of time practicing and learning the sport. I’m also active in my church in New Haven, Christ Presbyterian, and can often be found spending time with that family on the weekends.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Flory joins Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department


 
Mark Flory, assistant professor of molecular biology, studies genomic integrity in Hall-Atwater Laboratory.
 
Posted 05/02/05

Mark Flory joined the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department as an assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in January 2005.

Flory, a native of Roanoke, Virginia, completed his bachelor’s of science degree at the University of Richmond majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry in 1994. He earned his Ph.D. at the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2001. His dissertation was titled, “Isolation and Characterization of Calmodulin-Binding Centrosome Components Related to Sacharomyces cerevisiae Spc110p from the Fission Yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Humans.” Flory completed his postdoctoral research in proteomics and mass spectrometry in Ruedi Aebersold’s group at the Seattle Institute for Systems Biology in 2004.

Flory’s research interests involve understanding the specific mechanisms that ensure genomic integrity. These mechanisms are fundamental to the prevention of chromosomal abnormalities that accompany carcinogenesis. A core set of proteins, conserved in yeast and human cells, protects telomeric chromosome ends by forming a physical cap structure, termed the “telosome,” that regulates access to chromosome ends. The low-abundance and biophysical properties of telomere-associating factors have hampered their identification and characterization, but he has successfully applied mass spectrometry to the identification of telomeric proteins in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

“I hypothesize that the telosome serves as a repository for factors that dynamically function in an equilibrium balancing telomeric protection and DNA repair according to the needs of the cell under different conditions,” Flory says.

While conducting postdoctoral research in Seattle, Flory also taught “Introduction to Biochemistry and Metabolism Parts I and II” at the University of Washington Extensions College for two years prior to coming to Wesleyan.

“I value highly the merits of a smaller-campus environment, but did not want to sacrifice the quality of my research program,” he says. “Wesleyan provides a truly unique combination of high-level research with an intimate teaching environment ideally suited for effective training of undergraduate and graduate students. During my recent national job search, I found the Wesleyan life sciences environment is unique not only to Connecticut but across the country.”

Flory is the co-author of nine articles, one technical report and a chapter in a book. He lives in Middletown with his partner Amy Sanchez, a chocolate lab named Ace, and a cat named Denson. He enjoys listening to and playing classical and jazz piano, kite boarding on water and snow and hiking.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Publications Says “Wesleyan” Magazine is Collaborative Effort

Bill Holder, director of Publications, is the the editor of “Wesleyan” magazine.
Q: Your history with Wesleyan goes back more than three decades. How did it start?

A: My story with Wesleyan begins in 1971, when I came here as a freshman, graduating in 1975. I ended up working here most of my professional career here in the Office of University Communications, formerly the Office of Public Information.

Q: As director of publications, what are you in charge of?

A: I’m the editor of “Wesleyan” magazine. I plan content for the magazine, write, edit and oversee production, but really, the magazine is a collaborative venture with a number of people here in communications, from beginning to end. I’m glad to be part of this publication, which has been very well received. Our office also produces most of Wesleyan’s publications: everything from invitations to the course catalog.

Q: Sounds like a satisfying career.

A: The opportunities that came with doing the magazine have been very gratifying. I’ve met so many wonderful people on and off campus, and the job presents unending opportunities for personal growth. There are always challenges ahead.

Q: Who is the audience of the magazine?

A: Both campus and alumni. The magazine has various names that reflect its history. The correct name is “Wesleyan: the University Magazine,” but many people still call it older names, such as ‘the Alumni Magazine,’ or ‘Alumnus,’ which I think originated in the single-sex era here. Some people still call it “The Bulletin,” and that name goes way back. It’s funny how these old names stick around.

Q: What was your degree, and what led you into journalism/publications?

A: I actually graduated with a degree in chemistry, and then I went on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkley, wanting to become a research chemist. But after one year, I realized it wasn’t for me.

Q: Then what led you into journalism?

A: I learned mostly through on-the-job training. After I graduated, my Wesleyan connection served me well. I got a job as a science journalist with the American Chemical Society in Washington D.C. and my supervisor had a master’s from Wesleyan. Also, we both knew Max Tishler, who was a professor of chemistry at Wesleyan between 1970 and 1987 and served a term as president of the American Chemical Society. He influenced a lot of people, including me.

Q: How did you end up working at Wesleyan?

A: My wife, Elisabeth, and I wanted to move back to New England, so I came here and worked at the Middletown Press as a reporter for two years. My beat was covering Wesleyan, so I got to know many people here. And when a job opened up in Wesleyan’s public information office, I joined as a writer/editor.

Q: What were you writing/editing?

A: We had a newsletter for faculty and staff called the “Campus Report” and a tabloid for alumni called “WesNews.” I wrote for those, and the magazine, and later started WesOnline, which has since been replaced by the online newsletter.

Q: How has the Office of University Communications changed?

A: The public information office in South College was much smaller. There were only six or seven of us. Now there are 16, and the name changed to the Office of University Communications in 2000 when Justin Harmon was hired as the director. So back then I was doing a little bit of everything, including writing and editing stories for the magazine and writing a lot of press releases. Now there are three departments under the Office of University Communications: Media Relations, headed by David Pesci, which handles the media inquiries, press releases and the online newsletter; Web Management, headed by Jennifer Carlstrom, which handles the design of the bulk of the University’s Web pages; and my department, Publications, which produces the “Wesleyan” magazine and most of Wesleyan’s higher profile publication pieces.

Q: You left Wesleyan for a few years. Where did you end up going?

A: In 1990, I went to Cornell’s news bureau. I was a full-time science writer, and that was an interesting change, as Cornell is a much different institution. My beat was the College of Agriculture, and I wrote articles on everything from cows and apples to molecular biology. I was there three years, until the magazine editor job opened here at Wesleyan and I came back.

Q: What do you enjoy doing after work or on weekends?

A: I work out regularly at the Freeman Athletic center, read, and I like to travel. Recently, I went to visit my daughter in L.A.; other trips have included visits to friends in Ottawa and in Switzerland. Our Swiss friends have a view of Lake Geneva and the Alps to die for. I also am on the Middlesex County United Way board of directors and a member of the Rockfall Foundation, a local conservation and environmental group.

Q: Tell me more about your family.

A: My wife, Liz ‘’76, teaches earth science at Rocky Hill High School. I have three children, Anne, who is at USC in LA now; Luke, who will graduate from Wesleyan this spring with the class of ’’05, and Zoe, a freshman here at Wesleyan.

Q: Any pets?

A: We have two dogs, Acadia and Kona. We go on lots and lots of dog walks.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Jewish and Muslim Students Explore Faith, Society in Turkey


At left, Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger and Muslim Chaplain Imam Abdulla Antepli try on traditional Turkmenistan hats in an Egyptian Bazaar. At right, Jessica Strom ’07, Alana Miller ’08 and Jeremy Gillick ’07 observe the only mosque in Ankara, Turkey.
 
Posted 05/02/05

What is life like in a secular Muslim nation, especially for Jews?

This was the question that motivated 17 Wesleyan students – 12 Jewish, 5 Muslim – to go to Istanbul, Turkey, in March during spring break to see for themselves.

The eight-day trip, which was envisioned and created by Wesleyan’s Muslim Chaplain Imam Abdullah Antepli and Wesleyan’s Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger, was discussed at a presentation on April 19 in Judd Hall.

Leipziger says the objectives of the inter-religious trip were to study successful Jewish-Muslim coexistence in Istanbul, to interact and build bridges with the Jewish and Muslim communities and to visit major religious and historical sites.

“Most importantly, we wanted to them to learn about each others’ backgrounds in order to build strong and vibrant inter-religious programming at Wesleyan,” he says.

During the discussion, nine of the students took turns discussing their views on the country’s politics, government, social interactions, impressions of the country and interactions between the Wesleyan students. Dan Janvey ’06 of New York, N.Y., presented a short documentary on the trip, which included clips of a mosque, prayer, music, and personally delivering a Wesleyan T-shirt to a chief rabbi.

Students went on guided tours through Istanbul. Destinations included old Istanbul, a Jewish museum, the Turkish parliament, and a historical home in the Galata area. The students also went to an Egyptian Bazaar, mosques, Faith University, a Turkish music concert, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, a sufi dance performance, and a Muslim prayer service.

The students influential religious and secular leaders in the city, including Chief Rabbi Ishak Halevo and local Jewish leaders, Turkish journalist Ekrem Dumanli local Christian leaders, as well as Vatican representative George Marovitch, and Turkish peace activists and interfaith workers. They also met with U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman in the U.S. Embassy.

But it was during dinners that the students received the most personal interaction with the Turkish people. Every night they’d share a meal at a local resident’s home, one night with a Muslim family, the next with Jewish hosts.

Yaneez Nojib, ’08, of Saint-Pierre, Mauritius, said for a few of the Muslim families, this was their first time hosting Jews in their homes. They also allowed the Jews to pray in their living rooms during Sabbath.

“One night, we ate at this man’s home,” Nojib says. “He was dressed like he was from the O.C. so we thought he was a businessman, but when we sat down for dinner, he didn’t have servants to bring us our food. He personally came and brought us out food, and that just shows what wonderful, hospitable, welcoming people they are. If there’s one thing I learned, it is that I need to find myself a Turkish wife.”

The country of Turkey has welcomed Jews, expelled from Spain, and Muslims since 1492. Because Turkey is a secular state and forbids census-takers to include questions of religious affiliations, the exact number of the Jewish population is unknown. By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1,647 or 11 percent of the total, and the present estimation is around 26,000, with the majority living in Istanbul.

Although Judiasm has a small presence in Turkey, among nearly 70 million Muslims, Andrew Inchiosa ’07 of Woodcliff, N.J. says the Jewish community is evolving with the Turkish culture. During a Shabbat service, one practice seemed especially anomalous to the group. 

“At the mosques, they’d hold out their hands in prayer, but we also observed that at the synagogue,” Inchiosa says. “It involved a partial, one-handed waving motion. We met an American student studying in Istanbul after the service, and he explained that this was a distinctly Turkish tradition.”

Inchiosa says there were also few religious divisions from a culinary standpoint.

The students were served Turkish tea at many different religious functions, and experienced a version of Turkish delight, featuring milk chocolate, at the home of the ambassador to the Vatican.

Other students who went on the trip were Alana Miller ‘08, Jeremy Gillick ‘07, Jessica Strom ’07, Leora Abelson ‘07, Saad Mustafa Handoo ‘06, Marie Brophy ‘08, Lillian Siegel ‘08, Nitzan Ziv ’07, Jacob Goldin ’07, Ben Smyser ‘08, David Abravanel ‘08, Emiria Wijayanti ‘07, Joel Bhuiyan ‘06 and Nabil Ansari ’06.

Handoo, of Clarksville, Md., says the students want to reach out to area newspapers, deliver presentations in their hometowns, write articles for Turkish newsletters, hold discussions and conferences about their trip, and reach out to Wesleyan alumni regarding their interfaith experience.

“Now that we have this knowledge, we want to share it with a broader base and other religious circles,” he says. “What we have been through has been a transforming experience.

Another trip is being planned for March 2006.

Anyone interested in ordering a DVD of the students’ documentary, or having the Wesleyan students make a presentation at individual synagogues, mosques, schools or other venues, contact Rabbi Leipziger at 860-685-2278 or dleipziger@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Stereochemistry Topic of 33rd Leermakers Symposium


Posted 05/02/05

More than 150 guests, many from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, attended the 33rd Peter A. Leermakers Symposium May 5 at the Exley Science Center.

The annual, one day meeting brings together internationally recognized chemists for a day of intensive examination of a particular subject in chemistry.

This year’s symposium, titled “Chirality,” united scientists working in the general area of stereochemistry. The speakers have played a fundamental role in the control and understanding of stereochemistry.

Stereochemistry is a property that certain molecules have that can make two molecules behave completely differently as drugs, even though the structures of the two molecules look very similar. Stereochemistry depends on the symmetry of a molecule and is very difficult to control when one is synthesizing the molecule.

Speakers of the day-long event included Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; Michael Frisch, visiting scholar in chemistry; Professor Kendall Houk from the University of California, Los Angeles; Professor David Evans from Harvard University; Edward Grabowski from Merck Research Laboratories; Professor Eric Jacobsen from Harvard University; and Professor Geoffrey Coates from Cornell University.

The speakers presented results related to asymmetric catalysis, the synthesis of stereoregular polymers, the computer modeling of stereoselective reactions and the use of spectroscopy.

“These scientists are all at the very top of their fields and have been recognized by numerous awards,” says Michael Calter, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Leermakers Symposium.

The first symposium was held in 1972 on the chemistry of vitamin B12 and featured the late Robert B. Woodward, who reported on the just-completed total synthesis of this complex molecule. Since then topics have included natural biology, theoretical chemistry, extraterrestrial chemistry and chemical reaction dynamics.

The symposium was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Merck Research Labs and Pfizer Global Research Division.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Speakers Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, Wesleyan University

Professor Geoffrey Coates, Cornell University spoke on “New Catalysts for Constructing Small Molecules and Polymers of Defined Stereochemistry.”

Professor Eric Jacobsen of Harvard University spoke on “Seeking General Asymmetric Catalysts.”

Michael Frisch, Visiting Scholar in Chemistry spoke on “Spectroscopy of Chiral Molecules.”

Professor Edward Grabowski of Merck Research Laboratories spoke on “Novel, Asymmetric Hydrogenations.”

Professor Kendall Houk, University of California, Los Angeles spoke on the “Theory and Modeling of Stereoselectivity”

Professor David Evans spoke on “From Crystal Structures to Chiral Catalysts.”

International Students Share Wesleyan Memories at Senior Reception


From left to right, Ambika Ahuja ’05 of Thailand, Zaheed Essack ’05 of South Africa, Phudorji Sherpa ’05 of Nepal, and Lianne Morris-Smith ’05 of Jamaica converse at the International Student Senior Reception.
 
Posted 05/02/05

The Office of International Student Services held an International Student Senior Reception at the Russell House April 27.

More than 25 international students and exchange students attended. Some gave brief remarks about their experiences at Wesleyan while others mentioned ways they plan to stay connected with Wesleyan after graduating.

“Whether they stay in this country or travel back to their home country, these students can maintain a relationship with Wesleyan,” says Theresa Cann, coordinator of International Student Services.

Wesleyan staff, administrators, and faculty attended, including the Senior Class Dean, Louise Brown.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Human Resources Launches Virtual Orientation Web Site


The Human Resources department’s new Virtual Orientation Web site provides vital information for new employees.
 
Posted 05/02/05

Prospective employees can learn all about Wesleyan before they even set foot on campus — just by going online.

The Human Resources department has launched a Virtual Orientation Web site this month for new employees. The site can be viewed at:

http://www.wesleyan.edu/hr/newemployee

The site features a list of important resources, interesting facts and valuable information that employees will need before they arrive and during their first month at Wesleyan.

“We wanted to create a place for new employees to learn as much as possible about Wesleyan before they arrived” says Julia Hicks, associate Human Resources director.  “We also wanted to provide a place where existing employees can also view useful human resources information.”

The Virtual Orientation web site contains similar material given to new employees on their first day but includes additional features such as an information on campus dining, the computer store and child care resources, the adverse weather policy, and even Wesleyan trivia. A new employee checklist explains where to pick up a Motor Vehicle Registration Form, Wesleyan Identification Card and how to get signed up for Wesleyan benefits.

The site also offers resources to employees who are not familiar with the Middletown area. An extensive list of places to eat and things see and do in Middlesex County is available on the site, as is a map of Middletown.

“Even employees who have been here for years will find a great deal of useful information on this site,” Hicks says.

The site was developed by Vanessa Sabin, Human Resources administrative coordinator; Pat Leone, World Wide Web administrator, Jennifer Carlstrom, Web manager and Sasha Foppiano, formerly a web designer for the Office of University Communications. Sabin and Dan Pflederer, Human Resources functional specialist, coordinated focus groups to gather input and feedback regarding the site.

The development team explored numerous university orientation Web pages and came up with our unique look and feel.

“We picked a design that we felt would be the best fit for Wesleyan,” Hicks says.

Harriet Abrams, director of Human Resources, encourages Wesleyan employees to offer feedback on the site and included a suggestion box link on the site for this purpose.

“We consider this a work in progress and we’ll be continually updating and enhancing it,” Abrams says. “The site is primarily focused on new hires but since it’s accessible to anyone visiting Wesleyan’s site, it’s also a terrific marketing tool to encourage others to apply.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

CLASS ON THE GREEN: Students make good use of the spring weather on April 5 by holding class outside on the College Row lawn.

A Wesleyan student leads a group of prospective students and their parents on a campus tour on April 12. Here, they are passing by the Center for Fine Arts.
On April 6, Foss Hill and Andrus Field became the hot spots for warm-weather activities. Temps exceeded 60 degrees. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Wesleyan University Announces 173rd Commencement Honorary Degree Recipients


Posted 04/19/05
Wesleyan University recently announced that it will confer four honorary degrees during its 173rd commencement exercises on Sunday, May 22 to the following recipients:

  • Amy Gutmann (Doctor of Letters) – Amy Gutmann, Wesleyan’s commencement speaker, became president of the University of Pennsylvania this year. Formerly, she was provost and Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She was the founding director of the Princeton University Center for Human Values, a multi-disciplinary center that supports teaching, scholarship and public discussion of ethics and human values.
  • Bill Belichick (Doctor of Humane Letters) – Bill Belichick earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Wesleyan in 1975. Also a Wesleyan parent, Belichick and his wife, Debby, have been long-time advocates of and contributors to Wesleyan and community charities. In 2002 Coach Belichick guided the underdog New England Patriots to their first world championship, against tremendous odds. He has since repeated that feat twice, most recently this year at Super Bowl XXXIX. Belichick has earned a reputation for being one of football’s elite game strategists whose defensive game plans have consistently been credited for defusing some of the NFL’s most potent offenses.
  • Edward P. Jones (Doctor of Humane Letters) – Edward P. Jones was educated at Holy Cross College and the University of Virginia. His first book, Lost in the City, was originally published by William Morrow in 1992 and short-listed for the National Book Award. A collection of fourteen short stories, Lost in the City deals with African American working class and underclass experiences in mid-20th century, inner-city Washington, D.C. Jones was named a National Book Award finalist for a second time with the publication of his debut novel, “The Known World,” which subsequently won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • William Barber (Doctor of Letters) – William Barber is the Andrews Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wesleyan. Barber joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1957 after receiving his doctor in philosophy degree from Oxford University. He is recognized as an expert on the history of economic thought, on economists as policy advisers, and on development economics. His next book, Volume 4 of “Perspectives on Applied Topics and Forward Trajectories,” is expected to be published in 2005.

Wesleyan will also bestow the Baldwin Medal, the highest alumni honor presented by the University, to John F. Woodhouse, ’53, P’79, former president and CEO of Sysco Corporation, named trustee emeritus following 15 years on Wesleyan’s Board, and most recently, chairman and leader of the successful $287M Wesleyan Capital Campaign. David B. Jenkins, ’53, P’83, former CEO and president of Shaws Supermarkets, named trustee emeritus following 12 years on Wesleyan’s Board, chair of the Campaign for Liberal Learning and National Leadership Gifts Chair for the Wesleyan Capital Campaign, will receive the Baldwin Medal at Homecoming/Family Weekend this fall.

The Baldwin Medal pays tribute to the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin of Wesleyan’s Class of 1916. Baldwin was the only man to have held the offices of Connecticut governor, U.S. senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Noted Journalists Debate Iraq, Foreign Policy


Posted 04/15/05

“Vanity Fair” contributing editor Christopher Hitchens and Pulitzer Prize nominee Michael Parenti participated in a debate titled “Iraq and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy” April 18 at Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

Hitchens is an Oxford-educated self-described liberal who has become a supporter of U.S. intervention in Iraq. A former columnist for The Nation and book critic for Newsday, he is now a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine. His books include “Hostage to History: Cyprus From the Ottomans to Kissinger” and his most recent, “Love, Poverty and War: Journeys and Essays.”

Parenti, a Yale graduate, has been a persistent critic of U.S. foreign policy for over 25 years and strongly opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. His most recent book, “Superpatriotism,” explores the cultural dynamics that underpin America’s approach to foreign policy in recent years. He has reportedly written over 250 articles for scholarly journals, periodicals and newspapers.

The presentation was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Office of the President, the Sociology and Government departments, WESU 88.1FM, WesPeace, the United Student Labor Action Coalition and the Muslim Students Association.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

$800,000 Grant to Benefit Computer Sciences


A new grant will expand emphasis on computer science instruction and resources.
 
Posted 04/15/05

An $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant will allow the Mathematics and Computer Sciences departments at Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College to collaborate on a new cost and resource sharing arrangement, expand the departments’ curricula and provide incentives for more computer science faculty to work in a liberal arts setting.

The grant will fund the hiring of four post-doctoral fellows in computer science who will develop new courses, seminars and workshops. While each fellow will be employed by a “home” institution, all four will provide instruction and collaborate with colleagues at the three participating academic institutions. This will include on-site instruction and the simultaneous teaching of courses at the institutions through video conferencing.

The grant also focuses on providing resources for the recruitment, mentoring and training of women and underrepresented students in computer sciences. Methods will include faculty and peer mentoring, workshops and programs on career and research opportunities, and the creation and distribution of materials aimed at interesting nontraditional students to enroll in introductory computer science courses.

Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College have enjoyed a long tradition of academic collaboration known as the CTW Consortium, which includes sharing instructional technology and library service resources. In recent years, the Mellon Foundation has also awarded grants to the CTW Consortium to sponsor a computer sciences joint colloquium and to build on existing shared resources to improve the curricula of all three member institutions.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private foundation that makes grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education, museums, and art conservation, performing arts, population, conservation and the environment and public affairs.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations with Eric Cárdenas, Connecticut College

Registrar Makes Enrollment Process Easier for Students, Faculty


 
Registrar Anna van der Burg stands outside the registrar’s windows in North College where she helps students answer questions about class enrollment.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Not long ago, all Wesleyan students returning to campus each semester had to participate in Enrollment Day. This meant hours of waiting in lengthy lines snaking through the lobby of the Exley Science Center. If they wanted to drop or add a class, students would have to chase down professors and their advisor to sign the drop/add slip. Students would carry this slip over to the registrar’s office, again waiting in long lines for a staff member to type the course selections into the computer system.

That’s how it was five years ago.

Now students can enroll in the university and drop or add classes via the Internet, 24 hours a day thanks in part to Anna van der Burg and the Office of the Registrar.

“By automating these processes, we are saving the students, staff and faculty time and money, and since it’s all done on computers, we might be saving some trees too,” Registrar van der Burg says. “What used to be done on paper and in person, and had the chance for errors, can now be done quickly and accurately and any time of the day.”

van der Burg, who came to Wesleyan in 2000, has facilitated meetings with her staff, academic deans, class deans, the staff in Information Technology Services and other members of the Wesleyan community to implement these changes. In some cases she’s held open forums to come up with final solutions for projects.

Students favor the online technologies in lieu of standing in long lines.

“We’re moving into an age where students expect to do things online,” van der Burg says. “They’ve been dealing with technology practically since their infancy.”

The drop/add system allow students and faculty to view class enrollments online in real-time. That way, students who want to add a class can see if a particular class is still open. Meanwhile, faculty can see how their classes are filling up.

“Students and faculty operate at different times of the day, so this system is convenient to them both,” she says. “This saves students a lot of time and running around tracking down their professors for signatures.”

So far, the new system has been “incredibly successful,” says Karen Anderson, assistant dean of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

“Anna has been very instrumental in developing and streamlining these new systems, and the new technologies are very effective,” Anderson says. “She has a vision, and she is always working toward the next innovation.

Technology changes are only one aspect of van der Burg’s job. The Office of the Registrar is also the official recording agency for the University and therefore is the keeper of historical information such as class lists, transcripts, other student and enrollment data. In addition, the Honors Program is coordinated by the office, located on the first floor of North College.

With her staff of 10, van der Burg also oversees the publication of the annual University Course Catalog and the administrative applications in the student and faculty portfolios. The catalog includes academic regulations, degree requirements, academic standing, general regulations and advanced degrees in addition to major requirements and course offerings and descriptions.

Dealing with legal issues, such as keeping students record confidential, are also on her slate. Anderson says she’ll call van der Burg with any questions relating to student records or policies.

“When we ever have a question about any issues regarding student records, we just ask Anna, and she can rattle off the answer immediately,” she says. “She is very attentive to university policies. She knows them like the back of her hand.”

Much of her day is spent answering questions via e-mail, phone or in person.  She also meets with class deans on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes I have to interact with some very upset students,” she says. “Some of them don’t understand that I don’t have the power to put someone in a class, but by the time they leave my office, usually I have helped them to understand this and I direct them to their class dean or advisor who can help work out an alternative.”

Oh, and she also doesn’t have the power to alter transcripts.

“I have been asked that before,” she says, smiling.

van der Burg, a native of Oostvoorne, The Netherlands, first came to America at the age of 6 weeks old. Her father took up a job with Uniroyal in Patterson, N.J. and later Detroit, Mich. When Anna was 10, the family moved back to Europe and Anna attended schools in Germany and Luxemburg before graduating high school back in her native country. She returned to the America for college, earning her bachelor’s of art in art history from the College of Wooster in Ohio. There, she met her husband-to-be, Andrew Saslow, and moved to Connecticut where his family lived.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” she says.

van der Burg started at Yale University in the library system. That got her working on computers, and later she started programming. This skill led her onwards into the Registrar’s Office, in total she spent 22 years at Yale. Then in 2000, she got a call from her friend, Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems in Information Technology Services. 

“He told me Wesleyan had a registrar’s position open, but I was already very happy doing what I was doing at Yale,” van der Burg says.  “Then I got this call from the associate provost, Billy Weitzer, and, well, by the time of interview, I was already convinced that Wesleyan would be a good move, and it sure has been.”

van der Burg lives in Cheshire with her husband and boys Nate, 17, and Jake, 15. The boys are members of the Cheshire Football team so the family spends ample time at games.  In her spare time, she enjoys working out at the Freeman Athletic Center, reading, listening to “all kinds” of music, gardening, playing with her cat and dog, and rooting for the New York Giants. And bashfully, van der Burg admits that she’s a “huge fan” of pop-TV show “American Idol.”

“I think it’s going to be Bo, the rocker, who wins this season,” she predicts.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor