Olivia Drake

Senior Awarded Humanity in Action Fellowship to Study Minority, Human Rights

Psychology major Nikko Marko Lencek-Inagaki ’07 will study in France this summer as one of 57 Humanity in Action Fellows.
Posted 05/02/07
Nikko Marko Lencek-Inagaki ’07 is a first-generation American: his father is Japanese and his mother is Italian-Slovene. With his mother he celebrates the arrival of St. Nick; his father made obento for lunch in high school. He also is “quite gay,” he says.

A psychology major facing “politics of difference”, Lencek-Inagaki always asks “Why? Why do people do what they do, think what they think?”. “Because I am sensitive to and critical of how differences are construed,” he continues, “I not only ask, ‘why,’ but I am heavily invested in finding the answers.”

As a recently-selected Humanity in Action fellow, Lencek-Inagaki will have the opportunity to dive further into his understanding of how people think through a summer fellowship. He was one of 57 undergraduate students in the United States selected to study contemporary minority and human rights issues through the program.

Summer fellows travel to Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, and the United States. In each program, the American students will join university students from Europe for five weeks. Lencek-Inagaki will study in France.

“I am most excited to engage with the other fellows,” he says. “I am hoping that they are young, smart, irrepressible, accountable, capable, precise, and articulate students. As with the closest friends I’ve made at Wesleyan, I hope that there is much that the fellows and I can learn uniquely together.”

Lencek-Inagaki was selected for the fellowship on the basis of high academic achievement, evidence of leadership ability, and demonstrated interest in and commitment to human rights and minority issues.

“Psychology, I quickly found, is just as prone to the racisms and homo-/trans-phobias that pervade knowledge in other academic disciplines,” he says. “The history of psychology, however, became for me an incredibly useful way of studying the politics of ‘difference’ and how we understand/constitute ‘the human’. More, History of Psychology lets me be critical of how phobic and oppressive understandings become reified into events and memorialized into the past.”

Concentrating on historic and contemporary examples of protection of minorities, Humanity in Action seeks to identify the conditions and mechanisms under which people act according to the highest moral principles and to encourage university students to become morally responsive citizens. Past fellows have used their Humanity in Action experience to further careers in journalism, education, civil service, law, art, and many other fields. Some fellows may proceed to prestigious international internships to continue their training and professional development.

Lencek-Inagaki is eager to explore what it means to live with history as a minority.

The program encourages its participants to look towards the future, allowing them to ask how those lived histories, legal regulations, and identification processes are resisted, become ways of resisting, empower, disempower, and affect the ways and meanings of ‘coalition-building’.

“Having a personal, academic, activist context of organizing, negotiating, and historiography, the goals of the program seem to resonate with my interests,” Lencek-Inagaki says.

After graduation, Lencek-Inagaki wants to pursue a master’s degree either in clinical or community psychology, or teaching research. He’s received a Holzberg Fellowship from the Psychology Department, which will contribute $800 towards his graduate school studies. At the moment, he’s looking into history of science graduate programs, which would allow him to focus questions related to relationships with cultural history, epistemology and queer historiography.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photo contributed.

Faculty Show Exhibition Highlights Work of 10 Studio Artists

Assistant Professor of Art Leslie Snipes is one of 10 faculty participating in The Faculty Show in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery through May 27.
Posted 05/02/07
Through a three-dimensional art piece made of carpet spools and mobile platforms, Jeffrey Schiff, professor of art, explores movement and stability, and the desire to exert control and temptation to escape.

Schiff and nine of his colleagues are showing their work at The Faculty Show, an exhibition that showcases the work of studio art faculty in Wesleyan’s Art and Art History Department. The first of its kind in more than a decade, the exhibition includes the work of Schiff, professors of art David Schorr, J. Seeley and Tula Telfair; assistant professors of art Elijah Huge and Leslie Snipes; Luther Gregg Sullivan Fellow John Slepian, pictured at right; Professor Emeritus of Art John Frazer; Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Kate TenEyck; and Visiting Artist in Art and East Asian Studies, Keiji Shinohara.

Curated by Nina Felshin, The Faculty Show will be on view through May 27 in The Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery.

The artists in The Faculty Show represent a broad spectrum of stylistic and conceptual concerns and are at various stages of their teaching and artistic careers. The length of their time at Wesleyan also varies enormously. The now retired but still part-time teaching John Frazer, for example, began in 1959 whereas Elijah Huge who teaches architecture taught his first course last semester.

Schiff, pictured at left, a sculptor and installation artist, says his piece is a prototype for a work envisioned to be much larger, in which several spools dispense carpeting onto mobile planes to produce a fragmented floor of shifting patterns. The numerous parts of the floor can roll about, changing the configuration of the floor and the juxtapositions of its colors and patterns.

“My work explores order and disorder, and offers speculations about the complex ways in which the things of the world cohere, conglomerate, fragment, proliferate, and disperse,” he says.

Shinohara, pictured at right, a visiting artist in art and East Asian Studies and master woodblock printer, is showing work inspired by observing attempts to preserve ancient wall paintings.

“Sometimes the areas that chip away are restored in an attempt to maintain the original vitality of the painting,” he says. “Yet there is a certain beauty to wall paintings that honestly reflect the passage of time, which is what I wanted to capture in these pieces.”

In addition to the show, “Outside the Frame: Teaching Art in a World of Porous Boundaries,” a seminar related to the exhibition, is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 26 in Zilkha Gallery. Panelists include Sidney Russell ’07, Schorr and TenEyck, pictured at right.

“As in other academic disciplines, the boundaries of art have expanded and, increasingly, art is not sharply defined by medium as it once was,” explains Felshin, who will moderate the seminar. “We will ask and explore, ‘How has the evolution of art itself influenced the teaching of art in an undergraduate program such as Wesleyan’s? How does a professor’s own work influence his or her teaching? How do they prepare their students for life in the art world?”

Gallery Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m. Friday. The event is free. For more information, call the Box Office at 860-685-3355 or visit www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.

For artist biographies and to see images of the show, visit: http://www.wesleyan.edu/art/facultyexhibition07/.

By Adam Kubota, press and marketing director. Photos by Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

State AG Speaks about Global Warming at Wesleyan’s Earth Day Celebration

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal speaks with Joe Bruno, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; Barry Chernoff, director of the Environmental Studies Certificate Program; and Midge Bennet prior to his talk on global warming April 18.
Posted 05/02/07
“Connecticut’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming” was the topic of Wesleyan’s Earth Day celebration April 18. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal delivered the keynote address to a Memorial Chapel-full of students, faculty, staff and members of the local community.

Blumenthal, the 23rd elected AG of the state, had worked as a federal prosecutor for several cases against environmental polluters. He has also addressed issues on interstate air pollution, clean energy solutions and the environment of Connecticut, with an emphasis on rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas emitted as a result of burning of coal, oil, and natural gas.

“You know CO2 is a great threat to the future of our planet,” Blumenthal said during the presentation to more than 150 audience members, including Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and President Doug Bennet. “It will have the greatest impact on lower-income countries, but it’s going to have dire effects on the United States, and especially a state like Connecticut, and our shoreline. CO2 is odorless, tasteless and invisible, and the challenge here is to continue advancing to make sure people understand the way this pollutant affects our daily lives.”

Blumenthal stressed the importance of using renewable resources such as solar and wind power, and even natural gas – rather than burning oil – for “cleaner” energy sources. He spoke on energy efficiency standards, stating that they are a “no brainer,” and “must be at the heart of the state’s CO2 battle.”

Blumenthal mentioned the Clean Air Act, amended in 1990, which says CO2 is classified as a pollutant that needs to be regulated. In a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on carbon dioxide emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency was found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act.

Blumenthal said he’s already noticing changes in the automotive and power industries.

“I think they’re beginning to get it,” he said. “They know they are not going to be permitted to function in an unregulated world. The question is, ‘How soon can we provide new technologies and make it a common ground?” We may see a whole new wave of technology because the interest will be there.”

Graduate Liberal Studies Program student Nicole Conti Lee says she was impressed with Wesleyans Earth Day talk. Lee, who was raised in Africa and Italy, and moved to the United States in 1996, says European countries are far more advanced when dealing with the global warming crisis than the United States. She hopes Blumenthal’s message will become widespread across the state, New England and the country at large.

“I think that most people are aware of the situation, but it was great Wesleyan was able to bring in the attorney general to hear what he has to say,” she said. “The amount of CO2 being produced from mansions and SUVs is unthinkable, and I really think that people have to step it up in this country as a general rule.”

Johan (Joop) Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor in Earth Sciences and department chair, explained the flip side of the CO2 issue.

“The classification of CO2 as a pollutant is heavily attacked by ‘climate contrarians’ who argue that CO2 can not be a pollutant because it is an essential nutrient for plants. The question then becomes is CO2 a pollutant, a contaminant or something else? Here we come into gray terrain of nomenclature – more CO2 means a warmer climate with potentially severe impacts for many organisms, but on the other hand more CO2 is also beneficial to many plants,” Varekamp says. “This classification conundrum is not easily settled, but many environmental and scientific organizations, including the IPCC, regard the current global climate warming deleterious for the global ecosystem and humans. They all thus argue that CO2 should be considered a pollutant.”

After his talk, the Attorney General answered questions from the audience. Questions on carbon tax, natural gas, considerations on rail and electric cars, a proposed gas-based energy center on Long Island, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, Connecticut’s electric grid and opponent’s views were all posed and discussed. Conversation continued at a reception in Zelnick Pavilion following the keynote address.

Blumenthal applauded the Wesleyan’s efforts in education, programs and actions to help reduce global warming. He told the audience it was up to them to educate others on the ongoing fight.

“I think we all have an obligation to leave this world better than the way we found it,” he said. “Can one state or one country make a difference by example? People, as individuals, that come together can make a difference.”

The presentation was sponsored by The Robert Schumann Lecture Series in the Environmental Studies Certificate Program.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos by Richard Marinelli.

Library Assistant Finds Obscure Books for Patrons

Lisa Pinette, library assistant, lends 50 to 75 Wesleyan books, articles and videos each day to libraries all over the country.
Posted 05/01/07
When Olin Library doesn’t house a publication that a student, staff or faculty member needs, it’s the job of Lisa Pinette to help find it.

Pinette, a library assistant for Access Services in the Interlibrary Loan Office, borrows and receives journals, articles and audio-visual material from other libraries. Access Services oversees the public aspect of Olin Library, ensuring that library patrons are able to find any publications, DVDs, VHS tapes or CDs they need for research.

“Some of our students may request very obscure books, which only a few libraries in the country might have, and those can be a challenge to track down,” Pinette explains. “But on the other hand, we’re getting incoming requests from other libraries all over the country, which means Wesleyan may be one of the few holders of that publication.”

Most book-swapping takes place through the CTW Consortium, a reciprocal partnership between libraries at Wesleyan, Trinity College and Connecticut College. But when these libraries don’t carry what a patron is looking for, the Interlibrary Loan Office will look beyond state — or even national boundaries.

Wesleyan shares with libraries as far away as California on a daily basis, and has provided its material to libraries as far across the globe as Australia.

“It’s fun to see what books are going out and coming in,” Pinette says. “We have about five or ten books that are constantly going out, so you know that Wesleyan is one of the only holders of that item.”

Most of these requests are handled through ILLIAD, an interlibrary loan software that is compatible with the non-profit computer library service Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Patrons make requests either through ILLIAD or directly from WorldCat, a national library catalog produced by OCLC. The library pays for these services and patrons are not charged any fees for these services.

Although Pinette spends most of her time in the library’s Access Services Department, she wears three other hats. During the week, she works an hour in the morning as an assistant in Reference Department, where she handles administrative duties and hires and supervises the Government Documents and Reference student workers. Additionally, at the beginning of each semester, most of her time is spent processing electronic reserves for the Reserve Department. When classes are in session, Pinette supervises the Circulation Department on Sundays. This role includes opening the library, supervising the student workers at the circulation desks, and answering any circulation questions from patrons.

“My job is first of its kind in Olin and it is pretty unusual, but I fit a lot of niches here,” she says. “The best part about working in four departments is that there is no chance I can ever get bored. It’s never a routine.”

Pinette works closely with her colleagues and library assistants Kathy Stefanowicz and Kate Wolfe; and her supervisor, EunJoo Lee, head of Access Services.

“Lisa is an absolutely wonderful, capable, fun, and easy person to work with, and the ability to rotate her time based on the workload required in the library,” Lee says. “She has a talent for adapting to various technologies and has efficiently managed three different categories of library software, making her one of the few library staff members who work on many systems in the library. Lisa is highly valued in each department. She is an absolute one of kind, a beloved co-worker, and she brings brightness to colleagues and her students workers in the department.”

Pinette, who graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 1995, has a degree in English. During her last two years at ECSU she worked at the university’s library and caught “the library bug.” She began to follow in her mother’s footsteps; Jan Grace, who was the children’s librarian at the Library Association of Warehouse Point, Conn. for 28 years.

“Once anyone works in a library, it is all they want to do,” she says, smiling.

After college, Pinette worked for a mall-leasing company, but spent her Sundays working at the Windsor Public Library in the children’s section. She traded in her public library career for an academic library career at Wesleyan in 2001.

Pinette, a life-long Connecticut resident, lives in Middletown and enjoys creating her own holiday cards, knitting, reading, cooking, watching movies and participating in her favorite “sport” – shopping.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Manages Office, Does Marathons, Triathlons

Dianna Hyland, assistant to the director of the Office of Public Affairs, completed this year’s Boston Marathon.
Posted 05/01/07
Q: Dianna, you are the assistant to Justin Harmon, vice president for the Office of Public Affairs, formerly the Office of University Communications. For how long have you worked in that office?

A: I began working at Wesleyan on Oct. 30, 2000.

Q: What goes on in your daily routine? What is the most challenging aspect of your job here?

A: I was originally hired to provide direct support to Justin, however, as with most jobs, this position has continued to evolve over the past seven years. I provide administrative support to the entire staff, which means that even though there are some ‘routine’ daily tasks – like scanning the media for Wesleyan-related stories – I always have a variety of project that I am working on. The most challenging aspect of my job is managing the budget, especially with the addition of WESU 88.1 FM.

Q: What are your degrees in and from where?

A: Some people might call me a “perpetual student,” however I prefer to call myself a “lifelong learner.” While attending the University of Connecticut from 1988-1994, I earned a bachelor’s of art in psychology as well as a master’s in art in exercise science. Two years later, I went back to school to earn a master’s of art in higher education from the University of Arizona. While at UA, I spent time working in Residence Life as well as in Student Activities, including Greek Life and Commuter Student Affairs.

Q: With such a background, how did you end up at Wesleyan?

A: My husband and I returned to Connecticut in order to be closer to family. When I started applying for positions within higher education, I was open to working in a more “administrative” position in order to have evenings and weekends available to spend with friends and family. I applied for a couple of positions at Wesleyan, and good fortune brought me to my current position. I will admit that I miss the positive energy and enthusiasm that comes from working directly with student groups.

Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan?

A: There are too many wonderful things to list just one! At both the university and departmental levels, I feel like a respected and valued member of the team. Wesleyan really grasps the concept of employee wellness. I love that I am encouraged to seek both professional and personal growth opportunities.

Q: What are you studying now and why?

A: As a lifelong learner, I recently decided to enroll in a program to earn another degree – this one will allow me to be a physical therapist assistant, which fits perfectly with my interest in fitness, wellness and caring for people. Balancing school, work, marathon and triathlon training and household responsibilities has proven to be an interesting, and exhausting, challenge.

Q: You recently took part in the Boston Marathon. How did that go?

A: This was my first time running the Boston Marathon, and it was an incredible experience. Within the running community, “Boston” is considered a prestigious event, as it requires participants to earn their spot in the race. In order to ‘qualify’ to run Boston, I had to run a prior marathon in a certain amount of time. A marathon always is 26.2 miles, and I had to run one in 3 hours and 45 minutes in order to be allowed to run in Boston.

Q: What kind of preparation and training did you have to go through?

A: Before Boston, I ran the Hartford marathon for three consecutive years. The first marathon was a test of my ability to complete the distance. That was all it took and I was hooked! The human body is such an amazing, complex system. I love watching how it adapts to the demands of training, and then ultimately performs on race day. Training for a marathon usually takes 16-18 weeks, and basically involves gradually increasing mileage each week. There are many different types of training plans to choose from, based on an individual’s level of fitness and goals.

Q: Do you go to Wesleyan’s Freeman Athletic Center often? Do you take any classes?

A: I can usually be found at FAC two or three days each week. I am a regular participant in the Adult Fitness classes, specifically yoga. Taking the class is a great stress-reliever in the middle of the day, and has also made me a stronger, more flexible runner. I also use the pool when I am in training for triathlons.

Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: In addition to running and yoga, I also enjoy swimming, biking and hiking. As a member of the Willimantic Lions Club, I participate in volunteer activities as well. In addition, I am a member of the Willimantic Athletic Club, and participate in volunteer and social activities with them. If I’m ever found sitting still, there is usually a book, movie or some writing involved in capturing my attention.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born and raised in Connecticut, and have family in North Windham where I live with my husband Jason, and our two dogs, Jake and Darren.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Lacrosse Goalie Says Sport is 60-Minute Mental Workout

Earth and environmental studies major Charlie Congleton ’07 is Wesleyan’s leading goaltender.
Posted 05/01/07
Q: Charlie, you have been the starting goaltender for the very successful men’s lacrosse team at Wesleyan for 2 1/2 years. When did you take an interest in goaltending?

A: I started playing lacrosse in 4th grade, In 7th grade, no one wanted to play goalie so I volunteered at the beginning of the season and started standing in the net. They started chucking tennis balls at me and I stopped them. So then I stood in there with real balls and stopped those. Pretty soon my friends were just throwing balls at me and I didn’t want to get out of the net, I loved it. The only goal I let up in my first game hit me in the head and went straight in the air and fell behind me, but we ended up winning. I think that if I had gotten lit up in that first game I wouldn’t be here now. Goalie is all about having confidence in yourself and your abilities especially in those first couple years. It gave me a lot of confidence that, “Hey, I can actually stop these balls and that helps us win.” That was pretty cool and I just built off of that.

Q: When you came to Wesleyan, the Cardinals had a solid goaltender in Matt Wheeler ’05. How would you describe your relationship with him during the two years you were teammates?

A: Matt is a great guy and was a great goalie. He’s also one of my good friends from the time I’ve had at Wesleyan from being in Beta Theta Pi and playing lacrosse together. We were both very focused on winning games when he was around and as his backup it was my job to push him so that he and the team could get better. When our coach, John Raba, gave me a shot to start after we dropped our first four NESCAC games in 2005, I think he was just trying to shake things up. Once we started winning games I kept playing. Matt was always very supportive after that and all he wanted was to be part of a winning team even though his game wasn’t where he wanted it that year.

Q: Do you remember the first game you started as Wesleyan’s goalie?

A: Yes. It was against Trinity and it was cold, wet and I had a cold. I had played a solid amount of time in the previous couple NESCAC games against better teams so I felt confident I could stop shots. But we ended up winning in overtime. Once we got that first win behind us that year it felt easy to just go in there, have fun, and win, the next games.

Q: Since getting your first start, the team has posted a record of 39-7 and attended the NCAA Division III tournament twice with another chance very likely this season. What makes this team so good?

A: I think we work harder than anyone else in the league year-round to get better. On top of that, we love having fun doing what we are doing during practice, on the bus the day before games, and especially during games. I don’t think you can win if you aren’t having fun, and on top of that it’s fun to win, so it’s a positive feedback loop. And if we do lose we find what we did wrong and move on. Once there’s nothing you can do about a game, it’s time to play the next one and do more than what you did last game to get the W.

Q: What are your thoughts on Coach John Raba and the rest of his coaching staff?

A: I can’t say enough about Coach Raba and all of the coaches we’ve had the past four years. They have such a great lacrosse IQ and we are rarely unprepared for a game as a team. When they deal with us individually, they will reward hard work and improvement with more playing time and they won’t stand for lacks of effort. Off the field they are our parents away from home and care immensely about our success and well being. They are always pulling for us. Overall they are everything you could ask for from a coaching staff. I’ve improved 10 times since I was a freshman because I finally got to work with a goalie coach, too. It’s just been an unbelievable experience playing here.

Q: Most spectators marvel at the resolve of someone willing to stand in front of a net with minimal padding and hard rubber balls being fired at him. What is the experience like?

A: The first thing is you have to convince your mind that getting hit by the ball is actually better than not getting hit at all. Once you can do that you are more relaxed when the ball is shot at you. Then you need to focus on watching the ball leave the shooters stick and come at you because if you don’t see it you won’t save it 95 percent of the time. You need to realize you are going to have to move yourself to where the ball is going to be. That’s when the adrenaline kicks in and you just react to each shot and get something in front of it. A lacrosse game for me is basically a 60 minute mental struggle with myself to see if I can focus on the ball yet still be aware enough to make clears and direct the defense around and then get back into focus mode all in a split second.

Q: Last year you led all NCAA Division III goaltenders in save percentage (saves vs. goals allowed) and ranked in the top-10 nationally in goals-against average. You are again in the top-10 this season in both categories. How would you characterize the synergy between you and the defense?

A: Well clearly I wouldn’t have any personal success without my D in front of me. It’s a symbiotic relationship because there are times when I let down my D if they make a good play and I make a mistake and the goal goes in and there are times when they make a mistake and I have to come up with a save. And we’re constantly working during the game and the season on minimizing mistakes. Overall we’re confident we can stop shots outside 10 yards consistently.

Q: How far do you think the 2007 Cardinals can go as the post-season approaches?

A: We’re taking one game at a time because if you start looking ahead during the playoffs chances are you are going to be unhappy with the results. But I think we can go far.

Q: What is you major at Wesleyan and how would you describe the university as an educational institution?

A: I’m an earth and environmental science major. Wesleyan has been a challenging academic institution and has provided me countless opportunities to pursue whatever it was that I was interested in learning more about. In my major, I particularly enjoyed exploring the science behind our planet’s geology and the methods we use to map and collect data on the Earth’s surface from satellite systems in orbit.

Q: Tells us some of your other interests besides being bombarded by lacrosse balls?

A: Well I’m a huge sports fan of pretty much everything. I’ve even gotten into NASCAR during my time here and play that a lot on the Xbox. But in terms of real hobbies, I’m a huge outdoor guy and like to go hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, skiing, fishing, things like that to get my adrenaline fix when I’m not getting peppered. I worked at a summer camp the past four summers doing just those things, so it’s been an important part of my life.

Q: What does the future hold for Charlie Congleton after Wesleyan?

A: Next year I’m working for my goalie coach Lukas “Money” Cash and his companies Revolution Lacrosse, Nation Lacrosse, Goalie Nation and Rev-Mind that run girls club lacrosse teams, lacrosse goalie dedicated websites and camps and clinics, and sports psychological coaching up in Boston. Some day I’d like to go back to school and further my education. I’m not too sure yet, right now I just want to have some fun and find out what it is that I love to do.

Q: Any other secrets to your success?

A: Jesse Bardo ’07 is one of the main reasons I am where I am today. He spends 20-30 minutes with me everyday warming me up and ripping on me to get me better and he’s been doing that since sophomore year. He and former lacrosse player Steve Binswanger ’06 and my teammate Dave Wilkinson ’09 have kept me loose and sharpened my skills for the past three years and I can’t thank them enough. Their sense of humor and the fun they have when they play keeps me positive and having fun too.

By Brian Katten, director of Sports Information

Wesleyan Holds 175th Commencement Ceremonies

731 students received bachelor of arts degrees May 27 at Wesleyan. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
Posted 05/27/.07
Don’t be afraid of risk, and don’t shy away from service to others.

These were among the thoughts offered during Wesleyan University’s 175th commencement ceremony by Jim Lehrer, anchor of PBS’ The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and noted novelist. Lehrer delivered the commencement address before more than 10,000 people at Wesleyan’s campus in Middletown, Conn.

During the ceremony, the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Joyce P. Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics; Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of American Studies and English; and T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry.

Lehrer, whose daughter Lucy graduated from Wesleyan in 1985, became an official member of Wesleyan’s class of 2007, receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. The graduating class included five other honorary degree recipients, along with the recipients of 731 bachelor’s degrees, 58 masters of arts in liberal studies, 25 masters of arts and 14 doctorates.

The ceremony also marked the 12th and final commencement presided over by Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet, who is retiring from Wesleyan in June.

Early in his remarks, Lehrer shared with the audience that, in the capacity of reporter, parent, friend or otherwise, he had been to hundreds of commencement ceremonies and that
“I not only cannot remember what any of the speakers said, I can’t remember what most of them looked like. I have no doubt that this will be the case again now.”

He then exhorted the graduates to engage fully with the world they are stepping into. He reminded them that most of the military men and women currently in harm’s way in Iraq are the same ages as themselves, and that each had made a conscious choice to wear the uniform.

“That makes them no better, no worse than you or anyone else who chooses to do something else,” he said. “But they are risking — some are giving — their lives and they do so in your name, my name, our names, in the name of our country. So…no matter what your view on Iraq, whether you support what’s happening or hate what’s happening, cheer them when they come home.”

He asked the graduates to serve society – not necessarily in the military, but in some way. “Serve your neighborhood, town, city, county, state and country…serve a common purpose beyond yourself and your immediate family and/or interests,” he said.

Lehrer reminded the graduates that life with out risks, without seeking out challenges, is no life at all.

“To search for a safe place is to search for an end to a rainbow that you will hate once you find it,” he said. “Take charge of you own life. Create your own risks by setting your own standards, satisfying your own standards. …The way to happiness is to risk it. Risk it.”

President Bennet sounded a similar theme in his own address to the graduates. Having traveled the country and the world during the 12 years of his Wesleyan presidency, he had met alumni and alumnae from across the social spectrum, he said.

“They are accomplished academically, but they are, in addition, risk takers, change makers and people, individually and collectively, with an extraordinarily high level of concern for the welfare of society,” Bennet said. “The class of 2007 will find a lot of kindred spirits.”

Arjit Sen, president of the graduating class, urged his classmates to keep pushing themselves, to enjoy the rewards of their pursuits, but to never see these rewards as goals in themselves. “I wish only thing for us: that we never ever allow ourselves to become insignificant,” he said.

Along with Lehrer, honorary degrees were awarded to Jewel Plummer Cobb, Alan M. Dachs, Rosa DeLauro, Nobutaka Machimura and Thomas F. Malone. Robert G. McKelvey was awarded the Baldwin Medal, Wesleyan’s highest alumni award.

At a ceremony on Saturday, May 26, Taft Armandroff, Wesleyan Class of 1982, was among the recipients of the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Full bios of all the recipients of honorary degrees and awards can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/2007/0507commencementbios.htt

To read Jim Lehrer’s speech go to:

To read President Bennet’s speech, go to:

To view photos of Wesleyan University’s 175th Commencement Ceremony go to:

Bookplates Honor Students Who Worked at Olin Library

Michele Chun ’07, who works in Olin Library’s preservation services, is one of 44 seniors who receive a bookplate label inside a library book, honoring their service to the library.
Posted 05/01/07
In 2004, Michele Chun ’07 became acquainted with the work of author Joy Williams. While studying abroad in Scotland that year, she read Williams’s The Honored Guest, and it’s remained one of her all-time favorite reads.

Chun, who worked as a student assistant in Olin Library for four years, will graduate this May, but her love for The Honored Guest will be remembered at Wesleyan long beyond Commencement. Inside Olin Library’s copy of the book, an affixed bookplate reads “In Honor of Michele Chun, Wesleyan Class of 2007. Recognizing the student’s service to the Library.”

Chun and the other 43 graduating seniors who worked in Olin Library all receive a bookplate honoring their time at Wesleyan. The students all had the opportunity to choose the book title that their name would appear in.

“When I am not here, another student may check out the book and see my name,” Chun explains. “I feel like I am leaving my mark in the library.”

This is the third consecutive year that Olin Library’s Users Services Coordinating Group voted to have bookplates created for the graduating seniors.

“The library always depends on our quality students, and when they leave, it feels like we are losing a staff member,” says EunJoo Lee, pictured below, left, head of Access Services at Olin Library. “We hope by putting our seniors’ names in a book that will give them a good feeling. We want them to know that they were important to us.”

Michaelle Biddle, pictured at left, head of Preservation Services, used a “drumming” technique to apply acid-free glue to the bookplate’s back. The labels were printed in her office, keeping cost for the bookplate program at a minimum.

Affixing the labels does not decrease the value of any Wesleyan publication. The bookplaces, made of a traditional acid-free, laid-line and chain paper, can easily be removed and leave no scaring on the book’s inside cover.

“Our books are read and loved. Because the labels are so handsome, these books will probably increase in value,” Biddle says, gluing down senior Melissa Mondesir’s label to her book choice Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. Mondesir worked in the library’s Circulation Department since her sophomore year.

“The author and the protagonist of the novel are both Haitian, and I am first generation Haitian-American,” Mondesir says. “It’s nice to read a coming of age story that I can truly relate to culturally. After four years at Wesleyan University, I appreciate the novel so much more for its
real portrayal of a strong black women.”

Reservation Services student Talya Zemach-Bersin ’07 decided to have her bookplate mounted in a senior thesis titled “Gustav Mahler : An Essay in the History of Music.” Although the American Studies major hasn’t fully read the essay, it has sentimental meaning.

The thesis’s author, Harvey Fischtrom ’55, is Zemach-Bersin’s grandfather.

“I didn’t even know for sure that he was a student at Wesleyan,” says Zemach-Bersin. “But then just a few months ago I found out he was here, and his thesis was in Special Collections and Archives. There was no doubt what book I wanted to choose for my nameplate.”

(More on Zemach-Bersin’s story will appear in the May 16 edition of the Wesleyan Connection).

Other book subjects spanned the gamut from Arie Eernisee’s had her bookplate affixed in Chinese Democracy after Tiananmen; Kristen Smith selected, A Walk in the Woods; Sean McClellan chose, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood; Daniel Zolli picked The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Zolli’s name is the second to appear in The Da Vinci Code. Library student worker James Wallace also left his nameplate in the hardback when he graduated in 2005.

“Once and a while two or even three students choose the same book, and that shows that that particular book was really popular,” Lee says.

Although the exact years are unknown, Lee says the bookplate tradition originated many years ago. In 2005, the idea was revisited when Preservation Services student worker Danya Sherman ’06 was taking a typography course at Wesleyan. Biddle asked Sherman if she could create a “21st century” bookplate design.

One hour later, the design was completed. The same design has been used for the past three years.

During Reunion and Commencement Weekend, Lee hopes the seniors will bring their families to the library and show them their name places and book choices.

“And when they return to campus as alumni, maybe with their own families, the books will always be on the Olin Library shelves for the former students to revisit,” Lee says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

BIOPHYSICS IN BALTIMORE: Thirteen Wesleyan students, faculty and alumni attended 2007 Biophysical Society 51st Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Md. March 3-7. Pictured from left, are Ishita Mukerji, associate professor and chair of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; Maiko Kondo ’07; and Wendy Barber-Armstrong, graduate student.

Kondo stands by her poster titled “Mechanism of Fiber Formation: Amyloid Beta Peptide (10-35)” The poster was co-authored by Barber-Armstrong and Mukerji. Kondo says she was able to speak to many scientists at the meeting who study similar topics.
Carlo Balane ’06 and Jason Wolfe, professor of biology, check out the exhibitions at the annual conference. Balane was presenting work he completed with Wolfe for his senior thesis as an undergrad.
Graduate student Siying Chen and Mukerji gather during a dinner, attended by all Wesleyan students, faculty and alumni during the conference.
In addition to the meeting, the Wesleyan group attended a national lecture, reception and dance party. All 13 Wesleyan attendees gather for dinner. Pictured on the left, front to back are: Sharyin Naomi Huang BA ’00, MA ’02; Mihaela-Rita Mihaelescu Ph.D ’01; Anne Baranger, former professor of chemistry; Wendy Barber-Armstrong; Maiko Kondo, Alicia Every, chemistry graduate student; and Jason Wolfe. Pictured on the right, from front to back are: Alina Britchi, chemistry graduate student; Bethany Kormos, chemistry post-doc; Mukerji Siying Chen; Yuegao Huang, chemistry graduate student and Carlo Balane. Not pictured is Congju Chen, a chemistry graduate student.

Senior Named Carnegie Junior Fellow

Gregory Dubinsky ’07 will work with experts in Washington DC after graduation. He was named a Carnegie Junior Fellow, the first Wesleyan has had since 1991.
Posted 04/17/07
Gregory Dubinsky ’07 will have the opportunity to work with two Russian scholars as a newly-accepted Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think-tank based in Washington, DC that focuses on promoting cooperation between nations.

Dubinsky, a government and intellectual history double major, is one of only seven students in the country to receive this honor. Each year the Carnegie Endowment offers the one-year fellowships to seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year.

The senior applied for the program to learn more about U.S. foreign policy issues, particularly as they apply to countries and cultures where there has historically been a gap in mutual understanding. He remembers reading Samuel Huntington’s controversial article “The Clash of Civilizations” and wondering how countries’ own self-perception affect their interactions with other nations

“Russia was always fascinating to me in this regard because of how profoundly important and troubled its historical struggle to define itself in relation to Western civilization has been,” he explains.

The Carnegie applications are judged on the quality of the written essay, related academic study and/or work experience, grades, recommendations and personal interviews. Dubinsky submitted an essay on the importance of oil and gas to Russian foreign policy and its implications for Russia’s relationship with the West.

This essay parallels his senior thesis, which is focused on exploring the connection between identity and foreign policy in Russian political and intellectual history in the nineteenth century and since 1991. In this study, Dubinsky wanted to find out how Russians’ sense of themselves has affected their country’s relationship to the United States and Europe, particularly as cooperation with Russia has become increasingly important to tackling the major global security issues of the day.

“I hope to continue in that vein at the Carnegie Endowment by trying to understand contemporary Russian politics in a deeper and more revealing historical context,” he says. “The atmosphere of intellectual inquiry at Wesleyan has prepared me well to ask critical questions about how cultures understand themselves and others.”

As a Junior Fellow, Dubinsky will provide research assistance to associates working on the Carnegie Endowment’s Russian/Eurasian projects. In the past, Junior Fellows have had the opportunity to conduct research for books, co-author journal articles and policy papers, participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony and organize briefings attended by scholars, activists, journalists and government officials.

He’s been paired with Mark Medish, vice president for Studies on Russia, China and Eurasia and special assistant to the president during the Clinton Administration, and Jim Collins, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, senior associate and director of the Russian and Eurasian Program, and diplomat in residence.

Wesleyan has not had a Junior Carnegie Fellow since 1991.

Peter Rutland, chair of the College of Social Studies and professor of government, nominated Dubinsky for the Junior Fellowship and encouraged him to apply. Dubinsky is grateful to Rutland for his support and guidance.

Dubinsky will begin his fellowship Aug. 1 and work full-time at the Carnegie Endowment, based in Washington DC, for one year. He will receive $2,750 per month and full benefits.

After graduation, Dubinsky plans on taking a trip to the Northwest to unwind, and he hopes to start learning Mandarin this summer in New York. Meanwhile, he’s excited about moving to Washington.

“I’m looking forward to meeting interesting people and learning more about how things get done in the capital,” he says. “Living in Washington should be a lot of fun and I’m very thankful for this opportunity.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

27 Student-Athletes Named All-Academics

Jeremy Stuart ’08, top, is one of 27 winter athletes named an all-academic by the New England Small Athletic Conference.  (Photos by Brian Katten)
Posted 04/17/07
The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced its 2006-07 Winter All-Academic selections. Twenty-seven Wesleyan student-athletes received the honor.

To be honored, a student-athlete must have reached junior academic standing and be a varsity letter-winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.35. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

“At Wesleyan, athletics is to be an integral part of the overall educational enterprise,” says Wesleyan Director of Athletics John Biddiscombe. “The All Academic NESCAC scholar-athletes are an outstanding example of how well athletics integrates with the academic program.”

Ellen Davis ’07 was named a “notable member” of the Winter All-Academic team. Davis, a member of the Cardinal Indoor Track and Field Team, won the individual title in the 5,000-meter event at the 2007 NCAA National Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 10 in Terre Haute, Ind. Davis, who is majoring in women’s studies, was named to the Winter All-Academic Team last year and has also earned All-Academic recognition in the fall of 2006 for Cross Country and spring of 2006 for Outdoor Track and Field.

Other Wesleyan athletes and their sports include: Alex Battaglino ’07, indoor track and field; Lila Bolke ‘07, women’s ice hockey; J.Z. Golden ’08, men’s squash (pictured at right); Nicole Gray ’08, women’s squash; Ryan Hendrickson ’07, men’s ice hockey; Jessica Houghton ’08, swimming and diving; Caroline Janin ’08, women’s squash; Eliza Jones ’07, swimming and diving; Owen Kiely GRAD, indoor track and field; Megan Kretz ’07, indoor track and field; and Anwell Lanfranco ’08, indoor track and field.

Also Chris Lau ’07, indoor track and field; Nikki Maletta ’08 women’s basketball; Andrew Marvin-Smith ’08, wrestling; Sarah Milburn ’07, women’s basketball; Susie Morrison ’07, swimming and diving (pictured at left); Stephanie O’Brien ’08, indoor track and field; Dave Scardella ’07, men’s ice hockey; Kara Schnoes ’07, indoor track and field; Jimmy Shepherd ’07, men’s basketball; Alex Shklyarevsky ’08, men’s ice hockey; Jeff Stein ’08, swimming and diving; Jeremy Stuart ’08, wrestling; Seline Tirtajana ’08, women’s squash; Sean Watson ’08, indoor track and field; and Jaime Wendel ’07, women’s ice hockey.

Library Cataloguer Named a Top Librarian Support Person in Connecticut

Shari Swanson ’79, library assistant and cataloger, started working at Olin Library in 1981. She plans to retire this summer.
Posted 04/17/07
Shari Swanson may be considered a bit “bibliophilic.”

During the day, Swanson works as Olin Library’s assistant and cataloger, sorting an array of reading material. And during the evening, she may retire to her personal library – stocked with more than 5,000 volumes.

“I am a bibliophile of the first order,” Swanson says. “I love to read, admire and collect books, old and new. A s a matter of fact, with me, it’s even close to an addiction. I do love to read. I read voraciously. I like the feel of books, books lining the walls of my rooms. Books comfort me; they make me happy; they fascinate me.”

Swanson’s lifelong love for books is just one reason she was recently named the Library Support Staff Member of the Year by the Connecticut Library Association. She will be honored at the annual Connecticut Library Association Conference April 17 in Hartford.

According to Ramona Harten, chair of the awards committee, nominations for the Support Staff Member of the Year award were open to all of the approximately 1,000 Connecticut Library Association members statewide. Swanson was nominated for the award by Barbara Jones, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian, and other Olin Library staff members.

The Support Staff of the Year Award promotes the role and image of library assistants and support staff in the library and information science fields. It recognizes the importance of support staff and their image in the library profession. Nominees must be currently working in the library profession in Connecticut in a support staff position.

“Shari has set an example for what university librarians like me look for in a staff member,” Jones explains. “First and foremost, she is curious about the world in general, and she reads and reads and reads, which means she is the ideal cataloger. She knows a lot about a lot of things, and what she doesn’t know, she’ll find out. Finally, Shari is compassionate and thoughtful about those around her. She will send me these thoughtful e-mails when she senses that a co-worker’s contributions are being overlooked, so that I can take notice and give recognition where it is due.”

Sally Grucan, cataloging librarian and Swanson’s supervisor, considers Swanson to be “probably the most productive cataloger that has ever existed” at Wesleyan.

“Shari understands the library and university big picture and, having a strong academic bent, is attuned to the needs of faculty in particular,” Grucan says. “She is the embodiment of a library support staff member who has materially contributed to the advancement of librarianship and library staff in her library. We have been extremely fortunate that she chose to stay at Wesleyan all these years.”

That’s 30 years to be exact.

Her ties with Wesleyan date back to 1977 when Swanson received an Etherington scholarship after receiving an associate’s degree from Manchester Community College. In 1979, she graduated from Wesleyan with a degree in history and has taken several graduate courses since from the Classical Studies and Medieval Studies programs. And in 1981, she began working for Olin Memorial Library on the Library of Congress classification range which included Russian works in Cyrillic language.

Rather than let the language become a barrier, she studied and became proficient in Russian transliteration in order to provide quality cataloging for the new acquisitions. Nowadays, she is able to transliterate Japanese and Chinese characters, and has knowledge in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Latin, Greek languages, and even Hebrew, Yiddish and Old Gothic script.

“I’m not always able to ‘read’ these texts, but I am able to transliterate them in order to search them, and catalog them,” Swanson says. “In my case, this is like a puzzle, or more closely, cryptography. It is coming at language from the back end, learning to identify ideographs and the ‘sound’ they make. My approach may not be the ideal, but it seems to work rather well.”

As a cataloger, Swanson makes sure each book acquired by the library is recorded correctly into the online catalog. She tweaks each book record accordingly, making sure the search points – such as authors and subjects – match the book so that when someone searches the catalog, he or she can easily find it with a general or keyword search.

In addition to the day-to-day new acquisitions, Swanson has cataloged Wesleyan’s Schomberg Collection of Negro Literature and History, large gift collections from the estates of Paul Horgan and Henry and Claire Erhmann, and rare text and artists books for the Special Collections and Archives Department. She’s also catalogued maps, audio/visual materials and serials, and is starting to catalogue a new “hidden collection” of works about King Arthur.

Swanson plans to retire from Wesleyan in June, however, will return in fall for a special, grant-funded project: the Nathan Comfort Starr Arthurian collection.

“This is a collection I have been drooling over and wanting to get my hands on for years,” she says. “I am very excited about this, and if grants can be gotten or other funds found, I hope that there are other projects that I can return to complete.”

Swanson’s knowledge and background made her an ideal recipient for the Support Staff Member of the award, Harten says, however Swanson was surprised by the decoration.

“I am humbled by this award because is initiated by my colleagues, my peers. They know me and nominated me anyway. Truly miraculous,” Swanson says smiling. “And that the selection committee then saw fit to honor me with this award takes my breath away. There are numbers of other staff here at Wesleyan who deserve this award. They increase exponentially when you consider the whole state. Therefore, I feel that I represent them all, and that I am the one to receive this award is a very lucky coincidence.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor