Olivia Drake

Turf Field Completed, Will Open this Month


Wesleyan’s new turf field, located behind Physical Plant on Long Lane, was dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony. It is expected to be available for use later this month.

Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan athletes will be breaking new ground this month on their new synthetic turf field.

The field, dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony, will be put to use in May. Men’s and women’s soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams will use the outdoor field regularly, and it will be available for several other activities, as well.

John Biddiscombe, director of athletics and chair of physical education, said Wesleyan is among the last universities in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) to possess a turf field.

“We’re no longer the turf nomads,” he said during the outdoor ceremony. “We’re no longer at the disadvantage.”

The artificial field, composed of Polytan Megagrass 2025, is located behind the Physical Plant building on Long Lane. Underneath the synthetic “grass” is a rubber padding, gravel and drainage pipes to keep the field puddle-free in the event of wet weather.

Men’s Head Lacrosse Coach John Raba said the field will be ideal for on- and off-season practices. In addition, the turf will serve as a drawing card for recruiting top student-athletes.

Baseball and softball teams will also use the field for pre-season practice in late February when Bacon Field House becomes overcrowded. The field will be available for selected club sports, intramural play, sport camps and selected use by the local community.

“This is a great situation for us, and for all sports,” Raba said, who cut the ribbon. “I’m going to guess that this field is always going to be busy.”

Wesleyan’s Office of University Relations and Athletics personnel worked with parents and alumni to raise the $920,000 needed to build the field. More than 160 alumni, parents and friends of the university were actively involved in helping to raise the funding for the field, including Bill Belichick, ’75, P’07, Moira Byer P’06, David Campbell ’75, P ‘10, Michael and Marilyn Dee P’06, Mike McKenna ’73, Jim Walsh P’07, Cole and Katherine Werble P’07 and Preston Smith ’64, P’06.

Preston Smith, who’s son, Matt, is a varsity lacrosse player, reminded the ribbon-cutting ceremony audience that it took the fund-raising effort of five teams, with support form five decades of alumni, to provide the two-acre turf field.

“This field is not only the best in the division, but the best in New England,” Smith said to the crowd.

Wesleyan hopes to raise another $400,000 to pay for lights, bleachers, a scoreboard, protective netting and a paved walkway between the Freeman Gymnasium and the turf field.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Professor of Chemistry Promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs


Posted 05/04/06
Professor of Chemistry Joseph Bruno will become Wesleyan’s vice president for Academic Affairs, effective July 1. Bruno has served as dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2003.

Bruno will serve as chief academic officer for the university, responsible for attracting and retaining faculty and for supporting their research and teaching activities.

In February, after Vice President for Academic Affairs Judith Brown announced her intention to step down, Wesleyan President Doug Bennet began extensive consultations with faculty on the characteristics to seek in her successor, as well as nominations. Bennet decided to seek a Wesleyan faculty member to fill the post.

“In addition to the personal qualities one expects in an academic leader—intelligence, articulateness, fair-mindedness—faculty cited such characteristics as demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and colleagueship, and the energy and enthusiasm to launch initiatives that will distinguish Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “In every respect, Joe Bruno meets the desires expressed by the faculty. I have great confidence in his ability to lead.”

As dean of the natural sciences and mathematics, Bruno supports the research and teaching efforts of faculty in 10 departments and programs. He participates in budgeting for faculty positions, as well as in recruiting and hiring decisions. He reviews grant proposals and works with the chairs of the academic departments on curricular and administrative issues. Bruno also is responsible for developing plans for the construction and renovation of science facilities.

Bruno has served as vice chair of and science representative to the Advisory Committee, which advises the president on matters relating to appointments and promotions of the faculty. He also served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and president of the Wesleyan chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Bruno’s teaching and research activities have garnered grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the State of Connecticut, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, among other sources.

After earning his Ph.D in organometallic chemistry from Northwestern University, Bruno spent two postdoctoral years at Indiana University before joining the Wesleyan faculty in 1984. He received tenure in 1991.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had at Wesleyan over 22 years, working alongside colleagues on the faculty, in the administration and on the staff,” Bruno said. “I look forward to building on these experiences as vice president for academic affairs. Wesleyan has generated considerable momentum, and I am very excited about the opportunities ahead.”

President Bennet to Step Down


Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan President Doug Bennet will conclude his presidency at the end of the 2006-07 academic year, he informed faculty, students and staff on May 4.

Bennet, who became president in April 1995, led Wesleyan’s historic $281 million capital campaign, expanded the size of the faculty, launched an ambitious campus building program, and shaped the university’s first comprehensive strategic plan.

“Wesleyan is doing well, both institutionally and in its daily pursuit of excellence,” Bennet said to members of the campus community gathered at the steps of North College. “The university is prepared well to engage new leadership, and the time is right for Midge and me to move ahead to the next phase of our lives.”

Bennet praised the ongoing work of Wesleyan’s faculty in envisioning and implementing a liberal arts and sciences curriculum intended to engage students with the world around them and to enable them to become leaders. He also cited the strategic planning processes that have mobilized the campus and alumni communities around clear institutional priorities.

“Universities progress in several ways,” he said. “There are big turning points that affirm fundamental institutional commitments. The work we did to define a Wesleyan education for the 21st century, to improve student aid, to add faculty, and to begin a process of campus renewal—all of these show that Wesleyan can make big decisions and act upon them.”

He added: “The daily progress of an educational community is ongoing and never-ending–the discovery, the teaching, the care and respect for all within the community. New students arrive every year; new issues come to the fore. They show who we really are, especially in making good on the potential of our diversity. They help individual students define their values and learn the confidence that will empower them as change-makers.”

Midge Bennet thanked the assembled students, faculty and staff. She added that, even after their retirement, she and the president would look forward to “lectures and sporting events, as well as lunch at the new Usdan University Center.”

“We will continue helping Wesleyan in any way we can,” she said.

James van B. Dresser ’63, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, was on hand to thank and congratulate the Bennets.

“The hallmark of Doug’s tenure has been his ability to forge a strategic direction for the institution,” Dresser said. “Through cycles of planning and action, Doug has moved Wesleyan forward. His well-placed faith in the willingness of alumni, parents, and friends of the college to fund plans they believed in has brought Wesleyan important new resources. The school has never been stronger, and thanks to his leadership, the Wesleyan community has the pride and confidence to move from strength to strength.”

Dresser called Midge Bennet “for many of us … the wisest and warmest counselor and friend we have known.” He added: “Her undying faith in our common purpose and our bright future have inspired all who have had the good fortune to come into contact with her in any setting, over all these years.”

Dresser assured those assembled he would consult the Board of Trustees immediately about plans for a presidential search. “I promise that we will keep the campus community fully informed about this process, and that we will keep students, faculty and staff meaningfully involved,” he said.

Bennet’s Legacy
Douglas J. Bennet ’59 was elected the 15th president of Wesleyan University on
April 7, 1995, and began his tenure on July 1, 1995. He was U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs when tapped by Wesleyan, though he was best known for his decade (1983-93) as chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio.

Once installed as Wesleyan’s president, Bennet led the university community through its first-ever strategic planning process, a comprehensive effort that included faculty, staff and students, alumni and parent leaders. This process yielded a vision for liberal education in times of rapid change. “Wesleyan Education for the Twenty-First Century” (1997) sought to define the essential capabilities of an educated person and established the principles on which to make ongoing curricular choices. It affirmed the value of scholarship and teaching in a residential community and confirmed that knowing how to learn is the most durable legacy of a Wesleyan education. The process also produced “Strategy for Wesleyan” (1998), which defined key institutional priorities: an enduring commitment to need-blind admission and thus to building the University’s student aid program; an expansion of the faculty in order to improve teaching ratios and expand scholarship and teaching in new, interdisciplinary areas; and the beginning of a program of campus renewal. 

To view Bennet’s accomplishments, including his efforts with strategic planning, student aid, faculty additions, campus renewal, fund-raising, endowment management, technology and athletics, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/administration/president/accomplishments.html.

These priorities became the foundation for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, by far the most successful fund-raising effort in the university’s history. The campaign garnered contributions from 68 percent of Wesleyan’s alumni. Total gifts in a single year tripled, from $10.4 million in 1995 to $31.3 million in 2005.

As the campaign concluded in 2004, Bennet led a second strategic planning exercise. The second strategy, “Engaged with the World” (2005), describes priorities for the period 2005-2010, including continuing curricular innovations and renewed commitments to international studies and to science. It outlines priorities for academics, campus life, student aid, and physical infrastructure.

Bennet’s emphasis on planning and on strict allocation of budget resources according to the priorities thus established has enabled Wesleyan to devote the highest proportion of its total spending to teaching and research and the lowest to administration among the top 50 schools in the annual rankings produced by U.S. News and World Report. It has enabled Wesleyan to compete for students and faculty against much better-endowed institutions. It also has enabled the University to maximize the impact of fund-raising and borrowing to invest in strategic priorities, while almost doubling the market value of its endowment during his presidency.

The Bennet presidency also represented a new era of collaboration with the city of Middletown. Under Bennet’s leadership, Wesleyan participated actively in the city’s development efforts, including investing University funds to bring to the city a downtown hotel, the 100-bed Inn at Middletown, which opened in 2003. Wesleyan established the Green Street Arts Center, a community arts center in the city’s North End, offering classes and workshops for children and adults in music, visual arts, dance, theater, literary and media arts. The center, a collaboration with the city of Middletown and the North End Action Team, is an important part of efforts to revitalize the city’s North End.

“I think they will be talking about Doug Bennet’s legacy for many generations to come,” said Alan Dachs ’70, chair of Wesleyan’s Development Committee who also served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005. “He did an outstanding job as our president. He will be very hard to replace. Everything we value most has been improved under his leadership. Financial aid packages are better, and the academic enterprise is more robust. He has raised more money than ever before in our history, and our investment returns are in the top quartile. Everything he was asked to do, he did and more, much more.”

In January 2006, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made a grant of $200,000 to Wesleyan in honor of Doug Bennet’s service to the university over the past 10 years. The grant created an endowment that will support an annual lecture and program focused on ethics, politics and society.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Apply for Wesleyan Staff Positions Online


Posted 05/01/06

Careers@Wesleyan, a new online career opportunity site, will replace the paper based employment process at Wesleyan.

 

The Human Resources Department began using Careers@Wesleyan April 19 to help automate the employment process.

 

Careers@Wesleyan provides online access to applicant information from any computer with an internet connection. The service will provide such enhancements as online review of the requisition approval process, capability to ask job specific prescreening questions to assist in developing a pool of qualified candidates, and online storage of applicant files to support a paperless process.

 

Job applicants will be able to view each position description online, establish a secure password protected file to maintain or update their profile and apply to positions from any computer with internet access 24 hours a day. 

 

“Careers@Wesleyan is designed to address the needs of staff recruitment and to provide new technology to enhance the employment process,” explains Dan Pflederer, Human Resources Management System functional specialist.

 

To access the site, visit http://careers.wesleyan.edu.

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

ARTISTS’ STATEMENT: The Senior Thesis Exhibition is on display in the Center for the Arts Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery March 28-April 30. Pictured is the exhibition’s opening March 28.

Raphael Griswold 06 left, talks to another student about his scrolling artwork.
The public is invited to come view the talents of the seniors in the Studio Art Program of the Department of Art and Art History. The exhibition is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free.
Two students get a good look at the artwork. (Photos by Kara Brodgesell ’07)

Economics Professor Testifies Before U.S. Senate


Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, suggests that the government place a growing tax on the cost of carbon during a hearing March 30 in Washington D.C.

Posted 04/17/06
When Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, received a call from Senator Joseph R. Biden’s office to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., he didn’t hesitate. In fact, he hurried.

Yohe, who was the sole expert, recommended by both the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Center on Global Climate Change to Senator Biden’s office, had only a few days in which to prepare his brief testimony on “The Hidden (Climate Change) Costs of Oil.”

In a five-minute prepared opening statement, Yohe called attention to the sources of economic cost attributed to climate change and suggested that government respond by placing a permanent and growing tax on the cost of carbon. The point of such a tax (or any policy that would add the climate cost of carbon to the price of oil) is to hedge against, or reduce the likelihood, of the extreme consequences of global warming.

“We don’t have to go overboard,” Yohe explained, but “adopting a risk-management (hedging) approach to minimize the cost of future policy adjustments would be appropriate and economical over the long run.”

Yohe says he believes Senators Biden and Richard G. Lugar seemed to agree with his testimony.

“We were there for almost two-and-one-half hours and the two senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee were fully engaged and almost thinking out loud with us,” says Yohe. “The staffers were incredulous that they spent so much time with us.”

According to Yohe, Senator Biden said that people might get used to paying a persistent tax on petroleum.  Biden was particularly interested, though, in how such a charge might be factored into the investment decisions of American businesses as they frame the energy infrastructure for the next half-century.

Senator Lugar, on the other hand, was specifically interested on how best to implement an
effective climate insurance policy.

“I had a short amount of time to get in front of two people who essentially could take my research and make a difference,” says Yohe. “After generating pages of points that I wanted to raised, I picked out what I thought was the most important information and tried to tell a
simple, but interesting story.”

To read the full transcript of Yohe’s testimony, please refer to the following link:
http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2006/hrg060330a.html.
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Breaking Down the Barriers: Trip to Middle East Provides Examples of Peaceful Co-Existence


Pictured at top, Wesleyan students and staff  walk down a street in Istanbul on their way to the mosque during a trip to Turkey and Israel March 12-23.

Pictured at right, the group takes a break in the Teldan Nature Preserve in Golan Heights, Israel with their tour guide. The Wesleyan students are Ben Sachs-Hamilton, Avi Smith, Phil Zegelbone, Jamal Ahmed, Mike Figura,  Kulsoom Hasan, Maggie Mitchell, Tussy Alam, Rachel Berkowitz, Aaron Tabek, Jessica Eber and Joel Bhuiyan. Wesleyan Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Abdullah Antepli, pictured in center in purple and black shirts, coordinated the overseas trip.

Posted 04/17/06
Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, wanted to prove to his students that Jews and Muslims can peacefully coexist with one another.

But Leipziger Teva, who also goes by Rabbi David,
admits that for students to understand this complex co-existence, they must couple classroom knowledge with real life, personal experiences.

So Leipziger Teva and former Wesl
eyan Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli chose five Wesleyan Muslim students and six Jewish students, out of 23 who applied, and set out for an 11-day spring break excursion of Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem, Israel.

“The trip was very intense,” admits Leipziger Teva, who says he was most moved after seeing Palestinian and Israeli Christian, Muslim and Jewish children learning together in one classroom at the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem.

The group also visited Kibbutz Metzer, an Israeli socialist commune, where member Dov Avital shared his story about living peacefully, just yards away, from a Palestinian-Arab village.

In November of 2002, suicide bomber from a radical Palestinian terrorist group broke into this Israeli Kibbutz and killed five people. Leipziger Teva says that despite the terrorist attack the two communities remain committed to dialogue and friendship.

“Dov told the story with tears in his eyes and we were all moved by it,” says Leipziger Teva. “This is just one hopeful example, despite the violence of how Jews and Muslims are trying to co-exist with each other in peace and we wanted the students to see this.”

Jamal Ahmed, a Pakistani freshman from New York City, was also moved by Avital’s story.

“On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace,” says Ahmed.
“Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”

The group also met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders, including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo. They also visited popular landmarks including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall as well as other mosques, synagogues and visited with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and families.

Rabbi David says that during their trip, he witnessed a progressive transformation among the students.

“I saw a deepening of their individual religious spiritual identities,” he says. “They were all challenged and I was constantly motivated by the dialogue that was happening.”

Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external,” says Berkowitz. “I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.”

Leipziger Teva hopes that one day this Spring break trip will spark these students into making strides towards peace in the Middle East.

“Someone from this trip might one day become a senator, a Fulbright Scholar, or eventually may help draft future peace plans for Israel,” says Leipziger Teva, who feels that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to demonstrate compromise before real peace is established.

Next month Leipziger Teva, who is hoping to raise more funds in order to repeat the trip next year, will start showcasing a DVD documentary of the trip to mosques, churches, synagogues, and to high schools. He also plans on introducing the documentary at the Muslim Student Association Annual Conference and Hillel, the conference of Jewish College Communities later this year.

“No other school has ever taken Jews and Muslims together in one group to the Middle East,” says Leipziger Teva. “Wesleyan is unique and we hope we can help jumpstart dialogue and peace among all the children of Abraham – Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Now That’s Using Your Head: Student, Professor Collaborate on Brain Activity Study


Rebecca Gordon ’06 and her thesis advisor, John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, pose with brain scans used in a recent study.

Posted 04/17/06
For psychology major Rebecca Gordon’ 06, developing a research project idea was practically a no-brainer. Well, except for the fact that she had to study brains.

By examining functional magnetic resonance images, known as fMRIs, Rebecca Gordon ’06 was able to see how the brain reacted on a cognitive and emotional level with healthy subjects and subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Her study “The Mere Exposure Effect and Schizophrenia: An fMRI Study” was completed April 11 after nine months of research. The “mere exposure effect” is a psychological way of saying people express likeness for things merely because they are familiar with them.

“There have been no published fMRI studies of the mere exposure effect so I wanted to do a study that would contribute something new and important to several fields of psychology,” says Gordon, who will graduate this year with a dual degree in psychology and music.

Gordon, whose father is a clinical psychologist, coordinated her own research projects throughout high school including working with Parkinson Disease patients at a lab in New York. During her first year at Wesleyan, Gordon excelled in Psychology 101, taught by John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Knowing that his student already had research experience, Seamon suggested that she follow up on procedures he and other students conducted in the 1980s and 1990s on explicit and implicit memory. Explicit memory is a form of memory that involves conscious retrieval of past events; implicit memory is a nonconscious retrieval of past events.

“I encourage students who do well in my classes to get involved in research, either in my own lab or with others in psychology, and Rebecca was one of those special students,” says Seamon, who became Gordon’s thesis advisor on the study.

Gordon, who was working at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living in Hartford last summer, had access to fMRI technology. Seamon suggested that she look for brain differences in explicit and implicit memory by measuring blood flow changes using the fMRI scanner.

Since July 2005, Gordon has spent her summer, winter and spring breaks immersed in conducting research, as well two to three days a week during the school year. She continually sought research advice from Seamon and technical advice from Godfrey Pearlson, director of the Neuropsychiatry Research Center and professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

By studying patients at the center in Hartford, she was able to perform two tests on 10 healthy control subjects and 10 schizophrenia patients. The subjects were placed inside the fMRI scanner during the study so she could monitor their brain activity.

Using an assessment method called the recognition memory test to measure explicit memory, Gordon projected a series of novel objects, each for a few seconds. Subjects were then asked to answer the question: “Is this a possible or impossible object?” After viewing these novel objects several times and recording the decisions, Gordon collected her results. She then resented pairs of objects, one old and one new, and asked the subjects to select the object in each pair that they previously viewed. When she analyzed the neurological activity during this explicit recognition test, she found memory accuracy was correlated with activation of the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for new learning.

In another test, called the affective preference test, Gordon measured implicit memory by asking the subjects which shape they preferred without asking them which one they remembered. During this test she found that there was still hippocampus activity along with a strong response from the amygdala, the almond-shaped neural structure in the brain that processes emotion.

Gordon and Seamon were thrilled with the new discovery.

“This is a remarkable achievement for an undergraduate to go from a discussion with her advisor, take an idea and turn it into a tangible experiment that she then performed over a period of months, learn about this state of the art technology, collect and analyze data with technical help from the staff at the Institute of Living and produce new and interesting findings,” Seamon says.

Gordon’s report was submitted for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the bachelor’s of arts degree with departmental honors in psychology. She hopes to get her study published in a professional psychology journal.

In addition, she will present her study during the Psychology Department Poster Session April 18.

“I can’t believe that even as I got to the very end of my project, I never got tired of it. I was always excited about the idea of finding something completely new,” she says, holding two gray brain scans, speckled with colors. The colors illustrate where in the brain activity was happening during the subjects’ tasks.

Gordon will return to the Institute of Living this summer for continued research, this time focusing on autistic children and people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Next fall, she will begin graduate school at Yeshiva University in New York where she plans to continue her studies in psychology.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Softball Coach Takes a Swing at Three Sports


Jen Shea, head softball coach, assistant field hockey coach, teaches swimming as an adjunct professor of athletics.
 
Posted 04/17/06
Q: At what age did you first pick up a bat and ball, and where was this?

A: I grew up in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Hatfield is a small town of 3,500 people with a strong athletic tradition. When I was in elementary school, the high school’s varsity softball team won back-to-back state titles and that is when I really became interested in the sport. I started off playing T-ball when I was in first grade and then graduated to slow-pitch softball when I was in fourth grade. I started playing fast-pitch when I was in seventh grade.

Q: Did you always excel in softball or other sports? What positions did you play?

A: I was a three-sport athlete in high school: field hockey, basketball and softball. I was always a pitcher in softball, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I really started to be successful. During my senior year of high school, I threw four consecutive no-hitters. Also during my senior year, our field hockey team went undefeated and won the Division I state title. Team accomplishments have always been more important to me than individual ones.

Q: Are softball and field hockey similar in any way?

A: Softball and field hockey really aren’t similar at all. I started playing them both when I was younger because they were the only sports offered in my school during their respective seasons. I really enjoy field hockey, but softball has always been my first passion.

Q: During your undergraduate years at Amherst, I understand you were the team captain of both the softball and field hockey teams. What were your biggest accomplishments?

A: My biggest accomplishment in softball was definitely winning the Little Three title my senior year. We had never beaten Williams in softball and then we swept them in a doubleheader the last weekend of the regular season to not only win the Little Three title, but also to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament. We went into NCAAs as the No. 5 seed in the New England Region and made it all the way to the finals. Being named to the New England Region All-Tournament Team was definitely an honor. In field hockey, I was selected to play in the Division III North-South All-Star game in 1997, but being the No. 1 team in New England my junior year and being selected for the NCAA Division III tournament was a bigger thrill.

Q: What did you receive your degrees in and when did you decide that coaching is what you wanted to do for a living?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Amherst and a master’s degree in exercise and sports studies from Smith College. I went to college planning on majoring in math or computer science, but realized during my sophomore year that sports meant more to mean than just another extra-curricular activity. I had an internship in the sports department of a local newspaper during the summer of 1997 because I thought I wanted to go into sports journalism. It was during that time that I realized I wanted to be on the field teaching and coaching, not just covering games from the sidelines.

Q: How old is your softball glove, and how many have you gone through in your softball career?

A: My current glove is only about a year old. The previous one I had was from when I was in college and it finally became time to retire it last year. This is probably my fifth glove since I started playing.

Q: What months does the softball season span? Field hockey? When do the women begin training?

A: Softball practice begins on Feb. 15 each year and the season goes through the end of April. Field hockey practice begins during the end of August and the season ends at the end of October. Training for both sports really occurs year-round these days as the athletes need to stay in shape and on top of their game mentally and physically.

Q: You’re midway through the current softball season. How is the team looking?

A: Each year since I’ve been here the team has gotten better and I feel the same is true this year. There’s a mix of eight returners and nine new players, so there has definitely been learning and growing processes involved. The women on the team are supportive of one another and work hard everyday in practice. I don’t think our record is a true indicator of the potential that the team has and we have a lot left to show in the next two weeks.

Q: Who are you leading hitters and fielders?

A: Molly Gaebe ’07 is our leading hitter and also a top pitcher along with Karla Hargrave ’08 and Dayna Yorks ’07. Marcia Whitehead ’08 is a rock defensively at third base and Becca Feiden ’08 patrols center field. They are also two of our top hitters as well. Tri-captains Beth Bernstein ’06, Sarah Gillooly ’06 and Lynn Leber ’06 have all done an excellent job in leading this young team.

Q: Tell me about your spring break.

A: We went to California for spring break and played 14 games while we were out there. The trip was highlighted by the team’s first win over NESCAC rival Tufts in 11 years.

Q: What do you look for in student-athletes?

A: I want student-athletes who are going to work hard, want to be coached, and are going to make the team a priority. I think academics and athletics go hand-in-hand and I look for student-athletes who want to succeed in both arenas.

Q: Do you currently play on any teams or are you strictly focusing on coaching?

A: I started playing club field hockey this past fall after a hiatus of several years. I also played a little slow-pitch softball last summer and am planning on continuing to play this summer.

Q: What class do you teach as an adjunct assistant professor?

A: I teach Swimming for Fitness. I enjoy teaching physical education classes at Wesleyan because it gives me a chance to meet more of the student body than just my players. Swimming is a life-long sport so I feel I’m helping the students learn something that they can use after they leave Wesleyan.

Q: During the summers of 1999 and 2000, you were the head coach of the West scholastic division softball squad in the Bay State Games in Massachusetts. Where else did you coach before coming to Wesleyan in 2001?

A: After graduating from Amherst, I was selected as the college’s Hitchock Fellow in Physical Education. My responsibilities included being an assistant coach in three sports – field hockey, basketball, and softball – as well as teaching physical education classes. During that year I decided that coaching was the career I definitely wanted to embark upon. While I was in graduate school at Smith College, I continued to coach at Amherst as the assistant field hockey coach in 1999 and co-head softball coach in 2000 and 2001. I also was a sub-varsity field hockey coach at Williston-Northampton School in the fall of 2000 and the middle school girls’ basketball coach at my alma mater, Smith Academy, in the winter of 2000-2001.

Q: Who are your assistant coaches in softball?

A: My assistants this year are E.J. Heng and Leah Kelley. Both were stand-out players at the Division I level. E.J. is from California and played college ball at U.C.-Santa Barbara, while Leah is from Western Massachusetts. She played softball at Yale and is now an assistant dean of admission at Wesleyan. They are great assistants who have added a great deal of insight and have helped make me a better coach.

Q: Do you ever just go out and throw a ball for fun?

A: Sure! Just yesterday after practice, Leah and I jumped in the batting cage to take some swings. And often while the team is warming up at the beginning of practice, my assistants and I will warm-up our arms, too. It keeps us young!

Q: How influential was your family in your sports career?

A: I am very close with my family and my parents have been very supportive of me and my teams. They often travel down to Middletown from Massachusetts to watch us play. I really appreciate all the advice and encouragement they have given me over the years. If it weren’t for them, I would have never gotten involved in sports in the first place.

Q: Do you have any plans for the summer?

A: My summer project, besides recruiting for softball, is going to be renovating a house that I’m in the process of buying. It’s a little daunting, but I’m excited to get started and finally have a place to call my own. I’m also a huge Red Sox fan and I try to go to some games every summer and was even lucky enough to see a play-off game at Fenway in 2004 when the Sox were on their way to winning the World Series. There’s nothing like baseball in the summer!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Associate Dean of Admission Gives Human Touch to All Those Applications


Greg Pyke, senior dean of admission, stands outside the Office of Admission.
 
Posted 04/17/06
Every year, the Office of Admission begins with a prospective student pool of over 30,000 and mails information to another 88,000 based on PSAT and ACT scores and grades. Of these, about 7,000 apply, and after review, this number is whittled down to less than 2,000. Of this amount, ultimately, 720 of the applicants will become Wesleyan’s newest freshman class.

As a senior associate dean of admission, Greg Pyke reviews hundreds of these applications, and he meets almost as many potential applicants each year. He’s currently preparing to welcome the Class of 2010. But the process that got these students here is long and exacting.

Pyke and 10 other admissions personnel divvy up all the applications. Each one must be reviewed at least twice before acceptance or denial is granted.

This year, Pyke and Leah Kelley, assistant dean of admission, reviewed applicants from northern New England states, eastern Massachusetts, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Africa and Europe. Each application is scrutinized not only for test scores, grades and achievements, but also for traits that show the applicant would benefit from Wesleyan’s educational program and environment.

“We want our student body to have variety, so we’re looking for students who have a combination of talents, experience, unique backgrounds and opinions, and who have demonstrated social involvement,” Pyke explains.

Nancy Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid, determines which students are accepted.

“Greg is the office data-base guru and numbers cruncher,” she says. “In that work, as well, he brings the sensitivity of the practitioner to every task and report.”

Pyke seems to have a new job for every season.

In the fall he travels to schools across the country and the world, meeting prospective students and parents. In winter, Pyke begins the process of going through “the stack” – the hundreds of applications – with special attention paid to those applying for early admission.

In spring, Pyke concentrates his efforts on convincing the accepted students to choose Wesleyan through WesFest and face-to-face conversations. By June, the incoming frosh class will be announced. In the summer, Pyke is busy meeting and speaking with campus visitors, compiling statistics on the incoming fall class, and planning his next year.

The process is cyclical year to year, with new changes and challenges implemented every season.

“Never knowing what is coming next and wondering what questions or concerns will arise the next year is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy working in the Admission Office,” says Pyke, who has been a member of the department since he started in at Wesleyan 1978.

And as for this years’ frosh, Pyke reports that the Class of 2009 comprised 6,879 applicants, of which 1,902, or 28 percent of those who applied, were admitted. Of the 1,902, 71 percent were ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class; 13 percent are the first generation in their family to go to college; 79 percent live outside of New England; 41 percent are students of color; 77 percent have taken biology, chemistry and physics before entering college; and 76 percent had studied a foreign language for at least four years.

Pyke’s responsibilities have grown over the past 28 years. He previously handled the transfer student admission process, and later the senior interviewer program. He’s currently the statistical information reporter. In this role, Pyke generates class profiles for the university, public media and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, designed to collect data from all primary providers of postsecondary education. He reports on the total number of students accepted, students of color, geographical information, average SAT and ACT stores, among several other factors.

In addition to reviewing college applications and collecting and reporting statistical information, Pyke collaborates with Joan Adams, assistant to the dean, on the High School Scholars Program. Through this program, local high school seniors have the opportunity to take classes at Wesleyan with no tuition charge. They attend classes with Wesleyan students, and are graded on the same scale as a college student would be. Of the 23 high school scholars who applied this past academic year: 15 were accepted into the program and enrolled in courses either in the fall of ‘05 or the spring of ‘06.

“When parents ask me, ‘What is an average class size,’ I try to understand what they are really asking. They don’t want me to say, 17.2 or some decimal number,” Pyke says. “What they really want to know is, if their child will be able to talk in class or will their child get to work with his professor one on one? The answer cannot be given in a simple number. There is never a short answer to a question or concern.”

Pyke knows some of the emotions parents go though during the college application process. He and his wife, Karen Bovard ’77, have gone through the procedure themselves with their two children Alan and Josh, who are both currently enrolled in college. Pyke also has an older daughter, Jenny, who was an interim class dean at Wesleyan and is currently in a similar, permanent position at Mt. Holyoke College.

“Greg is such a wonderful colleague: smart, funny and thoughtful,” Meislahn says. “He brings a great balance of Wesleyan history, as well as an educator’s and father’s sensibility to the process. No one knows his or her territory better. Greg helps us all understand the importance of access, context and opportunity for each applicant.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Art Director Has an Eye for Design


Steven Jacaruso, art director, designs the look and feel for Wesleyan magazine.
 
Posted 04/17/06
Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I was hired in July 1998 as the assistant art director. Later on I became the associate director, and then the art director in 2000 for the Office of University Communications.

Q: How did you become interested in graphic design?

A: When I was a kid, I was always into drawing and I was intrigued by logos and full-page movie ads in the New York Times. I’ve always had my eye on the visual aspect of things. Back then, graphic design wasn’t a common career, so after high school I went to business school, which led me to the University of New Haven where I studied graphic design.

Q: Do graphic designers have a distinct style, as would an oil painter or writer?

A: Some do, but I try hard not to have a style. I like to approach each project with an open mind because one style is not applicable to all problems.

Q: How has your job changed in your eight years here?

A: My first year here, I was doing a lot of budgetary work and handling the production aspect of things, as well as most of the design work. When I was promoted to an associate director, my responsibilities grew and when I became the art director, it became my sole responsibility to design the Wesleyan magazine, which was something I’ve never done before.

Q: I imagine that was a big challenge.

A: I was basically handed a magazine and it was a challenge to learn the process. I had to keep true to the Wesleyan message while implementing my own design elements. It is a constant evolution.

Q: When you say design elements, how do you use them to keep the magazine cohesive?

A: On a visual level Wesleyan magazine is all about great images – images that are a step above most alumni magazines. I use color and layout to enhance the visual appeal of the images. I do the same with typography. I like to experiment with type settings and headlines that will draw a reader into the story. I don’t like my design to overshadow the main purpose of the magazine, which is to report on successes of our alumni.

Q: You designed the Wesleyan logo, correct?

A: I refreshed the existing Wesleyan logo. It was time to move into a new direction with the logo. We wanted to move it into the new millennium without sacrificing its historical relevance. The shield is used sparingly as a nod to tradition. The new logo treatment has been very well received and works in many different mediums from campus signage to print publications.

Q: How long does it take to get the magazine designed and what goes on?

A: It’s about a three month process for each issue from beginning to end. After our initial meeting, I see what stories the writers will be working on and I begin creating the color pallet and templates for the issue and determining the amount of real estate dedicated to each section and feature. Stories that are longer, or the most significant, or have quality images, get more pages in the magazine. Then I meet with Bill Burkhart, the university photographer, and we discuss what images need to be taken. I lay out the magazine and we go through a month and a half of critiques. I take all comments, positive and negative, into consideration.

Q: What is your reaction when a magazine is finally finished and you get your first peek at the printed product?

A: Since we only publish four times a year, I am always happy to see it designed, trimmed to size and published. But being a perfectionist, I go through it page by page and notice little things that we could’ve done differently. I’m always striving for perfection in each issue.

Q: In addition to the magazine, what other publications do you design?

A: I oversee all creative for most of the publications. When a certain department needs to be folded into the Wesleyan brand, such as Wesleyan Annual Fund for Excellence, campaign and most recently the timeline exhibit that will be unveiled at Reunion and Commencement weekend, I usually take the lead. Sometimes I’ll start a design and set up the specs, and hand it off to Anne Marcotty, our senior designer, or Shelley Burchsted, our production manager, who will have our student interns work on projects.

Q: Where did you work before Wesleyan?

A: I started out working for my father’s computer business, then I worked at a t-shirt company, a newspaper, and then I got into the music industry. I designed CD covers for artists like Richard Elliot, Barbara Mandrell, Bon Jovi, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then art directed a small record label in New York City. The music industry isn’t real consistent and seemed really one-dimensional to me, so I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and open my own business in Waterbury. I worked on a lot of civic-minded projects for the community with the local Chamber of Commerce. I had to do it all, from the budget to production to client relations to design. This enabled me to hone my business skills, which helped when I started at Wesleyan.

Q: Why did you want to work in academia?

A: Being in a university is a nice blend of my experiences and I can be creative but also business-minded. I get to do projects for alumni and external audiences, but also for students, which have a youthful element to them.

Q: How do you keep your design ideas fresh and creative?

A: I am submerged in the design world. I’m always reading design magazines, and when I read other publications, I’m always looking at how they are designed. I tend to surround myself with people who are very creative and through that I find inspiration. In college I was trained by a professor who learned design in Basel, Switzerland and Yale University. We never had computers so we designed everything in a very organic way. I learned a lot by that method. Computers are a tool. They do not make a good designer.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Graphic design is my hobby and I have turned it into a career, but I also like working out, yard work, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and listening to music. Music has been a big influence in my life. I always wanted to be the guy who advises the careers of music artists. Who knows, I still might do that one day.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Winter Athletes Honored at Reception


Above, Midge Bennet chats with men’s basketball coach Gerry McDowell during the Winter Athlete Reception April 13 in the Freeman Athletic Center.

At right, President Doug Bennet speaks to winter athletes during the reception.

Below, wrestling coach Drew Black, pictured on left, shakes hands with John Biddiscomb, director of Athletics.

Posted 04/17/06

President Doug Bennet, Midge Bennet and John Biddiscombe, director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, honored winter athletes at a reception in the Freeman Athletic Center’s Bridge Lobby April 13.
 

“The positive spirit and enthusiasm of the teams seemed very strong this winter,” President Bennet said. “Midge and I have enjoyed coming to some of the games and sharing in the excitement.”
President Bennet acknowledged all winter teams including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s indoor track, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and wrestling. The teams’ members and coaches attended the reception.
 
Bennet and Biddiscombe gave special recognition to stand-out student athletes.

Bennet acknowledged this year’s recipients of Wesleyan’s Roger Maynard Memorial Award, presented annually to the outstanding male and female scholar-athletes. The winners were Hannah Stubbs ’06 and Owen Kiely ’06.

Stubbs is captain of the women’s basketball team and has a 3.52 GPA. She will stay on at Wesleyan after graduation to get her masters. She is a three-time, first-team NESCAC basketball player. She is ranked number two on the all time scoring list. Last year, she was was an Academic All-American.

Kiely, a cross country, indoor and outdoor track team member, has a 3.57 GPA. He won the 2006 New England Division III Championship and finished 14th at the Division III NCAA Championship earning All American status.

The winter teams were lead by the women’s basketball team that had an 18-8 record and this team was among the top four teams in NESCAC and also participated in the NCAA tournament. The women’s basketball team was coached by Kate Mullen and assisted by Chris Lanser and Molly Dullea.

The men’s and women’s swim teams also distinguished themselves. Bennet honored the men’s team for it’s 12-4 record and for finishing fourth in the NESCAC Championship. The women’s team had 12 wins and six losses. The swim teams are coached by Mary Bolich and assisted by Molly Parrish and Jeff Miller.

Individual swimmers that qualified for the NCAA Championship were Ben Byers ’07 and Amanda Shapiro ’08. Shapiro earned All-American honors by finishing fifth in the 200-yard breast stroke and sixth in the 100-yard breast stroke.

Two other Wesleyan athletes also distinguished themselves by becoming NCAA All Americans in indoor track. Bennet honored Ellen Davis ’07, who qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships in the 5,000 meter, where she performed superbly in finishing fourth in the nation. Wes Fuhrman ’05 also represented Wesleyan at the national meet, competing in the 5,000-meter and placed seventh in his last race of his college career.

In addition, Ben Byers ’07 went to NCAAs for swimming and Dan de Lalla ’07 went to the NCAAs for wrestling but didn’t place.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor, and Brian Katten, director of Sports Information