Olivia Drake

Update from the President’s Office

Wesleyan President Michael Roth shared these remarks with the Wesleyan Community on Aug. 29:

Dear friends,

Welcome to our university’s 186th academic year!

This fall marks my 10th year as president of Wesleyan. I’m using this occasion to try to look at our university with fresh eyes: What could we do better? What should we preserve, and what should we change? I look forward to feedback from all around campus and will be meeting with a wide variety of groups throughout the fall.

In recent months, we’ve worked to strengthen the curriculum – hiring new faculty and preparing new programs such as the minor in integrated design, engineering, and applied sciences. I’m also particularly excited about changes to the Shapiro Writing Center (now located at 116 Mt. Vernon) that reflect the importance we place on writing here. There have also been positive developments in the Theater Department, including the hiring of Kathleen Conlin as the new department chair, and several additions to the curriculum.

Williams Named 2017 Berkshire Region Coach of the Year

Kim Williams

Wesleyan University women’s lacrosse head coach Kim Williams was honored by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association (IWLCA), as she was named the 2017 Berkshire Region Coach of the Year following a historic season.

The regional coach of the year award is the second postseason accolade for Williams, who was also named the 2017 NESCAC Coach of the Year during the spring.

In just her second year at the helm of the program, Williams led Wesleyan to its best season in program history. The Cardinals finished 11-6 overall and 7-3 in the ultra-competitive NESCAC, setting program records for overall wins and conference victories. Wesleyan qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 2009, and earned its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

The Cardinals ranked within the top-20 for the majority of the season, and finished the year ranked No. 19 in the final IWLCA Division III Coaches Poll. Wesleyan went 4-6 against teams ranked in the top-20, and won its first Little Three Championship outright since 1982 .

Williams will be honored at the IWLCA Honors Banquet held on Nov. 15 during the IWLCA Annual Meetings at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida.

C-CERT Welcomes 11 New Members

On July 13, Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) welcomed 11 new members to the group. Formed in September 2009, Wesleyan’s C-CERT members are trained to assist first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize volunteers at a disaster site.

Pictured, back row, at left: Bill Ollayos, Andres Sarda, Erica Wright, Megan Conte, Smith Kidkarndee, Victor Diaz. Pictured front tow, at left: Mary from the City of Middletown, Janet Desmarais, Sandy Durosier, Bobby Spignesi, Christine Daniels.

Pictured, back row, at left: Bill Ollayos, Andres Sarda, Erica Wright, Megan Conte, Smith Kidkarndee and Victor Diaz. Pictured front row, at left: Mary Emerling, Janet Desmarais, Sandy Durosier, Bobby Spignesi and Christine Daniels.

Faculty/Staff Band Mattabesset String Collective Performs

The Mattabesset String Collective is a five-piece Wesleyan-affiliated acoustic ensemble playing an eclectic mix of bluegrass, blues, folk, mountain, country and rock, all in a string band style.

The group’s name, Mattabesset, is the Algonquian name for the region that became Middletown. “Since our music reaches back into history, we thought it was appropriate. We were attracted to the term collective because it suggests the egalitarian nature of our enterprise,” said band member Marc Eisner, dean of the Social Sciences Division, the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair in Public Policy, professor of government, professor of environmental studies.

The band performed July 29 in Higganum, Conn. Photos of the concert are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

The Mattabesset String Collective is a five-piece string band featuring dobro, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bass, banjo or cuatro. Pictured from left is Gil Skillman, Rebecca McCallum, Kevin Wiliarty, Marc Eisner and Barry Chernoff. 

Pictured from left is Gil Skillman, Rebecca McCallum, Kevin Wiliarty, Marc Eisner and Barry Chernoff. They have about 80 songs in their repertoire, ranging from old-time traditional jug band music, to string band versions of Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses, and a few songs written by band members. “One of the pleasures of playing in this band involves reaching for, and occasionally attaining, new levels of musical cohesion,” Skillman said.

Gil Skillman is professor of economics, tutor in the College of Social Studies. He plays the banjo, cuatro and dobro with the string collective.

Gil Skillman is professor of economics, tutor in the College of Social Studies. He plays the banjo, cuatro and dobro with the string collective. Skillman taught himself guitar as a teenager. “Once you learn to play one fretted instrument, learning others is primarily a matter of varying the approach to sounding the strings, which is easier than learning to play an instrument from the ground up,” he said.

Staff on the Move May-August 2017

The Office of Human Resources announces the following hires, transitions and departures for May-August 2017.

Patrick Bohan, Video Producer in Creative Services on May 1
Jeremiah Kenney, Public Safety Dispatcher on May 29
Erin Ogrean, Administrative Assistant in Academic Writing on May 30
Elizabeth Morrison, Admissions Coordinator in Graduate Liberal Studies on June 5
William Ollayos, Area Coordinator in Office of Residential Life on June 12
Heather Fox, Assistant Director, Wesleyan Events and Conferences on June 19
Robert Mirabal, Director of Student Accounts on June 19
Matthew Coyne, Assistant Football Coach; Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers in Athletics on July 6
Penney Beaubrun, Assistant Director for Alumni and Parent Relations in University Relations on July 7
Rachel Schnepper, Director of Academic Technology on July 10
Andres Garcia, Assistant Director, The Wesleyan Fund in University Relations on July 14
Sona Kumar, Research Coordinator in Psychology on July 17
Sitar Terrass-Shah, Center for Prison Education Fellow in Community Service and Volunteerism on July 19
Ruthann Coyote, Career Advisor in the Gordon Career Center on July 31
Chandra Joos, Director of Admission on Aug. 1
Claire Wang, Administrative Assistant in College of East Asian Studies on Aug. 1
Amanda Daddona, Assistant Registrar in the Registrar’s Office on Aug. 7
Jessica Naecker, Postdoctoral Clinical/Counseling Psychologist on Aug. 7
Stephanie Scarpato, Assistant Athletics Director for Facilities and Operations in Athletics on Aug. 7
Anthony Sensei, Assistant Dean of Admission on Aug. 14
Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern on Aug. 14
Imelda Guerrero Mongillo, Marketing Project Manager in University Communications on Aug. 17

Jeanne McNeff, Administrative Assistant in Alumni and Parent Relations on June 5
Joy Mlozanowski, Library Assistant/Licensing Management Specialist in Reference on June 5
Pamela Grande, Associate Director of Career Advising in the Gordon Career Center on July 1
Diane Klare, Associate University Librarian for Research and Access Services on July 1
Rachel Prehodka-Spindel, Associate Director of Operations, Usdan University Center on July 1

Bill Jack, Associate Director of Admission
Kelly Miller, Public Safety Dispatcher in Public Safety Office
Beatriz Pazmino Betancourt, Research Assistant in the Physics Department
Brian Nangle, Area Coordinator in Residential Life
Kathleen Vecchitto, Department Assistant in University Relations
Iain York, Investment Associate
Lauren Dellipoali, Athletic Communications Intern
Marla Zubel, Acquisitions Editor in WesPress
Andrew Harazim, Athletic Facility Maintenance in Athletics
Kera Jewett, Development Officer in Major Gifts
Bruce Strong, Department Assistant III/Customer Service in Physical Plant
Brittany Richard, Associate Director, Wesleyan Fund in Annual Fund
Emily Pagano, Health Education Specialist
John Wareham, Video Producer in Creative Services
Miho Antoku, Research Associate
Rebecca Jacobsen, Civic Engagement Fellow in Community Service and Volunteerism
Madeleine Barclay, Research Coordinator in Psychology
Joy Zelikovsky, Postdoctoral Clinical/Counseling Psychologist
Ashleigh Corvi, Assistant Dean of Admission
Emily Przysinda, Research Assistant/Lab Coordinator in Psychology
Mark Chadsey, Energy Manager in Physical Plant
Elsa Hardy, Center for Prison Education Fellow in Community Service and Volunteerism
Alexandra Zax, Research Associate/Lab Coordinator in Psychology Department

Faculty Spotlight: Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick joined the faculty this fall, and is teaching courses in Chemistry of Materials and Nanomaterials and an Integrated Chemistry Lab. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of integrative sciences, is an advocate for Wesleyan Women in Science (WesWIS). “The more women (and underrepresented minorities) who pursue careers in the sciences, the more younger female and underrepresented students will be able to imagine themselves in those roles, and the sciences will begin to diversify,” she said. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this Q&A, we speak with Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of integrative sciences. Personick, who joined the faculty at Wesleyan in 2015, is interested in developing tailored metal nanomaterials that improve the clean production of energy and enable the efficient use of energy resources. Her work has recently been published in the journals Particle and Particle Systems Characterization and American Chemical Society Catalysis.

Q: Professor Personick, how would you describe your main research interests?

A: The main research areas in my group are controlling the shape and composition of noble metal nanocrystals, and exploring the use of these nanoparticles as catalysts to improve the efficiency and selectivity of reactions that are important in chemical industry and in energy production.

When she's not teaching or working in the lab, Michelle Personick, at right, rows crew with the Riverfront Recapture masters racing team in Hartford.

When she’s not teaching or working in the lab, Michelle Personick, at right, rows with the Riverfront Recapture masters racing team in Hartford, Conn.

Q: When did you develop an interest in chemistry?

A: I’ve always been interested in science in general, but it was more a broader interest than a specific focus on chemistry. There was actually a period of time in high school when I wanted to be a particle physicist. I chose chemistry after writing an essay about a cool new light-controlled nanoparticle cancer treatment for a class my senior year in high school.

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan and how has your experience been here over the last couple years?

A: I had a really positive small liberal arts college experience at Middlebury, where most of my professors knew who I was and cared about how I was doing in their class. Once I decided I wanted to be a professor, I knew that was the type of environment I wanted. In the different courses I’ve taught in my first two years, I’ve found the atmosphere at Wesleyan to be well-matched to pursuing that kind of teaching philosophy. What attracted me to Wesleyan specifically are the unique research opportunities that come out of having a small, but strong, graduate program in addition to being a top-tier undergraduate institution. The advanced research instrumentation here at Wesleyan, such as the electron microscopy facility, is also crucial to our ability to successfully carry out our research. I’d always wanted to work primarily with undergraduates once I set up my own research lab, but having even just two graduate students in that lab as well makes an enormous difference in the level of research I’m able to carry out. In turn, that creates an environment in which the very talented undergraduates I’ve had in my group so far have the opportunity to work on independent projects that get published in peer-reviewed journals and that are well-received by other scientists at major conferences. It’s been very rewarding over the last two years to get our lab up and running and to begin to see the results of the hard work put in by all of my research students, undergraduate and graduate.

Title IX Policy Committee Updates Processes

Building on the efforts of the previous committee, the 2016-2017 Title IX Policy Committee is busy reviewing and revising important processes, many of which coincided with recommendations made by a Victims Rights Law Center report. As a result:

The 2016-2017 Policy Committee members include:
Tri-Chairs: Chuck Sanislow, Debbie Colucci and Nila Ravi ’18.
Members: Laura Patey, Maureen Isleib, Frank Gramuglia, Sheryl Culotta, Kate Mullen, Kevin Butler and Kate Macken ’19.

ITS Suggests Ways to Keep Data, Computers Safe

Information Technology Services offered these helpful security tips:

To identify phishing and SPAM:

The following are easy and quick phish/SPAM identifiers: poor grammar, run-on sentences, missing or incorrect punctuation, missing signatures, and succinct emails with attachments or links from unknown senders. ITS will never ask you for your credentials (ID and password) nor ask you to verify your credentials by entering them on a webpage.

ITS will tell you how to change your password in your portal. For examples of phishing attempts, see Security > Security Notices in your WesPortal.

ITS will be releasing tutorial videos in your portal during the semester that cover many facets of cyber security. These videos will be followed by helpful quizzes. You may re-watch these videos at any time and as frequently as you like. Look in the Security bucket for the link when it gets published. In addition, there are numerous free options for antivirus software like Sophos, Avast, malwarebytes, to name a few.

Additionally, Wesleyan offers the anti-virus software ESET at no charge to faculty, staff and students. It is available for both Mac/OSX and Windows in the Security > Virus protection section of your WesPortal.

To report malware, phishing email, email security@wesleyan.edu. Sending the original email as an attachment can be helpful as the header information shows how the email arrived at Wesleyan and where it might have originated.

For device recovery in case of loss or theft: Prey software is located at preyproject.com, which enables users to track and find phones, laptops, or tablets – free for up to three devices. It is available for Linux, Android, OSX, iOS, and Windows.

Don’t share your Wesleyan credentials with others. Your Wesleyan account provides access to resources including applications, data, printing, library subscriptions, and more. You don’t want to see your work missing!

Once you login to your portal you can see more security-related information. ITS has policies, information about public computing labs, staff and more.

ITS has a checklist to help keep your computer and data more secure. For more information, email security@wesleyan.edu.

In addition, in an effort to improve access and streamline communication, ITS is moving service.wesleyan.edu into WesPortal. Along with a link to submit a request for a variety of WesITS services, ITS also will have a search box to find answers to common questions. Later, ITS will add a section highlighting recent WesITS blog posts where important updates and security information is posted.

Campus Community Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Usdan University Center

Students gather outside Usdan University Center during it's 10th year anniversary on Sept. 7.

Students gather outside Usdan University Center during its 10th year anniversary celebration on Sept. 7.

On Sept. 7, the Wesleyan community celebrated the tenth anniversary of the opening of Usdan University Center.

“Usdan is Wesleyan’s central gathering location for students, staff, faculty and the larger community,” said Frank Marsilli, facility and events manager for Usdan. “It’s a place where the campus community comes together—whether that be for a meeting, program or meal. We’re proud to celebrate a decade of success!”

During the daylong celebration and open house, students were offered a “passport,” encouraging them to visit various areas of the facility and receive a stamp. The event also included a prize wheel at the Usdan info desk; updated “did you know” signs and fun facts posted throughout the facility; movies and music from 2007; and a display highlighting the growth of student centers and involvement on campus through the years.

818 Students Welcomed on New Student Arrival Day (with video and photo gallery)

On Aug. 30, Wesleyan welcomed 766 students to the Class of 2021. An additional 52 transfer students also arrived.

Student athletes, Wesleyan staff and faculty — and Wesleyan President Michael Roth — assisted families with unloading vehicles and hauling suitcases, boxes, lamps, microwaves, computers, bed linens, and more to the students’ residence halls. The Wesleyan Cardinal made the rounds, even hitching a ride on the golf carts used to help haul carloads of belongings into new dorm rooms.

Watch a video of New Student Arrival Day below:

Making the trek to campus to the sound of favorite tunes—ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Car Seat Headrest, and “everything on my iPhone”—the Class of ’21 arrived on campus, cars loaded down with everything needed to turn a dorm room into home, along with family members to help carry the gear, set up equipment, make beds, and hang clothes. “I knew this was the right place for her,” noted one father, “but I didn’t say a word. Happily, she came to that conclusion, too.” Another parent had been surprised: “This was a late-in-the-game choice. He called us from campus last spring and said, ‘This is the place!’’ Another student confided, “I knew I wanted to go here the moment I stepped on campus.” Whichever end of the spectrum, the results were smiles and an eagerness to jump into life at Wesleyan.  (See photos below to meet a few of the newest members of our community.)

The Office of Admission received more than 12,450 applications for the Class of 2021, of which 2,014 students were admitted (16.2 percent). This is the highest number of applicants received in Wesleyan’s history.

  • The Class of 2021 is 46 percent men and 54 percent women.
  • The students hail from New England (20 percent), Mid-Atlantic (31 percent), Midwest (5 percent), South (8 percent), West (20 percent) and outside the U.S. (16 percent).
  • 15 percent of the class are international students.
  • Students of color, including international students, make up 44 percent of the Class of 2021. Students identify as Asian/South Asian (23 percent), Black/African American (11 percent), Latino/Hispanic (13 percent) and Native American/Alaskan, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Island (1.5 percent).
  • 14 percent of the students have a Wesleyan relative; 7 percent are children of an alumnus or alumnae.
  • 15 percent of the class are in the first generation of their family to attend a four-year college.
  • 47 percent of the students receive financial aid.
  • Economics, English, film, psychology and biology are the top projected majors.

Later in the afternoon, President Roth addressed parents and family in Memorial Chapel with his hopes for the newest members of the community. “The responsibility of a liberal education today is to give our students the power it takes to find what it is they love to do, get better at it, and translate what they love into productive work in the world. They learn skills outside of the classroom—in their dorm, on the athletic fields—and those skills complement what they’ve learned in classes, to make them better citizens, find more meaningful work, and truth be told, make them more fun to be around.”

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid, also spoke to the group and said, “We’ve assembled a remarkably engaged and talented group—the next Wesleyan generation, committed to making a difference wherever in the world they are… Here on campus and beyond the university.”

“We are most proud of the variety of experiences and perspectives these young men and women bring to Middletown. And know those qualities will inform all that they—and we—do at Wesleyan in the next four years. The range of talents, cultures, and family backgrounds in this group is exceptional, even by Wesleyan’s high expectations.”

Individuals in the class have been honored as White House Film Festival finalist, a top 40 winner in the Intel competition, a social-political blogger featured in the New York Times, a working actor in an HBO series, a holder of a patent for an electronic violin, and a nationally-ranked debater.

“Students join us from literally all around the world,” Meislahn said. “They are citizens of 62 different nations, including such places as Jordan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mauritius and Nepal, (that’s just the middle of the alphabet!) … 125 students reside outside the U.S. regardless of nationality. This is a truly the most global and cosmopolitan class to enroll at Wesleyan!”

Starting Aug. 31, the new arrivals will participate in the New Student Orientation (NSO) Program — a comprehensive introduction to Wesleyan. The program helps students build a foundation for their academic and co-curricular success. New students, including international, visiting, exchange, and transfer students, are introduced to the rigorous academic experience that awaits them through meetings with their faculty advisor as well as faculty lectures, discussions, and skill-building workshops. Wesleyan’s vast array of co-curricular opportunities, resources and services for students will be highlighted. Students build relationships with other students, faculty and administrators and have important discussions about the values, traditions, and community standards of the Wesleyan community.

In conjunction with New Student Orientation, the Office of Student Affairs and Office of Equity and Inclusion hosted “First Things First,” a pre-orientation pilot program designed to familiarize first-generation students with the college experience and the Wesleyan community.

Photos of New Student Arrival Day are below. A full set of photos can be viewed on Flickr. (Cynthia Rockwell, Laurie Kenney and Bill Holder contributed to this article. Photos by Cynthia Rockwell and Laurie Kenney)

Abby Dodd ’21 was moving into the Butterfield dorms, with help from her father, Jon. They drove in from Rhode Island this morning. “I wanted a non-passive campus,” said Abby, explaining why she chose Wesleyan. Recalls Jon, “It was the first campus she visited.” Abby is considering a major in music.

Sophia Wilson-Pelton ’21 was accompanied by her parents, Lee Pelton, left and Kristen Wilson, who all made the trek from the greater Boston area. Sophia is considering a major in English.

The Nash family—Mary, Ben ’21, and Drew—live near Oakland, Calif. Attending WesFest was the deciding factor for Ben. He’s considering a pre-med major—but isn’t ready to decide yet.

New roommates Sophia Marra ’21 (center left) and Natasha Feenstra ’21 (center right) set up their room with help from Julie and Stephen Marra, left, and Natasha’s sister Alexa and mother Jennifer Feenstra, right.


Caroline Salim ’21, second from left, brought family from Baltimore to help haul stuff and settle her in: sister Maryann (left), brother Alex, and mother Debbie. Caroline is considering a major in government.

Ira ’87 and Jonah ’21 Skolnik on Arrival Day.

David Redfield ’21 drove in from Woodfield, Conn., with parents Ann and David. A pitcher, he’s looking forward to baseball season, and both the academics as well as the community brought him to Wesleyan.

Parents rest after Arrival Day activities.

55 Graduate Students New to Wesleyan

On Aug. 29, the Office of Graduate Student Services hosted a new graduate student orientation and lunch at Exley Science Center. In 2017-18, Wesleyan welcomes 15 new PhDs; 12 MAs; 17 BA/MAs (all received a BA in May 2017); nine foreign language teaching assistants in romance languages, Asian languages and Arabic languages; and two new writing fellows.

During the course of orientation, the new graduate students were introduced to the Graduate Student Association, Wesleyan culture and Wesleyan resources that can support their academic career and life at Wesleyan. Students were introduced to Wesleyan staff representing student accounts, public safety, sustainability initiatives, residential life, counseling and psychological services, athletics, Title IX and more. Librarians provided tours of Olin Library and the Science Library. Faculty and staff from the Center for Global Studies also offered a pedagogy session specifically for the new Foreign Language Teaching Assistants called The American Classroom. New international graduate students were treated to a workshop on cultural adjustment.

Photos of their luncheon are below: (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

Wesleyan Welcomes 57 New Faculty in 2017-18

Pictured, back row, from left: Saray Shai, Yaniv Feller, Samir Bandaogo, Colin Smith and Tyshawn Sorey. Pictured, front row, from left: Justin Peck, Carlos Jiménez-Hoyos, Valeria López Fadul, Daniel Smyth and Scott Aalgaard.

This year, Wesleyan welcomes 11 new tenure-track faculty, one professor of the practice, and 45 visiting faculty and fellows.

The new junior faculty who start this year include:

Scott W. Aalgaard, assistant professor of East Asian studies
Aalgaard holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Victoria, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, titled “‘Homesick Blues’: Crisis, Critique, and Collectivity in Modern Japanese Cultural Production,” traces critical voices in literature, music, and everyday life in modern and contemporary Japan. His areas of research include critical practice in Japan, contemporary Japanese culture, modern and contemporary Japanese literature and popular music, and theories and histories of fascism.