Bill Holder

William Holder ¹75 is editor of Wesleyan magazine.

As Theater Department Chair, Conlin Says Students Leave Strengthened to Generate New Work

Kathleen Conlin, the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater—here, behind the scenes with stage lights—values a rich mix of visiting professionals and continuing faculty, which results in a stimulating “creative collision.”

The Theater Department has begun fall semester with a new chair who combines an impressive list of creative accomplishments with deep and varied experience as an academic administrator.

Kathleen Conlin, Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater, has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. While juggling the varied demands of an academic career, she also served for 22 seasons as associate artistic director and stage director at the Utah Shakespeare Theater.

“I love being around young people who are not narrowly defined and are actively working to discover who they are and who they are in society,” she says. “To be able to do that through an arts lens is spectacular.”

Wesleyan Makes Efforts to Hire Underrepresented Employees

Wesleyan is making determined efforts to hire individuals from historically underrepresented groups, which have resulted in significant advances lately.

In 2017, 45 percent of staff hired (not including faculty) were of color — a dramatic increase from 26.4 percent the year before and the previous five-year high of 30.6 percent in 2014. Overall, 22.8 percent of staff identify themselves as of color.

Julia Hicks, chief human resources officer, points out that increasing diversity in the workplace has been shown to improve organizational performance. Diversity fosters inclusive cultures where individual differences are respected, teamwork is promoted, and intercultural competence and respect increase.

“We’ve made progress in part by changing our internal approach,” she says. “When hiring, we don’t take the easy way out. We partner with hiring managers to slow down their searches, to think harder about the pool than they might have in the past, to probe more and consider if candidates whose skills aren’t an exact match might be able to transfer those skills successfully to a different environment.”

Competencies Framework Will Help Students Build Personal Narratives

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen

Wesleyan has developed a competencies framework to help students describe the skills that they can develop through their academic and co-curricular experiences, according to Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Certification of skills is a trend in higher education nowadays, particularly among providers of online education. While recognizing the importance of acquiring career—and life-building—skills, Jacobsen says Wesleyan’s approach also emphasizes the importance of helping students build a personal narrative about their Wesleyan experience.

“Competencies tie into current trends in higher education, regarding certification and acquisition of specific skills,” she adds. “We’re saying, however, that competencies should be acquired in a broader framework that speaks to the goals of liberal education. We’re trying to give students terms they can use to explain their liberal education to potential employers, to their families, to themselves.”

Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment Is Established

Trustees and advisors of the Robert F. Schumann Foundation were on campus July 26 to celebrate the establishment of the new Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment with a $2.5 million grant to Wesleyan. The institute is named for the late Robert F. Schumann ’44. Pictured, at left, Timothy Crowley, Robert F. Schumann Foundation Trustee; Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment; Schumann’s sons Ford Schumann and David Schumann; Marc Eisner, dean of the Social Sciences Division; and Joe Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division.

The Robert F. Schumann [’44] Foundation has given Wesleyan $2.5 million to establish the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment (COE). The Institute will integrate approaches to learning, research and communication about environmental issues in ways that extend the COE’s educational programs within and beyond Wesleyan.

The Schumann Institute will provide students with life-changing experiences that will develop their abilities to address environmental issues. In order to achieve these goals the Institute will collaborate with or stimulate programs in global studies, civic engagement, arts, environmental (in)justice and sustainability and food security and agriculture.

Barry Chernoff, at left, thanks Ford Schumann, center, and David Schumann, for their father's gift to Wesleyan.

Barry Chernoff thanks Ford Schumann and David Schumann, who are the Robert F. Schumann Foundation advisors.

“I’m so pleased that Bob Schumann’s vision of engaging broader communities in environmental work will now be anchored in the Schumann Institute,” said Barry Chernoff, director of the COE and Robert F. Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. “I could not think of a more appropriate legacy for Bob, who was deeply devoted to environmental education and to Wesleyan.”

The Institute will emphasize project-based learning, with courses where students participate in faculty-led research teams. It will provide students with internship opportunities, working with specialists outside Wesleyan. Students will also be able to take new courses in food security that integrate research on the two-acre Long Lane Farm. Furthermore, the Institute’s program will develop the arts as an instrument of engagement, sustainability and communication.

“Bob’s generous financial commitment almost two decades ago

Baileys Support Groundbreaking Approach to Environmental Studies

On April 7, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 visited the College of Letters.

Essel Bailey ’66 and his wife, Menakka, visited the College of the Environment on April 7.

Essel Bailey ’66 believes that science is the foundation for addressing questions of environmental policy, which aptly describes the purpose of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. Now, he and his wife, Menakka, have increased their support of the COE with a new $4 million commitment to its programs, faculty and students – bringing their total gift to the COE to $7.5 million.

In part, their endowment gift will fund a multi-pronged effort to extend the work and themes of the Menakka and Essel Bailey Think Tank throughout the campus, explained Barry Chernoff, chair of the COE and the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. Chernoff is planning for seminars, workshops and faculty-student research grants as means for engaging the wider community in Think Tank themes, such as next year’s topic – Disruptions to Disasters: Confronting the Human-Environmental Relationship. The fund also supports a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, a position currently held by Professor Henry Adams of Case Western University.

“Wesleyan is committed to graduating informed citizens who will become involved in a broad range of environmental practices and policy-making,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “We are so grateful to Essel and Menakka for their sustained support of the College of the Environment and its curricular initiatives. They have helped the College achieve its mission with distinction.”

StemCONN Symposium Shows Connecticut is Leader in Stem Cell Research

Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, spoke on “A Protection Racket: Tbx6 and the Establishment of Muscle Stem Cells in the Zebrafish Embryo” during the StemConn 2017 conference, held April 27 in New Haven, Conn.

Professor Stephen Devoto spoke at the StemConn 2017 conference, held April 27 in New Haven, Conn.

The annual StemCONN conference, held April 27 in New Haven, made clear that Connecticut’s commitment to stem cell research has helped the state become a national leader in this burgeoning area of research and commercial development.

Wesleyan is one of the founders of the StemCONN conference, along with Yale and the University of Connecticut. This year marks the 6th StemCONN conference, an event that brings together more than 500 individuals from academic institutions, bioscience industry, and government.

“Stem cell research continues to be an exciting and fast-paced field with new discoveries fueling prospects for new therapies based on regenerative medicine for a range of debilitating medical conditions, and Connecticut is at the leading edge of this field,” said Janice Naegele, professor of biology and one of the symposium’s organizers. “A major emphasis of StemConn’s mission is education, and this year’s conference attendees included undergraduate trainees, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. Special interactive sessions over lunch provided a fabulous small group format for undergraduate and graduate students to ask questions and discuss career paths with our invited speakers. This is a one of a kind opportunity for many of our trainees.”

Connecticut passed ground-breaking legislation in 2005, becoming the first state to fully approve funding for stem cell research. The 12-year, $100-million per year initiative has enabled the state to compete successfully for scientific talent in the field and has helped to establish a growing bioscience corridor in the Hartford-New Haven area.

Greenhouse Delivers the Hugo L. Black Lecture on ‘Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump’

Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 26th annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression on April 20. Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 2008 as a New York Times reporter, spoke about “Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump.”

On April 20, Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 26th annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression in Beckham Hall. Greenhouse, who covered the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 2008 as a New York Times reporter, spoke about “Writing the Truth in the Age of Trump.”

Wesleyan Receives Mellon Grant for Pedagogical Innovation

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The Center for Pedagogical Innovation and Lifelong Learning (CPI) helps faculty use new technologies to benefit their teaching. Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Center for Global Studies, uses videoconferencing technology in his class to connect with students in Madrid.

Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Center for Global Studies, is comfortably seated in front of a semicircle of 11 students. He holds an iPad Pro that controls two large screens on the wall behind him and enables him to move effortlessly, seamlessly from Google Maps, to video clips, to text he can annotate on the iPad. All the while he converses in Spanish with his students about a movie that tells the story of a Moroccan woman repatriating the body of her brother after he died crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in a small boat.

In another class, Gonzalez and a colleague in Madrid co-teach with the help of high-quality videoconferencing technology. (See article.)

“You can’t believe what a success my trans-Atlantic classroom arrangement has become. It was as if the students in Spain were here with us,” says Gonzalez. In one class, students in Spain conversed with peers in Middletown about why certain homicides in Ciudad Juarez had not been classified as terrorism. “Talk about interculturalism!”

Technology is helping Gonzalez to teach differently and more effectively. And that’s one goal of the Center for Pedagogical Innovation and Lifelong Learning (CPI), which has been working with faculty members on new techniques and pedagogical strategies.

Now the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given the CPI a major boost with a $750,000 grant to fund its activities for the next four and a half years.

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 3.7 Percent

At its meeting March 4, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 3.7 percent for the 2017-18 year.

Tuition and fees for the 2017–18 year will be $52,474. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $14,466, for juniors and seniors, $16,446.

As always, Wesleyan will meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. Over the next four years, Wesleyan will phase in additional changes to financial aid that will result in higher grants for most students, as well as changes to student contributions, loan policies and other provisions that will benefit students and their families.

Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign, which concluded in June with $482 million raised, has seen the creation of 120 new endowed scholarships, and over $227 million in new endowment and annual funding to support financial aid.

As part of its affordability program, Wesleyan continues to offer the three-year BA option, announced in 2012 with the potential to save students about 20 percent on tuition. Since then, Wesleyan has seen a significant increase in the number of students taking advantage of this program.

President Roth to Lead Wesleyan through 2023

Donna Morea ’76, P’06, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, sent the following message to the campus community on Saturday, March 4:

Michael S. Roth '78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

Michael S. Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

I’m pleased to announce that today, the University recognized the extraordinary leadership of President Michael S. Roth and offered him an extension of his contract. I’m delighted to report that he has committed to lead Wesleyan through 2023.

This is truly an exciting time for Wesleyan. With the support of our community and Michael’s outstanding leadership, our reputation for being at the forefront of pragmatic liberal education continues to grow. Michael led our highly successful THIS IS WHY campaign, which raised significant funds for financial aid. He has worked to deepen our resolve to cultivate a supportive campus community where all have ample opportunity to thrive and participate fully in our vibrant culture. Thanks to a concerted effort to expand recognition of Wesleyan, record numbers of students from around the world have sought the opportunity to learn here. Through a consultative process with all university constituencies, Michael is developing a vision for the future in “Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan” that will encourage and support innovations such as our new course offerings in design and engineering.

For almost 10 years now, Michael’s leadership has been crucial to Wesleyan’s success. We have been fortunate indeed to have a president who believes so deeply in our mission and advocates for it so effectively, so eloquently. He has done much to secure Wesleyan’s future and enhance recognition of our crucial role in American higher education. Under his leadership, Wesleyan has gained long-term fiscal stability through changes to our fundraising, spending and debt management. We’ve launched innovative programs, including the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and four interdisciplinary colleges.

Now more than ever, our country needs Wesleyan graduates whose liberal education has prepared them to address complex problems and create powerful opportunities. With Michael’s bold, visionary leadership and the continued support of our community, I am confident that we will meet if not surpass our high aspirations.

Shumlin ’79 Speaks to Wesleyan Community about Climate Change

On Feb. 23, Peter Shumlin ’79, who served as Governor of Vermont from 2011-2017, spoke to members of the Wesleyan community about climate change. Shumlin has been a pioneer in developing state-level policies to combat climate change, including the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan with a goal of achieving 90 percent renewable energy in Vermont by 2050. Under his watch, 15,000 jobs were created in clean energy, solar panels increased by 1000 percent while the cost of solar fell 60 percent, and wind generation increased 400 percent.

During his talk in Shanklin Laboratory, Shumlin said Vermont is far better prepared for the next major storm, like hurricane Irene, because the state has rebuilt infrastructure with the impacts of climate change in mind. He suggested that Vermont provides a model that other states could follow for switching to renewables. Failure to adapt, he said, could lead to a dismal future, and he urged Wesleyan students to fight at the local and state level for a better future.

Shumlin also took numerous questions and comments from the audience.

(Photos by Will Bar ’18)

Peter Shumlin ’79, Governor of Vermont 2011-2017, has been a pioneer in developing state-level policies to combat climate change, including the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan with a goal of achieving 90% renewable energy in Vermont by 2050.

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