Bill Holder

William Holder ¹75 is editor of Wesleyan magazine.

Kleinberg to Study Anarchy in History as Visiting Professor in Germany

Ethan Kleinberg

Ethan Kleinberg

Professor of History and Letters Ethan Kleinberg is the recipient of the Reinhart Koselleck Visiting Professorship at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, a high honor accorded to world-renowned historians whose work is “of outstanding significance” for theoretical reflection and further development.

Kleinberg will spend the summer term of 2019 at Bielefeld with the intention of beginning work on a project titled “Temporal Anarchy in History.”

Candidates for the professorship do not apply for the honor; the Centre for Theories in Historical Research at Bielefeld selects recipients based on the example set by Reinhart Koselleck, one of the most renowned historians of the 20th century. Koselleck’s “pioneering ideas and work on conceptual history, historical theory, and political iconography stimulated historical science as well as other humanities and cultural studies,” according to the center. “He is thus the perfect example of how historical research can reflect on and react to its own ‘theoretical needs.’” Kleinberg’s work at the intersection of history of ideas, historical theory, and the social negotiation of time strongly resonates with the faculty at Bielefeld: “His presence will facilitate a deeper understanding of the various ways in which theory permeates historical practice, and how this practice influences and is influenced by the social conditions of our times.”

The Koselleck Visiting Professor stays for two months, with full involvement in the academic life of the university. Kleinberg will offer a seminar for students, present a workshop for doctoral candidates, and give a public lecture.

Kleinberg says he is greatly looking forward to contributing to the Centre for Theories in Historical Research in its mission to make theory of history a core aspect of every history department and, especially, to working with the faculty and graduate students. He is also eager to solidify and expand the partnership between Wesleyan and Bielefeld.

Kleinberg is editor-in-chief of History and Theory and an authority on the intellectual history of Europe in the 20th century, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy and theory of history.

Students in Rural Access Group Receive Davis Peace Grant

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members (l to r) are: Edelina Marzouk ’20, Momi Afelin ’20, Betty Bekele ’20, Emanuel Fetene ’21, Nebiyu Daniel ’18

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members include: (front row, from left) Edelina Marzouk ’19, Momi Afelin ’19, and Betty Bekele ’19; (back row, from left) Emanuel Fetene ’20 and Nebiyu Daniel ’18. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Five Wesleyan students determined to make life better for girls in rural African areas have received a prestigious $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Their start-up nonprofit, Rural Access, seeks to expand access to health and education in impoverished areas, while also raising awareness of pressing health issues. Among those is the need to address lack of menstrual hygiene products, which frequently keeps girls out of school and leads to high dropout rates, poverty, and other harmful outcomes.

This summer, Rural Access will be working in Ethiopia and Guyana to make menstrual hygiene kits and distribute them to girls. The project is far more complicated than it sounds because it involves establishing partnerships, winning the trust of communities, and overcoming adverse conditions, including near–civil war in Ethiopia.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18, the founder and leader of Rural Access, says that, “Work like this requires a lot of commitment. It takes a dedicated team, and we work on this every day.”

The team consists of Daniel, Momi Afelin ’19, Edelina Marzouk ’19, Betty Bekele ’19, and Emanuel Fetene ’20.

Daniel founded Rural Access on the principle that connection to the community served is essential. He was born in Ethiopia and spent his childhood there. In the summer of 2016, he returned to his native region of Garamuleta to work with elderly individuals and to distribute first-aid kits to 500 families.

Senior Lacrosse Players Graduate Early Before Winning National Championship

Graduation came early this year for men’s lacrosse players for the best possible reason. With the team competing in the NCAA championship game on Commencement Sunday for the first time in the program’s history, graduating students missed the regular ceremony.

The graduating seniors, and one student receiving an MA in graduate liberal studies, received their degrees at a special ceremony in the Admission building, attended by President Roth and Provost Joyce Jacobsen, on Wednesday, May 23.

Also present were the families of the graduates, as well as Director of Athletics Mike Whalen and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley.

President Roth said, “This is a joyous occasion. You still have work to do, but that work gives us such pride, even awe.”

Seniors receiving the BA degree:
Nick Annitto
Jake Cresta
Ryan Flippin

Wesleyan-Led Astronomy Consortium Joins Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), which operates the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), and other major astronomical research facilities in the United States, has elected the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium (KNAC)—led by Wesleyan University—as a new member. This historic development represents the first time that liberal arts institutions have been invited to join the association and serves as an important recognition of the value of such programs, not just to education, but also to frontier research in astronomy.

Seth Redfield, campus director of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium, reports that several students and faculty have recently been awarded grants for their research in astronomy. Photo c/o Redfield

Seth Redfield

“This is a tremendous recognition of the important impact that the Keck Consortium and our individual institutions have on the astronomy research landscape, and it literally gives us a seat at the table in terms of influencing the future of astronomy in the United States,” says Seth Redfield, associate professor and chair of astronomy at Wesleyan. “This is a validation of our impact in research and preparing future generations of astronomers (many of whom go on to PhD programs or postdocs or faculty positions at the large research institutions already on the board of AURA),” Redfield adds. “We are thrilled to have a voice from smaller institutions in shaping the future of our field.”

Birney Receives Mellon Fellowship to Pursue Role of Scents in Antiquity

Kate Birney

Kate Birney

The scent of ancient perfumes evaporated eons ago, but scientists are able to reconstruct their ingredients by analysis of the residues left on their containers. Up until now, however, such studies have largely been isolated in the scientific literature, disconnected from the textual and archaeological data that place these perfumes back into the hands of their ancient users.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology, and art history, is hoping to change that as co-architect of the OpenARCHEM project, which seeks to assemble the largest set of organic residue samples ever collected from archaeological artifacts around the Mediterranean. Built in collaboration with archaeochemist Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, OpenARCHEM connects botanicals with the containers in which they traveled and the ancient texts that mention them, to reveal the many roles they played in Mediterranean cultures. To develop this project, Birney has received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship.

The New Directions Fellowship will enable Birney to take advanced coursework at M.I.T. and to study with experts in mineral analysis and the ecology of the ancient Mediterranean, fields that are essential for understanding the cross-disciplinary nature of this work.

Vice President Barbara-Jan Wilson to Retire in December

Barbara-Jan Wilson (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Vice President Barbara-Jan Wilson will retire this year. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, recently announced that she will retire in December, ending a Wesleyan career that began in 1982 and included leadership of two major capital campaigns.

Wilson assumed her present role in 1999, but she is also well known to generations of alumni through her prior leadership of Admission and before that, Career Resources – the position she took when she was hired by President Emeritus Colin G. Campbell Hon. ’89.

Her efforts as Wesleyan’s energetic and highly successful fundraiser spanned two presidents and four Board chairs. She worked with President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, Hon ’94, P’87, ’94 on a campaign that raised $281 million and more recently with President Michael S. Roth ’78 on the $482 million THIS IS WHY campaign. In announcing Wilson’s plans to the campus community, Roth said her leadership had made an enduring contribution toward establishing a sustainable economic model for Wesleyan and has greatly strengthened Wesleyan’s endowment.

Love of Language Learning Lies behind Upcoming Symposium

Jessica Chen '20, who can speak Engligh, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Italian, is co-organizing a language symposium titled "The Power of Language" to be held April 6–7 at the Fries Center for Global Studies. At this two-day symposium, participants will discuss language and culture, language and identity, second-language acquisition, language and technology, and other topics. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Jessica Chen ’20 is co-organizing a language symposium titled “The Power of Language,” to be held April 6–7 at the Fries Center for Global Studies. At this two-day symposium, participants will discuss language and culture, language and identity, second-language acquisition, language and technology, and other topics. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Jessica Chen ’20 is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, which is often spoken in her home city of Shenzhen, China. She started learning English before she entered Kindergarten.

She taught herself Korean in high school, speaks a local Chinese dialect common in her mother’s native area and is studying Italian at Wesleyan. She is not yet fluent in the latter, but hopes to be so before she graduates and possibly to pick up some other Romance languages as well.

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 4.1 Percent

During the 2017-18 academic year, 42 percent of students are receiving need-based scholarship awards.

At its meeting on March 3, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 4.1 percent for the 2018-19 year.

Tuition and fees for the 2018–19 year will be $54,614. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $15,060, for juniors and seniors, $17,120. Wesleyan’s percentage increase in student charges aligns with its projected increase in total expenses.

Wesleyan meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students and devotes almost $60 million of its operating budget to support of scholarships. In 2017-18, 42 percent of students are receiving need-based scholarship awards averaging nearly $46,400.

Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. Wesleyan is phasing 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 2016 with $482 million raised, saw the creation of 120 new endowed scholarships, and over $227 million in new endowment and annual funding to support financial aid.

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.

Taylor, Alumni, Students Co-Author 3 Journal Articles

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is the recent co-author of three articles. Two publications are related to disrupting the formation of Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), a cell surface component that is important to Gram-Negative bacteria’s ability to form biofilms and become resistant to hydrophobic antibiotics. These papers describe inhibition of enzymes from E. coli, as well as enzymes from related pathogens including Vibrio cholerae (the bacteria that causes cholera), and Yersinia pestis (the bacteria that causes plague). Understanding how enzymes can be inhibited opens up possible new strategies for fighting diseases.

The third paper builds on her prior work investigating the ways in which sucralose (an artificial sweetener known primarily as Splenda) interacts with proteins, in comparison with its natural disaccharide counterpart, sucrose (common table sugar). She and her co-authors present data showing that sucralose interacts more strongly with hydrophobic patches on protein surfaces than does sucrose, which may be part of the way in which it causes destabilization of proteins.

These papers include alumni authors Noreen Nkosana B.A. ’11, MA ’13, Daniel Czyzyk PhD ’15, Zarek Siegel BA ’16 and current student authors Joy Cote Chemistry PhD ’18, Nimesh Shukla Physics PhD ’18, Cody Hecht ’18, in addition to Taylor’s longtime collaborator, Christina Othon, associate professor of physics at Ripon College.

Taylor also is associate professor of environmental studies and of integrative sciences.

The papers are:

Synthesis, kinetics and inhibition of Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase I by monosaccharide analogues of LipidA,” published in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2018, in press.

The Glycosyltransferases of LPS Core: A Review of Four Heptosyltransferase Enzymes in Context,” published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2017, 18(11), 2256. This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipopolysaccharides.

Hydrophobic Interactions of Sucralose with Protein Structures,” published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2017, 639, pages 38-43.

Updated: Wesleyan’s 2018 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Wesleyan will present two honorary doctorates at the University’s 186th Commencement on May 27, 2018. Anita Hill, who for decades has fought against discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, will present the Commencement address, and Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09 founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and chair emeritus of Wesleyan’s board of trustees, will also be honored.

Anita Hill

Anita Hill

Anita Hill

Anita Hill is University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University and a faculty member of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis.

In 1991, her name became indelibly stamped on the national consciousness when she accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment while he was her supervisor. Her courage in speaking out and her dignity in the face of vituperative attacks remain inspirational, and over the years she has provided frequent commentary in the national media on gender and race issues. She recently was selected to head the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, intended to address sexual abuse and harassment in the media and entertainment industries. She also served as chair of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.

Hill is a scholar of contract jurisprudence, commercial law, and education policy. She is a prolific author, publishing numerous law review articles, essays, editorials, and books. Her most recent book, focused on housing and the 2008 foreclosure crisis, is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

She previously co-edited Race, Gender, and Power in America: The Legacy of the Hill-Thomas Hearings with Emma Coleman Jordan. In 1997 she published her autobiography, Speaking Truth to Power, in which she discusses her role in the confirmation hearings.

Among her many honors, she received the UC Merced Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance in 2016 and the Ford Hall Forum First Amendment Award in 2008. Hill holds a BS degree from Oklahoma State University and a JD from Yale University.

 

Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09

Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09

Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09

Joshua Boger is an outstanding scientist whose vision transcends the lab. As the founder and former chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, he led the discovery and development of new pharmaceuticals for treating some of medicine’s most daunting challenges, including HIV, hepatitis C infection, and cystic fibrosis. At Wesleyan, where he served as chair of the board of trustees, he helped ensure the success of Wesleyan’s $482 million THIS IS WHY campaign and consistently urged the board to anticipate challenges years ahead. He continues to contribute his skills and wisdom to various scientific, cultural, educational, and political ventures.

Boger is the author of over 50 scientific publications, holds 32 U.S. patents in pharmaceutical discovery and development, and has delivered over 100 invited lectures—in the United States, in Europe, and in Asia—on various aspects of drug discovery and development. Prior to founding Vertex in 1989, he headed the departments of Biophysical Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry of Immunology & Inflammation at Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories. He holds masters and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Harvard University.

Currently, he is chair of the campaign for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, vice chair of Boston’s Museum of Science, chair of the board of the Celebrity Series (Boston’s premier performing arts presenter) and chair of the fundraising campaign for Harvard Medical School, where he is chair emeritus. Among many other present and former volunteer activities, he was the founding chair of the board of the nonprofit MassChallenge (the world’s largest start-up business incubator), and, while a member of the board of the ACLU of Massachusetts Foundation, co-founded their ongoing Technology for Liberty and Justice for All Projects.

A list of past honorary degree recipients and Commencement speakers is available here. Suggestions for future recipients of honorary degrees are welcome. Contact presoffice@wesleyan.edu.

Leverage Language Skills with Free Mango Platform

Care to brush up on your French? Learn Japanese? Or perhaps acquire a language that isn’t commonly taught at colleges, such as Danish?

Wesleyan is offering alumni and members of the on-campus community free access to the Mango Languages platform, says Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish and director of the Fries Center for Global Studies. The platform provides high-quality online instruction in 72 languages, with an excellent blend of conversational language and cultural study. Gonzalez says that reception of Mango as a teaching and learning tool “has been very positive on campus” and that it is an attractive means for expanding the scope of Wesleyan’s language instruction.

“It’s crucial in any society for people to have intimate knowledge of different areas of the world, and not just in economically strong countries such as China,” he says. “An understanding of languages and cultures in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, for example, is essential in today’s interconnected world.”