Bill Holder

William Holder ¹75 is editor of Wesleyan magazine.

Bloom ’75 Named to New Writer-in-Residence Position

Amy Bloom '75, appointed as the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence, read from her latest book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, April 13 in New York City at "A Conversation with Amy Bloom '75 and President Michael Roth '78." The event was sponsored by the Wesleyan Club of New York and the Wesleyan Writing Programs. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Amy Bloom ’75, a distinguished writer of novels, short stories, nonfiction, and projects for television, has been named the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University. Her appointment takes effect July 1.

Bloom will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

Bloom will enhance Wesleyan’s curricular offerings in writing by offering two courses per year, and she will serve as a senior thesis advisor. She will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

“Amy Bloom is one of the most accomplished writers in the United States today,” says President Michael S. Roth. “Her insight, her creativity, and her deep understanding of the craft of writing will be a great benefit to our students. The writing community at Wesleyan is prolific and strong, and Amy Bloom’s presence will add to that vitality.”

Bloom is the author of two novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction book. She has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad.

Wesleyan Announces Promotions Incurring Tenure

During the academic year, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees maintains an ongoing process of tenure case consideration. During its most recent review, the Board awarded tenure to two faculty effective July 1, 2010.

Matthew Kurtz, associate professor of psychology, was appointed assistant professor of psychology at Wesleyan in 2007. Previously, he has held appointments at the Institute for Living in Hartford, Trinity College, Hartford Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania, the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He has been awarded numerous grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, Hartford Hospital and NARSAD.

His research focuses on schizophrenia, specifically the neurocognitive and psychosocial deficits of individuals diagnosed with the disease. His work has important clinical applications through the development of rehabilitation and treatment strategies that can enhance the success of those individuals in everyday life. Significantly, his research approach isolates the different ways in which the range of learning potentials among schizophrenic patients are affected so that treatments can be more effectively targeted. Kurtz has published 29 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Kurtz earned his B.A. in psychology at Reed College; his M.A. and Ph.D. are from Princeton University, in psychology and neuroscience.

Typhaine Leservot, associate professor in the College of Letters and of Romance Languages and Literatures, was appointed instructor in the College of Letters and of Romance Languages and Literatures in 2003 before becoming assistant professor of both a semester later. She previously served as a teaching fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Her research addresses issues of globalization, gender, and the post-colonial experience within the large framework of French-language literary fiction. Her book, Le Corps mondialisé: Marie Redonnet, Maryse Condé, Assia Djebar (Paris, Harmattan, 2007), analyzes the fiction of three authors from France, North Africa, and the Caribbean, engaging them together as a way of bridging French studies and francophone studies in the context of globalization. She is also author of several articles and book chapters.

Leservot completed her undergraduate studies in English literature at Caen University (France), and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

As the Board continues its practice of reviewing additional cases for tenure throughout this academic year, more announcements may be forthcoming.

Tuition to Rise 5%; Financial Aid 11%

Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees voted last weekend to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 5% percent for the 2010-11 academic year.

Tuition will be $41,814 for all students in 2010-2011. For freshman and sophomores, the residential comprehensive fee will be $11,592. For juniors and seniors, the fee will be $13,176. The higher residential comprehensive fee for juniors and seniors reflects the higher cost of the options available to them. Juniors and seniors have access to apartments and houses in addition to residence hall rooms. They also have greater flexibility in dining options.

“Although we are mindful of the difficulties inherent in annual tuition increases,” says President Michael S. Roth, “in order to maintain our high quality liberal arts programs and our scholar-teacher model we must increase tuition in the coming year.”

Roth went on to say that “Wesleyan is financially stable and has a balanced budget because we have significantly reduced expenditures over the past two years. We are raising student charges by the smallest amount needed to maintain our fiscal stability.” After consulting with the Board of Trustees, Roth emphasized the importance of minimizing expenditures that do not directly affect the experience of students so as to reduce the need for significant tuition hikes in the future.

In the context of the tuition increase for 2010-2011, Roth emphasized the importance of maintaining access to Wesleyan through a robust financial aid program. The university expects financial aid expenditures to rise next year by 11 percent and is projecting an increase in health care costs of 10 percent.

Wesleyan has taken steps to relieve inflationary pressures on the budget in the long term. The university has reduced annual expenses significantly and is in the process of implementing approximately $30M in reductions to its annual budget. Steps taken include:

• curtailment or elimination of proposed construction projects
• an approximate 10 percent reduction in staff (mostly through attrition and a voluntary separation program)
• one-year salary freeze
• a 22 percent reduction in energy usage since 2004
• numerous additional reductions in specific budgets

Wesleyan also has increased enrollments in each class by 30 students (120 total) to generate additional revenue.

President Roth noted that Wesleyan is building its endowment so that more resources will be available to support educational expenditures in the future. In the coming years, the university hopes to triple the endowment for financial aid, adding the equivalent of 400 new scholarships.

Roth stressed that in this difficult economic period the university is still taking steps to offer students an enhanced educational experience. “We have hired 25 faculty members, and even as we secure our future financially, we are developing new curricular programs.”

Roth cited the new programs in Creative Writing, the College of the Environment and Middle Eastern Studies as examples of curricular enhancement, as well as an initiative that has added dozens of new small classes to the curriculum in a variety of fields. “Applications have soared by 30 percent in the last two years. Students across the nation and around the world see Wesleyan as the exciting school all of us know it to be,” Roth says.

Shaw ’76 Addresses Wesleyan Lawyers Association Debut Event

The freshly minted Wesleyan Lawyers Association (“WLA”) hosted a successful kickoff event Nov. 7 during Homecoming /Family Weekend at the Woodhead Lounge in the Exley Science Center.

Approximately 100 attorney alumni, undergraduates, and friends attended a talk given by Ted Shaw ’76, currently the Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University Law School and of counsel at the international firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. Shaw, who was director-counsel and president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 2004 through 2008 and served as a Wesleyan Trustee for 15 years, addressed how his experience at Wesleyan affected his legal career as one of the nation’s leading civil and human rights advocates.

The WLA’s core team members, Jon Bender ’94, Michael Donnelly ’73 (tri-chair), J.D. Moore ’75 (tri-chair), Donna Temple ’95 (tri-chair and acting secretary) and Jessica Ziemian Wragg ’02 discussed the formation, operation and goals of the WLA. The core team and WLA Steering Committee, comprising 29 attorneys from throughout the country, are excited about the growing enthusiasm for the association and were pleased to welcome to the event alumni spanning class years from ’68 to ’07.

The WLA, the first professional alumni affinity group organized at Wesleyan, intends to sponsor events both at Wesleyan and regionally, and to promote networking, mentoring and community service opportunities among Wesleyan alumni and students or graduates interested in the law. The WLA is in the process of establishing a website to facilitate communication among members. All Wesleyan alumni who have graduated from law school are encouraged to join, and should contact either Jim Kubat of the Career Resource Center at, or Donna Temple at to join or for further information.

Documentary by Montero ’98 Nominated for Emmy

David Montero ’98 has been nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in a News Magazine.” The nomination recognizes his Frontline documentary titled “Pakistan: State of Emergency,” which explores the volatile Swat Valley.

At the foot of the Himalayas in the border area with Afghanistan, the Swat Valley is an impoverished area that has provided a fertile ground for conflict between Taliban forces and Pakistani troops.

In a Frontline interview, Montero said, “I first went to Swat in May 2007. Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric in the valley, had begun to become a problem for the Pakistani government. All the newspapers were writing about him. Editorials were coming out in the press about him because

Ginsburg ’78 Develops New Genetic Test for Infections

Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg ’78 of Duke University and his colleagues have developed an experimental genetic test that can detect common infections before people know they are sick, according to an article in USA Today.

The test can distinguish between bacterial and viral illnesses, which may help physicians determine when they first see a patient whether giving antibiotics to a person will be helpful.

Unlike existing diagnostic tests, which typically detect either the germ itself or antibodies, the new approach detects the activation of genes that govern an immune response. It requires no more than a finger-prick of blood.

USA Today quoted Ginsburg as saying, “This is the first major step in using a person’s individual response to a viral or bacterial infection to lead to better diagnostics for infectious disease.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded the work in hopes of identifying soldiers who are sick before they infect others. Ultimately, says Ginsburg, the method could valuable in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices as an early indicator of infection.

NYT Features Stephens ’07 Among China-Bound Grads

A recent New York Times story noting that Shanghai and Beijing are “new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates” featured Joshua Arjuna Stephens ’07, who took a temporary job with China Prep, an educational travel company.

Stephens told the Times that he new little about China and didn’t speak the language, but he wanted to “do something off the beaten track.”

Now, two years after leaving for China, his is fluent in Mandarin and works as a manager for XPD Media, a social media company based in Beijing that makes online games.

Young Americans are attracted by the entrepreneurial boom in China, according to the Times. Part of the draw is that they often find that they can climb the career ladder much faster in China than they would in the United States, and that starting a business can be very inexpensive.

Waldman ’86, Miranda ’02 Perform at White House Arts Evening

Two Wesleyan alumni performed May 12 for President Obama, his family and others at the White House. The event was titled “An Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word.” Ayelet Waldman ’86 and her husband Michael Chabon, both writers, were among the speakers. An NPR story about the event included Waldman discussing the power of the written word: “To harness the power of language you have to be able to put yourself in the position of the person you are speaking to—to imagine what they are thinking, what they’re feeling. That’s hard.”

Also at the White House was Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, creator of the award-winning Broadway show “In the Heights.” In her blog, Waldman says he won over the audience “with a hip hop song about Alexander Hamilton, as sung by Aaron Burr.” She credited Miranda with being “one of those performers who comes along every once in a rare while who’s just got magic about him.”

Oracle Acquires Sun, Headed by Jonathan Schwartz ’87

Jonathan Schwartz '87 (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Jonathan Schwartz '87 (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

On April 20, Oracle Corp. announced it would acquire Sun Microsystems, whose chief executive officer is Jonathan Schwartz ’87. The deal, valued at $7.4 billion, promises to make Oracle a more potent competitor against I.B.M., Sun’s previous suitor, according to The New York Times.

“With Sun, Oracle will more directly compete against I.B.M., H.P. and other giants selling products and services used in corporate data centers by big corporations,””said the Times. “The move by Oracle is part of the trend of the largest technology companies to assemble more offerings — hardware, software and services — for corporate customers, often through acquisitions, as I.B.M., H.P., Cisco and Oracle have all done in recent years.”

In an e-mail to Sun employees, reported by the Wall Street Journal, Schwartz spoke about the acquisition:

“This is one of the toughest emails I’ve ever had to write. It’s also one of the most hopeful about Sun’s future in the industry. To me, this proposed acquisition totally redefines the industry, resetting the competitive landscape by creating a company with great reach, expertise and innovation. A combined Oracle/Sun will be capable of cultivating one of the world’s most vibrant and far reaching developer communities, accelerating the convergence of storage, networking and computing, and delivering one of the world’s most powerful and complete portfolios of business and technical software.”

Dick Rohfritch ’66 Finds Unusual Route to Book Selling

“Book-lover Dick Rohfritch didn’t set out to buy 12,000 modern first editions once owned by an eccentric lawyer-collector found murdered in his rural Missouri home. It’s just that he doesn’t like to play golf. And thereby hangs the tale of how The Woodlands got Good Books in the Woods, a new secondhand bookstore full of remarkable finds.”

The Houston Chronicle recounts this story about Rohfritch ’66, an English major who works in chemical sales but has always loved reading and enjoys collecting books.

The dead man, 70-year-old Rolland Comstock, was an avid bibliophile who acquired signed first editions by 20th-century British and American authors. In July 2007 he was found shot dead in his home, and the case remains unsolved. Many of the books in his collection were in superb condition, signed and encased in acetate wrappers.

Rohfritch discovered the collection in a warehouse owned by Second Story Books of Washington, D.C. According to the Chronicle, he soon became “the proud owner of a 40-foot trailer’s worth of modern firsts plus hard-to-find literary magazines.”

The idea of opening a bookstore emerged gradually. In The Woodlands, a planned community in the Houston metropolitan area, Rohfritch found a house that could be renovated as a bookstore and installed his son, Jay, as general manager. They expect to do sell most of their first editions over the Internet at prices ranging from $12 to $300.

Brush Up On Baseball with Paul Dickson ’61

Just in time for the opening crack of bats, the prolific Paul Dickson ’61 has produced The Dickson Baseball Dictionary: The Revised, Expand, and Now-Definitive Work on the Language of Baseball (Norton).

Writing for The Washington Times, James Stroud says:

One cannot be a writer in Washington and not know this local Samuel Johnson of our craft. He is the author of more than 50 books in a staggering range from authoritative accounts of Sputnik, the 1932 Bonus Army March, the history of ice cream and, not surprisingly a whole shelf about the language of slang from the battlefield to the diamond. My claim to objectivity is that I am one of the few writers in our community who has not been involved in a writing project with him.

“This is the third edition of a quest Dickson began in 1989 when his first effort produced 5,000 entries of baseball lore, rules, and jargon. Thirty years later this new edition boasts twice as many entries from A, for the Class A baseball minor leagues, to zurdo, which is “Spanish for ‘lefty’ and ‘southpaw.’” In all, there are more than 18,000 definitions of what clearly is the most vibrant and creative portion of the popular English language. But these aren’t dry explications; there are plenty of anecdotes, and some very funny yarns.
Mr. Dickson explains what he’s up to this way, “From the outset, the idea was that it (the book) had to be useful to a nine-year-old looking for a clear definition of the infield fly rule, but it also had to be a book that would appeal to two of the toughest audiences for the printed word: the baseball fanatic and the lover of language.”

Opening of Shapiro Center Will Launch New Writing Programs

Long known for producing writers of great variety and distinction, Wesleyan will open the Shapiro Creative Writing Center in the fall, and with it two programs that further signal the importance the university attaches to writing.

The English Department has established a concentration in creative writing for English majors who wish to pursue writing intensively at a high level. The university also is developing a certificate in writing, now in the planning stage, open to undergraduate students in any field of study who wish to establish writing as an area of concentrated academic work.

“Nothing is more essential to a liberal arts education than clear, coherent writing,” says President Michael Roth, “and programs for advanced creative writing will attract some of our most talented students. These curricular initiatives serve both to anchor the place of writing within our curriculum and to let high school students and others know that Wesleyan is an institution where fiction, poetry, and nonfiction can be pursued at the highest level. Undergraduates will have more opportunities to pursue creative writing in all its forms and to be recognized for their accomplishments.”

“The Shapiro Creative Writing Center also joins the academic mission at a crucial time,” President Roth added, “setting the standard for curricular initiatives that enhance our core competencies and build a platform for innovation. Thanks to generous gifts from our donors we are able to accomplish this without increasing the burdens on our operating budget.”