Bill Holder

William Holder ¹75 is editor of Wesleyan magazine.

Early Decision Applications Up More than 16%

Wesleyan received 742 applications for early decision this fall, an increase of 16.6 percent over last year. The increase of more than 100 applications provided Wesleyan with its biggest pool ever in early decision, according to Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid.

Additionally, Wesleyan received the most ever applications from international students, up 75 percent. Other diversity measures were also strong, with a 44 percent increase from students of color in the United States and a 56 percent increase from African American students.

“These results are most gratifying,” Meislahn said. “Potential applicants hold Wesleyan in high regard and to have so many see Wesleyan as their first and only choice should make us all proud.”

The early decision application increase follows a substantial jump last year in applications overall. For the class of 2020 entering this fall, 12,026 students had applied, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year and a 10 percent increase over the previous all-time high three years ago for the Class of 2017.

The new Hamilton Prize has added excitement to the fall admission season, with many applicants expressing interest in the prize, a four-year full-tuition scholarship.

The Admission Office released early decisions to applicants on Dec. 10.

“We have every confidence these first members of the Class of 2021 will contribute to the vitality of the Wesleyan community. Early decision students form the heart of the class at Wesleyan and this heart is healthy and strong!” Meislahn said.

President Roth Presents Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan

wes2020In May 2010, the Board of Trustees adopted Wesleyan 2020 as a tool for strategic decision making at Wesleyan. Reflecting the input of faculty, trustees, staff, alumni and students, and designed to be flexible, this framework for planning has assisted the University in making decisions about the allocation of resources since that time.

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth has provided an update, Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan, organized under the rubric of Wesleyan’s three overarching goals: to energize Wesleyan’s distinctive educational experience; to enhance recognition of Wesleyan as an extraordinary institution; and to work within a sustainable economic model while retaining core values. Beyond 2020 outlines new investments Wesleyan can make to ensure that the university remains at the forefront of innovative, pragmatic and progressive education.

“It has become ever clearer to me,” says Roth, “that our university can continue to represent something relevant and admirable in American higher education—not just for our own alumni and friends but for a much broader constituency. Our ‘bold and rigorous’ work will add substantial value to our diplomas and has the potential to make a lasting contribution to our country and beyond. We are in a much better position now than we were a decade ago to make the investments required to make this happen.”

Roth said he will be discussing the goals of Beyond 2020 during the current academic year with various university constituencies on campus and off.

Tucker’s Conference Encourages Dialogue between Historians, Legal Scholars on the Topic of Firearms

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies and associate professor of science in society.

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history, associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies and associate professor of science in society.

On Sept. 14-15, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, organized a conference titled “Firearms and the Common Law Tradition,” which was held at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. In this Q&A, Tucker discusses the significance of the conference:

Q: What was distinctive about the Firearms and the Common Law Conference?

A: As far as we are aware, it was the first time that most of the historians and legal scholars involved in the debate over the Second Amendment and common law traditions relating to firearms have been in the same room and exchanged their views face to face and in pre-circulated papers. The inclusion of historians who study primarily the use of firearms across a range of historical periods (early modern England, colonial America, frontier west, etc.) was unusual in such a gathering, as was the participation of several curators of historic firearms collections in the U.K. and North America.

Q: What questions or topics were discussed?

A: What do we actually know, or take to be the case, about firearms and their uses in the Anglo-American tradition? How is the history of firearms presented and remembered? How has history been used in the arguments used in recent court cases over efforts to restrict gun rights? Everyone came away with a better and more nuanced understanding of the arguments for and against. By bringing people together (many for the first time), it informed historians about the legal stakes of the topic and also ensured a place in the discussion for historians who work on this subject.

Q: What makes the issue particularly timely?

A: The history of firearms use and regulation is playing an unprecedented role in litigation challenging firearms laws across the country. For example, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Graves ’81 Examines Campaign Communication through Behavioral Science

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81 is the global chairman of Ogilvy Public Relations and formerly held senior positions with CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe. This summer the Rockefeller Foundation and ideas42 selected him for a prestigious Bellagio Residency, where he has continued his work to turn findings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics into practical applications in communications.

In this election season, Graves has co-authored several online posts for Harvard Business Review, analyzing communications from the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns. Below are highlights with links to the full posts:

The Art and Science Behind the Negative TV Ads of Trump and Clinton

There is a deep and deeply confusing body of research on negative ads and voter turnout.  There have been findings that negative ads: a) have no impact; b) decrease voter turnout; c) increase voter turnout; d) both increase and decrease turnout depending on the party and the timing.  One recent study looking back more than a decade says negative ads work better to mobilize Republican voters than Democrats. Another claims to find that Independents stop voting when both major parties go negative.

Campus Update

The following is the text of an email sent to campus today by Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

I’m writing to update you on a personnel matter. In June, we were contacted by a reporter from The Boston Globe, who informed us that an investigation had revealed that former Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer had been terminated from his previous job at Vermont Academy for inappropriate conduct that had not been previously disclosed to us. We immediately investigated the allegations, and he was terminated within 24 hours for having concealed the matter. He was not alleged to have had any inappropriate behavior while at Wesleyan.

This was the first time that Wesleyan learned of this matter. As part of the hiring process, Wesleyan received positive reviews of Mr. Backer in written references from and phone interviews with senior administrators at Vermont Academy. Likewise, no information was revealed in the background check. Had we been aware of this information, Mr. Backer never would have been hired.

As you may be aware, in his position here at Wesleyan, Mr. Backer managed case flow for student conduct cases. He served on, and frequently led hearing panels. Wesleyan has in place a system of checks and balances (other team members, panel members, and appeal rights) to ensure all cases are adjudicated fairly and properly. In an abundance of caution, we engaged Pepper Hamilton, a nationally renowned firm with expertise in campus discipline and Title IX issues to conduct a review of cases handled by Mr. Backer. The auditors completed their review and reported no concerning issues or impropriety.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mwhaley@wesleyan.edu, or Title IX Officer Antonio Farias at afarias@wesleyan.edu.

Sincerely,

Dean Mike Whaley

Employees Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards

The following employees received Cardinal Achievement Awards in April, May and June for their efforts in demonstrating extraordinary initiative in performing a specific task associated with their work at Wesleyan University.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for their extra efforts:

Liliana Carrasquillo-Vasquez, area coordinator, Residential Life

Olivia Drake, editor and campus photographer, University Communications

Terry Emmons, accounting specialist, Chemistry Department

James Huerta, senior assistant dean, Admission Office

Elizabeth Mainella, serials administrator, Olin Library

Jeffrey McDonald, assistant football coach, Physical Education

Emily Pagano, area coordinator, Residential Life

Paul Turenne, senior associate registrar, Registrar’s Office

Joy Vodak, associate director, Academic Affairs

Randy Wilson, library assistant, Olin Library

Hickenlooper ’74 Releases Engaging Memoir

The20Opposite20of20Woe20by20John20Hickenlooper-197x300Irrepressibly optimistic, funny, self-deprecating, at times self-doubting but driven to tackle difficult challenges. These are the qualities that shine through in John Hickenlooper ’74’s disarming autobiography, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics (with Maximillan Potter; Penguin Press, 2016).

It was in a moment of self-doubt, or perhaps profound personal insight, that Hickenlooper chose Wesleyan over Princeton, having been accepted to both universities in 1970. He confesses now that he didn’t think he was good enough for Princeton, but then adds, “I had a feeling that Princeton would be a bit too conservative, too buzz-cut and buttoned-down for me, and that Wesu’s long-haired liberal arts types would be more my crowd.” He was right.

Hickenlooper’s time at Wesleyan was remarkable for its longevity, and he devotes three chapters to “That Decade I Spent in College.” With candor unlike any politician bent on image burnishing, he tells in detail how he had his heart broken in love. An English major, he discovered his interest in geology in the second semester of his senior year, when he attended a lecture with a friend and found himself captivated by a discussion of leach fields and perc tests. He stayed at Wesleyan as a special student to take courses specified by the Geology Department as a prerequisite to being admitted into the master’s degree program, which he received in 1980.

Wesleyan Responds to Syrian Refugee Crisis

As part of the Wesleyan community’s response to the refugee crisis, the student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled "Art in Crisis" through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. “Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za'atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. The artwork will be sold at a silent auction with funds going back to the artists.

As part of the Wesleyan community’s response to the refugee crisis, the student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled “Art in Crisis” through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. “Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za’atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. The artwork will be sold at a silent auction with funds going back to the artists.

(By Charles Salas)

Last fall President Michael Roth took what some thought was a risk. Appalled by the Syrian refugee crisis, he issued a challenge to the Wesleyan community, asking what can we do?

On Feb. 17, the Allbritton Center hosted a panel discussion on “The Refugee Experience,” the second in a three-part series titled, “The Refugee Crisis: The Development of the Crisis and the Response in Europe.” Moderated by Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies, it featured discussion between Steve Poellot, legal director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); Mohammed Kadalah of the University of Connecticut Department of Literature, Cultures and Languages, who was recently granted asylum after fleeing Syria in 2011; and Baselieus Zeno, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and a Syrian refugee. Read more about the full series here. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

On Feb. 17, the Allbritton Center hosted a panel discussion on “The Refugee Experience,” the second in a three-part series titled, “The Refugee Crisis: The Development of the Crisis and the Response in Europe.” Moderated by Assistant Professor Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, it featured discussion between Steve Poellot, legal director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); Mohammed Kadalah of the University of Connecticut Department of Literature, Cultures and Languages, who was recently granted asylum after fleeing Syria in 2011; and Baselieus Zeno, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and a Syrian refugee.

How would people respond? Would they say that’s not Wesleyan’s business? Ask why this crisis and not another? Demand more of Wesleyan than it could possibly do? In fact, the Wesleyan community made some good suggestions which the university has been able to act upon, doing the kinds of things it does well:

  • Hold panel discussions to increase understanding and awareness
  • Sponsor student internships with organizations assisting refugees
  • Host a refugee scholar on campus, and enroll a refugee student
  • Work with local officials to welcome refugee families to Middletown.

Read about the Wesleyan community’s remarkable response to the refugee crisis here in Wesleyan magazine online.

Students, Faculty, Alumna Honored at Beckham Social Justice Awards

Several students were honored for helping promote diversity and inclusion during the Edgar Beckham Social Justice Awards ceremony April 23 in Beckham Hall. 

Several students were honored for helping promote diversity and inclusion during the Edgar Beckham Social Justice Awards ceremony April 23 in Beckham Hall.

Students, faculty and staff who exercised cultural sensitivity, helped promote diversity and inclusion, and improved the campus climate were recognized at the annual Edgar Beckham Social Justice Awards ceremony held April 23. The event brought together generations of alumni, students, faculty and staff to celebrate the tenets that make Wesleyan diverse.

Originally called the Edgar Beckham Helping Hand Awards when it was founded in 2013, the awards were created in honor of Edgar Beckham, the first African-American Dean of the College at Wesleyan University and a tireless advocate for social justice.

Aetna Taps Sabatino ’80 and Loveman ’82 as High-Level Hires

Thomas Sabatino Jr. ’80 joins Aetna as executive vice president and general counsel.

Thomas Sabatino Jr. ’80 joins Aetna as executive vice president and general counsel.

Aetna has tapped two Wesleyan alumni for recent high-level hires. Thomas Sabatino Jr. ’80 is joining the insurance giant as executive vice president and general counsel. Sabatino worked most recently at Hertz Global Holdings as its chief lawyer, and previously in pharmaceuticals and medical products.

He joins Gary Loveman ’82, who in September became Aetna’s corporate executive vice president and president of Healthagen, the company’s consumer business. Loveman, a former management professor at Harvard Business School, had been chairman and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Gary Loveman ’82 is Aetna’s corporate executive vice president and president of Healthagen, the company’s consumer business.

Gary Loveman ’82 is Aetna’s corporate executive vice president and president of Healthagen, the company’s consumer business.

Dan Haar ’81, business editor of the Hartford Courant, wrote that both Hertz and Caesar’s are known for tracking and managing their top customers. Loveman created a data-based customer loyalty program as well as an incentive-based health and wellness program for the company’s 70,000 employees and their families.

At two of the three big Hartford insurance companies, Wesleyan alumni hold the general counsel position – David Robinson ’87 has the post at The Hartford. Also, Tom Cowhey ’94 is head of investor relations at Aetna, and Gabriella Nawi ’90 has the same position at Travelers.

President Emeritus Campbell Discusses “Thoughts on Citizenship” at Olin Library

President Emeritus Colin G. Campbell spoke to a crowded Smith Reading Room in Olin Library April 13 about “Thoughts on Citizenship.” Campbell, who served as president from 1970 to 1988, had visited the Allbritton Center prior to his talk and said the citizen engagement promoted by the Center is one of the most exciting activities he has seen on any campus.

President Emeritus Colin G. Campbell spoke to a crowded Smith Reading Room in Olin Library April 13 about “Thoughts on Citizenship.”
Campbell, who served as president from 1970 to 1988, had visited the Allbritton Center prior to his talk and said the citizen engagement promoted by the Center is one of the most exciting activities he has seen on any campus.

He spoke at length about the ethical obligations of educated citizens in a participatory democracy, and he took questions after. After Wesleyan, Campbell served as president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He went on to serve as chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, retiring in 2014 and now serving as chairman emeritus. His talk was sponsored by the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.

He spoke at length about the ethical obligations of educated citizens in a participatory democracy, and he took questions after.
After Wesleyan, Campbell served as president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He went on to serve as chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, retiring in 2014 and now serving as chairman emeritus. His talk was sponsored by the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.(Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

Wesleyan Launches Sustainability Action Plan during Earth Month

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Hilary Brumberg ’17 waters seedings inside the new greenhouse at Long Lane Farm. The new greenhouse, funded by the Green Fund, allows the students to get a head start on the gardening season. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Emma Distler ’19 uses a bottle filling station inside Usdan University Center on April 18. The bottle filling stations provide clean, filtered water and reduce the use of disposable bottles. As part of Wesleyan’s sustainability efforts, the university has installed bottle refilling stations and drinking fountains at many locations campus-wide.

Emma Distler ’19 uses a bottle filling station inside Usdan University Center on April 18. The bottle filling stations provide clean, filtered water and reduce the use of disposable bottles. As part of Wesleyan’s sustainability efforts, the university has installed bottle refilling stations and drinking fountains at many locations campus-wide.

During Earth Month Wesleyan is celebrating its progress toward a sustainable campus.

“From planning to composting, from university-wide utilities to low-flow showerheads, we are reducing our carbon footprint and creating a culture of sustainability,” said Jennifer Kleindienst, sustainability director at Wesleyan.

With leadership from Kleindienst, Wesleyan has developed a Sustainability Action Plan – a broad commitment to sustainability that is the result of more than a year of effort from over 130 students, faculty and staff. The plan is intended to guide the university’s efforts in this area over the next five years.

“Wesleyan as a whole can contribute to a sustainable world not just by doing what it does so well – teaching and research – but also by being a model of sustainability itself,” said President Michael Roth. “We now have a comprehensive plan and strategies to move Wesleyan toward carbon neutrality and create a more environmentally and socially sustainable campus.”

A recycling station was installed in Boger Hall/41 Wyllys.

A recycling station was installed in Boger Hall/41 Wyllys.

Energy use has the greatest impact on Wesleyan’s carbon footprint, and efficiency and conservation programs, as well as expansion of renewable energy sources are all a part of the university’s strategy. Preparations for construction of a new solar photovoltaic (PV) “farm” on the university’s Long Lane property will begin in May, and it is expected to be operational by the fall.

Wesleyan’s sustainability achievements also include:

• Sustainable Buildings: Boger Hall (formerly 41 Wyllys Avenue) has the highest possible Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification (Platinum). Among the building’s sustainability highlights are a green roof that provides water filtration and a reduction of the heat island effect; mechanical and lighting systems that sense occupancy, low-flow water fixtures, individual control over lighting and heat, and much more here.

• Water: Usage has declined by over 50 percent (more than 13 million gallons, or the equivalent of nearly 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools) since 2011 due to installation of low-flow fixtures.

Wesleyan students oversee Long Lane Organic Farm's compost area.

Wesleyan students oversee Long Lane Organic Farm’s compost area.

• Composting and waste reduction: Over a three-year period, Wesleyan has increased composting from 12 tons to 42 tons, while generation of trash declined from 703 tons to 604 tons.

• Long Lane Farm: Since 2004, the student-run Long Lane Farm has produced food for dining halls and the broader Middletown community. The Community Food Project connects families with children on free or reduced-price lunches to the farm, where they get an opportunity to help out, receive free produce, and have fun.

• Grounds: In 2013, facilities staff planted a wildflower meadow on eight acres off Long Lane. More than 80 acres of Wesleyan’s campus are no-mow, low-mow, or wooded. Since 2012, the student group Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan (WILD Wes) has brought permaculture principles to campus. The group now manages two garden locations.

Water usage at Wesleyan has declined by more than 50 percent since 2011 due to installation of low-flow fixtures.

Water usage at Wesleyan has declined by more than 50 percent since 2011 due to installation of low-flow and automatic-shut off fixtures, like this one in Fayerweather.

• Green Fund: In 2010 the student-managed Green Fund was established through a $15 per semester opt-out fee, and 87 percent of students voluntarily participate in the fund. Over the past five years, the Fund has awarded over $365,000 to more than 40 different projects.

“I’m so encouraged by our progress to date,” Kleindienst said, “and having a detailed, comprehensive plan with specific actions and metrics will enable us to do much more. Sustainability is an ongoing process, not an end goal, and we are fortunate to have a campus where sustainability is widely embraced.”