Bill Holder

William Holder ¹75 is editor of Wesleyan magazine.

Bryan A. Stevenson Named Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Wesleyan will present three honorary doctorates at the University’s 184th Commencement on May 22, 2016. Bryan A. Stevenson, a staunch advocate for racial justice who has fought against inequities in our judicial system, will deliver the Commencement address. Wesleyan will also honor Patti Smith, a legendary singer and writer celebrated for her path-breaking music and powerful memoirs, and Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosopher known for his compelling work on cosmopolitanism, identity and ethics. The Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, will be presented to John Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18.

Bryan Stevenson

Bryan A. Stevenson

Bryan A. Stevenson is a human rights lawyer who has dedicated his life to fighting racial injustice and discrimination in the criminal justice system. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based group that has won numerous legal challenges on behalf of the poor and incarcerated, including a historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that life-without-parole sentences for children aged 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

Professor Stevenson also teaches at the New York University School of Law and founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in 1989 to help prisoners on death row, and the scope of its mission has expanded since.

Patricelli Center Receives Challenge Grant from Propel to Complete Endowment

Propel Capital, a philanthropic and impact investing fund that supports innovative strategies to deploy capital for social impact, has announced a challenge grant to Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE). Every dollar raised in gifts or pledges to the PCSE endowment by June 2017 will be matched 1:1 by Propel, up to $700,000 which will fully endow the Center.

Co-founded by Jeremy Mindich ’87 and Sarah Williams ’88, Propel Capital provides grants and investments to nonprofits and social enterprises early or at critical junctures in their development. Mindich and Williams were part of a small group of Wesleyan alumni who came together in 2009, along with Bob Patricelli, and conceived of the Center. In 2011, Propel Capital provided seed funding to launch the Center’s programming. Williams co-chairs the Advisory Board and Mindich serves as a seed grant judge and advisor to the Center.

“One of the hallmarks of a Wesleyan education is the ability to challenge commonly held assumptions and beliefs and to chart new ways of doing things,” Mindich said. “The Center creates a pipeline of talented students skilled in this kind of thinking and then connects them to the amazing alumni network of Wesleyan social entrepreneurs.“

The Patricelli Center provides students with the training, experience, and connections to accelerate their growth as social entrepreneurs. “Wesleyan students combine ingenuity, drive, and passion for impact,” Williams said. “We are proud of the work the Center has done to date and excited about its future as a critical Wesleyan institution.”

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship provides workshops and a class, seed funding to explore new ideas, opportunities and training to serve on boards of local nonprofits, business mentors, summer internship financing, connections to and between alumni in related fields, and helps incubate new enterprises on campus. This year, the Center organized and hosted the first Social Impact Summit, a conference attended by 120 people that featured many enterprises launched by Wesleyan alumni.

In addition to its work around the world, Propel Capital is a sustaining supporter of key projects across Wesleyan, including the PCSE, the Center for Prison Education, and the Kevin Sanborn ’87 Scholarship and Summer Experience Grants.

To learn more about the Patricelli Center, visit www.wesleyan.edu/patricelli. For information about making a gift or pledge, contact Steve Kirsche at skirsche @ wesleyan.edu. View past News @ Wesleyan stories on the Patricelli Center here.

Wesleyan 1 of 12 Institutions Awarded Beckman Scholars Program

Wesleyan is one of only 12 institutions awarded a prestigious Beckman Scholars Program this year, according to Francis Starr, director of the College of Integrative Sciences and professor of physics, who directs Wesleyan’s Beckman program. The Beckman Scholars Program provides intensive research experiences and career mentoring to help Wesleyan undergraduates develop as leaders in the sciences.

Up to two Wesleyan students will receive this award annually, which carries a total stipend of $18,200 plus funds to support supplies and travel. Awards are normally made to sophomores to support research during the summer through the summer following junior year.

Hamilton Wins Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album

The Broadway musical sensation­ Hamilton claimed a Grammy Feb. 15 for Best Musical Theater album, and the show’s creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, rapped his acceptance speech. Miranda and the cast of Hamilton (directed by Thomas Kail ’99) also performed for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony live via satellite from the show’s home at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York.

In addition to Miranda and Kail, the show’s Wesleyan connections include album co-producer Bill Sherman ’02 and Atlantic Records’ head of A&R Peter Ganbarg ’88, who helped sign the album to the label.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, rapped his acceptance speech. Miranda and the cast of Hamilton (directed by Thomas Kail ’99)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

“This has been an amazing experience for all involved, and the fact that so many Wes alums are a part of this makes it even more special,” Ganbarg said. “Hamilton is the fastest-selling Broadway cast recording in over 20 years, since Rent, and it will soon be certified as a Gold album—the first cast album to be certified since Jersey Boys, almost 10 years ago.”

“To perform from our home is a dream come true,” Miranda said of the performance in a statement prior to the ceremony. Grammy Awards’ producer Ken Ehrlich called Hamilton “the toast of Broadway” in an interview with ET. Stephen Colbert had the honor of introducing the cast performance of the show’s opening number live from New York.

Miranda previously won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album for his Broadway debut In the Heights. Sherman, the album’s co-producer, also received a Grammy that year. In the Heights also received several Tony Awards.

Next up for Hamilton: Nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards will be announced live on May 3, with the awards presented at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Sunday, June 12.

Wesleyan hosted a sold-out benefit performance of Hamilton on Oct. 2, raising $1.6 million for financial aid. Read more.

Equity Task Force Established

A new task force announced by President Michael Roth will explore the establishment of a multicultural/gender/first-generation resource center as part of Wesleyan’s broader effort to improve equity and inclusion on campus.

The task force will be tri-chaired by Gina Ulysse, professor of anthropology, professor of feminist gender and sexuality studies; Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion and Title IX officer; and Shardonay Pagett ’18. Their initial recommendations are expected to be published in February with final recommendations by May 1.

“It need hardly be said that making our campus more equitable and inclusive is a communal goal and must be a communal effort,” President Roth wrote in a campus-wide email. “In the course of this work we will be challenged to truly listen to differing viewpoints and to learn from them. In 2016 let’s each and every one of us do what we can—be it personal, political or intellectual—to contribute to equity and inclusion at Wesleyan.”

Wesleyan students, staff and faculty can find updates on the task force’s work and related events, including a community dialogue to be held early spring semester, at equity.wesleyan.edu, and direct input to the task force should be addressed to: equitytaskforce@wesleyan.edu.

Farias said the task force will operate in a transparent manner to provide a clear statement of issues the university faces as a community and how a center would address them, as well as explore policy and operational changes needed to sustain the effort. The group also will consider the broader issue of “cultivating belonging.”

“To ‘cultivate belonging’ is about tending to something we care about,” Ulysse said. “It is about being an engaged presence in the process of change making. Everyone can play a part but there must be will and very clear intentions. The current moment demands that institutions face history without taking short cuts. To that end, if we want to be effective, we need to dedicate ourselves more than ever to engaging in a process of cultivating belonging. Cultivation is really hard work that is action oriented. It requires community, intention and is ongoing. There is no end to it.”

Wesleyan Sets 2015–2016 Student Charges

For the 2015–16 academic year, total student charges will be $62,478 for first-year students and sophomores, and $64,324 for juniors and seniors

For the 2015–16 academic year, total student charges will be $62,478 for first-year students and sophomores, and $64,324 for juniors and seniors.

At its meeting Feb. 28, Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 2.1 percent for the 2015–16 year, reflecting the third year of linking tuition increases to the rate of inflation.

The increase is based on the three-year national CPI average of June 30, 2014, the latest full fiscal year available. As a result of this policy, Wesleyan’s student charges for first-year students and sophomores currently rank 14th among a peer comparison group, compared to 1st in 2011. A further decline is anticipated.

“We remain committed to keeping Wesleyan affordable for all students,” said President Michael S. Roth. “Through a generous financial aid program, Wesleyan meets the full need of all its students receiving financial aid, and we ensure that our students leave here without a heavy debt burden.”

The university’s affordability initiative also provides for an optional three-year degree program, saving families about $50,000 on their total tuition bill while retaining the core academic experience for students who participate.

Support for financial aid is the highest priority of Wesleyan’s current campaign, and the university has raised nearly $380 million toward a goal of $400 million.

For the 2015–16 academic year, total student charges will be $62,478 for first-year students and sophomores, and $64,324 for juniors and seniors (reflecting the 2.1 percent increase in residential fees). Tuition will be $48,704 for all students.

Wesleyan Students Hospitalized

The student-run organization Active Minds at Wes hosted an Open Healing Space Feb. 24 in Espwesso. The group welcomed all students and community members to come write anonymous messages of support to the students in the hospital. Resources and information on different support systems were provided by Active Minds and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Wesleyan. Pictured is Alison Znamierowski '15.

The student-run organization Active Minds at Wes hosted an Open Healing Space Feb. 24 in Espwesso. The group welcomed all students and community members to come write anonymous messages of support to the students in the hospital. Resources and information on different support systems were provided by Active Minds and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Wesleyan. Pictured is Alison Znamierowski ’15.

It is Feb. 24, 10:20 a.m., and Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs, steps out of a meeting in the President’s Office to take a phone call. He returns two minutes later, takes his seat, and in an emotion-laden voice tells the group that a student whose life was endangered by poisoning from a variant of the drug Molly (MDMA) was improving.

It was a moment so many had been waiting for. As of Tuesday evening, eight of the 10 Wesleyan students hospitalized Sunday had been discharged. Two, however, remained hospitalized.

There was more news Tuesday night: four Wesleyan students had been arrested by Middletown police as a result of an investigation into the weekend’s events.

[Update] All students were discharged from hospitals and a fifth student was subsequently arrested.

Here’s a brief recap of what happened:

Update on Greek Life at Wesleyan

Since the announcement last September that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years, Greek life on campus has changed in several significant ways.

The decision to mandate coeducation of residential fraternities came after several months of deliberations among students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Board of Trustees. While the three all-male residential fraternities were given three years in which to become fully co-educational, the deadline to present an initial co-education plan was the end of fall semester.

Weil Leads Workshops in Chile on Trends in American Animal Studies

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on "Current Trends in American Animal Studies Educational Diplomacy" at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on “Current Trends in American Animal Studies” at the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile. Her invitation was part of an academic agreement between the university and the Cultural Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chile.

Stray dogs are everywhere in Santiago, Chile. They lie on sidewalks, wander the parks, and even cross busy streets unaided. No one seems to mind; they’re just part of the culture.

For Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, they also were a striking reminder of the purpose of her recent trip to Santiago. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy there, she visited the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile Jan. 6-9 to discuss current trends in American animal studies.

Although academics have studied animals from various perspectives for a long time, animal studies as a cross-disciplinary field has come into its own fairly recently. The field, developing robustly in the United States, draws the attention of scholars in areas such as anthropology, film studies, psychology, literary studies and philosophy. At Wesleyan, Weil and Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, have led the development of an Animal Studies program with courses ranging from Animal Theories/Human Fictions to Applied Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics and the Animal/Human Boundary. They also co-sponsor a summer fellowship in animal studies at Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute.

In some areas outside the United States,

Miranda ’02, Tatum ’75, Price to be Honorary Degree Recipients at Wesleyan’s 183rd Commencement

Wesleyan will honor three remarkable leaders in their fields with honorary degrees at the university’s 183rd Commencement on May 24, 2015. Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, an award-winning composer, lyricist, writer and actor, will present the Commencement Address. Wesleyan also will award honorary degrees to Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, president of Spelman College and an expert in race relations and higher education, and Michael Price, the longtime executive director of Goodspeed Musicals.

Lin-Manuel Miranda '02 (Photo courtesy of linmanuel.com)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 (Photo courtesy of linmanuel.com)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02
Lin-Manuel Miranda is the Tony and Grammy-winning composer-lyricist of Broadway’s In the Heights, which received four 2008 Tony Awards, with Miranda receiving a Tony Award for Best Score, and a nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. In The Heights was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show’s first incarnation was staged at the ’92 Theater at Wesleyan in 2000. Miranda is also the co-composer/co-lyricist of Broadway’s Bring it On: The Musical, which received a 2013 Tony nomination for Best Musical. His latest stage work is Hamilton, a musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, which had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York City in 2015.

Along with composer Tom Kitt, Miranda won the 2014 Creative Arts Emmy

Psi U Suspended from All Social Activities

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley distributed the following announcement to the campus community today:

To the Wesleyan Community:

In the beginning of this semester, Wesleyan announced a series of changes aimed to make residential Greek organizations safer and more inclusive. Public Safety now has full access to the houses, and many fraternity members, like other students, are now participating in bystander intervention training and other programs to curb gender-based violence. In addition to these safety measures, in order to become more inclusive all Greek residential organizations are required to present a plan before the end of this semester to become fully co-educational over the next three years. The current undergraduate members of Psi U have made progress on such a plan, and there have been discussions with DKE students and alumni.

Recently a student reported a sexual assault, and the assailant was dismissed from the University. The incident took place after an unregistered pledge event at the Psi U fraternity in the fall of 2011. As has previously been reported, another student was dismissed from the University after being found responsible for sexual assault at a Psi U event in the spring of 2013. In the interest of critical privacy concerns, the University will not share details of these incidents, the second of which is currently the subject of litigation between the survivor and the fraternity.

Although this latest reported incident took place three years ago, when most current residents of the fraternity house were not yet associated with the organization, some sanction of the fraternity is appropriate. Effective immediately, Psi U will be placed on provisional (probationary) program housing status until the end of 2015. The fraternity will not be allowed to hold any social events during this period, and any violation of University regulations by the organization or its members during this time will result in loss of program housing status and the house becoming off-limits to students.

This action is consistent with our policies to support survivors, punish assailants and change the culture so as to eliminate elements that lead to sexual assault. To be clear, sexual assault is not only a problem of Greek organizations; it is a problem on campuses all over the country. Our university has the responsibility to provide a safe residential learning environment where all students can experience the freedom of a transformative education, wherever they live or choose to socialize. We take this responsibility seriously. Therefore, in addition to taking action against individuals found to have perpetrated a violent act, any campus-based organization that has sponsored events that create conditions with a higher risk of violence, including sexual assault, also will be held accountable.

We continue to believe that coeducational Greek life can contribute value to the University and look forward to receiving plans for coeducation from our residential fraternities before the end of the semester. We will continue to work constructively with student organizations, including Greek ones, in our campus-wide efforts to create the safest and most inspiring residential learning environment possible.

Michael S. Roth
President

Michael Whaley
Vice President for Student Affairs

(Story updated at 2:28 p.m. Dec. 1, to replace spring with fall)

Wesleyan Issues Ebola Travel Advisory

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. (Photo courteously of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. (Photo courteously of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Ruth Striegel Weissman, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Thomas McLarney, medical director of the Health Services Department, have issued an Ebola Travel Advisory. It reads:

The devastating outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has caused pain and suffering on an almost unimaginable scale. It also has raised concerns about safe travel to and from that region. Even though this topic has receded from the headlines, Ebola remains a serious concern for travelers, and we would like you to be aware of the following update to Wesleyan policy.

We are asking members of the Wesleyan community to refrain from nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This advisory is consistent with travel notices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has issued the highest level of warning for individuals to avoid nonessential travel there. To protect the safety of our community, please travel to these areas only if you have an urgent and essential need or have particular expertise. If that’s the case, please alert your department chair or supervisor, who should in turn alert the appropriate Cabinet officer. Please note that the Governor of Connecticut has imposed case-by-case quarantine restrictions for travelers returning to the state from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It is important to know that disease screening is being performed in the three affected countries for anyone planning to travel outside their borders. To date, none of our students are matriculating from any of these countries, and the risk at Wesleyan is close to zero. The most recent update from Wesleyan Health Services is available here.

Further information on Ebola and the devastating outbreak in Africa is available on the CDC website.

Weissman and McLarney ask the Wesleyan community to consider contributing to humanitarian relief efforts.