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Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have been featured in national media outlets recently. They include:

NBC News—Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel [’93] as Acting FCC Chief

NBC Think—Trump’s ‘1776 Commission’ Tried to Rewrite U.S. History. Biden Had Other Ideas.; by Robyn Autry

Inside Higher Ed—Everything Won’t Be Different; by Michael Roth ’78

NPR’s Short Wave—Let’s Go Back to Venus!; features Martha Gilmore

MyRecordJournal.com—WRESTLING: Paint It, Black! Wesleyan Coach Drew Black of Cheshire Tabbed for National Hall of Fame

The New York Times Magazine—Poem: Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop; poem by John Murillo (PDF attached)

Thrive Global—What We Learned From Teaching a “Living a Good Life” Course During the Pandemic; by Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani

The Washington Post—Germany Looks Ahead to Life Without Merkel. But the Leadership Race is Leaving Voters Cold.; quotes Sarah Wiliarty

Forbes—Meet Joe Biden’s Science Team; Narda Jones ’91 will serve as Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy legislative affairs director

EXBulletin—Starting From the First Take, She’s Leading New Developments for ESPN Podcasts in 2021; Kimberley Martin ’03

The Bitter SouthernerMarion Brown’s [MA ’76] Musical Portrait of Georgia

Patch—America’s Coach Declares Distance Running is About to Boom; features Jeff Galloway ’67

The Atlantic—What the Chaos in Hospitals is Doing to Doctors; features Joseph Fins ’82, MD

The Wall Street Journal—Covid is Reshaping Death. And Maybe Life.; by Katy Butler ’71

Washingtonian—Meet Our 2020 Washingtonians of the Year; includes Alan Miller ’76

The Middletown Press—Have You Heard ‘Little Dark Age’ on TikTok? Did You Know the Band Behind It Has Ties to Connecticut?; features MGMT (Ben Goldwasser ’05 and Andrew VanWyngarden ’05)

President Roth on the New Year, New Semester

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Students return to campus Feb. 5–8, and classes are scheduled to begin online Feb. 9.

Wesleyan’s 2021 spring semester is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 9, with university housing opening Friday, Feb. 5. All incoming students will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and be tested for COVID-19 on campus.

Classes will take place online only for the first two weeks.

“Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a Jan. 20 post. “Of course, we will have to be vigilant about contagion throughout the semester. The vaccine rollout is making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Nominate Faculty for 2021 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Each year, three faculty members are presented the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching during the Commencement Ceremony. The Binswanger Prize recognizes outstanding faculty members as exemplified by a commitment to the classroom, student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion.

Juniors, seniors, graduate students, and GOLD alumni (Graduates Of The Last Decade) are eligible to nominate up to three professors who had the most enduring impact on students’ Wesleyan experience.

An invitation to nominate will be sent on Jan. 30 by Vanessa Guida ’04, chair of the Binswanger Committee. For questions, contact Gina Driscoll (gdriscoll@wesleyan.edu), associate director, alumni and parent relations.

View past Binswanger recipients online here.

Murillo’s Poetry Longlisted for Pen/Voelcker, Believer Book Awards

Murillo

John Murillo

A poetry collection authored by John Murillo, assistant professor of English, is longlisted for both the 2021 Pen/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection and the Believer Book Awards.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020) explores the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation. The collection includes a sonnet triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended reflection on the history of racial injustice.

The Pen/Voelcker Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, is awarded to a poet whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence. Rae Armantrout’s Conjure and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis, which are both published by Wesleyan University Press, also are longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry (read more). Winners will be announced in February.

The Believer Book Awards honor works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that are the best written and most underappreciated. The shortlists and winners will be announced online in the spring.

Murillo also is the author of Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher, 2010; Four Way Books, 2020), which was a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award (2011) and the Pen Open Book Award (2011). His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. Most recently, Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of New York Times Magazine.

At Wesleyan, Murillo also is director of creative writing and assistant professor, African American studies. This spring, he’s teaching ENGL 337A: Advanced Poetry Workshop, Radical Revision.

Alumni, Parents Explore “Living a Good Life” in Mini-Course

Horst good life

Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, lectured on “Means and Desires” Jan. 14 during the three-part mini-course on Living a Good Life. The series, which is ongoing until Feb. 1, is open to all alumni, parents, and friends of the University.

desire mapping

Horst speaks on desire-mapping.

“What is the good life?”
“What should I value?”
“What should I believe?”

These are the questions that more than 760 alumni, parents, and friends of the University are exploring this winter as part of a three-part mini-course titled Living a Good Life.

Taught by Wesleyan Professors Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani, the course gives attendees the chance to participate in activities during each one-hour virtual webinar. Attendance is encouraged for all three classes, but not required.

The mini-series is based on Wesleyan’s Living a Good Life undergraduate course, piloted during the Fall 2020 semester.

good lifeThe course is part of the University’s new Window into Wesleyan virtual event series created by the Office of Advancement’s Alumni and Parent Relations Office.

On Jan. 14, Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, lectured on “Means and Desires.”

On Jan. 21, from 7 to 8 p.m., Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy and Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, will speak on Daoism.

And on Feb. 1, from noon to 1 p.m., Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, will lead a session on Stoicism.

All three of these lectures will be recorded and shared with registrants when available. Register for the mini-series online here.

“We’re so excited by the interest from alumni and parents in this opportunity,” said Dana Coffin, associate director of alumni and parent relations. “I think it goes to show that the larger community has such an interest in maintaining a lifelong connection to Wes and appreciates the opportunities to engage with our incredible faculty.”

For more information, see:

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors Hill ’93, Schonfeld ’13, and Woodson ’76

In this continuing series, Annie Roach ’22, an English and Italian studies major from Middletown, Del., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Watch Her coverEdwin Hill ’93, Watch Her (Kensington, 2020)

As the third installment in Edwin Hill’s mystery series, Watch Her is a sophisticated and gripping psychological thriller with sharp attention to character- and world-building. Protagonist Hester Thursby, a Harvard librarian and renowned researcher, is pulled into a murder mystery that starts when she and her friend Detective Angela White are summoned to investigate a break-in at a house belonging to the owners of a for-profit university, the Matson family. Readers are swept into addictive prose as Hill unravels a complex history that explains the unusual circumstances of the Matsons’ break-in. Hill manages to keep the plot moving at a fast and engaging pace, while still paying special attention to detail and suspense. The cast of characters is strong and eclectic, featuring compelling LGBTQ+ and female voices, and Hill builds on both new and old characters in his third novel. Readers will appreciate the book on its own, but will undoubtedly be eager to pick up (or revisit) the first and second books in the series as well.

Edwin Hill is the author of the Hester Thursby mystery series, which includes the books Little Comfort, The Missing Ones, and Watch Her. He graduated from Wesleyan with a BA in American Studies and earned an MFA from Emerson College. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he worked in educational publishing. He lives in Roslindale, Mass.

Wesleyan Offers 2 New Coursera Courses Focused on Creating Social Change

This month, Wesleyan is launching two new MOOCs (massive open online courses) on the Coursera platform. Enrollment for both classes is free of charge.

Take Action: From Protest to Policy launches on Jan. 17 and is taught by Mary Alice Haddad, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, and Sarah Ryan, attorney and associate professor of the practice in oral communication. Jeffrey Goetz, associate director, Center for Pedagogical Innovation, also assisted with creating the course.

3 Alumni Authors Published in Ploughshares

Ploughshares

Works by Steve Almond, Fay Dillof, and Christina Pugh are published in the Winter 2020–21 issue of Plougshares.

Works by three Wesleyan alumni are published in the Winter 2020–21 issue of Ploughshares. Founded in 1971 and published at Emerson College, Ploughshares is an award-winning journal featuring the freshest voices in contemporary American literature.

The issue includes: “The Man at the Top of the Stairs, On Rendering the Inner Life” by Steve Almond ’88; “Private Practice” by Fay Dillof ’87; and “Reading for the Plot” by Christina Pugh ’88.

Almond, an English major, is also the Kim-Frank Visiting Writer at Wesleyan this spring. He’s the author of 11 books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (Workman Publishing, 2004) and Against Football: One Man’s Reluctant Manifesto (Melville House Books, 2014). His stories and essays have appeared in Best American Short Stories, the New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. His most recent book is William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life (Ig Publishing, 2019).

This spring, Almond is teaching Writing Certificate Senior Seminar: Writing and Publishing at Wesleyan.

Work by Dillof, a university major, is published or forthcoming, in New Ohio Review, Green Mountains Review, FIELD, Barrow Street, Rattle, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She has been awarded the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry and the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry.

Pugh, who majored in English and French language and literature, has published five books of poems, including Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and Perception (Four Way Books, 2017), named one of the top poetry books of 2017 by Chicago Review of Books. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Yale Review, and other publications. A former Guggenheim fellow and visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, she teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Pugh’s Stardust Media was also featured in this April 2020 “You Just Have to Read This…” article by Sara McCrea ’21.

The Ploughshares Winter 2020–21 Issue, edited by Editor-in-chief Ladette Randolph and Poetry Editor John Skoyles, also features poetry and prose by Nick Arvin, Gina Ochsner, Sylvie Baumgartel, and Jennifer Givhan, as well as Kelli Russell Agodon, Justin Balog, Shauna Barbosa, J. Mae Barizo, Christopher Buckley, Michael Burkard, Nora Caplan-Bricker, Elaine Hsieh Chou, Emily Cinquemani, Katie Condon, Jackie Craven, Caroline Crew, Evgeniya Dame, Shangyang Fang, Corey Flintoff, Jessica Goodfellow, Matthew Henry, David Keplinger, Ted Kooser, Laurie Lamon, Michael Lavers, Kathleen Lee, Eugenia Leigh, Ruth Madievsky, Alexandra Marshall, Gary McDowell, Paul Muldoon, Janice Northerns, Suphil Lee Park, Madelin Parsley, Emily Pittinos, Jeremy Radin, David Roderick, Craig van Rooyen, Noah Warren, Mason Wray, He Xiang, and Jane Zwart.

From Global Pandemic to Anti-Racism: Wesleyan’s Year in Review

The year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable of the modern era. From the threat and real-life toll of a global pandemic to domestic clashes over social, racial, and political injustice, 2020 was full of challenges—and the Wesleyan community met each one head-on. We banded together to keep our students and staff safe and pushed each other to show our resilience, to step up and speak out, and to use our trademark creativity to adapt and lead the way in addressing our new socially distanced and politically charged reality.

In this timeline, we look back and explore some of the University’s accomplishments and happenings amid an evolving pandemic.

Jan. 21: The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships announces the grantees of the JCCP Student Innovation Fund. Students from a range of majors and backgrounds—all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community—applied to this fund. Read the story.

Feb. 2: In response to the World Health Organization announcing an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, Wesleyan’s Chinese community (particularly students and parents) bands together to help their fellow citizens. The student-initiated group WesInAction raises more than $23,000, which is used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals in the pandemic’s epicenter in Hubei province, China. Read the story.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

Schatz Pens New Book on the Influence of the National War Labor Board

Book by Ron SchatzRonald Schatz, professor of history, is the author of The Labor Board Crew: Remaking Worker-Employer Relations from Pearl Harbor to the Reagan Era, published by the University of Illinois Press on Jan. 11, 2021.

According to the publisher:

Schatz tells the story of the team of young economists and lawyers recruited to the National War Labor Board to resolve union-management conflicts during the Second World War. The crew (including Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, Jean McKelvey, and Marvin Miller) exerted broad influence on the U.S. economy and society for the next 40 years. They handled thousands of grievances and strikes. They founded academic industrial relations programs. When the 1960s student movement erupted, universities appointed them as top administrators charged with quelling the conflicts. In the 1970s, they developed systems that advanced public sector unionization and revolutionized employment conditions in Major League Baseball.

Schatz argues that the Labor Board vets, who saw themselves as disinterested technocrats, were in truth utopian reformers aiming to transform the world. Beginning in the 1970s stagflation era, they faced unforeseen opposition, and the cooperative relationships they had fostered withered. Yet their protégé George Shultz used mediation techniques learned from his mentors to assist in the integration of Southern public schools, institute affirmative action in industry, and conduct Cold War negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Schatz’s research focuses on 20th century U.S. history and labor history. He investigates labor and management, conservatism, labor and religion, arbitration, and Connecticut history.

Crosby Remembered for Being a Brilliant Scholar-Teacher

Crosby

Christina Crosby (Photo by John Van Vlack, Image Pro Photography)

Christina Crosby, professor of English, passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 67. She also was professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.

Crosby arrived at Wesleyan in 1982 after receiving her AB from Swarthmore College and PhD from Brown University. She was a respected Victorianist, feminist, and theorist who was widely published, including two books, The Ends of History: Victorians and “The Woman Question” (Routledge, 1990) and A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain (NYU Press, 2016). She received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1994.

“Christina was a brilliant scholar-teacher,” recalled Natasha Korda, professor of English, “and an uncommonly generous colleague and mentor. Suddenly bereft of her presence, many of us are reeling, and at a loss for words, wishing that we could channel her eloquence to convey fully the contours of her extraordinary life and achievements. Our only solace is that Christina is now beyond the ‘great pain’ through which she lived on after her bicycling accident, and about which she wrote so beautifully in her recent book, A Body Undone. She was, as one colleague put it, the ‘heart and soul’ of the FGSS program over many years.”

Adjunct Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, Emerita, Sheng Dies at 95

Frances Sheng, adjunct associate professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, passed away on Jan. 3 at the age of 95.

Sheng completed her undergraduate degree at Fu Jen Catholic University in Beijing, and her MA at the University of Connecticut. In 1972 she arrived at Wesleyan, where she founded Wesleyan’s Chinese language program and inspired generations of students by teaching Chinese faithfully until her retirement in 1994. During her 22 years at Wesleyan, Sheng was involved in the establishment of the East Asian Studies program as well as study abroad in China, and she founded the Frances M. Sheng Prize, which is still awarded today for excellence in Chinese language and excellence in Japanese language.

“Frances’ students loved and admired her for being a demanding but caring teacher,” said longtime colleague and John E. Andrus Professor of History William Johnston. “Frances created a foundation for our program in Chinese language instruction, whose continued success is itself a tribute to her earlier efforts. CEAS and Wesleyan owe a debt of gratitude to Frances.”

Ellen Widmer, professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, remembers Sheng as being “full of dignity but also humor. She cared about people’s qualities as a person.” Widmer also noted that although Sheng ran a “tight ship,” her classes were also always full of laughter.

“How well I remember Frances’ kindness in my first years at Wesleyan,” said Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, Emerita, Vera Schwarcz. “Her great sense of humor. How she pushed her students to do their best. May her soul rest in peace.”

Sheng is survived by her sister, Rita Mao Hechler; her brother, Mao Yuan; her daughter, Diane Sheng; her niece, Lucille Sheng-French; and four grandchildren: Stacy Tarver Patterson, Andrew Herzer, Aaron Tarver, and Alexandra Herzer. If desired and in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the CAF/Suzanne Sheng Fund, a scholarship fund for Connecticut architectural students, c/o Connecticut Architecture Foundation, AIA Connecticut, 370 James St, Suite 402, New Haven, CT 06513.