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Wesleyan Announces All-Star Hamilton Prize Selection Committee

Hamilton Prize Committee

Wesleyan University has announced the distinguished members of its inaugural Hamilton Prize Selection Committee. The all-star committee, made up of Wesleyan alumni, will choose the first-ever recipient of the university’s newly established Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity—a four-year full-tuition scholarship that will be awarded to the incoming Wesleyan student of the Class of 2021 whose creative written work is judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied in Hamilton: An American Musical.

Local Children Learn about Physics from Wesleyan Faculty, Students

Christina Othon, assistant professor of physics, assistant professor of integrative sciences, met with students enrolled in the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center‘s Discovery AfterSchool Program on Dec. 1. Othon and Wesleyan students taught the AfterSchool attendees about physics through hands-on activities.

GSTLC s a community-based studio that develops, applies, and disseminates best practices in experiential teaching and learning which enhance Wesleyan and the greater community. The Discovery AfterSchool Programs offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences and math for children in Grades 1- 5. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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5 Classes Perform at Worlds of Dance Concert

The Worlds of Dance Concert, held Dec. 4 at Crowell Concert Hall, featured the works of five different dance courses in their semester-end culminating performance. Beginning and intermediate dance students performed works in various styles including Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance). The classes were taught by Pedro Alejandro, associate professor of dance; Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance; Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance; and Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance.

(Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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More than 90 Students Perform in West African Drumming and Dance Concert

The Center for the Arts hosted a West African Drumming and Dance Concert Dec. 2 at Crowell Concert Hall. The performance featured master drummer Emmanuel Attah Poku; choreographer and artist-in-residence Iddi Saaka; and more than 90 Wesleyan students. In addition, the Kiniwe African Dance Ensemble from Tufts University also performed at the concert. The event showcased the vibrancy of West African cultures through their music and dance forms. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

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Wesleyan Thinks Big Dec. 8

Wesleyan Thinks BigOn Dec. 8, Wesleyan will hold Wesleyan Thinks Big, a biannual TED-talk style event featuring Wesleyan faculty and administrators giving 10-minute speeches on an experience, a personal passion, an existential question or another topic of their choosing. The event will take place at 5 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

This year’s event is being coordinated by Catherine Wulff ’18, with help from Rachel Godfrey ’19 and Kaiyana Cervera ’19.

“Wesleyan Thinks Big is a way to bring the community together outside of the classroom, by shedding light on the strength of personal testimony and human connection,” said Wulff. “Our main goal is for the audience to leave energized and hopeful.”

Wesleyan Thinks Big will feature:

  • Iris Bork-Goldfield, adjunct professor of German studies and chair of the German Studies Department: “Thank you for Smoking. The Unintended Consequences of Lucky Strikes;”
  • Danielle Vogel, visiting assistant professor of creative writing in English: “Narrative & Nest;”
  • Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for the Class of 2018: “How to Excel in College by Cultivating Membership in a Community of Practice;” and
  • Khalil Johnson, assistant professor of African American studies: “Settler Colonial Blues: Musings from the Margins of Black and Indigenous History.”

Photographs by National Geographic Photographer Yamashita ’71 on Exhibit in Beijing

Acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 captures the Meili Snow Moutains in all of their breathtaking grandeur. The photograph appears in the Return to Tea-Horse Road exhibition in Beijing.

Acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 captures the Meili Snow Mountains in all of their breathtaking grandeur. The photograph appears in the Return to Tea-Horse Road exhibition in Beijing.

Return to the Tea-Horse Road, an exhibition by acclaimed National Geographic Magazine photographer Michael Yamashita ’71, will be featured in the Sony U Space in Beijing, from Dec. 6, 2016, to Jan. 8, 2017.

An exhibition by acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

An exhibition by Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Dec. 6, 2016, and running through Jan. 8, 2017.

Drawn from a series of photographs created for a 2010 National Geographic article, “Tea Horse Road,” Yamashita traces the legendary trail of grand vistas, where both Chinese tea and Tibetan horses were traded. His photographs offer cultural highlights rendered with intimacy—equestrian festivals revealing pageantry and brightly-colored flags, travelers sipping tea by yak-butter candlelight, men squatting to gather worms for herbal healers—as well vast landscapes of distant mountains traced with switchback trails and breathtaking majesty.

The exhibition highlights and features large-scale prints of his work, some two-by-three meters in size. Multiple Sony 4K television monitors will play a 200-picture slide show.

Additionally, Yamashita will be on hand for portions of each day this upcoming weekend (Dec. 9–11, 2016). He’ll be at a reception on Friday, Dec. 9, signing books from 1 to 6 p.m., and on Saturday afternoon he will offer a slide show, as well as attending the show on Sunday. Admission is free, Yamashita notes and adds, “I hope to see many Wesleyan alumni.”

The gallery is located at Jiuxianqiao Road No. 2, 798 Art Zone, Taoci 3rd Street E05-8, Chaoyang, Beijing, China.

Wesleyan to Open Bookstore on Middletown’s Main Street

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A new university bookstore will open in late spring on Main Street in Middletown and will be operated by R.J. Julia Booksellers, the nationally known independent bookstore in Madison, Conn.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks to a crowd at the new bookstore location on Nov. 30. (Photos by Laura Matesky) 

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks to a crowd inside the new bookstore location on Nov. 30.

The new bookstore will be located at 413 Main Street, near the intersection of Washington Street, and is expected to contribute significantly to Middletown’s thriving downtown. Popular restaurants, Kidcity Children’s Museum, and retail outlets are nearby.

The 12,000-square-foot space will be renovated with an open concourse design. Work will begin in December and the opening is planned for late spring of 2017.

“We’re committed to strengthening the ties between campus and Main Street,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Relocating Wesleyan’s bookstore is a major step in the direction, and I am so delighted that R.J. Julia Booksellers, with their phenomenal reputation, will be our partner in this effort.”

During previous discussions about moving the bookstore, Wesleyan community members had advocated a Main Street location and urged that the university avoid using a national chain to run it. The new location responds to those concerns and will be a vibrant place for special events, as well as ongoing business. It will improve first impressions for prospective students and families. Also, the new location will create more connections between campus and Main Street by giving students, faculty, and staff reasons to go downtown to take advantage of a new cultural hub.

During textbook buying periods, Wesleyan will provide additional shuttle service to the new bookstore.

Opened 26 years ago as an independent bookstore, R.J. Julia hosts more than 300 events each year in Madison and has won several major awards. Among those are Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, Lucile Pannell award for bookselling excellence, and Connecticut Magazine Best Bookstore.

Wesleyan Exceeds Giving Tuesday Goal

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On Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, members of the Wesleyan community joined together to support Wesleyan students. This was Wesleyan’s fourth year participating in the global campaign, which encourages people to support their favorite organizations during the holiday season.

This year, Wesleyan’s Giving Tuesday goal was 3,000 gifts received between Nov.1 and Nov. 29. By the end of the day on Giving Tuesday, Wesleyan had received a total of 3,674 gifts.

“Our sincere thanks to everyone who gave in support of students this year, including the Frank-Kim Family—John Frank ’78, P’12, Diann Kim P’12, and Peter Frank ’12—who generously inspired others to give with their gift of $300,000 to financial aid,” said Chuck Fedolfi, director of annual giving for the Wesleyan Fund. “And a special thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who continue to humble us with their dedication, their time, and their passion for Wesleyan,” he added.

Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on 4 Faculty

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on four faculty members including Tiphanie Yanique, associate professor of English; Jay Hoggard, professor of music; Ron Kuivila, professor of music; and Sumarsam, professor of music. Sumarsam also was appointed to the Winslow-Kaplan Professorship of Music. The appointments will be effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Please join us in congratulating them on their impressive records of accomplishment,” said Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique is a widely published and highly regarded fiction writer, essayist and poet. She is the author of two novels, one children’s book, one collection of poems, numerous works of short fiction, and many nonfiction essays. Her novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Penguin Random House Publishers/Riverhead Books, 2014), is the recipient of several awards, including the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the American Academy Rosenthal Prize, and her recent poetry collection, Wife (Peepal Tree Press, 2015), received the 2016 Bocas Poetry Prize in Caribbean Literature and the 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for best new collection in the United Kingdom. Her work has focused on themes of belonging and freedom. She offers courses on creative writing and literature. (Yanique’s photo by Debbie Grossman)

Comfort Remembered for Teaching Mathematics 40 Years at Wesleyan

Wis Comfort

Wis Comfort

William Wistar “Wis” Comfort II, the Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, died Nov. 28 at the age of 83.

Comfort received his BA from Haverford College, and an MSc and PhD from the University of Washington (Seattle) and was an expert on point-set topology, ultrafilters, set theory and topological groups. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1967 after teaching at Harvard, University of Rochester and University of Massachusetts (Amherst). Comfort taught in the mathematics department for 40 years until his retirement in 2007, where he supervised 17 PhD theses and three MA theses. He was a key figure in the founding of the Math Workshop, a drop-in help center for students that he directed for many years that remains widely used today.

Comfort was named an American Mathematical Society Fellow in the inaugural class of AMS Fellows in 2013 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics. He was active in the AMS, serving as associate secretary of the Eastern Section and as the managing editor of the Proceedings of the AMS. He published three books, including Chain Conditions in Topology (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1982), and more than 100 mathematical papers.

Comfort was a Quaker, a musician who played the trombone in a Dixieland band, and a dignified gentleman who exuded collegiality. He is survived by his daughter, Martha, and his son, Howard. His beloved wife, longtime Wesleyan staff member Mary Connie Comfort, passed away in May 2016. His family requests that memorial contributions be made in Wis’s name to Middletown Friends Meeting (Quakers) or the Essex Meadows Employee Scholarship Fund. A memorial service will be held on campus in April 2017.

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.

Alumni, Guests Attend “Hamilton on the Road: Chicago”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wesleyanuniversity/albums/72157676885279856/with/30829478690/More than 100 members of the Wesleyan community attended “Hamilton on the Road: Chicago” Nov. 22 at the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago.

The event included a pre-show reception hosted by alumnus David ’78 and Mimi Olson and a first run performance of Hamilton, the Tony-award winning musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99.

Photos from the event appear in this Wesleyan Flickr album.