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Wilson to Receive Prestigious Baldwin Medal

Barbara-Jan Wilson (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Barbara-Jan Wilson (Photo by Olivia Drake)

At the University’s 187th Commencement on May 26, Wesleyan will present the Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Alumni Association, to Barbara-Jan Wilson.

For over 36 years, Wilson has been a stalwart in the Wesleyan administration and a driving force behind the University’s fundraising efforts. Beginning at Wesleyan in 1982 as the director of Career Planning, she moved on to serve as dean of Admission and Financial Aid in 1990, and then as vice president of University Relations from 1999 to 2018. Throughout that time, Wilson has been one of the University’s biggest champions and cheerleaders, boldly and convincingly making the case for the value of a Wesleyan education and the importance of giving back to the institution.

“For so many of us, Barbara-Jan represents the heart and soul of Wesleyan,” said Donna Morea ’76, P’06, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. “Her genuine love for the institution is infectious, but it is the way that she makes us feel that is her greatest gift. She cares about our success, our families, and our lives. Barbara-Jan has hundreds, maybe thousands, of people like me who genuinely believe we are one of her very best friends. And we all are.”

Wesleyan Team Places in Top 5 Percent of Putnam Math Competition

“Consider an icosahedron with every edge labeled from 1 to 30. Color these edges red, white, or blue, such that no face has all three edges the same color or all three faces the same color. How many ways are there to do this?”

If you can solve this problem, you might have what it takes to participate in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students.

“The problems themselves are very difficult, often asking us to demonstrate that a general statement is true rather than to solve a specific problem, or if we do solve a specific problem, it is often a very complicated problem,” said competitor Sam Bidwell ’21. “For this particular question, which appeared on last year’s test, the solution involves complicated mathematics that I do not have the experience to properly explain within even five paragraphs to anyone who had not taken the prerequisite class, which was, as I recall, Abstract Algebra 2.”

Bidwell, along with Di Chen ’20, Haochen Gao ’21, Joe Cutler ’21, Morgan Long ’22, and Yaqian Tang ’21 were among 4,623 students from the U.S. and Canada to participate in the 2018 competition. Chen and Gao ranked in the top 500 individual competitors; and a team consisting of Bidwell, Chen, and Gao was ranked 27th out of 568 institutions (within the top 5 percent).

Public Broadcasting Studio in South Dakota Named in Honor of Jeanine Basinger

Barb and Van Fishback

Brookings, S.D., residents and donors Barb and Van Fishback stand outside the newly named Jeanine Basinger Studio located on the campus of Basinger’s alma mater, South Dakota State University.

South Dakota State University (SDSU) recently named a studio in honor of Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and special advisor to the president. Basinger has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from SDSU and is a former resident of Brookings, S.D.

Jeanine Basinger

The South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Jeanine Basinger Studio, located on SDSU’s Brookings campus, enables professional, high-quality sound for guests and interviews. The Basinger Studio was funded by Brookings residents Barb and Van Fishback.

“We are pleased to recognize SDSU Distinguished Alumna and world-renowned film educator and author Jeanine Basinger with the new SDPB Basinger Studio,” said Barb and Van Fishback in a recent SDPB press release. “Jeanine and we are proud of the opportunity to enhance public broadcasting for South Dakota and strengthen the relationship between SDPB and the university.”

73 Student-Athletes Receive NESCAC All-Academic Honors

Sophia Antonio ’19 (women’s swimming & diving) was named to the All-Academic Team for the third time and was also on the All-NESCAC squad. (Photo by Ron Wimer)

The Wesleyan University winter athletic teams put a total of 73 student-athletes on the 2019 NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team, while eight Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship honors as announced by the conference.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum GPA of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.

Roche Remembered for Designing the Center for the Arts Complex

Pritzker Prize–winning architect Kevin Roche, who designed Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, died on March 1 at the age of 96 at his home in Guilford, Conn.

In January, the Connecticut Architecture Foundation presented the Connecticut premiere of the feature documentary film “Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect” (2017) at Wesleyan. The film considers many of the key architectural questions through his 70-year career, including the relationship between architects and the public they serve. His architectural philosophy was that “the responsibility of the modern architect is to create a community for a modern society,” and he emphasized the importance of bringing nature into the buildings they inhabit. “It would be impossible to write a history of 20th-century architecture without Kevin Roche,” Robert A.M. Stern said in the film.

Some of his over 200 projects included the Knights of Columbus Tower in New Haven; the New Haven Coliseum; the Oakland Museum of Art; the John Deere headquarters in Moline, Ill.; the Ford Foundation in New York City; and a nearly 50-year relationship with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The GlobePost: “Trump’s Foreign Trade Policy and the Art of the Deal”

In this op-ed, Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, co-chair of the College of Social Studies, argues that Donald Trump’s approach to U.S. trade policy is shaped by his career as a real estate mogul and businessman.

2. The Hartford Courant: “Don’t Let the ‘Green New Deal’ Hijack the Climate’s Future”

This op-ed coauthored by Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Gary Yohe expresses concern that the broad, aspirational goals contained in the “Green New Deal” proposal from Democrats in Congress “will impede continued progress on the climate front for years to come.”

3. The Tyee: “Lessons in Democracy from Haida Gwaii”

This review calls Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life Beyond Settler Colonialism by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Joseph Weiss a “remarkable book” that explores “the whole relationship of ‘settler’ Canada to the peoples whose lands we’ve occupied.”

4. Hartford Courant: “Middletown to Host LGBTQ Pride Parade in June”

Wesleyan, together with the City of Middletown and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, will coordinate Middletown’s inaugural LGBTQ pride parade on June 15. The event, which will also feature a festival on the South Green, will celebrate and affirm respect for members of the local queer community. Its timing coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which marked the beginning of the gay rights movement in June 1969.

5. South Dakota Public Broadcasting: “Fishbacks’ Gift Opens SDPB Basinger Studio at SDSU”

A satellite broadcast studio at South Dakota State University has been named in honor of Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, special advisor to the president, and an alumna of SDSU. “We are pleased to recognize SDSU Distinguished Alumni and world-renowned film educator and author Jeanine Basinger with the new SDPB Basinger Studio on SDSU’s campus in Brookings,” said Barb and Van Fishback, the donors who made the gift possible.

Recent Alumni News

  1. SXSW.com: “Bozoma Saint John [’99]: How Marketing Can Spur Social Change”

Bozoma Saint John ’99 was the Convergence Keynote Speaker for SXSWORLD, March 8-17, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Writes Doyin Oyeniyi for the official website: “Bozoma Saint John thinks and talks about empathy quite a bit. For the marketing executive and SXSW 2019 Convergence Keynote speaker, this is integral to the work that she does currently as chief marketing officer for Endeavor, and it’s been an important feature of her previous work with companies such as PepsiCo, Apple and Uber. As she explains, empathy is what makes the difference in actually being able to establish impactful connections through storytelling and marketing.”

2. New York Times Book Review: “Growing Up With Murder All Around,” by Eric Klinenberg

The March 4, 2019, issue of The New York Times Book Review features Eric Klinenberg’s review of An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, by Alex Kotlowitz ’77 on its front page. “Like Kotlowitz’s now classic 1991 book, There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in a Chicago housing project, An American Summer forgoes analysis and instead probes the human damage that stems from exposure to violence. What he finds is important,” writes Klinenberg. He calls Kotlowitz’s latest work “a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register the depth of their pain.”

3. International Documentary Awards: “Reflections on Andrew Berends [’94],” by James Longley ’94

An editor’s note begins the piece: “Documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Andrew Berends passed away—just a week after Free Solo, on which he was one of the cinematographers, won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary…. We thank Longley for sharing his reflections with us.”

Longley recalls meeting Berends in 1991, when they both entered Wesleyan as transfer students and became film majors. “I was the DP on his thesis film, and I could see his determination and commitment to filmmaking taking shape,” writes Longley. “After college we were off finding our parallel paths; I made a film about the Gaza Strip and he made a film about North Sea fishermen in the Netherlands. We reconnected in Iraq. I arrived before him; he was looking for advice and contacts. He wanted to know how he should dress for the place. Maybe grow a beard, I suggested. Andy showed up in Baghdad looking like a werewolf with mange. Lose the beard, I suggested.” Tracing their “parallel paths” with warmth, admiration, and deep sorrow, Longley—himself the director of award-winning documentary films including Iraq in Fragments and Sari’s Mother—notes that “Andy was my friend, he was my brother, he was as strong a person as I’ll likely ever know.”

4. Boston Globe: “Grad Schools Lag in Promoting Diversity,” by Syed Ali [’13]

The author, a master in urban planning candidate at Harvard University, responded to an earlier article in the newspaper that called for Harvard to increase its commitment to diversity across its graduate school hirings and admissions. “This semester, I am enrolled in five classes at five different graduate schools (three at Harvard, two at MIT), and I believe that my peers and I would benefit from additional perspectives in each case. This extends to the faculty. Of the 15 courses I shopped across three Harvard graduate schools, 11 were taught by white men, four by white women,” he writes. Ali was an English and government double major at Wesleyan.

 

 

 

Audio Book Narrator Ballerini ’92 Wins Audie Award—Again

Edoardo Ballerini ’92 was named Best Male Narrator for his work on Watchers, by Dean Koontz, at the 2019 Audie Awards, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. He had also won this award three years earlier for Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters, and has narrated the work from a wide variety of authors, including Dante, the Dalai Lama, James Patterson, and Franz Kafka. (Photo by Max Flatow)

This year at the 24th annual Audie Awards, held on Feb. 4, Edoardo Ballerini ’92 was named Best Male Narrator for his work on Watchers by Dean Koontz.

The awards are sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. In this winning entry, Ballerini was cited for “do[ing] a top-notch job of narrating this story. Listeners join Travis Cornell, who is hiking while trying to make sense of his life. When he chances upon an apparently stray golden retriever, things will never be the same. Ballerini creates a balance of warmth and suspense that reflects the heartwarming, yet at times frightening, aspects of the plot. He helps to characterize the three protagonists, including Einstein, the highly intelligent dog.”

This was Ballerini’s second time to receive the Audie for Best Male Narrator. In 2013, he stepped up to the podium for his work on Jess Walters’s Beautiful Ruins. But it’s not only modern fiction that finds its voice through Ballerini. His narration has made vibrant the books by a wide range of authors across centuries, including those by Dante, the Dalai Lama, James Patterson, and Franz Kafka.

Ballerini began working in film and television as a recent graduate, “then audiobooks kind of came to me,” he said. “Somebody asked me if I would record a version of The Prince, by Machiavelli, and I said, ‘Sure. Why not?’”

That was in 2007, when the audiobook industry started taking off. Although this form had been around for decades, the industry has been growing rapidly in recent years: in 2018 alone audiobook revenue increased 22.7 percent. While this uptick has been attributed to advancing technology, which makes it easier to stream or download and listen anywhere, Ballerini thinks other factors are at play.

Grabel Named a Connecticut Women of Innovation Finalist

Laura Grabel

For her efforts creating and fostering STEM initiatives that support women in science, Laura Grabel, the retired Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, was selected as a Women of Innovation finalist by the Connecticut Technology Council in March. She is one of 50 finalists in the state.

Grabel, who also is a retired professor of biology, is an accomplished scientist engaged in understanding how the fertilized egg can become a complex organism. This spring, she is teaching Reproduction in the 21st Century.

In addition to publishing dozens of academic articles and a book on ethical stem cell research, Grabel fosters STEM initiatives that focus on supporting women in science, such as teaching a course on the biology of women at York Correctional Institution, and collaborating with professional choreographers to convey complex scientific concepts through movement and dance in and outside of the classroom.

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide trade association focused on technology and technology-oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership, guidance, and support in areas of policy advocacy, community-building, and assistance for growing companies.

The Women of Innovation program seeks to celebrate and create a growing network of women working in STEM areas. Finalists are scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians.

The finalists will be recognized at the 15th annual Women of Innovation awards gala on March 27.

Read more in this Middletown Press article.

O’Connell’s Article Published by the Geological Society of America

The article is accompanied by graphic, featured on the cover, of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) ships (left to right): the Chikyu, a riser-equipped platform coring in the western Pacific; the JOIDES Resolution, which recovers cores throughout the ocean; and a Mission Specific Platform (MSP) drilling vessel. Dotted lines—representative depth.

O’Connell’s article is accompanied by a graphic featuring the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) ships (left to right): the Chikyu, a riser-equipped platform coring in the western Pacific; the JOIDES Resolution, which recovers cores throughout the ocean; and a Mission Specific Platform (MSP) drilling vessel. The dotted lines show representative depth.

Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the author of a cover article titled “Holes in the Bottom of the Sea: History, Revolutions, and Future Opportunities,” published by the Geological Society of America (GSA) Today in January 2019.

Scientific ocean drilling (SOD) contributions include geophysical surveys, core samples, borehole well logs, and sub-seafloor observatories. After more than half a century, involving thousands of scientists from around the world, SOD has been instrumental in developing three geoscience revolutions: (1) plate tectonics, (2) paleoceanography, and (3) the deep marine biosphere.

In this paper, O’Connell explains that without SOD, it is unlikely that our current understanding of Earth processes could have developed. SOD has also been a leader in international collaborations and the open sharing of samples, data, and information. Almost 2.5 million samples have been taken from over 360 km of core located in three repositories. Today about half the members of scientific teams, including co-chief scientists, are women. This program is needed in the future for geoscientists to continue exploring our planet to understand how it functions and to create predictive models, she explains.

At Wesleyan, Professor O’Connell teaches geosciences with a strong emphasis on hands-on research with undergraduates. Her current research focuses on Antarctic climate change using sediment cores from the Weddell Sea, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 113. She has authored or coauthored more than 60 refereed publications. Read more about O’Connell’s recent Weddell Sea core research in this College of the Environment blog post.

She is a member of the American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Women Geoscientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. She is also on the governing council of the Geological Society of America and a recipient of the Association for Women Geoscientists Outstanding Educator Award, Wesleyan’s Edgar Beckham Helping Hand Award, and the McConaughy Writing Award.

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 4.4 Percent

At its meeting on March 1, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 4.4 percent for the 2019–20 academic year.

Tuition and fees for the 2019–20 year will be $56,704. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $15,724, and for juniors and seniors will be $17,874. The percentage increase in student charges aligns with the University’s projected increase in total expenses.

Wesleyan meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students and devotes millions of its operating budget to support of scholarships. In 2018–19, 42 percent of students are receiving need-based scholarship awards averaging nearly $46,800.

Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. In January, Wesleyan raised the minimum wage for student workers to $11 an hour, in part to allow students on work-study to reduce the number of hours worked. Additionally, in recent years, Wesleyan lowered the summer earnings contribution for all financial aid students and expanded eligibility for the reduced student contribution. As always, the university remains committed to exploring new ways to help low-income students and families afford a Wesleyan education.

Drozdov ’19 Wins Wesleyan Monogram Design Competition

Gabriel Drozdov ’19 proudly displays his design that was chosen as Wesleyan’s new monogram. “I wanted to maintain Wesleyan’s rebranding while reintroducing some of the elements that the new visual elements had reduced,” he said. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Wesleyan announced Wednesday that a design submitted by Gabriel Drozdov ’19 has been selected by popular vote as the University’s next monogram. Drozdov’s submission garnered more than 50 percent of the 6,200 votes cast by Wesleyan community members.

“For the monogram, I personally wanted to reintroduce some of Wesleyan’s old spirit back into a new design,” Drozdov said.

In September of 2018, Wesleyan launched an updated website, featuring new messaging and visual elements. One of those elements was a new monogram that many community members felt did not cohesively represent the University. Wesleyan’s administration responded by rolling back the mark, and forming a committee of students, alumni, faculty, and staff to organize a monogram design submission contest and engage the community’s substantial creative abilities and input.

Participants were faced with the design challenge of creating something uniquely Wesleyan—to set it apart from the nearly 200 other colleges and universities that start with the letter W and around 20 with Wesleyan in their names—as well as something flexible enough to work with current and emerging formats like small screens and handheld devices. It also needed to have the potential to work at scale (as on a large banner), while following the existing Wesleyan design standards.

Wesleyan’s monogram selection committee members include Jen Carlstrom, manager of design services for University Communications;  Aaron Cheung ’19, a member of the Wesleyan Student Assembly; Marcy Herlihy, director of stewardship and donor relations for University Relations; Elijah Huge, associate professor of art; Deb Katz, director of marketing; Gil Skillman, professor of economics and chair of the faculty; former trustee Harold Sogard ’74, P’17, retired president of Hive Advertising; Jonathan Turitz ’86, chief marketing officer of D’Addario & Co.; and trustee Luke Wood ’91, president of Beats by Dr. Dre.

“We realized that the best way to develop a truly representative mark was to engage our community’s creativity and incorporate their feedback,” said Deb Katz, director of marketing. “We received 30 submissions from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and were impressed by their originality and creativity.”

The committee narrowed the submissions down to three finalists. From Feb. 20 to 27, the University hosted an online vote to determine the community’s favorite. Drozdov’s design of a white “W” on a red shield “was the clear winner,” Katz said, and will be able to be adapted for use with other color palettes as well.

Drozdov, who is double-majoring in theater and computer science, described his submission as a “simple, clean design that incorporates several elements of the University’s new visual identity and is based on students’ belief that Wesleyan’s ‘longstanding collegiate identity’ and reputation speak for themselves.”

Drozdov incorporated the Copernicus typeface to match the serif focus of Wesleyan’s old monogram. He designed an expanded variant of the shield crest to more easily elicit the collegiate tone, “since the full crest is more recognizable as an icon of higher education,” he said. Drozdov also maintained the simplicity of Wesleyan’s redesign by keeping the color palette monochromatic, and improved legibility over the old monogram by increasing line weight.

“I know that I and others felt like the new visual elements didn’t acknowledge Wesleyan’s prior identity,” Drozdov said. “As a senior, I want to leave this school feeling like I can still relate to it. Still, it wouldn’t make sense to reuse Wesleyan’s old typeface and colors, so I mixed a bit of the old and new and I’m glad people seem to like it and feel the same way.”

Although Drozdov hasn’t designed a monogram before, he works as a freelance graphic artist, creating designs, websites, and branding guidelines for theater and arts organizations. “After graduation, I’ll probably find a career in graphic design,” he said.

For questions or additional information, email ucomm@wesleyan.edu.

Dachs ’98 Receives Sci-Tech Oscar for PIX System

Eric Dachs ’98, founder and CEO of PIX System, accepts a Sci-Tech Oscar for technical achievement. “For over 15 years, serving the talent in this industry has been a profound honor,” he said. “We are humbled and grateful to the academy for recognizing our efforts.” (Photo courtesy of AMPAS)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) honored Eric Dachs ’98, the founder and CEO of PIX System, with a Technical Achievement Award at its Oscars 2019 Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Feb. 9, 2019.

Since its creation in 2003, PIX System has become the entertainment industry gold standard in providing secure communication and content management capabilities. Dachs, a theater major while at Wesleyan, designed and coded the initial software early in his career when he was an assistant to sound designer Ren Klyce for Panic Room. It was then that he saw the need for an easy, safe digital platform to share revisions and collaborate across locations.

Accepting the Oscar along with three members of his team—director of R&D Erik Bielefeldt, technical director Craig Wood, and Paul McReynolds—Dachs said, “For over 15 years, serving the exceptional talent in this industry has been a profound honor. We are humbled and grateful to the Academy for recognizing our efforts.” Among those he thanked were clients, as well as the open-source community “whose often unrecognized critical efforts make PIX possible,” and family and friends.

Dachs’s PIX System was used in production of eight Oscar-winning films this year, including A Star Is Born, Black Panther, First Man, Green Book, Roma, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

For Dachs, Wesleyan’s creative liberal arts education was the basis for his achievement in technology and business. A transfer student, he focused on sound design in both film and theater, using analog and the then-new digital equipment.