All News

Procurement Specialist is Wesleyan’s Top Negotiator


Olga Bookas, procurement specialist, negotiates prices and purchases mailing equipment, furniture, paint, light bulbs, and even window shades for the university.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Q: When were you hired in Financial Services as a procurement specialist?

A: I started working at Wesleyan in January 2005.

Q: Please explain what a procurement specialist means.

A: I am responsible for negotiating and developing contracts with vendors. Some of my purchasing duties include processing purchase orders for furniture, lease copiers, cell phones. I also meet with Wesleyan colleagues to determine their purchasing requirements and then I meet with vendors to ensure that they are reliable and can support the university with quality, service and best price.

Q: What do you purchase for the university?

A: Pretty much anything a university employee needs my assistance with! When I first started here, one of my first objectives was to negotiate the office supplies contract. We are very pleased with the results and the huge savings. Other purchases include the centralization and implementation for new Pitney Bowes mailing equipment, furniture, paint, light bulbs, window shades and much more. In addition, I search for new vendors and find creative opportunities on how to save money for the university.

Q: How much money are we talking about?

A: For example, Lisa Davis and I worked as a team and convinced four other departments to centralize all outgoing mail and eliminate the leases for additional meters. Cost savings for the university resulted $60,000 for a five year contract. Mike Conte and I have finalized the elevator agreement. I am currently assisting Peter Staye in negations for the water treatment and oil proposals.

Q: You have 18 years experience in customer service and purchasing. Can you elaborate on your past careers?

A: Although I worked at Superior Electric for 11 years, I believe my career started when I worked for Heublein. I was the international customer service leader selling Smirnoff and other spirits all over the world! I truly believe in customer service. I feel that we need to service our internal and external customers the best and fastest way we can! I gained vast experience on international laws, shipping, exporting goods, and had fun selling some of our best wines to the Army!

Q: How did you come to Wesleyan?

A: My career changed due to Heublein’s downsizing. After taking a year off, I completed my associate’s degree and within a month, I was hired at Associated Spring/Barnes Group as a purchasing assistant. My love to negotiate started to flourish when I started to deal with vendors. My path brought me to Wesleyan where I strongly believe that working together as a team we can achieve huge savings for the university and continue to implement purchasing procedures and processes to make it easier for our internal customers and departments.

Q: Was it a straightforward or challenging transition from the corporate world?

A: I always wanted to work for an educational institution where one can excel and bring new ideas. My experience so far has been rewarding and a little challenging at times. I like challenges because I feel it is a great opportunity to learn and try new things.

Q: Can you fill me in on any new initiatives or projects?

A: We have successfully launched the office supplies project where 95 percent of our employees go to our Web site and place their orders on line. That is a huge time savings!

Q: How do these purchasing skills carry over into your personal life?

A: I do watch prices either at grocery stores or when I purchase items for the house. I do the negotiating. Negotiating for me comes natural.

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I obtained an associate’s degree in business management from Tunxis Community College and a bachelor’s of science degree from Saint Joseph’s College.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

A: I love to walk and listen to Greek music. I have a couple of friends that I go walking with almost every morning at 4:45 a.m. and at night. Also, I like to read a lot. My favorites are mystery and murder novels.

Q: Are you involved in any volunteering activities?

A: I volunteer a lot of my time to my church. I teach the Greek Language to children and adults at my church. The class began with only five children and two adults three years ago and now we have over 30 children and seven adults. I’ve also been president of the Philoptochos Society for 15 years. Philoptochos means “Friend of the Poor.” This women’s organization is the right hand of the Greek Orthodox Church. I also have been one of the Friendly Visitors at the local convalescent homes visiting the elderly once a week.

Q: Would you like to tell me about your family?

A: My husband, Tony, and I have been married for 35 years and live in Bristol. We have two children, George and Angela and a dog named Liza. Our son and his wife, Renee, also live in Bristol. Angela lives in our apartment upstairs. We feel blessed that our family lives so close because all our extended relatives are back in Athens, Greece.

Q: Greece. So that would explain your accent.

A: Yes. My coworkers tell me that I have a cute Greek accent. My voice is easily recognized.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of the Green Street Arts Center Promotes Creativity in the Classroom


 
At top, Ricardo Morris, director of the Green Street Arts Center, is developing classes for the center’s fall semester.

At right, Morris enjoys a snack with participants of the Free Lunch Program inside the center in Middletown’s North End.

 
Posted 08/17/05

When Ricardo Morris taught English in public schools, he refused to let his students simply read “Beowolf.” The class would feast, dance and listen to 10th century music – all before opening the epic narrative.

His unconventional teaching methods, however, weren’t appreciated beyond the classroom.

“I was sent to the principal’s office far more than any of my students,” he says, smiling. “I was always looking for new ways to teach literature, and although the students loved it, the principal didn’t always like my holistic-approach.”

Nowadays, his avant-garde lessons are encouraged and respected. As director of the Green Street Arts Center, Morris constantly invents ways to bring creativity into the classroom.

Via Green Street’s After School Program, Morris immerses youngsters in the visual, media, dramatic and literary arts and music. During the evening, he ensures adults and families express themselves through acting to the latest hip hop moves.  

“Arts are essential to life,” he explains. “We’re not trying to turn our students into artists, but expose them to the arts, and hopefully that will improve the quality of their life. You don’t know what you like until you try it.”

Morris – a musician, dancer, director, teacher and arts administrator  – was brought on to direct the art center just 12 months before its grand opening in January 2005. The center’s location in the heart of the Middletown’s North End was a familiar environment for the Chattanooga, Tennessee native.

“I grew up in a very similar community,” Morris explains. “It was predominately black, underprivileged, distressed and poor. So working here in a similar neighborhood was appealing. I was excited to start something from scratch while helping to revitalize the neighborhood.”

Morris was responsible for the overall look and feel of the center, sponsored by Wesleyan, the City of Middletown and the North End Action Team. He used his knowledge of feng shui along with Centerbrook architects, feng shui consultant Pat McGrath, and Jerry Zinser to develop the center’s practical layout and powerful color scheme. The Arts Café, for example, is painted in cornflower blue to calm children prior to their art lessons. The visual arts studios are neutral-colored and lit with natural sunlight.

“Initially, they were going to have the administration offices up front, but I didn’t want students coming in and seeing offices,” he says from his rear-corner office. “They should see dance and music activity happening. So I suggested we flip the plan, and put the offices back here, hidden away.”

Morris, the oldest of five children, is the first and only member of his family to go to college. After earning his bachelor’s degree in speech and theater from Tennessee State University in 1985, he returned to Chattanooga and taught school for eight years.

During his summers off, Morris attended summer institutes studying theater and writing. And in 1994, he applied at Yale, graduating three years later with a master’s of fine arts in art administration.

While in New Haven as a graduate student, Morris founded the Dwight/Edgewood Project, collaboration between Yale School of Drama students and children in the Dwight/Edgewood neighborhood.  Before accepting his new position at Wesleyan, Morris was the executive director of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Carver Theatre for the Performing Arts in Birmingham, Alabama. He also served as director of arts in education for Allied Arts of Chattanooga where he was responsible for the inclusion and promotion of the arts in schools in southeastern Tennessee. 

Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, says it took the Green Street Arts Center search committee eight months to find a Green Street director.

“Ricardo is a triple threat: artist, educator and administrator,” Tatge says. “He was the only candidate who had this kind of a varied resume alongside a history of living and working in neighborhoods like the one we have in the North Ends. “He hit the ground running last year and pulled everything together so we could open GSAC this past January. His work at integrating the center into the life of the neighborhood, into Middletown’s arts scene, and into the life of our campus has been exceptional.”

At Green Street, Morris hired an assistant director, Manny Rivera; an administrative assistant, Rachel Roccaberton, several community volunteers, 40 teaching artists and over 50 Wesleyan-students, which work as teaching assistants and tutors.

“North End parents wanted their students to have contact with Wesleyan students,” Morris says. “They believed that the Wesleyan students’ ‘I can accomplish anything’ attitude would rub off on their kids. That they’ll learn that there are no rules to what you can do in life if you work hard.”

Morris often works a 12-hour day. The center opens at 9 a.m. and the community is welcome anytime. This summer at 11:30 a.m., Morris hosts a free lunch program for community children that also introduces them to a variety of arts disciplines . During the regular school year between 3 and 6 p.m., he helps oversee the center’s after-school program, which hosts 7-18-year-olds for visual and applied art, dance, theater, music and film classes. And between 1 and 10 p.m., Morris supervises the adult and family classes and workshops, taught by visiting and Wesleyan artists.

Classes range from line dancing, sound design and digital photography to playwriting, bomba drumming and Vejigante mask making, and much more.

In fact, he has personally helped out by assisting instructors in ballet, modern dance and recorder classes.

During the facility’s first semester, the GSAC had 52 after-school students and 120 adults. Morris’ goal for the upcoming year is to continue spreading the word about Green Street and enroll 90 students in the after-school program and 250 in the adult evening classes.

“Monday through Saturday, we want these classes filled to capacity,” he says.

To stay in tune with the North End and surrounding community, Morris is a member of the North End Action Team, and discusses public safety, housing, police protection and other issues with the community. He has a plot in the community garden, and helps train working artists to become teaching artists.

“It’s important to be visible in the community,” he says. “I want the community to know Green Street has their best interest at heart and they can trust that we’re not going anywhere.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Psychology Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor


Steven Stemler, a new assistant professor of psychology, will teach Psychological Statistics this fall.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Steve Stemler has joined the Psychology Department as an assistant professor.

In an era of increasing specialization, Stemler says he admires Wesleyan for recognizing the importance of training undergraduate students to value the diversity of knowledge accumulated across different fields of study.

“There is a tremendous value to studying such topics as classical languages, hard sciences, social sciences and the arts simultaneously,” he says. “I believe that a liberal arts education results in a well-rounded person who will be capable of seeing broad perspectives on complex issues without being stuck into the kind of black and white thinking that seems to be increasingly encouraged in today’s society.”

This fall, Stemler will be teaching Psychological Statistics and anticipates teaching other courses on educational psychology, intelligence, the psychology of good and evil and the psychology of conflict resolution.

The Washington State native received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington and his master’s of education and Ph.D from Boston College. He completed his postdoctorial research at Yale University.

Before coming to Wesleyan, Stemler was the assistant director of the Yale University Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE) for more than three years. He also held an appointment with the Framingham State College International Educational Program, a program in which faculty members are sent to various developing countries to teach intensive, two-week courses in their area of specialization. Stemler taught courses in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Stemler’s research intertwines education and psychology. He studies the purposes of schooling articulated by school mission statements, historical documents, legal court precedent and other sources. His goal is to develop assessments of creativity, wisdom, social and emotional skills that meet the same rigorous standards for testing quality as conventional tests.

He presented a paper titled “Measuring teachers’ practical skills,” at the annual meeting of the International Association of Cognitive Education and Psychology in Durham, England in July; and another paper titled “Practical intelligence and teacher preparation” at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Montreal, Quebec in April.

Stemler lives in Hamden, Conn. with his wife Karen and their two yellow labs, Alex and Jack. He enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, walking the dogs, and spending time with his wife.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

49 Fellows Present Research during Hughes Poster Session


At left, Hughes Associate, Mellon Fellow and Earth and Environmental Sciences Major Maya Gomes ’06 discusses her research with interested onlookers during the 17th annual Hughes Summer Research Program Poster Session Aug. 5. Gomes’ poster was titled “Understanding the Genesis of Jarosite in Qualibou Caldera, Saint Lucia as an Analogue for Mars.”
 
Posted 08/17/05
Chimpanzee studies, eating behaviors, mice brains and even sperm banks were topics of research presented at the 17th annual Hughes Summer Research Program Poster Session Aug. 5 at the Exley Science Center.

After 10 weeks of intense research, 49 Hughes Fellows presented their projects. Hughes Fellows are supported by the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The fellows worked one-on-one with Wesleyan faculty advisors.

Students presented a wide array of projects. Matthew Donne ‘07 presented his work on “Hedgehog Signaling and Blood Vessel Development.” Owen Kiely ’06 presented research on “Uncovering the Timetable for Functional Incorporation of New Neurons in the Adult Brain.” And Alexandra Ogrodnik ’06 presented her research titled “Gypsy Moths, Invaders vs. Local Caterpillars.”

For the students presenting, the program gave them a variety of research opportunities that would’ve been difficult to replicate during the school year.

“What I liked about this most was that it gave me a lot of field experience that I otherwise would never have had,” says Daniel Silva ’07. “It really showed us how different the field could be from laboratory conditions.”

Silva and Ulyana Sorokopoud ’08, both Hughes Fellows, presented the poster “”Metapopulation Analyses of Freshwater Fishes and Macrovertebrates: Ecosystem Assessment of the Matabesset and Eight Mile River Water Sheds.”

“Doing this work in the field was really eye-opening,” says Sorokopoud. “For example, we took multiple times samples over a month. During that period we could see a number of changes that took place in the habitat, some subtle, some not so subtle. But they were nothing we would’ve seen under lab conditions.”

For Hughes Fellow Jenna Gopilan ’07, who presented “The Effects of Serotonin on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentale Gyrus of DNA Pkcs Mice,” the experience was all about lab conditions, which was a good thing.

“I was able to devote entire days in the lab and perform more experiments, which helped me generate a lot more useful data,” she says. “I could have never fit that much work in with my class schedule during the semester. Getting a chance to devote full days and weeks to my work in the lab was perfect.”

The poster session was accompanied with laboratory tours and a colloquium. Martha Gilmore, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences. Gilmore spoke on “Mars: Wetter than Ever.”

Michael Weir, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department is the director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. Laurel Appel, visiting associate professor of biology and senior research associate is the program coordinator.

Students applying for the 2006 Hughes Program must do so by March 3, 2006. The grant budget allows for 18 stipends, but with generous contributions from participating departments and faculty, as well as Financial Aid funds, the program can accept between 40 and 50 students each year. Students are responsible for their own housing.

For more information contact Maureen Snow, administrative assistant for the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, at msnow@wesleyan.edu.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Fitness Coordinator Promotes Active, Healthy Lifestyles for Wesleyan Employees


Heather Minetti, adult fitness program coordinator, climbs Last Dollar Pass at 11,000 feet during a trip from Telluride, Colorado to Moab, Utah this summer.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Q: How do you apply your love for exercising and fitness enthusiasm into your position as the Wesleyan Adult Fitness Program coordinator?

A: I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Wesleyan community. Here, we are surrounded by a very diverse and interesting staff and an administration that actively supports and views opportunities for personal wellness as a benefit that should be available to all. Within walking distance from all corners of campus are outstanding facilities, including indoor and outdoor tracks and tennis courts, one of the finest natatoriums in New England, a new 10,000 square foot fitness center as well as new squash courts. These just scratch the surface. It is easy to get excited about coming to work in this kind of an environment.

Q: Do you consider yourself to be a positive role model for the Wes community?

A: I try to role model a healthy active lifestyle, a positive attitude and I try to encourage and support safe and effective participation at all levels of intensity, in our fitness programs. Over the years, I have seen many self-professed “non-exercisers” blossom into athletes and make tremendous lifestyle changes. Helping someone break through a personal fitness barrier is particularly satisfying.

Q: Do you coordinate classes and teach?

A: My role is to develop, market and assure the provision of a range of wellness programming for all staff. Points of emphasis include the hiring of quality, experienced, instructors, ensuring diversity in the type and intensity of classes and, most importantly, the safety of all participants.

I look forward to the close interaction, camaraderie and feedback when actively participating and routinely teach at least one class each semester. This summer, Wesleyan supported my participation in an excellent two-day conference on osteoporosis that I hope to integrate into my work.

Q: What are a few examples of Adult Fitness classes at Wesleyan?

A: Our goal is to offer a range of wellness opportunities and to encourage safe participation at each level of intensity. We have offered fun, movement oriented activities like ballroom and swing dance, a variety of stretching/toning classes, tai chi, yoga, pilates, as well as strength training, low-impact aerobics, water aerobics and sport specific classes such as squash instruction.

Q: You’re also the Lunch & Learn Program coordinator. Tell me a bit about that program.

A: The Lunch and Learn program is an educational series that focuses on current health and wellness as well as quality of life topics and issues. This past year featured nationally recognized physicians in the fields of dermatology and cancer care as well as a debate about the Atkins Diet.

Q: Why should the average, sit-at-a-desk and stare-at-a-computer all day Wesleyan employee take advantage of these programs?

A: There is no down side to taking advantage of the outstanding facilities we have at Wesleyan and by adding a bit of exercise to your day. Whether you join us for a walk, or try tai-chi or ballroom dance, ice skating or do some strength training, you will feel better, interact with some fascinating people, laugh more and, you just might return to that computer refreshed and energized for the afternoon.

Q: I understand you recently returned from a bike trip out west. Where did you go?

A: A group of friends got together and completed an epic six-night trip on mountain bikes from Telluride, Colorado to Moab, Utah. This was a self-guided trip following unpaved logging and forest service roads with an occasional technical riding section. The route is linked by a series of one-room huts that we reserved almost a year in advance.

Q: How many miles did you trek, and/or how many mountains did you climb?

A: The trip was just a little over 200 miles long. As we traveled along, we either passed by or traversed through three distinct mountain ranges: the San Miguel and Sneffels Ranges in Colorado and the San Juans in Utah. All three feature multiple peaks in excess of 12,000 feet. Mount Sneffels, at more than 14,000 feet is the highest peak. All were heavily snow covered.

Q: How long have you biked, and what other physical activities do you enjoy, and why?

A. I have been biking since I was 10-years-old. My first group adventure ride was a trip from Nova Scotia to Bakerville, Connecticut at age 16. In addition to biking, I have a passion for cross-country skiing, classic style. This year I am committed to taking a couple of lessons in freestyle or skate-skiing. Other outdoor sports that I enjoy are hiking, flat water kayaking and recently I began to do a little running.

Q: Where are your degrees from and in what?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from the University of Colorado, a bachelors degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut, and a masters degree in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut.

Q: How long have you worked at Wesleyan?

A: I have been working at Wesleyan since January 1991.

Q: Do you have other hobbies in addition to fitness-related hobbies?

A: Yes, I play in a cribbage tournament each summer and I love to read as well as enjoy quiet time.

Q: How many bikes do you have?

A: I have both mountain and road bikes. I bought my mountain bike used about 12 years ago for $150 from the Mountain Biking Center at Mount Snow, Vermont. Great deal, great bike, which I have put at least a couple thousand miles on.

Last fall, as a birthday gift, my husband purchased a new road bike for me. A Trek 5000. It really is a finely crafted, aggressive riding machine. I am working hard to elevate my riding in order to match the performance of this racing machine, and to keep up with Joan Adams, assistant to the dean of admission.

Q: How long have you been married?

A: My husband, Gary, and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We feel fortunate as our interests in adventure travel and fitness have merged over the years. We hike, bike, paddle and ski together. One point of diversion is Gary’s interest in long-distance backpacking. I prefer a long day-hike. Who can argue with a nice hot shower and a glass of wine at the end of the day?

Q: Anything else I should know about you?

A: Thank God I married an Italian who knows his way around a kitchen. Cooking is just not my strength.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

When Ill, These Caterpillars Acquire a Taste for Medicinal Plants


Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, discovered that the wolly bear caterpillar, Grammia geneura, ingests medicinal plants when sick.
 
Posted 08/17/05
When tiger moth caterpillars get a bug, they do what a lot of us do – ingest some medicine and hope it provides a cure.

These findings by co-investigators Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, and Elizabeth Bernays, regents professor emerita of entomology at the University of Arizona, appear in the July 27 issue of Nature.

During a study of the caterpillars of two types of tiger moths, known as Grammia geneura and Estigmene acrea, Singer and Bernays observed that when the caterpillars were besieged by potentially deadly parasites, they underwent a chemical change that affected their taste sensing cells. The result: the infected caterpillars suddenly acquired a taste for plants that contained compounds – iridoid glycosides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. When plants containing these compounds are ingested by the caterpillars the parasites die, often before they could inflict mortal harm on the caterpillars from within.

Singer and Bernays noted that the taste for these medicinal components was heightened in the infected caterpillars while remaining unchanged in uninfected caterpillars.

“In essence, contracting the parasites actually triggers a chemical reaction inside the caterpillars that makes them more disposed to eating the very plants that may help them get rid of these deadly organisms,” Singer says. “The parasites are actually setting in motion a process that may lead to their own demise, provided the caterpillars can get to the right type of plants in time.”

Singer adds that this type of chemical “taste change” that gravitates the caterpillars toward medicinal foods has not been observed in other caterpillars, but is likely to occur as in other animals that are known to self-medicate, including some primates.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

New Study Will Examine Digital Use at Northeast Liberal Arts Institutions


Posted 08/17/05
A picture may be a worth a thousands words, but what is its value in the college classroom, especially if the picture is digital?

This will be among the issues considered by a new digital image study spearheaded by Wesleyan University and the Center for Educational Technology.

The six-month study will examine how digitized images of all sorts are used by faculty at 34 elite teaching and research institutions. The hope is that by assessing current practices in the classrooms, methods for more effective use of these images can be identified and implemented.

“There is also an opportunity to build a community among these institutions which could lay the groundwork for future collaborations,” says Michael Roy, Wesleyan’s director of Academic Computing Services and the study’s principal investigator. “We are always interested in new and better ways we can use technology to improve teaching and academic inquiry.”

Along with Wesleyan, the institutions participating will include Allegheny, Amherst, Bard, Barnard, Bates, Bennington, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Colby, Colgate, Connecticut, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Hamilton, Haverford, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Middlebury, Mount Holyoke, Princeton, Sarah Lawrence, Skidmore, Smith, St. Lawrence, Swarthmore, Trinity, Ursinus, Vassar, Wellesley, Wheaton, Williams and Yale.

The project has engaged David Green of Knowledge Culture to lead the survey and site visit process. Green’s Web site is http://www.knowledgeculture.com/index.html.

The study is being funded by a grant from the Wesleyan Fund for Innovation and is co-sponsored by the Center for Educational Technology with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The results will be presented in a one-day workshop, published and posted on the Academic Commons Web site at http://www.academiccommons.org.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Planetary Group Discusses NASA, Spaced-Based Achievements

Members of the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) met at Woodhead Lounge July 20-22. Martha Gilmore, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, (pictured second from left in the first row) coordinated the meeting. 
Posted 08/17/05
Martian oceans, solar system exploration and telescopic studies of Neptune were all topics of discussion during a planetary committee meeting at Wesleyan.The Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) met at Wesleyan’s Woodhead Lounge July 20-22. COMPLEX advises the National Academies’ Space Studies Board on the entire range of planetary system studies that can be conducted from space as well as on ground-based activities in support of space-based efforts.

The 10-member committee assists the board in carrying out studies, monitoring the implementation of strategies, and providing evaluations of programs and strategic priorities for NASA and other government agencies.

Martha Gilmore, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences and COMPLEX member, coordinated the Wesleyan meeting. The committee meets about three times a year in various locations.

“Some of the work we performed in this meeting is to consider some of the consequences of the change to a new NASA administrator and the president’s Vision for Space Exploration on solar system exploration priorities as they were defined by the community prior to these changes,” Gilmore says. “It is anticipated that the group will formulate and participate in studies to address this issue.”

Andrew Dantzler and Douglas McCuistion of NASA Headquarters provided a Mars Exploration Program status report and the status of NASA solar system exploration activities.

In addition, Gilmore spoke about the geology and rocks from the opening of the Atlantic Ocean; James Greenwood, research assistant professor and visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, spoke about geochemistry of a martian ocean; and William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of the Van Vleck Observatory, discussed the circumstellar disk of KH15D.

Members of the board included representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, University of California, Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University.

For more information on the committee or their projects, visit: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/complex1.html or http://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/explore_main.html.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

THE CAGE, CAGED: An 8-foot chain link fence surrounds the old Alumni Athletic Building, also known as the ‘Cage,’ to mark the construction zone for the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, which is expected to be completed in August 2007. Parts of the gym are being renovated and incorporated into the new facility.

Only construction personnel are allowed into the fenced-off construction zone surrounding the old Alumni Athletic Building and Fayerweather Gymnasium. A new gravel access road will line this fence for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.
South College is receiving an interior and belfry renovation this month. Stairwells are being repainted and the building’s front entrance is closed.
Scaffolding surrounds the front side of South College as staff from Physical Plant work on replacing the belfry’s roof and exterior railings. In August, eight new bells will be installed to the current 16-bell array. This will upgrade the status of the Wesleyan bells from a chime (10-22 bells) to that of a carillon (23 or more). (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Professor Investigates the Trouble With Haiti


Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology, is a native of Haiti and has traced the country’s turmoil back to its revolution.
 
Posted 07/13/05
It started out as one of the most inspiring stories in human history: slaves rebelled against their masters, fought a long, bloody revolution and took control of an oppressive nation. But since that auspicious beginning, the history of Haiti and its people has been fraught with turmoil and division. During the last few decades, Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology, has been searching for reasons why, and sharing his insight not just with his students but the world.
 
Though now a U.S. citizen, Dupuy is a native of Haiti and has witnessed first hand the schisms in Haitian society. According to Dupuy, the roots can be traced all the way back to the revolution that ended in 1804 with the declaration of Haitian independence from France.
 
“The revolution created tremendous animosity between the new state rulers and the wealthy elites, as well as divisions between both of them and the subordinate race and classes,” Dupuy says. “Even though the slaves rose up and liberated themselves, when they their leaders came to power they almost immediately created a predatory state structure.”
 
Dupuy says the leaders of the rebellion who took control of the country also began taking the land of their former owners. But instead of dividing it up among the rest of the former slaves, they became plantation owners themselves, creating in their wake a landed peasantry. The government that was installed post-revolution quickly institutionalized these practices and seized land and other assets wherever and whenever it could.
 
“The new owners rented out parts of the plantations to other former slaves in much the same way of share cropping occurred in The United States,” Dupuy says. “The workers leasing the land could never get ahead and remained the equivalent of peasants.”

In addition, the wealthy elite who managed to weather the revolution began exploiting the new peasant class as if they were the old slave class. The equation became further charged by what Dupuy calls “color divisions.” The wealthy elite was heavily populated by mulattos and light-skinned blacks; the new political leaders were predominantly dark-skinned blacks. Animosity between the groups quickly grew. As a result, all the divisions became entrenched.
 

Further exacerbating the situation, other countries did not step up to recognize the new nation. Given the importance of slavery to the colonial powers of Europe, it was in their political and economic interests to see a weakened Haiti. Much of Europe had no interest politically or economically in seeing Haiti succeed. The nascent government of The United States was balancing slave states with free within its own borders and was nervous to see a slave population rise up and create an independent nation.
 
“It took until 1865, after the American Civil War, for The United States to finally formally recognize Haiti, even though the country was virtually in its own backyard,” Dupuy says.
 
Despite the high ideals of its own revolution that preceded the Haitian revolution, France was no better. The French demanded reparations for lost assets from the new leaders of its former colony. The new post-revolutionary French governments continued with the demanded reparations for the lost assets from the former colony, and withheld formal recognition like a ransom until reparations were finally paid in 1843. By then Haiti, which before its revolution had been the wealthiest colony in the Caribbean generating more revenue than all the British West Indies colonies combined, was now among the poorest nations on earth.   During the 19th Century and into the 20th century, Haitian governments came and went rapidly, often bringing with them varying levels of oppression. In 1915, the situation became so violent and tenuous that The United States occupied the country.
 
“This did bring about a certain level of stability,” Dupuy says. “However it did nothing to change any of the class or race color issues.”   The one big change that did come with the American occupation was the creation of a unified mordern army that led to the centralization of government, with the capital city of Port Au Prince becoming the seat of power. After the U.S. forces left in 1934, the new governments in Haiti were made and unmade by the strengthened Haitian military. However, in 1957, when the military permitted a movement toward democracy, Dr. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier was elected to a six-year term as president on the promise of ending the mulatto elite’s hold on economic power. Soon after, Duvalier did open the country up to manufacturing, and bauxite mining, and coffee production, all under the auspices of multinational corporations. The economic elite stayed in place and Duvalier took generous kickbacks from everyone involved.   Duvalier also quickly marginalized the army, closed the military academy and created his own “Volunteers for National Security,” or Tontons Macoutes. The Tontons Macoutes quickly became a national secret police that terrorized the populace and maintained the old standards. Within a few years, Duvalier declared himself “president for life.”   The United States viewed “Papa Doc” Duvailier with a wary eye. There were even rumors that the CIA had tried to unseat him on two occassions. However, with the Cold War at its peak and Castro controlling Cuba, American Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon ultimately made decisions to tolerate Duvalier. After he died in 1971, his son Jean Claude took power at age 19. Though Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was reputed to be as ruthless and greedy as his father, the cold shoulder of the United States slowly thawed and by the early-1980s the U.S was openly providing aid and support to the Haitian government.    “U.S. support did not improve economic conditions in Haiti, however,” DuPuy says. “In fact, if anything workers in the export assembly industries producing for the U.S. market became even more exploited and Duvalier stole more money from the public treasury.”   Duvailier was deposed in 1986 and escaped to France where currently he lives off the hundreds of millions of dollars he took with him. He was ultimately replaced by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was elected on a reform platform that pledged the elimination of the Tontons Macoutes and the ways of Duvailer. But when Aristide ran up against the same class and race color issues that his predecessors faced, he soon resorted to the same practices as his predecessors.   Aristide was deposed in 1991 a mere seven months after he had taken office, returned to government and then deposed again February 2004 (though he says he was kidnapped, but it seems apparent he fled the country willingly in fear of his life). He was replaced by a U.S.-backed Interim Government, and since then Haiti has been cast into turmoil which has resulted in the arrival of U.N. and French troops who are trying to keep the peace.   “And here we are, with essentially the same problems that Haiti began with after the revolution,” Dupuy says.   Dupuy has brought clarity to the Haitian situation not just for his students but as a resource often-cited in such news outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, and the News Hour with Jim Leher. As for solving the problems of the island Dupuy is not optimistic., but he says that the solution is not entirely difficult.
 
“The problems of the country seem daunting and intractable, but unless they are solved democratically they will not be solved at all,” Dupuy says.   A leader has to emerge who can unify the conflicting factions of Haitian society,”  he says. “Be it the reach of the government, the exploitive practices of the elites, the deep-seeded inequalities, the presumptions on race – those are the issues that have to be resolved. Haiti has extensive resources. It has good people. It could be a jewel of the Caribbean. But the divisions and perceptions have gone on for so long, I am afraid it will not be easy.”   He sighs and shakes his head.   “Sometimes it seems the Haitian people are their own worst enemies.”

 
By  David Pesci, director of media relations

World Premiere of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange at Wesleyan


Wesleyan has partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for several fall events.
 
Posted 07/13/05
For the past three years, the Center for the Arts and Wesleyan faculty have partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange to explore the ethical and social repercussions of genetic research.

The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, led by MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, has been creating dance works that are metaphorical and powerfully visceral about the issues of the time.

The Wesleyan-Dance Exchange partnership has resulted in Wesleyan serving as a lead commissioner of “Ferocious Beauty: Genome”, which will premiere at the CFA on February 3, 2006, before touring major performing arts centers across the country.

The partnership has also resulted in the most comprehensive residency ever undertaken by a dance company at Wesleyan or in Middletown, with Dance Exchange members working throughout the fall semester with both science and dance students as well as community members at the Green Street Arts Center.

The following Dance Exchange events are scheduled:

  • “The Making of ‘Ferocious Beauty: Genome’” will take place at 8 p.m. September 20 in the CFA’s cinema. Enjoy an evening with Liz Lerman and Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University. Admission is free.

    Lerman will discuss her use of the dance medium to explore the meaning and potential of new genetic science research. Hudson will provide an update on the public policy issues raised by recent advances. Both women will share their insights into the crossing of boundaries between art and science and their growing understanding of creativity and inquiry in both fields.

  • “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” will take place at 8 p.m. October 11 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a lecture by Lee M. Silver, professor of molecular biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Admission is free.

    Silver, author of “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” published by Ecco Press, will examine Catholic, Protestant, post-Christian and Eastern spirituality’s responses to the advances of biotechnology and predict how these arguments will affect future scientific research.

  • The Double Helix: Law and Science Co-constructing Race” will take place at 8 p.m. November 10 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a talk by Pilar Ossario, assistant professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Admission is free.

    Ossario’s talk will explore the ways in which the law and guidelines mandating inclusion have had the effect of re-animating a very simple-minded set of arguments about race and genetics. Ossario is the former director of the Genetics Section at the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association. The event is sponsored by the Ethics in Society Project.

  • The World Premiere of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” will take place at 8 p.m. February 3 and 4 at the CFA’s theater. A pre-show talk begins at 7:15 p.m. February 3 in the Zilkha Gallery. Tickets cost between $8 and $19.

    “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is about how we heal, age, procreate and eat may soon change because of genetic research happening right now. The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange partnered with scientists and bio-ethicists to confront the promise and threat of a new biological age. The show explores this moment of revelation and questioning in an arresting theatrical work which combines movement, music, text and film.

    The planning committee for this residency includes Professor of Biology and Fisk Professor of Natural Science Laura Grabel, Associate Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen, Adjunct Professor of Dance Susan Lourie, Green Street Arts Center Director Ricardo Morris, Zilkha Gallery Curator Nina Felshin, CFA Associate Director for Programming and Events Barbara Ally and CFA Director Pamela Tatge.

    In addition, Lerman has consulted extensively with Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Laurel Appel, Professor of Biology Michael Weir and Professor of Chemistry and University Professor of Sciences and Mathematics David Beveridge, among others, on the development of Genome.

    Lerman will be making monthly visits to Grabel and Gruen’s Reproduction in the 21st Century course this fall, and is a fall faculty member of the Dance Department, teaching the repertory class.

    All events have been made possible by grants from Wesleyan University’s Edward W. Snowdon Fund, Hughes Program and the Fund for Innovation. “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the state arts agencies of New England and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    For more information or to order tickets, call 860-685-3355, or e-mail boxoffice@wesleyan.edu.

  •  
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Assistant to the Dean of Admission Sprints Between Budgeting Department and Triathlons


    Joan Adams, assistant to the dean of admission, stands outside the Office of Admission.
     
    Posted 07/13/05
    Q: Joan, you are the assistant to the Dean of Admission. How long have you been in the Office of Admission?

    A: I started working in the office of admission in January of 2000.

    Q: And what were you doing before that?

    A: I was hired in August of 1999 and started my Wesleyan career in the registrar’s office.

    Q: What do you like most about working here after these five years?

    A: There are many things that I love about working at Wesleyan. First and foremost, I truly enjoy working with the office of admission staff. To me this group is like my extended family. We all get along well and work together as a team toward our common strategic goal of attracting and retaining the best students for Wesleyan. Working at Wesleyan provides so many benefits. Since I am a health and fitness nut, I appreciate the opportunity to utilize Freeman Athletic Center nearly every day. The new addition is just incredible and such an added bonus.

    Q: Who do you primarily work with in the office?

    A: I mostly assist Nancy Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid. We work well as a productive team and after four years together operate in sync setting priorities and accomplishing as much as possible. As her assistant I manage her calendar, coordinate domestic and international travel, prepare correspondence and documents, and basically try to stay one step ahead of her which is a major challenge!

    I also assist and support Greg Pyke, senior associate dean, with travel planning and statistical reporting for the University common data set and college guidebooks. Greg and I also work together to coordinate the Wesleyan High School Scholars Program which permits outstanding juniors and seniors from area high schools to take one course per semester.

    Q: What else do you do?

    A: Along with supporting Nancy and Greg I oversee the admission office budget and manage the prospects and applicants who have alumni relations or other special interests. Every day is unique with many challenges. I don’t personally meet with students and parents on a daily basis but enjoy working at the registration table during our open houses in the fall and WesFest in the spring. I also work with University Relations to schedule special tours and interviews for alumni relatives.

    Q: What is the busiest time of the year for you and why?

    A: It is impossible to pick a time that we aren’t busy in admission. The summer months are very hectic and exciting with prospective students and their parents visiting campus; the deans travel extensively through the fall and January 1st is our application deadline for regular admission. November through April is the busiest time for me personally. Summer marks the end of the cycle as the Class of 2009 matriculates in August, but we’ve already begun to recruit the Class of 2010!

    Q: What were you doing before? Are you a Connecticut native?

    A: I grew up in Lake Placid and Greenwich, New York, and received an associate’s degree in travel administration from Bay Path College and a bachelor’s of science degree in management from Central Connecticut State University. I have lived in Massachusetts, California and Florida working a variety of jobs in sales, for example contract office furniture and food service, and more recently in human resources and benefits administration so my background is very diverse to say the least.

    Q: Are you involved in any organizations or volunteer services?

    A: Last winter I volunteered with the “Mom’s Program” through New Britain General Hospital. The program trains young mothers in parenting classes and while they are in class the volunteers care for their children, mostly infants. Prior to the Mom’s Program I volunteered on the hospice unit at Middlesex Hospital.
    I tend to volunteer during the winter months as I spend most of my free time in the summer months training for sprint triathlons.

    Q: What’s involved in a triathlon?

    A: The sprint level tri’s are usually a half mile swim, 10 to14 miles on a bike and 5k run in length. The swim segment was most intimidating to me so I joined a Masters Swim group in September, thanks to Tom DiMauro in IT, and enjoyed swimming with an over-40 group through the winter. It was lots of fun.

    Q: I doubt many people will believe you’re over 40 when they see the photo with your profile. So, is there anyone in your life worth mentioning?

    A: Next month I am thrilled to be celebrating six years with my partner, Mary. She is the one who puts that smile on my face. My 83-year-old mom, Virginia lives in New Hampshire with her companion, Jim and they travel between New Hampshire and Florida each year. I have a sister, Cindy, who lives in Florida and brother, Greg and wife Nancy living at Ballston Lake, New York – and four nieces, two nephews and a great niece on the way!

    Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?

    A: Mary and I spend as much time as we can working in our yard and enjoying time with our family and friends. We love to travel and have taken several trips abroad and have traveled extensively in the US.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor