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Associate Professor Judges Biomedical Conference for Minorities


Ishita Mukerji, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer in her research at Wesleyan. Mukerji recently attended a conference in California, judging presentations on biomedical sciences.
Posted 01/22/07
Encouraging underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences was the purpose of a recent conference in Anaheim, Calif. And the chair of Wesleyan’s Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department was there to help guide these students down that path.

Ishita Mukerji, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, was among 220 scientists around the country who attended the 2006 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), held Nov. 8-11.

The scientists volunteered their time and energy in judging the 1,048 poster presentations and 72 oral presentations.

“The number of minority students in biomedical research is very small,” Mukerji explains. “I and my colleagues are committed to improving diversity in the sciences and this is a great opportunity to meet and interact with minority students. We would like to have more under-represented students at all levels in the sciences at Wesleyan and this is one way to interact with minority students and potentially recruit them to come to Wesleyan University.”

Now in its seventh year, ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for biomedical and behavioral students. Over 2,500 people attended the 2006 conference including 1,633 students, 421 faculty and program directors and 418 exhibitors. ABRCMS is supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and managed by the American Society for Microbiology.

By volunteering as a judge, Mukerji served in one of the most important roles at the conference, explains Ronica Rodela, spokesperson for the ABRCMS.

“The judge’s role in providing constructive feedback to student presenters positively enhances the professional development and advancement of students in their scientific research,” Rodela says.

These presentations were given by undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate students as well as postdoctoral scientists in nine sub-disciplines in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The top 120 undergraduates received monetary awards of $250 for their outstanding research.

Mukerji says some of the research she judged was comparable to the research being done by Wesleyan undergraduates. On the other hand, there is a wide range of science presented at the conference, and some of the students are coming from two-year institutions that don’t have a lot of resources for doing science.

“The judging process is an interactive one in which I usually talk to the students about their research project, their scientific interests and what their future plans are,” Mukerji explains. “Many of them are very enthusiastic about their projects and that makes the judging a lot of fun. On the whole I find it to be a very rewarding experience.”

Mukerji is currently the chairperson of the Minority Affairs Committee for the Biophysical Society. For their annual meeting in March, she has arranged a panel discussion on “Recruitment, Retention and Mentoring of Under-represented Students.” Featured panelists will be representatives from MentorNet and Venture Scholars. Both of these organizations are committed to increasing diversity at all levels in the sciences.

For more information on the conference, visit www.abrcms.org. The 2007 ABRCMS is scheduled for Nov. 7-10 in Austin, Texas.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

New Dean of Sciences has Full Slate


David Bodznick, the new dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, researches neuron signals in skate brains when he’s not busy with administrative duties.
Posted 01/22/07
When David Bodznick took on the role as dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics in July 2006, he became, in essence, a part-time mediator. In his new position, the professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, works as the liaison between the Wesleyan’s science and mathematics faculty and the administration.

“For example, I have the chance to present the needs and aspirations of the Division III faculty to the rest of the administration,” Bodznick explains from his office in Shanklin, “and the responsibility of presenting the wider perspective and long range planning goals of the Administration back to the faculty.”

Bodznick was nominated to the four-year position by former Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean Joseph Bruno, who is the current vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, and professor of chemistry. Bruno’s nomination came after hearing input from colleagues. They cited Bodznick’s expertise and experience working as the director of Graduate Studies and chairing the Biology Department.

The position encompasses the departments of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Math and Computer Science, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Physics and Psychology, and the Neuroscience and Behavior Program.

“What really attracted me to the dean position was that it involves a lot of problem solving,” he says. “I enjoy trying to find the best solution that works most effectively toward the goal that needs to be met.”

Bodznick has already set short and long term goals for himself.

For one, he wants to continue where Bruno left off, raising awareness and the visibility of the sciences at Wesleyan to the larger Wesleyan community and to the outside world. He looks for ways to support the continued successes of the science and math faculty in both teaching and research, and he encourages them to share their research with their students and the media.

He mentions the outstanding research on stem-cells and neuron replacement that are part of the recent Connecticut Stem Cell Initiative as a great example of the important work going on throughout the sciences at Wesleyan.

Bodznick’s own research is on neuron signaling in the brains of vertebrates including marine fishes. In fact, every summer, Bodznick and his students move their lab equipment to the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. There, the group is among 300 neurobiologists from all over the world working on research.

As dean, Bodznick will also work with the Science Advisory Council, which comprises several Wesleyan alumni and Board of Trustee members, to find ways to increase outside funding for undergraduate and graduate science programs. He hopes to increase the applicant pool for science majors and offer additional courses for non-science majors.

“Too many Wesleyan students graduate without taking science courses, despite the fact that now, more than ever before, science literacy is a critical part of a liberal arts education,” Bodznick says. “We need to continue offering a large number of attractive, palatable classes for non-science majors so they’ll want to include science courses in their curriculum.”

The dean’s heaviest workload falls on the new science center’s planning. This facility will house three departments and will likely replace Hall-Atwater, which has exceeded its useful lifespan. Bodznick, Wesleyan’s own facilities experts and a building committee of faculty, students and trustees, are meeting with architects. They are discussing the new building’s feasibility options from the size and location to program planning, and a renovation of Shanklin. Groundbreaking is expected by the end of 2009.

The at-home handyman says the new science center is one project he’s very excited about.

“To work on this from the beginning to end and see the ground breaking will be a major accomplishment,” he says. “There’s a lot to be decided and a lot of problem solving to do.”

With his plate full of administrative duties, Bodznick has to devote less time to teaching, however it hasn’t affected his research or interaction with Wesleyan students. He offers to present lectures in other classes, attends biology and neuroscience graduate student meetings and meets regularly with his four lab students. Next year, he expects new undergraduates to join his research group, and he looks forward to teaching them the methods of the lab.

“Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the best thing about working at Wesleyan is the students,” Bodznick says. “I’d never want to lose contact with the students, so I do what I can to interact with them, even when I’m not teaching as much.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Family Health Fair Set for Employees, Families


The Anderson Fitness Center will be open for tours during the 2007 Family Health Fair Feb. 3.
Posted 01/22/07
Yoga, skin analysis, blood pressure screenings and massages are all part of the 2007 Family Health Fair for Wesleyan’s faculty, staff and their families.

The free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Freeman Athletic Center. It is sponsored by the Employee Benefits Office.

“All of us could use a little inspiration now and then when it comes to staying healthy and fit,” explains Pat Melley, director of Employee Benefits. “The Wesleyan Health Fair provides the opportunity for all of us to start or continue building healthy lives. It will be fun and informative for people of all ages to learn about fitness and well-being.”

Events of note include balance and rowing demonstrations; glucose, body-mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings; a “How to Get Reliable Medical Information on the Web” presentation; and information on children’s health, skin analysis, nutrition, fire safety and more.

In addition, the Anderson Fitness Center will be open and tours will be offered. Demonstrations will be presented on how to use the athletic facility’s equipment. Attendees may go to open swimming, ice skating or squash.

The first 100 employees will receive a free T-shirt. Participants can also enter their name in a raffle. Prizes include a $60 gift certificate at Yoga at Middletown; bike helmets and tune ups from Pedal Power; a $40 gift certificate for Broad Street Books; a $25 gift certificate for It’s Only Natural Market; a golf basket from The Hartford Insurance Company; and a $50 cash certificate from WesCard.

Lisa Currie, director of the Health Education Program, says the health fair will highlight the various ways that the university and community organizations can support employees in being healthier individuals and families. This ultimately contributes to a healthier university, she says.

“There is great truth in the old adage, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’” Currie says. “Research has shown that employees who participate in prevention-oriented wellness programs in the workplace are more productive and enjoy their jobs more. Given how much of our lives we spend at work, it makes sense to make the most of it, especially given the great facilities and programs Wesleyan offers. “

Face painting will be offered for children. Parking is available in Q Lot behind the Freeman Athletic Center. Participants are encouraged to enter through the back lobby.

Some sessions will have limited space and will be filled on a first-come, first served basis. Some vendors will have items for sale.

For more information, e-mail benefits@wesleyan.edu or call 860-685-4889.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

New Directors Head Human Resources Department


Pat Melley, left, and Julia Hicks have been promoted to directors of Human Resources.
Posted 01/22/07
Julia Hicks and Pat Melley have been appointed to the position of director of human resources for Wesleyan University.

A national search for the head of Wesleyan’s Human Resources organization has been underway for the past few months, during which Hicks and Melley came forward to propose their partnership to lead the human resources department.

“I believe each has the credentials and leadership qualities we need and that together they have the experience to advance all aspects of our service to the campus community,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration.

Hicks joined Wesleyan in May 2004 as associate director of human resources and was promoted to senior associate director in 2006. She has over 25 years experience in all areas of human resources and has held progressively responsible human resources positions with major organizations in Connecticut and New York. Hicks will be responsible for compensation, performance management, employee and labor relations, recruitment and staffing.

Melley was hired as director of employee benefits in July 2006. She will continue to be responsible for all employee benefits and now will oversee the payroll department. Melley has over 20 years of experience in employee benefits, payroll and human resources. In addition to a background in brokerage and reinsurance, she has been responsible for designing, implementing and leading the human resources departments of two companies.

Both Hicks and Melley have the skills and qualifications required to successfully lead human resources as we move forward with new initiatives, Meerts says. Although each will have specific points of focus as outlined above, employees may feel free to contact either of them for assistance. Ultimately, both are responsible for the performance of the Human Resources Department.

“Please join me in congratulating both Pat and Julia on their new appointments and wishing them continued success,” Meerts says. “I also want to thank the search committee for their hard work and Dan Michaud for having lead the Human Resources Department while the search was underway.”
 

By Justin Harmon, director of Public Affairs. Photo by Olivia Drake.

Civil Rights Activist to Speak on Martin Luther King, Jr.


Posted 01/22/07
Wesleyan will celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a keynote by the poet, author and civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez, pictured at left, from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Memorial Chapel.

Professor Sanchez’s works are often passionate poems or works of prose that touch on social issues of modern and past times. Many of her poems are blunt, passionate and painfully truthful. She addresses the history of African-Americans from slave times to modern oppression. From Malcolm X she also learned how to present her poetry and always sustain the attention of the audience.

Sanchez refers to the influence of Martin Luther King, Jr. She met King in 1957 during a stop on his book tour. In an interview with a Seattle newspaper, Sanchez reflected on Dr. King’s work and recalled her reaction to his death. A more in-depth biography can be found at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/276.

“We are excited to have such a prominent poet and civil rights activist at Wesleyan for this important celebration,” says Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs and member of the MLK Jr. Celebration Planning Committee. “Professor Sanchez’s poetry speaks to the legacy of Dr. King in so many ways and we are honored to welcome her to campus to help us remember Dr. King and his many accomplishments.”

The Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration received funding from the Office of the Dean of the College, the President’s Office, and the Office of Affirmative Action, with planning and support from a committee of staff, students and faculty.

The MLK Jr. Celebration Planning Committee consists of Ruby-Beth Buitekant ’09; Kevin Butler, dean of Student Services; Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs; Nicole Chabot, Student Activities program coordinator; Diana Dozier, associate director of Affirmative Action; Persephone Hall, assistant director of Human Resources; Julius Hampton, ’09; Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations; Cathy Crimmins-Lechowicz, director of Community Service and Volunteerism; Tim Shiner, director of Student Activities and Leadership Development; Gina Ulysse, assistant professor of African American studies and anthropology.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

An Evening With Bill Cosby Raises $2.5M for Scholarships


Bill Cosby mingles with Midge and Doug Bennet during a gala benefit in New York Jan. 17.(Photo by Bill Burkhart)
Posted 01/22/07
Bill Cosby donated his talents to a gala benefit performance at the Pierre Hotel in New York City Jan. 17, raising $2.5 million for Wesleyan scholarships from the more than 400 individuals in attendance. Cosby, father of Erica ’87, is widely known for his personal commitment to education and his generous support of educational causes.

Cosby spoke warmly of the efforts by Wesleyan alumni to support financial aid and said, “Mrs. Cosby and I believe that the price of education in the United States of America shouldn’t be unattainable.”

He delivered a comedic monologue that had the value of education as a central theme. Following the performance, Vice President for University Relations Barbara-Jan Wilson announced that a four-year Wesleyan scholarship had been named in Cosby’s honor.

Cosby received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Wesleyan in 1987.

Web Site Teaches Haitian Celebration Through Text, Sound, Video


A new learning objects tool, designed by Associate Professor Elizabeth McAlister, features multimedia tools to help teach the story of Rara.
Posted 01/17/07
In Haiti, the people celebrate their African ancestry and religion with a Rara festival, a culturally rich musical and dance event.

Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of Religion and chair of the Religion Department, associate professor of African American studies, and associate professor of American studies, has studied this tradition for 15 years. Through a newly-created teaching tool, she hopes people can gain new insights on the Rara festival.

Designed by Wesleyan’s Learning Objects Studio staff, the Web site, http://rara.wesleyan.edu/ is available for academic and public use. The site is already being used at classes at New York University and Swarthmore.

“My hope is that people interested in Rara, students, musicians, artists, travelers and other researchers, will be able to use this Web site as an interactive study guide,” McAlister says.

McAlister’s interest in Rara dates back to 1991 when she began researching Haiti’s vibrant culture, often celebrated through Rara. In 2002, she published a book titled, “Rara! Vodou, Power and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora.” The Web site serves as a companion piece to her book on Rara.

“After my book on Rara came out, internet technology made it possible to display the photographs and videotape that I made in Haiti, together with my friends and collaborators,” she explains.

Through the online tool, McAlister posted a 15-minute film about Rara, music and dance clips. She included images, video and audio clips of Rara as a carnival; Rara as a religious obligation in Vodou; Rara and the Christians and Jews; Rara gender and sexuality; Rara and politics; and Rara in New York City.

In each section, McAlister includes media, notes from the field, and an analysis, often adapted from her book.

When explaining Rara as a form of carnival, McAlister explains, in the analysis, that “the ‘tone,’ or ‘ambiance,’ of Rara parading is loud and carnivalesque … As in Carnival, Rara is about moving through the streets, and about men establishing masculine reputation through public performance. Rara bands stop to perform for noteworthy people, to collect money. In return, the kings and queens dance and sing, and the baton majors juggle batons-and even machetes!”

The site includes clips on several Rara bands including La Belle Fraicheur de l’Anglade in Fermathe, Mande Gran Moun in Darbonne, Rara La Fleur Ginen in Bel Air, Rara Inorab Kapab in Cite Soleil and Rara Ya Seizi.

Donning traditional Rara costumes, which are known for their delicate sequin work and vivacious colors, dancers are shown in action, in low or high bandwidth videos of dances and music. In one clip, a queen and two kings dance the “mazoun.” Traditional instruments such as bamboo and the paper-fabricated konet are shown in several accompanying images like the one at right.

The music featured on the Web site was produced by Holly Nicolas, postal clerk, and mixed and mastered by Peter Hadley, conductor of Wes Winds.

McAlister, who lived in Haiti to study Rara, says she walked with the bands, took them seriously and listened to what they had to say.

“My book, and now this Web site, tell that story,” she says.

For more information on the Learning Objects Studio go to: http://learningobjects.wesleyan.edu.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Press and Marking Coordinator Fills the Seats at CFA Performances


Adam Kubota, press and marketing coordinator for the Center for the Arts helps more than 275 shows a year get publicity at Wesleyan and with the local media.
 
Posted 01/17/07
Q: When did you first come to Wesleyan, and when were you officially full-time for the Center for the Arts?

A: I started as interim CFA press and marketing coordinator at Wesleyan in November of 2005, filling in for Lex Leifheit while she was the interim assistant director of the Green Street Arts Center. Lex finished her assignment in February, leaving me to look for a new job. Fortunately for both of us, she was hired as the permanent assistant director of Green Street in September of 2006 and I was able to apply for her previous position.

Q: Explain your role as the press and marketing coordinator for the CFA.

A: At its most basic, my job is to fill the seats for the events that we put on. It’s mostly about raising awareness and engaging people through a variety of methods by pitching stories to the press, increasing distribution of our brochure and email newsletter. As for promotion, we try to reach people from all over Connecticut and the region, members of the Middletown community including Wesleyan faculty and staff, but most importantly, Wesleyan students.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?

A: The biggest challenge is staying organized. The CFA has a hand in producing over 275 events a year. It is my job to see that they are all, in some way, brought to the attention of the public. Thankfully, I get a lot of support from my co-workers in making sure it all happens smoothly.

Q: How did you familiarize yourself with the job?

A: Lex has been and continues to be a great resource to me in my job—she definitely helped to show me the ropes. Since I am also responsible for publicizing Green Street events, we are constantly in contact. And obviously, my experience as interim marketing coordinator in 2005 has helped me in being the permanent marketing coordinator.

Q: Who are the key people you interact with on a daily basis?

A: CFA Director Pam Tatge; Art Director John Elmore; Associate Director for Programming and Events Barbara Ally; Events Coordinator Jeff Chen; Box Office Manager Kristen Olson; Financial Analyst/Gallery Coordinator Camille Parente; the Green Street Arts Center staff and the CFA student workers.

Q: What activities consume most of your time while in the office?

A: I spend a significant amount of time writing press releases, e-mails and listings on the computer, as well as attending meetings. Truthfully, I wish that I could get out more often and interact with the Wesleyan Community—it’s something to shoot for as I settle into my job and streamline things a bit more.

Q: What are your own interests in the arts and do you attend any CFA-sponsored events?

A: As a bassist who performs in a variety of styles including, jazz, classical and contemporary music, I am always performing or going to concerts. Considering this fact, working at the CFA is a dream job. I try to go to our events as much possible. It’s really gratifying to see the fruits of our labor in a well-attended performance.

Q: Are there any exciting, worth-mentioning events coming up in the next couple months we should be aware of?

A: Yes, the Joe Goode Performance group is coming Feb. 2-3. Like me, they are from the San Francisco area and their company of virtuosic dancers tackles such issues as gay marriage and the AIDS crisis.

Singer-songwriter Paul Brady, who has penned hit songs for the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Joe Cocker, is appearing for the Crowell Concert Series Feb. 16.

My pick-of-the-semester is jazz pianist Cedar Walton on April 27. Cedar is a real living legend—his resume reads like the history of jazz!

Q: Where are you from initially and how did you end up in the area?

A: I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a small town on the Peninsula called Belmont. I moved to Connecticut about four years ago to study with double bassist Robert Black, who is known for his work with the Bang On a Can All-Stars, and do graduate work at the Hartt School of Performing Arts.

Q: Where were you working before Wesleyan?

A: My first job in arts marketing was at Real Art Ways, a great alternative art space in Hartford. Over last summer, I worked for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven.

Q: Where are your degrees from and what were your majors?

A: I have a bachelor’s of arts in music from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where our mascot is the Banana Slug! I also received my master’s of music in double bass performance from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Most nights and weekends, I am busy performing music. I do a lot of gigs with my band in addition to working as freelancer. I play bass—both the upright and the electric. As I mentioned before, I perform in many styles but I am most at home with improvised music like jazz and contemporary music.

As for hobbies, I like fishing, Frisbee golf, running, playing basketball and seeing exhibitions of contemporary art. I am excited to say that I am taking a vacation to Peru in March—the plan is to hike from Cuzco to see the ruins of Macchu Picchu.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: At this point, I’ve been on the job for just a few months and I’d really like to meet more people who work on campus. It helps me a great deal to know what other people’s roles on campus are. So, if you are interested in any of the things that I do, please send me a quick e-mail.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Associate Director of Athletics Makes Time for All Sports


Richard Whitmore, associate director of Athletics, oversees the scheduling of all 15 Wesleyan athletic facilities, including the Wesleyan Natatorium.
 
Posted 01/17/07
On any given day, there are 29 athletic teams, 10 intramural sports, several sport-related clubs or Wesleyan employees all vying for a rink, court, pool or field to use for practice or play.

It is the job of Richard Whitmore, associate director of Athletics, to schedule Wesleyan’s athletic facilities with those who need them. And when occupied, he insures the venue is safe, secure and teams are equipped properly.

“Half of my job is working with people to schedule the facilities, but I also spend a lot of time coordinating the games and making sure everyone has everything they need prior to their game, meet or match,” Whitmore says. “There’s always something new happening, and that makes working in this field very exciting.”

Whitmore meets with at least a dozen Wesleyan coaches every day, and interacts with numerous students who drop by, e-mail or call in facility requests. He attends most home-games, of every sport, to make sure the athletes have everything they require for the event. Preparing the fields with proper markings, fencing and seating also is completed under his supervision.

“Being able to watch a little bit of every home game is a great benefit to this position,” Whitmore says.

Whitmore came to Wesleyan in 1999 as the athletic facility manager. He later took on the role of managing the 1,500-seat Spurrier-Snyder Rink, which is occupied 18 hours a day between October and March. Nowadays, he oversees all 15 facilities, including the Macomber Boathouse, Rosenbaum Squash Center, the John Wood Memorial Tennis Courts, Bacon Field House and the new Smith Field for field hockey, soccer and lacrosse.

“Wesleyan is extremely fortunate to have Richard as a member of the Department of Physical Education administrative staff,” says John Biddiscombe, director of Athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department. “He has an outstanding background as a Ivy League student athlete, a successful college head coach and athletic administrator. Also, his user friendly management style is appreciated by the students, faculty and staff and the smooth operation of the athletic facilities is a direct result of his efforts.”

Whitmore also helped with the planning of the Freeman Athletic Center addition. Prior to its opening in January 2005, he’d have to manage the athletic affairs in the old Fayerweather Gymnasium and the former Alumni Athletic Building.

“It’s so great to have everything under one roof now,” Whitmore explains. “It not only makes managing these facilities much easier, but it’s good for our student athletes and spectators alike. Now we can have a hockey game, an indoor track meet and swim meet all going on at the same time, in the same building, and this gives visitors a real sense of what our athletic program is all about.”

In addition, Whitmore says the new athletic center offers facilities equivalent or better than other liberal arts colleges in the area.

It’s not only Wesleyan coaches and athletes who seek space in the Freeman Athletic Center. University Relations has requested rooms during graduation. Middlesex Youth Hockey has its base of operations out of the Spurrier-Snyder Rink, and area high schools use the Andersen Track for their competitions.

Whitmore, along with Kate Mullen, head coach of women’s basketball, and Kirsten Carlson, administrative assistant, use the campus-wide program Scheduler-Plus to keep track of spaces being used at certain times.

“It can be challenging to stay on top of things, but somehow we manage to do so,” Whitmore says.

Whitmore, a native of Waterville, Maine, is a former basketball, baseball and football player himself. His father, Dick Whitmore, has coached Colby College’s men’s basketball team for 38 years, and served as athletic director from 1986-2003.

Richard Whitmore attended Brown University, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Arts in American civilization in 1990. During his junior year, he tore a ligament in his knee during the basketball season, ending his career. Nevertheless, a teammate wrote the NBA, requesting that Whitmore be considered as a candidate for the draft under the provisions of the Hardship Rule.

“No one else from an Ivy League school had made it into the NBA draft as a Hardship candidate before,” Whitmore says, smiling. “I sure got a lot of local press from that one.”

Like his father, he decided to take a coaching career path starting at Daniel Webster College as a basketball and baseball coach. He also worked as a sports information director. In 1996, he moved to Kenyon College in Ohio, also to coach basketball and baseball.

“Coaching was a fun part of my life, and I enjoyed working with the students one-on-one, but I also enjoy the administrative side of sports,” Whitmore says. “I am glad to be doing what I do now.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

THE PRESIDENT’S VOICE: Hunter King ’08 uses an audio-recording device to record the voice of President Doug Bennet Dec. 13. King will use Bennet’s voice clips during his surf-music radio program, Storm Surge Of Reverb, which airs from midnight to 1 a.m. Friday mornings on WESU 88.1 FM. King invited Bennet to record after hearing him speak at the High Rise residences. “I noticed that he was speaking in a very cool, very low voice,” King says. “I thought it would be fun if I could have him record a few voice breaks for my show.” (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)
Below are two audio-video clips of the recording:

  

Director of Administrative Systems Pushes Technology in ITS, University Projects


Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems for Information Technology Services, helps lead projects for Student Services, University Relations and Financial Systems and HR/Payroll.
 
Posted 12/20/06
Q: You have the ultimate responsibility for the success of ITS administrative systems projects. Please explain what “administrative systems” are.

A: Administrative systems are used by the administrative offices of the University and their student, faculty and staff customers. The administrative systems cover the business side of the university. I’d divide them into three major categories: Student Services, University Relations and Financial Systems combined with Human Resources/Payroll. They include student services offices such as Student Accounts, Financial Aid, Registrar’s Office, Admission, WesCard Office, the Graduate Services Office and GLSP.

Q: Who works on these operations?

Daune’ Oliveira, PeopleSoft product manager in Finance and Administration; Dan Koepf, Rich Langer and Tom DiMauro, analyst programmers in ITS have a lot to do with these. Dan’s 25-plus years of experience are one of the keys to our success. Deb Treister, director of University Relations Operations and analyst programmers Jane Jylkka, Sharon Cwirka and Doug Baker all feel a real responsibility to help UR meet their fundraising goals. Working with University Communications, we are continually improving our e-mail communications, WesNet (the Alumni Portfolio) and basic outlook and research.

We have worked with Financial Services, Financial Planning and HR/Payroll to put more and more self-services in the Portfolio. Ed Below, director of Administrative Applications for Finance and Administration; and analyst programmers Annette Howard, Barbara Spadaccini and Darrell Lawrence work on these systems. We get additional support across all applications from Pat Leone, world wide web administrator, Mary Glynn, application technology specialist and Steve Windsor, database administrator as well as the network, server specialists that work with James Taft, assistant director of technology support services. I know that I’ve given an awful lot of names, but everyone is important to getting stuff done.

Q: Why do you promote the appreciation and utilization of technology throughout campus?

A: At a very basic level, technology is simply a tool. I think of tools as incredibly humanizing – because they leverage human talent. A university is in the business of leveraging and growing human talent – technology in its way can help tremendously.

Q: What projects are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud of a much of what we have done, but I’ll just give you one example. The Pre-Registration System that the Registrar’s Office developed with ITS help is just a great example. It helps create the advisable moment – where a faculty adviser and student can review academic history, student goals, and course availability to make informed decisions about course selection. Anna van der Burg, university registrar, has gotten faculty feedback on the system and we will be incorporating that in the future.

Q: How else have you applied technology throughout campus?

A: In general, I’m proud of the availability of secure student and employee self-service applications on the Web. In the past, data that could help in decision making was trapped in the institutional databases – maybe you would get to see it in monthly reports. Now the Web has really allows us to share this data on a real-time basis. The Portfolio System has been key to this sharing. Mike Roy, director of Academic Computing Services and director of digital projects; Dan Schnaidt, academic computing manager for Arts and Humanities; Jolee West, academic computing manager for NSM; and Manolis Kaparakis, academic computing manager for the social sciences have been instrumental is conveying faculty needs regarding data access. These are not earth-shattering innovations but they are things that our university constituents have a right to expect

On a less philosophical note, the university has made a strategic and financial investment in information technology. I know that Ravi [Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services] has a strong belief in returning that commitment – in the form of customer-service and innovation.

Q: Do you strive to build a strong working relationship with all administrative offices?

A: My job is to be helpful, solve problems and have a good time doing it.

Q: You’re also the lead coordinator of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act at Wesleyan, which requires institutions to protect the privacy of their customers, including customers’ nonpublic, personal information. What does this entail?

A: Gramm-Leach-Bliley is a congressional act that is meant to help protect individual’s private data. In the papers, you read every other week about an institution or company having its computer system compromised – the most recent one being the 800,000 individuals records at UCLA. Think of its this way: the institution’s computer system is comprised, however, the real potential for damage is the compromising of our students, alum, faculty and staff data. We have a responsibility to protect it. There’s more on that at http://www.wesleyan.edu/its/glb/.

Q: What is your background with computers? What are your degrees in?

A: I have a bachelor’s of arts in English from Fairfield University and a master’s of science in computer science from Rensselaer at Hartford. My final paper was: “A C++ Information Abstraction System.” I have not written any C++ in a very long time.

Q: I’ve seen you mountain biking at Wadsworth Falls State Park. Is this a big hobby of yours?

A: Mountain biking is a lot of fun. It’s a little scary and mostly healthy. Shawn Hill, a desktop support specialist, and I ride at 6:30 a.m. before work at Wadsworth. It’s a good loop: up and down hills, over a few logs, through a stream and home – with a herd of deer thrown in every now and then. Occasionally, we’ll ride pass Susanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, out there playing her bagpipes behind the Wadsworth mansion. It’s a glorious morning when we hear the bagpipes.

Q: You’re also a GLSP student.

A: Yes. I just finished my final paper for Rob Rosenthal’s “Music in Social Movements” course. It was interesting course. It was pretty cool that I had seen two of the musicians we studied: Holly Near and Thomas Mapfumo at the Center for the Arts.

Q: Tell me about your family and pets.

A: My wife is Sari Rosenblatt. She is a genuine, good person. I have two daughters Nora, 17, and Anne, 14. They are not particularly interested in hanging out with dear old Dad. I have to watch “Gilmore Girls” just to have something in common with them. Our dog, Courtney, is a gift from God. Sari says the best thing about Courtney is that she doesn’t talk. She is a sweet, old mongrel who crosses her paws, very-lady-like, in whatever patch of sunlight she can find. I’ve convinced that she is waiting for one of us to deliver a spot of tea.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Graduate Students, Alumni, Faculty Present Papers at Ethnomusicology Conference


At left, ethnomusicology students Marzanna Poplawska, Nick Hockin, Amy Ingram and Hae Joo Kim gather during the Society for Ethnomusicology’s 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu.

Posted 12/20/06
Nine Wesleyan graduate students studying ethnomusicology ended a recent conference on a high note.

Each student presented papers at The Society for Ethnomusicology’s 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu. This year’s topic was “Decolonizing Ethnomusicology.”

“The annual convention is the focal point of the year; these meetings offer a great chance to network with fellow grad students, eminent senior scholars, and former alums,” says Mark Slobin, professor of music. “In addition, this is a record-breaking number of graduate students that presented.”

Thembela Vokwana presented “Can We Sing Together? Performing Nationhood through Choral Festivals in South Africa.” Andrew Dewar presented “Sonic Explorations: On the Analysis of Intercultural Experimentalism;” Marzanna Poplawska presented “Diaspora or not yet–Indonesian Christians in the USA;” and Junko Oba presented “280,000 Invisible Men: Music, Identity, and the Story of Nikkei/Zainchi Brazilian Community in Japan, Summer 2005.”

Hae Joo Kim presented “Riding the Wave of Nostalgia and Melodrama through Dae Jang Geum;” Po-wei Weng presented “The Survival of Oral Tradition in a Modernizing Genre: ‘Oral Notation’ in Taiwan’s Peking Opera Percussion Music;” Ian Eagleson presented “Rural Popular Music and Ethnic Identity: Benga Dance Bands of the Luo Community in Western Kenya;” Chris Miller presented “Indonessian Musik Kontemporer and the Issue of ‘Western Influence;’” Vincenzo Cambria presented “Decolonizing the Archive: Documentation and the Production of Knowledge in a Participatory Ethnomusicological Research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” Amy Ingram presented “Parang: Finding a Place for Spanish Creole Identity in the Trinidadian National Calendar; and Nicholas Hockin presented “Drums, Headscarves, and Mothers’ Dances at Weddings in Bamako, Mali: Local Change on the Margins of Globalization;”

This was Hockin’s second time presenting a paper at the SEM conference. This year, the Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, presented segments of his dissertation, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

“Presenting our ideas in paper sessions allows us a chance to get vital feedback from our peers, not to mention developing public speaking skills. Networking is an integral aspect of the conference, enabling members to share personal and professional insightsthat broaden our understanding of the field and of each other,” Hockin says. “And we develop a sense of what the latest trends are by checking out presentations, reading paper topic titles and abstracts, and by browsing and/or buying books.

In addition to the students, Slobin and Su Zheng, associate professor of music and East Asian studies, chaired panels at the conference. Eric Charry, associate professor of music and Rob Lancefield, manager of Museum Information Services and registrar of collections at Davison Art Center presented papers. Sumarsam, chair of the Music Department and adjunct professor of music, attended the conference, along with several students and recent alumni.

The nine graduate students are among 22 current students studying music. They are an unusually varied group, Slobin explains, including students from Brazil, China, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, Taiwan and Canada. They are part of the 46-year old program’s interest in drawing the widest spectrum of students from among the substantial pool of applicants; selectivity runs at about 20 percent.

The Music Department faculty wants their students to be well rehearsed, so prior to the conference, they drill the students in the skills of preparing a paper abstract, developing a quality 20-mimute presentation, and delivering it in a lively and well-organized way.

“Usually our students’ papers stand out for the attentive response they draw from listeners, as opposed to the many droning, rapid-fire, or inaudible papers we sit through at the dozens of panels,” explains Slobin, pictured at left, center.

Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D candidate Amy Ingram has attended a few SEM conferences in the past, but this was her first time presenting at the conference, and her first time presenting her dissertational material to her peers.

“I think that the conference is certainly a necessary rite of passage for all grad students,” Ingram explains. “It helps us all to gain the perspective of how our learning experience at Wesleyan compares to other graduate programs. Receiving feedback from peers and committee members certainly reinvigorated my motivation to keep writing, and meeting others during the social moments between panels was really beneficial.”

Following the conference, the Wesleyan affiliates held a party to draw the past and present students together.

In 2008, the SEM convention will be held at Wesleyan in the new Susan Lemberg Usdan University Center.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos  contributed.