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Assistant Professor Receives NSF Grant


 
Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani researches pathways that lead to carcinogenesis.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani recently earned an award totaling more than $571,700 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research on pathways leading to carcinogenesis, including the development of colon, rectal, stomach, and ovarian cancers.

The five-year grant will specifically fund the research of Hingorani’s laboratory focuses on the workings of proteins responsible for DNA mismatch repair with the long-term goal of understanding how defects in repair are linked to many forms of cancers.

“I am tremendously grateful to the National Science Foundation for its strong commitment to basic science research and education, especially in this time of constrained budgets,” says Hingorani.

Hingorani earned the award thanks to the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. This program recognizes the critical roles faculty members play in integrating research and education, and in fostering the natural connections between the processes of learning and discovery.

To date, eight Wesleyan University faculty members have received this award including Hingorani, Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kathryn Johnston, Professor of Physics Reinhold Blumel and Associate Professors of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Scott Holmes and Michael McAlear.

Hingorani plans to use the funds to support graduate and undergraduate research projects in her laboratory, and to develop innovative courses on science writing and on science documentary filmmaking in collaboration with faculty from Wesleyan’s Department of Film Studies.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of media relations

NASA Awards Wesleyan Astronomer Major Grant


 
Astronomy Professor William Herbst studies the star, KH 15D. Pictured are images of KH 15D out of eclipse (left) and in eclipse (right) as taken from Wesleyan’s observatory.
 
Posted 03/31/05
It’s 3 million years old and 2,400 light years away, but a distant star discovered by Wesleyan researchers has given insight into how our solar system may have formed. NASA wants to know more, and has given William Herbst almost a quarter of a million dollars to keep looking.
 
This month NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) awarded Wesleyan Professor of Astronomy William Herbst a $216,000 grant to continue his studies of the star, KH 15D, and other emerging stars and their possible link to the creation of our solar system.
 
The grant for Herbst’s proposal titled “Synoptic Studies of T Tauri Stars in Nearby Clusters and Associations” will span three years. It was approved by NASA’s Origins of Solar Systems Program and is one of only 39 proposals of the 94 submitted that received funding.
 
“NASA is particularly interested in this work because they want to find planets that may support life,” says Herbst, the Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of the Van Vleck Observatory. “As far as we know, life can only get started on a planet. Understanding how these types of planets form can help us pinpoint where they may exist and when the conditions for the creation of life first occur.”   Three years ago, Herbst reported how KH 15D, a star in the constellation Monoceros that he and graduate student Kristin Kearns discovered, and that physics Ph.D. candidate Catrina Hamilton further helped identify, seemed to displaying the early stages of planet formation. KH 15D was periodically going through “winking” eclipses, determined by Herbst to be he swirling waves of rock and dust clouds typical of early planet formation. The discovery sent excitement through the astronomical community. He continues to study KH 15D and other young stars looking for more clues.   “Wesleyan has been recognized as a world leader in monitoring these young stars,” Herbst says proudly. “And we are able to do many of our observations using our own observatory on campus.”   Herbst also notes that in the awarding of the grant, the officials at NASA went out of their way to applaud the way undergraduates have been involved in the studies. Specifically, the reports says Herbst “is to be commended for his extensive work in student training, where he has done a first rate job in engaging undergraduates in research and launching them along productive career paths.”
 
“Involving undergraduates in the research is not required for the grant. In fact it’s pretty atypical for this level of research,” Herbst says, then smiles. “But it is what we do here at Wesleyan. I was glad NASA made note of it. It’s a part of our program that we are very proud of.”

Related resource: Animation of KH 15D.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Red & Black Cafe Donates 1% to Financial Aid


 
Posted 03/31/05

The next time you grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink at the Red & Black Café, you’ll also be helping students in need at Wesleyan.

Ed Thorndike, Jr. ’89 and Karen Kaffen-Polascik, owners of Wes Wings and Red & Black Cafe, will donate 1 percent of their gross sales from Red & Black Cafe to support financial aid through the Wesleyan Annual Fund (WAF).

“This is something we’ve really been wanting to do,” says Thorndike. “I contacted University Relations and we were able to set it up and make it work. It’s really gratifying to know that this money will be going to help Wesleyan students in need.”

Their intention is to give semi-annually in May and January.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Assistant Director of Residential Life Helps Students Find Comfortable Place to Live, Study, Socialize


 
Rich DeCapua, assistant director of Residential Life, lounges in the newly-remodeled Clark Hall.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Q: Were you hired in as assistant director of Residential Life in 2002?

A: I was originally an area coordinator for Clark Hall and Foss Hill, and I was then promoted to assistant director at the end of my first year. This is my third year at Wesleyan, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: Well, I was looking for a place where I knew I could be successful professionally, but would also be challenged. The nature of our student body and the quality of our student services staff has really made working here a wonderful experience. I especially liked the fact that the campus was starting to renovate existing residence halls and had plans for new ones. That is hard for anyone to not be a part of. Also, the issues that our campus faces collectively usually comprise subjects that would be taboo at other places. I feel here that students, staff, and faculty have the ability to really discuss valid issues on this campus in an honest and open way.

Q: How did you get into this type of work?

A: I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a B.A. in psychology and sociology and then received my master’s of education from Springfield College in student affairs administration. I’m currently working on my doctorate in educational leadership. The biggest reason why I became involved in Residential Life as a career was my experience as a resident advisor. In my early college days I was a communications major hoping to be on ESPN one day — I wanted to broadcast Red Sox games — but the whole world of student affairs lured me away. After I made my decision to change majors I never looked back.

Q: What factor can a living arrangement play in a student’s academic success?

A: Who students live with impacts everything. Where a student resides is the place where they get their sleep, where they probably study and create their social circles.

Q: How does Residential Life go about providing students with resources and direction needed to be academically successful at Wesleyan?

A: My office tries to make sure that when roommate problems occur that we are dealing with them quickly and effectively. We also have many resources for students such as their resident advisor, house manager or head resident; these are student peers employed by our office who are extensively trained to handle conflict resolution and roommate issues. Residential Life also has five Area Coordinators; professional staff who have advanced degrees in counseling or student services administration that supervise all the student staff in a particular area and will resolve all sorts of problems or issues in their area. My office knows that if a student resides in a good residential environment, we are creating a place where they can be academically successful.

Q: How do you determine their housing and roommates?

A: I meet with students on a fairly regular basis, usually relating to housing assignments or the room selection process. We house all first year students by the preferences they submit to our office in May via an on-line process. We give first-year students roommates based on similar housing preferences. All continuing students receive housing through the General Room Selection Process. This process is based on student seniority at Wesleyan through a ranking system, giving all seniors the first pick of housing, then juniors, etc. Students self-select their roommates.

Q: What are students’ housing options?

A: Oh that’s a big question. Undergraduate students can live in a variety of housing options including traditional style residence halls, program houses, apartments, or senior house. Their options range so that they can live by themselves or up to six people, so there are a lot of configurations students can put themselves in to get a good place to live. Graduate students really have two choices. They can live in either a group house — a one person single in a house with other grad students — or a family house, which is obviously for those grad students who have a partner or children or both.

Q: Please explain what Program Housing is.

A: Program Housing is tremendously important asset to Residential Life at Wesleyan. It consists of 25 houses on campus that all have different missions; these can be spiritual, religious, cultural, or academic. Each year my office sponsors a very competitive application process as part of general room selection to apply to these houses. There are almost 300 students who live in this programmatic housing option and its one of the things that makes Wesleyan so unique.

Q: What is the role of a resident advisor?

A: RAs are student staff members who have a wide variety of duties; some of these include being on duty, planning programs for their residents, and creating an overall positive community in their residential area.  But the most important role an RA plays is that they are a doorway to campus services for their residents. Many offices on campus whose main objective is to help students in some important way like Behavioral Heath, their class dean, or health education hear about students issues from the RA staff. They are the ones who really dissolve the line between students and administrators and are vital to continued success of the Residential Life program.

Q: Take me through a typical day here.

A: Everyday is truly something different and it’s always interesting. Even though the nature of my job includes a lot of computer work, students are always coming in asking questions about assignments or different housing options. Since we’re in the midst of room selection I’m meeting with many students daily.

Q: What are your personal hobbies or interests?

A: I am an avid runner and I’ve ran many races in the past couple of years. The highlight has been running the Boston Marathon in 2002. Also, being raised in Boston I am a sports nut and these past couple of years have been great. There’s nothing better than beating the Yankees!  My wife and I try to get to as many Sox and Patriots games as I can. She is a registered nurse at New Britain General Hospital. 

Q: Do you have any children?

A: We’re expecting our first child next month which is tremendously exciting.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Scientific Imaging Scopes out the Microscopic


 
Jeff Gilarde, director of Scientific Imaging, helps students and faculty members use Wesleyan’s newest confocal microscope inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Jeff Gilarde loves to scope out new research. But to explore his big ideas, he has to look small.

As the Biology Department’s director of Scientific Imaging, Gilarde spends his days looking through the lab’s five microscopes. He also assists faculty and students with their microscopic research inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center, located under the pathway between Hall-Atwater Laboratory and Shanklin.

“Look, these are liver cells,” he says, pointing out a cell’s image, glowing through a transmission electron microscope, or TEM. “Do you see the nucleus?”

The lights are off, and Gilarde explains how electrons are shot down through the scope’s vertical column and are scattered through the sample, mounted on a 1/8-inch circular copper grid. The result is a clear, two-dimensional image magnified 15,000 times.

This is one microscope Gilarde is extremely familiar with. Prior to coming to Wesleyan in 1984, he worked for Yale University as a microscopist in the Department of Pathology. There, he used a similar scope to examine segments of liver, kidney or lung for autopsies.

“It was kind of icky at first, but I got used to it,” he says.

Gilarde’s favorite, most commonly used – and most expensive – microscope uses lasers to illuminate specimens under the Zeiss LSM 510 confocal scope. This high-tech machine came to Wesleyan in 1999 at the price of $259,000, funded in part from a National Science Foundation grant. It has the ability to magnify objects more than 400 times and produces crisp, colorful multi-dyed images. Many of these images have been published in a variety of scientific journals.

Another microscope that receives extensive use is the scanning electron microscope, known as a SEM. The SEM creates detailed three-dimensional images by bouncing and collecting electrons instead of light waves. Some SEM images are even making their way on TV through programs like CSI.

This scope is often used to examine micro-fossils, rocks and even brain tissue. Physics students have used the scope to examine heat-treated metal.

“You know those nature shows that show the ant head close up or the Gillette commercials that show the stubble sliced close to his face? Those were made on an SEM like this,” Gilarde explains.

At most universities, undergraduate students would not have access to an SEM, Gilarde says. But at Wesleyan, undergrads use the all the microscopes regularly. One biology student is currently using the SEM to count chambers in moths’ wings. Other students are using the microscope to examine sediment core samples taken from the ocean as part of Associate Professor Suzanne O’Connell’s earth and environmental sciences classes. Students also have identified surface features on quartz grains that have been transported by glaciers under the scopes. 

“Jeff is always accessible and willing help students learn how to use the equipment,” says O’Connell, chair of the Earth and Environmental Sciences department.

Gilarde also oversees a Zeiss Axioplan florcent microsope and “babysits” two mammoth nuclear magnetic resonance machines in the lab. Step past the danger sign and anything magnetic will be erased, Gilarde warns.

On a marble counter top, among shelves of chemical dyes and powders, there are also a traditional light microscope.

“I still get a lot of use out of that one,” he says. “We use it for low magnification quality control of samples before we go to the big scope.”

Gilarde has put his knowledge to use beyond the center, he served as the president and vice president of the Connecticut Microscopy Society, and he sat on the nomination board for the Microscopy Society of America.

He also co-instructs BIOL 344, Biology Structure, with Professor of Biology Jason Wolfe, teaching students the theory, methods and interpretation of cellular structure by using scanning electron microscopy, fluorescent immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy.

Gilarde, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan, is a member of Wesleyan’s Local Emergency Planning Committee. He’s also received certification by the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, also known as HazMat, to handle certain types of hazardous materials emergencies.

Gilarde and his wife, Lisa, live in Cobalt with their 9-year-old twins, Alec and Graham, and 6-year-old daughter, Camille. When he’s not busy spending time with his family, this shade tree mechanic races his self-customized 1995 BMW M-3 at speeds up to 150 mph around Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

 “Cars have been my passion for years,” he says, pointing out a racing plaque he earned for placing in the top 10 in a recent BMW Car Club of America race at Lime Rock.

Gilarde’s other hobby is a bit fishy. Along with Biology Department Lab Coordinator and officemate Bruce Libman, Gilarde cares for saltwater aquariums, raising coral.

Libman, who has worked with Gilarde for six years, says Gilarde has bonded with many students over his 20 years at Wesleyan.

“All the grad students love him because he doesn’t pretend to be above or below them,” Libman says. “He makes sure they get the best possible pictures with the confocal, there is no “good enough.”

Gilarde, who is also Wesleyan’s assistant golf coach, leads construction projects for Habitat for Humanity of Horry County during vacations to South Carolina four times a year. For the past 15 years, he has also taken to the slopes as a volunteer for Skiers Unlimited. The organization’s members team up with physically challenged patients from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. To date, Gilarde’s taught more than 30 children, including one young man with only one leg, to ski comfortably.

“One of them is now skiing all by himself, and he can go faster than I can,” Gilarde says, pointing out another prized skiing photo of Matt, using a walker on the slopes.

“I want to leave the world a better place. That’s my mission in life.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Cruz-Saco to Become Dean of the College at Wesleyan


Maria Cruz-Saco will become dean of the college.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Maria A. Cruz-Saco, interim dean of the college at Connecticut College, will become dean of the college at Wesleyan University on July 18.

Wesleyan’s dean of the college is responsible for the programs and services that support student learning and development. The office of the dean encompasses the class deans, the Office of Residential Life, student and behavioral health services, the Office of Student Activities, the Office of Community Service, the chaplains, and the new Usdan University Center. The dean serves as a member of the university’s senior staff.

“This is a moment of unusual opportunity,” says President Doug Bennet. “We are thinking afresh about how we link students’ academic experiences with their lives in the community and about how we can take full advantage of the diversity of student experience as a resource for learning. Wesleyan is also strengthening our residential life and student programming  in concert with the addition of new housing and the Usdan University Center. Maria Cruz-Saco will provide strong leadership in all these areas, and we welcome her to Wesleyan.”

Cruz-Saco is an economist and expert in social protection and the reform of social security systems with a regional emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has authored three books, co-edited one, and contributed many articles and chapters to professional journals and books. She earned her B.A. at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru, in 1979 and her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1983.

She is a full professor of economics at Connecticut College.

Cruz-Saco has served as interim dean at Connecticut College since July 2003. She joined the college in 1990 and held leadership positions including chair of the economics department, chair of the Priorities, Planning and Budget Committee, member of the Grievances Committee, and member of the faculty steering committee of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. In 2002-03, she chaired the Presidential Commission on a Pluralistic Community charged with delineating the college’s vision for a multicultural experience and inclusive excellence. 

As interim dean, Cruz-Saco led an internal self-study of her division in comparative perspective, redrafted its vision, mission and goals and designed an action plan for 2004-2006. Under her leadership, the Dean of the College division produced a student quality of life report, concluded and implemented the results of a self-assessment of the Multicultural Center, secured an increase in the operational budget for pluralistic initiatives and supported the creation of a peer-mentoring pilot.

“Professor Maria Cruz-Saco has been a leader in strengthening the entire educational program at Connecticut College,” says Connecticut College President Norman Fainstein. “In 2002-03 she chaired a presidential commission on creating a genuinely pluralistic community. As interim dean of the college, she has continued to support efforts to improve equity and diversity, to further student achievement, and to better integrate the curricular and co-curricular sides of the college. She has worked closely with students, faculty and staff to establish a collegial climate and institutional structure where students can truly put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society. Her enthusiasm, energy, and intellect will be sorely missed.”

“I look forward to joining the Wesleyan community and to being a part of this vibrant and engaged campus,” says Cruz-Saco. “Wesleyan offers an extraordinary liberal arts education, and I feel fortunate that I will contribute to the continued excellence of student life and development.”

Billy Weitzer, senior associate provost and dean of continuing studies at Wesleyan, will continue in his role as acting dean of student academic services during Cruz-Saco’s transition. The role of dean of student academic services was established as part of a reorganization of the dean of the college office led by Wesleyan’s interim dean, Peter Patton.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Davison Curator has Life-Long Interest in Art


 
Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, looks over “Self-Portrait in Profile,” sketched by German artist Kathe Kollwitz in 1927. The piece is included in “A Passion for Prints” on exhibit through May 22.
 
Posted 03/31/.05

Q: You started here on February 14th. What attracted you to the university?

A: I was attracted to the position of curator at the Davison Art Center because it is a wonderful combination of museum curatorial work and academia. I am very much looking forward to teaching in the fall. At the same time, I get to do the curatorial work I love. It is a perfect combination.

Q:  How did you get into this type of work?

A: I have been interested in art for a long, long time. The first one-page essay I wrote in grade school was titled “What is Art?”  In fact, a classmate swears that on the first day of high school, I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to be a museum curator, but I have absolutely no recollection of this!  Along the way I thought about architecture, geology, and a few other things, but always came back to art history and museum work.

Q: What kind of perspective does a curator need for this type of job?

A: A curator needs to be interested in the physical condition of the art work as well as the aesthetic issues. To follow the art market in order to acquire new art wisely. To research and present their findings in a clear, understandable fashion.  To develop his or her “eye” for art, so that they can trust both their research and their gut response to new work. Curators need to work well with other people, because every exhibition requires collaboration with installers, registrars and many, many others.

Q: What type of education is required?

A: To be a curator you need an advanced degree in the relevant specialty.  For art museums, either a master’s or Ph.D. in art history or a related field like archaeology. These days a Ph.D. is preferred, and I am finishing up mine at Brown University. While the subject knowledge is learned in university programs, you need to learn the museum skills on the job. I learned a vast amount during my ten-month fellowship at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, working under the supervision of Marjorie B. Cohn, Curator of Prints.

Q: What is most unique about the Davison Art Center?

A: The DAC has a world-class collection, which it makes available for direct study by students. The amount of student involvement and access to the collection is unique.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the current exhibit, A Passion for Prints, that ends May 22?

A: The exhibition, “A Passion for Prints: The Davison Legacy” focuses on the amazing collection of George Willets Davison, class of 1892, who donated more than 6,000 prints over two decades. The curators of the DAC will be represented by key acquisitions made to complement and expand upon Davison’s original vision. Working with Interim Curator Ellen D’Oench, student curators Jesse Feiman ’05, and Dan Zolli ’07, have spent the year researching the  collection and selecting the prints. Highlights will include prints by Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn

Q: How do you spend the bulk of your day? Are you at a desk, out in the gallery or meeting with people?

A: A little bit of all three.  Doing email and correspondence. Meeting with various people. Advising students. Regularly going to exhibitions, etc.

Q: In a nutshell, how do you create an exhibit? What is the process? And where do you find the art for the exhibit?

A: For me, exhibition ideas come from studying the prints, drawings, and photographs in the collection, and beginning to explore themes or narratives across individual works and individual artists. These can be developments in technique, such as chiaroscuro woodcuts, or connected to recent studies in art history. For some exhibitions, the work comes from the collection. Other exhibitions are based on loans from collectors, artists, or other institutions. I’m still mulling over the exhibition possibilities for the fall.

Q: Do you find your job rewarding?

A: My job is extremely rewarding.  It offers the chance to continue to build a renowned art collection. I work with wonderful people, and will teach in the fall.

Q: Tell me about your hobbies outside of work.

A: Graduate school severely curtailed my hobbies. I play a terrible game of squash. I also enjoy sewing and knitting, which help fulfill my creative urge. And I spend time with my partner, Michelle Emfinger, who works in information technology and plays the double-bass.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

TAPS: Tap virtuoso Dianne Walker teaches students how to tap dance during DanceMasters Weekend at Wesleyan March 5. DanceMasters Weekend allowed dance students to experience a wide range of contemporary dance techniques by taking classes with master teachers from premiere dance companies over an intensive two-day period. (Photo by Lex Leifheit)

 
SWING BACK: Robert Battle, artistic director of Battleworks Dance Company, teaches students in the Bessie Schonberg Studio on March 6. (Photo by John Elmore)
 
TUCK AND TWIST: Pascal Rioult, founding artistic director of the Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre, teachers a graduate student a dance maneuver during a class for master’s degree-seeking students. (Photo by Lex Leifheit)
 

One Lecture after Another


Laurie Zolty, assistant to the coordinator of University Lectures, poses with lecture advertisements inside the Horgan House.
 
Posted 03/15/05

Q: When did you join the staff at Wesleyan and why?

A: I joined the staff in the fall of 2000 looking for a career change. A very good friend was on staff here and spoke so highly about working at Wesleyan. I was searching for almost a year, looking for a position where each day would be different – working a diverse schedule, meeting new people, taking on new tasks and challenges. This newly created position with University Lectures seemed like the perfect fit.

Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?

A: My last job wasn’t very exciting. I was the office manager for a local orthodontist. But the one before that was great. I handled all human resources, payroll and office management for The Tournament Players Club at River Highlands, which meant my employer was the PGA Tour. That was cool.

Q: How do you and Jean Shaw, the University Lectures coordinator, work together?

A: Jean Shaw and I have worked wonderfully well as a two-person team. We handle the logistics for a number of endowed lectures, from their inceptions to their completion. We also assist faculty when they are applying for and receiving funding from the Edward W. Snowdon Fund. These Snowdon supported lectures are more numerous and we do everything from advising to organizing the lecture events and setting up small dinners to working with the graphic designer on advertising and posters. We also assist or manage individual lecture budgets and attend the events we help sponsor.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I’d say the diversity of skills used and the exposure and opportunity of working with and getting to know such a large number of faculty and staff.

Q: I understand working with lectures isn’t the only thing you do at Wesleyan.

A: The major part of my job is working with Lectures, but one-quarter of my time is connected with Reunion and Commencement. This part of my job is to coordinate and streamline the payment process for all R and C invoices and help to track all expenses. In addition, I have taken on assisting the Marshal of the Faculty for commencement. These come at the perfect time, when logistical work on lectures quiets down in the spring and early summer, so it rounds out my work schedule in a nice way.

Q: Do you attend lectures your department put on?

A: Yes, we attend every lecture, activity and performance, whether it be an endowed lecture, such as the Hugo L. Black or Raymond E. Baldwin events where we are totally involved, or be it a lecture, event or residency organized by an academic department, including all events funded through the Snowdon grant process.

Q: What would be an example?

A: A great example of this is the current series of 19 events spanning three semesters that the Center for Film Studies has organized in conjunction with different academic departments. We also work closely with faculty, like Anne Greene, to help support her major Writing Program lectures each year, the Annie Sonnenblick Lecture and the Joan Jakobson evening.

Q: What have been some of your favorite presenters or lectures?

A: It’s hard to say. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people over the past four years. Our first Snowdon Fellow was Steven J. Gould who was remarkable. I actually had the chance to accompany him on a private tour of Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. It was amazing. But I’d have to say my favorite lecture each year is the Sturm lecture. Kathryn Johnston, of the Astronomy Department, brings in terrific speakers and for me, the topics are fascinating as each lecture explores an area of astronomy that is far beyond our world but so relevant to our lives on earth.

Q: Who generally presents the lectures? Professors? Visitors? Are there certain topics they address?

A: The lectures that we support and are involved with are always given by visitors. They are often professors from other universities, but can be dignitaries, judges, authors, dancers, college presidents, movie directors, journalists or clergymen. For Snowdon funding, a faculty member writes a proposal with a specific speaker, or speakers, and topic in mind. Snowdon supported events are required to have participation from multiple departments, so the topics can range as wide as your imagination will take it.

Q: What would I find you doing on a weekend?

A: You can find me most Sunday mornings sitting in my three-season room with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Over the past few years, my husband, Allen and I have been busy with a series of redecorating projects at home and this seems to be a never-ending process. One room triggers another. I enjoy the decorating process, searching for just the right fabric or accessory. My degree was in textiles and marketing so I love the hunt for a bargain and have a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Q: That sounds like a fun, but inexhaustible project. Do you have other hobbies?

A: I like to cook and I sew and I used to play a bit of tennis. I really enjoy going to the movies and eating late dinners afterwards, so Allen and I will do one or both on most weekends. Our closest friends include people I grew up with and even though they live in New Jersey or New York, we often meet up for an afternoon or dinner. Every few months we try and get into New York. I just love the theater and the energy of the city.

Q: Where did you meet your husband? Do you have any kids, and if so, what do they do for a living?

A: I met Allen when we were both at UConn. We’ve been married for 32 years and have two sons. Allen has spent his career in labor and industrial relations with Pratt and Whitney, which afforded me the opportunity to stay at home with our kids while they were growing up. Stuart, our oldest, has been married for three years, works as a financial advisor and lives just outside the city. Our daughter-in-law, Meredith, is the general manager of the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company. Andrew, our younger son, lives and works in New York. He is an interactive Web designer, loves to travel and is focusing his time and energies promoting Seven Ender, a rock band that he fronts. 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Final Curtain Call: Scheibe Retires after Four-Decades at Wesleyan


Psychology Professor Karl Scheibe will retire from Wesleyan this spring after a 42-year career here.
 
Posted 03/15/05

Fresh out of the Ph.D. program at the University of California at Berkeley, 26-year-old Karl Scheibe accepted a faculty position at Wesleyan University. Apparently, he liked his first job.

“It sure lasted a while,” says Psychology Professor Scheibe, who has spent the more than four decades since teaching and doing research at Wesleyan. “I’ve considered going to other universities, but never did. And I’ve never regretted staying here.”

Scheibe, a social psychologist known for his classes emphasizing relationships between psychology and theater, will take his final bow when he retires after the spring semester.

Throughout his career, he’s taught 20 different psychology courses, some of which are self-invented. In 1980, he introduced an experimental course titled “The Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology,” which proved to be popular with both psychology and theater majors. The course explores the use of the language of theater in the illumination of psychological questions, exploring issues such as politics in theater, audience effects, role-playing as a teaching and therapeutic technique, the actor’s identity problems and general theory of the mask.

Today, the class is so well-known, Scheibe interviews students before allowing them to enroll in the size-restricted class.

“The class isn’t for everybody,” he explains. “This is for people who really want to get engaged and take charge. People who would rather sit through a lecture shouldn’t be here.”

Psychology major Elizabeth Thaler ’05, says discovering the intersection of drama and psychology is intuitive to many students. The class, she says, helps students experience a real-life illustration of everything the psychology department teaches.

 “The first day there was a buzz of mystery and excitement, because all anyone knew about the class was that it was intense, revealing, and huge amounts of fun,” Thaler says. “The fun is very important—we make ourselves pretty vulnerable and at times go into dark territory. The fun keeps us eager for more.”

Thaler says Scheibe puts class into the students’ hands, but stands by as a guide, providing agency and support.

“There is a feeling of trust in that classroom that I haven’t experienced anywhere else at Wesleyan, and the trust works both ways. He seems infinitely wise yet eager to learn from his students; we’re all in it together,” she says. “In the weekly journals we write him, I feel free to talk honestly about almost anything, from my personal life to my complaints about the class. I didn’t walk in feeling that way, it was the way Scheibe leads us that opened me up.”

Scheibe applied for a position at Wesleyan based on its “yeasty qualities,” he said.

“Wesleyan was a traditional New England small college, but it had this known quality of change  –  this avant garde – on-the-edge element that other colleges around here lacked,” he says.

A faculty position at Wesleyan also came with a daunting reputation. Scheibe said he and other junior faculty colleagues were bathing in tenure anxiety from the very beginning.

When he was hired in 1963, he was one of only six psychology professors in the department; now there are 14 on tenure and tenure track.

Wesleyan’s 11th president, Victor L. Butterfield, was in charge of the all-male university. Fraternities were quite conspicuous on campus, and Scheibe found himself in the curious position between teaching and being one of the boys.

“I was 26. I was listening to the same music as the students and sharing their culture. I even chaperoned frat parties, as back then, parties had to have chaperones,” he says, recollecting memories of his early days. “Wesleyan was a very different place then. But then, as now, it was an exciting place to be.”

Scheibe was promoted to associate professor in 1967, was awarded tenure in 1968, and was promoted to professor in 1973.

“Wesleyan was rich and resourceful and it was able to afford the best professors in the nation,” he says. “It was a superior institution, and it still is.”

Like most professors at the time, Schiebe came to Wesleyan with a broad array of abilities. Throughout the years, his research has focused not only on psychology’s association with theater, but also on theoretical issues of psychology of self and identity. His current research interests also include problems of substance abuse and other excessive appetites.

Julie Glickman ’04, events assistant for the Center for the Arts, took two of Scheibe’s classes. Scheibe was also her academic advisor while she was pursuing her degree in psychology.

 “Professor Scheibe is a kind and compassionate man,” she says. “He had the ability to captivate not only a small seminar of 20 students, but an entire auditorium with 350 students. He was an exceptional instructor and mentor.”

Psychology master’s student Justin Freiberg says Scheibe creates a structure in his class that makes the students feel safe enough to share openly, and to be spontaneous.

“He makes students take the initiative in figuring out what exactly they just learned,” Freiberg says. “You might think to yourself that what just happened was really a bunch of improv, and while this is true, it is in connecting the classes back to the readings and to past studies, be they in psychology or drama, that the real value lies.”

In addition to teaching courses at Wesleyan, Scheibe taught two-week graduate-level classes at an English-speaking DUXX Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico during the entire seven-year existence of the program. He also had two Fulbright appointments at the Catholic University of Sao Paulo, the first in 1972, the second in 1984. He taught these in Portuguese.

In Brazil, Scheibe wrote his first book, “Beliefs and Values.”  He’s also the author of “Mirrors, Masks, Lies and Secrets,” “Self Studies” and “The Drama of Everyday Life,” published in 2000 by Harvard University Press. The book describes human lives as dramas, that “we all live in boxes,” that are “little theaters wherein the play is earnest and the players all convinced of their grasp on reality.”

Upon retiring, Scheibe has plenty to keep him busy. Currently a part-time clinical psychologist, Scheibe will continue to practice at his business in Old Saybrook. He’ll focus the bulk of his time as the director of the new Wasch Center for Retired Faculty. This new center, slated to open on Lawn Avenue in fall 2005 creates a shared intellectual and social community where retired faculty members can continue their scholarly activities and participation in university life. Here, Scheibe hopes to complete another book, which is well underway.

“As a retired faculty member, I and others, need a place to go to think and write and read. And, when I am retired, they’re probably going to want to give my office to someone else and I will need a place to put all these books,” a smiling Scheibe says, peering up at hundreds of hard cover books, files and notebooks.

Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor of psychology and chair of the Psychology Department, says her colleague will be missed by other faculty members and students alike.

“Karl Scheibe has been a tremendous force in the psychology department,” she says. “In the past 40 years, he has taught a broad range of courses to thousands of Wesleyan students, including The Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology, which exemplifies Karl’s impressive breadth of scholarship and teaching. His students attest to his passion for teaching and his dedication to mentoring.”

Scheibe says he will miss teaching and that it never became mundane. The students, he says, keep class motivating.

“Every semester had fresh students and it’s like directing Hamlet all over again,” he says. “Every cast was unique.”

A comedy and theater performance, honoring retiring Psychology Professor Karl Scheibe, is scheduled at 9 p.m. April 22 in the Center for Fine Art Theater. “Out of My Head: Performing Minds” is a revue constructed and performed by four Wesleyan graduates—Catie Lazarus (’98), Wendy Spero (’99), Katie Buck (’99) and Adam Koppel (’02). All were students of the Psychology Department and all are actively involved in comedy and theater. Scheibe is retiring after 42 years of service on the Wesleyan faculty. Tickets cost $3-$4.
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Banking on Emerging Financial Institutions


Economics Professor John Bonin is the editor of “Journal of Comparative Economics.”
 
Posted 03/15/05
As John Bonin recalls a recent overseas trip, one scene in particular stands out.

“The tree-lined streets with boutiques sprinkled among retail giants like the Gap could have easily been in a European city,” says Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science and editor of theJournal of Comparative Economics.”

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this recollection is that the streets he describes weren’t in Europe or even the west. They were in Shanghai, China. The image is important because it illustrates how quickly China is growing economically.

And yet, when Bonin traveled to the nearby city of Wuxi, he encountered another image along the way that impressed him just as much.

“There were huts sitting in mud with peasants attempting to eke out an existence from farming or fishing in small ponds,” he says. “It was as if these people were from another time entirely.”

Much like the two extremes of China, Bonin studies extremes within the world of banking. His research focuses on financial sector reform and bank privatization  — the successful transition of financial institutions away from the controlling hands of the government towards private control.

His travels and research have landed him in many far away countries, including China, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia.  Bonin’s love for far away countries developed during grade school after he wrote a paper about China’s Yangtze River. Ever since, it’s been this country that has captured Bonin’s attention the most. 

“I’ve always had this romantic notion of China,” he says. “I guess you could say I came full circle.”

Bonin’s most recent visit to Shanghai last May stemmed from an invitation to speak at a conference on the governance reform of state-owned enterprises in China.

“When I lectured at Peking University in Beijing in 2001 to a room full of about 50 Chinese students, it was incredibly rewarding,” he says. “They were the most inquisitive, captivated audience I’ve ever had.”

Bonin is also asked several times a year to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with World Bank leaders who are eager to collaborate with economists and research groups. Some of his research has even been circulated as policy briefs in Washington for government officials and members of Congress.

In addition, he compiled a case study of a privatized Polish bank for a U.S. Treasury Department funded project about banking in Central Europe and Russia.

It can take years for emerging-market countries to develop efficient financial institutions, he explains.”My job is to supply them with background information based on the experiences of other countries,” he says.  

For example, while in Beijing, Bonin met with an official from the banking supervision department of the People’s Bank of China. This person eventually became very interested in Hungary’s experiences with bank privatization.  

One of Bonin’s newest project includes collaboration with assistant professor of economics Masami Imai. They are researching how stock prices of companies in Korea, including Daewoo and Hyundai, are affected by news of changes in their main bank’s ownership.

The study will shed light on the impact that foreign owners of domestic banks have on domestic lending, especially lending to long-standing large corporate clients.

Bonin enjoys the research, but enjoys his work with students even more. He recalls one former student, David Lipton, ’75 who went on to become the Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1990’s.

“I was sitting across from Lipton one night over dinner and he looked at me and said ‘You’re the reason I’m an economist,'” Bonin says. “To hear that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.”

Bonin will also travel to Paris in April to teach a master’s class on financial economics in transition countries at the Sorbonne.  

“First hand experience compliments standard research sources,” Bonin says. “Experiencing other places and cultures allows me to bring the real world into the classroom and enliven the learning process.”

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Student Recovering from Illness


Posted 03/15/05
On March 4, Tom Cornish ’05 was transported to a local hospital with symptoms consistent with meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tom was infected with strain B of Neisseria meningitidis, a strain not protected against by any existing vaccine, though one is in development.

Based on this information, Tom had meningococcal meningitis, which is a type of bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Tom’s condition has improved significantly since being admitted to the hospital and he is making steady progress toward recovery.

Wesleyan’s Office of Health Education has compiled a page with information about this disease:

www.wesleyan.edu/weswell/atoz_topics/atoz_meningitis.html.

There are different strains of Neisseria meningitidis. Tom was infected with a strain not protected against by the vaccine mandated for Wesleyan undergraduates. The bacteria can be spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (such as through coughing or kissing). Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as agents that cause the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. A vaccine for strain B Neisseria meningitidis is in development.

Persons in the same household or who have had direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions would be considered at increased risk of acquiring the infection. Even though the risk of getting meningococcal disease is generally very low; as a precaution, close contacts are often advised to take an antibiotic, usually rifampin or ciprofloxacin. Even when that step is deemed necessary, it does not imply an increase in risk for the broader community.

The University Health Center has contacted and provided or arranged treatment for those identified as having close contact with Tom. Medical staff maintained a telephone hotline around the clock to answer questions from members of the community and to direct them to further medical consultation or treatment, as appropriate.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations