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Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Growing Up – and Out


Rachel Ostlund ‘08 sprinkles seedlings inside a shelter at Long Lane Farm. The farm is expanding this spring to a full acre. Pictured below are vegetables grown last year by the Long Lane Farming Club.

Posted 04/17/06
Although Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Club uses organic methods to grow its produce, a little “Miracle Grow “ has been sprinkled on one aspect of their garden: its progress.

The Long Lane Farm Club was created in 2004 so students would have a place to come together and learn about food security issues. What began as a 50-foot plot of flowers and vegetables will be expanded into a full acre this spring. The expanded cultivation area will increase the club’s produce, which is shared by Wesleyan students and the local community.

Maddie Thomson ‘08 got involved in the farm last spring, favoring the idea of organic farming. When a person buys a tomato at the grocery store, chances are, it was not locally grown, she says.

“So much of our food is grown halfway across the world and shipped here using enormous amounts of fossil fuels,” Thomson says. “I think it’s really important to think about where our food comes from, and whether it’s produced sustainability. There is a growing movement to rethink the way we produce food, and at Long Lane we’re part of that movement, which is really exciting.”

The 50 members of the Long Lane Farming Club are thrilled to expand to a full acre. Knowing it will take extra helping hands, about 15 volunteers from the Wesleyan community have been recruited to help out with watering, weeding, pruning, mixing soil and other gardening duties. Almost all the work is done by hand.

In addition, the club’s Community Supported Agricultural Project will have 10 members this year. These members support the garden by paying a fee, and every week for 10 weeks, they receive a share of the produce. Each pays $350, of which $150 is a donation to make produce available to food-insecure people. Members also participate in the distribution process by manning the tables every week to help pass out food to the other members.

The club will have a farm stand in low-income areas of Middletown and can accept food stamps. Everything that doesn’t sell will go to soup kitchens.

The Long Lane Farm has more than 80 vegetables and herbs grown in the two-year-old organic garden. This includes tomatoes, broccoli, kale, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, corn, beans, eggplants, zucchini, pumpkins, squash. New this year will be a garlic crop.

The Wesleyan students have already planted seedlings inside their student residences. Once it’s warm enough, they will replant the seedlings into the garden.

This summer the student farmers plan to hire four interns to work on the farm. Since the farm doubles as an educational tool for the community, the Long Lane Farm has partnered with Snow Elementary School in Middletown to get kids out in the farm to work, play, learn about farming and plants, and taste-test a few vegetables.

In 2004, Rachel Lindsay ’05 planted the first crops in a circular-shaped plot. Local residents rounded out the corners with garlic and potato gardens, among several flower beds. Lindsay, Rachel Ostlund ‘06 and other Wesleyan students later planted a tomato and broccoli garden, among rows of Swiss chard, pumpkins and squash.

“I just love that Long Lane Farm is a totally student-run farm, so that we get a chance to see and participate in all of the aspects of running it,” Thomson says.

The Long Lane Farm is funded by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, the Rockfall Foundation and personal donations. It relies on donations to pay summer interns and make the garden possible.

For more information or to make a donation to the Long Lane Farm, e-mail longlanefarm@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Student-Athlete Breaks Team Record for Hits


Baseball player Jeff Maier ’06 has received national media attention this month for breaking Wesleyan’s career hits record.

Posted 04/17/06
Jeff Maier ’06 a government major and third baseman on the varsity baseball team set the all-time record for most hits in a career against Bates College on April 12. During the game he finished 2-for-3, doubling twice, to give him 170 career hits. Prior to the game he posted four of the Cardinals’ 13 hits during a double-header with Middlebury at home April 9 to tie Bill Robinson ’03 for the team lead in career hits with 168.

Maier’s achievement has been chronicled in more than 35 newspapers in the United States and Canada, including a front-page story in The New York Times. He has also been featured on local news and ESPN.

The New York interest is particularly acute since Maier gained a measure of fame there 10 years ago for catching a ball hit by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees during the American League Championship game. The ball was headed for the glove of a Baltimore Orioles player but Maier’s reach-over catch made it a home run and the Yankees went on to win the American League Pennant and the World Series.

As of April 13, Maier ranks first on the squad with a .404 batting average. Wesleyan won the game, beating Bates 14-2. Baseball has been played at Wesleyan since 1865 when the university played its first game, which was against Yale University.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations and Brian Katten, director of Sports Information

Department Assistant Has Flair for Photography


Roslyn Carrier-Brault, administrative assistant for the Chemistry Department, also works as a digital photography instructor at Green Street Arts Center.
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: What keeps you busy in the Chemistry Department?

A: I never have two days that are the same and I enjoy the variety of my work. I work directly with the professors and students, and I have many skills and abilities that aid me to be flexible and detail oriented to whatever tasks comes my way. I work a lot with my computers and keep in touch with all that happens here at Wesleyan University through emails and memorandums. I work with an open door policy, people come first and paperwork second, so I tend to work longer hours at the end of the day to stay on top of deadlines, campus and departmental projects, and coordinating departmental events.

Q: What led you into this position?

A: I first came to Wesleyan in November of 2000 as a temp. I returned to Wesleyan in March 2001 as a floating temp, and in July, I was hired to work in the Department of Finance and Administration as an administrative assistant. I became a permanent employee in December 2001, when I was hired by Philippa Coughlin, director of the Office of Behavior Health as the department’s secretary. It was by Dr. Coughlin’s suggestion that I apply for the full-time opening in the Chemistry Department and my first day at my current position was August 3, 2003. I totally, love my position as the AA for chemistry. It offers me a wide variety projects and I enjoy working with the faculty and students.

Q: What are some of your job duties?

A: My responsibilities include preparing the agenda for the monthly meetings between the Chemistry department staff, the building manager, the stockroom support staff and the chair of the Chemistry department; overseeing the department budget; working with Payroll and Human Resources to oversee employee payroll; scheduling the workload of two undergraduate student workers; maintaining the Chemistry’s Web site, providing administrative support to faculty for grant applications; among several other duties in the office. Also, I designed an Access database that assists me in managing important departmental records and budget reports. Overall, I provide support for 16 professors, four staff, 31 student teaching assistants, 27 chemistry majors, 39 graduate students and a few research associates and postdoctoral fellow.

Q: You also coordinate the annual Peter Anthony Leermaker’s Symposium.

A: The 34th Leermakers Symposium is planned for May 11 this year, and the program title is “Challenges to Chemistry from Other Sciences.” Michael Frisch, visiting scholar in chemistry, is the 2006 chairman. Also, this year I am facilitating a new event. The Department of Chemistry is hosting the Student Awards for the Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society on April 29.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

A: The long learning curve. It took me one academic year to learn all the various aspects and job responsibilities of being an administrative assistant in an academic department. I have a passion for learning and this position keeps me on my toes, there never is time to feel bored, and I enjoy working with my faculty, students, co-workers and the Wesleyan community at large.

Q: Do you have a personal interest in chemistry?

A: In 2005, I audited David Westmoreland’s Introduction to Chemistry and it opened my mind to the vast subject called, “chemistry.” Finally, I can understand the periodic table. I am amazed and inspired by the dedication that the professors and students have to excellence in their research and teaching assignments.

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

A: I worked for the San Diego Symphony, as the assistant to the director of Copley Symphony Hall. I coordinated events and rentals for the San Diego Symphony and Symphony Hall Promotions.

Q: Where did you attend college?

I have an associate’s degree in liberal studies and fine art from Middlesex Community College, an associate’s in photography/art from Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, California. I plan to complete a master’s in art from the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

Q: You’re also a teaching artist for Wesleyan’s Green Street Arts Center.

A: Anna Milardo, administrative assistant in physics, knew that I am a photographer asked me to photograph Green Street’s open house/reception for the Saint Sebastian School. It was in the planning committee for this event, that Ricardo Morris asked if I would be interested in teaching at GSAC. This resulted me teaching a digital photography classes for the After School Program, photo club for the After School Program and introductory to digital photography for adults.

Q: Tell me about your recent photo exhibition, “Divine Intersections,” at Green Street?

A: My current exhibition presents images that are essentially inspired by intuitive guidance and inner reflection upon the things that are familiar to me from my childhood and adult experiences. I have been intertwining photographic images taken of the natural world with scanned images of other forms of life such as plants and animals. My favorite images are restful, reflective, and build a sense of union between the mind, body and spirit connection (an example of Roslyn’s photography is seen in the image above-right).

Q: I take it this wasn’t your first show.

A: My first show was in 1996 and I have had several exhibitions in San Diego. In Connecticut, I have exhibited various art and photography shows through the Shoreline Artist Association, the Tracy Arts Center and the Essex Artist Association, and Face Arts Music in Deep River, Connecticut. My husband, William Brault is a gifted sculpture and painter and co-curates all of my photographic exhibitions. He is a talented custom framer and trained exhibition designer so it a perfect creative partnership.

Q: Have you volunteered your artistic abilities at any other non-profits?

A: In Connecticut, I have volunteered for arts organizations such as the Shoreline Arts Association, Images 2000 and 2001; Tracy Art Center in Old Saybrook and I am an active board member of the Friends of the Davidson Arts Center. In San Diego, I was an active volunteer for the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Holistic AIDS Response Program, The AIDS Foundation and with Grossmont College Student Exhibitions and Workshops.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Guitarist Brings Musicians from around the World to Expose Wesleyan Students to New Styles, Cultures


Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher, just released his third CD, “Desde El Alma – Tango Classics.” The Turkey native performs internationally.  (Photo contributed by Steve Savage)
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: Cem, how long have you been a private lessons teacher of guitar for Wesleyan’s Music Department?

A: I started to teach at Wesleyan in September 2003 right after finishing my advanced studies at The Juilliard School.

Q: How many student guitarists do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: I have about 10-12 students each semester. I am trying to increase the number of students, especially by encouraging good players to come to Wesleyan to begin with. I am proud of my students; they are all talented. Some of my current students will perform on April 7 at the Chapel Concert Series at noon.

Q: In addition to private lessons, what opportunities are there for budding guitarists on campus?

A: The most important one is our student guitar organization called “WesGuitars“, established last semester. We get together once every two weeks, play guitar and socialize. I encourage our guitarists to perform on various occasions such as the Chapel Series. Soon I will find venues in downtown Middletown are and other towns for concerts.

I am also working to bring guitarists from around the world to the campus so that all the guitarists at Wesleyan community could be exposed to their style and their cultures. Last year we had Carles Pons from Spain and Uros Dojcinovic from Serbia. This year so far we had a visit by Marcos Puña from Bolivia. The first guest invited by WesGuitars itself will be Spanish guitarist Juan Jose Saenz. He will give a concert of Spanish Music in Crowell Concert Hall on April 9.

Q: When did you first take an interest in classical guitar? At what age did you know you had a “knack” for the instrument?

A: I first heard the instrument at the age of 10. My cousin had already been playing it. Each time I would visit, he would let me try his guitar and show me techniques. I fell in love with the guitar the moment I touched it. I did not really have to hold and play; just touching the strings, making a sound and listening to it one by one was magical for me. Soon after, I started to take lessons. I remember asking my cousin to make copies of some difficult pieces and him saying “they are too difficult for you now.” During one of our family visits, I took the opportunity to hand copy them and surprised him few months later by playing them to him. Afterwards we did many concerts as a duo together.

Q: What is the ‘classical’ guitar?

A: Classical guitar refers to a nylon string acoustical guitar. In most cases this name seems to imply –wrongly- that it is used for classical music only. With this instrument one can play almost any type of music from anywhere in the world in addition to the Western Classical Music, which is the source of its name. However, in most places outside the U.S., when someone mentions the word “guitar” alone, they usually refer to the classical guitar. This is, after all, the original instrument just like violin and piano. I started directly with the classical guitar unlike many of my students and professional performers that I have met in the U.S. who first learned to play other types of guitar.

Q: Please elaborate on the guitar’s sound. Why does it appeal to you?

A: I think the main aspect of classical guitar sound is its warmth because of which the instrument lends itself to the performance of emotionally elaborate polyphonic music. The warmth comes from the nylon strings and the right hand fingernails. This combination provides the optimum sound and technique for bringing out the human emotions in almost any type of music in the world, as a soloist. Another peculiarity of the classical guitar is the way it is held. I think it is the only instrument that is “embraced” and held directly on ones heart. No wonder many classical guitarists are in love with their instruments!

Q: In 1990, you came to the United States from your native country, Turkey. What led you to the States?

A: The U.S. graduate education system is the best in the world. After staying in Turkey I wanted to get advanced degrees here and was able to get full scholarships in California. It is also important to get exposure to new repertoire, different approaches to music and participate in the classes of well-established musicians. All these opportunities widely exist in the U.S. At first I did not intend to stay, but after about six years, San Francisco started to feel like home as much as my home in Turkey.

Q: You recently released your third CD, “Desde El Alma – Tango Classics,” which is quite a style change from your first album, “Pièces de Viole”, which consists of gamba music by French baroque composer Marin Marais; and your second CD “Contemporary Music for Guitar.” What inspired you to change your musical interest for the third CD, and what type of audience is attracted to your music?

A: When making CDs I concentrate on a project and spend most of my energy to do the necessary research to understand the music and the culture that created it. Having studied at a French school for seven years in Turkey and having learned the language at the age of 11, I had a natural interest in the French Baroque music. This background and the music of the famous movie “Tous Les Matins du Monde” led to the first CD. The second CD is a reflection of my interest in supporting the creation of new music by playing works of emerging composers.
My third CD “Tango Classics” is my most recent project. I got involved in tango through the music of well-known composer Astor Piazzolla. He called his compositions “Nuevo Tango” or new tango, which had been disliked by traditional tango dancers. I wanted to explore what “old tango” was and its relation to the dance. When I was living in San Francisco I tried some tango dance lessons and quickly became addicted to the dance itself. Later I realized that there is a great collection of authentic tango music created by well-educated Argentine musicians and tango orchestra leaders. My CD is a compilation of various tangos that I like dancing to. Now I am looking forward to working on a new project.

Q: You’re an international artist. Where have you performed recently?

A: I’ve recently performed at the Weill Recital Hall/Carnegie Hall in New York, and in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, France, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Serbia-Montenegro and the U.S. in various guitar festivals and concert series. I have also appeared as soloist with the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, the equivalent of New York Philharmonic there. Last year I was invited to the Istanbul Festival in Turkey, one of the biggest and most prestigious in Europe. There I collaborated with gamba player John Dornenburg and harpsichordist Yuko Tanaka to play the music of the 14th Century French Court.

Q: You’ve received critical acclaim in international magazines such as American Record Guide, Fanfare, Classics Today, Classical Guitar and BBC Music. The students you teach must feel honored to work with a famous musician!

A: I sometimes do feel famous! Nowadays, due to globalization it is ever more difficult to be individually recognized; there are so many musicians, so many CDs. However I have been working very hard to increase my output, and contribute to the music world. My students appreciate it; it is always exciting and inspiring to work with someone who has international experience and is a role model. I have to say it feels really good all of a sudden to hear your own CD played on NPR when driving, and felt very strange first time, when someone recognizes you having read an article or when someone stops you on the street and says he was at your concert. I think this aspect of music is very rewarding.

Q: Where are your degrees from?

A: I have a master’s of arts in composition from Stanford University, and another master’s degree in guitar performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I later completed my graduate guitar studies at The Juilliard School with Sharon Isbin, a Grammy award winner.

Q: Do you write your own music?

A: Although I have extensively studied composition, I enjoy performing much more. Therefore I don’t compose much at all nowadays. However my compositional skills come very handy for arranging music to the guitar. Prime examples are on my French Baroque CD and the Tango CD. I have various collaborations with other composers. Some of them send their music to me, and I try to feature a new composer in every recital I play. I also commission music particularly written for me. One of these is a guitar concerto called “In and Out of Blue” by Robert Strizich. With Angel Gil-Ordonez, his Ensemble of the Americas and I are planning to perform this in the fall.

Q: You have an upcoming recital in Hartford on April 15 in conjunction with the Connecticut Classical Guitar Society, and another performance in New York May 27. What will you perform at these concerts?

A: The Connecticut Classical Guitar Society is one of the biggest in the U.S. I will be playing in their concert series on April 15. This program will include selections from my tango and baroque CDs as well as music from Rodrigo, Tárrega, Bach and Giuliani, composers well known to guitar audiences.

The concert in Merkin Hall/New York is part of an annual Turkish Cultural Festival organized by the Moon and Stars Project. It is titled “A Mediterranean Journey” and will include music from Turkey, Greece, Israel and Spain as well as tangos and Broadway favorites. In this performance I will be collaborating with a wonderful Greek/American soprano Demetra George.

Q: What are your interests and hobbies aside from music?

A: My main hobby has been dancing tango for many years. After I did my first tango lesson in San Francisco I studied with most of the well-known Argentine Tango dancers. In San Francisco, I used to go dancing three nights a week. In Connecticut there are some venues for dancing tango, but many more are in New York and I go there every now and then to dance.

Q: For more information, where can people find you online?

A: My Web site is http://www.duruoz.com/
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor.

Study Gives Teeth to Leaf Activity


Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, researched why pointy-leafed plants are more common in colder climates.

Posted 04/01/06
Smooth or pointy – is there a reason?

If that question refers to a leaf, a study by a Wesleyan researcher may have an answer that includes some cold facts about sap flow and the weather.

The study by Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer and featured in a recent issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences looks at the characteristics of plants with pointy leaves versus smooth-leafed plants and finds the difference is more than just cosmetic.

The pointy or “toothed” leaves contain high concentrations of xylem, a type of tissue that facilitates the transportation of the plant’s sap, which is rich with nutrients and water. The water then evaporates from the leaves causing the plants to draw up even more sap.

“The result is a greater rate of sap flow earlier in the spring,” says Royer. “The process apparently helps to jumpstart the plants’ photosynthetic season.”

This may explain why so many trees and other plants in colder climates have pointy leaves.

“The colder the climates generally have shorter growing seasons so the greater rate of sap flow is very beneficial to these plants,” says Royer. “The trade-off is that there is a higher rate of water loss among these plants. So there still needs to be sufficient rain during the growing season.”

Royer and co-author Peter Wilf from Pennsylvania State University performed the study by analyzing the moisture transpiration and photosynthesis activity of more than 60 woody species in two decidedly different regions: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They found that photosynthesis and transpiration activity increased by as much as 45 percent among toothed-leafed plants during the first 30 days of the growing season. The analogous rates of smoothed-leafed plants in the same regions were significantly less.

The findings, while not definitive, certainly provide yet another example of nature’s ability to adapt to varying conditions. However, Royer adds that, in this case, there could be negative implications with climate change.

“It’s very speculative, but most of these toothed leaf trees are hardwoods that, along with their environmental benefits, also carry economic value,” Royer says. “It would not take a large rise in average temperatures during the growing season to put point-leaf plants at a competitive disadvantage.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

No Break this Spring: Wesleyan Students Donate Time-Off to Help Others


At right, Jessica French Smith ’09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. She was one of more than 100 Wesleyan students who volunteered their spring break time to help others around the nation and world.

Posted 04/01/06
Jane Maxson ’06 spent her spring break on the gulf coast; however she wasn’t sporting a sun hat and flip-flops on the beach. Equipped with a hammer, nails and tool belt, Maxson spent her time-off school volunteering for hurricane relief efforts.

Maxon was one of over 100 Wesleyan students and faculty volunteering world-wide during break.

Helping the Hurricane Victims

Maxon and 50 other students, many of whom are Wesleyan Christian Fellowship members, teamed up with “Willing Hearts, Helping Hands,” a Christian ministry aiming to rebuild 200 houses in hurricane-affected areas. The students left March 11 and returned March 18. They aided victims on the Mississippi coast.

As part of their project, the Christian Fellowship members sought to explore the intersections of faith and service, specifically how faith motivates service.

“We spent the days doing relief work and the evenings discussing the Christian motivation for serving the poor, the idea of meeting needs in a holistic way and the specific cases and challenges associated with Hurricane Katrina,” explains Jane Maxson ’06. “I had a fantastic time, and I don’t think I could have had a more enjoyable time doing anything else.”

Another 50-plus students went directly to the hurricane’s path of wrath in New Orleans. They were housed in and around a Catholic school in the hardest-hit Upper Ninth Ward that had been converted into a base of operations for the organization they worked for, Common Ground Relief. Some students slept in classrooms, while others slept in tents outside.

Brian Thorpe ’07 spent nine days in the shattered city armed with crowbars, shovels,
and wheelbarrows, doing what he could to help clean-up and rebuild. He went there desensitized by the images on television. However, his perceptions changed when he came face-to-face with reality.

“Untold amounts of people in neighborhoods are still suffering from the effects of Katrina,” Thorpe says. “The raw truth is that seven months after the hurricane there is still precious little being done by the state, local, and especially federal government to rebuild the city and help the poorer citizens of the area to get back on their feet. Yet while I came back from New Orleans frustrated and disheartened, I still felt hopeful to see so many people my own age giving up their time and money to go down and help.”

Developing Wesleyan Partnership in Nicaragua

Jessica French Smith ’09, Kevin Young ’07, and Octavio Flores, adjunct associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures went to Nagarote, Nicaragua as part of Wesleyan in Nicaragua (WIN) organization for 10 days. WIN is partnered with The Norwalk-Nagarote Sister City Project and together, the groups planned and to participated in community service activities which benefit the people of Nagarote.

The trio stayed for 10 days, living with local families, researching for future Wesleyan initiatives, meeting with teachers, members of the Ministry of Education and the Norwalk/Nagarote
Sister City Project Directiva. They worked with preschool students, delivered material aid to the classroom, and worked on creative projects with a group of at-risk high school age group in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town.

This was French Smith’s third time going to Nicaragua to do service work, and she’s already promised to return next year.

“Knowing that there are people all over the world living in horribly unjust conditions keeps me working hard to take advantage of the resources available to me and to use these resources to help others as much as possible,” she says. “Besides, it’s a much more satisfying alternative to Cancun. I don’t think anyone cries when they leave Cancun because they are going to miss their host family, or because they couldn’t stay longer and work harder.”

French Smith says there is a lot of potential for other Wesleyan students to work in help, even remotely. The group met with met with community leaders, teachers and members of the Board of Education and found that in the future there is a definite need for both didactic and consumable teaching materials. She hopes students can help with the development/fundraising for these materials.

French Smith says this was not a one-time kind of trip, but rather one designed toward building an ongoing relationship necessary to successful service work.

“I met so many incredible and loving people in Nicaragua and I learned a lot about myself and my personal philosophies concerning service-work,” French Smith says. “I definitely know that it is something all Wesleyan students should have to opportunity to get involved in, work for, and experience in the future and this is something I’m going to be working toward back on campus.”

Building Homes in South Carolina

A dozen students involved with Wesleyan Habitat for Humanity went to Georgetown, South Carolina to help build a Habitat House for nine days. Georgetown is a rural, poor area on the South Carolina coast with a large population of people living in substandard housing.

Mark Purser ’08 says the tip allowed several students who had never been to the South to experience its unique culture.

“The trip’s purpose was to give students an opportunity to spend their spring break participating in community service as well as learn about substandard housing and poverty in America,” he says.

The student worked on two Habitat houses, constructing and raising interior walls, sheeting the exterior walls and installing insulation.

Improving Children’s’ Lives in Mexico

In addition, nine students traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico over spring break to participate in a community service project. The helped build a structure that will house “Cala y Emes,” a group in Oaxaca whose mission is to help young people with special needs develop skills to enter the work force. This is a brand new organization that hopes to not only improve the lives of the kids they support, but also to educate/re-program the Oaxacan community about people with special needs.

The Wesleyan students helped clear donated land, poured the building’s foundation, and installed sinks, drainage and other necessities.

Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, director of the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism at Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships is impressed by the diverse range of projects dealing with economic development, hurricane relief, housing and long-term partnership building. She hopes to work with the students to share their experience for the entire Wesleyan community.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the interest, motivation and dedication of the students organizing and going on the trips,” Crimmins Lechowicz says. “These immersion experiences can have a powerful impact on student’s perspective on issues.”

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Track Coach Teaches Students about the Hurdles in Life


Walter Curry, head track and field coach, says he loves to make a difference in his student-athletes’ lives.
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: When did you become the head men’s and women’s track coach?

A: I started coaching at Wesleyan in December of 2002.

Q: You are a U.S.A. Track and Field Level II certified coach in sprints, hurdles and jumps. At Wesleyan are these what you specialize in?

A: My first three seasons with the team I coached just the sprints, long, triple and high jumps. I was lucky enough to have a really good part-time hurdle coach and a very good part–time pole vault coach.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, you worked for eight years as an assistant track and field coach at Boston College. There, you had success coaching three Division I All-Americans and numerous Big East all-conference and all-New England athletes. What led you to Wesleyan?

A: I landed at Wesleyan because I was given a chance to be a head coach and lead a track program. I learned a great many things about track; coaching; administration; people; and just life while I was at Boston College. I really loved it there and I had some wonderful experiences, but it was time for me to see if I could do things on my own.

Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? Were you a track star there?

A: I got my degree in journalism from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Go Cyclones! I worked in TV for five years before I got into coaching. And yes, I was a student-athlete on the track team at ISU. I was pretty good, not what you would call a ‘superstar’ but my name is still on the top 10 list in the hurdle events. And it’s been a while since I graduated.

Q: Why did you decide ultimately to become a track coach? Is your position rewarding?

A: It is what I think I was meant to do. What can you say about being able to do something you love with people who feel the same way you do, like the coaching staff and athletes, and get to mentor and share in the growing experience of all the student-athletes that come through your program? The best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them or they learned from their relationship with me, and the rest of their teammates made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important.

Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?

A: I teach Beginning Strength Training and Beginning Fitness. I enjoy helping students here on campus improve their health and fitness.

Q: When did you begin running and when did you realize you wanted to pursue racing? Were you ever a cross-country runner or are you more of a sprinter?

A: I started running track in the seventh grade and started hurdles in eighth grade. As for cross-country, no way. I will run no farther than the 800-meter!

Q: Who are your key student-athletes this season?

A: Distance runner Ellen Davis. Our best steeple chaser is Owen Kiely. The 400m runner would be Stephanie O’Brien. The triple jumper is Sam Grover. These are just some of the athletes who we depend on.

Q: What lessons do you stress to the students?

A: We ask all of our athletes to first, commit to our program; second, work hard; third, be accountable to the coaching staff and your teammates; fourth, manage their time well; and fifth, they need to have a love for track and field.

Q: I understand that you have produced an instruction video on hurdling?

A: My college track coach, Bill Bergan called me up and asked me if I could do him a favor. Coach Bergan was, and is still, a wonderful person and mentor. I jumped at the chance to help him out. His favor was to conduct a video clinic on the common errors and mistakes that happen when young track athletes are learning to hurdle. To make a long story short, everything turned out great and today I still have people tell me that they used my tape or have heard about it. Yes, I am in the video, but only as a coach.

Q: You have been a clinician for hurdle events at the Brown University Track and Field Camp, and you worked with the New England High School Track and Field Coaches Clinic. Why do you do this, and what do you hope participants get out of your teaching?

A: My answer is the same as before; the best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important and I was able to help them reach a personal goal.

Q: You have three children. Do you encourage them to get involved in athletics?

A: At this point in my life, my main interest is in my family. My kids are involved in lots of activities so my wife and I try to go and support their interest. My daughter is on her high school’s dance team. I coach my oldest son’s Pop Warner football team. My youngest child is a pretty good little soccer player. Plus there is baseball, dance class, summer camp, family trips, and other things. So all I do is try to be positive and help them find the joy in sports. I stress fun, hard work, commitment, sacrifice and pride.

Q: What is your coaching strategy for your own children?

A: I do have one rule for my kids when it comes to activities. If you start it, you finish it! No quitting in the middle of anything. If you really don’t like what you’re doing, once you are finished with it, you don’t have to do it again.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Associate Registrar Says Technology is always Changing in the Office


Beth Labriola, associate registrar, is responsible for daily office operations, the drop/add system, the grade entry system, transfer credit articulation and the diploma process.
 
Posted 04/01/06
After 14 years working in the Office of the Registrar and Office of Graduate Student Services, Beth Labriola says every day at Wesleyan is just as exciting.

“I’m constantly being challenged, and because of these challenges, I have really been able to grow,” she says from her office in North College. “There’s always something new going on here.”

Labriola, associate registrar, came to the university in 1992 as an administrative assistant in the Office of the Registrar. From there, she moved into the Office of Graduate Student Services and returned to the Registrar’s Office in 1998. She was promoted to associate registrar in 2004.

The Office of the Registrar oversees all student records in support of enrollment, course registration, academic history, and transcript maintenance, among other student and faculty data services.

As the associate registrar, Labriola is responsible for overseeing many of the daily operations in the office. Her staff of four handles classroom assignments, enrollment verification, the grading process, the Honors Program and transcript production. She frequently meets with the student deans to discuss student records or run reports for them, and she’s also available to talk to any students who pop in her office with questions.

“Beth is a wonderful registrar who possess the right personality for the job,” says Registrar Anna van der Burg, who has worked with Labriola for six years. “Her knowledge of the University is a real asset to our Office and she is great to work with.”

Labriola is constantly working with technologies to better the processes for students, faculty and the office. In 2004, she helped design and implement the electronic grade entry system. Through this method, faculty enter grades electronically through their faculty portfolios instead of submitting them on paper for data entry.

“The process has minimized data errors, speeding up the amount of time it takes to get grades into the system and displayed to students,” she says. “Faculty no longer have to trudge over to North College or Public Safety after hours to submit their grades, and they can enter grades anywhere that there is internet access,” she says.

Labriola works closely with van der Burg, and Heather Alderfer, assistant registrar. They are all currently are working with Information Technology Services to implement a new pre-registration system, scheduled to be in use in April. This system, which evolved from faculty and student input, will replace the online registration system that was in place for the past 10 years.

Labriola is learning the new system inside and out so she can write the system’s training manual. This user-friendly document will be available to all students and faculty, online to download as a PDF. Once this system is complete, Labriola will immediately begin her next project – developing a system so students and alumni can request their transcripts online. Students currently need to download a form and fax it to the office, or deliver it in person.

“It’s just amazing how technology has changed the way our office operates directly,” Labriola says. “When I started here, everything was on paper, and now students and faculty can do everything from scheduling classes to entering grades through their electronic portfolios. It’s a very exciting time for our office and for the university.”

The electronic method also decreases the chance of error in data recording.

Although much of the Registrar’s Office work is done online, there is still one task that will always be done face to face: diploma distribution. Labriola and her staff oversee the printing of the diplomas and hand them out during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

“It is so much fun to hand out the diplomas to students that I’ve been in contact with over the past four years,” she says.

Labriola says her work study job in college led her to want to follow a career path that involved students and record keeping. While studying communication and theater arts at Western Connecticut State University, she worked at the university’s Continuing Education Office. She graduated in 1991, and went on to receive a master’s of art in liberal studies from Wesleyan in 2002.

She also empathasizes with the incoming international exchange students. As a child, Labriola spent three years living in Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and in high school, she lived with a family in Turkey as an exchange student.

“Many of the new international students are nervous when they get here, and I can really identify with them,” she says. “I love talking with them.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Fire Specialist Focuses on Safety, Preventive Measures, Education


Barb Spalding, associate director of Campus Fire Safety, teaches Annalisa Kelly ’08 how to use a fire extinguisher in a set-up drill. Spalding hopes to teach all students on campus how to use the devices.
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: Barb, how did you work your way up to the associate director of Campus Fire Safety?

A: I started in November 2003, as a consultant, hired by Joyce Topshe, the assistant vice president of facilities to do a fire/life safety study of the undergraduate residences. In April 2004 I was hired as a fulltime employee as associate director, project manager in Construction Services. When Physical Plant reorganized in the summer of 2005, my title changed to associate director of Campus Fire Safety.

Q: This is a new position, correct?

A: It was the Physical Plant reorganization that prompted the new position. We all realized that there are significant fire and life safety issues at Wesleyan, especially in our housing, and there wasn’t a single point person or department to address all the issues.

Q: What is your goal as a campus fire safety specialist?

A: My goal is to educate as many people as possible in the things we can all do to make our environment as safe as possible. Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home. Practice what to do in the event of an emergency. Know as much as you can about the building systems or features that are intended to keep you safe. And pay attention wherever you are to your environment and ways for you and yours to be safe.

Q: What are you working on lately?

A: I started with a study in 2003, identifying projects that would increase the fire safety for students in undergrad housing. We got the Trustees approval last May for the Foss Hill fire sprinkler/fire alarm project as well as for a project to install fire sprinkler systems in all the wood frame and Program Housing with five beds or more. That is 46 wood frame houses and 11 program houses that didn’t have fire sprinkler systems and are in long-term locations. So I am managing those installations – this summer eight houses are getting new fire sprinkler systems as part of Major Maintenance projects, and seven others as part of the undergrad fire sprinkler project. The rest will be covered over the next three summers.

Q: What else have you worked on?

A: I managed a project to install carbon monoxide detectors in undergrad residences that use oil or gas fuel for heat. I wrote new specifications for installations of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems on campus. I coordinated fire drills in student housing and for fire/life safety training for the Res Life staff. I have taken over the responsibility for I am working on a “Better Living” program for students in program houses and wood frames to introduce them to their house – here is the thermostat, here is the water shut-off for the toilet, here is a smoke detector, CO detector, sprinkler. I am also working on a Building Ambassador program for administrative and academic buildings to help occupants familiarize themselves with the fire/life safety issues in their workplaces. I also am updating a building database that includes all buildings on campus and has information about the type of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems, as well as building square footage, date and type of construction, occupancy, etc. We hope to use this data, and an updated campus map with software to have an intelligent campus map for everyone to use.

Q: Where did you acquire your knowledge on fire safety?

A: After 10 years of contracting, I applied for a job as a construction project manager at Northern Arizona University, where I had completed several jobs as a subcontractor. One of my biggest projects was to develop an inspection, test and repair program for the two dozen or so fire sprinkler systems in the residential buildings on campus. That led to a study of the fire alarm systems. Since Northern Arizona was a state institution, they did not fall under the jurisdiction of the local fire authorities and had serious lapses in the inspection, testing and maintenance of their systems. I worked with the campus fire marshal, the state fire marshal, the local fire department and other professionals and contractors to repair, replace and bring up to code the fire life safety systems on campus. I also attended classes at Arizona and received my degree in business and construction management.

Q: What laws or guidelines in fire safety must Wesleyan abide by?

A: We have to meet all local, state and federal laws pertaining to new and existing buildings. The state just adopted a bunch of new codes, some of which pertain to new buildings and construction and some pertain to existing buildings and renovation and use. I actually really like to study codes but this revision is really a challenge just to figure out which code applies to our specific cases. Considering we have a higher percentage of 25-plus year old buildings than our peer institutions, we have done an excellent job of keeping the buildings safe for people to live and work in.

Q: Environmental Health & Safety is in the process of holding fire drills in all buildings on campus. What is the purpose of these drills?

A: This is the next step in my safe buildings campaign. It is one thing to make the building safe, but there is always the people variable. We will be doing fire drills in all admin and academic buildings on campus, because generally people do not know how to respond during a fire alarm evacuation. If they remember what they learned in kindergarten, they will leave the building when they hear the bells. But as adults, most people forget that that is actually the law, not just a good idea. We will also be doing fire extinguisher training for anyone interested.

Q: If there is a fire, can you explain how employees should evacuate a smoky building?

A: Stay calm. If there is an alarm activation and you are in a room with the door closed, feel the door or handle first to see if it is warm, before opening the door. If there is smoke in the corridor, stay low to the floor where there is more air and head directly to an exit. If there is too much smoke, close the door to the room that you are in, but a towel or something at the bottom of the door to seal it, call 911 or x3333 to let someone know where you are. Open a window and signal to someone outside also. The Fire Department is very close to campus and will be on scene within five minutes max.

Q: Who else works on fire safety issues or environmental health and safety issues?

A: I report to Joyce Topshe and go over everything with her. I share an office with Bill Nelligan, associate director of Environmental Health and Safety and Chris Cruz, safety specialist, and Ricky Howard, EH&S project manager. I also work very closely with Residential Life staff.

Q: What are the biggest challenges your job poses?

A: How to balance safety with practicality. It defeats the mission of creating a safe campus, if procedures that are put in place are too restrictive and cumbersome. Then people are not only not being safe, but usually doing something really stupid to avoid doing the right thing. My goal is to have effective rules.

Q: Can you give an example of this?

A: For instance, string lights or “Christmas lights” used to be on the prohibited items list, but everyone had them and trying to hide them caused more of a problem. They are now allowed as long as they are plugged directly into the wall, since extension cords are still prohibited. There are still students who don’t get it that candles and incense cause fires and that is why they are prohibited. And smoking really isn’t allowed in any university buildings.

Fore information on fire safety can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/firesafety.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Fauver Takes First Place in Building Competition


First-year student relax in the Fauver Residence Hall lounge. The Fauver Field Residences were recently honored by the Connecticut Building Congress.

Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan’s Fauver Field Residences received a First Place Award in the 2006 Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) Project Team Awards competition. It placed in the New Construction category, and competed against other buildings, of which construction costs exceeded $10 million. Fauver’s construction began in August 2004 and the student residences were completed in September 2005. The CBC requests that projects submitted in the competition be located in Connecticut and substantially completed during 2005.
 
“We’re honored Fauver is setting a positive example for other new constructions in the state,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president of facilities. “A great deal of time and effort went into the planning, and it shows. It’s a lovely facility, and one that not only affords more students a comfortable place to live, it has made the campus more beautiful. This is something the entire Wesleyan community should be very proud of.
 
Each year, the Connecticut Building Congress looks for outstanding nonresidential building projects that exemplify project team excellence by representing building owners, architects, engineers and constructors. CBC’s goal is to recognize project team members who have adopted this close collaboration as an industry standard for improving a project’s quality.

A panel of judges is selected to include representation from each of the major disciplines that form the project team: owners, architects, engineers and constructors.

Susan Labas, associate and director of marketing for van Zelm Heywood & Shadford Inc. of West Hartford and CBC member says Wesleyan was judged for meeting the its budget and schedule constraints; documenting team cooperation and collaboration from conceptual design through project completion; having a team which approached the project’s unique challenges; and considerations made for the project’s social, economic or sustainable design.

Fauver Field Residences consist of two buildings on the corner of Vine Street and Cross Street. The units comprise of about 85,500 sq-feet. The Fauver Apartment Building houses 104 upperclass students and the Fauver Residence Hall for first-year students, houses 166 students. It opened for the 2005-06 academic year.

The Connecticut Building Congress was formed in 1952 and initiated the Project Team Award program 11 years ago to recognize and promote teamwork among participants in the construction process. Plaques will be presented during the CBC Awards Program in New Haven, Conn. May 18.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Science Explored through Series of Films, Discussion


Posted 04/01/06
In an ongoing initiative to increase connections between science and film at Wesleyan, a series of programs will be presented in April. This part of the series, arranged by Film Studies and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the last in the “Celebrating the Liberal Arts Tradition Through Film” program in which over 18 departments have participated.

This is the fifth semester the Film Studies Department has hosted the series of seminars, lectures, screenings and discussions.
 
“Film was born out of science, and now science is being reborn through film,” says Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of the Film Studies Department and curator of Cinema Archives. “Both film and science are about time and space and require the ability for acute observation. We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with our science colleagues.”
 
The programs are of particular interest to students enrolled in “Science and Film: Defining Human Identity,” taught by Bob Lane, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Scott Higgins, assistant professor of film studies.
 
The upcoming programs include:
 
“A “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program will begin at 5 p.m. April 10 with a screening of “CONTACT” from 1997, starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. It will be shown in The Goldsmith Family Cinema at 5 p.m. April 10.
 
Around 8 p.m. there will be a panel discussion led by Bryan Butler, staff scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and science advisor to the film; Fred Cohan, professor of biology at Wesleyan; and Peter Gottschalk, associate professor of religion at Wesleyan. Butler will comment on the “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program depicted in the film and for which radio wavelength observations have been a major component. He will also discuss his experiences as a science advisor to this film, and share his perspectives about the use of science in Hollywood film-making. 
 
Cohan will comment on the origins of life on this planet, and the prospects of finding life elsewhere in the universe. Gottschalk will discuss how empirical science has historically challenged both anthrocentric and theocentric views in Western cultures and religions, and compare how discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would mirror the Copernicus revolution.
 
Following the short presentations, the audience will be invited to ask questions and share perspectives on these topics. This event is open to the public.
 
The films and lectures are supported by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund; the Fund for Innovation; the Deans of Divisions I, II, and III; the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; the Astronomy Department; the Film Studies Department and the Cinema Archives.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement


Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan will commemorate its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremonies May 25-28. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.

John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University will give the principal address at commencement and will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony.

In addition, Wesleyan will award honorary doctors of letters to Mary O. McWilliams ’71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.

Franklin is an internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist. He has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President’s Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin’s numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.

McWilliams ’71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan.

Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P‘79 and Biff Shaw ‘51, P’79. As an alumni leader, Biff Shaw’s diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown. She played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.
 
The commencement ceremony is scheduled to be held on Andrus Field, where seating will be unlimited. President Doug Bennet invites all parent-educators to participate in the academic procession.

“This initiative was introduced at the 1997 commencement and is becoming a much-beloved tradition at Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “I look forward to welcoming everyone to Wesleyan on this wonderful occasion.”

Academic regalia will be worn by all who participate in the procession and can be ordered through the campus bookstore.

The Office of the Dean of the College will contact graduating seniors with information regarding graduation announcements and activities for Reunion and Commencement Weekend.