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Biophysics Journal Club Encourages Active Learning, Student Teaching


Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, teaches a lesson on probability to his peers during a Molecular Biophysics Journal Club class Feb. 7.
Posted 02/16/07
Alicia Every, a graduate student in chemistry, went to class last week not only to learn, but to teach.

She and the other 20 students taking the course, Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II, are expected to prepare a lesson on relevant course material and present a micro-lecture to their peers.

For 20 minutes she spoke, jotting equations on the chalkboard while explaining that heat is in random motion. She drew a gas molecule inside a box, and talked about its behavior at the molecular level, relating it to macroscopic systems such as in proteins and nucleic acids.

“What makes Journal Club different from a typical lecture is that we have some degree of freedom in our discussions,” Every says. “This allows us to not only focus on one particular topic, but to digress to other related topics that the class might feel necessary to cover in more detail. In a way, this allows the students to have control over the lecture.”

The Biophysics Journal Club is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and may be taken repetitively. Enrollment is unlimited, although it’s geared most closely for majors from chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry. The program will soon include a bioinformatics track in conjunction with the Center for Integrative Genomics and the Biology Department, and students from any Natural Sciences and Mathematics department are welcome.

Faculty participants in the Molecular Biophysics Program attend the class meetings and offer input when necessary; at least one faculty member is always present to lead the class.

“The idea of Journal Club is for students to learn about the cutting edge of science in this area outside of their own research project. This also provides students experience with discussion of diverse subject in the area, and to get some teaching experience by preparing short lectures and giving them to each other and the faculty,” explains one of the class instructor David Beveridge, the University Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and co-coordinator with Ishiuta Mukerji of the program. “Club is not quite the right word but is the local parlance for this kind of thing – a skull session, workshop, brainstorming session. Faculty serve as a resource and offer appropriate feedback. We are aware that various degrees of experience and language capabilities are in the mix so we expect to keep the class atmosphere friendly and constructive for students.”

Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II is a non-exclusive companion to Molecular Biophysics Journal Club I, which is held Fall Semester 2006. Biophysics Journal Club I is not a precursor to Journal Club II; each course has a different focus. In Journal Club I students lead active discussions of a series of current research articles in the field of molecular biophysics and biophysical chemistry. They read articles from the Biophysical Journal, Biopolymers, Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and the Annual Review of Molecular Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure.

Journal Club II focuses its attention on only one book. This semester it’s Biological Physics by Philip Nelson. This book, Beveridge explains, is highly regarded in the field and emphasizes understanding the principles and applications of biological molecules as molecular machines. Each student prepares their presentation based on one chapter, or part of a chapter, from the Nelson text.

“It will possibly take us two semesters to get through the whole book,” he says. “Students will find that preparing lectures is far more time consuming than they expected.”

The Journal Club is part of Wesleyan’s Biophysics Training Program, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an arm of the National Institute of Health (NIH). As part of this grant, the NIH requires that participating students receive ethical and quantitative training on the nature of their interdisciplinary area.

During the class, Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, provided a lesson on probability, to relate the distribution of molecules in their physical states to the likelihood of a molecule being in a specific state.

He took Journal Club I last semester to discuss current research that is outside his field of interest. In addition, he hopes improve his teaching ability.

“It is difficult to get in front of your peers and teach, but at the same time, it’s rewarding because they can give you insight on what was good about your lecture and what was bad,” he says.

While some of the students are less comfortable speaking in front of their classmates, it now comes naturally to Every, who has taken the Journal Club for 10 semesters, her entire graduate career.

“It is not difficult as long as you have some idea of your peers’ background knowledge,” she says. “I prefer Journal Club over a standard lecture course because it forces you to be an active learner. We usually spend 15-20 minutes in lecture and the rest is spent discussing or analyzing the topic. This requires you to learn the information as well as analyze and apply it to different systems.”

After graduating with a Ph.D., Every hopes to continue research in biophysics. She is considering a post-doctoral position. Moreno also plans to continue doing research and eventually wants to teach.

“I have not yet decided if I would like to be a professor, but either way, I think it is important that I have some experience teaching because it has trained me to clearly understand different topics as well as be able to put into words what I have learned,” Every says.

The Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is open to the campus community. Meetings are held 1:10 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the NSM Conference Room. For more information e-mail David Beveridge, Ishita Mukerji or Manju Hingorani.

Laure Dykas, a Ph.D candidate in chemistry said student guest lectures Andrew and Alicia did “an excellent job” teaching.

“I hope I can do as well,” Dykas says, smiling. “I give my presentation next week!”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Student’s Photography Accepted into Juried Show


This image by Ben Rowland ’08 will be on display at the Brooklyn Artists Gym Gallery.
Posted 02/16/07
During winter break, Ben Rowland ’08 traveled to Istanbul for a vacation with his cousins. A hobbyist photographer, he took several photographs. One of these has found a place in a New York gallery.

That image, titled, “The Man and the Mosque,” is now part of a group gallery show called: “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” at the Brooklyn Artists Gym (B.A.G) Gallery in Brooklyn. The opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24.

In “Man and the Mosque” Rowland captured a scene during a late-afternoon prayer time in the mosque. He wasn’t allowed to take photographs, but Rowland decided to capture the moment anyway.

“I put the camera on the floor and shot secretly,” he explains. “I took the shot on very long exposure – 20 seconds I think, and as a result, the lights inside appear as stars, and everything is in focus because of the enormous depth of field. Also because of the long exposure, the viewer can see through the subject, except for at his knees and feet, which were still as he prayed.”

This is Rowland’s first time exhibiting his work in a major art gallery or in a juried show. Applicants were allowed to submit up to three images; however the B.A.G. jurors were extremely selective.

Once in the show, photographers have the option of putting a price tag on their work. Rowland, pictured at right, has already sold prints to parents of Wesleyan students privately, and is hoping to push more sales form his newly-created Web site.

Rowland, who is pursuing a degree from the College of Social Studies, is the photography editor this semester for the Wesleyan Argus. He attends performing art, sports and general campus events, watching them all behind a lens. Several of his Wesleyan photos are posted on his Web site at http://www.benrowlandphotography.com.

He’s also photographed several bands and concerts, scenes from his travels in Istanbul, America, England, France and The Netherlands, and has done artistic portraits.
Incredibly, Rowland has only been a photographer for six months. He learned camera basics through months of constant practice and trial and error in Brooklyn where he lived over the summer.

The artistic ability to see interesting subjects behind the camera, however, comes natural for Rowland. He continues to experiment with different subjects.

“In the past few months I’ve been shooting, I’ve gone through many stages and I’ve watched and analyzed my progression,” he says. “I used to shoot only objects or things, and yet now I’ve moved almost exclusively to using photography as an anthropological tool. I love studying people in their environments.”

Rowland is still exploring what options to take after college, but he already has a few ideas in mind.

“I would enjoying doing work for The New York Times, while still pursuing personal artistic endeavors,” he says. “I would love to photograph a rock band or a war.”

The exhibit “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” will run from February 24 through March 4. BAG Gallery is located on the third floor of 168 7th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
For more information on the gallery visit www.brooklynartistsgym.com.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Part-Time Gym Job Leads to Alumnus’s Career after College


Casey Brown, building supervisor/manager, welcomes people to the Freeman Athletic Center and helps answer any questions they may have.
 
Posted 02/16/07
Q: Casey, what various roles do you have at the Freeman Athletic Center?

A: As a building supervisor/manager, I try to ensure that users of the facility are safe, welcomed, and as content as possible. I try to answer as many questions as possible, and create a friendly environment.

Q: You’re the friendly face that greets everyone when they come into the Freeman Athletic Center during the late afternoon hours. What do you like about this role?

A: You mean the friendly, handsome face, thank you. I enjoy the variety of people I am fortunate to come across everyday. It breaks down stereotypes. Not only that, I enjoy working with the people that I’ve gotten to know, like the student athletes. Some of them are very cool.

Q: You used to be one, yourself?

A: I did play basketball here at Wesleyan in 1996-97.

Q: When were you hired-in?

A:  I was hired in part-time in 1995 while I was an undergrad here at Wesleyan, and went full-time in 1998. I started here as the equipment room assistant, working with Bob Chiapetta, who was the National Equipment Manager of the Year.

Q: What did you study at Wesleyan and when did you graduate?

A: My concentrations were in African-American studies and history. I was living like a rock star on a roadie income, and it was worth every penny. I graduated in 1998 with my bachelor of arts. I wanted to get my master’s too, so I did while I was working here through the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. My concentration was in social studies and I graduated in 2001.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan?

A:  I’m from New York, New York, the metropolis of the world. I spent my first 12 years in Brooklyn and the rest in Queens. I attended New York Public Schools until 10th grade, when I left for Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. I visited Wesleyan twice before attending and felt that is was a good fit for me. Thirteen years later, I am still here.

Q: Has anything changed?

A: Actually, campus is now a lot cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing.

Q: At work, you’ve described your role as “the guy who can help get you what you need.” How so?

A: I’ve been around. I can usually save you time on your search if you just ask. Locations, people, general info, I got you.

Q: Do you know the Freeman Athletic Center building inside and out? Can you give an example of something about the building that no one else may know about? Any secret rooms?

A: I know it pretty well, not as well since the expansion. There is a room rumored to be underneath the deck of the pool. Apparently, you used to be able to set up a camera in there to critique the divers. True? I don’t know.

Q: Do you use the gym? If so, what facilities?

A: Yes, I use the all the facilities except the squash courts. I’m hoping to get out there soon though.

Q: Are you one of those people who live at the gym?

A: No, I don’t live in the gym, but I am here overnights sometimes. That’s another story.

Q: Who are the key people you work with at Freeman?

A: I usually work with Kate Mullen, head coach of women’s basketball; Richard Whitmore, associate athletic director and Bob Chiapetta, manager of intercollegiate operations.

Q: Last question. Red Sox or Yankees?

A: I won’t even dignify such a ridiculous question, or opinion. Boston? They’ve been a joke all my life. Sad really, perennial losers. Even Mets Fans have gotten off on Boston. Did you hear when I said New York is Metropolis of the world, and Gotham too. We are Superman and Batman.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

New Computer Cluster Will Improve Research Campus-Wide


From left, Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; and James Taft, assistant director of technology support services, look over the newly-installed 10-terabyte computer cluster at Information Technology Services.
Posted 02/16/07
It takes 10, 250-volt plugs to power up. It takes 9,000 BTUs to keep it cool. It can communicate 14 times faster than high-speed internet, and it has the potential to store more than 2.5 million MP3s.

But most important, this state-of-the-art high-performance computer cluster will offer both education and research opportunities for the university on a level which has never before been available. The cluster was installed this month, and will be connected to the entire Wesleyan network.

“This is going to change the way Wesleyan conducts research,” explains Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services. “This powerful computing cluster will offer advanced hardware and software resources for teaching strategies and research not specific to any one department or discipline.”

The high-performance cluster is made up of 288 central processing units from Dell, Inc. that work together as one machine. The unit has two functions – it can either split one computational task across several different computers for a faster result, or it can process dozens of tasks at one time.

Together, these units offer 10 terabytes of storage, equivalent to 10,000 gigabytes. A typical desktop computer has 150 gigabytes of disk space.

“It takes three to four terabytes to store all the information from the entire campus and this unit alone has 10,” explains Henk Meij, applications technology specialist, who is overseeing the cluster’s operation.

The cluster was funded by a $190,000 National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program grant, awarded in July 2006. The grant proposal was written by Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry; and Katherine Johnston, formerly an assistant professor of astronomy. Each is involved in computationally-intensive research.

In the past five years, four Wesleyan faculty set-up their own clusters. Of these, one is defunct, one is obsolete, and two are saturated and will soon be out of date. Starr, who is currently conducting research through this older, 80-unit cluster, will use the new cluster to benefit his own research on DNA-based nanomaterials and supercooled liquids. Since his work requires computer simulations that focus on molecular dynamics, the new cluster will drastically increase his ability for scientific computation.

“Now I will be able to get 288 answers in the time it would take to get one,” Starr explains, while rotating a visualization of the molecular structure of water on his Mac. “With the new hardware, I’ll be able to explore the assembly of new molecular structures on a much larger scale, helping the development of nanomaterials with customized properties.”

And since the unit will be maintained by ITS, Starr looks forward to spending less time maintaining his current cluster and more time doing research and spending time with students.

The cluster is a central resource so anyone can connect to it from their office or even home. Several Wesleyan faculty in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics have taken interest in the new computing unit, however it is not exclusive to NSM.

Rex Pratt, the Beach Professor of Chemistry, can use the cluster to make models of small molecules that bind to enzymes. Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science, can further his research of tumor development and treatment, using massively computation-intensive geometric computation simulations. Mark Flory, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, carries out comparative searches of proteomic data with corresponding sequence databases. Cluster facilities will enable him to greatly expand his studies from small samples analyzed on a single workstation.

Several other faculty researchers will immediately benefit as well.

In addition to faculty use, undergraduate and graduate students will have opportunities to conduct research with these machines. There are already established extramurally-funded research programs at Wesleyan in theoretical astrophysics, liquid state chemical physics, nanotechnology, quantum chemistry, molecular biophysics, and the emerging field of neuroinformatics and structural bioinformatics, all of which depend on high-end computing to be competitive. Courses that involve computers are offered in each of these areas.

“Now, students are limited to the computers at their labs,” Starr explains. “We need to teach students how to get access to the cluster and take advantage of what it can offer. There is no end in sight for what we can do.”

The impacts of the new cluster can be seen at : http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/2007/0207cluster2.html
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Former Professor Nelson Polsby Dies at 72


Posted 02/16/07
Nelson Polsby, renowned political scientist, died on February 6 at the age of 72. Polsby was a member of the Wesleyan faculty from 1961 through 1968, rising meteorically from the rank of assistant professor to full professor.

According to Karl Scheibe, professor emeritus of psychology, “Nelson left an indelible mark on Wesleyan, even though he was only here for seven years.”

Polsby was a prolific author of books and articles and editor of The American Political Science Review, the premier political science journal. Perspectives on Politics noted that Polsby ranked in the top ten of most frequently cited political scientists among those entering the field when he did.

In the early 1980s, Polsby was a visiting professor at the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., a private think tank that specialized in issues of defense policy and disarmament. Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet was the Roosevelt Center’s first president and he and Polsby remained life-long friends.

Nelson Polsby is survived by his wife, Linda, his children, and grandchildren.
 

Photo by Jane Scherr, University of California, Berkley.

Recycling Committee Boosting Efforts Campus-Wide


Used electronics, including computers, can be placed at the Exley Science Center’s loading dock on Pine Street for recycling.
Posted 02/16/07
The Wesleyan Recycling Program is increasing their efforts to make Wesleyan a leader in waste reduction and environmental responsibility.

“Recycling is required by law in Connecticut, and is the obligation of every member of the Wesleyan community,” explains Bill Nelligan, Wesleyan recycling coordinator.

Mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, metal and plastic are already picked up from sites all over campus and from Wesleyan housing. Wesleyan also collects aerosol cans, batteries, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, cell phones, motor oil, rubber-soled shoes, block or peanut-sized Styrofoam and clean textiles. Computers, monitors and other electronic equipment can be dropped off at Exley Science Center’s loading dock for recycling.

Ink and laser printer cartridges also can be recycled at Wesleyan. The recycling center for these items is located in Exley Science Center’s lobby. They can also be campus-mailed in a plastic bag to Bill Nelligan, Physical Plant, 170 Long Lane.

In addition, the committee has placed a new outdoor bin for bulky scrap metal located behind Physical Plant at 170 Long Lane. They also are working on a drop-off recycling center for compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury. These are currently recycled as “universal waste.” Meanwhile, these bulbs can be picked-up by a facilities electrician by calling 685-3400.

The recycling committee wants to assemble a listing of all the Wesleyan Community efforts supporting environmental sustainability. Contact Leslie Starr at lstarr@wesleyan.edu with a brief description or Web link of any projects.

For additional information on recycling, reducing and reusing, visit the http://www.wesleyan.edu/recycling,  or e-mail recycling@wesleyan.edu.

The committee is seeking new members to help their efforts, and is currently creating a new composting sub-committee. Call Bill Nelligan at 685-2771 for more information.

Wesleyan to Begin New Dining Contract


Bon Appétit Management Company will provide the meals for the new university center.
Posted 02/01/07
Wesleyan is finalizing an agreement with a new dining services provider, Bon Appétit Management Company, to begin a new dining contract as of July 1, 2007.

The new company will provide campus dining in the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, Summerfields, Pi Café, WEShop and campus catering.

“This was a difficult decision to make but also an exciting one,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration, and member of Wesleyan’s Dining Review Committee.

Bon Appétit says it cooks food from scratch with seasonal ingredients. The company aims to serve a wide variety of menu items at each meal, offering authentic and nutritious foods, even for vegetarian, vegan, kosher and international diners.

In addition, the new dining plan provides flexibility, including longer service hours and variety in meal plan options; and promotes sustainability and making socially responsible purchasing decisions in regards to produce, meat, seafood, eggs, coffee and disposable plates and service wear.

Bon Appétit’s proposal for the new campus dining program will maintain the current level of represented dining staff.

“Much of the success Bon Appétit can anticipate at Wesleyan will depend upon the many staff members who have been a part of campus dining for years,” Meerts says.

As the semester progresses, the Dining Review Committee will work with Bon Appétit to provide more detailed information about the future of campus dining.

Bon Appétit has agreed to have longer hours of operation to meet the varied schedules of students, faculty and staff. Summerfields will be open for lunch and dinner. Pi Café and WEShop will continue to operate hours similar to their current schedules.

While WesWings, Red and Black Café, Chic Chaque and Star and Crescent operate independently from the campus dining program, they will continue to offer alternative options in the upcoming year.

According to Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs and director of the university center, the second floor of the Usdan Center, known as The Marketplace, will offer All-You-Care-to-Eat meals seven nights a week, plus brunch on Sunday. During breakfast and lunch for the rest of the week, the Usdan marketplace will be open for retail dining. The café on the first floor of the Usdan Center will be open from 8 a.m. through late night seven days a week.

In addition, the Daniel Family Common, located on the third floor of Usdan, will serve as a faculty/staff dining room and be available for special events when not in use for residential dining.

“We are very excited that the Usdan Center and our campus dining program will bring together the Wesleyan community in so many new ways,” Culliton says. “The convergence of these significant changes will transform campus life for all of us.”

The Dining Review Committee met for six months with student focus groups. They relied on Wesleyan Student Assembly’s Concept for dining narrative, which helped frame their efforts. The review committee included Meerts; Culliton; Annie Fox ’07; Chris Goy ’09; Deana Hutson, director of events for University Relations; Estrella Lopez ’07; Peter Patton, vice president and secretary of the university; Nate Peters, associate vice president for Finance; Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for facilities; and Michael Whaley, dean of Student Services.

Aramark Campus Services will continue to serve the Wesleyan community throughout the spring semester. The campus community is grateful to the Aramark management team for all they have contributed to the campus over the years.

“We are excited about the challenges that lie ahead and look forward to working together to make Wesleyan’s dining program the very best it can be,” Meerts says. “Our goal is to be recognized by the campus community and by peer institutions as having a premier dining program.”

For more information on Bon Appétit, go to: www.bamco.com

PBS Broadcaster to be Commencement Speaker


Posted 02/01/07
Jim Lehrer P’85, anchor of Public Broadcasting Service’s “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” will be the featured speaker at Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement ceremony, which will be held on May 27, 2007.

Lehrer began his career at PBS in 1972 and partnered with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Watergate hearings. In 1975, the two men began anchoring “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” In 1983 the show became the nations first 60-minute television evening news program and was re-titled “The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.”

Lehrer has been honored with numerous journalism awards, including a Presidential National Humanities medal in 1999. During the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally-televised candidate debates.

An accomplished writer, Lehrer has written 15 novels; his latest, The Franklin Affair, was published in 2005 by Random House. He has also written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter Lucy Lehrer is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1985.

This year’s Reunion-Commencement Weekend, which will run from May 24-27, will also mark the finale of Wesleyan’s 175th Anniversary Celebration. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo courtesy of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

Poet Delivers Keynote Address at Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

 

Civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez speaks during Wesleyan’s Celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. event Jan. 30 in Memorial Chapel.
Posted 02/01/07
Poet, author and civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez delivered the keynote address during Wesleyan’s Celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. event Jan. 30. She met King in 1957 and shared excerpts of King’s speeches with an over-flowing audience in Memorial Chapel.

Often in poetic rhythm, Sanchez spoke about her own life and the troubles she and her family faced as being poor, black Americans. She emphasized her years in New York City, and explained her struggle for identity. She talked about her involvement in the Civil Rights movement. She shared her opinions on war and offered advice to the students.

“My brothers, my sisters. This is your century. Demand that this world moves forward in peace,” she said. “This is your country. This is your time. … Learn what it means to walk upright as a human being in the 21st century. What does it mean to be human? You got to ask yourself that question.”

In addition to Sanchez’s talk, Ruby-Beth Buitekant ’09 and Melanye Price, assistant professor of government, offered a reflection; The Roadside Girls (pictured at right) and Ebony Singers provided song, and Kevin Butler, associate dean of Student Services, welcomed the audience.

Following an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Wesleyan Baccalaureate Address June 7, 1964, President Doug Bennet delivered remarks on King Jr.’s history with Wesleyan.

To chronicle King’s visits, Bennet and staff consulted with several people who were part of the King era at Wesleyan and wanted to share their memories. Bennet thanked John Maguire, formerly a professor of religion at Wesleyan and president emeritus of the Claremont Graduate Schools; Willard McRae, an administrator at Middlesex Memorial Hospital, frequent adviser, and guide to Wesleyan students volunteering in Middletown; and Rick Tuttle, ‘62 who was a civil rights volunteer in Mississippi and Georgia in the summer of 1963.

The Wesleyan connection with King began when John Maguire joined the Religion Department at Wesleyan in 1960. As an 18-year-old student in Virginia, Maguire had by chance met and become a close friend of the then-21-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. who was studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. During the late 1950’s, King had begun coming to New England to speak and raise money for the civil rights movement. When he arrived at Bradley airport, Maguire, who was by then studying at Yale, would pick him up and drive him to his speaking engagements.

These weren’t King’s first visits to Connecticut. When he was 16, after his first year at Morehouse College, he spent a summer working in the tobacco fields near Hartford. He came north for the good pay and the chance to observe race relations in New England. King later reflected that he was elated to find that he could sit anywhere in a restaurant and order food.

In May, 1961, Maguire and his department chair, David Swift, joined the Freedom Riders. They were jailed briefly in Montgomery, and later met with King. Maguire invited King to preach at Wesleyan, and arranged it so that King’s first visit to campus. On Jan. 14, 1962, King preached to an overflowing chapel. He stayed overnight at the university guesthouse on High Street in order to be available most of the next day to the College of Social Studies students and faculty.

In February of 1963, King preached at Yale’s Battell Chapel in the morning, got a ride from Maguire to his house at 44 Home Avenue, took a brief a nap, then preached again that evening in the Wesleyan chapel.

Early in 1964 President Victor Butterfield asked Professor Maguire to see if King would be willing to be Wesleyan’s end-of-school Baccalaureate preacher and to receive the university’s honorary doctorate degree. King agreed, but said that he had to make it tentative since he was not always sure of his schedule.

Then, on the Monday before he was to arrive for the weekend ceremonies, King went to jail challenging segregation in St. Augustine, Fla. Maguire and King’s chief aide, Andrew Young persuaded King to post bail on Saturday afternoon and fly to Bradley, arriving early Sunday morning.

Following his baccalaureate address, Maguire presented King with his degree and they stood while the crowd gave King a long, standing ovation. As they made their way from the platform back to North College, there was continuous applause. On Monday, King flew back to St. Augustine and reentered jail for another few days.

In 1966, King paid his last visit to Wesleyan, again to preach at McConaughy Hall. The audience overflowed.

The Wesleyan Board of Trustees was meeting on the weekend following King’s death in 1968. President Ted Etherington asked the meeting to adjourn early the morning after the assassination and move to the Chapel where he asked John Maguire to provide an informal eulogy for King.

“The Wesleyan community has continued its commitment to civil rights and justice,” Bennet said. “Poet Sonia Sanchez keynote embodies that tradition.”

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

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor and Elan Barnehama, university writer

Pop Culture, Extremists and a Disco Beat at Zilkha Gallery


Robert Boyd’s Xanadu is on display in Zilhka Gallery through March 4.
Posted 02/01/07
A new exhibit at the Ezra and Cecile Zilhka Gallery tweaks, condenses, and re-frames contemporary events into montages of quick cuts, representing a history of apocalyptic thought as a series of MTV-style music videos within a setting reminiscent of a discotheque.

Robert Boyd’s Xanadu is a synchronized four-channel video installation that probes society’s self-destructive impulse and parodies avenues of popular culture such as documentaries, news media, cartoons, and pop music. Xanadu takes its title from the 1980 American pop musical starring Olivia Newton-John.

“One of the extraordinary things about Xanadu, beyond its content, is the way it engages the viewer physically and how that engagement actually relates to and reinforces its meaning,” says Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions for the Center for the Arts. “In order to see all the projections, the viewer is forced to move around. The soundtrack of upbeat disco music not only provides a disjunctive counterpoint to the often horrific images of destruction but it makes you want to move your body to the beat of the music.”

Xanadu
’s installation in Zilkha Gallery features a photograph of a disco ball in flames, falling before a delicate pink background; three video projections on three free-standing walls; a fourth on the far wall of Zilkha’s contiguous North Gallery. Visitors become surrounded by stimuli.

Hundreds of hours of archival footage of doomsday cults, iconic political figures, and global fundamentalist movements were mined for the exhibition. Introducing the theme of the “Apocalypse,” Boyd’s video Heaven’s Little Helper (2005) begins with an excerpt from Masada, a 1981 mini-series about The Zealots, a sect of Jews who defended their right to be free from an oppressive Roman regime but who finally succumbed through an act of mass suicide.

Fast-forwarding into “family” footage of seemingly wholesome hippies and children dancing in natural settings, Boyd marks the end of sunny popular culture in the U.S. with iconic images of the Manson Family. Continuing in this vein, the video incorporates archival footage of some of the most infamous doomsday-cult gurus and their devout disciples.

“While this is not the intention of the artist, I came away feeling that if we don’t do something, if we don’t challenge what’s being served up to us, we will meet essentially the same fate as the victims represented in Boyd’s Xanadu,” Felshin says. “ There is a subtext to this work which, as an activist I would characterize as a call to action or resistance.”

Robert Boyd is an interdisciplinary installation artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y. Xanadu premiered at Participant, Inc., in New York in 2006, and has also been presented in Beijing and London. The artist suggests that Xanadu is a conglomerate of our fears, paranoia, and prejudices—an envisioned Apocalypse in the process of becoming reality.

Xanadu is on display through March 4 in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, 283 Washington Terrace. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and noon to 8 p.m. Friday. A New York Times review of Xanadu is online at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E6DE1F3FF936A35756C0A9609C8B63.
 

Administrative Assistant Aims to Know All 200 Graduate Students


Barbara Schukoske, administrative assistant for the Office of Graduate Student Services, is a lifelong Middletown resident and remembers sledding down Foss Hill as a child.
 
Posted 02/01/07
Q: Barbara, when did you come to Wesleyan and what led you to the Office of Graduate Student Services?

A: I was hired as a department assistant on Feb. 6, 1989 to the Physical Plant Department, where I worked for nine years. I then transitioned to my current position of administrative assistant for Graduate Student Services on Sept. 28, 1998.

Q: You’ve been acquainted with Wesleyan for many years. Why is that?

A: Wesleyan is an important part of my family’s life. My father worked as a “bouncer” at one of the Fraternity Houses on High Street in the 1930s and also delivered milk for Daniels Farm Dairy to faculty that lived on campus at that time. My older sister received her MALS from Wesleyan in 1999, so the university has been a part of my life since I can remember. I do remember using the ice skating rink at Wesleyan and also sliding down Foss Hill a few times. In fact, my older sister once drove her Volkswagen Beetle down the steps by Olin until Public Safety caught her.

Q: Did you ever think you’d end up working at the university?

A: My father always spoke highly of Wesleyan and about the people from the university. He thought it would be a great place to work. So, with his thoughts and advice in mind, when there was a position open, I applied. When I got the job, he was ecstatic!

Q: What is your role with the graduate students, who do you work with?

A: I pride myself as being the information person for the grad students and Wes community. Because I have worked on campus for 18 years, I have acquired the knowledge and contacts. I also work closely, and in correlation with the director, Marina Melendez.

Q: How many graduate students are there at Wesleyan?

A: There are approximately 200 graduate students in the MA and Ph.D programs in various stages of their careers.

Q: What typical problems or questions graduate students come to you for?

A: Students often come to me to ask questions of whom to contact with problems in housing, or with health insurance issues. Those seem to be the biggest reasons for their inquiries. Other questions include those on loan deferments, enrollment and registration, how to audit a course, and graduation issues. I also assist with projects like the new graduate admissions project. I am the behind the scene person that helps with the testing of the new process to ensure it will work correctly once it goes live. I also correspond with the graduate departments concerning new student information, and at the other end, when students are ready to graduate; I assist them to their final journey from Wesleyan along with the day-to-day operations of the Office of Graduate Student Services.

Q: Why is it important to interact with the students face-to-face?

A: I encourage the students to come in, for whatever reason, and chat. I get to learn about the student and the different cultures and they learn about me. Knowing each grad student personally, helps me to assist them better with whatever problem or concern they might have.

Q: What keeps your job interesting?

A: The graduate students. I love working with them. Everyday brings something new and some of the challenge of my job is to find the answer to some of the questions pertaining to any number of issues, whether it’s health insurance, housing concerns, or even directions around town, there is always something new and different everyday. A good example of this is the recent Graduate Career Day (LINK TO SNAPSHOTS) that was hosted by our office in January. It was an opportunity to do something a little different than the everyday duties of the office and it helped to benefit the graduate students, which is the most important thing.

Q: What special events do you hold for these students throughout the year?

A: Starting in August, we have a “New Student Orientation” for the new grad students, a day full of information to help acclimate to Wesleyan and the Middletown community. Shortly after that, we have an “All-Graduate Picnic” welcoming all graduate students back to the Fall semester. Throughout the year our office holds workshops on Immigration issues and exiting procedures for those students that will be graduating in May. The Graduate Student Association also has an agenda of events derived from funding through their student activity fee.

Q: Tell us about your Middletown roots.

A: I was born at Middlesex Hospital in 1957, one of triplets, two girls, one boy, or as my mother used to refer to us as, “twins and a spare.” I went to Middletown public schools. After high school, I found myself working a full-time job at a local book bindery to feed my addiction to muscle cars. I also acquired a fondness for painting and pin-striping cars and motorcycle gas tanks. Connecticut Dragway was my home-away-from-home from 1976 until it finally closed in 1982. I also met my husband Jim while drag racing. He’s a Middletown native, too, and works in town at Paul’s Auto Body and Garage.

Q: What hobbies do you have?

A: Metal jewelry design, drawing, painting, singing, boating in the summer, wildlife rescue, collecting Santa figurines, and training, showing and using rottwilers as therapy dogs. I also enjoy long trail rides with my Pinto, Dakota. We bought a farm in 1994 that came with a four-stall barn and 3 acres of fenced property. I hadn’t ridden a horse in nearly 20 years, but I soon began boarding horses, expanded the barn to five stalls, built a riding ring, and have taught beginner’s Western riding lessons.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Swimmer is Two-Time All-American in 1650-yard Freestyle


Ben Byers ’07 wants to defend his title in the 1000 freestyle at NESCACs and also win the
1650.
Posted 02/01/07
Q: How did a young man from Seattle, Wash. become interested in attending Wesleyan University?

A: Both my parents grew up in New York, my dad in White Plains, my mom in
Brooklyn, so when I decided I wanted to come to the East Coast for college they suggested, among others, Wesleyan. Once I’d begun the application process I started talking to the swimming coach Mary Bolich and realized the program was a good fit for me.

Q: What did you think of the Wesleyan Natatorium the first time you saw it?

A: The pool is fantastic, I grew up swimming at the University of Washington pool, which is the home to a top 25 program nationally, and the Wesleyan Natatorium blows it away. It really is an amazing facility, and was a big part of why Wesleyan was one of my top choices.

Q: You accomplished something very few Wesleyan athletes have ever done – you set a team record in the 1000-yard freestyle during your very first event as a freshman. Were you surprised by that?

A: I was very surprised. What a lot of people don’t know is that I really wasn’t very good before I came to college. That swim was actually a best time for me by 15 seconds, which is a big drop under any circumstances, let alone in the first meet of the season.

Q: You have since set and broken numerous team records in distance freestyle races. You are a two-time All-American in the 1650-yard freestyle and a two-event NESCAC champion. To this point, what would you say was the highlight of your swimming career?

A: There are two moments in my career that really jump at out me when I think back. Both happened my sophomore year. The first was our tri-meet against Bowdoin and Colby. We were swimming at Bowdoin, and we were not doing very well. We were losing to Colby, a team we should have been beating, by a large margin with four individual events and one relay left to swim. Essentially the only way for us to win was to win every event left. We huddled up and tried to get everyone as fired up as possible. Jeff Stein won the 200-yard breaststroke, I won the 500 freestyle and Rob Mitchell finished 2nd, then Josh Tanz won the 100 butterfly. The final individual event was the 200 IM (individual medley), and Jeff Stein and I stepped up against one of Colby’s best swimmers. With the entire team behind our lanes screaming their lungs out we gave it our all. Going into the final 50 –the freestyle leg of the individual medley– I was a body length behind the Colby swimmer, but managed to make up the space and touch him out, and ended up going a best time, which to this day is still my fastest 200IM. Finally, our 200 Freestyle relay team won, giving us a win over Colby by 10 points, a slim margin in a dual meet. This was really special for me because it was a huge team effort, which is often something that is missing in swimming, which tends to be an individualistic sport.

Q: What is the other?

A: The other memory is the1000 freestyle at NESCAC championships later that same year, which were hosted at the Wesleyan Natatorium. Steve Spinelli of Williams and I swam pretty much dead even the entire time, but over the last 50 yards I managed to build a lead and win the race. This was my first NESCAC championships win, and to do it at Wesleyan in front of my friends and family was an amazing feeling.

Q: With the 2007 NESCAC Championships right around the corner and most likely a fourth trip to Nationals after that, what have you set your sights on?

A: I’d like to defend my title in the 1000-yard freestyle at NESCACs and also win the
1650-yard. Also, I’ve never really had a good meet at nationals, so this is my last chance to swim up to my potential. My goal is to be top three in the country in the mile, and make it back to the top 16 in the 500 and 200 free events at nationals.

Q: During your Wesleyan swimming career, the team took training trips to
San Diego and Puerto Rico. How would you describe those experiences?

A: These trips are really the widest range of pain and pleasure. Hanging out with the team in the sun is amazing, and brings us closer together than any other type of event could, but the training is intense and painful. On some days we’ll go 16,000 meters in the pool, over 10 miles of swimming, in four hours, along with a variety of dry land activities. Looking back I’m always glad I went, but while I’m there I can’t wait for it to be over.

Q: How would you characterize your head coach, Mary Bolich?

A: Mary is dedicated. She cares deeply about the team, both in and out of the pool. She has done a great job since she came to Wesleyan of drawing the potential out of swimmers, such as Josh Tanz ’06 or Mike Pepi ’08. I think it’s hard to try to compete with teams on a national level that can start training in September, and hard to recruit in a conference as deep as the NESCAC, but she has done a good job in building this team up to a level where it can be competitive. It will be interesting to see how the team is next year, since some unfortunate incidents have left us with some large holes, but the class that is coming in next year should do a really good job plugging those gaps and improving the team as a whole.

Q: What activities other than setting records and winning titles in the pool have kept you busy here at Wesleyan?

A: I’m a double major in economics and sociology, and I’m also trying to get the Certificate of International Relations. I play water polo in the fall for our several time Division III national champion club team, and I spend my spring recovering from swim season.

Q: You will be donning cap and gown this May. What plans do you have for the future?

A: I’m really not sure what I’m going to be doing immediately after college. Eventually I plan to return to school to get a joint JD/MBA degree, but as for what I’ll be doing for the next few years, I am open to suggestions.

Q: What else is there about Ben Byers we should know?

A: Along the same lines as my last answer, I need a job! If you know of anything, ideally with a large paycheck and minimal responsibilities I would love to hear from you.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director. Photos by Katten and Mollie Parrish.