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Green Street Director Loves to Engage the Community in the Arts


Janis Astor del Valle, director of the Green Street Arts Center, says the center’s people, young and old, keep her job interesting. She relies on the help of Wesleyan students to create a invigorating artsy environment at the center.
 
Posted 12/04/06
Q: When did you come to the Green Street Arts Center?

A: I first came on board in February 2006 as assistant director; then, when the director resigned in March, I became the interim director. I was promoted to director in June.

Q: How did you find out about the GSAC initially? What drew you towards working there?

A: About a year ago, my partner and I became engaged — I lived in the Bronx at that time and she was in Branford. Neither one of us wanted to make our home in New York, so I started job searching in Connecticut. I came across the Green Street job announcement on NY Times.com and immediately felt this was the position and place for me! I was drawn to the fact that it’s a project of Wesleyan and a community arts center designed to serve as an anchor for the city’s revitalization efforts. While in grad school, 2001-04, I had worked for the Point, a community arts center in the Bronx that actually served as a type of model for Green Street. But once I graduated, those looming student loans made me panic, and I took a job as a grants manager for a local arts council. After a year and a half there, I discovered I really missed working with children and the community in general. Green Street seemed like the perfect fit.

Q: Where are you from? Where did you grow up and go to college?

A: I’m a Bronx-born Puerto Rican – I don’t like to say Nuyorican, because I’m proud of my Bronx heritage! When I was 7, my family relocated to New Milford, Connecticut, where I lived until age 22. I started out at Western Connecticut State University, and then I took a year off and became a radio announcer for a local “Lite Music” station. I almost got fired for playing Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer and anything by Joni Mitchell. I was forced to stick to the playlist, which included such “hits” as The Carpenters’, Close to You, and Barry Manilow’s Tryin’ to Get the Feelin’ – needless to say, I wasn’t feeling it. So, I fled to New York City, in an attempt to recapture my Puerto Rican roots, and to finish college. I finally graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 1988 with my bachelor’s of arts in theater. I received my MFA in film from Columbia University in 2004.

Q: What is your personal interest in the arts?

A: I am a writer/performer/filmmaker, but most of my experience has been in theater, as a playwright and actor.

Q: What is most exciting to you about working at the GSAC?

A: The people – our students, younger and older, the staff, faculty, Wesleyan student volunteers, the community itself. There’s a wealth of talent here, and they all inspire me on a daily basis. They’re also so incredibly dedicated.

Q: Green Street recently had a “growth spurt.” Can you elaborate?

A: We’ve more than doubled our enrollment in the After School Arts Program since last spring. We now have 53 children, 41 of whom attend five days a week. Adult classes like salsa and belly dancing are so popular that next semester we’re offering intermediate levels of each. Our weekend events – Open Mic, Coffeehouse, In the Limelight and Sunday Salons – have been attracting people of all ages from all over Middletown and beyond. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us.

Q: How do Wesleyan students get involved with Green Street?

A: Wesleyan students are so vital to us, especially to our After School Program. The offer homework help, they serve as teaching assistants, they facilitate free arts activities and are instrumental is helping us improve the program. Wesleyan students are the backbone to our program. They create an invigorating and fun-filled program.

Q: What are your personal goals for the arts center?

A: My penultimate goal is to have something happening in every room here from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. But that’s within five years.

Q: Does Green Street have any upcoming events scheduled?

A: A lot of cool events are coming up in the very near future. On Dec. 8, we are absolutely thrilled to present Wesleyan Vice president for Finance and Admininstration John Meerts and his band, The Remainders, as well as the Wesleyan student group, The High Lonesome. And on Dec. 15, Wesleyan alumna Amy Crawford brings her jazz ensemble to Green Street. On Jan. 20 from noon to 4 p.m. we’re hosting a Free Art Day, where people can check out our facility and get a taste of the some of the classes we’re offering this spring. The complete schedule will be on our Web site by Dec. 15, but in the meantime, I encourage anyone who’s interested in learning more about us to visit www.greenstreetartscenter.org.
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Q: As the director, do you get to mingle with the kids much or are you mostly behind the scenes?

A: Unfortunately, I feel too much like a principal at times, making rounds. I do get to see some of the children’s performances, like the break dancing and tap classes. They’re amazing! I’d like to get involved in all the classes a bit more, even teach a section of creative writing. I started making a kaleidoscope with the art and science kids, but then I got called away for something, I can’t even remember what, and I never got to finish my kaleidoscope! I’m trying to arrange my schedule so that I can cut back on outside meetings and make myself more available to the children. I have started hosting the After School Program’s “Town Meeting” again, which occur every Thursday. That’s a great opportunity for me to check in with the kids, see what’s working for them or what areas of the program may need improvement, maybe go over certain rules that have been forgotten.

It’s also a chance for us to showcase student performances, because, let me tell you, we have quite a lot of little hams here! And rightly so, because they happen to be incredibly talented. In fact, save this date, Thursday, Dec. 21, our Winter Solstice, where we’ll highlight students from our After School and evening/weekend programs.

Q: What goes on in a typical day for you over at GSAC?

A: Meetings, e-mail, phone calls. Meetings, e-mail, phone calls. Meetings, e-mail, phone calls. In the After School Program, it’s a mix of intervention and counseling.

Q: Who are the key people on your staff, and how many volunteers are there?

A: My indefatigable staff: Lex Leifheit, assistant director; Jessica Carso, director of Development and Marketing; Cristina D’Alessandro, financial coordinator/registrar; Shane Grant, facilities coordinator; Rachel Roccoberton, administrative assistant; Cookie Quinones, After School assistant; and, Claudia Foerstal, front desk assistant.

Q: In your opinion, is Green Street a successful endeavor for the North End of Middletown? How is it making a difference for area youth?

A: I believe Green Street is indeed becoming the anchor for revitalization that it was intended to be. Ninety-six units of mixed income rental apartments are going up right next door. And it looks like affordable home ownership is on the horizon, too, as Nehemiah and Broadpark get closer to working out a deal to redevelop a number of properties on Green and Ferry streets. I don’t think either of those projects would have happened if we weren’t here. Not only do we have Wesleyan, and, in particular, President Doug Bennet, to thank for that, but our partners as well: the North End Action Team and the City of Middletown. Together, we are proving that we can and do transform lives through the arts.

Q: What is the energy like there?

A: You can feel it, in the spirit of the neighborhood, the parents, children and families who come through our doors. They’re excited to be here, and engaged in art, whether they’re recording a CD in our sound studio, or making a cross-cultural collage.

Q: What are your hobbies? When is your wedding?

A: I love to write, mostly plays and screenplays, and listen to music – everything from Tito Puente to Joni Mitchell. My significant other, Amy, and I are engaged and planning to wed in June. I have to have a June wedding, I’m corny like that, yo! We live in Branford.

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your role at GSAC?

A: I feel incredibly blessed each and every day I come to work. It’s been 11 months, and I’m still pinching myself, making sure this isn’t all a dream because this truly is a dream job. And my staff, faculty and students make the dream a beautiful reality.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

WESU General Manager Asks Listeners to Take the Pledge


Benjamin Michael, general manager of WESU 88.1 FM spearheads the Second Annual WESU Holiday Pledge Drive.
 
Posted 12/04/06
As the only full-time employee and sole general manager of Wesleyan’s college and community radio station, Benjamin Michael says the station wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the station’s volunteers.

It takes Michael and 115 student and community volunteers to broadcast 88.1 FM WESU 24 hours a day.

“It’s a real partnership and labor of love for all of our volunteers,” Michael says, noting that some programs have been broadcasting for more than 25 years.

But, like any other non-commercial station, it takes more than teamwork to make a radio station run. It costs about $75,000 a year to operate, and that’s why Michael and his volunteers are currently hosting the Second Annual WESU Holiday Pledge Drive through Dec. 4.

“Unlike the National Public Radio pledge drives that you hear on WESU through out the year, where the station only receives a small portion of the over all donations, this drive enables listeners to directly support our efforts,” Michael explains. “We’re hoping that listeners who depend on WESU for alternative music, news and other creative programming, to step up to the plate and support this rare outlet for community voices on the radio.”

The goal for this year’s drive is to raise $25,000 in listener support to sustain operating expenses through out the coming year. So far this year, WESU has already raised $25,000 in funding from the Wesleyan Student Association, and through their partnership with WSHU Public Radio, WESU expects to raise an additional $25,000 before the fiscal year’s end.

Financial support during this pledge drive will help ensure that WESU continues to grow and operate as a vehicle and partnership for creative communications between the Wesleyan University community, the people of the greater Connecticut River Valley, and beyond. Donations will directly benefit WESU and help to ensure local, community-based programs and alternative news continue to have a home on the radio dial, Michael says.

As the GM, Michael works with the station’s volunteers to insure the programming reflects the diverse community surrounding Wesleyan.

WESU boasts a wide variety of musical programming including shows that feature folk, jazz, soul, blues, rock, Caribbean, hip hop, experimental, electronic, gospel, oldies and Latin music. The station also offers a robust public affairs line-up that includes programs from National Public Radio, Pacifica and other independent and local alternative news consortiums.

Michael knows the importance of volunteers from personal experience. Since a teenager, he’s always been dedicated to the arts and community service.

About 10 years ago, Michael worked for the national community service program through AmeriCorps at the East Bay Conservation Corps in Oakland, Calif. The former Middletown resident returned to the area and took up a job at Oddfellows Playhouse as a program manager, a stage and sound designer and teacher.

In 1997 he began volunteering with WESU, and worked his way up to technical director, promotion’s director and most recently consulting general manager. He was hired full-time as general manager in October 2005.

“I have always had an intense passion for exploring and learning about all types of music and a history of community service,” Michael says. “Thankfully WESU was around as a vehicle enabling me to connect my passions.”

Michael has hosted several shows on WESU. His first show, “Difficult Learning” aired between 3 and 5 a.m. Sunday morning. For the past seven years, he has produced a program called “Dub Revolution,” focusing on a specific vein of reggae music from Jamaica. Six years ago, he and local resident Garnett Ankle started up a talk show on current events titled “Talk for Your Rights.” Ankle continues to host this show.

Being the chief operator of a federally regulated operation, Michael is on call 24-7. He is responsible for managing the day to day technical and administrative operations of the station and ensuring that WESU operates in full compliance with FCC regulations. He acts as the liaison between the Wesleyan administration, the station’s Board of Directors, Wesleyan students and community volunteers and the station’s listeners. In addition, Michael serves as WESU’s “Mr. Fix It.”

“Some days, in addition to the daily routine, I might have to repair a broken CD player, or work with our engineering team to trouble shoot transmission problems, while other times I have to use my graphic, Web and sound design skills,” he says. “I do lots of digital audio editing on a daily basis.”

Michael encourages the station’s listeners to show their support by calling 860-685-7700 or downloading and printing a pledge form from the station’s Web site www.wesufm.org. Donations also can be sent to WESU 88.1 FM at 45 Broad Street, 2nd Floor, Middletown, CT 06457.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Students Pedal for Affordable Housing


Five Wesleyan students will participate in the Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Challenge this summer. Each biker is trying to raise $4,000 for the cause.
Posted 12/04/06
Five Wesleyan students will pedal to help the cause of more affordable home-ownership this summer, raising funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity coast-to-coast.

The students, led by Jessalee Landfried ’07, will bike 70 miles a day, hoping to cross the entire country in two months. Landfried will be accompanied by Elizabeth Ogata ‘09, Liana Woskie ‘10, Margot Kistler ‘09 and Shira Miller ‘07, along with 90 other students from Yale University.

This is the 13th year Yale has hosted the Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC) and Wesleyan came aboard this year.

“The trip is essentially a large-scale service project with a strong commitment to supporting Habitat for Humanity,” Landfried says.

Before leaving, each rider will raise $4,000 – approximately a dollar for every mile biked – for Habitat for Humanity. Every night, the riders will give presentations and answer questions in churches and community centers, trying to increase Habitat’s visibility, stimulate the formation of new chapters and encourage donations.

The event will generate approximately $430,000 in proceeds, enough to underwrite the construction of eight Habitat homes.

Each year, the Habitat Bicycle Challenge not only raises more money for Habitat than any other student-run fundraiser in the country, it introduces thousands of people to the good work that Habitat for Humanity does. Last year, the students raised $430,000.

Landfried learned about the challenge from a teammate in the Americorps.

“My team leader had just finished HBC, and said it was the most exciting, challenging, fun thing she’d ever done,” she says. “I chose to become a leader this year because I’m excited by the opportunity to have an adventure and do something really amazing for a great organization.”

The riders can choose a northern, central or southern route to the west coast. All three routes depart from New Haven, Conn. on June 1, and they end in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, respectively.

Landfried and Miller will ride the central route, biking across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho before reaching Portland, Oregon. Kistler will be on the northern trip and Ogata and Woskie will ride the southern trip.

Ogata chose to participate to combine meaningful service work with a journey across the country. This will be her second trek across the U.S.

“Several summers ago, I biked across the country for my own enjoyment,” she says. “Although the trip was amazing, the Habitat Bicycle challenge really excites me because it has the purpose of helping other people in all parts of the country.”

The students will sleep in churches and community centers along the way. In every community where they spend the night, the riders will give a short slideshow presentation about Habitat, the trip, and the goal of ending poverty housing. These venues generally supply meals for the riders.

“When biking all day long, most people need around 6,000 calories a day – so we’re going to be hungry,” Landfried says.

During the ride, every route is accompanied by a support van, which carries the bikers’ clothing and necessities. When they reach their destinations, the van will bring the riders back to Connecticut along with their bikes.

In exchange for raising $4,000 per rider, the bikers receive a free road bike, deep discounts on gear, and free room and board for the duration of the trip. The bike, gear discounts and food are provided for by corporate sponsorships that the leaders arrange over the course of the year.

Since most of the riders are recreational riders who are excited by the combination of adventure and service, every rider is expected to start training once they receive their bike.

Landfried says she bikes about 50 miles a week now, and is training for the trip by increasing the number of miles every week.

But having the physical ability is minor to having the mental ability.

“The prospect of biking across the country is certainly daunting,” Landfried says. “My parents won’t even drive that far! But I try to keep reminding myself that students have been completing the trip for more than a decade now, and that if they could do it, so can I.”

Landfried says her energy is currently too focused on securing corporate sponsorships, individual fundraising, planning the route and arranging housing to get too worried about the biking itself.

The bikers will spend at least one day a week working on various habitat home sites along their journey west.

Miller says the tip may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
 

“I’m doing the trip because I can’t imagine a more unique way to explore the country, or a better time to do it than right after graduating college,” she says. “It is a great personal experience because I know I will be supporting a social cause that is important to me while pushing my limits and having a great time.”

In addition to raising awareness and funds for Habitat, Landfried says she has other goals in mind.

“I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the vastness and diversity of our country, to meet interesting new people, to have fun, and to develop quads the size of a football,” she says.

The Wesleyan fund-raisers are currently accepting donations to support their efforts. They plan to hold fund-raising events later in the year. For more information on making a donation, visit http://habitatbike.org or email Jessalee Landfried at jessalee.landfried@gmail.com.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Men’s Cross Country Competes at Nationals for Second Straight Year


The men’s cross country team encountered a muddy course at the Division III NCAA National Championships Nov. 18, however finished in the top half. (Photos by Steve Maheu)
Posted 12/04/06
The Wesleyan Men’s Cross Country team overcame an uneven season of performances to finish in the top half of the field at the Division III NCAA National Championships in Ohio on Nov 18.

“We started off running instead of racing,” Men’s Head Coach John Crooke says about the early part of the season. “It’s quite simply competing. Cross country is not about time, it’s about place. When you race, you are competing, not running.”

The team had three mediocre efforts in its first three tests of the season, dipping from 10th to 14th in the New England Open, coming up short of both Williams and Amherst in the Little Three meet and placing a disappointing fifth of 11 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) meet.

“I would say we had a roller-coaster season,” Matt Shea ’08 says. “I feel like we lost some of our morale in the middle of the season.”

Some, but not all. A little more than two weeks after their disappointing showing at the NESCAC meet, the men placed 4th out of 45 teams at the New England Division III Regional Championships in Springfield, Mass. Out of 309 total finishers, the Wesleyan scoring five finished: 17th Alex Battaglino ’07; 24th Anda Greeney ’07; 34th Sean Watson ’08; 43rd Jon King ’07; and 47th Mike Brady ‘07.

“We really put our best team race together when it counted at regionals with a 34-second spread from one to five and less than a minute from one to seven,” says Brady.

The top two teams at the event, Williams and Bowdoin, received automatic bids to the NCAA National Championship meet. Wesleyan’s outstanding performance earned the team an at-large bid to the 32-team field. It was the school’s second-ever invite to the nationals, the first coming last year.

“I was exceptionally proud of how we never gave up and we were able to come together as a team and have great races at both regionals and nationals,” says Shea.

Nationals were hosted by Wilmington College in Ohio and held at the Voice of America Park in West Chester on Nov. 18th. Wesleyan athletics director John Biddiscombe, who attended the event, described them as “some of the worst conditions for a sporting event I have ever seen.” Days of torrential rain had left the ground saturated and muddy with standing water inches deep throughout the course.

“Course conditions were nuts,” says Anda Greeney. “Cross country is about running in all types of weather, but this being Nationals, you’d think they would choose a place that wasn’t sitting at or under the water table.”

Overall, the Cardinal finished 15th – ahead of Bowdoin (17th) and Trinity (31st); Williams (7th) was the only New England school to finish higher than Wesleyan. Watson posted the team’s best individual performance, crossing the finish line 67th out of 279 runners.

“Running at Nationals is an exciting experience,” Brady says. “The dinner, the free stuff, flying out to Ohio, the NCAA symbol painted on the grass near the starting area. It’s quite an atmosphere.”
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

A MAP QUEST: Lena Bui ’07 and Gil Hasty ’10 find their academic building locations on a newly-installed campus map near South College. Physical Plant’s Facilities Department installed five new maps at key locations on campus.

Additional campus maps are located near Clark Hall, pictured, and the Center for the Arts, near Parking Lot “T” and on the sidewalk along Wyllys Avenue. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Goldsmith Family Cinema Dedicated Nov. 17


The Goldsmith Family Cinema was formally dedicated and celebrated Nov. 17 with the family.
Posted 11/17/06. Revised 11.20.06
When he was student at Wesleyan University, John Goldsmith envisioned his college having premier facilities for the burgeoning film studies major. On Nov. 17, Goldsmith returned to Wesleyan with his family to dedicate the Goldsmith Family Cinema, which is housed in the new, award-winning film studies building on Wesleyan’s campus.

“This is just the latest addition to a long-standing labor of love in honor of Jeanine Basinger and the film studies program,” says Goldsmith, the CEO of Metropolis, a Los Angeles-based talent firm that represents artists and writers working in animation. Goldsmith is also president of Metropolis Productions, a production company that creates innovative animated television series and commercials.

“John was an outstanding film major, smart, hard-working, and totally committed,” says Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller professor of film studies and chair of the Film Studies Department. “One thing that stood out about him was his concern for the future of our major. Even as an undergraduate he was looking ahead, planning, and helping shape what would come after him.”

The naming of the cinema came through a generous gift from the Goldsmith Family Foundation.

“The Goldsmith family–John, his mother, and brother and sister–were the first people to provide tangible support for the Cinema Archives at Wesleyan,” Basinger says. “It all started with them. Over the years, we’ve become close friends.”

Wesleyan’s Cinema Archives currently reside in a wood-framed house on Washington Terrace, a formerly free-standing building which has been incorporated into the opulent new film studies building. The construction of an expanded, state-of-the-art cinema archives building will soon begin.

In many ways, the Goldsmith Family Cinema is the centerpiece of the new film studies building, which in 2004 won a prestigious citation by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The Goldsmith Family Cinema is one of the best-equipped and designed film viewing spaces on the east coast, if not the entire country. The screening room contains projectors that can show 16 mm, 35 mm and 70mm films, as well as variable speed projectors essential for viewing silent films. There is also equipment to screen a variety of digital formats, including VHS and Digi-Beta video All formats are presented in the best possible light and sound with impeccable sightlines.

While providing an ideal space for film viewing, the cinema is also specifically designed to accommodate the active study and discussion of film. A podium is equipped to permit speakers to control sound, lighting, microphones, and the screen curtains. Also there is an integrated computer panel to permit the use of peripheral equipment such as laptop computers and other devices.

The events on Nov. 17 will included a private dinner with the Goldsmith family, Basinger, members of the film studies department, and invited guests including Wesleyan Trustees. At 8 p.m. the Goldsmith Family Cinema was formally dedicated and celebrated with a brief ceremony followed by a screening of the classic Buster Keaton silent film “Sherlock JR” with live organ accompaniment.

“Inaugurating the cinema with a film like this, is so much fun,” Goldsmith says, his voice filled with enthusiasm. “I really loved the time I spent as a student at Wesleyan, and my family and I have so much respect for Jeanine and what she has accomplished here.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo by Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Residential Life Staff Honored by National Organization


Residential Life student-staff members for the Butterfields and 156 High Street and 200 Church Street are among those trained by Residential Life’s award-winning Social Justice Training Program.
Posted 11/17/06
A program developed by Wesleyan’s Residential Life received the Program of the Year Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), based in Washington DC.

The Social Justice Training Program, spearheaded by Residential Life’s area coordinators, teaches and trains about 100 student-staff members on the topics of social justice, the cycle of socialization, dominant and subordinate group dynamics, privilege and power and the action continuum. It also stresses liberation from systems of oppression, through exploring specific forms of oppression, including racism, sexuality and gender systems of oppression, class and religious oppression.

Fran Koerting, director of Residential Life, nominated the program for the NASPA award.

“By participating in the program, our student-staff is able to apply the knowledge they learned in creating inclusive communities within their residential area, how to interrupt and confront instances of oppression and how to respond to hate and bias incidents,” Koerting says.

The Program of the Year award is awarded to programs that have been implemented within the three previous years. Programs were evaluated on innovation and creativity, contribution to student development and/or professional development, contribution to the home institution and timeliness of topic.

Program planning began in June 2006, with input from student leaders and colleagues from other departments, as well as the Residential Life central staff and student staff members.

During the two-hour sessions held on five consecutive days during August training, students had the opportunity to listen, discuss and reflect as well as participate in various activities. In-services are being held throughout the year.

The trainers taught the student-leaders how to appreciate different cultures and lifestyles; understand how social justice relates to the job; how to feel comfortable facilitating conversations; being aware of social justice resources, and knowing the protocol for bias and hate incidents.

Not only did the program have a significant impact on the student staff, but it also affected the area coordinators who had developed it, Dawn Brown, Sharise Brown, Brandon Buehring, Eric Heng and Robin Hershkowitz.

“All five of us have had significant experience as professionals in Residential Life for at least three years, yet we found the experience of developing and collaborating as well as conducting the training contributed a new and exciting opportunity,” explains Hershkowitz, the area coordinator of Nicolson, Hewitt and Fauver Residence halls. “Not only were we excited that we were able to conduct these trainings with our students, but the experience contributed greatly to our personal and professional growth.”

The university is considering adapting the Residential Life Social Justice Training Program for use with faculty and staff.

“As for the Wesleyan community, social justice is one of the most important issues for students and staff alike,” Koerting says. “Instituting a year long focus, and providing student staff with the information and tools to address the issues with their residents, makes it possible to have a significant impact on the entire community.”

The area coordinators have also shared the program with their colleagues in the field through a session at the Northeast Association of College and University Housing Officers New Professionals Program on Oct. 20. In addition, they will present a session on the program during the annual NASPA/Association of College Personnel Administrators conference in Florida in March.

The NASPA, headquartered in Washington DC, is the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy and practice and affirms the commitment of student affairs to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning. With over 11,000 members at 1,200 campuses, and representing 29 countries, NASPA members are committed to serving college students by embracing the core values of diversity, learning, integrity, service, fellowship and the spirit of inquiry.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

United Way Campaign Begins With Hope to Raise $143,000 from Wesleyan


Wesleyan is raising awareness and support for the Middlesex United Way.
Posted 11/17/06
Each fall, Wesleyan employees have an opportunity to demonstrate an enduring connection with the greater Middletown community by simply making a donation to the Middlesex United Way.

By giving to the Middlesex United Way, Wesleyan employees are insuring that the local community has greater access to essential health and human services. Contributions to United Way have translated into disaster relief, support services for the homebound and disabled, emergency food and shelter and after school programs.

Middlesex United Way is working to fight the root causes of chronic human service needs including substance abuse, mental health and housing.

“In my tenure as president, I have encouraged a deepening of Wesleyan’s connection to the community with the belief that what is good for Middletown is good for Wesleyan,” says Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet. “Our gifts help address several needs.”

Wesleyan has achieved an outstanding record in past campaigns. Wesleyan is one of the top three institutions in the Middlesex County United Way Campaign, and nationally ranks in the top four percent for contribution and participation among colleges and universities.

Wesleyan’s goal this year is to raise $143,000. Frank Kuan, director of community relations for the Center of Community Partnerships, and Pam Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, are this year’s co-chairs.

“To achieve our goal, we need a community-wide effort,” explains Tatge. “We hope to encourage 75 people to become new givers this year, and if you have not participated in the past, please consider doing so.”

Although the average gift has increased to $288, the percentage of Wesleyan employees contributing to the campaign has slipped from more than 65 percent to less than 50 percent. Kuan and Tatge hope to reverse the downward trend in participation.

Employees can donate to the campaign in a lump sum or by payroll deduction.

For more information contact Frank Kuan at fkuan@welseyan.edu or Pam Tatge at ptatge@wesleyan.edu.

Film, Cinema Admin Says Meeting Famous Directors, Actors is Part of the Job


Lea Carlson, administrative assistant for the Film Studies Department and Cinema Archives, interacts with faculty and students on a daily basis.
 
Posted 11/17/06
Q: Lea, when did you begin working at Wesleyan as the administrative assistant for Cinema Archives and the Film Studies Department?

A: August 20, 2001, and this is the first department that I’ve worked in at Wesleyan.

Q: Where was your office located when you started, and what are your thoughts on the new Center for Film Studies building?

A: My office was located in the Cinema Archives building when I first started here. I was so lucky because the space was shared with Leith Johnson, the co-curator, and Joan Miller, the archivist, who are two of the nicest, most generous people I know. They were so helpful to a new employee and have become such good friends in the process.

The new center is so airy and filled with light. Because our faculty and staff were housed in several different places on campus before the new center, having the offices and main areas integrated now means easy access to students, faculty, and staff which makes a huge difference in the day-to-day operations.

Q: During your time here, have you had the opportunity to meet any famous directors or actors?

A: Yes, when our building was dedicated, Martin Scorsese came and talked to a full-house. Some of the other directors and actors that I’ve met or spoken to include Jonathan Demme, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Isabella Rossellini, Amy Irving, Joss Whedon, Brad Whitford, Joey Pantoliano, William Windom, Lars Schmidt, Ed Herrmann, Debra Winger, Dana Delany, Joan Leslie, Albert Berger and Isaac Mizrahi.

Q: Very exciting, and since Wesleyan’s film program has been nationally recognized for more than four decades, it must be very rewarding to work for the department.

A: I love working here. It’s a “hands-on” major which means there is a lot of student, faculty and staff interaction. Each day is unique and presents different challenges. Our chair, Jeanine Basinger, is internationally-known in this field as one of the best film scholars in the world. She receives requests for interviews from news organizations, NPR and television stations on a regular basis. She also founded the Cinema Archives whose staff works on a daily basis supporting the Film Studies Department. Our majors, faculty and staff are extremely supportive of each other. The cooperative effort between everyone makes this a great place to work.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis?

A: I think the biggest challenge is to balance the priorities within the department. Students come first for me then the other responsibilities seem to fall into place. There are university deadlines that need to be met on a weekly basis but most of the time there are a lot of different duties that are happening simultaneously. We have a lot of outside requests to use our new screening room and sometimes they overlap our classroom use of the spaces. My job is really enjoyable—I like getting to meet and talk with administrative assistants in other departments as well as the faculty and staff who call to book spaces. The students are so passionate about what they do that they keep my outlook on life optimistic.
Q: Are any two days alike there?

A: Most often, no two days are alike for me. There are regular duties such as responding to student requests, booking spaces for events and classrooms, financial responsibilities, answering general phone calls, shipping and weekly payroll. We get lots of email questions about our major and events that are happening in our building. I spend most of my time interacting with students, the chair, our faculty and staff and other departments within the university.

We get lots of students stopping and asking questions about major requirements, classes that are offered, booking of spaces for our required production and senior thesis films and other things. Parents are interested in jobs after graduation and they wonder how difficult is it for students to be accepted to our program. We offer a tour of the building in conjunction with the Admissions Office on Wednesdays at noon from the lobby of the center; one of our film majors conducts this tour which gives details about our building and the major.

Q: What can film majors expect from the Center for Film Studies?

A: The model of scholarship in the department is in the liberal arts tradition of wedding history and theory with practice. All film majors study the motion picture in a unified manner, combining historical, formal and cultural analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels in 16mm film, digital video, and virtual formats. A unique emphasis on the study of the medium, its industry, aesthetics, and technology distinguishes Film Studies courses from classes in other departments that approach film as a cultural text. For more information, people can visit our Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/filmstudies/, or call 860-685-2220.

Q: Briefly explain the purpose of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and how do students or outside researchers go about viewing these materials?

A: The Cinema Archives provides a home for Wesleyan’s growing collections related to motion picture and television history. We care for and preserve cinema-related paper materials, photographs, and memorabilia. The archives are open from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. by appointment only; Monday through Friday. Anyone wanting to inquire about specific materials should schedule an appointment by calling 860-685-3396 or e-mailing our co-curator Leith Johnson at ljohnson@wesleyan.edu or our archivist, Joan Miller at jimiller@wesleyan.edu.

Q: Where can the public see these items?

A: The Rick Nicita Gallery, located in the lobby of the Center for Film Studies, houses different exhibits throughout the year. Right now the gallery exhibit is: Frank’s Friends, The Capra Glamour Portraits. The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and by appointment.

Q: Do you attend any of the film-related events on campus?

A: Occasionally I attend the film-related events. I have a rather long, 50-to-60 minute commute that discourages attendance to evening events after working all day. I must say, though, that there are several times I’ve really wished I lived closer because the event looked so good.

Q: When you’re not at Wesleyan, what do you enjoy doing?

A: I’m a knitting, weaving, sewing fanatic! My grandmother and mother taught me these skills when I was 7-years-old. I even knit with needles that belonged to them. I like to spend time with my family. My husband and I are restoring a home built in 1769 where we live with our dog and cat. I have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a 2-year-old granddaughter and a grandson who was born last week.

Q: But movies are not on your hobby-list?

A: I actually hate to admit this but I’m not a big film buff. I do, however, have my favorites. I love suspense movies. My favorites are older movies like “The Uninvited” with Ray Milland and “The Spiral Staircase.” I’m sure the film majors will get a chuckle out of these choices.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Player of the Year Ranked 5th Nationally for Kills


Lisa Drennan ’09 was named New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year in 2006 following a vote of the conference coaches.  A second-team all-NESCAC choice as a freshman, Drennan led the NESCAC and was fifth nationally in Division III for kills per game this season, averaging 5.56, which also is a Wesleyan team record.
 
Posted 11/17/06
Q: You were just named New England Small College Athletic Conference
(NESCAC) Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year. How does that make
you feel?

A: I feel really great about winning NESCAC player of the year. I have worked so hard this season, putting my all into every practice and every game. It is incredibly rewarding to work as hard as you can, and see that others recognize how hard you have worked.

Q: What do you think makes you such a talented volleyball player?

A: Probably the number one thing is my competitive attitude. I really love competing and winning. I also really just love the game of volleyball. My love of the game makes me work harder, run faster and jump higher. Of course, my height, 5’11,’’ helps with my hitting a little too.

Q: When did you first start playing organized volleyball?

A: I have been playing volleyball all of my life. However my first “organized” team was in 7th grade. I guess I was one of the better players then, but I would say I did not develop into a real volleyball player until 9th or 10th grade.

Q: You came to Wesleyan from Ann Arbor, Mich. Is that where you grew up?

A: Yes. I’ve lived there my whole life.

Q: What was it like growing up in the shadows of the University of Michigan?

A: Amazing. I have always been a big supporter of University of Michigan’s volleyball team. I have gone to most of their games, and attended their volleyball summer camp several years. Just this past summer, I helped coach their camps. This was such a great experience for me. I learned a lot from the coaches, the Michigan head coach and the players. Also whenever the coaches (mostly Michigan volleyball players) were on a break, we would play around a little. For them, they were just “messing around,” for me it was some of the most competitive volleyball I have ever played. Playing with a top 10 Division 1 team was an amazing experience. I definitely grew a lot as a player through this experience alone.

Q: How did you become interested in attending Wesleyan?

A: I first learned about Wesleyan through friends from my high school who are now seniors at Wesleyan. They all spoke so highly of Wesleyan, and often compared it to our high school, which I was really fond of. When I visited Wesleyan, the thing that struck me most about Wesleyan was the student body. Everyone seemed so intelligent, unique and approachable. I knew Wesleyan was a great school academically, but also that the students were not competitive with one another. People at Wesleyan are more concerned about learning and less about the grades they receive. This was incredibly appealing to me.

Q: What other colleges did you consider attending?

A: I applied early decision to Wesleyan. I was pretty much set on coming here.

Q: How do you like it here at Wesleyan?

A: I absolutely love it here. I have loved everyone I have met here. I have made great friends. I can not imagine playing on a team anywhere else; our team is like a family. I have really liked (almost) all of the classes I’ve taken, and professors I have had. I haven’t decided on a major yet, but I am leaning towards Environmental Science and Psychology.

Q: You played softball and basketball at the Greenhills School in
Michigan along with volleyball. What other sports do you play now?

A: I would like to play intramural softball, and I am going to try out Ultimate Frisbee this spring.

Q: Tell us about your parents John and Lyn.

A: My parents have always been so supportive of everything I do, volleyball and everything else. They are such amazing people, and certainly my number one role models. I get along so well with my parents, and am so thankful for their unconditional love and support. During high school they came to every one of my volleyball, basketball, and softball games. Not to mention, my dad was my softball coach for several years. I was worried that by coming all the way out to Connecticut they would hardly ever get to see me play. This has not been the case at all. Last year and this year they have made it to a lot of games, including the NESCAC quarter finals and semi-finals this year. My dad came all the way out to Maine last year for NESCAC finals. We lost in the quarter-finals on Friday, and so my dad was stranded in Maine for the rest of the weekend! My whole family, not just my parents have been so supportive of my volleyball. I have an older brother and sister who were able to make it to several games this year. My family is so supportive of me, and I think I play even harder when they are here watching me, because I want to show them my thanks for all of their support.

Q: If you had to credit one person with helping you get to this point
in your volleyball career, who would it be?

A: I really can’t say there is just one person who helped me get here. My family goes to an island every summer in northern Ontario, where my family and friends all play volleyball on the rocks. I have played there since I was really young. I think this is where I developed my love for the game. So I suppose I can give credit to my family and friends for playing with me from such an early time in my life.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director

Department of Archeology Welcomes New Assistant Professor


Posted 11/17/06

Daniella Gandolfo has joined the Department of Archeology as an assistant professor.

 

Her research areas of interest include urban anthropology; urbanization and urban social movements; social and cultural theory; anthropological writing. She has done fieldwork research in Latin America and the United States. 

 

Gandolfo comes to Wesleyan from the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University where she completed her doctoral degree and taught a course on cultural anthropology. Prior to that, she taught in the Department of Anthropology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She has gained additional teaching and professional experience from Barnard College in New York, the University of Texas, and the Ford Foundation in New York. She has participated in research projects dealing with educational reform in Lima and New York City, where she did extensive fieldwork research in public schools.

 

Gandolfo, who is fluent in English and Spanish, was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She received a bachelor’s of arts in archeology at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a master’s of arts in anthropology at the University of Texas. Her dissertation, The City at its Limits: Taboo, Transgression, and Urban Renewal in Lima, Peru, was completed at Columbia University.

 

Her dissertation deals with the social impact of an urban renewal project of the downtown area of Lima, which it takes as a point of departure to examine relations of class and race in the city. As an outgrowth of her dissertation, she has become interested in urban “informality” and its influence on urban planning and city politics, and in new forms of urbanization in Peru.  She has started fieldwork research on these themes in Lima and in Puquio, a small city in the southern highlands of Peru.

 

She started teaching at Wesleyan in the fall semester.

 

“Wesleyan offers what, to me, is an ideal environment to keep growing as a teacher, researcher, and writer,” she says. “I enjoy the smaller-sized programs with great faculty and students.”

 

Gandolfo says Wesleyan allows her to maintain strong links between teaching and her research interests, and enjoys sharing her research interests with the students.

 

“I have already benefited greatly from sharing work in progress with students, who thrive with complex questions and problems,” she says.

 

Gandolfo is the author of “José María Arguedas,” published in the Biographical Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology in 2004, and The City at its Limits: Taboo, Transgression, and Urban Renewal in Lima, Peru, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007.

 

Gandolfo has made numerous presentations, most recently at the New School University in New York and the American Anthropological Association Meeting in Washington, DC. In addition, she is involved with professional associations including the American Anthropological Association, the American Ethnological Society and the Latin American Studies Association.

 

Gandolfo lives in Middletown and New York City, with her husband, Chris Parkman.  She enjoys jogging, hiking, cooking and knitting – a hobby inherited from a long line of women knitters and embroiderers from the south of

Peru.

 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Report Shows Impact of Digital Imaging on College Teaching, Learning


Posted 11/17/06
Digital images are changing the way professors teach at colleges and universities, but often only after the huge expense of personal time and resources, according to a new study titled “Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning,” published on Academic Commons, a Web journal that Wesleyan’s Michael Roy helps to edit.

The study, commissioned by Wesleyan University and the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), suggests ways of how the teaching profession as a whole can harness these new resources in a more efficient manner.

“The big story here is that we’ve still got a long way to go before we realize all of the educational and scholarly possibilities afforded by digital images in particular, and new media in general,” says Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services, Digital Projects and Academic Commons founder. Roy is pictured at left.

“Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning” details the results of an intensive study of digital image use by more than 400 faculty at 33 liberal arts colleges and universities in the Northeast. The report makes a set of recommendations for optimizing the deployment of digital images on campus.

Wesleyan and NITLE undertook the study in 2005 in response to questions about how digital image use might be changing teaching practices in higher education.

The impact on teaching is at the heart of the study. One third of participating faculty reported digital images had changed their teaching greatly. Those teaching image-based subjects found that having anytime/anyplace accessibility to a “vast variety of images from a variety of sources,” has given them greater flexibility and creativity in the classroom. With new access to images provided by the Web and other sources, faculty teaching non-image-based subjects are often using images for the first time or using substantially more, and are more likely to build them into the core substance of their teaching. New relationships to images stimulate ideas about visual thinking and visual learning that are themselves changing approaches to teaching.

“Faculty, however, often feel like lone pioneers in their transition to using digital images as because support, resources and infrastructure at local and national levels in many cases are not sufficiently in place to allow them to use these new resources to their full potential,” Roy explains. “In addition to the pedagogical interest of the report, related issues of image supply, support and infrastructure make up much of its fabric.”

Key findings include:

1. Tools and services are badly needed to assist faculty organize, integrate, catalog and manage their personal collections. Most faculty use images from their personal digital image collections (91 percent), assembled from many sources, rather than from licensed (30 percent), departmental (19 percent) or library collections (14 percent). Campuses should define and enhance the relationship between individual faculty collections and emerging institutional collections.

2. Available resources need to be made easier to find. Faculty are often unaware of digital image resources on campus and as a consequence expensively-produced, often licensed resources go underused. Similarly, while faculty call for high-quality, dependable and free online databases of images, these often do exist, but evidently need to be better publicized and more easily discoverable.

3. Fair Use is vulnerable on many campuses. For several reasons, visual resource curators and instructional technology departments are often risk-averse and shy of exploring the possibilities for faculty to legally use copyrighted digital images in their classrooms and on closed course websites. Creating institutional copyright policy, with full community participation and expert copyright legal advice, is an important first step for campuses to be clear about legal responsibilities and the rights of intellectual property users.

4. Image “literacy” skills need to be developed for optimum use of digital images by teachers and students. As digital images become widely used, many faculty need pedagogical support, especially for ideas and assistance in how to use images most effectively, as well as for opportunities to share pedagogical needs and discoveries with their peers. In addition, students often fail to grasp the skills needed to work with images. Many need training in image literacy (analyzing or reading images, including maps), digital literacy (handling and manipulating image files), and image composition (creating and communicating through images).

5. Transitioning to digital image resources affects every level of an institution. Few appreciate the cross-institutional implications of creating digital image resources and the production and presentation facilities required to satisfactorily work with the new medium. Empowering and funding cross-department, cross-functional groups to make coordinated, informed decisions is one good way for laying the right foundations. Dedicated imaging centers can highlight issues, focus decisions and bring disparate parts of the campus together around the benefits that coordinated digital image production and delivery can bring.

This report is rooted in the faculty experience of going digital, as shown in 400 survey responses and 300 individual interviews with faculty and some staff at 33 colleges and universities: 31 liberal arts colleges together with Harvard and Yale Universities. Two-thirds of the survey respondents worked in the arts and humanities, 27 percent in the sciences and 12 percent in the social sciences. Faculty were self-selected.

The report is online at http://www.academiccommons.org/imagereport.