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Verdeja joins Department of Government and College of Social Studies


 
Ernesto Verdeja, assistant professor of government, started teaching at Wesleyan in August 2004.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Ernesto Verdeja joined the Department of Government and College of Social Studies as an assistant professor of government in August 2004.

”I was attracted to Wesleyan because of its reputation for promoting research and teaching among its faculty,” he says. “And the students are fantastic.”

Verdeja earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s and Ph.D in political science/political theory from the New School for Social Research in New York City. His dissertation, which Verdeja is turning into a book manuscript, focuses on reconciliation after mass political atrocity.

“In it, I try to conceptualize the requirements for a theoretically satisfactory model of societal reconciliation that is also empirically possible,” he says. “I do this by looking at the role of truth commissions and trials, as well as the role of political and civil society actors.”

Verdeja’s main areas of interest are in modern and contemporary political theory, with a strong focus on issues of justice in transitional societies, meaning societies that are emerging from a recent history of political violence. He is currently writing two articles, one on public apologies for mass violence, and a second on reparations for victims of violence.

Verdeja anticipates teaching courses in political theory as well as more specialized classes on transitional justice, mass violence and justice and reconciliation. 

Verdeja lives in New Haven, and enjoys listening to music and playing guitar in his free time

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Professor Will Miss Teaching French Language, Literature


Joyce O. Lowrie, professor of romance languages and literatures, is retiring this semester after 39 years.
 
Posted 04/15/05

It’s been a “bon voyage” for Madame Joyce O. Lowrie.

After a 39-year career at Wesleyan, the professor of romance languages and literatures has announced her retirement at the end of this semester. But she’s not saying “au revoir” just yet.

“You could say my retirement is more of an ‘a bientôt  ‘ I’ll be seeing you soon,’” she says from her third floor office on High Street, a room that once housed President Doug Bennet in the converted all-male fraternity house Alpha Chi Rho. “I’ll be taking trips to Paris, but I still plan to be around.”

Professor Lowrie, who came to Wesleyan in 1966 as an assistant professor, says she will continue her research on French literature after her retirement. She’ll also finish the book she has been writing, which is already 300 pages long.

“I have spent my life doing research and I hope not to have to stop, at least for a while yet,” she says. “This is my passion.”

Lowrie taught courses both at Wesleyan and in Paris, including a senior seminar, “Introduction to French Literature, Middle Ages to the 18th-century,” “Narrative Strategies in 19th-20th-century French Literature,” “A Question of Time,” and her signature class, “The Mirror in the Text,” which featured sections from her forthcoming book, “Sightings:  Mirrors in Texts — Texts in Mirrors.” The book emphasizes her research, which is on the function, significance and meaning of chiastic and interlocking structures in French prose fiction. 

“I’ve always loved teaching courses that cover literature from many centuries,” she says. “I could do that in these classes. I simply love helping students learn how to appreciate such beautiful and challenging usages of the French language, and to understand the ideas they portray.”

Deirdre Stiles ’87 of Sussex, England took senior seminar with Lowrie and the two have been e-mail correspondents ever since. Stiles still remembers Lowrie engaging her in class discussions.

“She treated us as colleagues,” Stiles says. “She listened and was truly interested in what each of us had to say about what we had read. She had a wonderful sense of humor which enlivened the dialogue. And she was fully engaged in what she taught – she loved it and it showed.”

Although her courses were taught in French, Lowrie says the classes touched a broad spectrum of students in different majors. 

Ari Zito, ’05, who will double major in the College of Letters and French Studies, took two classes with Madame Lowrie during his Wesleyan career.

“I know that in the future, when I think back to my academic experience at Wesleyan, I will recall sitting in the seminar room in 300 High Street, drinking tea with a dozen other students, and listening to Madame Lowrie talk about Proust,” Zito says. “I know that I am only one of many people who will miss her very much.

Born in Brazil, Lowrie was raised bilingual in Portuguese and English as a child, but learned Latin and French in school, “with a strong Brazilian accent.”  Her accent was corrected when she attended college at Baylor University in Texas, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1957. That same year, she received a Fulbright scholarship to study French literature at the University of Bordeaux. 

“That experience changed my life,” she says. “Although I was interested in many other subjects, it was French language and literature that I loved most. I also fell in love with the country, its culture, its mores, its cuisine, its people.”

Lowrie returned to the United States in 1958 to earn her Ph.D. in French at Yale University. There she met her husband-to-be, Ernest. They have one daughter, Michèle, who now teaches classics at New York University. 

Lowrie was the first woman professor “to rise through the ranks” and obtain tenure at Wesleyan. In 1972, Lowrie became associate professor, and in 1977 she became a full professor.

She taught French in smoke-filled classrooms at the then all-male university. Even President Colin Campbell’s office had “snazzy” ceramic ashtrays, she recalls. 

“It was quite a different institution then,” she says.

While much has changed, Lowrie’s vibrant and witty personality has remained the same.

“Joyce is an irreverent, fun-loving bon vivant, an Epicurean with a taste and talent for making superb food and scandalous jokes,” says colleague Andrew Curran, associate professor of romance languages and literatures.

Ellen Nerenberg, associate professor of romance languages and literatures and associate professor of women’s studies, considers Lowrie’s sense of humor sly and puckish.

“You could even call it wicked,” Nerenberg says. “Yet despite this, or perhaps because of it, Joyce has a keen sense of decorum. She balances deliciously between the two poles.”

Lowrie is the author of 19 articles, five translations, 12 reviews and one book under her own name, “The Violent Mystique” published by Droz Press, Geneva. She has contributed substantive chapters to three books and her book in progress. She earned a fellowship to work on her present book at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, in 1995.

Lowrie has sat on more than 20 university committees.  She also served as a freshman, sophomore, and a French major advisor. She was a liaison with Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, chair of her own department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and she served as the Resident as well as campus director of the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Paris.

“Many of my students decided to spend some time in France through this program,” she says. “There is nothing like a year abroad to help students to learn to speak colloquial French, and to understand French literature and culture. “

Lowrie has obtained many academic honors over the years. She was awarded an University Fellowship at Yale University between 1959-1962; a Wesleyan fellowship at the Center for the Humanities in 1973; she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 1989-90. She has been a member of several professional organizations including the American Association of Teachers of French, the Modern Language Association, and the Northeast Modern Language Association of America. She has presented papers in all of these venues.

After retiring, Lowrie is planning on “doing exactly what I most love doing, and that is reading, doing research, writing, and traveling to France,” she says.  She will continue to reside in the Middletown area. She doesn’t want to wander far from her colleagues, friends and Wesleyan students.

“Wesleyan students: I love them! That says it all,” she says. “They are so bright and so full of ideas. They are the reason I have wanted to stay at Wesleyan all of these years. Being around students keeps one young.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Computer Operations Specialist Learned Skills on IBM Mainframe


Jerry Maguda, computer operations specialist, helps Wesleyan employees and students solve their computer problems.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan, and were you always a computer operations specialist?

A: I started July 7, 1977 or 7/7/77. A lucky number? I was hired as a computer operator, and in time my title changed to production manager for administrative systems. I left Wesleyan in 1982, because at that point in my career I felt I needed more exposure to ever changing technology. From 1982 to1985 I worked 2nd and 3rd shift jobs for different employers ranging from a computer operator to a plastics mold injection operator. During that same time I worked as a daytime temporary employee for Wesleyan for what was then known as the Computing Center processing and printing materials at the peak times during the academic and fiscal calendars. When a permanent job became available in 1985, I was hired permanently. I had just two requests, that the salary was at least the same and it was first shift only. The administration agreed, so I came back as a permanent employee in the role of computer operator.

Q: What does your job title, computer operations specialist, mean exactly?

A: During the years the responsibilities have changed, but basically I respond to and resolve requests in the request tracking system operations@wesleyan. I also support ITS’ desktop support, help desk and technical staff by adding and removing computer accounts, processing printing requests, restoring files, solving access issues and creating and adjusting e-mail lists.

Q: What’s a typical day like?

A: Most of my time is spent on my computer. I communicate mostly via e-mail and phone. The only direct contact I have on a regular basis is with ITS staff.  On any given day I could spend a lot of time on unanticipated issues, as well as routine technical maintenance. 

Q: What are typical problems you help people solve?

A: People contact me with a variety of problems. It can be anything from “my e-mail isn’t working” to “the Internet is down,” or “Saturn is down.”  “PeopleSoft gives me a blank screen,” “I am getting denied access to these files,” or  “I have lost a couple of files, can you restore them from last Tuesday?” They’ll also say that MeetingMaker is suddenly asking them for a password, and that it hasn’t done that in two years, and they want to know what their password is, or “I am a new faculty calling from California, are my computer accounts setup yet? How do I access them from here?”

Q: What has been one of your most memorable problems?

A: One of my most unique calls was from someone saying, “I keep getting denied dial-in access so I went out and bought a new phone, can you help me?”

Q: What lead you into computer-type work?

A: After high school in 1974 I worked at Fafnir Bearing in New Britain and my coworkers, who had been in factory work for many years, all told me that I should get out of factory work.  I have since realized this was very good advice. I checked out the Computer Processing Institute, CPI, in East Hartford. It no longer exists, but I went there in 1976, and earned a diploma in operations. At that time I trained on IBM mainframes 360/370.

Q: What are typical programs or programming languages you use at work?

A: Visual BASIC is still being used in the programming area somewhat, but now it’s mostly    C++, SQR, Procedural Language/SQL, Java and COBOL. These are mostly for business applications. There are different languages for math and statistical and web applications.

Q: Do you prefer PCs or Macs?  

A: I prefer PCs. My first computer was a Mac, which I liked, but Macs are mostly used to start your computer exposure in grade schools or high school, or if you work in publications or art. 

Q: Do people ever use their keyboard trays for coffee mug holders and end up with disasters?  

A: Of course, haven’t you? I can get an entire lunch just by turning my keyboard over and shaking. Desktop support specialists deal with this all the time.

Q: At home, are you on a computer much or do you try to stay away?

A: I do have a computer, a PC. This is where I do personal stuff like emailing friends and relatives, banking, buying stuff and research. I’m not much of a computer game player, and don’t spend much time ‘surfing.’ There are times when I do work-related projects from home, but not often. It’s funny how different your mindset is when you’re on your computer at work versus home.  

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: My hobbies seem to center around physical activities. I like to play squash here at Wesleyan, and have met many people in other departments who also play that otherwise I would not have met. I feel fortunate to work for an employer that provides opportunity and encourages exercise at lunch time. Also, I have played racquetball for years at the YMCA in New Britain. I like to rollerblade, play tennis and lift weights. 

Q: Where did you grow up and where are you living now?

A: I was born in Kensington but I have lived in Southington for about 12 years now. I have four sisters and a brother. Three sisters and their families are local. One sister and her family lives in Massachusetts. My brother lives in Cape Coral, Florida.

Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan? 

A: To choose something I like best is difficult because I like so much of what I do.  But mostly I enjoy working with a diverse and interesting population. In a given hour I can speak with students, faculty, alumni, parents, staff or vendors. I like that each phone call and each e-mail request exposes me to a different challenge in my work day. I never know what is in store for me. That’s the beauty!

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Hostess says University Club is Ideal Place to Build Community or Relax


 
Debbie Mathre, hostess of Wesleyan’s University Club, serves a tray of treats inside the eatery on 164 Mt. Vernon Street.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Q: When did you start at Wesleyan?

A: About eight years ago. I had been laid off from an office-job and was looking for work and there was an opening at the campus center. Cooking was always a hobby of mine, so I applied, and got a job behind the line.

Q: And when did you start working for the University Club?

A: The University Club has been in existence for many, many years, but I moved over there about four years ago. Then, the University Club was inside the Downey House. It was a place for faculty and staff to eat, and at one point it was for students, too.

Q: And what brought it here, to the Mt. Vernon Street location?

A: When they started remodeling the Downey House into classrooms, we were relocated here. This house was owned by Wesleyan and Henry Abelove, professor of English and American Studies, lived here. He had moved out, so they moved the University Club in here.

Q: How would you describe the dining atmosphere of the University Club?

A: The University Club has always been a nice place to meet, or just get away from the office and have a nice meal. Faculty and staff can network here, and build community.

Q: What would you tell people that haven’t seen the new University Club?

A: If you ever want to take a stroll around campus, and pass by, by all means, come by and take a look. There’s plenty of parking here, but it’s also a nice walk. I’m happy to show people around.

Q: How is business?

A: Business could be better, and I blame that on our move. Many faculty and staff think that after we left the Downey House we didn’t exist anymore, but we’re still here. It is farther off campus, and we’re in a residential neighborhood, but we are so close to the Center for Film Studies and fine arts, and I’m surprised we’re not at least getting those crowds.

Q: What are the advantages of being here?

A: When we were in the Downey House, it was very dark. Dark paneling and tiles. Here, we have redecorated and it has a cozy, homey feel to it. And there’s lots of light.

Q: What kinds of meals are served here?

A: People have the option of getting soup and salad, a sandwich or wrap, buffet, dessert and beverages, or combinations of those items. They can dine in or grab and go.

Q: How do people know what is being served every day?

A: We have a menu line at x3090, option 5. Or they can call me directly at x6300.

Q: How do employees pay?

A: They can pay by cash or check, but they can also charge it to their ID cards for payroll deduction.

Q: What is a typical day like for you here?

A: I come in at around 9:30 a.m. and unload the dishwasher, make sure the tables are set, take care of any special needs or prepare for groups that have reserved a table, I set up the whole buffet, and then assist the student workers with dishes and clearing tables. During lunch, I greet people at the door, run the cash register and take telephone reservations.

Q: Can faculty and staff can display their artwork here?

A: Yes. We will display artwork, books, crafts, pottery or other forms of art free of charge. They can display it for show, or they can try to sell it here.

Q: So it’s just you and the students who run this place?

A: Yes. Six students and myself. We keep it nice and small.

Q: Do you get to do much cooking at home?

A: No, not so much anymore. I work another part-time job in a library, and I spend a lot of time knitting, gardening and training my Airedale, so there’s not much time left to cook.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Former Swedish Soccer Star Gets Kick Out of Coaching


 
Eva Bergsten-Meredith, adjunct assistant professor of physical education, is the women soccer team’s head coach and lacrosse team’s assistant coach.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Q: When did you join the Physical Education Department as an adjunct assistant professor and what are your responsibilities?

A: I came here in July 2004. I’m head coach of the women’s soccer team, assistant coach of the Lacrosse team and I teach physical education classes.

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic communications from Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, and I’m currently taking classes through Wesleyan’s GLSP program in social sciences.

Q: Why did you make the switch from graphic design to athletics?

A: I worked as a graphic designer but realized that sitting behind a desk, in front of a computer 10 hours a day under constant time pressure and stress was not for me. My college coach had moved from New Hampshire to Hartford and asked me to work for him at the University of Hartford. I jumped at the offer and decided to trade the money for a much healthier work environment. That’s how I ended up coaching and teaching phys ed instead.

Q: And what did you end up doing at the University of Hartford?

A: I was the assistant soccer coach for three years and the head coach for three.

Q: You’re a former member of the Swedish National Soccer Team. Tell me more about that experience.

A: I played most of my career in Sweden with a couple of years on the Swedish National team and six years in the Swedish Premier League, which is the highest women’s league. I moved to the U.S. in 1992 and started college at the age of 24, more for the overall experience than the education at first. I ended my soccer career with my four years at Franklin Pierce where I was named the 1992 National Player of the year and was a three time All-American and two-time Academic All-American.

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: I liked its diverse student population, academic reputation and athletic facilities. It makes my job of bringing in talented student-athletes much easier when you have brand new state-of-the-art facilities to show them. The new Freeman Gym is very impressive.

Q: When you’re not working, do you continue to watch the sport?

A: I like to watch games live, or on television. But when there’s not a game on, I enjoy reading books and working around my house. I live in Meriden with my husband, Rudy.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Registrar Makes Enrollment Process Easier for Students, Faculty


 
Registrar Anna van der Burg stands outside the registrar’s windows in North College where she helps students answer questions about class enrollment.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Not long ago, all Wesleyan students returning to campus each semester had to participate in Enrollment Day. This meant hours of waiting in lengthy lines snaking through the lobby of the Exley Science Center. If they wanted to drop or add a class, students would have to chase down professors and their advisor to sign the drop/add slip. Students would carry this slip over to the registrar’s office, again waiting in long lines for a staff member to type the course selections into the computer system.

That’s how it was five years ago.

Now students can enroll in the university and drop or add classes via the Internet, 24 hours a day thanks in part to Anna van der Burg and the Office of the Registrar.

“By automating these processes, we are saving the students, staff and faculty time and money, and since it’s all done on computers, we might be saving some trees too,” Registrar van der Burg says. “What used to be done on paper and in person, and had the chance for errors, can now be done quickly and accurately and any time of the day.”

van der Burg, who came to Wesleyan in 2000, has facilitated meetings with her staff, academic deans, class deans, the staff in Information Technology Services and other members of the Wesleyan community to implement these changes. In some cases she’s held open forums to come up with final solutions for projects.

Students favor the online technologies in lieu of standing in long lines.

“We’re moving into an age where students expect to do things online,” van der Burg says. “They’ve been dealing with technology practically since their infancy.”

The drop/add system allow students and faculty to view class enrollments online in real-time. That way, students who want to add a class can see if a particular class is still open. Meanwhile, faculty can see how their classes are filling up.

“Students and faculty operate at different times of the day, so this system is convenient to them both,” she says. “This saves students a lot of time and running around tracking down their professors for signatures.”

So far, the new system has been “incredibly successful,” says Karen Anderson, assistant dean of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

“Anna has been very instrumental in developing and streamlining these new systems, and the new technologies are very effective,” Anderson says. “She has a vision, and she is always working toward the next innovation.

Technology changes are only one aspect of van der Burg’s job. The Office of the Registrar is also the official recording agency for the University and therefore is the keeper of historical information such as class lists, transcripts, other student and enrollment data. In addition, the Honors Program is coordinated by the office, located on the first floor of North College.

With her staff of 10, van der Burg also oversees the publication of the annual University Course Catalog and the administrative applications in the student and faculty portfolios. The catalog includes academic regulations, degree requirements, academic standing, general regulations and advanced degrees in addition to major requirements and course offerings and descriptions.

Dealing with legal issues, such as keeping students record confidential, are also on her slate. Anderson says she’ll call van der Burg with any questions relating to student records or policies.

“When we ever have a question about any issues regarding student records, we just ask Anna, and she can rattle off the answer immediately,” she says. “She is very attentive to university policies. She knows them like the back of her hand.”

Much of her day is spent answering questions via e-mail, phone or in person.  She also meets with class deans on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes I have to interact with some very upset students,” she says. “Some of them don’t understand that I don’t have the power to put someone in a class, but by the time they leave my office, usually I have helped them to understand this and I direct them to their class dean or advisor who can help work out an alternative.”

Oh, and she also doesn’t have the power to alter transcripts.

“I have been asked that before,” she says, smiling.

van der Burg, a native of Oostvoorne, The Netherlands, first came to America at the age of 6 weeks old. Her father took up a job with Uniroyal in Patterson, N.J. and later Detroit, Mich. When Anna was 10, the family moved back to Europe and Anna attended schools in Germany and Luxemburg before graduating high school back in her native country. She returned to the America for college, earning her bachelor’s of art in art history from the College of Wooster in Ohio. There, she met her husband-to-be, Andrew Saslow, and moved to Connecticut where his family lived.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” she says.

van der Burg started at Yale University in the library system. That got her working on computers, and later she started programming. This skill led her onwards into the Registrar’s Office, in total she spent 22 years at Yale. Then in 2000, she got a call from her friend, Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems in Information Technology Services. 

“He told me Wesleyan had a registrar’s position open, but I was already very happy doing what I was doing at Yale,” van der Burg says.  “Then I got this call from the associate provost, Billy Weitzer, and, well, by the time of interview, I was already convinced that Wesleyan would be a good move, and it sure has been.”

van der Burg lives in Cheshire with her husband and boys Nate, 17, and Jake, 15. The boys are members of the Cheshire Football team so the family spends ample time at games.  In her spare time, she enjoys working out at the Freeman Athletic Center, reading, listening to “all kinds” of music, gardening, playing with her cat and dog, and rooting for the New York Giants. And bashfully, van der Burg admits that she’s a “huge fan” of pop-TV show “American Idol.”

“I think it’s going to be Bo, the rocker, who wins this season,” she predicts.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Community Service and Volunteerism Connects People with Projects


 
Cathy Crimmins-Lechowicz, director of Community Service and Volunteerism, stands outside a Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity house, where she places volunteer workers.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Q: The Office of Community Service and Volunteerism (OCS) fosters community building within Wesleyan and with the communities of Middletown and Middlesex County. How are some ways the department goes about this?

A: We, meaning my colleagues and I here at the Center for Community Partnerships, meet with community organizations and students regularly to hear about the needs, interests and possible connections that we can facilitate. We support current programs and encourage students and community members to think creatively about new initiatives and collaborations. We try to meet students needs by providing a variety of ways to connect with the community: they can volunteer through one of our programs, obtain a work study position in the community, take a service-learning course which will provide a connection to the community or we’ll work with students to find a good fit if one doesn’t already exist.

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I started here in August 2003. I had just finished grad school at NYU and one of my professors there is a Wesleyan alum. I told her about this job I was applying for and she raved about Wesleyan.

Q: How do you spend a typical day?

A: It totally depends. Some days I spend a lot of time at my desk, other days I’m not even in the office. Typically, I come in and check e-mail, may have a meeting with a community organization or group, meet with some students, meet with my student staff, maybe drive students to a volunteer opportunity and try and get stuff done in between.

Q: Can anyone in the campus community volunteer? Who generally volunteers for these projects? Students, staff, faculty?

A: This office primarily works with students, although I am more then happy to talk with faculty, staff and community members about volunteer opportunities they may be interested in. Students do not have to apply for the opportunities unless it’s a work study position – then they do need to fill out paperwork. At the beginning of the year, we do our biggest recruitment with the student activities fair and the community service fair. And then throughout the year, the OCS student staff will hold information sessions and answer questions of interested students.

Q: Is working with student volunteers rewarding?

A: My position is incredibly rewarding. It’s wonderful that students are willing to give of their time and energy and wonderful that the community welcomes them into their organizations and so appreciates their work. I love talking with students after they volunteer and hearing how their experience is meaningful to them and how it affects their time here at Wesleyan. I am constantly amazed at how invested our students become in their community work and how much they come to care about the individuals and organizations with whom they work. It is incredible to witness and support. Each positive experience students have in the community is a small step forward in breaking down the barriers between town and gown.

Q: What are some of the programs your office places volunteers with?

A: I have a student staff of 12 who run programs in the following areas: AIDS/HIV, Women and Children, North End Mentors, Senior Services, Tutoring, Hunger and Homelessness and Special Events. Through those programs, students work with a wide range of local organizations such as Oasis Center, Women and Children Center, North End Action Team, Habitat for Humanity and many local schools. In addition to the programs listed here, students work with other organizations either independently, for work study or through other student groups on campus that may not run through our office.

Q: Why is it important to volunteer in the community?

A: This is a difficult question to answer because everyone is different and may have a different reason. For me, I think it’s a critical part of society and that there should be this constant flow of give and take, and an active participation of its members. Far too often there is a lack of a sense of community and I think by volunteering and getting out of our chosen environment, there is opportunity for personal growth and better understanding of those with whom we share a community but may never ordinarily interact.

Q: Do you volunteer with any of these programs yourself?

A: I volunteer with a variety of organizations in Middletown and outside.  I am on the Core Services Team at the United Way and work with six local organizations who are applying for United Way funds. I also sit on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Children, a local advocacy group which fights for the rights of children in Middlesex County. I’m also on the advisory board for Idealist on Campus which is a national organization working with students interested in non-profit careers. A few weeks ago, my husband and I worked with the OCS student staff and the students I advise in the Community Service House on the Habitat House on Fairview Avenue and I would love to do more of that!

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Virginia in 1999; I then took two years off and participated in AmeriCorps and then returned to UVA for a fellowship. After that, I went to NYU for my master’s in public administration. 

Q: What led you to work in this type of career?

A: Service has always been an important part of my life and it helped me discover more about myself and my career aspirations. I think service can help students unwind, have more self discovery, explore career interests and build a sense of community – all while contributing to the greater good of our community – whether here in Middletown, in their home town or abroad. I think it’s important to plant the seed of service early so that our students will continue to actively participate in their communities where ever they live after Wesleyan.

Q: What do you do for entertainment when you’re not working or volunteering?

A: I got married last summer to my husband Joe. I love to spend time with family and friends – I’m one of four children and Joe is one of three so we do a lot of visiting and hosting.  We have three nieces who we adore and love to spend time with.  We enjoy spending time outdoors – whether hiking, running, exploring new areas or taking pictures.  We love live music and traveling to new places.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Professor Studies Brooklyn Neighborhoods


 
Henry Goldschmidt, assistant professor of religion and society, joined the Religion Department in 2004.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Henry Goldschmidt joined the faculty in the Religion Department as an assistant professor of religion and society. Goldschmidt completed his undergraduate work at Wesleyan in 1991, and earned his Ph.D at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2000.

His dissertation, which he is currently revising for publication, focuses on Jewish identities and Black-Jewish differences in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, a neighborhood known for its history of conflict between Lubavitch Hasidic Jews and their predominantly Afro-Caribbean neighbors. The manuscript is titled “Race, Religion and Other Differences among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights.”

Goldschmidt, born and raised in Brooklyn, said his research in Crown Heights reflects an interest in the relationships between racial and religious identities, and, more broadly, in critical theories of collective identity.

“My work has been focused in Jewish studies and American religion, but I’m also very interested, to say the least, in Brooklyn,” he says. “I’m a Brooklynite and a Brooklynist. When I finish my research on Crown Heights, I’d like to do research with Jews and others who left Brooklyn in the 50s, 60s and 70s – the Brooklyn Diaspora.”

Goldschmidt says he wanted to return to his alma mater after receiving a “fabulous education” here as an undergraduate. The Religion Department also drew him back.

“The innovative and interdisciplinary religion department attracted me, which is built around the social and critical analysis of religion,” he says.

Last year, Goldschmidt co-edited a collection of essays with Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion and African American studies, titled “Race, Nation and Religion in the Americas,” published by Oxford University Press in 2004. Another essay, titled “Food Fights: Contesting ‘Cultural Diversity’ in Crown Heights” was published in a collection of anthropological research on American politics called “Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America.”

Goldschmidt lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jillian Shagan and two cats, Junior and Cleo.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Professor Researches Theories of Rhythm and Meter


 
Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music, came to Wesleyan in in August 2004. He learned to play piano as an undergraduate.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Yonatan Malin joined the faculty in the Music Department as an assistant professor in August 2004. Malin instructs classes on music theory and analysis and the history of western music, including the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.

Prior to coming to Wesleyan, Malin taught music at the University of Colorado. He completed his undergraduate work at Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago. His dissertation is on “Metric Dissonance and Music-Text Relations in the German Lied,” and his primary areas of research include German Lied, Romanticism, relations between music and text, and theories of rhythm and meter. Malin is also interested theories of metaphor, and traditions of Jewish liturgical chant.

“Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the students. I have found them to be bright, engaged, and open,” he says. “Wesleyan also attracted me because of the range of musical activities in the department and on campus. And finally, Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the faculty, in the music department and throughout the university.”

Malin recently presented a paper at the meeting of the Society for Music Theory, on “Metric Analysis and the Metaphor of Energy: A Way into Selected Songs by Schumann, Wolf, and Schoenberg.”

A review of a book on Schumann’s Dichterliebe is coming out soon in the journal “Music Theory Spectrum.”

Malin lives in Middletown, with his wife Diana Lane, and two daughters Avivah, 5, and Sarah, 8 months. Aside from music, Malin enjoys hiking, skiing and being outdoors with his family.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Energy Specialist Always on Lookout for Ways to Cut Energy Usage


Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, examines a variable frequency drive that controls the neighboring air handling unit in the Exley Science Center. The system significantly reduces energy waste.
Posted 03/31/05

Use less. Get more.

That’s how Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, is helping Wesleyan save thousands a year by slashing energy usage. In an agreement finalized February 17, Connecticut Light & Power Company has agreed to pay Wesleyan a $27,450 incentive for keeping energy usage down.

“When Wesleyan uses less energy, CLPC can produce less energy, and it won’t have to build another power plant to service the community,” Cotharin says from his office, located in the basement of the Exley Science Center.

Cotharin started researching ways to lower energy cost last year by running an energy audit on the east side of Olin Memorial Library. The audit measured kilowatts used by a single air handling unit, which moves and conditions the air in the building.

“What I found is that the unit was running at 80 percent of its efficiency 24 hours a day,” Cotharin says. “So I figured, after midnight, why don’t we bring it down to 40 percent and have it running back at 80 percent at 7 in the morning.”

This formula conserves energy, but has little effect on the library’s temperature.

The simple idea has opened up many complex energy studies campus-wide. Cotharin is now devoting his career to finding ways to cut energy costs in all campus facilities.

“It is feasible to say that, in five years, Wesleyan could save half-a-million dollars a year if we apply this formula to all buildings,” Cotharin says. “It’s my goal and I don’t see why this is not obtainable.”

The numbers are already speaking for themselves. Cotharin discovered that the Exley Science Center will save $21,478 a year on its electric bill by running air units 1,584 fewer hours a year. Normally, the 13 air handling units would run 24 hours a day.

“Why should we run these things at a full work load when people aren’t inside, using the building,” Cotharin says. “Any piece of electrical equipment needs to be questioned. Do I need to leave that on or can I shut it off. It will all add up in the end.”

Cotharin encourages the installations of high-tech variable frequency drives (VFDs), which control air handling units by varying electric motor speed, significantly reducing energy waste. Most of Wesleyan’s building are equipped with pneumatic motor driven systems, set to operate at full speed, 24 hours a day. 

So far, Hall-Atwater, the Science Library, the Center for Fine Arts’ dance studios, Cinema Archives, Fisk Hall, the Center for Film Studies and the Freeman Athletic Center are heated and cooled with VDF systems.

Although these controls are pricey, they generate tangible benefits quickly. The Science Center’s units will pay for themselves in savings within the next three years.

“This one just celebrated its one month birthday,” Cotharin says, patting the side of a new unit in the basement of the science center. “This is state-of-the-art energy management.”

Cotharin and other employees of the Physical Plant can access climate control data of any building on campus 24 hours a day by computer. An energy-control program features schematics of every floor of every building, and can pin-point temperatures of any room at any time.

“Say I get a call from Hall-Atwater and they say room 140 is too hot, so I just look on here,” Cotharin says, clicking on a floor plan of Hall-Atwater. “I see that it is 76 degrees and the heating vent’s valve is closed, so I know there is a problem there. The data gathering information of this program is phenomenal. It’s just an invaluable piece of equipment.”

Cotharin and Gene Payne, heating and ventilation air conditioning utility mechanic, say all Wesleyan employees and students can do their part to conserve energy. By simply setting a building’s summer temperature at 76 degrees rather than 74 degrees on a 90-degree summer day, energy use is significantly reduced.

“You come here and work, but don’t tend to think about these things,” Payne says.

Cotharin and Payne are big supporters of the new Fauver Field Residence Complex, due to open in Fall 2005. Students currently housed in the approximately 140 wood-framed homes near campus are wasting the most energy.

“Most of these students are here to get an education and don’t think about things like conserving energy, and they won’t until they’re paying the bills out of their back pocket,” Payne says. “Wesleyan has such a diverse group of people from all different places and they’re not accustomed to New England climates, and they’ll turn their heat up to 76 or higher all winter. What a waste of energy.”

Cotharin says everyone on campus should be most aware of their energy usage during August and September when Wesleyan reaches its peak kilowatt demand. CLPC will issue a demand charge for this usage, in addition to a monthly service charge and kilowatt-per-hour energy charge.

“If we have a kilowatt demand level of 3.1 and we get a heat wave and everyone turns on their air conditioning and everything is sucking energy, our demand level might go up to 3.7 and we’ll get very high bills,” Cotharin says. “The whole target of my job is to keep us from going above that number and keeping Wesleyan’s total kilowatt usage down.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Ways to Save

Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, advises Wesleyan students and employees to save energy where they can. Students and employees can contact Physical Plant at 685-3400 with any energy-saving suggestions, or to report any energy-wasting appliances (i.e. leaks or running toilets). “We’re not working or living in these places, so if we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it,” Cotharin says.

Here are some of Cotharin’s suggestions:

Employees 

Turn off lights when out of the office

Turn off computer monitors and shut down laptops

Use less hot water

Don’t use electric fans or space heaters

Shut coolers off during weekends and breaks

Set a reasonable work environment temperature

Dress warmer or cooler to rely less on heating and air conditioning

Turn fume hoods off in science center when not in use

Students

Turn of lights

Install energy efficient light bulbs

Use electrical timers that shut lights off automatically

Keep windows shut and locked during cold months

Install water-saving shower heads in homes

Report any dripping faucets or running toilets

Turn off refrigerators and coolers during breaks

Have housemates agree on reasonable temperature

 

Assistant Professor Receives NSF Grant


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of media relations

NASA Awards Wesleyan Astronomer Major Grant


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

Related resource: Animation of KH 15D.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations