| Wesleyan President Doug Bennet will conclude his presidency at the end of the 2006-07 academic year, he informed faculty, students and staff on May 4.
Bennet, who became president in April 1995, led Wesleyan’s historic $281 million capital campaign, expanded the size of the faculty, launched an ambitious campus building program, and shaped the universitys first comprehensive strategic plan.
“Wesleyan is doing well, both institutionally and in its daily pursuit of excellence,” Bennet said to members of the campus community gathered at the steps of North College. “The university is prepared well to engage new leadership, and the time is right for Midge and me to move ahead to the next phase of our lives.”
Bennet praised the ongoing work of Wesleyan’s faculty in envisioning and implementing a liberal arts and sciences curriculum intended to engage students with the world around them and to enable them to become leaders. He also cited the strategic planning processes that have mobilized the campus and alumni communities around clear institutional priorities.
“Universities progress in several ways,” he said. “There are big turning points that affirm fundamental institutional commitments. The work we did to define a Wesleyan education for the 21st century, to improve student aid, to add faculty, and to begin a process of campus renewalall of these show that Wesleyan can make big decisions and act upon them.”
He added: “The daily progress of an educational community is ongoing and never-ending–the discovery, the teaching, the care and respect for all within the community. New students arrive every year; new issues come to the fore. They show who we really are, especially in making good on the potential of our diversity. They help individual students define their values and learn the confidence that will empower them as change-makers.”
Midge Bennet thanked the assembled students, faculty and staff. She added that, even after their retirement, she and the president would look forward to “lectures and sporting events, as well as lunch at the new Usdan University Center.”
We will continue helping Wesleyan in any way we can, she said.
James van B. Dresser ’63, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, was on hand to thank and congratulate the Bennets.
“The hallmark of Doug’s tenure has been his ability to forge a strategic direction for the institution,” Dresser said. “Through cycles of planning and action, Doug has moved Wesleyan forward. His well-placed faith in the willingness of alumni, parents, and friends of the college to fund plans they believed in has brought Wesleyan important new resources. The school has never been stronger, and thanks to his leadership, the Wesleyan community has the pride and confidence to move from strength to strength.”
Dresser called Midge Bennet “for many of us the wisest and warmest counselor and friend we have known.” He added: “Her undying faith in our common purpose and our bright future have inspired all who have had the good fortune to come into contact with her in any setting, over all these years.”
Dresser assured those assembled he would consult the Board of Trustees immediately about plans for a presidential search. “I promise that we will keep the campus community fully informed about this process, and that we will keep students, faculty and staff meaningfully involved,” he said.Bennet’s Legacy
Douglas J. Bennet 59 was elected the 15th president of Wesleyan University on
April 7, 1995, and began his tenure on July 1, 1995. He was U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs when tapped by Wesleyan, though he was best known for his decade (1983-93) as chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio.
Once installed as Wesleyan’s president, Bennet led the university community through its first-ever strategic planning process, a comprehensive effort that included faculty, staff and students, alumni and parent leaders. This process yielded a vision for liberal education in times of rapid change. “Wesleyan Education for the Twenty-First Century” (1997) sought to define the essential capabilities of an educated person and established the principles on which to make ongoing curricular choices. It affirmed the value of scholarship and teaching in a residential community and confirmed that knowing how to learn is the most durable legacy of a Wesleyan education. The process also produced “Strategy for Wesleyan” (1998), which defined key institutional priorities: an enduring commitment to need-blind admission and thus to building the University’s student aid program; an expansion of the faculty in order to improve teaching ratios and expand scholarship and teaching in new, interdisciplinary areas; and the beginning of a program of campus renewal.
To view Bennet’s accomplishments, including his efforts with strategic planning, student aid, faculty additions, campus renewal, fund-raising, endowment management, technology and athletics, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/administration/president/accomplishments.html.
These priorities became the foundation for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, by far the most successful fund-raising effort in the university’s history. The campaign garnered contributions from 68 percent of Wesleyan’s alumni. Total gifts in a single year tripled, from $10.4 million in 1995 to $31.3 million in 2005.
As the campaign concluded in 2004, Bennet led a second strategic planning exercise. The second strategy, “Engaged with the World” (2005), describes priorities for the period 2005-2010, including continuing curricular innovations and renewed commitments to international studies and to science. It outlines priorities for academics, campus life, student aid, and physical infrastructure.
Bennet’s emphasis on planning and on strict allocation of budget resources according to the priorities thus established has enabled Wesleyan to devote the highest proportion of its total spending to teaching and research and the lowest to administration among the top 50 schools in the annual rankings produced by U.S. News and World Report. It has enabled Wesleyan to compete for students and faculty against much better-endowed institutions. It also has enabled the University to maximize the impact of fund-raising and borrowing to invest in strategic priorities, while almost doubling the market value of its endowment during his presidency.
The Bennet presidency also represented a new era of collaboration with the city of Middletown. Under Bennet’s leadership, Wesleyan participated actively in the city’s development efforts, including investing University funds to bring to the city a downtown hotel, the 100-bed Inn at Middletown, which opened in 2003. Wesleyan established the Green Street Arts Center, a community arts center in the city’s North End, offering classes and workshops for children and adults in music, visual arts, dance, theater, literary and media arts. The center, a collaboration with the city of Middletown and the North End Action Team, is an important part of efforts to revitalize the city’s North End.
“I think they will be talking about Doug Bennet’s legacy for many generations to come,” said Alan Dachs ’70, chair of Wesleyan’s Development Committee who also served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005. “He did an outstanding job as our president. He will be very hard to replace. Everything we value most has been improved under his leadership. Financial aid packages are better, and the academic enterprise is more robust. He has raised more money than ever before in our history, and our investment returns are in the top quartile. Everything he was asked to do, he did and more, much more.”
In January 2006, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made a grant of $200,000 to Wesleyan in honor of Doug Bennet’s service to the university over the past 10 years. The grant created an endowment that will support an annual lecture and program focused on ethics, politics and society.
|By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications|
by Olivia Drake •
| Professor of Chemistry Joseph Bruno will become Wesleyan’s vice president for Academic Affairs, effective July 1. Bruno has served as dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2003.
Bruno will serve as chief academic officer for the university, responsible for attracting and retaining faculty and for supporting their research and teaching activities.
In February, after Vice President for Academic Affairs Judith Brown announced her intention to step down, Wesleyan President Doug Bennet began extensive consultations with faculty on the characteristics to seek in her successor, as well as nominations. Bennet decided to seek a Wesleyan faculty member to fill the post.
“In addition to the personal qualities one expects in an academic leaderintelligence, articulateness, fair-mindednessfaculty cited such characteristics as demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and colleagueship, and the energy and enthusiasm to launch initiatives that will distinguish Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “In every respect, Joe Bruno meets the desires expressed by the faculty. I have great confidence in his ability to lead.”
As dean of the natural sciences and mathematics, Bruno supports the research and teaching efforts of faculty in 10 departments and programs. He participates in budgeting for faculty positions, as well as in recruiting and hiring decisions. He reviews grant proposals and works with the chairs of the academic departments on curricular and administrative issues. Bruno also is responsible for developing plans for the construction and renovation of science facilities.
Bruno has served as vice chair of and science representative to the Advisory Committee, which advises the president on matters relating to appointments and promotions of the faculty. He also served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and president of the Wesleyan chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Bruno’s teaching and research activities have garnered grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the State of Connecticut, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, among other sources.
After earning his Ph.D in organometallic chemistry from Northwestern University, Bruno spent two postdoctoral years at Indiana University before joining the Wesleyan faculty in 1984. He received tenure in 1991.
I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had at Wesleyan over 22 years, working alongside colleagues on the faculty, in the administration and on the staff,” Bruno said. “I look forward to building on these experiences as vice president for academic affairs. Wesleyan has generated considerable momentum, and I am very excited about the opportunities ahead.”
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s new turf field, located behind Physical Plant on Long Lane, was dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony. It is expected to be available for use later this month.
| Wesleyan athletes will be breaking new ground this month on their new synthetic turf field.
The field, dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony, will be put to use in May. Mens and womens soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams will use the outdoor field regularly, and it will be available for several other activities, as well.
John Biddiscombe, director of athletics and chair of physical education, said Wesleyan is among the last universities in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) to possess a turf field.
Were no longer the turf nomads, he said during the outdoor ceremony. Were no longer at the disadvantage.
The artificial field, composed of Polytan Megagrass 2025, is located behind the Physical Plant building on Long Lane. Underneath the synthetic grass is a rubber padding, gravel and drainage pipes to keep the field puddle-free in the event of wet weather.
Mens Head Lacrosse Coach John Raba said the field will be ideal for on- and off-season practices. In addition, the turf will serve as a drawing card for recruiting top student-athletes.
Baseball and softball teams will also use the field for pre-season practice in late February when Bacon Field House becomes overcrowded. The field will be available for selected club sports, intramural play, sport camps and selected use by the local community.
This is a great situation for us, and for all sports, Raba said, who cut the ribbon. Im going to guess that this field is always going to be busy.
Wesleyans Office of University Relations and Athletics personnel worked with parents and alumni to raise the $920,000 needed to build the field. More than 160 alumni, parents and friends of the university were actively involved in helping to raise the funding for the field, including Bill Belichick, 75, P07, Moira Byer P’06, David Campbell ’75, P 10, Michael and Marilyn Dee P’06, Mike McKenna 73, Jim Walsh P’07, Cole and Katherine Werble P’07 and Preston Smith ’64, P’06.
Preston Smith, whos son, Matt, is a varsity lacrosse player, reminded the ribbon-cutting ceremony audience that it took the fund-raising effort of five teams, with support form five decades of alumni, to provide the two-acre turf field.
This field is not only the best in the division, but the best in New England, Smith said to the crowd.
Wesleyan hopes to raise another $400,000 to pay for lights, bleachers, a scoreboard, protective netting and a paved walkway between the Freeman Gymnasium and the turf field.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Head Women’s Crew Coach Beth Emery and her crew team pick up litter along the Connecticut River shoreline during their off season.|
|Q: Most of us know little about crew except that very strong people move amazingly fast in tandem in a thin boat and look like water spiders dancing on the surface. Would you mind briefly defining the sport?
A: Rowing can be done competitively or recreationally. Most of the rowing taking place out of Wesleyan’s Macomber Boathouse is done with collegiate competition in mind. We race in eights and fours. In eights there are eight rowers, each with one oar, plus the coxswain, the person who steers and commands the crew, the same is true of the four, it just has fewer rowers.
Q: Are there different ways to row?
A: “Sweep” rowing is in reference to rowing with both hands on one oar, as a port or starboard oarsperson. In the fall the physical education curriculum offers a sculling class. Sculling is done with a similar oar just smaller in size, with one oar in each hand in singles, doubles or quads.
Q: What is the distance the crews race in their competitive season, and how long does the race take?
A: Weather and water related conditions as well as skill, strength and fitness dictate the time it takes to cover the 2,000-meter distance where two to six crews race head to head in one of six lanes. Women’s Division III first Varsity Crews often post a time between 6:40 and 7:00 on a 2,000-meter race course. In a strong headwind the crew that goes 6:40 on flat water could take 7:50 in a strong headwind. Elite women’s crews racing in the Olympics can cover that distance in under 6:00 minutes.
Q: Crew spans two seasons?
A: Spring is the traditional 2,000-meter collegiate racing season. Our early season races have two to five teams competing. When we get to our championships at the end of the season 12 to 24 crews might be part of the regatta, so there are morning heats and in the afternoon–third level, petite and grand final. In the fall we have our “non-traditional” season and race against the clock in head-style races over a distance of 2 to 3 miles. There can be anywhere from 10-45 entries, racing over the same course starting at 10-15 second intervals where faster crews are afforded the shortest distance between to points as the slower crews are required to give way on the turns that are present in most head courses.
Q: Tell me about a typical crew practice. Where do you meet and how do the women train?
A: When we are “in-season, we meet at the Macomber Boathouse a mile from campus on the Connecticut River. Water time is limited by the rules we follow and the weather, so we try to train on the water to develop our rowing skills whenever possible. Fog, high water and wind can force us off the water, so we do a land workout instead. Land workouts can be a combination of rowing ergometer training, running, weightlifting and body circuits plus a host of other activities that build muscular endurance, fitness and core body strength. When the team is out of season the athletes will keep themselves in shape with the same type of land workouts.
Q: Physically and mentally, what makes an ideal crew member?
A: An appetite for demanding physical training coupled with the ability and desire to push mentally through what the body sometimes perceives as pain when pushing the muscles, respiratory and pulmonary systems to and through the limits of its capability. A tall, lean, powerful, supple body helps, as does a commitment to teamwork and training in the off season all of which comes packaged with a winning attitude.
Q: What do you think about your team this year?
A: We have a young team of dedicated oarswomen who work hard everyday to make themselves better athletes and rowers. I look forward to helping them reach their personal goals, and their goals as a team this year and over the course of their rowing careers at Wesleyan. They have tremendous potential in the novice eight and varsity four to finish the season strong.
Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?
A: I have taught a lot of swimming classes. The beginning swimming class is rewarding and usually a fun group to work with. Of course I enjoy being on the water and teaching the sculling class, though we can only teach that class in the fall, as the water is usually too cold, and moving too fast to teach it in the spring. The singles can flip pretty easily.
Q: What is your interest in rowing and the environment, which was the topic of your article published in American Rowing Magazine in 1995?
A: The water we row on is our playing field, and I believe we have an obligation to take care of that field, to be stewards of sorts, as well as to learn something about the lakes and rivers we race and practice on. I’ve rowed in a few places like the Los Angeles harbor, and the Piscataway River in New Jersey, where the water was so polluted it took much of the pleasure away from being on the water. I’d like to do more for the river. My current commitment, started with the team this last year which also serves as a community service project for the team is to participate in the annual Connecticut River Cleanup Day held each fall. I’ve also taken to pestering my coaching colleagues north and south along the river to have their teams join in.
Q: Where did you coach prior to Wesleyan?
A: My first year of coaching was at Syracuse University followed by a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and four years at Northeastern where I had earned my undergraduate degree in physical education.
Q: You’re a former member of the National Collegiate Rowing Committee and the U.S. Rowing’s Junior Women’s Rowing Committee, and you’re ending a six-year term with the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championship Committee this year. Why do you get involved in these committees and why are they important to you?
A: I think most of us who coach give back to “our” organizations, we are what we make of them. I see it as part of my professional responsibility to contribute what and when I can. They are great opportunities for professional development and networking with others throughout the country. What I have learned serving on these committees is invaluable, and as I am now becoming aged with knowledge I am happy to share with younger coaches what I have learned in my 25 or so years of coaching. I consider it a great honor to have served, and to have been selected among my peers for a six year term on the the inaugural NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championship Committee where we created the format, and implement the details, and have overseen the running of one of the newest NCAA Championships.
Q: Tell me about your personal accomplishments as a competitor and coach?
A: When I finished my college rowing career I continued to row with the aim of making the national team. I made it to the pre-elite level a few years running and won some races at the US rowing championships. For a variety of reasons I did not make my goal of being a National team member, it was however an invaluable experience and additional education towards my coaching career. On and off over the years I have continued to compete in Master’s Rowing events. My personal accomplishments as a coach might be measured by many in our win/loss records where we have been very successful over the years Wesleyan women have also had many crews finish in the top three at our New England Rowing Championships, and twice have we have earned a berth at the NCAA Rowing Championships. It is harder to measure the personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I feel when I have been successful in teaching life lessons learned through rowing, or encouraged and inspired an athlete to achieve a personal best in ergometer racing, or simply watched the personal growth, self-awareness and self- assuredness that comes from the journey of becoming an athlete. Unlike most other sports rowing is a sport you can learn in college, and we do have individuals who join the team with little if any prior athletic experience.
Q: Have you ever tipped over?
A: These are things that you try to forget. But when I was training hard in Boston on the Charles River and just learning to scull, I flipped in front the Harvard men’s boathouse. It was not so much the men on the dock watching me flip that was embarrassing, but that the premier woman sculler at the time happened to be training too, and was standing on the dock watching as I so ungracefully flipped the boat and had to just as ungracefully get myself back in.
Q: What are your favorite on land activities?
A: Owning my own home, and recently sharing it with a gardener has not turned me into a green thumb yet, but I’m working towards it, and really enjoy learning about the plants, and creating a small colorful garden with plenty of catnip for our cat, Mimi, to play in. I’m also working towards my black-belt in aikido. When we are not in the garden in the summer we are on our bikes, or out hiking, and traveling to visit family and friends, while keeping an eye out for a good folk or jazz concert to attend.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Careers@Wesleyan, a new online career opportunity site, will replace the paper based employment process at Wesleyan.
The Human Resources Department began using Careers@Wesleyan April 19 to help automate the employment process.
Careers@Wesleyan provides online access to applicant information from any computer with an internet connection. The service will provide such enhancements as online review of the requisition approval process, capability to ask job specific prescreening questions to assist in developing a pool of qualified candidates, and online storage of applicant files to support a paperless process.
Job applicants will be able to view each position description online, establish a secure password protected file to maintain or update their profile and apply to positions from any computer with internet access 24 hours a day.
Careers@Wesleyan is designed to address the needs of staff recruitment and to provide new technology to enhance the employment process, explains Dan Pflederer, Human Resources Management System functional specialist.
To access the site, visit http://careers.wesleyan.edu.
by Olivia Drake •
ARTISTS’ STATEMENT: The Senior Thesis Exhibition is on display in the Center for the Arts Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery March 28-April 30. Pictured is the exhibition’s opening March 28.
|Raphael Griswold 06 left, talks to another student about his scrolling artwork.|
|The public is invited to come view the talents of the seniors in the Studio Art Program of the Department of Art and Art History. The exhibition is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free.|
|Two students get a good look at the artwork. (Photos by Kara Brodgesell ’07)|
by Olivia Drake •
|Jen Shea, head softball coach, assistant field hockey coach, teaches swimming as an adjunct professor of athletics.|
|Q: At what age did you first pick up a bat and ball, and where was this?
A: I grew up in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Hatfield is a small town of 3,500 people with a strong athletic tradition. When I was in elementary school, the high schools varsity softball team won back-to-back state titles and that is when I really became interested in the sport. I started off playing T-ball when I was in first grade and then graduated to slow-pitch softball when I was in fourth grade. I started playing fast-pitch when I was in seventh grade.
Q: Did you always excel in softball or other sports? What positions did you play?
A: I was a three-sport athlete in high school: field hockey, basketball and softball. I was always a pitcher in softball, but it wasnt until my sophomore year of high school that I really started to be successful. During my senior year of high school, I threw four consecutive no-hitters. Also during my senior year, our field hockey team went undefeated and won the Division I state title. Team accomplishments have always been more important to me than individual ones.
Q: Are softball and field hockey similar in any way?
A: Softball and field hockey really arent similar at all. I started playing them both when I was younger because they were the only sports offered in my school during their respective seasons. I really enjoy field hockey, but softball has always been my first passion.
Q: During your undergraduate years at Amherst, I understand you were the team captain of both the softball and field hockey teams. What were your biggest accomplishments?
A: My biggest accomplishment in softball was definitely winning the Little Three title my senior year. We had never beaten Williams in softball and then we swept them in a doubleheader the last weekend of the regular season to not only win the Little Three title, but also to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament. We went into NCAAs as the No. 5 seed in the New England Region and made it all the way to the finals. Being named to the New England Region All-Tournament Team was definitely an honor. In field hockey, I was selected to play in the Division III North-South All-Star game in 1997, but being the No. 1 team in New England my junior year and being selected for the NCAA Division III tournament was a bigger thrill.
Q: What did you receive your degrees in and when did you decide that coaching is what you wanted to do for a living?
A: I have a bachelors degree in American studies from Amherst and a masters degree in exercise and sports studies from Smith College. I went to college planning on majoring in math or computer science, but realized during my sophomore year that sports meant more to mean than just another extra-curricular activity. I had an internship in the sports department of a local newspaper during the summer of 1997 because I thought I wanted to go into sports journalism. It was during that time that I realized I wanted to be on the field teaching and coaching, not just covering games from the sidelines.
Q: How old is your softball glove, and how many have you gone through in your softball career?
A: My current glove is only about a year old. The previous one I had was from when I was in college and it finally became time to retire it last year. This is probably my fifth glove since I started playing.
Q: What months does the softball season span? Field hockey? When do the women begin training?
A: Softball practice begins on Feb. 15 each year and the season goes through the end of April. Field hockey practice begins during the end of August and the season ends at the end of October. Training for both sports really occurs year-round these days as the athletes need to stay in shape and on top of their game mentally and physically.
Q: Youre midway through the current softball season. How is the team looking?
A: Each year since Ive been here the team has gotten better and I feel the same is true this year. Theres a mix of eight returners and nine new players, so there has definitely been learning and growing processes involved. The women on the team are supportive of one another and work hard everyday in practice. I dont think our record is a true indicator of the potential that the team has and we have a lot left to show in the next two weeks.
Q: Who are you leading hitters and fielders?
A: Molly Gaebe 07 is our leading hitter and also a top pitcher along with Karla Hargrave 08 and Dayna Yorks 07. Marcia Whitehead 08 is a rock defensively at third base and Becca Feiden 08 patrols center field. They are also two of our top hitters as well. Tri-captains Beth Bernstein 06, Sarah Gillooly 06 and Lynn Leber 06 have all done an excellent job in leading this young team.
Q: Tell me about your spring break.
A: We went to California for spring break and played 14 games while we were out there. The trip was highlighted by the teams first win over NESCAC rival Tufts in 11 years.
Q: What do you look for in student-athletes?
A: I want student-athletes who are going to work hard, want to be coached, and are going to make the team a priority. I think academics and athletics go hand-in-hand and I look for student-athletes who want to succeed in both arenas.
Q: Do you currently play on any teams or are you strictly focusing on coaching?
A: I started playing club field hockey this past fall after a hiatus of several years. I also played a little slow-pitch softball last summer and am planning on continuing to play this summer.
Q: What class do you teach as an adjunct assistant professor?
A: I teach Swimming for Fitness. I enjoy teaching physical education classes at Wesleyan because it gives me a chance to meet more of the student body than just my players. Swimming is a life-long sport so I feel Im helping the students learn something that they can use after they leave Wesleyan.
Q: During the summers of 1999 and 2000, you were the head coach of the West scholastic division softball squad in the Bay State Games in Massachusetts. Where else did you coach before coming to Wesleyan in 2001?
A: After graduating from Amherst, I was selected as the colleges Hitchock Fellow in Physical Education. My responsibilities included being an assistant coach in three sports – field hockey, basketball, and softball – as well as teaching physical education classes. During that year I decided that coaching was the career I definitely wanted to embark upon. While I was in graduate school at Smith College, I continued to coach at Amherst as the assistant field hockey coach in 1999 and co-head softball coach in 2000 and 2001. I also was a sub-varsity field hockey coach at Williston-Northampton School in the fall of 2000 and the middle school girls basketball coach at my alma mater, Smith Academy, in the winter of 2000-2001.
Q: Who are your assistant coaches in softball?
A: My assistants this year are E.J. Heng and Leah Kelley. Both were stand-out players at the Division I level. E.J. is from California and played college ball at U.C.-Santa Barbara, while Leah is from Western Massachusetts. She played softball at Yale and is now an assistant dean of admission at Wesleyan. They are great assistants who have added a great deal of insight and have helped make me a better coach.
Q: Do you ever just go out and throw a ball for fun?
A: Sure! Just yesterday after practice, Leah and I jumped in the batting cage to take some swings. And often while the team is warming up at the beginning of practice, my assistants and I will warm-up our arms, too. It keeps us young!
Q: How influential was your family in your sports career?
A: I am very close with my family and my parents have been very supportive of me and my teams. They often travel down to Middletown from Massachusetts to watch us play. I really appreciate all the advice and encouragement they have given me over the years. If it werent for them, I would have never gotten involved in sports in the first place.
Q: Do you have any plans for the summer?
A: My summer project, besides recruiting for softball, is going to be renovating a house that Im in the process of buying. Its a little daunting, but Im excited to get started and finally have a place to call my own. Im also a huge Red Sox fan and I try to go to some games every summer and was even lucky enough to see a play-off game at Fenway in 2004 when the Sox were on their way to winning the World Series. Theres nothing like baseball in the summer!
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Rebecca Gordon 06 and her thesis advisor, John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, pose with brain scans used in a recent study.
| For psychology major Rebecca Gordon 06, developing a research project idea was practically a no-brainer. Well, except for the fact that she had to study brains.
By examining functional magnetic resonance images, known as fMRIs, Rebecca Gordon 06 was able to see how the brain reacted on a cognitive and emotional level with healthy subjects and subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Her study The Mere Exposure Effect and Schizophrenia: An fMRI Study was completed April 11 after nine months of research. The mere exposure effect is a psychological way of saying people express likeness for things merely because they are familiar with them.
“There have been no published fMRI studies of the mere exposure effect so I wanted to do a study that would contribute something new and important to several fields of psychology, says Gordon, who will graduate this year with a dual degree in psychology and music.
Gordon, whose father is a clinical psychologist, coordinated her own research projects throughout high school including working with Parkinson Disease patients at a lab in New York. During her first year at Wesleyan, Gordon excelled in Psychology 101, taught by John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.
Knowing that his student already had research experience, Seamon suggested that she follow up on procedures he and other students conducted in the 1980s and 1990s on explicit and implicit memory. Explicit memory is a form of memory that involves conscious retrieval of past events; implicit memory is a nonconscious retrieval of past events.
I encourage students who do well in my classes to get involved in research, either in my own lab or with others in psychology, and Rebecca was one of those special students, says Seamon, who became Gordons thesis advisor on the study.
Gordon, who was working at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living in Hartford last summer, had access to fMRI technology. Seamon suggested that she look for brain differences in explicit and implicit memory by measuring blood flow changes using the fMRI scanner.
Since July 2005, Gordon has spent her summer, winter and spring breaks immersed in conducting research, as well two to three days a week during the school year. She continually sought research advice from Seamon and technical advice from Godfrey Pearlson, director of the Neuropsychiatry Research Center and professor of psychiatry at Yale University.
By studying patients at the center in Hartford, she was able to perform two tests on 10 healthy control subjects and 10 schizophrenia patients. The subjects were placed inside the fMRI scanner during the study so she could monitor their brain activity.
Using an assessment method called the recognition memory test to measure explicit memory, Gordon projected a series of novel objects, each for a few seconds. Subjects were then asked to answer the question: Is this a possible or impossible object? After viewing these novel objects several times and recording the decisions, Gordon collected her results. She then resented pairs of objects, one old and one new, and asked the subjects to select the object in each pair that they previously viewed. When she analyzed the neurological activity during this explicit recognition test, she found memory accuracy was correlated with activation of the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for new learning.
In another test, called the affective preference test, Gordon measured implicit memory by asking the subjects which shape they preferred without asking them which one they remembered. During this test she found that there was still hippocampus activity along with a strong response from the amygdala, the almond-shaped neural structure in the brain that processes emotion.
Gordon and Seamon were thrilled with the new discovery.
This is a remarkable achievement for an undergraduate to go from a discussion with her advisor, take an idea and turn it into a tangible experiment that she then performed over a period of months, learn about this state of the art technology, collect and analyze data with technical help from the staff at the Institute of Living and produce new and interesting findings, Seamon says.
Gordons report was submitted for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the bachelors of arts degree with departmental honors in psychology. She hopes to get her study published in a professional psychology journal.
In addition, she will present her study during the Psychology Department Poster Session April 18.
“I can’t believe that even as I got to the very end of my project, I never got tired of it. I was always excited about the idea of finding something completely new,” she says, holding two gray brain scans, speckled with colors. The colors illustrate where in the brain activity was happening during the subjects tasks.
Gordon will return to the Institute of Living this summer for continued research, this time focusing on autistic children and people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Next fall, she will begin graduate school at Yeshiva University in New York where she plans to continue her studies in psychology.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Pictured at top, Wesleyan students and staff walk down a street in Istanbul on their way to the mosque during a trip to Turkey and Israel March 12-23.
Pictured at right, the group takes a break in the Teldan Nature Preserve in Golan Heights, Israel with their tour guide. The Wesleyan students are Ben Sachs-Hamilton, Avi Smith, Phil Zegelbone, Jamal Ahmed, Mike Figura, Kulsoom Hasan, Maggie Mitchell, Tussy Alam, Rachel Berkowitz, Aaron Tabek, Jessica Eber and Joel Bhuiyan. Wesleyan Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Abdullah Antepli, pictured in center in purple and black shirts, coordinated the overseas trip.
| Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, wanted to prove to his students that Jews and Muslims can peacefully coexist with one another.
But Leipziger Teva, who also goes by Rabbi David, admits that for students to understand this complex co-existence, they must couple classroom knowledge with real life, personal experiences.
So Leipziger Teva and former Wesleyan Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli chose five Wesleyan Muslim students and six Jewish students, out of 23 who applied, and set out for an 11-day spring break excursion of Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem, Israel.
The trip was very intense, admits Leipziger Teva, who says he was most moved after seeing Palestinian and Israeli Christian, Muslim and Jewish children learning together in one classroom at the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem.
The group also visited Kibbutz Metzer, an Israeli socialist commune, where member Dov Avital shared his story about living peacefully, just yards away, from a Palestinian-Arab village.
In November of 2002, suicide bomber from a radical Palestinian terrorist group broke into this Israeli Kibbutz and killed five people. Leipziger Teva says that despite the terrorist attack the two communities remain committed to dialogue and friendship.
Dov told the story with tears in his eyes and we were all moved by it, says Leipziger Teva. This is just one hopeful example, despite the violence of how Jews and Muslims are trying to co-exist with each other in peace and we wanted the students to see this.
Jamal Ahmed, a Pakistani freshman from New York City, was also moved by Avitals story.
On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace, says Ahmed. Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”
The group also met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders,including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo. They also visited popular landmarks including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall as well as other mosques, synagogues and visited with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and families.
Rabbi David says that during their trip, he witnessed a progressive transformation among the students.
I saw a deepening of their individual religious spiritual identities, he says. They were all challenged and I was constantly motivated by the dialogue that was happening.
Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external, says Berkowitz. I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.
Leipziger Teva hopes that one day this Spring break trip will spark these students into making strides towards peace in the Middle East.
Someone from this trip might one day become a senator, a Fulbright Scholar, or eventually may help draft future peace plans for Israel, says Leipziger Teva, who feels that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to demonstrate compromise before real peace is established.
Next month Leipziger Teva, who is hoping to raise more funds in order to repeat the trip next year, will start showcasing a DVD documentary of the trip to mosques, churches, synagogues, and to high schools. He also plans on introducing the documentary at the Muslim Student Association Annual Conference and Hillel, the conference of Jewish College Communities later this year.
No other school has ever taken Jews and Muslims together in one group to the Middle East, says Leipziger Teva. Wesleyan is unique and we hope we can help jumpstart dialogue and peace among all the children of Abraham Jews, Muslims and Christians.
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, suggests that the government place a growing tax on the cost of carbon during a hearing March 30 in Washington D.C.
| When Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, received a call from Senator Joseph R. Biden’s office to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., he didn’t hesitate. In fact, he hurried.
Yohe, who was the sole expert, recommended by both the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Center on Global Climate Change to Senator Biden’s office, had only a few days in which to prepare his brief testimony on “The Hidden (Climate Change) Costs of Oil.”
In a five-minute prepared opening statement, Yohe called attention to the sources of economic cost attributed to climate change and suggested that government respond by placing a permanent and growing tax on the cost of carbon. The point of such a tax (or any policy that would add the climate cost of carbon to the price of oil) is to hedge against, or reduce the likelihood, of the extreme consequences of global warming.
“We don’t have to go overboard,” Yohe explained, but “adopting a risk-management (hedging) approach to minimize the cost of future policy adjustments would be appropriate and economical over the long run.
Yohe says he believes Senators Biden and Richard G. Lugar seemed to agree with his testimony.
“We were there for almost two-and-one-half hours and the two senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee were fully engaged and almost thinking out loud with us, says Yohe. The staffers were incredulous that they spent so much time with us.”
According to Yohe, Senator Biden said that people might get used to paying a persistent tax on petroleum. Biden was particularly interested, though, in how such a charge might be factored into the investment decisions of American businesses as they frame the energy infrastructure for the next half-century.
Senator Lugar, on the other hand, was specifically interested on how best to implement an
“I had a short amount of time to get in front of two people who essentially could take my research and make a difference,” says Yohe. “After generating pages of points that I wanted to raised, I picked out what I thought was the most important information and tried to tell a
To read the full transcript of Yohes testimony, please refer to the following link:
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
| The Wesleyan community will celebrate Earth Week April 16-April 22 with a series of activities, lectures and observations. Events include:
Lecture on “The Purpose of Nature”
Verlyn Klinkenborg, a writer and professor of literature and creative writing at Fordham University and Harvard University, will deliver the Earth Day address The Purpose of Nature at 8 p.m. April 20 in Memorial Chapel. A reception and book signing immediately follow in the Zelnick Pavilion.
Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, The Rural Life, and Timothy: Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, and many magazine and newspaper articles. A modern Thoreau, his lyrical portrayals of rural living and nature captivate our imagination while delivering a critical message. He is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.
Food Politics Week
Brooke Duling 08 says the group aims to raise awareness about the political implications people take simply by choosing to eat certain foods. They willhighlight the consumption of local, organic, vegetarian/vegan food and open a dialogue about how to access these foods.
For additional information, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/earthweek/ or contact Kathleen Norris, administrative assistant, Environmental Studies Certificate Program at 860-685-3733 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Rachel Ostlund 08 sprinkles seedlings inside a shelter at Long Lane Farm. The farm is expanding this spring to a full acre. Pictured below are vegetables grown last year by the Long Lane Farming Club.
| Although Wesleyans Long Lane Farm Club uses organic methods to grow its produce, a little Miracle Grow has been sprinkled on one aspect of their garden: its progress.
The Long Lane Farm Club was created in 2004 so students would have a place to come together and learn about food security issues. What began as a 50-foot plot of flowers and vegetables will be expanded into a full acre this spring. The expanded cultivation area will increase the clubs produce, which is shared by Wesleyan students and the local community.
Maddie Thomson 08 got involved in the farm last spring, favoring the idea of organic farming. When a person buys a tomato at the grocery store, chances are, it was not locally grown, she says.
So much of our food is grown halfway across the world and shipped here using enormous amounts of fossil fuels, Thomson says. I think it’s really important to think about where our food comes from, and whether it’s produced sustainability. There is a growing movement to rethink the way we produce food, and at Long Lane we’re part of that movement, which is really exciting.
The 50 members of the Long Lane Farming Club are thrilled to expand to a full acre. Knowing it will take extra helping hands, about 15 volunteers from the Wesleyan community have been recruited to help out with watering, weeding, pruning, mixing soil and other gardening duties. Almost all the work is done by hand.
In addition, the club’s Community Supported Agricultural Project will have 10 members this year. These members support the garden by paying a fee, and every week for 10 weeks, they receive a share of the produce. Each pays $350, of which $150 is a donation to make produce available to food-insecure people. Members also participate in the distribution process by manning the tables every week to help pass out food to the other members.
The club will have a farm stand in low-income areas of Middletown and can accept food stamps. Everything that doesn’t sell will go to soup kitchens.
The Long Lane Farm has more than 80 vegetables and herbs grown in the two-year-old organic garden. This includes tomatoes, broccoli, kale, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, corn, beans, eggplants, zucchini, pumpkins, squash. New this year will be a garlic crop.
The Wesleyan students have already planted seedlings inside their student residences. Once its warm enough, they will replant the seedlings into the garden.
This summer the student farmers plan to hire four interns to work on the farm. Since the farm doubles as an educational tool for the community, the Long Lane Farm has partnered with Snow Elementary School in Middletown to get kids out in the farm to work, play, learn about farming and plants, and taste-test a few vegetables.
In 2004, Rachel Lindsay 05 planted the first crops in a circular-shaped plot. Local residents rounded out the corners with garlic and potato gardens, among several flower beds. Lindsay, Rachel Ostlund 06 and other Wesleyan students later planted a tomato and broccoli garden, among rows of Swiss chard, pumpkins and squash.
I just love that Long Lane Farm is a totally student-run farm, so that we get a chance to see and participate in all of the aspects of running it, Thomson says.
The Long Lane Farm is funded by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, the Rockfall Foundation and personal donations. It relies on donations to pay summer interns and make the garden possible.
For more information or to make a donation to the Long Lane Farm, e-mail email@example.com.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|