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Wesleyan’s Douglas Cannon to Return after 10 Years?


Members of the class of 1918, the last class to hold a “Cannon Scrap” on campus, serenade the Douglas Cannon at their 55th reunion in 1973. Rumors have it that the cannon may return this year during Reunion & Commencement Weekend. Below, the cannon makes an appearance in Paris, France in the mid 1980s.
Posted 04/02/07
There are no promises, but rumors have been heard that the 139-year-old Douglas Cannon – a revered Wesleyan artifact – may make an appearance during the 175th Commencement this May.

John Driscoll, director of alumni relations, says he’s heard vague rumblings that the cannon might be leaving a current sanctuary and be heading towards Connecticut.

“I know I looked carefully throughout Southeast Asia and it wasn’t there,” Driscoll says. “But I daresay there is more than just rumor floating in the air. I would be exceedingly presumptuous to predict with confidence, but I hear there are noises, promising ripples not heard for too long. Like the promise of spring, they instill hope.”

The Douglas Cannon, a 140-pound, 29-inch long, brass artillery instrument, has been a celebrated saga on campus since the 1860s. A yearly contest, the “Cannon Scrap,” developed between the freshmen, whose mission it was to fire the cannon on Feb. 22, and the sophomores, who were charged with foiling the effort. The game ended in 1916 and in 1931, the cannon was filled with 100 pounds of lead and mounted to a block of brownstone between Memorial Chapel and South College. The cannon remained there for 26 years, only to be stolen by students in 1957, returned, then stolen again in 1959.

The cannon has traveled widely since that time: it has been hidden in dormitories, presented to the Russian Mission at the United Nations as a “symbol of peace, brotherhood, and friendship,” appeared unexpectedly in the offices of the managing editor of Life magazine, presented to President Richard M. Nixon as a protest against the war in Vietnam, and baked into Wesleyan’s sesquicentennial birthday cake in 1981.

In 1982, the gun went missing once more. Using bolt cutters, wire cutters, pliers, vice grips, a crow bar, sheet metal hammer and a hook and wood saw, cannon-nappers broke into the Office of Public Safety, where the cannon was residing. They left $5 to pay for their damages.

The thieves known as “Doug Addicts” took the cannon on a world tour, making stops in London and Paris, as revealed in photographs. A postcard from “Doug” arrived in the president’s office from Venezuela in 1989. Customs stamps on the cannon’s wooden crate, noticed at a later appearance, confirmed that it left the country.

It’s been 10 years since the cannon appeared on campus. In 1997, the cannon was “gifted” in a large plaster package with a red ribbon near the Davenport Campus Center. The plaster was broken apart with hammers and chisels and the wooden crate inside containing the cannon was swiftly carried off by a group of students.

Bill Burkhart, university photographer, has witnessed the cannon’s disappearing acts for 17 years.

“The Douglas Cannon tradition is becoming a non-tradition, since five classes have graduated, clueless to the cannon’s significance,” Burkhart says. “Come home Doug, come home. Soon.”

Driscoll says he and Suzy Taraba, university archivist, received photos showing the cannon “well cared for by scantily clad revelers” during Homecoming/Family Weekend three years ago. Two years ago, a cannon appeared at halftime during the homecoming football game, however, it was suspected of being a fraud.

“So, I think it is fair to say, subject to counter claims and evidence, that there has not been a full-blown appearance of the Cannon since 1997,” Driscoll says.

Driscoll says the 175th commencement would be a good time for the cannon to make an appearance.

“It certainly would be a good time, what with length of absence and too many Wesleyan folks knowing too little about this fun-filled tradition, and it being our 175th year, and, finally, it being the end of the Bennets’ good tenure –the name ‘Douglas’ should mean something — but it is too early to tell,” he says.

For more on the history of the Douglas Cannon, go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/schome/cannon/cannon.htm.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Post Doc Awarded Gilder Lehrman Fellowship


Posted 04/02/07
Jacob Dorman, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, has been awarded a research fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Dorman will conduct research at the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library. His project title is “Everyday Life and the Harlem Renaissance.”

Dorman received a bachelor’s of art from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in African American history. At Wesleyan, he teaches Black Urban Religious History.

He will use his Gilder Lehrman Fellowship to research the social history of black life during the Harlem Renaissance.

To support outstanding scholarship, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awards short-term fellowships in several categories: Research Fellowships for post-doctoral scholars at every faculty rank, Dissertation Fellowships for doctoral candidates who have completed exams and begun dissertation reading and writing, and Research Fellowships for journalists and independent scholars. The Gilder Lehrman Fellowships support work in one of five archives in New York City.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It helps to create history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. Since 1994, it has funded a total of 415 fellowships.

For more information on the Gilder Lehrman Fellowship go to http://www.gilderlehrman.org.

Student Presents Stem Cell Research at International Symposium


Jenna Gopilan ’07 researches neural stem cells in mice brains, and presented her research at a recent StemCONN conference.
Posted 04/02/07
Jenna Gopilan ’07 familiarized herself with the scientific research environment during her freshman year as a work study student. As a sophomore, she shadowed graduate students to learn their techniques. Now, as a senior, the neuroscience and behavior major had the opportunity to present her own research project to the Media and Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The briefing took place during Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research International Symposium, also known as StemCONN 07, March 27-28. Gopilan’s research, presented on a poster, was titled “Defects in the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Adult Mice Deficient for DNA Double-Strand Break Repair.” Political leaders, scientists, academics and the general public attended the symposium. Gopilian was the only undergraduate chosen from 10 other students to present for this session.

“It was a little intimidating to present my research to scientists from around the world and our state’s legislators, but it was an educational experience,” Gopilan says. “Listening to legislators’ inspiring speeches, I learned that scientists should take a more active role in their community.”

Launched in the wake of Connecticut’s historic decision to support human stem cell research, StemCONN attracted stem cell researchers from around the world. The program included events touching all aspects of stem cell research, including scientific, commercial, political and ethical dimensions. Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell opened the proceedings.

Gopilan received funding for her project from Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) and Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). The grant funds her studies of endogenous neural stem cells in the hippocampus of adult mice and the neurogenic response of the brain to seizures.

Last summer, Gopilan conducted research at the University of California, San Francisco. There, she learned how to harvest neural stem cells from the central nervous system of adult mice. She was able to use the technique back at Wesleyan in the lab supervised by Janice Naegele, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department.

“Although these are early days in her research project, Jenna already has some interesting data that she had the opportunity to present in the Capital and at StemCONN,” Naegele says. “Not only is this a very nice recognition of her interesting project, it is also an opportunity to present her ideas at an international conference where she was able to receive feedback from experts in the stem cell field.”

Prior to her junior year, Gopilan was accepted to be a Hughes Fellow, spending the entire summer working on a single research project “The Effects of Serotonin on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus of DNA-PKcs Mice”. Gopilan will graduate this May, but will continue her research as a fifth-year master’s student at Wesleyan.

After Gopilan offered her presentation side-by-side with scientists who have received major grants from the state, Dr. Gerald Fishbone and Dr. Jerry Yang, members of the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, lauded her work and offered advice for the young scientist.

“Their input allowed me to reevaluate my research and think of new and innovative experiments to answer questions I have for my research,” Gopilan says. “I would to like continue working with adult neural stem cells in the future. There are still many things left to understand and decipher.”

The long-term goal of her work is to repair brain damage in disorders such as epilepsy.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

NSF Grant to Support Women’s Advancement in the Geosciences


In center, Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, teaches visiting 5th grade students about rocks. O’Connell was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support building a community of women geoscience leaders.
Posted 04/02/07
A three-year, $488,367 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Mary Anne Holmes, research associate professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will help women from all academic levels take part in a community that stresses professional development in the geosciences.

The project, titled, “Building a Community of Women Geoscience Leaders” is funded by the NSF’s ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation and Dissemination Award. Wesleyan’s portion of the grant is$259,593.

“We want to overcome isolation, a known factor in the non-retention of women scientists, teach women skills to help them succeed in academia, and develop strategies with female and male department chairs to develop an environment that is more supportive of women,” O’Connell says.

The grant will fund a program designed to increase the retention of women in geoscience programs. The program, called GANE, or Geoscience Academics in New England, will target colleges and universities located in the northeast region of the country.

O’Connell and Holmes hope to implement professional development workshops and writing retreats to provide women necessary skills to reach their full potential as academic and scientific leaders. Geoscience department chairs will be offered special workshops, as well, with an emphasis on increasing gender balance. These workshops will address strategies to increase department diversity, while providing a productive environment for all faculty.

A database of academic geoscientists will be created to measure progress. Results may be shared with other regions across the country.

O’Connell and Holmes are both members of the Association for Women Geoscientists, an international organization devoted to enhancing the quality and level of participation of women in the geosciences. It also aims to introduce girls and young women to geoscience careers. In 2000, O’Connell was given the association’s Outstanding Educator Award.

O’Connell says it was a physician who inspired her to become a professional woman. When O’Connell was 10, she fell off a fence and was taken to the hospital. Lying for hours in a large green room, she saw many incredible sights, but what amazed her most at the time was that the person who treated her was a woman.

“A woman doctor! That was a revelation,” O’Connell recalls. “At that time, I was planning to be a nun, but now it occurred to me that maybe I could be a doctor. That woman, just by her presence, started me thinking. Like that physician, we are all role models. Who knows what ideas we can implant in young heads.”

O’Connell didn’t grow up to be a physician or nun, but she did receive a Ph.D studying marine sediments, focusing on how large quantities of land sediment get transported to the deep sea by turbidity currents. She teaches Wesleyan students about sedimentology, marine geology, climate change and oceanography, and researches past climate change by studying sediment cores from the ocean.

“I don’t think we can always know how we are influencing others,” O’Connell says. “But I do think that we, as women geoscientists, help every young girl to know that she has wider career options. It’s often not easy, but it is exciting.”

O’Connell was featured in the March 2007 issue of Nature, Volume 446 Number 7133, in an article titled, “Leaks in the pipeline: Why do women remain curiously absent from the ranks of academia?” The article is online at http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2007/070315/full/nj7133-346a.html.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Watson Fellowship Allows Seniors to Study Abroad


 
At left, Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 received Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowships, which facilitate independent projects abroad.
Posted 04/02/07
Two Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct independent studies as Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellows.

Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 each received the $25,000 award. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship provides graduating college seniors with a one year fellowship to explore an independent project outside of the United States, to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

Approximately 195 students were nominated to be Watson Fellows; of these, only 50 were accepted. They come from 24 states and seven foreign countries.

Louise Brown, associate dean of the college and campus liaison, nominated Bishop and Senderowicz.

“We are delighted that Marlon and Leigh will have this unequaled opportunity to experience learning on a global scale, “Brown says. “They will not only engage in a project about which they are passionate, but also experience the personal and intellectual stretch from undertaking an independent project in countries outside the United States. Being awarded seven fellowships over the past five years is a wonderful recognition of the intellect, creativity and character of Wesleyan students.

Bishop will travel to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Ecuador and Brazil for his study “From Punta to Palos: Exploring the Hidden Afro-Latino Musics.” Senderowicz will travel to Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey for a study titled “Taboo and Tolerance: Reproductive Health in Cultural Context.”

Bishop’s psroject comes from a personal musical connection to the African-derived musical styles of the United States, a great interest in Latin America and its cultural milieu, and a musicological education at Wesleyan. The Queens, N.Y. native started playing piano when he was 10, and started performing musical jams at the age of 14. He’s explored rock, American blues, soul, funk, jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, and at the age of 16, developed a fascination for Latin American culture and music during a visit to Peru.

Bishop recalls playing his charango, a small Andean string instrument, and a group of teenagers with guitars and flutes came by, curious to see what a “fair-haired gringo” was doing with a local instrument. Though he only knew a handful of chords, it was enough to play along and he and the Peruvians spent the rest of the day playing.

“Though I spoke little Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate meaningfully with people who lived a world apart through music,” Bishop says. “The Watson year will take my personal, musical, and academic development to the next level, synthesizing the knowledge I have achieved into a single vision of the cultural processes that make music what it is.”

Senderowicz will look at how women’s health is affected by the laws of a nation, the dictates of culture, the directives of religion, the politics of international development organizations, and the values of the women themselves. Specifically, she will examine reproductive health choices by looking at the situation at each rung of the ladder as aid money travels from international organizations down to women seeking health care.

She intends to talk with administrators, doctors, nurses, traditional health care practitioners, and most importantly, women seeking reproductive health care at non-governmental organizations and local health clinics.

“The biggest thing I hope to accomplish is gaining a sense of what my role in a broader global context should be,” Senderowicz says. “I’m going to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a chance to re-engage and try to figure out where I can make positive interventions.”

The foundation selects its fellows by identifying individuals who demonstrate leadership, resourcefulness, imagination or vision, independence, integrity, responsibility and emotional maturity and courage. A candidate’s academic record, while not of primary importance, is also considered, together with those extracurricular activities that reflect both initiative and dedication.

Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects. Fellows set their agenda and decide how questions can be answered, when it is time to move on, if a project must be adjusted in any way. All fellows are required to maintain contact with the foundation during their year abroad, and submit a final evaluation.

“I’m very lucky not to have to jump into the grind of a career, and want to make the most possible out of this year,” Bishop says. “A year of travel, adventure, new sights and sounds, education, the joy of exploration of a little-studied subject. It all sounds like a great experience.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Secretary Assists Coaches, Administrators, Student with Athletic, Physical Education Needs


Nancy Chesbro, secretary for the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, attends several Wesleyan athletic events. She’s worked in the department for 26 years.
 
Posted 04/02/07
Q: Nancy, you’ve been a secretary in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics for 26 years. What led you here in the first place?

A: I had worked in the Physical Education Department at the University of Connecticut, so when I decided to look for a job in Middletown, Wesleyan was the logical place to start. When I was offered a position in Physical Education it was a perfect match for me. I started with a part-time position, which was helpful since I had children in elementary school and I was able to be home when they were. The job worked itself into a full-time position.

Q: When you started, where was your office located?

A: The Athletic office was located on Wyllys Avenue, in a place which is now a parking lot. The department moved as a whole from Wyllys to the Freeman Athletic Center in June of 1990.

Q: What are your primary job responsibilities? What goes on during the day?

A: My main responsibilities are to assist the coaches and administrators in any way they need help. Recruiting goes on all year and much time is spent doing mailings. I am also responsible for the team rosters which appear on the athletic Web pages, officials for all games, facility user memberships, faculty and staff lockers, coordinating our banquets and gate receipts at all home football games. I am also the administrative support person for the Adult Fitness Program.

Q: How often do you interact with Wesleyan coaches and Wesleyan athletes?

A: I interact with all coaches on a daily basis. I get to know students that come by the office frequently.

Q: What goes on during a day at the office?

A: Each day is different. You have to be able to work with interruptions and be ready to change your focus in a minute. Many prospective students and parents stop by the office daily and you always have to be ready to speak with them and get them to the coach they are seeking. I could be anywhere in this building and be working.

Q: Do you attend any of the athletic events at Wesleyan?

A: My husband and I attend many of the athletic events. We traveled to Florida over spring break the past few years with the women’s lacrosse team and have had a great time with the coaches and athletes. We also travel to some of the away events with Bowdoin being the longest trip.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: I like it here, the atmosphere is friendly and we have a great group of coaches and staff. I enjoy the changes that take place every season, which makes the job new and exciting, and rarely boring.

Q: What is your favorite sport?

A: My husband and I are golfers so we like to spend vacations playing golf. We have spent many vacations playing in North and South Carolina and Florida. I think the most famous courses we have played are Pinehurst and The Legends in North Carolina and Yale, TPC at River Highlands and Lake of Isles in Connecticut.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I have two children, and three grandchildren. My son and son-in-law are both golf course superintendents at private courses and my daughter is a physical education teacher in the Middletown school system. My grandsons are 4, 3 and 6 months. The 3-year-old already has a pretty mean golf swing. He asks to go to the course.

Q: Red Sox or Yankees?

A: Go Yankees!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

ETCHED IN TIME: Annalisa Kelly ’08 and Evan Barton ’08 discuss artist Jim Dine’s The Pine in a Storm of Aquatint (1978) displayed at Davison Art Center’s gallery March 8. The piece was part of the DAC’s exhibit “Etching Since 1950.”

Kelly looks over a seven-plate etching from artist Mimmo Paladino titled Among the Olive Trees (1984). The print was acquired by the Friends of Davison Art Center in 1985.

A print titled Incubus (1998) by David Schorr, professor of art, was on display in a glass case inside the gallery. This sequence of proof states record Schorr’s process as he developed a single image, created on a copper plate. Schorr’s art was among more than 30 etchings on display. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Davis ’07 Wins 5,000M National Indoor Championship


Posted 03/16/07
Competing in the 5,000M event in the NCAA Division III Indoor Track Championships for the third year in a row, Ellen Davis ’07 completed her rise from eighth in 2005, to fourth in 2006, and finally national champion in 2007 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. March 10.

Her winning time of 16:43.73 eclipsed the team record she set a year ago (16:46.61) when she entered the NCAAs with the fastest qualifying time in the country.

This race is equivalent to 3.1 miles.

Davis, pictured at far left, came into the event as the number four seed but ran away from the field, leaving second-place Shauneen Garrahan of Amherst 7.5 seconds behind. With 10 team points courtesy of Davis’ top finish, Wesleyan came in tied for 16th among 56 scoring teams at the NCAAs in 2007.

A three-time indoor track All-American, Davis also has two All-America performances in cross country to her credit, including a 9th-place finish in 2006.

Davis is Wesleyan’s second national female indoor track champion in the last four years. She joins Jenna Flateman ’04 who won 55-meter dash title in 2003 and was a four-time All-American in the event.

Davis’ victory is seen in the online video http://www.rose-hulman.edu/sports/ncaatrack/pages/5000womenweb.mov.

The next track meet for Wesleyan is the outdoor Trinity Invitational at Trinity College in Hartford on March 31.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director. Photo provided by Rose-Hulman.

National Science Foundation Supports Undergraduate Science, Astronomy Research


Posted 03/16/07
Bill Herbst, John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy and chair of the Astronomy Department, has received a $330,990 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will benefit Wesleyan and the seven other elite liberal arts member institutions in the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium (KNAC).

Along with Wesleyan, the other KNAC institutions covered by the funding are Colgate University, Haverford College, Middlebury College, Swarthmore College Vassar College, Wellesley College and Williams College. The funding allows the schools in the consortium to continue their summer research program for undergraduates, which has been in existence for 17 years.

“Since this program began almost two decades ago, we have provided approximately 175 summer research experiences for our students,” Herbst, pictured right, says. “The program has been very successful in engaging students with astronomical research and sparking long-term interest in science. In fact, nearly half of these students have gone on to graduate school and most are pursuing science-oriented careers.

Herbst adds that, since the program was begun, nearly half of the KNAC students have been female.

“We’re also seeking to include more students from underrepresented minorities, and from schools in the northeast where participation in astronomy research is not possible,” he says.

The 10-week summer research program sponsored by KNAC and the NSF grant provides opportunities for 12 students to work at a KNAC institution. However, to promote educational diversity, students from consortium schools cannot do research at their own institutions during the 10-week program. The program also reserves two to four spaces each year for students from institutions outside the consortium.

“The idea is to provide more real research opportunities to students and expand their astronomy education at all levels while also increasing collegial interactions among faculty and students,” Herbst says.

In the fall, all the KNAC faculty, mentors and participating students, including those who have been accepted to the program but have not yet begun research, are invited to a Student Symposium. KNAC-supported students from the summer give a 10-minute presentation on their research. There are also presentations by invited speakers, a poster session and a publication of the proceedings, which are distributed throughout the astronomical community.

“We’re very excited to receive this grant, which is vital to KNAC,” Herbst says. “KNAC has evolved into a great model for other small college astronomy departments of how a regional consortium can be created and managed to successfully address the issues of size and limited resources.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo by Bill Burkhart.

Guggenheim Recipient to Pursue Research on Jews, Christians


Posted 03/16/07
A research grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation will allow a Wesleyan faculty member to pursue her research on Jews and Christians in pre-modern Poland.

Magdalena Teter, assistant professor of history, received the Guggenheim award in March. The foundation makes grants in the natural and social sciences and the humanities that promise to increase understanding of the causes, manifestations, and control of violence, aggression, and dominance. Awards range between $15,000 and $30,000.

Teter, pictured at right, was one of eight recipients of the award. She will research the close social interaction between Jews and Christians; the role of lay and religious instigators in exploiting religious sentiments; position of the accused Jews in the community; local economic dynamics; and, the role of gender. She will publish her findings in a tentatively titled book, “An Anatomy of Sectarian Violence: Jews and Christians in Pre-Modern Poland.”

The Guggenheim grant will allow Teter to travel to Rome and Poland to conduct archival research. She plans to work in the General Archives of the Carmelite Order in Rome, the Roman Archive of Society of Jesus, the Secret Vatican Archives, and the Polish Archdiocesan archives in Poznan, Cracow, as well as a number of state archives.

This research will be completed throughout the summer and again, for a few weeks during the fall or winter.

“In today’s world plagued with sectarian violence, roots of such violence have aroused a widespread interest,” Teter says. “I want to know what makes neighbors rise against neighbors? What’s the role of authorities in incitement or quelling of violence? And who benefits from it? These questions are not limited to modern times but are also pertinent to pre-modern societies, in which religion was crucial in shaping social order.”

Teter’s project examines questions of social and religious violence and aggression between the two religious groups by looking at specifically religiously motivated violence aimed at asserting religious dominance of one group over the other.

Teter will publish her findings in a book titled “An Anatomy of Sectarian Violence: Jews and Christians in Pre-modern Poland.”

At Wesleyan, Teter has taught classes on Jewish history, Jews among Christians and Muslims, early modern Europe, East European Jewish experiences and senior thesis. In 2000, she received her Ph.D from Columbia University with a dissertation titled, “Jews in the Legislation and the Teachings of the Catholic Church in Poland (1648-1772).”

As a Guggenheim recipient, Teter is required to submit a written report within six months of the end of the grant period. The report includes a discussion of the scientific and scholarly accomplishments achieved under the grant.

For more information on the Guggenheim Foundation go to: www.hfg.org.
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Investigative Captain Helps Victims and Solves Crimes


Michael Kishimoto, investigative captain for Public Safety, joined the department in 1985.
 
Posted 03/16/07
Police and public safety officers investigate crimes, direct traffic, attend public events to maintain order, patrols specified areas and ensures the safety of people in their community. But when it comes to helping victims of a crime, the Public Safety officers take this aspect of their job up a notch.

“Sometimes, a student just wants to talk about a crime they were a part of, and its part of our jobs to listen and be concerned about their health and welfare,” explains Michael Kishimoto, Public Safety’s investigative captain.

Kishimoto, who joined the Public Safety staff in 1985, investigates up to 50 campus crimes a week. Solving the crimes is a goal, but Kishimoto’s top priority is working with victims and offering them support. He explains victim’s options, and how to proceed.

Recently, he’s helped a victim of sexual assault seek psychological counseling and move forward with her studies and life.

“Students tend to trust Captain Kishimoto,” says David Meyer, director of Public Safety. “They feel comfortable talking to him, and when students talk, it makes it easier for him to investigate crimes and get them solved faster.”

Since Kishimoto is the department’s only investigative officer, his workload and hours vary week to week. Sometimes he’s working days, other times nights. He frequently takes on weekend and holiday shifts and is almost always on call.

He works primarily in the office, making follow-up calls and answering questions from students and parents. If time allows, he enjoys patrolling campus. Often, he is able to prevent a crime before it happens.

Kishimoto gained his crime-solving skills during a six-year stint with the U.S. Army after high school. There, he worked as a sergeant with the military police. Afterwards, he applied for a Public Safety position at Wesleyan, and spent many years adjusting to the change of environment.

“Imagine going from the military police to a liberal college,” he says. “It was quite a shock at first, but after 22 years I find myself more liberal than the students.”

Captain Kishimoto enjoys working with the Wesleyan students and strives to make sure everyone feels safe in their university home, while away from home. Although campus is spattered with emergency blue light call boxes and public safety officers are patrolling campus 24-hours, crimes can, and will happen. Unfortunately, many crimes are committed by fellow students, he explains.

He’s seen the gamut of cases from neighbors stealing laptops, to students posting racial graffiti. The worst incidents, however, involve physical contact.

“Students can feel very safe on campus, but the problem is that they become too trusting, and that can become a problem,” he says. “Students should always walk in pairs at night, lock their doors if they leave, and always be mentally prepared incase someone comes up to them from behind. You just never know what can happen.”

Kishimoto, son of a Japanese-Hawaiian father and an Irish mother, grew up in East Hartford, Conn. with his four brothers. He currently lives on a 26-acre farm in Andover, Conn. with his wife, Christina; 6-year-old daughter, Maria; and a giant pond stocked with large-mouth bass.

“If I could be a full time fish farmer or fisherman, I’d do that, but since I have to work, Public Safety isn’t a bad place to be,” he says, smiling. “It’s good to work around the students. They keep me young.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Blumenthal Featured at Wesleyan Earth Day Celebration


Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will speak April 18 on campus.
Posted 03/16/07
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will deliver a keynote address on Connecticut’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming at Wesleyan University’s Earth Day celebration at 8 p.m. April 18 in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward in the adjoining Zelnick Pavilion.

The presentation is being sponsored by The Robert Schumann Lecture Series in the Environmental Studies Certificate Program.

For more information, contact Valerie Marinelli at 860-685-3733 or vmarinelli@wesleyan.edu.