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Stamp of Approval: Assistant Post Office Manager Celebrates 40 Years


Assistant post office manager Jerry Winzer hand sorts mail inside Wesleyan Station.
 
Posted 02/23/05
After working 28 years at Middletown’s U.S. Postal Service, Gerard “Jerry” Winzer decided to it was time to retire. Winter, he learned, is not the ideal time to call it quits.

“November was a bad time to retire,” the 62-year-old says. “I wasn’t too crazy about just hanging around. I needed to keep busy.”

To beat the winter blues, Winzer took up a part-time position at Wesleyan Station delivering mail. Part-time evolved into full-time work, and, this year, the assistant post office manager will celebrate 12 years working at Wesleyan, and his 40th year in the postal services profession.

Winzer’s workday begins at 7 a.m. when he’s greeted by heaps of unsorted mail. A mail messenger picks up the parcels an hour later to deliver.

“By 8, I’ve already sorted a lot of mail,” he says noting the dozens of wood shelves he packs with envelopes, papers, publications and packages. “You can’t be a slacker in the post office.”

Lisa Davis, the post office’s manager deals with budgets, equipment and bill paying. That leaves Winzer to oversee 20 student workers, two full-time office clerks and two full-time mail messengers, who each cover a specified route twice a day. They make approximately 80 stops per route, delivering and collecting mail at more than 100 departments.

Every letter or publication that comes through Wesleyan Station is hand sorted. With no mail delivery on the weekends, the postal workers have to deal with twice as much mail on Mondays.

“You should see it in here on a Monday. It’s crazy,” he says.

Campus mail used to be sorted alphabetically, but Winzer has since developed his own sorting system. Now, mail is bundled up inside Wesleyan Station in order of the carriers’ routes.

“It runs in order,” he says, glancing over the mail shelves. “If the carrier is in North College, he’ll go to the cashier’s office, then to the top floor for payroll, the trustees, academic affairs, then to the dean’s office, and then he’ll go over to where you’re at, in South College, to communications, to the president’s office, public information, and administration. He just follows that route, so it’s a pretty good system. It’s easy to follow.”

In addition to mail sorting, rerouting letters, managing the staff and working the window, Winzer spends a portion of his day on a postage metering machine.

Winzer examines the machine’s counter. It reads “337,062.”

“Three-hundred-thirty-seven thousand,” he says. “That’s how much money Wesleyan has spent on mailing through this machine, since we’ve got this machine. And the machine is going on its third year,” he said, while metering two envelopes from the Psychology Department.

Before any letter goes through the metering machine, Winzer types in a department code, to assure proper billing. Each department has its own six-digit code, but Winzer rarely sneaks a peek. He usually types in the codes by memory.

“I know a lot of them. I guess they’re just in my subconscious,” he says.

His good memory also is put to the test when he meets customers at the transaction counter.

“Somebody will say their name, and I just know what box number they have, and they are just amazed,” Winzer says. “It just becomes a habit.”

The post office has moved to different locations throughout campus. First in the Downey House, and then Fisk Hall, Wesleyan Station now occupies space in the Davenport Campus Center, formerly the John Bell Scott building’s science laboratory.

With barely enough room to pass a mail cart through, Winzer is eagerly awaiting the much larger mailroom that will be housed in the Usdan University Center. Construction will begin early this year.

According to Alan Rubacha of Construction Services, a mail receiving, sorting, distributing and package handling area in the basement will occupy 1,230 square feet. Another 1,700 square feet of space will accommodate 3,000 post boxes, two transaction counters and additional mail sorting space.

The postal workers can use the space. In the 2002-03 academic year, Wesleyan Station received and sorted more than 3.5 million pieces of mail and packages. Winzer and his staff handle approximately 8,000 pieces of campus mail every week.

The current facility is about 1,000 square feet.

“I wish more people from the departments would come over here and see what we do,” Winzer says. “We do a lot.”

After Winzer leaves the office at 3:30 p.m., he returns to his home in Middletown. He spends his leisure time jogging or with his wife, Missy, and nine grandkids. He’s also the vice chairman of the Board of Education, and hosts two television shows on public access television titled “Today’s Issues” and “Spotlight on Education.”

But Winzer never minds coming back to work — well, all but one day of the year.

“Valentines Day. It’s by far the worst,” he says. “Worst than Christmas time. Grandmas and grandpas and everybody is sending tons of candy and flowers here. There’s those chocolate kisses all over the floor. There’s lots and lots of mail around then.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Medical Aide Says Co-workers are Like Family


Robin Zup, a medical aide with the Health Services Department, is a Certified Medical Assistant and helps students seek medical care off campus.

 
Posted 02/23/05

Q: What does it mean to be a medical aide?

A: I really do not like the title medical aide. My actual title that I have earned through schooling is a Certified Medical Assistant. I have been trained both in clinical and administrative areas.

Q: What are your responsibilities?

A: I have many responsibilities here at the health center. Since I really enjoy working with numbers, I have been given the role of handling all of the accounting for all of the students who come into the health center. I also help students who seek additional medical care outside of the Wesleyan campus when needed.  Many projects come my way every week. Most say that I am the guru of everything depending on the situation. So yes, I do deal with the students each and everyday.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: It would first have to be my co-workers. They are really like my family. Some of them know me better than I know myself. The second thing would have to be the students. They are great, a lot of fun to deal with on a daily basis. Some of the kids I get to know pretty well.  I treat them as if they were my own. 

Q: Do you have kids of your own?

A:  I have two really nice kids. My daughter is Kayleigh, and she is 14, and my son is Cody, and he is 13. 

Q: How would you describe yourself? Your strengths?

A: This one is a hard one to answer. I would have to say that I am very much a perfectionist who is very smart with a really great sense of humor.

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?

A: I was hired to work part time as a medical aide for 15 hours per week back in September of 1998. Over time I have been given additional hours, now I work 27 hours per week. I work every day, but the hours are scattered.

Q: Do you work anywhere else?

A: I do have another job outside of Wesleyan. I am a property manager for commercial real estate. I find this job to be therapeutic for me. It is a different type of job and I have different types of people to deal with. I do the work from home.

Q: You sound very busy. Do you have time for any hobbies?

A: My kids right now are pretty much my full time hobby. When I am not doing for my kids, there are a few things that I do like to do such as read, draw, ceramics or just hang out and do nothing. But most of all, I enjoy traveling.

Q: Where do travel? And when do you have time to travel?

A: Well, it’s nice, because I get the summers off, so I like to spend a month in Florida with the kids. We also try to go in April. My parents have a place there, so when we can get there, we go. We don’t like to stay at home.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Michael Calter Joins Chemistry Department as Associate Professor


 
Michael Calter teaches organic chemistry and researches synthetic organic chemistry, which deals with making complex, useful organic molecules from simple starting materials.
 
Posted 02/23/05
Michael Calter joined the Chemistry Department as an associate professor of chemistry in June 2004. Calter completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont and earned his Ph.D at Harvard University in the chemistry department. His dissertation was titled “First Total Synthesis of the Macrolide Antibiotic, Bafilomycin A1.”
At Wesleyan, Calter teaches organic chemistry and researches synthetic organic chemistry, which deals with making complex, useful organic molecules from simple starting materials.

 
“I’m interested in using the new molecules that my group synthesizes to study biological systems,” Calter said.   Calter chose Wesleyan based on the institutional commitment to education.
 
“The high faculty to student ratios, the involvement of most undergraduates in cutting edge research, and the rigorous course work required of the graduate students were just some of the manifestations of this commitment that were obvious even during the interviewing process,” he said. “There is also a real feeling of community among the faculty that is lacking at larger institutions.”   Calter recently co-authored a paper titled “Catalytic, asymmetric synthesis and diastereoselective aldol reactions of dipropionate equivalents,” published in the “Journal of Organic Chemistry” in 2004. He is currently organizing a symposium for the Chemistry Department that will bring together presentations by representatives from academia and industry. The symposium will be held on May 5. 

Calter lives in Middletown with is wife, Kimberley and children, Rachel, 12 and Christopher, 9. He has an amateur interest in the history of science, particularly where it intersects with the development of geometry, and the visual arts.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Adjunct Professor of Music Helps Students Create Music Here and Online


 
Ronald Kuivila, ’77, adjunct professor of music, smiles from the Grand Teton in Wyoming.
 
Posted 02/23/05

Q: When did you join the Music Department at Wesleyan?

A: I joined the department as an artist in residence in the early 80s and converted to adjunct associate professor in the early 90s. As an artist in residence, I was expected to teach three courses a year and maintain an active professional profile as an artist and composer. As an adjunct professor, I am expected to teach four courses a year, participate in committee work, and maintain an active professional profile. Most of the adjunct faculty in the Music Department began as artists in residence.

Q:  What do you consider yourself, musically, to be an expert on?

A: Live electronics, computer music systems, sound installation and American experimental music. I am also a mediocre pianist.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your educational background and what led you into teaching music?

A: I was a Wesleyan undergraduate and I came to Wesleyan with an interest in experimental music. In fact, it was a video tape of Nam June Paik’s that featured Alvin Lucier that led me to apply to Wesleyan in the first place. After Wesleyan, I studied at Mills College, worked as a recorded engineer and was an artist in residence at Media Study/Buffalo and a creative associate at Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo.

Q: You came to Wesleyan with an interest in experimental music, and now you’re also director of the electronic music and recording studios. Tell me about the studio, and what you can produce here.

A: There are two studios, a recording booth connected to two large recording studios that double as classrooms and rehearsal spaces and an electronic music studio. The studios are used for recording and producing student and faculty work. Much of the work we do in the electronic music studio takes the form of interactive systems and live electronics using various kinds of software and hardware.

Q: Can you give me a project example?

A: A particular focus is SuperCollider, a programming environment for computer music that is now distributed as free software. SuperCollider is being developed by a number of programmers located throughout the world through SourceForge, the largest open source software development site in the world.  My own work with SuperCollider has been primarily focused on my own work and making tools that enable students to be able to develop pieces quickly.  However, I recently provided a nerdier contribution by optimizing SuperCollider’s primary score library.

Q: In addition to your work on SuperCollider, I understand that you’re an active composer and scholar?

A:  This last year I have been doing more work as a scholar and curator. The most recent number of Leonardo Music Journal has an article of mine on the work of the composer and pianist David Tudor together with a CD of his work that I edited. Last spring I curated a group exhibition of sound works at the gallery Art in General in Tribeca. Most recently, a piece I made in collaboration with Ed Tomney was presented in New York City and a piece made while I was a composer in residence at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College was presented in Oakland, California.

Q: Do you give presentations on your work and music?

A: As anyone who knows me will verify, I like to talk. Over the last year, I have given talks and participated in panels at the Getty Research Institute, the art department at Stanford University, the music department at Harvard, the great hall at Cooper Union in New York City and at Columbia University.

Q: How would you describe the musically-inclined students at Wesleyan. Where do these students end up working if they stick with a music degree?

A: Music students at Wesleyan are an extremely varied group. The only attributes they all seem to share are keen interest and intelligence. Students of mine have gone to graduate programs at RPI, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cal Arts, Mills College, SUNY Stony Brook, the Baden-Wurttemburg exchange program. Some are teaching, some are in the media industry, some are in the music software industry, some are pursuing careers in Europe and the U.S.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you here in the Music Department?

A: Normally, I teach two classes, run a group tutorial and individual thesis tutorials with undergraduate and graduate students. I also organize an annual festival of new and experimental music. One project in last year’s festival involved replacing the light classical muzak that emanates from the parking garage near Main Street with projects developed by students in my class.

Q: Outside of work, what do you like to do? Does it involve music?

A: Along with music, I love cooking. Many composers are also good cooks! I also enjoy sports such as skiing, hiking, swimming and squash.  I am a particularly bad squash player. I do some mountain climbing. Two years ago I climbed the Grand Teton with a friend and a guide.

Q: Is your family into music, too?

A: Actually, this is my most important project. During Valentine’s Day 2003, my wife, Bobbi, and I returned from China with our newly adopted daughter, Cai. Cai is definitely musically oriented. In the grocery store, she managed to get a crowd staring up at the speaker in the ceiling by pointing at it and saying, ‘music.’

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Plass Joins German Studies Department as Assistant Professor


 
Ulrich Plass studies German literature and continental philosophy with an emphasis on aesthetics.
 
Posted 02/23/05
Ulrich Plass joined the faculty in the German Studies Department as an assistant professor in 2004. He teaches language courses as well as classes on a range of other topics that fall under the interdisciplinary rubric “German Studies.”   Plass completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hamburg in Germany, received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and completed his Ph.D at New York University with a thesis on the essay form in Theodor Adorno’s “Notes to Literature.”
  Plass is currently revising his dissertation for publication. It focuses on philosophical interpretations of literature within the social and cultural context of post-war Western Germany. Plass’s academic work encompasses German literature from Goethe to the present, as well as continental philosophy with an emphasis on aesthetics.   He is currently collaborating with friends on developing a conference about the intersections of popular culture and intellectualism in the works of the writer Rainald Goetz. In the next few years, he plans to work on 19th century poetry.   Prior to coming to Wesleyan, Plass met people who spoke highly about the university.
  “And it just so happened that I felt very comfortable and welcome here from the time I first visited,” Plass says. “I appreciate that Wesleyan’s size is very manageable, especially coming from Hamburg, Michigan, and New York, all places that can be nightmarishly confusing, if not hostile. I also really like the students, and I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues.”
 
Plass lives close to campus with his significant other.
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations Helps Raise more than $30M for Wesleyan Campaign


 
Carol Scully, director of Foundation and Corporate Relations seeks grants for the university from local and national foundations, corporations and private agencies.
 
Posted 02/23/05

When University Relations decided to spearhead a comprehensive campaign drive seven years ago, they needed someone to work with corporations, foundations and private funding agencies.

Carol Scully was their leading lady.

As director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, Scully helped Wesleyan raise more than $30 million from 219 funding sources for the recently completed Wesleyan Campaign. Most of these donations range between $10,000 and $3 million.

“We’ve been quite successful,” she says, modestly. “But it was a team effort.”

Scully has mastered a process to find grants. She begins by researching prospective sources – foundations, corporations and other public and private funding agencies – analyzing their support interests and how much they could give or have given in the past. She’ll send them a letter of inquiry, write up a grant proposal and invite them to tour Wesleyan. Each tour is catered to the program officers, and usually includes a meeting with President Doug Bennet.

“We love to have them visit, so we can show off Wesleyan, and show they’ll be making a good investment when they give to Wesleyan,” she says. “It’s usually easy to sell Wesleyan. Funders are attracted to an organization that knows where it is going.”

In addition to the Wesleyan Campaign, Scully’s office helped raise more than $1 million –  or 50 percent of the total dollars – to start-up and fund the Green Street Arts Center. The funds were contributed by corporations, foundations, and federal, state and local government agencies.

Many foundation grants during the campaign helped establish new academic initiatives. For example, grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have funded the Center for Faculty Development, a post-doctoral program at the Center for the Americas, and the environmental studies program. The Freeman Foundation gave Wesleyan $1.9 million that created the Asian Asian/American Initiative.  In 2000, the W. M. Keck Foundation awarded Wesleyan $500,000 to jump start its genomics program, and the Surdna Foundation gave three $75,000 grants in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to support the Service Learning Center, part of the Center for Community Partnerships.

“The key factor is to maintain good relationships with our donors,” she says. “When awarded a grant, we make sure we do what we said we would do and show results. Funders like to know their money has made a difference.”

Though Scully works for University Relations, she’s more than willing to help anyone, campus wide, with grant-writing procedures. She encourages faculty members to stop by with drafts of grant proposals used to fund their research or special projects.

“We’re sort of grant central here,” she says. “We edit, tutor and do whatever we can to be helpful. Sometimes people need help every step of the way, while others just need a signature.”

Scully’s office has collaborated with Academic Affairs and Financial Services to create a grant Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/grants. The site provides databases for corporate, foundation and government-affiliated funding sources and highlights the grant-writing process. The three offices work closely together to support the Wesleyan community in their search for external funding –  from the initial search for sources, to development of the proposal, to the administration of the award.

Scully, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Fairfield University and a master’s degree in communications from Syracuse University, said she acquired most of her grant-writing skills on the job. She worked in Wesleyan’s development office doing corporate and foundation giving between 1983 and 1987. She tutored English at Manchester Community College and wrote grant proposals for the Science Center of Connecticut and Saint Joseph College in West Hartford. And in 1997, she returned to Wesleyan as the director of foundation and corporate relations, building the new department from scratch. She oversees Betsy McCormick, associate director and Christina West-Webster, administrative assistant.

“She is an extremely effective Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations because she is very skilled, has extremely high standards, respects and works well with many different constituencies, and is thoughtful and proactive,” says Ann Goodwin, assistant vice president for University Relations. “She is also a delightful colleague and a consummate team player who is always looking out for what is best for Wesleyan. We are very lucky to have her.”

Scully is also co-chair of the Resource & Development Committee for the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics (PIMMS) Advisory Council.

“Working at Wesleyan is very rewarding,” she says. “I get to work with many different people from many different areas. It can be very interesting.”

Scully lives in Hebron, Conn. with her husband, Jack and children Dan, 15, and Maura, 18. Most of her free time is spent at high school athletic events or in her garden. But before spring hits, she’s going to take up a new sport herself – squash.

“The new squash facilities here at Wesleyan are quite appealing,” she says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Career Resource Center Director Helps Students Find Meaningful Careers by Exploring Their Interests and Passions


 
Mike Sciola, Career Resource Center director, helps Talya Marshall, ’07, find photography career opportunities.
 
Posted 01/31/05

Q: The Career Resource Center (CRC) aims to establish relationships with students and help them find jobs. If a student approaches you, how would you go about helping him or her?

A: We take a three step approach: self assessment, career exploration, and job search.  Most people, and not just students, think the first step to finding a meaningful career is to write a resume and start sending it out to job sites on the Internet. The problem with this approach is that folks tend to go with the familiar. 

For a lot of students, their knowledge of the world of work is fairly limited. Many have a short list of occupations of which they have a personal understanding, such as being a ­doctor, lawyer or teacher. In reality, taking the time to assess one’s interests and passions first, next exploring a wide-variety of options, and then crafting a targeted job search strategy yields a much more satisfying result.  We have a variety of career interest assessment tools, a very specialized collection of print and electronic resources covering a wide array of occupations, and an incredible network of alumni and parent volunteers available to share their knowledge and perspective.

Q:  Where do the students end up going?

A: That’s the beauty of a Wesleyan liberal arts education – it can take you anywhere in the world. Our students have been taught to think and to analyze. They have the tools to pull together disparate information into a new understanding of the world. These skills are highly valued by top companies and institutions. I believe a Wesleyan degree is more relevant at the beginning of the 21st century than ever before.

We often get the question about where do Wesleyan graduates go after leaving Middletown. The Career Resource Center Web site has a breakdown of where our alumni work.  We analyzed the alumni database. With information on 12,252 alumni, the top five occupations are business (28 percent), education (20 percent), health professions (9 percent), law (8 percent), and entertainment (6 percent). 

Q: What is your day like?

A: As director of the career center, I have two distinct roles: managing the office and staff and, at the same time, maintain a significant counseling schedule. These are often competing needs.  I work with an incredible group of talented and dedicated professionals. To date this year, the CRC has had 3,688 counseling interactions with 1,188 individuals. We’ve already organized 69 programs and events, and have had more than 60 organizations participate in our recruiting programs. And February is traditionally our busiest month!  It is a lot to coordinate. I have to say, though – I’ve got the best job at Wesleyan. Every single day, I get to talk with smart, articulate, motivated young people about their plans for the future and about the world they are about to change for the better. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Q: How long have you been at Wesleyan?

A: I’ve been at Wesleyan for nine years. I had been the associate director of Career Services at Brown University prior to coming to Wesleyan. Before that, I worked at California State University, Fresno, the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Hampshire in a variety of student affairs positions ­ residential life, student life, and fraternity and sorority affairs. My bachelor’s degree is in gerontology and my master’s degree is in human development, counseling and family studies. I knew that I wanted to work with students, and that I wanted to use my counseling skills.

Q:  Is your job rewarding? Do you keep in touch with the students after they leave?

A: Incredibly rewarding. I’m so impressed with Wesleyan students and alumni. Now that I’ve been at Wesleyan for a significant time, I have the joy of reconnecting with former students at reunion or getting an e-mail message of the blue.  I was in New York recently and was stopped by a member of the Class of 2000. It was thrilling to hear that he was happy and enjoying life and doing amazing things.  I learn something new about the world everyday by talking with our students and alumni.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies or tidbits that I should know about you outside of work?

A: I’m a singer and have been a member of the Greater Middletown Chorale since coming to Wesleyan. We once got a call to sing with Kenny Rogers at the Oakdale Theater. This December, we were Governor Rell’s guests at the Governor’s Mansion in Hartford. Mostly, though, we sing the classical choral repertoire. I’m also on the board of Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.

Q: Do you live in Middletown?

A: Yes, on Ridge Road, and our next door neighbors on three sides are Wesleyan faculty and staff. We call it ‘The Compound.’ Did you know that there used to be a horse-drawn trolley that started in the North End on Main Street, turned up Ridge Road off of South Main and came all the way up to Crystal Lake?  I would have loved to see that.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan to Acquire 8 New Bells for South College


Chimemaster Peter Frenzel, professor emeritus of German studies, plays the keys of the bells, located at the top of South College. In August, the university will acquire eight additional bells. The new bells, Frenzel said, will enable him to play more complicated songs. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)
Posted 01/31/05

Wesleyan has signed a contract with the Verdin Bell Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, for the casting and installation in the South College belfry of eight additional bells. This new addition will upgrade the Wesleyan bells from the status of a chime (10-22 bells) to that of a carillon (23 or more). Acquiring a carillon for the university has been in the planning stages since 1999.

The installation will take place in August 2005 with a dedication during homecoming/family weekend.

The new bells will provide the Wesleyan bell players with two full octaves and one additional note. 

”Now I’ll have more notes, so I can play more songs, and more complicated songs,” said six-year chimemaster Peter Frenzel, professor emeritus of German studies. “We’re moving out of the minor league of bell playing and into the major league.”

 The new configuration will enable them to play songs such as Wesleyan’s Alma Mater, “Come Raise the Song,” written in 1894.

The bells are played in a way similar to a piano, except the chimemasters push wood handles. Some notes, such as a low C, can reverberate for 45 seconds and be heard for more than a mile away.

The new bells will be cast by Petit & Fritsen, the Royal Dutch Bell Foundry in The Netherlands, and then shipped to Cincinnati via New Orleans and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. They’ll later be completed and fine-tuned by the Verdin Bell Company.   

Wesleyan’s first set of 11 bells was shipped across the north Atlantic from England, while dodging German U-Boats in 1918 during World War I. They were first played on campus on George Washington’s birthday in 1919 and donated by the seven surviving members of the Wesleyan class of 1863.

An additional five bells were donated to Wesleyan in 1966 anonymously. The donor was later revealed as Victor L. Butterfield, who was the outgoing president of Wesleyan at the time.

The new bells were all donated by Wesleyan friends, alumni and parents.

Each bell in South College has an inscription of a donor or a set of donors to Wesleyan University.

The bells are played nearly every weekday by dedicated members of the Wesleyan bell guild, Bell & Scroll. The chimemasters this semester have been Esther Cheung, ’06; Kathleen Day, ’07; Joel Ting, ’06; and Allison Torpey, ’07. They will be joined next semester by Jack Hagihara, ’05, and Meredith Steinberg, ’06.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

More Than 250 People Attend Green Street Arts Center’s Grand Opening


Posted 01/31/05
A ribbon cutting on Jan. 5 marked the formal opening of the Green Street Arts Center (GSAC) L. to R. are: Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton, GSAC Director Ricardo Morris, North End Action Team President Peggy Busari, GSAC Assistant Director Manny Rivera, Wesleyan University President Doug Bennet. The center is housed at the former St. Sebastian School at 51 Green Street in Middletown’s North End. More than 250 people attended the grand opening. (Photo by Lex Leifheit)
 
Children draw in one of the two visual art centers at GSAS. The facility also has a dance studio and a performance studio with 100 seat capacity. Pre-opening pilot classes have already drawn 3,000 participants. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
President Bennet speaks with guests as Ricardo Morris looks on. Funds for the school’s renovation were raised through a partnership involving Wesleyan, along with grants from the city, state and national level. Wesleyan also partnered with The North End Action Team, the  Macdonough School, Church of the Holy Trinity, Community Health Center and other organizations.  (Photo by Bill Burkhart)
The Kamau Trio performs urban jazz at the opening. Pictured left to right are George Blackman, Jr., saxophone; Lance “Kamau” James, djembe; and Kalim Zarif, keyboard. All three teach music classes at GSAC. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
 
Teens dance inside the GSAC dance studio after the grand opening ceremony. More than 50 students have already enrolled in the GSAC after-school programs. Wesleyan students also volunteer as academic tutors for the children. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
 
Mayor Thornton and Jennifer Aniskovich, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Arts, Tourism, Culture, History and Film, greet guests during the grand opening. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)
 
For more information or to receive a spring catalog call 860-685-7871 or visit http://www.greenstreetartscenter.org/.

Olin Memorial Library Earns “Building of the Year” Award


Erhard Konerding, documents librarian, works inside the Olin Memorial Library, which was built in 1928.
 
Posted 01/31/05

When Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library opened in 1928, the classically symmetrical structure fronted with six marble columns stood out as a bold yet elegant structure. Nearly 80 years later, the building is still turning heads.

On January 13, The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Hartford awarded the library with The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) award in the historic building category. The TOBY award recognizes excellence in building management, operational efficiency, tenant retention, emergency planning and community impact. The Olin Library won in the “proper maintenance of the historical building,” category.

“It was built in 1928 and still has that old world charm,” said Pete Caniano, chairman of the TOBY award committee. “I could find myself getting lost in a great book in Olin all the time.”

Caniano, district manager for American Building Maintenance Janitorial Services of Danbury, Conn., provides janitorial services to Wesleyan and nominated the library for the award.

“I nominated Olin because I felt it had great architectural character and it has gone through some excellent architectural renovations throughout its history that add to its appeal,” he said. “Olin library is a wonderful landmark on campus.”

Caniano and members of the judging panel inspected the facility, grading it on physical attractiveness, cleanliness, mechanical functionality, aesthetics and standard building operation equipment and procedures. Each category had to receive a passing grade for the building to be considered for the award. Caniano said Wesleyan’s Physical Plant had a lot to do with the outcome of the judges’ findings.

“If the building had been simply attractive and architecturally marvelous but not maintained well and had antiquated maintenance systems, it would not have won,” he said.

Caniano noted many positive points while touring the library. The stacks, he said, are well organized; the building is kept in pristine condition; and the ambiance of the reading room “is exceptional.” He also favored the private alcoves used for student research and described the library’s staff as “very helpful.”

“The building is kept in pristine condition and is very practical for student use,” he said.

Olin Memorial Library was first opened as a memorial to Stephen Olin, Wesleyan’s president from 1842 to 1851, and his son Stephen Henry Olin, class of 1866, a Wesleyan trustee for 45 years and the university’s acting president in 1922 and 1923.

The original plans for the building were begun by Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and after his death were completed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. It currently provides Wesleyan’s 2,730 students and 1,060 staff and faculty members with 1.5 million publications and a variety of electronic and archival services.

A major renovation and expansion of the building, completed in 1986, was designed by Perry, Dean, Rogers & Partners. It nearly doubled the space available in Olin for study areas and collections.

The 163-foot wide façade surmounted by a pediment and capped by a balustrade. Marble, exterior and interior, amounted for 20 percent of the final construction cost of $727,000.

Now that the library has won at a local level, it has an opportunity to advance to the regional level in each of the eight North American regions of BOMA International. Regional winners advance to the international level.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Tsunami Hits too Close to Home


Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, director of Technology Support Services and adjunct associate professor of chemistry, explains where his home countries were struck by the December 26 tsunami.

 
Posted 01/31/05

Millions of Americans watched as the Dec. 26 tsunami obliterated south Asia’s coastal belts. But for Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, the event was far more personal.

Ravishanker, director of Technology Support Services and adjunct associate professor of chemistry, is a Sri Lanka native and attended college in southern India where the tidal waves battered both shorelines for a half-mile inland.

“Those are both places where I have spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years and have vivid memories of,” Ravishanker said. “Most of my extended family members live in these two countries.”

The tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia, killed more than 170,000 people as it crashed the shores of 10 countries around the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka and Indonesia received the hardest hits.

Ravishanker, who lost his parents as a young child, grew up with his aunt, uncle, sister and 11 cousins in the country’s capital, Colombo. Three of these cousins are raising families in Sri Lanka and the rest moved to southern India.

“I was just getting back from vacation and I was still in a relaxing vacation mode, when they started flashing news about the tsunami damage on TV,” he said. “I immediately thought about my family. Many of them were living in area close to the coast.”

Relatives in Tamil Nadu, India, immediately e-mailed Ravishanker in America and let him know they were OK. His relatives in Sri Lanka, however, were still unaccounted for. Although his relatives lived inland in Kandy, he feared they may be traveling on a train that was derailed by the tsunami.

“All I could do is sit, watch and wait,” he said.

Sri Lanka, a pear-shaped island four times larger than the state of Connecticut, is located 18 miles southeast of India. With no communications available to his homeland, he waited as the death toll climbed to 30,000. The missing count hovered at 5,600. More than 200,000 families were displaced by the earthquake-spawned waves.

 “The Sri Lanka that I remember, that I grew up in, was one of the most enjoyable places. It was surrounded by the ocean, there were beaches, a perfect climate and the people were very friendly. It was a great place,” he said. “It was like paradise.”

Via Indian television channels, Ravishanker watched debris of fishermen’s wood shacks envelop the once pristine, palm-lined beaches. Disfigured bodies “in all forms and shapes” piled up near landmarks all recognizable to the Sri Lanka native.

 “It was heart-wrenching to watch,” he said. “I was thinking of my family, but also these poor children affected by this disaster. What’s so sad is that the first wave came in and pushed all these fish up on shore, and all the fishermen told their kids to come out and see and play with the fish. Little did they know that a bigger wave was coming to eat them all up.”

On Dec. 30, Ravishanker finally heard from his Sri Lankan relatives. Everyone was alive. With his family all accounted for, Ravishanker immediately pursued ways to help the victims of the disaster.

Rescue efforts are somewhat hampered by an ongoing civil war in the country between the Sinhalese and Tamil Tigers. Pockets of the northern and eastern areas are heavily mined. A physical presence of rescue workers in these areas carries a certain amount of danger.

The Sri Lankan government has urged donor nations to donate $15.6 billion to rebuild tsunami-affected parts of the country, but Ravishanker was advised to hold off and carefully explore more long lasting avenues to help those affected. He’s considering funding an orphaned child’s education for life. His brother-in-law, Shankar, is working with these orphaned children directly back in Chennai, India.

“I take great pride in my brother-in-law for doing this, and I think the outpouring of local support is a great thing to see. People are setting aside their religious differences and caste barriers are vanishing,” he said. “I can’t imagine people doing this 20 years ago. People are already setting up shops and makeshift schools. Recovery have been remarkable.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Women’s Studies Administrative Assistant Participates in Youth Mentoring Program and has Interest in Women’s Issues


Noreen Baris, administrative assistant for the Women’s Studies Program, stands outside her office on High Street. Baris serves as a liaison between the program’s chair, faculty and students.
 
Posted 01/31/05

Q: When did you become the administrative assistant in the Women’s Studies Program? Were you working at Wesleyan before then? 

A: Yes. I first came to Wesleyan in November 1986 and worked in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department until 1992. I’ve been at Women’s Studies since then.

Q: How would you describe a typical day? Are you mostly working at your desk, talking on the phone or meeting with people?

A: This position is rather diversified and I do all the above mentioned duties on a daily basis. I work closely with the chair of Women’s Studies and I serve as a liaison between the Women’s Studies chair and the faculty and majors.  I also coordinate the scheduling of  Women’s Studies meetings, luncheons and events, manage the budget, update the Web page, do other computer related duties and monitor Women’s Studies course offerings.

Q: What do you like most about your job and working in the Women’s Studies program in particular?

A: I have found the Women’s Studies faculty to be exceptional in many ways and I enjoy working with them. I also like the diversity of the position. In addition to my other duties, the Women’s Studies Program has two major events per year: The Women’s Studies Symposium in the fall semester, and the Diane Weiss Memorial ’80 Memorial Lecture during spring semester. I enjoy coordinating the many details required for both events.

Q: Do you, yourself, have any interest in women’s issues?

A: Yes, I am interested in women’s issues such as better medical research and health care of women, equal pay for men and women doing the same job, and better benefits for working mothers.

Q: What do you do after work? Do you have any hobbies?

A: My hobbies are knitting, quilting, and gardening, and I enjoy doing them in my spare time. I also enjoy and have been serving as a mentor for children for the past eight years. Originally I started mentoring teenage girls and being a “buddy” at the Cromwell Children’s Home.  I am now affiliated with The Children’s Center Youth Mentoring Partnership and have been mentoring the same young girl for the past four years, at least five hours per week. I’m very much involved with her life, her problems and her accomplishments.

Q: Tell me about your family.  

A: I have been married to my husband John for 35 years and we live in Durham.  I have two daughters, Laney, who is 30, and Carrie, who is 26. Laney is a veterinarian practicing in New Jersey and Carrie is a high school English teacher in California. I am very proud of them both.

Q: I understand you have the summers off. Do you travel much?

A: We have traveled extensively in the U.S. Up North, down South, out West. We’ve especially enjoyed Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion national parks, and we’ve also gone to Hawaii. We’ve been to Canada — Montreal, Quebec and cities in-between — several times. Also traveled to Aruba and Europe. Last summer,  we traveled to Switzerland and Austria. We visited Italy, France and England in May 2002.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor