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Guitarist Brings Musicians from around the World to Expose Wesleyan Students to New Styles, Cultures


Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher, just released his third CD, “Desde El Alma – Tango Classics.” The Turkey native performs internationally.  (Photo contributed by Steve Savage)
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: Cem, how long have you been a private lessons teacher of guitar for Wesleyan’s Music Department?

A: I started to teach at Wesleyan in September 2003 right after finishing my advanced studies at The Juilliard School.

Q: How many student guitarists do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: I have about 10-12 students each semester. I am trying to increase the number of students, especially by encouraging good players to come to Wesleyan to begin with. I am proud of my students; they are all talented. Some of my current students will perform on April 7 at the Chapel Concert Series at noon.

Q: In addition to private lessons, what opportunities are there for budding guitarists on campus?

A: The most important one is our student guitar organization called “WesGuitars“, established last semester. We get together once every two weeks, play guitar and socialize. I encourage our guitarists to perform on various occasions such as the Chapel Series. Soon I will find venues in downtown Middletown are and other towns for concerts.

I am also working to bring guitarists from around the world to the campus so that all the guitarists at Wesleyan community could be exposed to their style and their cultures. Last year we had Carles Pons from Spain and Uros Dojcinovic from Serbia. This year so far we had a visit by Marcos Puña from Bolivia. The first guest invited by WesGuitars itself will be Spanish guitarist Juan Jose Saenz. He will give a concert of Spanish Music in Crowell Concert Hall on April 9.

Q: When did you first take an interest in classical guitar? At what age did you know you had a “knack” for the instrument?

A: I first heard the instrument at the age of 10. My cousin had already been playing it. Each time I would visit, he would let me try his guitar and show me techniques. I fell in love with the guitar the moment I touched it. I did not really have to hold and play; just touching the strings, making a sound and listening to it one by one was magical for me. Soon after, I started to take lessons. I remember asking my cousin to make copies of some difficult pieces and him saying “they are too difficult for you now.” During one of our family visits, I took the opportunity to hand copy them and surprised him few months later by playing them to him. Afterwards we did many concerts as a duo together.

Q: What is the ‘classical’ guitar?

A: Classical guitar refers to a nylon string acoustical guitar. In most cases this name seems to imply –wrongly- that it is used for classical music only. With this instrument one can play almost any type of music from anywhere in the world in addition to the Western Classical Music, which is the source of its name. However, in most places outside the U.S., when someone mentions the word “guitar” alone, they usually refer to the classical guitar. This is, after all, the original instrument just like violin and piano. I started directly with the classical guitar unlike many of my students and professional performers that I have met in the U.S. who first learned to play other types of guitar.

Q: Please elaborate on the guitar’s sound. Why does it appeal to you?

A: I think the main aspect of classical guitar sound is its warmth because of which the instrument lends itself to the performance of emotionally elaborate polyphonic music. The warmth comes from the nylon strings and the right hand fingernails. This combination provides the optimum sound and technique for bringing out the human emotions in almost any type of music in the world, as a soloist. Another peculiarity of the classical guitar is the way it is held. I think it is the only instrument that is “embraced” and held directly on ones heart. No wonder many classical guitarists are in love with their instruments!

Q: In 1990, you came to the United States from your native country, Turkey. What led you to the States?

A: The U.S. graduate education system is the best in the world. After staying in Turkey I wanted to get advanced degrees here and was able to get full scholarships in California. It is also important to get exposure to new repertoire, different approaches to music and participate in the classes of well-established musicians. All these opportunities widely exist in the U.S. At first I did not intend to stay, but after about six years, San Francisco started to feel like home as much as my home in Turkey.

Q: You recently released your third CD, “Desde El Alma – Tango Classics,” which is quite a style change from your first album, “Pièces de Viole”, which consists of gamba music by French baroque composer Marin Marais; and your second CD “Contemporary Music for Guitar.” What inspired you to change your musical interest for the third CD, and what type of audience is attracted to your music?

A: When making CDs I concentrate on a project and spend most of my energy to do the necessary research to understand the music and the culture that created it. Having studied at a French school for seven years in Turkey and having learned the language at the age of 11, I had a natural interest in the French Baroque music. This background and the music of the famous movie “Tous Les Matins du Monde” led to the first CD. The second CD is a reflection of my interest in supporting the creation of new music by playing works of emerging composers.
My third CD “Tango Classics” is my most recent project. I got involved in tango through the music of well-known composer Astor Piazzolla. He called his compositions “Nuevo Tango” or new tango, which had been disliked by traditional tango dancers. I wanted to explore what “old tango” was and its relation to the dance. When I was living in San Francisco I tried some tango dance lessons and quickly became addicted to the dance itself. Later I realized that there is a great collection of authentic tango music created by well-educated Argentine musicians and tango orchestra leaders. My CD is a compilation of various tangos that I like dancing to. Now I am looking forward to working on a new project.

Q: You’re an international artist. Where have you performed recently?

A: I’ve recently performed at the Weill Recital Hall/Carnegie Hall in New York, and in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, France, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Serbia-Montenegro and the U.S. in various guitar festivals and concert series. I have also appeared as soloist with the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, the equivalent of New York Philharmonic there. Last year I was invited to the Istanbul Festival in Turkey, one of the biggest and most prestigious in Europe. There I collaborated with gamba player John Dornenburg and harpsichordist Yuko Tanaka to play the music of the 14th Century French Court.

Q: You’ve received critical acclaim in international magazines such as American Record Guide, Fanfare, Classics Today, Classical Guitar and BBC Music. The students you teach must feel honored to work with a famous musician!

A: I sometimes do feel famous! Nowadays, due to globalization it is ever more difficult to be individually recognized; there are so many musicians, so many CDs. However I have been working very hard to increase my output, and contribute to the music world. My students appreciate it; it is always exciting and inspiring to work with someone who has international experience and is a role model. I have to say it feels really good all of a sudden to hear your own CD played on NPR when driving, and felt very strange first time, when someone recognizes you having read an article or when someone stops you on the street and says he was at your concert. I think this aspect of music is very rewarding.

Q: Where are your degrees from?

A: I have a master’s of arts in composition from Stanford University, and another master’s degree in guitar performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I later completed my graduate guitar studies at The Juilliard School with Sharon Isbin, a Grammy award winner.

Q: Do you write your own music?

A: Although I have extensively studied composition, I enjoy performing much more. Therefore I don’t compose much at all nowadays. However my compositional skills come very handy for arranging music to the guitar. Prime examples are on my French Baroque CD and the Tango CD. I have various collaborations with other composers. Some of them send their music to me, and I try to feature a new composer in every recital I play. I also commission music particularly written for me. One of these is a guitar concerto called “In and Out of Blue” by Robert Strizich. With Angel Gil-Ordonez, his Ensemble of the Americas and I are planning to perform this in the fall.

Q: You have an upcoming recital in Hartford on April 15 in conjunction with the Connecticut Classical Guitar Society, and another performance in New York May 27. What will you perform at these concerts?

A: The Connecticut Classical Guitar Society is one of the biggest in the U.S. I will be playing in their concert series on April 15. This program will include selections from my tango and baroque CDs as well as music from Rodrigo, Tárrega, Bach and Giuliani, composers well known to guitar audiences.

The concert in Merkin Hall/New York is part of an annual Turkish Cultural Festival organized by the Moon and Stars Project. It is titled “A Mediterranean Journey” and will include music from Turkey, Greece, Israel and Spain as well as tangos and Broadway favorites. In this performance I will be collaborating with a wonderful Greek/American soprano Demetra George.

Q: What are your interests and hobbies aside from music?

A: My main hobby has been dancing tango for many years. After I did my first tango lesson in San Francisco I studied with most of the well-known Argentine Tango dancers. In San Francisco, I used to go dancing three nights a week. In Connecticut there are some venues for dancing tango, but many more are in New York and I go there every now and then to dance.

Q: For more information, where can people find you online?

A: My Web site is http://www.duruoz.com/
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor.

Study Gives Teeth to Leaf Activity


Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, researched why pointy-leafed plants are more common in colder climates.

Posted 04/01/06
Smooth or pointy – is there a reason?

If that question refers to a leaf, a study by a Wesleyan researcher may have an answer that includes some cold facts about sap flow and the weather.

The study by Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer and featured in a recent issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences looks at the characteristics of plants with pointy leaves versus smooth-leafed plants and finds the difference is more than just cosmetic.

The pointy or “toothed” leaves contain high concentrations of xylem, a type of tissue that facilitates the transportation of the plant’s sap, which is rich with nutrients and water. The water then evaporates from the leaves causing the plants to draw up even more sap.

“The result is a greater rate of sap flow earlier in the spring,” says Royer. “The process apparently helps to jumpstart the plants’ photosynthetic season.”

This may explain why so many trees and other plants in colder climates have pointy leaves.

“The colder the climates generally have shorter growing seasons so the greater rate of sap flow is very beneficial to these plants,” says Royer. “The trade-off is that there is a higher rate of water loss among these plants. So there still needs to be sufficient rain during the growing season.”

Royer and co-author Peter Wilf from Pennsylvania State University performed the study by analyzing the moisture transpiration and photosynthesis activity of more than 60 woody species in two decidedly different regions: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They found that photosynthesis and transpiration activity increased by as much as 45 percent among toothed-leafed plants during the first 30 days of the growing season. The analogous rates of smoothed-leafed plants in the same regions were significantly less.

The findings, while not definitive, certainly provide yet another example of nature’s ability to adapt to varying conditions. However, Royer adds that, in this case, there could be negative implications with climate change.

“It’s very speculative, but most of these toothed leaf trees are hardwoods that, along with their environmental benefits, also carry economic value,” Royer says. “It would not take a large rise in average temperatures during the growing season to put point-leaf plants at a competitive disadvantage.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

No Break this Spring: Wesleyan Students Donate Time-Off to Help Others


At right, Jessica French Smith ’09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. She was one of more than 100 Wesleyan students who volunteered their spring break time to help others around the nation and world.

Posted 04/01/06
Jane Maxson ’06 spent her spring break on the gulf coast; however she wasn’t sporting a sun hat and flip-flops on the beach. Equipped with a hammer, nails and tool belt, Maxson spent her time-off school volunteering for hurricane relief efforts.

Maxon was one of over 100 Wesleyan students and faculty volunteering world-wide during break.

Helping the Hurricane Victims

Maxon and 50 other students, many of whom are Wesleyan Christian Fellowship members, teamed up with “Willing Hearts, Helping Hands,” a Christian ministry aiming to rebuild 200 houses in hurricane-affected areas. The students left March 11 and returned March 18. They aided victims on the Mississippi coast.

As part of their project, the Christian Fellowship members sought to explore the intersections of faith and service, specifically how faith motivates service.

“We spent the days doing relief work and the evenings discussing the Christian motivation for serving the poor, the idea of meeting needs in a holistic way and the specific cases and challenges associated with Hurricane Katrina,” explains Jane Maxson ’06. “I had a fantastic time, and I don’t think I could have had a more enjoyable time doing anything else.”

Another 50-plus students went directly to the hurricane’s path of wrath in New Orleans. They were housed in and around a Catholic school in the hardest-hit Upper Ninth Ward that had been converted into a base of operations for the organization they worked for, Common Ground Relief. Some students slept in classrooms, while others slept in tents outside.

Brian Thorpe ’07 spent nine days in the shattered city armed with crowbars, shovels,
and wheelbarrows, doing what he could to help clean-up and rebuild. He went there desensitized by the images on television. However, his perceptions changed when he came face-to-face with reality.

“Untold amounts of people in neighborhoods are still suffering from the effects of Katrina,” Thorpe says. “The raw truth is that seven months after the hurricane there is still precious little being done by the state, local, and especially federal government to rebuild the city and help the poorer citizens of the area to get back on their feet. Yet while I came back from New Orleans frustrated and disheartened, I still felt hopeful to see so many people my own age giving up their time and money to go down and help.”

Developing Wesleyan Partnership in Nicaragua

Jessica French Smith ’09, Kevin Young ’07, and Octavio Flores, adjunct associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures went to Nagarote, Nicaragua as part of Wesleyan in Nicaragua (WIN) organization for 10 days. WIN is partnered with The Norwalk-Nagarote Sister City Project and together, the groups planned and to participated in community service activities which benefit the people of Nagarote.

The trio stayed for 10 days, living with local families, researching for future Wesleyan initiatives, meeting with teachers, members of the Ministry of Education and the Norwalk/Nagarote
Sister City Project Directiva. They worked with preschool students, delivered material aid to the classroom, and worked on creative projects with a group of at-risk high school age group in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town.

This was French Smith’s third time going to Nicaragua to do service work, and she’s already promised to return next year.

“Knowing that there are people all over the world living in horribly unjust conditions keeps me working hard to take advantage of the resources available to me and to use these resources to help others as much as possible,” she says. “Besides, it’s a much more satisfying alternative to Cancun. I don’t think anyone cries when they leave Cancun because they are going to miss their host family, or because they couldn’t stay longer and work harder.”

French Smith says there is a lot of potential for other Wesleyan students to work in help, even remotely. The group met with met with community leaders, teachers and members of the Board of Education and found that in the future there is a definite need for both didactic and consumable teaching materials. She hopes students can help with the development/fundraising for these materials.

French Smith says this was not a one-time kind of trip, but rather one designed toward building an ongoing relationship necessary to successful service work.

“I met so many incredible and loving people in Nicaragua and I learned a lot about myself and my personal philosophies concerning service-work,” French Smith says. “I definitely know that it is something all Wesleyan students should have to opportunity to get involved in, work for, and experience in the future and this is something I’m going to be working toward back on campus.”

Building Homes in South Carolina

A dozen students involved with Wesleyan Habitat for Humanity went to Georgetown, South Carolina to help build a Habitat House for nine days. Georgetown is a rural, poor area on the South Carolina coast with a large population of people living in substandard housing.

Mark Purser ’08 says the tip allowed several students who had never been to the South to experience its unique culture.

“The trip’s purpose was to give students an opportunity to spend their spring break participating in community service as well as learn about substandard housing and poverty in America,” he says.

The student worked on two Habitat houses, constructing and raising interior walls, sheeting the exterior walls and installing insulation.

Improving Children’s’ Lives in Mexico

In addition, nine students traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico over spring break to participate in a community service project. The helped build a structure that will house “Cala y Emes,” a group in Oaxaca whose mission is to help young people with special needs develop skills to enter the work force. This is a brand new organization that hopes to not only improve the lives of the kids they support, but also to educate/re-program the Oaxacan community about people with special needs.

The Wesleyan students helped clear donated land, poured the building’s foundation, and installed sinks, drainage and other necessities.

Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, director of the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism at Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships is impressed by the diverse range of projects dealing with economic development, hurricane relief, housing and long-term partnership building. She hopes to work with the students to share their experience for the entire Wesleyan community.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the interest, motivation and dedication of the students organizing and going on the trips,” Crimmins Lechowicz says. “These immersion experiences can have a powerful impact on student’s perspective on issues.”

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Track Coach Teaches Students about the Hurdles in Life


Walter Curry, head track and field coach, says he loves to make a difference in his student-athletes’ lives.
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: When did you become the head men’s and women’s track coach?

A: I started coaching at Wesleyan in December of 2002.

Q: You are a U.S.A. Track and Field Level II certified coach in sprints, hurdles and jumps. At Wesleyan are these what you specialize in?

A: My first three seasons with the team I coached just the sprints, long, triple and high jumps. I was lucky enough to have a really good part-time hurdle coach and a very good part–time pole vault coach.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, you worked for eight years as an assistant track and field coach at Boston College. There, you had success coaching three Division I All-Americans and numerous Big East all-conference and all-New England athletes. What led you to Wesleyan?

A: I landed at Wesleyan because I was given a chance to be a head coach and lead a track program. I learned a great many things about track; coaching; administration; people; and just life while I was at Boston College. I really loved it there and I had some wonderful experiences, but it was time for me to see if I could do things on my own.

Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? Were you a track star there?

A: I got my degree in journalism from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Go Cyclones! I worked in TV for five years before I got into coaching. And yes, I was a student-athlete on the track team at ISU. I was pretty good, not what you would call a ‘superstar’ but my name is still on the top 10 list in the hurdle events. And it’s been a while since I graduated.

Q: Why did you decide ultimately to become a track coach? Is your position rewarding?

A: It is what I think I was meant to do. What can you say about being able to do something you love with people who feel the same way you do, like the coaching staff and athletes, and get to mentor and share in the growing experience of all the student-athletes that come through your program? The best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them or they learned from their relationship with me, and the rest of their teammates made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important.

Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?

A: I teach Beginning Strength Training and Beginning Fitness. I enjoy helping students here on campus improve their health and fitness.

Q: When did you begin running and when did you realize you wanted to pursue racing? Were you ever a cross-country runner or are you more of a sprinter?

A: I started running track in the seventh grade and started hurdles in eighth grade. As for cross-country, no way. I will run no farther than the 800-meter!

Q: Who are your key student-athletes this season?

A: Distance runner Ellen Davis. Our best steeple chaser is Owen Kiely. The 400m runner would be Stephanie O’Brien. The triple jumper is Sam Grover. These are just some of the athletes who we depend on.

Q: What lessons do you stress to the students?

A: We ask all of our athletes to first, commit to our program; second, work hard; third, be accountable to the coaching staff and your teammates; fourth, manage their time well; and fifth, they need to have a love for track and field.

Q: I understand that you have produced an instruction video on hurdling?

A: My college track coach, Bill Bergan called me up and asked me if I could do him a favor. Coach Bergan was, and is still, a wonderful person and mentor. I jumped at the chance to help him out. His favor was to conduct a video clinic on the common errors and mistakes that happen when young track athletes are learning to hurdle. To make a long story short, everything turned out great and today I still have people tell me that they used my tape or have heard about it. Yes, I am in the video, but only as a coach.

Q: You have been a clinician for hurdle events at the Brown University Track and Field Camp, and you worked with the New England High School Track and Field Coaches Clinic. Why do you do this, and what do you hope participants get out of your teaching?

A: My answer is the same as before; the best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important and I was able to help them reach a personal goal.

Q: You have three children. Do you encourage them to get involved in athletics?

A: At this point in my life, my main interest is in my family. My kids are involved in lots of activities so my wife and I try to go and support their interest. My daughter is on her high school’s dance team. I coach my oldest son’s Pop Warner football team. My youngest child is a pretty good little soccer player. Plus there is baseball, dance class, summer camp, family trips, and other things. So all I do is try to be positive and help them find the joy in sports. I stress fun, hard work, commitment, sacrifice and pride.

Q: What is your coaching strategy for your own children?

A: I do have one rule for my kids when it comes to activities. If you start it, you finish it! No quitting in the middle of anything. If you really don’t like what you’re doing, once you are finished with it, you don’t have to do it again.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Associate Registrar Says Technology is always Changing in the Office


Beth Labriola, associate registrar, is responsible for daily office operations, the drop/add system, the grade entry system, transfer credit articulation and the diploma process.
 
Posted 04/01/06
After 14 years working in the Office of the Registrar and Office of Graduate Student Services, Beth Labriola says every day at Wesleyan is just as exciting.

“I’m constantly being challenged, and because of these challenges, I have really been able to grow,” she says from her office in North College. “There’s always something new going on here.”

Labriola, associate registrar, came to the university in 1992 as an administrative assistant in the Office of the Registrar. From there, she moved into the Office of Graduate Student Services and returned to the Registrar’s Office in 1998. She was promoted to associate registrar in 2004.

The Office of the Registrar oversees all student records in support of enrollment, course registration, academic history, and transcript maintenance, among other student and faculty data services.

As the associate registrar, Labriola is responsible for overseeing many of the daily operations in the office. Her staff of four handles classroom assignments, enrollment verification, the grading process, the Honors Program and transcript production. She frequently meets with the student deans to discuss student records or run reports for them, and she’s also available to talk to any students who pop in her office with questions.

“Beth is a wonderful registrar who possess the right personality for the job,” says Registrar Anna van der Burg, who has worked with Labriola for six years. “Her knowledge of the University is a real asset to our Office and she is great to work with.”

Labriola is constantly working with technologies to better the processes for students, faculty and the office. In 2004, she helped design and implement the electronic grade entry system. Through this method, faculty enter grades electronically through their faculty portfolios instead of submitting them on paper for data entry.

“The process has minimized data errors, speeding up the amount of time it takes to get grades into the system and displayed to students,” she says. “Faculty no longer have to trudge over to North College or Public Safety after hours to submit their grades, and they can enter grades anywhere that there is internet access,” she says.

Labriola works closely with van der Burg, and Heather Alderfer, assistant registrar. They are all currently are working with Information Technology Services to implement a new pre-registration system, scheduled to be in use in April. This system, which evolved from faculty and student input, will replace the online registration system that was in place for the past 10 years.

Labriola is learning the new system inside and out so she can write the system’s training manual. This user-friendly document will be available to all students and faculty, online to download as a PDF. Once this system is complete, Labriola will immediately begin her next project – developing a system so students and alumni can request their transcripts online. Students currently need to download a form and fax it to the office, or deliver it in person.

“It’s just amazing how technology has changed the way our office operates directly,” Labriola says. “When I started here, everything was on paper, and now students and faculty can do everything from scheduling classes to entering grades through their electronic portfolios. It’s a very exciting time for our office and for the university.”

The electronic method also decreases the chance of error in data recording.

Although much of the Registrar’s Office work is done online, there is still one task that will always be done face to face: diploma distribution. Labriola and her staff oversee the printing of the diplomas and hand them out during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

“It is so much fun to hand out the diplomas to students that I’ve been in contact with over the past four years,” she says.

Labriola says her work study job in college led her to want to follow a career path that involved students and record keeping. While studying communication and theater arts at Western Connecticut State University, she worked at the university’s Continuing Education Office. She graduated in 1991, and went on to receive a master’s of art in liberal studies from Wesleyan in 2002.

She also empathasizes with the incoming international exchange students. As a child, Labriola spent three years living in Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and in high school, she lived with a family in Turkey as an exchange student.

“Many of the new international students are nervous when they get here, and I can really identify with them,” she says. “I love talking with them.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Fire Specialist Focuses on Safety, Preventive Measures, Education


Barb Spalding, associate director of Campus Fire Safety, teaches Annalisa Kelly ’08 how to use a fire extinguisher in a set-up drill. Spalding hopes to teach all students on campus how to use the devices.
 
Posted 04/01/06
Q: Barb, how did you work your way up to the associate director of Campus Fire Safety?

A: I started in November 2003, as a consultant, hired by Joyce Topshe, the assistant vice president of facilities to do a fire/life safety study of the undergraduate residences. In April 2004 I was hired as a fulltime employee as associate director, project manager in Construction Services. When Physical Plant reorganized in the summer of 2005, my title changed to associate director of Campus Fire Safety.

Q: This is a new position, correct?

A: It was the Physical Plant reorganization that prompted the new position. We all realized that there are significant fire and life safety issues at Wesleyan, especially in our housing, and there wasn’t a single point person or department to address all the issues.

Q: What is your goal as a campus fire safety specialist?

A: My goal is to educate as many people as possible in the things we can all do to make our environment as safe as possible. Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home. Practice what to do in the event of an emergency. Know as much as you can about the building systems or features that are intended to keep you safe. And pay attention wherever you are to your environment and ways for you and yours to be safe.

Q: What are you working on lately?

A: I started with a study in 2003, identifying projects that would increase the fire safety for students in undergrad housing. We got the Trustees approval last May for the Foss Hill fire sprinkler/fire alarm project as well as for a project to install fire sprinkler systems in all the wood frame and Program Housing with five beds or more. That is 46 wood frame houses and 11 program houses that didn’t have fire sprinkler systems and are in long-term locations. So I am managing those installations – this summer eight houses are getting new fire sprinkler systems as part of Major Maintenance projects, and seven others as part of the undergrad fire sprinkler project. The rest will be covered over the next three summers.

Q: What else have you worked on?

A: I managed a project to install carbon monoxide detectors in undergrad residences that use oil or gas fuel for heat. I wrote new specifications for installations of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems on campus. I coordinated fire drills in student housing and for fire/life safety training for the Res Life staff. I have taken over the responsibility for I am working on a “Better Living” program for students in program houses and wood frames to introduce them to their house – here is the thermostat, here is the water shut-off for the toilet, here is a smoke detector, CO detector, sprinkler. I am also working on a Building Ambassador program for administrative and academic buildings to help occupants familiarize themselves with the fire/life safety issues in their workplaces. I also am updating a building database that includes all buildings on campus and has information about the type of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems, as well as building square footage, date and type of construction, occupancy, etc. We hope to use this data, and an updated campus map with software to have an intelligent campus map for everyone to use.

Q: Where did you acquire your knowledge on fire safety?

A: After 10 years of contracting, I applied for a job as a construction project manager at Northern Arizona University, where I had completed several jobs as a subcontractor. One of my biggest projects was to develop an inspection, test and repair program for the two dozen or so fire sprinkler systems in the residential buildings on campus. That led to a study of the fire alarm systems. Since Northern Arizona was a state institution, they did not fall under the jurisdiction of the local fire authorities and had serious lapses in the inspection, testing and maintenance of their systems. I worked with the campus fire marshal, the state fire marshal, the local fire department and other professionals and contractors to repair, replace and bring up to code the fire life safety systems on campus. I also attended classes at Arizona and received my degree in business and construction management.

Q: What laws or guidelines in fire safety must Wesleyan abide by?

A: We have to meet all local, state and federal laws pertaining to new and existing buildings. The state just adopted a bunch of new codes, some of which pertain to new buildings and construction and some pertain to existing buildings and renovation and use. I actually really like to study codes but this revision is really a challenge just to figure out which code applies to our specific cases. Considering we have a higher percentage of 25-plus year old buildings than our peer institutions, we have done an excellent job of keeping the buildings safe for people to live and work in.

Q: Environmental Health & Safety is in the process of holding fire drills in all buildings on campus. What is the purpose of these drills?

A: This is the next step in my safe buildings campaign. It is one thing to make the building safe, but there is always the people variable. We will be doing fire drills in all admin and academic buildings on campus, because generally people do not know how to respond during a fire alarm evacuation. If they remember what they learned in kindergarten, they will leave the building when they hear the bells. But as adults, most people forget that that is actually the law, not just a good idea. We will also be doing fire extinguisher training for anyone interested.

Q: If there is a fire, can you explain how employees should evacuate a smoky building?

A: Stay calm. If there is an alarm activation and you are in a room with the door closed, feel the door or handle first to see if it is warm, before opening the door. If there is smoke in the corridor, stay low to the floor where there is more air and head directly to an exit. If there is too much smoke, close the door to the room that you are in, but a towel or something at the bottom of the door to seal it, call 911 or x3333 to let someone know where you are. Open a window and signal to someone outside also. The Fire Department is very close to campus and will be on scene within five minutes max.

Q: Who else works on fire safety issues or environmental health and safety issues?

A: I report to Joyce Topshe and go over everything with her. I share an office with Bill Nelligan, associate director of Environmental Health and Safety and Chris Cruz, safety specialist, and Ricky Howard, EH&S project manager. I also work very closely with Residential Life staff.

Q: What are the biggest challenges your job poses?

A: How to balance safety with practicality. It defeats the mission of creating a safe campus, if procedures that are put in place are too restrictive and cumbersome. Then people are not only not being safe, but usually doing something really stupid to avoid doing the right thing. My goal is to have effective rules.

Q: Can you give an example of this?

A: For instance, string lights or “Christmas lights” used to be on the prohibited items list, but everyone had them and trying to hide them caused more of a problem. They are now allowed as long as they are plugged directly into the wall, since extension cords are still prohibited. There are still students who don’t get it that candles and incense cause fires and that is why they are prohibited. And smoking really isn’t allowed in any university buildings.

Fore information on fire safety can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/firesafety.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

FEMINIST POLITICS: Carolle Charles, associate professor of sociology from Baruch College, City College of New York, presents “From Confrontation to Negotiation: CONAP and a New Form of Doing Feminist Politics in Haiti” in the Center for African American Studies Lounge Feb. 27. Charles is the mother of Jane Charles-Voltaire ’07.

The well-attended event was sponsored by the the Center for African American Studies.  (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

WesGuitars Club Strummin’ Up Worldly Music on Campus, Local Community


Pictured at top, Alex Gorelick ’09 performs during a WesGuitars meeting March 9. Pictured in back, from left, are Bolivian guitarist, Marcos Puña and Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar and WesGuitar coordinator. Pictured below is WesGuitars member Sylvia Ryerson ’09.
(Click the speaker button to hear
Gorelick playing Prelude No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
Posted 03/16/06
Sylvia Ryerson ’09 came to Wesleyan with an interest in classic guitar, but no real ability to play the instrument. But after joining a new club called WesGuitars, she’s already memorized pieces by Brazillian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cuban conductor Leo Brouwer.

“I’ve always loved the sound of classical guitar,” she says. “It’s great to sit in a room with a bunch of other guitarists and share what I’ve been working on, and hear music by others. It’s a really fun and encouraging group.”

WesGuitars, a campus group generated last semester, meets twice a month in the Davenport Campus Center. During the March 9 meeting, Ryerson played a Villa-Lobos composition live for the club. Afterwards, fellow WesGuitar members complemented her efforts and offered constructive criticism.

The performance-oriented meetings serve as an opportunity for players to get feedback, tell stories, discuss different composers, ask questions, meet guest artists and be inspired. Sometimes, the WesGuitars will break out into a jam session.

The Music Department’s Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar, coordinates the informal club gatherings. He says the club’s purpose is to promote classical guitar awareness at Wesleyan and the Middletown community. The students may also perform in various concerts throughout the year.

Although the guitar originated in Spain, the students study music from American, Mexican, Turkish, Brazilian, Japanese musicians, among others.

“Everyone has their own diverse interests, so we encourage each other to learn music from all over the world,” says Duruoz, who has studied and performed internationally. “The students are always free to write their own music, too.”

Alex Gorelick ’09, a chemistry and music major, has played guitar for seven years. During the recent meeting, he performed “Prelude No. 1” by by Villa-Lobos and “Sakura,” a popular fast-fingered folk song from Japan. The song took him three months to master and memorize. Afterwards, guest artist Marcos Puña of Bolivia inspired Gorelick by playing the same song an octave higher.

“There are many variations on how to play a song, and writing the music for guitar is close to impossible,” Duruoz explains. “So much the way someone plays a song comes from the way they were influenced. I just recommend that they play the way they are most confident with.”

Graduate student Glenn Henshaw says audiences respond the varied sounds of the guitar. The instrument can be tender and sonorous or it can be deeply rhythmic and angular, he explains.

“The guitar is a relatively young instrument but it has timeless qualities,” says Henshaw, who is learning “Homenaje – Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy” by Manuel de Falla. “We want people to walk away from our performances and say, “I had no idea the guitar could do that.’”

The guitar repertoire is diverse and affective. Some members of the group have performed duets with pianists, flautists and vocalists. Guitar newbie Ryerson says her life-long experience with the violin and reading music has helped the learning process tremendously, even though the fingering on the violin and guitar are backwards.

Most of the club members take or have taken private lessons with Duruoz, however WesGuitars welcomes all musicians from campus and the surrounding area to join. Henshaw says the relaxed environment ensures that beginners or non-classical players can feel comfortable enough to pick up a guitar and play.

“Despite the fact that the Wesleyan music program is decidedly theory based there is widespread interest in performance; groups like ours will cater to both the casual and serious musicians on campus and in the community,” Henshaw says. “We’d really like to make Wesleyan and Middletown a mecca for classical guitar.”

The club will culminate this year with a concert as part of the Chapel Music Series on April 7. They also are sponsoring a concert by Spanish guitarist Juan José Sáenz at 7 p.m. April 9 in Crowell Concert Hall. He will play a program of Spanish works.

For more information on WesGuitars e-mail Cem Duruoz at cduruoz@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Campus Safety Upgrades Continue


Passers-by walk across Cross Street at a pedestrian walkway. Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the center of the street in an effort to improve campus safety.

Posted 03/15/06
In its on-going efforts to continually improve campus safety, Wesleyan has been taking various measures to upgrade services and capabilities appropriately. These include:

Pedestrian Safety
Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the middle of crosswalks on Church Street and Cross Street reminding motorists that they must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Lighting has been improved at several crosswalks and a new crosswalk signal will be installed on Washington Street.

Public Safety’s on-going dialogue with the city to investigate other areas for crosswalk improvement has yielded a plan for further improvements that will add traffic calming measures by moving curbs, removing on-street parking in some areas, adjusting crosswalk locations to fit pedestrian traffic patterns, installing raised crosswalks and improving signs both on the sides of the road and painted on the roadway. The plan is pending approval and funding by the city.

Fire Safety
During the last 12 months, new fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems were installed at Low Rise Apartments, and the wood-framed residences on Vine Street, Warren Street, Home Avenue.

Other renovations include fire alarm upgrades to 200 High St., 200 Church St., Center for the Arts Art Studio North and South, the CFA Cinema, 5A & B Fountain, 14 A, B & C Warren, and Physical Plant’s Cady Building on Long Lane.

In addition, part of a recent $10 Million Bond-funded project includes $2.5 Million for fire alarm and fire sprinkler upgrades to existing wood frame houses.

Campus Shuttle Program
The “RIDE” Campus Shuttle Program was expanded in the past year to insure safe and convenient transportation services for students during evening hours. The new Shuttle Program operates seven nights a week during the academic year from 7 pm until 4 a.m. In addition to the two shuttle lines, the program now offers a downtown shuttle every Wednesday through Saturday nights from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The shuttle stops at several locations on Main Street every 20 minutes. Access for people with disabilities is available during the same times and over the same routes. All shuttle locations are in the vicinity of a blue light emergency phone and in well lighted areas. Pick up times have been added to all shuttle locations. Times and locations can be found at www.wesleyan/transportation.

In addition, all shuttle drivers have completed a driver safety course and attend several meetings each semester on driver safety and customer service skills. Each shuttle van has comment cards students can complete and send to the transportation services manager. All comments, complaints and suggestions are followed up on immediately.

Residence Hall Card Access
In the fall of 2006, Wesleyan will complete a comprehensive installation of electronic proximity access equipment on all undergraduate residence hall facilities accommodating more than 20 students. The new proximity access program uses student picture identification cards to provide visual verification of users, and create information related to who enters residences, as well as the time and date of entry.

Wesleyan is always looking for ways to improve campus safety. Please direct suggestions to David Meyer, interim director of public safety, at dmeyer@wesleyan.edu.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Wrestling Coach Says Recruiting Top Students, Top Athletes Secret to Success on the Mat


Drew Black, wrestling coach, stresses intelligence, power, quickness, superb conditioning, flexibility and a high degree of self-confidence with his Wesleyan athletes.
 
Posted 03/15/06
Q: You’ve been coaching wrestling at Wesleyan since 1998. What spurred your interest in the sport initially?

A: It all started my freshman year of high school in Mahwah, N.J. My brother was a sophomore wrestler on the team. My intention was to go and play basketball at the vertically challenged height of 4-foot-9 and 75 lbs. The wrestling coach spoke to me in the locker room just before the wrestling season was about to begin and said, “You may play basketball as a freshman, but after that JV and Varsity you will probably not play much. You should really think about coming out for wrestling. That weekend, my brother and I talked and I decided to try something new and took my basketball sneakers to the mat that Monday afternoon. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Q: What is the objective in wrestling?

A: Wrestling is the oldest sport known to mankind. It was part of the first Olympic games. I find that people who have never seen wrestling, all they need to do is come to one wrestling event and they will be hooked. It is difficult at first to understand the points awarded, but in basic terms, you have two people out at the center of the mat. The wrestlers start on their feet and look to take the other down to the mat. Next goal is to turn your opponent over and pin his shoulders to the mat for the pin and the win. In and around the takedown and pin there is a lot of maneuvering for an advantageous position to dominate your opponent. A college match lasts seven minutes with three periods.

Q: In addition to strength, what skills are needed to do this sport?

A: Wrestling takes intelligence, power, quickness, superb conditioning, flexibility and a high degree of self-confidence. In the sport of wrestling there is no place to hide. There are no time-outs or substitutes. It is you versus another opponent. One of the greatest feelings in the world is to work so hard for something and then achieve that goal within the circle on the mat.

Q: As an adjunct assistant professor of education, what classes do you teach?

A: I currently teach indoor technical climbing and fitness swimming, but have also taught the strength training classes as well.

Q: In addition to coaching wrestling, you’re also the strength and conditioning coach, and fitness center coordinator. In these roles, are you working with all Wesleyan athletes?

A: I work with many of our athletic teams. My goal is to have our student-athletes receive the best and most advantageous strength and conditioning programs needed for each student-athlete to reach his/her individual and team goals. Our student-athletes are some of the best and most dedicated people you will meet. Here they are at one of the best schools in the country, no one is getting a scholarship to play, yet so many of our student athletes want to train and prepare themselves to compete at a national level and represent Wesleyan with pride and honor.

Q: What is the Cardinal Speed and Agility Program?

A: It’s a program that has become extremely popular over the past eight years. I have come to learn that most of our student-athletes call this “Drew Black.” They say, “I have Drew Black today.” This is a voluntary program where in the fall and spring we have 75-90 athletes in our field house going through speed drills, agility drills, games and conditioning activities. I have even had a professor or two come and join in the fun.

Q: Where did you go to college and when did you decide to become a coach?

A: At Syracuse University I majored in athletic training and wanted to work with athletes in prevention and care of injury setting. I also wanted to get my teaching certification so I could be more marketable in a public school setting. This led me to Kent State where I was a graduate assistant in the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport. I did attain my teaching certification and this is where coaching became a love and passion. It was during my student-teaching experience at Stow-Monroe Falls High School in Ohio. The varsity wrestling coach needed a freshman/JV coach to help. It paid $2,000 dollars and to a college student that is like being a millionaire. I took the job and at my first tournament I said to myself, “Coaching is awesome, I think I want to coach and teach at the college level.”

Q: Before coming to Wesleyan, where did you work? What attracted to you to Wesleyan?

A: Before Wesleyan, I was the head wrestling coach, strength and conditioning coach and fitness center coordinator at Phoenix Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. When I applied to Wesleyan, I was not familiar with Wesleyan at the time, but soon came to realize what a great school and opportunity this was for me.

Q: You led Wesleyan’s wrestling team to the highest-winning season in history in 2001-02 with a 17-2 mark and four winning seasons over the past five years. The team has earned scholar All-American status in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. What is your secret?

A: To be honest, the secret lies within the people you are able to work with. Wesleyan is a great school, which does attract top people to this campus. As a faculty coach, I need to get in touch with the very best and brightest young men all around the United States. Part of the secret to successful teams and consistent successful seasons is having top students who are also dedicated and committed to the sport of wrestling.

Q: What do you look for in student-athletes and what lessons do you stress?

A: I have been fortunate to have some great student-wrestlers in my eight years here. I stress hard work, smart work and teamwork. This all starts with setting goals so there is a destination set. The process of being a top student and a top athlete is the secret to success. These are the things that each member of our team has 100 percent control over. They have control over attending every class, studying, seeking out professors for help and guidance. They have control over how much strength training, running, conditioning and mat-time they do throughout the year. They also have control over their nutrition, eating smarter and healthier. The last thing they have control over and something we talk about a lot is being a quality community member, their actions away from the classroom and the mat. At Wesleyan, we want the total package of a top student, top wrestler, and a top citizen in the community and beyond. Set these as priorities, focus on them, and have the student-athlete take responsibility and there you have it.

Q: What are your thoughts on Dan deLalla ’07, who received the New England College Conference Wrestling Association Championship title after sitting out the regular season with an elbow injury?

A: Dan is one of those special kids you get to work with at Wesleyan. He is a competitor and someone who is so positive. He believes in himself because he works extremely hard all throughout the year. I must admit that it was difficult for me to believe that Dan could sit out the entire season, train for two weeks and then win the New England Championship to qualify for the national tournament. It brought great life and excitement to our team and really boosted our team morale. The outlook and future of this wrestling program is bright due to Dan’s accomplishments, his leadership and also the great young talent that this team has right now.

Q: Josh Wildes ’08 and Mike Lima ’08 also took conference titles this year. Do you foresee them going far in the next few years?

A: The team and I are so excited about next year and the next three years. We did not having a winning season this year mainly due to the amount of injuries our team sustained. The future is very bright with quality wrestlers such as Josh and Mike. Both of these guys can be impact wrestlers for our program in the next two years, but both need to continue to dedicate themselves throughout the year, not just from November to February. There are many bright spots throughout our team. Jeremy Stuart ’08 is going to be tough the next two years as well. I should basically name our entire team right now because I see the potential in each of them to be very successful in the next few years.

Q: In 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps awarded you with a Coaching Leadership Award for your outstanding work in the development of leaders at Wesleyan and in the state. What was your reaction to this honor?

A: It was a great surprise. It was awarded to me at our annual National Wrestling Coaches Conference. I am just trying to give back to the sport of wrestling which has given me so much in my life. It is my pleasure to work hard for this great sport and to be involved in young people’s lives and try to set them in the right direction so they too can be successful people in the world today.

Q: What wrestling organizations are you a member of?

A: I have been a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Association for 11 years now, and member of the executive committee for eight years, and the president of our New England Wrestling Conference for four years.

Q: Does your family get into wrestling or other sports?

A: My wife, Jennifer; son Sean, 6; daughter Leah, 1 attend many of my colleague’s games and competitions. Right now, lacrosse games are Sean’s favorite and Leah is just happy to be with her brother. We also love to use Wesleyan as our playground. This is such a great environment to raise a family. My son Sean gets to be around great people, use the great facilities and play different sports and activities.

Q: Aside from wrestling, what are your other hobbies and/or interests?

A: I am pretty simple. I love to go out to eat. I also try to stay fit partaking in weight training, running, and the occasional noon faculty hoop games, especially after wrestling is over. My other hobbies are quality family time and playing with both Sean and Leah. My family is my pride and joy. Seeing them laugh is the best hobby.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

5 Faculty Awarded Career Enhancement Grants

Posted 03/15/06
Five Wesleyan faculty members received Mellon Career Enhancement Grants for the 2006-07 academic year.Wesleyan, along with Amherst College, Grinnell College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, Reed College, Smith College and Williams College, are in the third year of a major collaborative grant from the Mellon Foundation to enhance faculty career development. Faculty members from each of the institutions compete for semester research leaves, summer stipend grants, and workshop grants designed to encourage and promote increased scholarly activity for the faculty of the eight institutions.

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, and Abigail Hornstein, assistant professor of economics, received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants. Laurie Nussdorfer, chair of the College of Letters and professor of letters and history, and Ethan Kleinberg, associate professor of letters and history, received a Mellon Workshop Grant. Stephen Angle, associate professor of East Asian Studies, associate professor of philosophy, chair of the East Asian Studies Program and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, received a Mellon Semester Research Leave.

Proposals for these grants are reviewed at each participating institution by a committee including the academic deans. This is the fourth year the Mellon grants were issued.

  
Barth (pictured at left) and Hornstein (pictured at right) are among 16 professors from the eight colleges who received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants to be used in summer 2006. Recipients receive $4,500; an additional $3,500 is available for student research assistance for each recipient.

Barth’s research project is titled “Visual statistical processing in young children.” The project is based on the previous finding that adults can rapidly extract certain kinds of quantitative information from visually-presented sets.

“For example, after a very brief look at a large set of elements, we have a good idea of the average size of all of the elements in the set,” Barth explains. “We don’t have to be told beforehand to try to figure out the average size of this bunch of objects: we seem to extract this ‘statistical summary information’ about the set very quickly and automatically.”

This finding is relevant to her broader research program, which concerns the remarkable quantitative skills children possess even prior to formal education. The rapid extraction of statistical summary information from visual stimuli is likely to play an important role, yet scientists know very little about this ability in children. This summer, Barth and her lab assistant will explore the way this ability contributes to young children’s quantitative cognition.

Hornstein plans to work with Minyuan Zhao from the University of Minnesota to study the relationship between effective capital budgeting and the internalization of research and development using a panel dataset of U.S. firms in the 1990s. To estimate the efficacy of a firm’s capital budgeting decisions, she will use a self-developed process, and acquire patent application data from the U.S. Patent Office. Hornstein’s proposed study will examine issues that she discusses regularly with her Wesleyan students, for example corporate investment criteria, how firms make capital budgeting decisions, and how firms evaluate investments.

“This research may also be of interest to my colleagues who teach industrial organization courses as firms use patents to buttress firm boundaries and maintain first-mover advantages,” she explains.

In the long-term, Hornstein anticipates teaching courses that combine corporate finance and corporate strategy. These courses would share a common theme: how to develop and maintain a firm’s competitive edge while maximizing shareholder wealth.

  
The Mellon Workshop Grant received by Nussdorfer (pictured at left) and Kleinberg (pictured at right) is worth up to $25,000 and supports workshops designed and organized by faculty members on scholarly and pedagogical topics.

Nussdorfer and Kleinberg are spearheading a workshop collaboratively. It will be titled “Philosophy and Literature: Reading across the Disciplines,” and is scheduled for May 9-10, 2007. The professors are inviting several scholars to explore the intersections, relations and tensions between literary and philosophical studies.

The workshop’s morning sessions will be open to the public and academic community, in which two invited presenters, one from literary studies and one from philosophy, tackle the same text, each from his or her perspective. In addition, experts from Wesleyan and other area institutions will convene to explore specific aspects of topics raised in more detail, drawing on the insights of the public sessions.

“The focus will be not so much on what the two different disciplines are as on what literary scholars and philosophers actually do when they interpret a text, and what assumptions or mechanisms guide their arguments and interpretations,” Kleinberg explains.


Angle was one of 10 professors across the eight colleges awarded a semster leave. He could receive one semester leave with pay during the 2006-2007 year. Awards for semester research leaves are based on the strength of the proposal and evidence of previous scholarly accomplishment, with priority given to projects that show promise of substantial progress and that can result in products that will be ready for peer review by the end of the leave period.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

New Manager is Booking on a Successful Career at Broad Street


Nancy Healy, manager of Broad Street Books, says the shop’s new cosmetic changes, like the new bookshelf behind her, are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore.
 
Posted 03/15/06
Q: When were you hired to manage Broad Street Books and how is it going so far?

A: I was brought on board in the last week of January. It has been an interesting and eventful month! I have spent this first month learning about the history of the store and getting to know my staff, as well as getting acquainted with Wesleyan. Things are going very well so far, and I am confident that things will continue to get better and better as we move forward.

Q: Please describe the purpose of Broad Street Books.

A: Broad Street Books is a full service bookstore. Our goal is to serve both the Wesleyan and Middletown community’s needs. Students can find all their text materials, a wide selection of trade books, basic supply needs, as well as Wesleyan clothing and gift products.

Q: I hear there has been some changeover at the bookstore.

A: There certainly has been some changeover! In addition to myself, we have a brand new textbook manager, Ben Brown. Ben had been our textbook coordinator for the last year and has had an opportunity to learn about the business from the ground up. Carrie Brochu has also recently come on board as our general merchandise coordinator. Carrie also comes from Barnes and Noble and will be involved in building and promoting our apparel and gift sections.

Q: How many employees are there?

A: Our store employs roughly 20 to 25 people at any given time.

Q: What was the purpose of the bookstore’s recent remodeling?

A: The bookstore recently underwent some cosmetic changes. The changes are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore, while still promoting our Wesleyan home. Shoppers will find a redesigned trade book floor, as well as the addition of display bookcases on our mezzanine level. We are in the process of redefining the Broad Street “brand.” I believe it is important that our presentation and selection are reflective of Wesleyan’s reputation, as well as respectful of the diverse community that we serve.

Q: As a manager, do you spend more time behind the scenes or do you get much time to mingle with customers and staff?

A: I believe that establishing relationships with my staff and with the community that our store serves is the single most important component to building our success. Our hours differ from many campus bookstores. We are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work weekdays and at least one weekend per month and one night per week. This allows me to interact with all of my staff members, as well as the different segments of our shopping community.

Q: What are typical job duties as a book store manager?

A: I am involved in all facets of our business. Of course, I am responsible for ensuring the operational soundness of the business, customer satisfaction, and sales growth. Currently, two of my main focuses are increasing awareness of the bookstore through the promotion of unique events and networking within the Middletown community, and the re-design of our store website. This will help to provide family, alumni, as well as prospective students access to Wesleyan apparel and gifts, as well as giving students additional access to textbooks during the school year.

Q: What are your daily challenges?

A: Learning all the many aspects of a new company can be challenging. There is something new to confront everyday. However, while I have many friends who can’t imagine why I have stayed in retail all these years, the answer is simple. It is never boring. There are always new challenges in creating something. I find managing similar to directing a play. Somehow you are constantly engaged in creating the right dynamic both within your staff, as well as visually to entice your audience, grab their attention. When you finally get the right combination the results are extraordinary.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan and what type of field were you working in before?

A: Actually, I was contacted by a recruiter from Follett Higher Education, the company that runs the bookstore. At that time I was working for Barnes & Noble in the superstore division. I was immediately excited about the possibility of working in an atmosphere that promotes learning, growth and creativity. Previously, I had been an executive team leader for Target stores specializing in operations and merchandising.

Q: What is Follett Higher Education Group and what is the relationship with Wesleyan?

A: Follett Higher Education Group is the company contracted by Wesleyan to operate the bookstore. Follett operates over 700 bookstores at college campuses across the United States, as well as in Canada. Follett’s resources provide the store access to many text materials, in particular, a variety of used text titles to help ease costs for students.

Q: What is your favorite book section at Broad Street and why?

A: I’m not sure that I have a favorite section. I am quite intrigued by our faculty author sections. I find it fascinating what people are captivated by, and what they choose to write about. The same held true when I worked for Barnes & Noble. I was always interested in the local authors who came in. There are so many wonderful books published by smaller presses that simply don’t have the capital to promote them as vigorously as the larger publishing houses. I also love the children’s section.

Q: Do you enjoy reading, yourself? What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: I do enjoy reading. You would be most apt to find me with a biography or history book. I have many interests! I have been engaged in a genealogy project for over a year. It has been an extremely rewarding and fascinating experience. It certainly gives history a new face. I also enjoy music. I play the tenor saxophone and flute. And then there’s going to the theater, tennis and I am determined to learn to golf this year.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family. My life partner, Melissa, is a trainer with the Hartford Insurance Company. My 15 year old son, Chris, is the best part of everyday. We enjoy doing all kinds of things together. The beach, musicals, museums, and Red Sox games are some of our favorite things to do.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your new Broad Street customers?

A: I am always available and open to new ideas. I am excited about the coming months and thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a thriving campus. Please come visit!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor