All News

Project and Events Coordinator Plans Alumni Councils

Meghan Fay, project and events coordinator for alumni and parent relations, helps coordinate regional presidential events and council meetings during Reunion and Commencement.
Posted 04/17/08
Q: Meghan, when did you join the staff in University Relations?

A: I joined the University Relations team in January 2007 because it was a great fit for me professionally. I really enjoy the collaboration among departments, work ethic, and creativity that is pervasive throughout the university.

Q: Where is your office located?

A: I work at 330 High Street; our building is the white house.

Q: What are a few projects you have been involved with during the academic year?

A: Since I started I have been involved in planning and coordinating Alumni Councils. Alumni councils are comprised of Wesleyan alumni and parents who share an interest in a specific aspect of the university and who want to be involved in these areas to benefit Wesleyan. To date we have created the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC), Career Advisory Council (CAC) and the Council of Regional Programs (CRP). I work most closely with the AAC and the CAC. In addition to the councils, I also manage special events.

Q: What are some typical events you help coordinate?

A: Some of the events I help coordinate are regional presidential events, council meetings and specific events during Reunion and Commencement and Homecoming/Family Weekend. Planning an event, whether it’s a served dinner for 100 or a meeting for 20, takes the same attention to detail. I make a step by step program flow and from there determine which vendors I need to work with. It’s all about the details!

Q: What is the busiest time of the year for you and why?

A: The busiest time of year is the time leading up to multi-day events such as Homecoming/Family Weekend and Reunion and Commencement Weekend.

Q: What is your personal role with hosting Reunion and Commencement Weekend?

A: This year I am working on the 50th Reunion Dinner, Donor Associates Reception, WESeniors Breakfast, Athletics Hall of Fame Luncheon and several other events.

Q: During the day, how do you spend most of your time?

A: I spend a lot of time on email and in meetings during the day. I do get to meet and interact with alumni and parents at special events, council meetings, and responding to inquires via phone and at

Q: Who are the key people you work with on a daily basis in UR?

A: I work directly for Gemma Ebstein, assistant vice president of alumni and parent relations, and Kelly Roos, associate director of alumni and parent relations and development officer. The three of us make up a small – but hardworking – team within the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.

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

A: I really enjoy my colleagues. Everyone is so helpful, creative, hardworking and energetic. After my first month here it was clear to me that everyone loves what they do and with that attitude it really makes you want to work hard and be successful! My job is constantly changing. New events and projects are always being created so I’m never bored. I think that is key to enjoying your work – you have to be challenged!

Q: Do you have any relation to Brian Fay, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy?

A: Yes, that is my dad!

Q: Where did you attend college and what was your major?

A: I didn’t have the typical college experience. I went to college in Boston, and then came home to finish my degree at Central Connecticut State University, while working full-time. I majored in marketing.

Q: Where are you from and what are your hobbies?

A: I was born and raised in Middletown and am a resident now. I like to be active so I enjoy yoga, Pilates, and walking my Italian Mastiff, Thunder. I also enjoy boating during the summer and traveling with my boyfriend.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

NESCAC All-Academic Student-Athletes Announced

Above, Liz Demakos ’09 of Amherst, N.Y. was named a New England Small College Athletic Conference All-Academic selection for Women’s Squash. Below, Sean Watson ’08, was named an All-Academic for Men’s Indoor Track and Field.
Posted 04/04/08
The New England Small College Athletic Conference announced its 2007-08 Winter All-Academic selections March 19 with 407 student-athletes that participated in a winter sport earning All-Academic recognition.

To be honored, a student-athlete must have reached junior academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.35. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The 2008 Wesleyan NESCAC Winter All-Academic winners, their sport and hometown include:

Jonah Blumstein ’09, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Scarsdale, N.Y.
Lila Bolke ’08, Women’s Ice Hockey, Minnetonka, Minn.
Julia Cohen ’09, Women’s Ice Hockey, Washington, D.C.
Scott Cole ’09, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Newton, Mass.
Lauren Cruz ’09, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Forest Hills, N.Y.
Liz Demakos ’09, Women’s Squash, Amherst, N.Y.
J.Z. Golden ’08, Men’s Squash, Merion, Pa.
Sam Grover ’08, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Williston, Vt.
Tameir Holder ’08, Women’s Indoor Track and Field, Lakeview, N.Y.
Hannah Jackson ’09, Women’s Ice Hockey, Brookline, Mass.
Caroline Janin ’08, Women’s Squash, Paris, France
Agnes Koczo ’09, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Suffern, N.Y.
Derek Kuwahara ’09, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Torrance, Calif.
Anwell Lanfranco ’08, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Salem, N.H.
Shannah Lively ’09, Women’s Basketball, Royalston, Mass.
Meredith Lowe ’09, Women’s Basketball, Philadelphia, Pa.
Nikki Maletta ’08, Women’s Basketball, Durham, Conn.
Benjie Messenger-Barnes ’09, Men’s Squash, New York, N.Y.
Stephanie O’Brien ’08, Women’s Indoor Track and Field, Newton, Mass.
Mike Pepi ’08, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Huntington, N.Y.
Jon Sargent ’09, Men’s Basketball, Ashburnham, Mass.
Alex Shklyarevsky ’08, Men’s Ice Hockey, San Jose, Calif.
Jeff Stein ’08, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Glencoe, Ill.
Selina Tirtajana ’08, Women’s Squash, Bandung, Indonesia
Ashley Un ’09, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Swarthmore, Pa.
Sean Watson ’08, Men’s Indoor Track and Field, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Brent Winship ’09, Men’s Ice Hockey, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

More information on the 2008 winters is online at

The NESCAC announced its 2007 Fall All-Academic selections Nov. 17 with 332 student-athletes that participated in a fall sport earning All-Academic recognition.

The 2007 Wesleyan NESCAC Fall All-Academic winners, their sport and hometown include:

Elena Bertocci ’09, Women’s Soccer, Thomaston, Maine
Sam Blank, ’09, Women’s Soccer, Chicago, Ill.
Jonah Blumstein ’09, Men’s Cross Country, Scarsdale, N.Y.
Lisa Drennan ’09, Volleyball, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Gavi Elkind, ’09, Women’s Soccer, San Francisco, Calif.
Becca Feiden ’08, Women’s Soccer, Takoma Park, Md.
Laura Fine ’08, Women’s Soccer, Seattle, Wash.
Nicole Gray ’08, Women’s Soccer, Silver Spring, Md.
Jamie Hiteshew ’08, Men’s Soccer, Montclair, N.J.
Zach Librizzi ’08, Football, Essex Junction, Vt.
Becky Malik ’09, Women’s Soccer, Warren, N.J.
Justin Mello ’08, Men’s Soccer, Rehoboth, Mass.
Tim O’Callaghan ’08, Football, Babylon, N.Y.
Molly O’Connell ’09, Field Hockey, Brookline, Mass.
Sarah Orkin ’09, Women’s Soccer, West Hartford, Conn.
Ozzie Parente ’09, Men’s Soccer, Orange, Conn.
Lucia Pier ’08, Women’s Cross Country, Sonoma, Calif.
Becca Rodger ’08, Volleyball, Long Beach, N.Y.
Maddie Rottman ’08, Field Hockey, Exeter, N.H.
Hailey Sarage ’09, Field Hockey, Springfield, Mass.
Zach Schechter-Steinberg ’08, Men’s Soccer, Iowa City, Iowa
Anna Schindler ’09, Women’s Cross Country, Newton, Mass.
David Tassone ’08, Men’s Cross Country, Arlington, Mass.
Dave Velardo ’08, Men’s Golf, Wilmington, Mass.
Sean Watson ’08, Men’s Cross Country, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Liz Wheatley ’09, Women’s Cross Country, Arlington, Mass.
Tory Whitney ’08, Field Hockey, Brookline, Mass.
Tyler Whitley ’08, Football, Torrington, Conn.
Anna Williams ’09, Volleyball, Northfield, Minn.
Eli Wilson ’09, Men’s Golf, Honolulu, Hawaii
Jettie Word ’08, Volleyball, Albuquerque, N.M.

Founded in 1971, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) consists of 11 liberal arts colleges and has consistently reflected its commitment to the values of athletics and academic achievement. The member colleges of the conference are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College.

More information on the fall is online at

Squash photo by Brian Katten ’79, sports information director. Cross country photo by Steve McLaughlin.

NESCAC All-Conference Winners Announced

Amanda Shapiro ’08 was named a New England Small College Athletic Conference All-Conference winner for Swimming and Diving.
Posted 04/04/08
The New England Small College Athletic Conference announced the Winter and Fall All-Conference winners for each sport.

All-Conference is an honor given to athletes who are voted by the NESCAC coaches in their team sport as the best players in the conference or, for individual sports, who finish high enough in the conference championship.

The 2008 Wesleyan NESCAC Winter All-Conference winners are:

Women’s Basketball – Ali Fourney ’09, first team and Lucy Sprung ’08, second team; Men’s Swimming and Diving – David Wilkinson ’09; Women’s Swimming and Diving – Kate Krems ’08 and Amanda Shapiro ’08.

The 2008 Wesleyan NESCAC Fall All-Conference winners are:

Football – Zach Librizzi ’08 (pictured at left), Ryan Walsh ’09 and AJ Taucher ’08, all second team;
Men’s Soccer – Alan Ashenfelter ’09, Justin Mello ’08 and Jamie Hiteshew ’08, all second team; Women Soccer – Sam Blank ’09, second team; Field Hockey – Tory Whitney ’08 and Breen McDonald ’10, both second team; Women’s Volleyball – Lisa Drennan ’09, first team and Ellie Healy ’10, second team.

Founded in 1971, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) consists of 11 liberal arts colleges and has consistently reflected its commitment to the values of athletics and academic achievement. The member colleges of the conference are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College.

Photos by Brian Katten ’79, sports information director

Commissioner McCarthy Keynote Speaker at Earth Day Address

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy will present “Meeting the Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century” at 8 p.m. April 22 as part of Wesleyan’s Earth Day observance.
Posted 04/04/08
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy will present the 2008 Earth Day Keynote Address at Wesleyan titled “Meeting the Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century.” This free event will be held at 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 22 in the Memorial Chapel. A reception will immediately follow in the Zelnick Pavilion.

Appointed by Governor M. Jodi Rell on Dec. 10, 2004, Commissioner McCarthy came to the Connecticut DEP from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she worked on environmental issues at the state and local level for 25 years in a variety of high-ranking positions, including Deputy Secretary of Operations for the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development.

“We are very fortunate to have Commissioner McCarthy speaking at Wesleyan’s Earth Day observance,” says Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology and director of the Environmental Studies Certificate Program. “She has set a very aggressive, forward thinking agenda that is increasing protections for Connecticut. Commissioner McCarthy is an excellent speaker and will have broad appeal to the Wesleyan and Middletown communities.”

McCarthy is working on key environmental priorities, including: health of Long Island Sound; the state’s air quality; the state park system; Connecticut’s innovative Climate Change Action Plan; a new solid waste master plan; and new strategies to protect the state’s natural resources.

McCarthy received a bachelor of arts in social anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a joint master of science in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University.

Earth Day Keynote Address is part of the Robert Schumann Lecture Series for Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University. For more information, contact Valerie Marinelli, administrative assistant, at 860-685-3733, e-mail or visit

Faculty Awarded New Appointments

Posted 04/04/08
The Wesleyan University Board of Trustees awarded tenure to five members of the faculty in March. These appointments do not conclude tenure announcements for the 2007-2008 academic year, and more will be forthcoming.

The faculty members who were awarded tenure in March by the Board are:

Christiaan Hogendorn, associate professor of economics. Hogendorn’s scholarship concentrates on applied microeconomic theory in the field of industrial organization. His course offerings include Microeconomics, Introduction to Economic Theory, Economics of Technology, Regulation and Anti-trust and Industrial Technology.

Allan Isaac, associate professor of English. Isaac’s area of specialization is Asian American literature and culture. At Wesleyan, among the courses he has taught are: Asian Diaspora in the Americas, Asian American Literature and Its Discontent, Reading Race and Representation, and American Tropics: Imperial Desires and Postcolonial Realities.

Andrea Patalano, associate professor of psychology. Patalano’s teaching and research interests lie in the psychology of reasoning and decision making. Courses she has presented include an Introduction to Cognitive Psychology, Psychology of Decision Making, Quantitative Methods in Psychology, and Seminars in Thinking and in Reasoning.

Aradhana (Anu) Sharma, associate professor of anthropology and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Sharma’s work has focused on ethnographic studies in rural India. Sharma has led courses on Gender and Political Economy in the Developing World, Gender in a Transnational Perspective, Anthropology of Globalization, and Critical Perspectives on the State.

Gina Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology and African American studies. Ulysse’s research and teaching focus on gender, transnational feminism, political economy, representation, race and class performance, migration, spirituality, and spoken word in the Caribbean, the United States and South Africa. Her course offerings have included: Black Feminist Thoughts and Practices, Contemporary Anthropological Theory, Blurred Genres: Feminist Ethnographic Writing, Color in the Caribbean, and Rereading Gendered Agency: Black Women’s Experience of Slavery.

These promotions conferring tenure are effective as of July 1. In addition:

Doug Foyle will serve as the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Government from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2013.

Don Moon became the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Chair in the College of Social Studies from January 1 through June 30, 2013.

Peter Rutland will become the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought on July 1 and will serve through June 30, 2013.

“Please join us in congratulating these wonderfully productive scholars and teachers whom we are fortunate to have in the Wesleyan community,” says Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Their commitment to assuring the finest liberal arts education to all Wesleyan students is to be applauded.”

Additional information on the faculty members above whose tenure was affirmed by the Board of Trustees above can be found at:

Graduate Students, Alumni Discuss Science Careers at First-Ever Retreat

Joshua Boger ‘73, P’06 P’09 speaks about “Building a 21st Century Pharmaceutical Company” during the student-organized Graduate Student Career Retreat March 29.
Posted 04/04/08
Students pursuing degrees in biology, molecular biology and biochemistry fields had the opportunity to discuss their future careers with Wesleyan alumni during the Graduate Student Career Retreat March 29.

The first-ever event, held at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, allowed alumni to deliver a series of brief talks on their own careers and participate in panel discussions. In addition, graduate students held a poster session to share their own research with the invited guests.

“I consider this a ‘career banquet’ for our graduate students,” said Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior and chair of the Biology Department. “There’s a diversity of career opportunities awaiting our graduates, and our alumni were eager to come back and speak about their careers.”

Wesleyan alumnus and trustee Josh Boger ‘73, P’06 P’09 was the retreat’s keynote speaker, and presented “Building a 21st Century Pharmaceutical Company” and “Building Your Future.” In the talks, Boger, the founder and CEO of biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass. discussed his company’s current research on developing an antiviral drug for Hepatitis C and increasing lung function in cystic fibrosis patients.

“To work in pharmaceuticals, you have to be passionately excited about it, and know that 99 out of 100 times you’re going to be wrong,” Boger said during his presentation. “You have to be science-driven and focus on unmet medical needs.”

Boger urged graduate students take chances to tackle the unknown and stay true to their personal values.

“Deciding what you’ll want to do is an individual decision and don’t let anyone else tell you what you should or shouldn’t do,” Boger advised. “I come into work every day smiling because I love what I do. I am happy. It is very important to work in a career that makes you happy.”

An additional 19 guests spoke on science-related careers in one of three sessions: academia, industry and alternative careers. Many of these speakers were Wesleyan alumni.

Jacek Majewski Ph.D ’99, assistant professor of human genetics at McGill University and the Genome Quebec Innovation Centre in Montreal, Canada, currently studies pre-mRNA processing among individuals and tissues. Fifteen years prior, Majewski was pursuing a completely different career path.

“I had degrees in physics and electrical engineering, and I really loved physics, but I didn’t like working, and I got confused about what to do next,” Majewski explained during the academia session. “I had a vision. I began thinking about things I liked. Nature, the environment, hiking and biology. And I ended up at Wesleyan working on a Ph.D in biology. Life is so undefined. You don’t always know what your goal is, but when you make a decision, make the most of it.”

No two alumni had similar career paths or current positions. Kristen Martins-Taylor, who received a Ph.D in molecular biology and biochemistry in 2007, is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut Health Center, where she studies embryonic stem cells. Judy Dunn, who received a Ph.D in biology in 1997, is a medical director at researched-based pharmaceutical company Sepracor in Marlborough, Mass., where she provides scientific input for therapeutic product development. Roopashree Narasimhaiah, who earned a Ph.D in biology in 2005, is an assistant director of development, corporate and foundation relations at Yale University and works as a liaison between the Yale School of Medicine and several corporations.

Stephen Saxe, who earned his Ph.D in molecular biology and biochemistry in 1985, spoke on alternative careers in the science. After working for the National Institutes of Health and teaching pharmacy classes as an assistant professor at Albany College, Saxe went on to obtain a law degree and now serves as associate general counsel in intellectual property at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire, Conn.

“I decided to get out of the lab and into law,” Saxe explained. “Pharmaceutical companies need lawyers who can understand the science and write patents. It’s becoming more and more common for Ph.Ds to go off and become patent attorneys.”

About 15 graduate students made poster presentations at the event, sharing their research on topics such as budding yeast telomeres, interneuron death in epilepsy patients, neurons role in finch song production, and cell differentiation in chick and mouse embryonic development. (Pictured at left, Zainab Mithaiwala ’08, a prospective graduate student, examines a poster displaying graduate student research at the retreat.)

The event was funded by the Joseph and Matilda Melnick Research and Endowment Fund and organized by graduate students Noelle Ammon and Tina Motwani. Several other graduate students, faculty and staff helped plan and create the event.

About 70 students, faculty, alumni and guests attended the retreat.

“The event helped all of us feel reassured and inspired having heard about the paths the alumni took to reach their current occupations.” Ammon said. “Also, many students were able to set up network connections with alumni who are professors at various universities and scientists at several pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Overall, the retreat was a huge success.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Raises More Than 136,000 for United Way

Posted 04/04/08
Wesleyan raised $136,098.32 this year to support the Middlesex United Way, topping last year’s campaign total. The campaign supports critical human care services and county-wide projects that address the top concerns of local residents: housing, mental health and substance abuse.

Funds were raised through the annual Wesleyan Employee Campaign. This year, 498 employees and 24 vendors participated. Of these, 99 were new givers and 125 individuals increased their gift from the previous year.

“Although we are short of our stated goal this year, our campaign garnered terrific results,” says Karen Collins, 2007-08 campaign chair and chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. “This money will be used to meet critical needs in our communities. I can’t thank all Wesleyan gift-givers enough for your much-needed support.”

According to the United Way of America, Wesleyan ranks first in per capita giving, second in average gift and fifth in total dollars among public and private universities served by similar sized United Ways. Locally, Wesleyan ranks third in total giving.

About 40 employees and three vendors were in the Leadership Circle, giving gifts of $1,000 or more. The total of their gifts amounted to $67,000.

Departments with 100 percent contribution include Classical Studies, International Studies, Physics, Office of the Registrar and Department of Religion.

Wesleyan is one of 310 businesses and organizations in the area participating in the Employee Campaign. Last year, these businesses, along with more than 8,600 residents raised $2.1 million for the campaign. Wesleyan has been involved with the campaign for more than 60 years and returns as a Silver Sponsor in 2007/08.

“Workplace campaigns are a great morale booster for employees, providing a unique opportunity for co-workers to join together in a common goal that benefits their local community,” explains Andy Heuer, Middlesex United Way resource development director.

Middlesex United Way supports several local agencies including the American Red Cross, Community Health Center Miles of Smiles Program, the Middlesex Hospital Parental Program, Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, Women and Families Center/Central Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Service and YMCA of Northern Middlesex County, among others.

“Organizations that work in Middlesex County through United Way provide fundamental support to people and families in need,” says Employee Campaign giver Adrian Cooke, web administrator for University Relations. “I wanted to give back what I can to my community. It’s the least I could do.”

Donors to the United Way Wesleyan Employee Campaign had the opportunity to take part in a raffle. The winners and prizes are:

Rommel Guadalupe, assistant director of institutional research, won an overnight stay and breakfast at the Inn at Middletown; Kirsten Carlson, administrative assistant in the Physical Education Department, received a Wilson tennis racket and tennis balls; John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, won a gift basket from Broad Street Books; Susan Krajewski, assistant registrar, was awarded four tickets to any Center for the Arts event; Karen Collins received free enrollment in a one-day arts workshop at the Green Street Arts Center; and Cooke won a $100 gift certificate to the Wesleyan Computer Store.

More information on the Middlesex United Way is online at

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Watson Fellows to Document World-Wide Chinese Communities, Child Soldier Reintegration Policies

Posted 04/04/08
After graduation, senior Cedric Bien ’08 will examine his Chinese roots on four continents while Rebecca Littman ’08 will investigate the plight of child soldiers being reintegrated into West African communities.

As Thomas J. Watson Foundation Travel Grant for Research Fellows, Bien, pictured at left, and Littman, pictured below, will have the opportunity to independently research these topics for 12 months in 2008-09. Each year, more than 1,000 college seniors apply to the Watson program, but only 50 fellowships are awarded.

Bien’s project, titled “Documenting the Chinese Diaspora: A Photographic Ethnography of Chinatowns” will take him to Chinese populations in Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Italy, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. He will explore the similarities and differences of these communities primarily through interactions with community members, photography and audio recordings.

“What does it mean to be of Chinese descent in Ethopia? In Italy? I want to know,” says Bien, who is majoring in East Asian studies. “I want to document and understand how these scattered Chinatowns have evolved and adjusted to local conditions, and I want to observe and experience the livelihoods of Chinese communities around the world, with whom I share a common cultural heritage.”

Littman’s project, titled “Victim and Perpetrator: Reintegrating the Former Child Soldier,” will take her to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. In these African countries, governments and rebel groups abduct or forcibly recruit children into their armed forces. Child soldiers who survive the fighting often face mixed reactions when they return home.

“Some may sympathize with these children as victims of conflict, while others may stigmatize them as perpetrators of crimes,” Littman explains. “It is crucial to develop reintegration programs that successfully take this complex reality into account. I want to explore the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of reintegration efforts.”

Littman will analyze the factors contributing to the development of policies and programs aimed at facilitating the reintegration of former child soldiers into society. She will speak to aid workers, program administrators and policymakers directly involved in shaping, funding and implementing policies and programs.

One of the major challenges of the fellowship is overcoming language barriers.

Knowing the French language is necessary in Guinea, and Littman is preparing by studying at home and working with a tutor in Africa. English is the official language in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Bien learned Spanish in San Marcos, Nicaragua prior to enrolling at Wesleyan.

“When I was in Nicaragua, some children asked me to write something in Chinese, and I felt ashamed to respond that I knew no Chinese characters other than my name,” Bien recalls. “What kind of Chinese-American couldn’t even write Chinese? I began to regret not knowing more about my Chinese heritage and this helped shape my interest in the Chinese diaspora and immigrant Chinese communities.”

At Wesleyan, Bien studied Mandarin Chinese, and spent an additional two summers in Beijing studying the language in intensive language programs.

The Wesleyan Selection Committee nominated Bien and Littman for the Watson Fellowship in October 2007 based on their project proposals and interviews. Projects need to demonstrate serious creativity in the subject area chosen, challenge the student on many fronts, and be a personal stretch.

The winners were announced in March. Each Fellow receives $25,000 for the year of travel and exploration.

“We are thrilled Cedric and Rebecca will get to spend a year after Wesleyan as Watson Fellows,” says Louise Brown, associate dean of the college. “As fellows, they will get to travel abroad and explore a subject about which they are passionate. What an amazing opportunity for them! ”

In addition to their academic achievements, Watson Fellows have been leaders on- and off- campus. This year’s 50 fellows come from 23 states and five foreign countries.

“The awards are long-term investments in people, not research,” says Rosemary Macedo, executive director of the Watson Fellowship Program and a former Watson Fellow. “We look for people likely to lead or innovate in the future and give them extraordinary independence in pursuing their interests. They must have passion, creativity, and a feasible plan. The Watson Fellowship affords an unequalled opportunity for global experiential learning.”

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was begun in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

More information on the Watson Fellowship is online at

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Professor Explores Cultural Implications of Informal Commercial Importers in Jamaica

Posted 04/04/08
Tough, entrepreneurial, family-oriented and successful. This is how Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Associate Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Gina Ulysse describes the Jamaican women who work as informal commercial importers (ICIs), who she has spent 15 years studying. Her unique, groundbreaking research has lead her to publish the book Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist, and Self-Making in Jamaica, which is the first broad analytic work to examine ICIs.

The study was inspired by a talk given by well-known Jamaican businesswoman Mabel Tenn at the University of the West Indies. Ulysse was part of a study abroad program at the time. Tenn—who worked closely with ICIs—spoke about her success and others’ accomplishments. She said, “Nobody’s paying attention to these ladies [the ICIs].”

“That did it for me,” Ulysse said.

She decided to take on the subject for her graduate dissertation. Although she originally wanted to study Haiti, the country where she was born and lived until age 11, her mentor thought it would be a better idea for her to study another Caribbean nation so that she could see how Haiti fits its regional context.

Ulysse began visiting ICIs in Jamaica in 1992. The title of her graduate dissertation was “Uptown Ladies and Downtown Women: Informal Commercial Importing and the Social/Symbolic Politics of Class and
Color in Jamaica.” She altered the original title to the current book title, explaining that the book’s title more clearly explains what she had learned in her years of study.

“Years later, while rethinking the manuscript, it became evident to me that I misunderstood what was happening,” Ulysse said.

“The methodological and theoretical tools from Michigan failed to capture what my research actually revealed. Importers whom I interviewed were engaged in remaking themselves in ways that challenged stereotypes of ‘lady’ and ‘woman’ and their concomitant color, class and spatial referents which continue to affect them in their daily lives. Ultimately, the project points to the significance of a transnational black feminist approach to illuminate how black females, who are simultaneously invisible and hypervisible, negotiate intersections of race, color, class, nationality, age and other indices that are written on our bodies,” she said.

Many people are familiar with the traditional Caribbean market woman or higgler. They are often seen or depicted wearing skirts and kerchiefs in tourist illustrations. In fact, many ICIs were once higglers or are the daughters of higglers. Marketing is the most common gendered trade in the Caribbean, according to the book.

Higglers sold goods at local markets. ICIs take on the world. They have the initiative to travel outside of Jamaica, many times to countries where they don’t speak the language, to purchase goods to resell at markets and other locations. Since the ICIs didn’t need licenses, “they were able to move goods in a way that the formal business sector could not,” Ulysse said.

Although the elitist world around them defines ICIs as working class women, they consider themselves ladies and are determined to define themselves. Historically, Jamaican society did not believe that black women were as civilized as white women, and therefore, did not possess the potential to be ladies. The ICIs refuse to be marginalized.

Although Ulysse got close to ICIs in her work, she was always an outsider. She told the ICIs her name and that she was interested in what they do. She was often asked, “Why are you doing anthropology and not business?” She told them she wanted to tell stories.

“Being from Haiti got me people’s attention and interest,” Ulysse said.

She considers herself a black anthropologist and a feminist anthropologist. Ulysse says she feels it’s important to examine in anthropological study whose voice is of greater value.

“By positioning myself in the study, the book shows how the researcher is not invisible as previous works claming objectivity have argued. In fact, I am marked both in the U.S. and in Jamaica in ways that also reveal particular narratives about Haiti and what it means to be Haitian.”

In the text of the book, Ulysse does not seem disconnected from the people she studied. In fact, she was encouraged to ‘dress up’ by the ICIs. She spent hours in beauty parlors and was told to abandon her favorite jelly platform shoes in 1995. She recounts this in her book:

“I wore them until the buckle broke. That day, a dark-skinned, Jamaican friend, Miss Q. (who is first-generation middle class), was visiting. She seemed relieved and expressed happiness that I would finally stop wearing my jellies. ‘Well thank God! You won’t have to wear these ghastly shoes ever again. They’re going in the bin.’ Surprised, actually shocked, I asked her why. ‘Oh Gina! Get serious … These shoes are so common,’” she exclaimed.

Ulysse goes on to explain that in Jamaica “shoes have been a marker of distinction, which at times separated a field hand from a house slave. The cleanliness of one’s feet and the type and style of shoes that encase them are visible signs of position.” Though the particular shoes she had on had been name-brand fashion items featured in both Elle magazine as well as the British version of Vogue, in Jamaica, they had low status, as they were associated with common folk.

The woman who work as informal commercial importers are constrained by class, but by becoming involved in the work it allows them a previously-unattainable level of freedom.

“The trade has been an occupation for many people because it makes you to be independent. It makes you to be self-reliant. It motivates you to be a person of substance,” a woman in Ulysse’s book says. “A person that … you lose you gain, you fall you raise, you fall you raise … It make you to be tough. So many time I have fallen by the wayside, I get brush up meself and start again.”

Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist, and Self-Making in Jamaica is published by the University of Chicago Press. It is available at Broad Street Books.

By Corrina Kerr, associate director of media relations

2008 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Posted 04/04/08
An award-winning writer, a college president known for his expertise in the economics of higher education, and a critically acclaimed photographer will be honored at Wesleyan University’s 176th commencement ceremonies this year.

Jamaica Kincaid, Morton Schapiro and Philip Trager of Wesleyan’s Class of 1956 will receive honorary doctorate degrees from Wesleyan on May 25, 2008.

“We are delighted that these talented and accomplished individuals have agreed to honor us by participating in our commencement,” said Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “Each exemplifies the qualities of courage and engagement, discernment and discipline that are essential to innovation and to leadership in all areas of human endeavor. They inspire all of us to make the most of the opportunities we have been given, in the best and truest spirit of liberal education.”

Born on the island of Antigua, author Jamaica Kincaid has been called the most important West Indian writer today. Her works include a collection of essays, A Small Place, which describes how conditions in Antigua worsened after independence in 1967, the novels The Autobiography of My Mother, Annie John, and Lucy, and the short story collection At the Bottom of the River. Kincaid gave the Annie Sonnenblick Lecture at Wesleyan in 2001.

Morton Schapiro, president of Williams College since 2000, is an economist who has taught at Williams and at the University of Southern California. Author of more than 50 articles and six books, he is among the nation’s premier authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in college financing and affordability, and on trends in educational costs.

Philip Trager ’56 is an internationally known photographer whose images are held by major collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliothéque in Paris. He is particularly known for his work in dance and architecture. Wesleyan holds a collection of his work, including images of the campus.

U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass), was scheduled to address the graduating seniors. However, in his absence, Senator Senator Barack Obama (D-Il), will address the graduating seniors this year.

Tuition to Increase by 5 Percent, Grant Aid by 7.5 Percent

Posted 04/04/08
Wesleyan University will increase its fees by 5 percent for the 2008-2009 academic year. The increase, equal to the lowest percentage increase in seven years, is attributable to growth in salary and benefits costs, as well as energy and other costs that outpace general inflation. The Board of Trustees approved the fee increase at its meeting on March 1.

Tuition will be $38,364 for all students in 2008-2009. For freshman and sophomores, the residential comprehensive fee will be $10,636. For juniors and seniors, the fee will be $12,088. The higher residential comprehensive fee for juniors and seniors reflects the higher cost of the options available to them. Juniors and seniors have access to apartments and houses in addition to residence hall rooms. They also have greater flexibility in dining options.

The university’s financial aid expenditures are projected to increase 7.5 percent to offset the fee increase for students receiving aid. The increase also will support the first year of an initiative to eliminate loans for Wesleyan’s neediest undergraduates and replace these with additional grants, as well as to substantially reduce overall student borrowing.

Beginning with the first-year class enrolling in the fall of 2008, most students whose total family incomes are $40,000 per year or less will receive an aid package that substitutes grants for any loan obligation. Beginning with the same class, all other students who receive aid will graduate with a four-year total loan indebtedness reduced by an average of 35 percent. Aid packages will include a single student loan, the federally subsidized Stafford Loan. The interest rates for Stafford Loans are among the lowest available. Wesleyan will raise endowment sufficient to fund the $3.2 million annual cost of this initiative.

Wesleyan admits students without regard to their financial circumstances and then provides a financial aid package that meets each student’s full demonstrated need. Forty percent of its 2,900 students currently receive grant aid. The average grant in 2007-2008 is $27,151. Wesleyan currently budgets $35.4 million of its own resources annually for grant aid for undergraduates.

“Each Wesleyan family makes a significant investment on behalf of our students, and so does the university,” says Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “We are doing everything possible to use our resources efficiently and responsibly and to maximize the funding available to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to a Wesleyan education. One of our highest priorities in the next campaign will be to endow financial aid and need-blind admission more fully.”

Director of Major Gifts Raises Gifts for Wesleyan’s Endowment

Christine Pina ’91 travels 100 times a year visiting Wesleyan alumni, friends and parents to secure gifts for the university.
Posted 04/03/08
Christine Pina loves donors to give, and give big.

As the director of major gifts in University Relations, Pina oversees solicitations of financial gifts of $50,000 and higher, and has responsibility for both the major gifts and development research teams.

“Our teams work to raise large gifts for Wesleyan’s endowment and other capital needs such as buildings and programs,” Pina explains. “We work with alumni, friends and parents to secure gifts that will be used to strengthen Wesleyan.”

These gifts can be given to the endowment or through the Wesleyan Fund and support scholarship aid, academic programs, facilities and general operating costs.

Pina corresponds with donors through e-mail and on the phone daily, and visits about 100 people throughout the country each year. She frequently helps donors make connections to faculty, students and programs at Wesleyan.

In addition to her normal fund-raising duties, she works to help Wesleyan realize its goal of enhancing its science facilities with the proposed Molecular and Life Sciences building. She hopes the ongoing project will have a transformative effect on the southern end of campus.

“Though I am not a scientist, I recognize that the study and understanding of these disciplines are enormously vital to our local and global communities,” she says. “I am honored to be able help ensure that future generations of Wes grads are scientifically literate no matter what their academic major.”

Pina joined the major gifts staff in September 2004 as a major gift officer. In the spring of 2006, she was promoted to the director of major gifts. Her “tremendously wonderful colleagues” on the major gift team include Faye Del Pezzo, Robert Mosca and Michelle Dube. Faraneh Carnegie, currently in Alumni Programs, and Regan Schubel, currently in the Wesleyan Fund, will join the team this summer.

Prior to beginning a career in institutional advancement, Pina worked as a management consultant before turning to the field of education. She spent several years at Dartmouth College’s Office of Admission and subsequently became the associate director of admission and the director of minority recruitment for Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H.

At the Development Office at the Madeira School in McLean, Va., Pina helped develop the first major gift program for the all girls’ boarding-day school in anticipation of a $60M capital campaign for building and endowment support. After leaving Madeira she continued to live in Virginia and became a remotely-based gift officer for the development team at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. For St. Paul’s she focused on securing major gifts for the School’s endowment and the construction of a $25M athletic facility.

Pina earned her Ed.M in higher education administration, planning and policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor of art in African American Studies from Wesleyan in 1991. During these undergraduate years, Pina spent her summers on Capitol Hill doing education and health care policy work for her then-congressman. That experience helped Pina identify an interest in planning and policy work.

“I am really proud to be working at my alma mater,” Pina says. “I think Wesleyan is an extraordinary place and I consider it a privilege to work here and help the university provide a distinctive and first-rate education to its students.”

Pina is active in Wesleyan’s Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance, and participates in various Wesleyan alumni events throughout the year.

Outside of Wesleyan, she is the senior warden of the vestry at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Conn. and is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She also is the founding director of A Hand Up, Inc., an organization working to move families in the greater Hartford area from homelessness to independent living.

“Our goal is to help people in the Greater Hartford area who are transitioning from homelessness to independence by supplying them with basic household goods,” Pina says. “We are a volunteer organization and we work in consort with a number of other service agencies in Hartford. We help about 60 families each year and are getting ready to expand our program, and we are always looking for individuals and groups who would like to volunteer a few hours to help.”

Pina grew up in West Falmouth, Mass. and is the third generation of family hailing from Cape Cod. She currently lives in West Hartford with her husband, Alex Smith, an “avid University of Michigan fan” whom she constantly reminds that Wesleyan football still holds an undefeated record against the maize and blue, and 4-year-old son, Arthur.

“Arthur often says that he wants to play baseball, hockey and lacrosse and study race car jumping – I think that means physics – at Wesleyan,” Pina says, smiling.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor