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University Relations Web Administrator Creates Sites that Clearly Communicate


Adrian Cooke, Web administrator for University Relations, is working on content for WesNet, the alumni Electronic Portfolio.
 
Posted 02/16/07
The first time Adrian Cooke built a Web site, he used it to share photographs with his family.

As University Relation’s new Web administrator, Cooke now builds Web sites used by thousands of Wesleyan alumni. He oversees all nodes under http://www.wesleyan.edu/alumni/, pages for the Wesleyan Fund, and works with other departments such as ITS and the Office of Public Affairs’ New Media Services on special event pages for Reunion & Commencement and Homecoming/Family Weekend. WesNet, a site designed to facilitate communication among alumni, is also monitored by Cooke.

Cooke’s on-going goal is to improve these online services from a user’s perspective. To help him with that endeavor, University Relations’ Career Resource Center recently conducted a study to see how alumni are using the Web at Wesleyan.

“Right now we are standing back and saying, ‘how could we make this better for our constituency?” Cooke says. “Where are we getting it right and where do we need to stop and listen?’ We know that we have our work cut out for us but we are running with the ball and we’re determined to get it right. From a project planning point of view, Wesleyan is swift and nimble. It is a great place to make things happen.”

Cooke, a native of Brisbane, Australia, came to the United States in 2002 to pursue an interest in sociology. Three years later, he graduated with a master’s degree from Yale University, where he researched indigenous Australian and Native American politics and cultural issues. During and after obtaining his degree, he worked for the Yale Sociology Department, designing the department’s homepage, http://www.yale.edu/sociology; the Center for Cultural Sociology’s site, http://research.yale.edu/ccs; the Sociology Graduate Student site, http://www.yale.edu/sgs, and co-designed a symposium page, http://www.yale.edu/iiss.

Cooke found ways to tie his interests in sociology and Web technologies together. He learned methods to present online content more clearly and systematically, and how to make sites more appealing to different kinds of visitors.

“It turned out that a background in social sciences was helpful in thinking about the way a user interacts with a Web site because as a student I was exposed to a lot of critical thinking about how to present information,” he says. “The social possibilities of the Web always grabbed my attention.”

He brought these interests to Wesleyan in September 2006, where he worked as an assistant for Allynn Wilkinson in Digitization Services. In November and December 2006, he also stood in as a desktop software trainer for Information Technology Services. Just two months ago, he transferred into U.R., reporting to Mark Bailey, director of Development Communications.

“Adrian brings new energy to University Relations,” Bailey says. “His generosity, skills, judgment, and irrepressible good humor are making a real difference in the pace and quality of our Web work. His influence is already manifest in a variety of ideas for alumni content on WesNet, the alumni Electronic Portfolio.”

Cooke says the biggest challenge of his job thus far is learning Wesleyan’s in-house systems. Although he’s very familiar with coding sites, Wesleyan has engineered ways to allow users with little or no knowledge of programming to build Web sites.

“Wesleyan has built a lot of its technology services from the ground up and they are amazingly flexible,” he says. “But although you might know how to build a Web page you can’t just waltz in here and start fiddling with code. Here we have a community of technologists and designers who have evolved their services over many years, adapting to the needs of departments. And that’s doing your job: making it easy for other people to do theirs.”

As the entire Alumni Web Portfolio is being reexamined, Cooke and his colleagues will include new Web tools in these alumni sites. For example, they may implement Webcasts of campus and club events to boost social networking among alumni. In conjunction with ITS they’re also reappraising WesNet’s user interface and evaluating the alumni e-mail service.

Cooke encourages alumni and the wider Wesleyan community to offer their input on alumni Web resources.

“The hardest thing in this job is knowing if you’re accurately responding to people’s needs, or if you’re hitting the mark,” Cooke says. “We are looking at everything with a magnifying glass, and we’ll be selecting features that really improve our offerings to alumni. We want people to say either, ‘Yes, that’s what we’ve been asking for,’ or ‘Wow, I never knew I needed that!’”

Cooke lives in New Haven with his wife, Elena, and a “cranky” ginger tabby named Harvey. He and Elena have worked on several Web sites together, including her personal portfolio site, http://www.convealer.com. Together, they are planning to create a portfolio community site for visual artists.

In addition to the Web, Cooke enjoys writing, photography and movies.

“I’m trying to find out who the Big Lebowski fans are around campus. I’ve discovered two so far,” he says, smiling.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Roundtable Meetings Promote Conversation, Sharing of Resources


Mike Sciola, standing, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center, speaks during an Academic (Technology) Roundtable meeting Feb. 8.
Posted 02/16/07
Intellectual property issues, using visual images in the classroom and rock and roll memories are all upcoming topics for the Academic (Technology) Roundtable.

The weekly roundtable meetings aim to promote conversation, cooperation, and the sharing of information and resources among Wesleyan’s faculty and staff.

“This is an informal way for faculty, librarians and staff members to get together and talk about technologies, academic issues and student life,” explains Andy Szegedy-Maszak, director of the Center for Faculty Career Development, the Jane A. Seney professor of Greek and chair of the Classical Studies Department and roundtable moderator.

During the Feb. 8 meeting, some 40 guests came to hear a talk by Mike Sciola, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center. After a presentation on learning styles of “The Millennials,” or the students born after 1988, more than a dozen participants chimed in with questions or stories pertaining to the topic of the day.

Like “The Millennials,” not all topics are entirely technology-focused. The Academic (Technology) Roundtable, which is abbreviated as A(T)R shifted gears about four years ago when Szegedy-Maszak and Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services and Digital Projects, took charge of coordinating the meetings.

Rather than discussing technology only, they began welcoming a wide variety of other subjects such as university services, grading practices, publishing in academic journals, and students’ mental health. Most presentations are by Wesleyan staff or faculty members, along with some outside speakers.

“That’s why we put the ‘T’ in parentheses now,” Szegedy-Maszak says. “Although we still include technological topics, our subjects are broader to appeal to faculty and staff with different interests.”

Future A(T)R topics vary. On Feb. 22, Don Moon, dean of the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs and the John E. Andrus Professor of Government, will lead a discussion on public speaking, which has been identified by Wesleyan faculty as one of the academic “essential capabilities.” On March 1, James Neal, vice president for Information Services at Columbia University, will speak on intellectual property issues within higher education; March 5, David Green will speak on a National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education report on visual images in the classroom. Other upcoming topics and presenters can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr.

Roy and Szegedy-Maszak encourage the Wesleyan community to suggest a topic of interest, nominate a presenter or volunteer to make a presentation via its Web site at http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr/suggestions.html.

“A(T)R is really the best-kept secret on campus,” says Barbara Jones, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian and regular meeting-attendee. “It’s a wonderful resource for our library staff, and it’s a great place to meet new colleagues.”

Sponsors of A(T)R include The Center for Faculty Career Development, Olin Library and Information Technology Services. Meetings take place at noon most Mondays and Thursdays in Olin Library’s Develin Room. Buffet lunch is served and any member of Wesleyan’s faculty and staff is welcome to attend.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Committee Lists Impacts of New Computer Cluster


Posted 02/16/07
Members of the Wesleyan Cluster Computing Committee have listed the impacts on research from the newly-installed computer cluster.

The Cluster Computing Committee members are Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Science and Mathematics; Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor pf physics; George Petersson, professor of chemistry; and Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics.

The committee is supported by the Information Technology Services staff, who made commitments of space, personnel resources, and developed an upgrade program so that the facility does not become rapidly obsolete.

ITS staff involved include Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Jolee West, academic computing manager; James Taft, assistant director of technology support services and Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services.

Among other abilities, the cluster will enable the following:

1. Faculty can produce new science in diverse research projects, including the structure and formation of galaxies, molecular dynamics of proteins, elucidating activity patterns in cortical circuits, DNAs and protein DNA recognition, methods developments and applications in molecular quantum mechanics, complex quantum dynamics and mesoscopic transport phenomena, computer simulations of the clustering of nanoparticles and studies of the assembly and properties of soft materials.

2. Distributed resources currently are maintained by individual faculty who aim to have enough computing resources to meet their peak needs. As a result, computational resources sit idle during non-peak usage periods. A shared facility would allow users to take advantage of computing time that would otherwise go wasted, meaning that the total aggregate computing resources needed not be as large as if they are distributed.

3. A central computing facility and internal computing workshops would provide an environment to bring together researchers from different areas of the sciences and foster collaborative activities. The current distributed model does not encourage collaboration.

4. A centralized cluster facilitates the present computational research and lowers the barrier to initiate new computational projects, permitting faculty and students quicker involvement with projects and the ability to more-easily explore new approaches to their research.

5. Removing the burden of maintaining computational facilities from faculty members will free them to focus on the effective use of resources to strengthen research and educational activities. Moreover, access to such facilities is vital to maintain the competitiveness with larger universities.

6. The cluster serves as a learning tool to develop student scientific computing proficiency both through existing courses and though assisting faculty with research. Such training is invaluable to prepare students for the expanding field of information technology.

7. Computational facilities quickly become obsolete with the furious pace of technological development. Often, individual faculty are not able to keep up with the pace of innovation lacking either the time needed to stay informed about the latest innovations or funds necessary to buy them (or both). Wesleyan’s ITS is committed to the maintenance and regular upgrading of facilities once they are in place. This is a truly major matching commitment and provides a longevity, continuity and stability to research computing that is currently missing in the current model of distributed resources.

8. Six faculty research groups involving postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and undergraduate students pursuing honors thesis research comprise the primary cadre of users of the cluster. Nine additional groups are expected to be involved in significant but smaller scale computer-related research initiatives, as well as a number of inter-group collaborations and projects. In total, there will be roughly 50 regular users of this facility. A centralized cluster computer introduces a new era to the quality and inclusiveness of computationally intensive research at Wesleyan, affecting both faculty programs and the undergraduate and graduate students involve in those programs. Overall, this revision in Wesleyan’s institutional strategy towards information technology fits naturally within the university’s mission of achieving excellence in undergraduate education via the effective integration of teaching and scholarship.

Biophysics Journal Club Encourages Active Learning, Student Teaching


Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, teaches a lesson on probability to his peers during a Molecular Biophysics Journal Club class Feb. 7.
Posted 02/16/07
Alicia Every, a graduate student in chemistry, went to class last week not only to learn, but to teach.

She and the other 20 students taking the course, Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II, are expected to prepare a lesson on relevant course material and present a micro-lecture to their peers.

For 20 minutes she spoke, jotting equations on the chalkboard while explaining that heat is in random motion. She drew a gas molecule inside a box, and talked about its behavior at the molecular level, relating it to macroscopic systems such as in proteins and nucleic acids.

“What makes Journal Club different from a typical lecture is that we have some degree of freedom in our discussions,” Every says. “This allows us to not only focus on one particular topic, but to digress to other related topics that the class might feel necessary to cover in more detail. In a way, this allows the students to have control over the lecture.”

The Biophysics Journal Club is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and may be taken repetitively. Enrollment is unlimited, although it’s geared most closely for majors from chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry. The program will soon include a bioinformatics track in conjunction with the Center for Integrative Genomics and the Biology Department, and students from any Natural Sciences and Mathematics department are welcome.

Faculty participants in the Molecular Biophysics Program attend the class meetings and offer input when necessary; at least one faculty member is always present to lead the class.

“The idea of Journal Club is for students to learn about the cutting edge of science in this area outside of their own research project. This also provides students experience with discussion of diverse subject in the area, and to get some teaching experience by preparing short lectures and giving them to each other and the faculty,” explains one of the class instructor David Beveridge, the University Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and co-coordinator with Ishiuta Mukerji of the program. “Club is not quite the right word but is the local parlance for this kind of thing – a skull session, workshop, brainstorming session. Faculty serve as a resource and offer appropriate feedback. We are aware that various degrees of experience and language capabilities are in the mix so we expect to keep the class atmosphere friendly and constructive for students.”

Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II is a non-exclusive companion to Molecular Biophysics Journal Club I, which is held Fall Semester 2006. Biophysics Journal Club I is not a precursor to Journal Club II; each course has a different focus. In Journal Club I students lead active discussions of a series of current research articles in the field of molecular biophysics and biophysical chemistry. They read articles from the Biophysical Journal, Biopolymers, Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and the Annual Review of Molecular Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure.

Journal Club II focuses its attention on only one book. This semester it’s Biological Physics by Philip Nelson. This book, Beveridge explains, is highly regarded in the field and emphasizes understanding the principles and applications of biological molecules as molecular machines. Each student prepares their presentation based on one chapter, or part of a chapter, from the Nelson text.

“It will possibly take us two semesters to get through the whole book,” he says. “Students will find that preparing lectures is far more time consuming than they expected.”

The Journal Club is part of Wesleyan’s Biophysics Training Program, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an arm of the National Institute of Health (NIH). As part of this grant, the NIH requires that participating students receive ethical and quantitative training on the nature of their interdisciplinary area.

During the class, Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, provided a lesson on probability, to relate the distribution of molecules in their physical states to the likelihood of a molecule being in a specific state.

He took Journal Club I last semester to discuss current research that is outside his field of interest. In addition, he hopes improve his teaching ability.

“It is difficult to get in front of your peers and teach, but at the same time, it’s rewarding because they can give you insight on what was good about your lecture and what was bad,” he says.

While some of the students are less comfortable speaking in front of their classmates, it now comes naturally to Every, who has taken the Journal Club for 10 semesters, her entire graduate career.

“It is not difficult as long as you have some idea of your peers’ background knowledge,” she says. “I prefer Journal Club over a standard lecture course because it forces you to be an active learner. We usually spend 15-20 minutes in lecture and the rest is spent discussing or analyzing the topic. This requires you to learn the information as well as analyze and apply it to different systems.”

After graduating with a Ph.D., Every hopes to continue research in biophysics. She is considering a post-doctoral position. Moreno also plans to continue doing research and eventually wants to teach.

“I have not yet decided if I would like to be a professor, but either way, I think it is important that I have some experience teaching because it has trained me to clearly understand different topics as well as be able to put into words what I have learned,” Every says.

The Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is open to the campus community. Meetings are held 1:10 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the NSM Conference Room. For more information e-mail David Beveridge, Ishita Mukerji or Manju Hingorani.

Laure Dykas, a Ph.D candidate in chemistry said student guest lectures Andrew and Alicia did “an excellent job” teaching.

“I hope I can do as well,” Dykas says, smiling. “I give my presentation next week!”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Student’s Photography Accepted into Juried Show


This image by Ben Rowland ’08 will be on display at the Brooklyn Artists Gym Gallery.
Posted 02/16/07
During winter break, Ben Rowland ’08 traveled to Istanbul for a vacation with his cousins. A hobbyist photographer, he took several photographs. One of these has found a place in a New York gallery.

That image, titled, “The Man and the Mosque,” is now part of a group gallery show called: “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” at the Brooklyn Artists Gym (B.A.G) Gallery in Brooklyn. The opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24.

In “Man and the Mosque” Rowland captured a scene during a late-afternoon prayer time in the mosque. He wasn’t allowed to take photographs, but Rowland decided to capture the moment anyway.

“I put the camera on the floor and shot secretly,” he explains. “I took the shot on very long exposure – 20 seconds I think, and as a result, the lights inside appear as stars, and everything is in focus because of the enormous depth of field. Also because of the long exposure, the viewer can see through the subject, except for at his knees and feet, which were still as he prayed.”

This is Rowland’s first time exhibiting his work in a major art gallery or in a juried show. Applicants were allowed to submit up to three images; however the B.A.G. jurors were extremely selective.

Once in the show, photographers have the option of putting a price tag on their work. Rowland, pictured at right, has already sold prints to parents of Wesleyan students privately, and is hoping to push more sales form his newly-created Web site.

Rowland, who is pursuing a degree from the College of Social Studies, is the photography editor this semester for the Wesleyan Argus. He attends performing art, sports and general campus events, watching them all behind a lens. Several of his Wesleyan photos are posted on his Web site at http://www.benrowlandphotography.com.

He’s also photographed several bands and concerts, scenes from his travels in Istanbul, America, England, France and The Netherlands, and has done artistic portraits.
Incredibly, Rowland has only been a photographer for six months. He learned camera basics through months of constant practice and trial and error in Brooklyn where he lived over the summer.

The artistic ability to see interesting subjects behind the camera, however, comes natural for Rowland. He continues to experiment with different subjects.

“In the past few months I’ve been shooting, I’ve gone through many stages and I’ve watched and analyzed my progression,” he says. “I used to shoot only objects or things, and yet now I’ve moved almost exclusively to using photography as an anthropological tool. I love studying people in their environments.”

Rowland is still exploring what options to take after college, but he already has a few ideas in mind.

“I would enjoying doing work for The New York Times, while still pursuing personal artistic endeavors,” he says. “I would love to photograph a rock band or a war.”

The exhibit “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” will run from February 24 through March 4. BAG Gallery is located on the third floor of 168 7th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
For more information on the gallery visit www.brooklynartistsgym.com.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Part-Time Gym Job Leads to Alumnus’s Career after College


Casey Brown, building supervisor/manager, welcomes people to the Freeman Athletic Center and helps answer any questions they may have.
 
Posted 02/16/07
Q: Casey, what various roles do you have at the Freeman Athletic Center?

A: As a building supervisor/manager, I try to ensure that users of the facility are safe, welcomed, and as content as possible. I try to answer as many questions as possible, and create a friendly environment.

Q: You’re the friendly face that greets everyone when they come into the Freeman Athletic Center during the late afternoon hours. What do you like about this role?

A: You mean the friendly, handsome face, thank you. I enjoy the variety of people I am fortunate to come across everyday. It breaks down stereotypes. Not only that, I enjoy working with the people that I’ve gotten to know, like the student athletes. Some of them are very cool.

Q: You used to be one, yourself?

A: I did play basketball here at Wesleyan in 1996-97.

Q: When were you hired-in?

A:  I was hired in part-time in 1995 while I was an undergrad here at Wesleyan, and went full-time in 1998. I started here as the equipment room assistant, working with Bob Chiapetta, who was the National Equipment Manager of the Year.

Q: What did you study at Wesleyan and when did you graduate?

A: My concentrations were in African-American studies and history. I was living like a rock star on a roadie income, and it was worth every penny. I graduated in 1998 with my bachelor of arts. I wanted to get my master’s too, so I did while I was working here through the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. My concentration was in social studies and I graduated in 2001.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan?

A:  I’m from New York, New York, the metropolis of the world. I spent my first 12 years in Brooklyn and the rest in Queens. I attended New York Public Schools until 10th grade, when I left for Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. I visited Wesleyan twice before attending and felt that is was a good fit for me. Thirteen years later, I am still here.

Q: Has anything changed?

A: Actually, campus is now a lot cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing.

Q: At work, you’ve described your role as “the guy who can help get you what you need.” How so?

A: I’ve been around. I can usually save you time on your search if you just ask. Locations, people, general info, I got you.

Q: Do you know the Freeman Athletic Center building inside and out? Can you give an example of something about the building that no one else may know about? Any secret rooms?

A: I know it pretty well, not as well since the expansion. There is a room rumored to be underneath the deck of the pool. Apparently, you used to be able to set up a camera in there to critique the divers. True? I don’t know.

Q: Do you use the gym? If so, what facilities?

A: Yes, I use the all the facilities except the squash courts. I’m hoping to get out there soon though.

Q: Are you one of those people who live at the gym?

A: No, I don’t live in the gym, but I am here overnights sometimes. That’s another story.

Q: Who are the key people you work with at Freeman?

A: I usually work with Kate Mullen, head coach of women’s basketball; Richard Whitmore, associate athletic director and Bob Chiapetta, manager of intercollegiate operations.

Q: Last question. Red Sox or Yankees?

A: I won’t even dignify such a ridiculous question, or opinion. Boston? They’ve been a joke all my life. Sad really, perennial losers. Even Mets Fans have gotten off on Boston. Did you hear when I said New York is Metropolis of the world, and Gotham too. We are Superman and Batman.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Music Director’s Ensemble Provides Updated Music for Classic Documentaries


Angel Gil-Ordóñez, Wesleyan orchestra music director, directed Virgil Thomson’s original soundtracks that accompany a newly-released version of The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River.
 
Posted 02/01/07
Wesleyan Orchestra Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez addresses the impact of humanity on the environment and chronicles the settlement of the Great Plains through music on a newly-released DVD.

His Washington D.C.-based orchestra, Post-Classical Ensemble, provides the soundtrack for director Pare Lorentz’s landmark New Deal-Era Classics documentaries The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1938).

The dual-film DVD, released Jan. 30 by classical music label Naxos, features the first modern recordings of Virgil Thomson’s original scores, performed by Gil-Ordóñez ‘s ensemble. Due to a small budget, the original soundtrack was recorded in one session with the poor sound-quality of the 1930s.

“What our effort demonstrates is that the music of Virgil Thomson is extraordinary,” Gil-Ordóñez says. “The documentaries can not be fully appreciated unless the music has the quality that it deserves. We re-recorded soundtrack recuperating parts of the score that were neglected in the original film, whose soundtrack besides was in very bad shape.”

The new restored soundtrack is already nationally-acclaimed.

“The Post-Classical Ensemble’s new recording of Virgil Thomson’s soundtrack and the fascinating supplementary materials all enhance the historic value of this wonderful DVD,” writes Paul Boyer, editor-in chief of the Oxford Companion to United States History.

Both The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River are artful evocations Midwestern America in the 1930s that address the impact of humanity on its environment and the use of the media to communicate political messages.

Between 1933-1937, the U.S. Government, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, enacted the New Deal programs with a hope to help the American public recover from the Great Depression. Under the direction of the Resettlement Administration, the government sponsored several public relations campaigns involving photography, radio and film. The Resettlement Administration paid Lorentz to film both The River and The Plow That Broke the Plains, and Virgil Thomson’s accompanying soundtracks rank among the composer’s greatest work. They set the trend in the 1930s and 1940s for a new style of film music.

The River, which was filmed in 14 states, tells the story of the Tennessee Valley Authority and building dams on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. It was named to the National Film Registry in 1990 and won best documentary at the 1938 Venice Film Festival.

The Plow That Broke the Plains retraced the history of the Great Plains and the abuse of the land that led to the creation of the Dust Bowl. The film, described by historian Neil Lerner as “the most widely publicized attempt by the federal government to communicate to its entire citizenry through a motion picture,” received denunciations as New Deal propaganda and was shunned by the commercial distribution movie system. Despite this impediment, the documentary reached people in over 3,000 theaters nationwide.

In The Plow that Broke the Plains, Thomson augmented the orchestra with saxophones, guitar, banjo, and harmonium, and used cowboy songs to depict the Midwest. Gil-Ordóñez mimicked this style.

Gil-Ordóñez first conducted the Post-Classical Ensemble in a live performance accompanying these two landmark documentaries at the American Film Institute’s “Silverdocs,” an annual documentary film festival in June 2005. With support from the Center for the Arts, Gil-Ordóñez again directed the soundtracks with Wesleyan University Orchestra as a benefit for Katrina’s victims in November 2005.

“We spent almost one month in the studio to add the narration and the sound effects, and look for a perfect balance because I never like my own recordings,” he says, smiling.

Gil-Ordóñez, a native of Spain, says the DVD’s release could not be more timely.

“The documentaries show a part of the history of this country essential to understand the present times,” he explains. “The River is Katrina 80 years ago. Who would have told us that Katrina would happen two months after we recorded the music.”

The DVD, produced with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Film Institute, is distributed in the United States by Naxos of America and can be purchased online at www.post-classicalensemble.org.

“I wish every young American might be exposed to these documentaries, and that some politicians might learn that with imagination and art is how you really make a difference in a society,” he says.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan, Community Prepares for Week of Play a Day


Nikhil Melnechuk ’07 and Jessica Posner ’09 are co-producing a week-long theater event based on Suzan-Lori Parks’ “365 Days/365 Plays.” The plays will be shown throughout campus and the Middletown community this month.
Posted 02/01/07
In November 2002, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks committed to writing a play a day for 365 days. Since November 2006, this year of new plays has been debuting across the country as “365 Days/365 Plays.”

Wesleyan is among 52 universities and more than 700 venues taking part in this project, and will perform eight of Parks’ plays Feb. 5-11.

“Wesleyan is making history,” explains co-producer Jessica Posner ’09. “This festival is the largest theater collaboration in U.S. history, and Wesleyan gets to be part of that. It is very exiting.”

According to Posner and co-producer Nikhil Melnechuk ‘07, Wesleyan’s take on 365 Days/365 Plays will use Parks’ plays as a centerpiece for a week-long festival that “attempts to re-contextualize every interaction as theater.”

Wesleyan students will act in the plays, changing roles each time the play is re-performed. Each one of Parks’ plays runs about 10 minutes long, and will be performed seven times a day at seven different venues.

“These plays are about finding connections – either with each other or within yourself,” says Melnechuk 07. “They manage social critique without being didactic because of their absurd humor and circumstances.”

Melnechuk and Posner have devoted more than 40 hours a week for four months preparing for the event. They are encouraging their actors to exercise their creativity so no play is performed the same way twice. The plays do not have sets; actors will rely on costumes and props to help tell the story.

Plays will take place all over the campus, such as in Pi Café, Davenport Campus Center and the Science Library. Olin Library will host and interactive piece titled “365 Tasks.”

The Opening Ceremony, scheduled at 8 p.m., Feb. 5, in the Center for the Arts Theater, will feature a talk by Metzgar and Rugg, and a performance by Gina Ulysse, assistant professor of anthropology and African American Studies. During the week of performances, prominent speakers will be brought to campus including the 365 National Festival producers Bonnie Metzgar and Rebecca Rugg. Lectures, performances and workshops will be offered by distinguished artists such as Joseph Roach, professor of theater and English at Yale University; Christine Mok, a Ph.D candidate at Yale’s School of Drama, and artist-in-residence poet/activist Amiri Baraka, who perform with his septet Blue Ark Feb. 9.

Wesleyan will also present a large scale, town-wide festival that showcases Wesleyan and Middletown life and culture. It will include workshops, performances, lectures, demonstrations and discussions—all free and open to the public. This festival includes “The Write-On Marathon” where Wesleyan students and members of the Middletown community can try their hand at Parks’ project by writing a play a day. Five winning entries will be performed on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Cinema. Submissions will be accepted throughout the week (for more information on how to participate, visit www.wesleyan365.com/write.html).

“We want people to see theater as an essential component of everyday life, using the plays by Suzan-Lori Parks as the point of departure,” Posner says.

A gala performance of all the plays will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Patricelli ’92 Theatre with a reception to follow. The plays will be performed by actors Michael Chandler ’08, Jennifer Celestin ‘07, Maya Kazan ‘09, Garrett Larribas ‘07, Jermaine Lewis ‘09 and Carter Smith ‘09. Steven Sapp, founding member of New York City’s acclaimed poetry/theater ensemble UNIVERSES, will be conducting an open theater workshop from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 10 and will open the performances at 6 and 8 p.m. with a solo piece.

Festival coordinators raised over $6,000 to put on the week-long event. Sponsors include the Center for African American Studies, Center for the Arts, Theatre Department, Second Stage, Wesleyan Student Assembly, Adelphic Education Fund, Community Development Fund, Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ethics in Society Program, Office of Affirmative Action, and the fund for Diversity and Academic Advancement.
 
For reservations of information, go to www.wesleyan365.com, e-mail: info@wesleyan365.com or call Jessica Posner at 303-919-5994 or Nikhil Melnechuk 413-230-0740.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Howard Bernstein Dies at 63


Posted 02/01/07
Howard Bernstein, a long-time visiting professor at Wesleyan, died Jan. 15, 2007 at the age of 63.

Bernstein was a member of the Wesleyan faculty from 1979 to 2001, during which time he taught in the College of Letters, the History Department, the programs in Educational Studies and Science in Society, and in Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program. Bernstein also was a major contributor to the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program. In addition, he supervised a large number of senior honors theses.

Bernstein earned a bachelor’s of arts from the City College of the City University of New York and a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. Before coming to Wesleyan he taught at Brooklyn College, City College, York University and Yale University. For the past five years, Bernstein was a mentor and educator at Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut.

Bernstein was a world-renowned expert on the work of the German scholar G. W. Leibniz and was a major contributor to a series of international conferences on Liebniz held in Germany in the early 1980s. He also published a number of works on Diderot, Einstein, and on Marxist philosophy. He was passionate about music, particularly classical choral music, and was an avid athlete.

A memorial service is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 6 at St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, in Manhattan.

In lieu of flowers, Bernstein’s daughter Christina has asked that those wishing to remember him consider a contribution to one of the many organizations Howard supported. These include The Center for Constitutional Rights, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Innocence Project, Equal Justice Works, Lambda Legal, and Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Dean of the College to Leave Wesleyan, Become Fulbright Scholar in Peru


Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, will leave Wesleyan to conduct a study at the Universidad del Pacifico’s Research Center in Peru.
Posted 02/01/07
Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, will leave Wesleyan at the end of her contract in June 2007.

At the invitation of a United Nations office and Universidad del Pacifico, Lima, Peru, Cruz-Saco will lead a study on aging, equity and income security in Peru. While leading this study in 2007-08, she will be a Fulbright Scholar at Universidad del Pacifico’s Research Center. In 2008-09, Cruz-Saco will resume teaching as professor of economics at Connecticut College.

“My response when I heard the news was that as a former economic development person, I could only celebrate Maria’s mission,” says President Doug Bennet. “I want to thank Maria for her extraordinary leadership as Wesleyan’s dean.”

Under Cruz-Saco’s leadership, Wesleyan created the Office for Diversity and Academic Advancement, enhanced First Year Matters through collaborations with the Center for the Arts and the Office of Academic Affairs, introduced a new peer advising program, integrated orientation for new and international students and created opportunities for rich educational experiences outside the classroom. Wesleyan has established a task force that is articulating a vision for religious and spiritual life on campus, preparing the opening of the Usdan University Center, and better aligning student affairs with our educational mission. The dean’s office has grown in strength and has the capacity to handle a leadership transition.

“Wesleyan is an exceptional place, students are bright and creative, the educational opportunities are rich, and I have been honored to serve as dean of the college and work with a splendid group of professionals,” Cruz-Saco says. “I know that I will miss being part of this community. But, I will come visit since I will be down the road when I get back from Peru!”

Bennet intends appoint an acting dean for a year, allowing time for his successor to develop a sense of what the dean’s office requires and to organize a search for a permanent replacement.

“I believe the acting dean should be a current faculty member or staff person who is familiar with the institution and able to provide leadership for a strong, ongoing enterprise,” Bennet says.

Bennet welcomes nominations and volunteers, and will consult broadly with faculty, students, and staff as I review faculty and staff lists for candidates.

Wesleyan to Begin New Dining Contract


Bon Appétit Management Company will provide the meals for the new university center.
Posted 02/01/07
Wesleyan is finalizing an agreement with a new dining services provider, Bon Appétit Management Company, to begin a new dining contract as of July 1, 2007.

The new company will provide campus dining in the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, Summerfields, Pi Café, WEShop and campus catering.

“This was a difficult decision to make but also an exciting one,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration, and member of Wesleyan’s Dining Review Committee.

Bon Appétit says it cooks food from scratch with seasonal ingredients. The company aims to serve a wide variety of menu items at each meal, offering authentic and nutritious foods, even for vegetarian, vegan, kosher and international diners.

In addition, the new dining plan provides flexibility, including longer service hours and variety in meal plan options; and promotes sustainability and making socially responsible purchasing decisions in regards to produce, meat, seafood, eggs, coffee and disposable plates and service wear.

Bon Appétit’s proposal for the new campus dining program will maintain the current level of represented dining staff.

“Much of the success Bon Appétit can anticipate at Wesleyan will depend upon the many staff members who have been a part of campus dining for years,” Meerts says.

As the semester progresses, the Dining Review Committee will work with Bon Appétit to provide more detailed information about the future of campus dining.

Bon Appétit has agreed to have longer hours of operation to meet the varied schedules of students, faculty and staff. Summerfields will be open for lunch and dinner. Pi Café and WEShop will continue to operate hours similar to their current schedules.

While WesWings, Red and Black Café, Chic Chaque and Star and Crescent operate independently from the campus dining program, they will continue to offer alternative options in the upcoming year.

According to Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs and director of the university center, the second floor of the Usdan Center, known as The Marketplace, will offer All-You-Care-to-Eat meals seven nights a week, plus brunch on Sunday. During breakfast and lunch for the rest of the week, the Usdan marketplace will be open for retail dining. The café on the first floor of the Usdan Center will be open from 8 a.m. through late night seven days a week.

In addition, the Daniel Family Common, located on the third floor of Usdan, will serve as a faculty/staff dining room and be available for special events when not in use for residential dining.

“We are very excited that the Usdan Center and our campus dining program will bring together the Wesleyan community in so many new ways,” Culliton says. “The convergence of these significant changes will transform campus life for all of us.”

The Dining Review Committee met for six months with student focus groups. They relied on Wesleyan Student Assembly’s Concept for dining narrative, which helped frame their efforts. The review committee included Meerts; Culliton; Annie Fox ’07; Chris Goy ’09; Deana Hutson, director of events for University Relations; Estrella Lopez ’07; Peter Patton, vice president and secretary of the university; Nate Peters, associate vice president for Finance; Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for facilities; and Michael Whaley, dean of Student Services.

Aramark Campus Services will continue to serve the Wesleyan community throughout the spring semester. The campus community is grateful to the Aramark management team for all they have contributed to the campus over the years.

“We are excited about the challenges that lie ahead and look forward to working together to make Wesleyan’s dining program the very best it can be,” Meerts says. “Our goal is to be recognized by the campus community and by peer institutions as having a premier dining program.”

For more information on Bon Appétit, go to: www.bamco.com

PBS Broadcaster to be Commencement Speaker


Posted 02/01/07
Jim Lehrer P’85, anchor of Public Broadcasting Service’s “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” will be the featured speaker at Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement ceremony, which will be held on May 27, 2007.

Lehrer began his career at PBS in 1972 and partnered with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Watergate hearings. In 1975, the two men began anchoring “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” In 1983 the show became the nations first 60-minute television evening news program and was re-titled “The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.”

Lehrer has been honored with numerous journalism awards, including a Presidential National Humanities medal in 1999. During the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally-televised candidate debates.

An accomplished writer, Lehrer has written 15 novels; his latest, The Franklin Affair, was published in 2005 by Random House. He has also written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter Lucy Lehrer is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1985.

This year’s Reunion-Commencement Weekend, which will run from May 24-27, will also mark the finale of Wesleyan’s 175th Anniversary Celebration. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo courtesy of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.