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Facility, Events Manager Frank Marsilli Adapts to Changes in New Usdan University Center

Q: Frank, you came to Wesleyan in 1996 as a campus center coordinator. What did this position entail?

A: Oh my, how time flies when you are working with and being challenged by Wesleyan students! I was hired for one year as the interim coordinator of the former Davenport Campus Center. Then I was appointed full time coordinator the following year. I was a one person office, responsible for the facility and its operations. Basically, I was charged with keeping the building safe, clean, and hopefully attractive as a gathering place for students. For the last five years, I also was the supervisor for the Campus Center Activities Board. This was a group of four students who created, promoted, planned, and then managed a variety of late night programs and events to draw students into the Campus Center.

Q: How did the transition go from the Davenport Campus Center to the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center? How has your job changed?

A: The transition from Davenport to Usdan is still very much a work in progress. I am no longer “a one man band”; but part of a symphony of 10 great professionals who strive to make Usdan run smoothly. It has been a wonderful and welcome change to work so closely with these other professionals who share the goal of achieving the maximum potential for the new buildings. We also manage the remodeled Fayerweather facility. Besides being part of our 10 person “U-Team,” the scope of my facilities and operations responsibilities has grown exponentially. We have gone from three spaces available for reservation in Davenport, to 13 in Usdan/Fayerweather. This drastic change in the scale of my responsibilities, and in the sheer growth of usable square footage, meant the creation of new student staffing patterns, policies, processes and procedures. Even after one semester, we are still tweaking many of these areas as we change and grow with the new buildings.

Q: What are a few examples of activities you help coordinate in the campus center?

A: I coordinate the Usdan Center’s Student Information Center Desk staff. If you did not know already, those are the folks who answer the phone when the Wesleyan voice recognition system falters. These students do a great job handling some difficult calls. I also work closely with the Student Managers and Student Set Up Crew to ensure that all meetings and functions run smoothly in both buildings. I also coordinate the information tables, banners, flyers, lost and found, outside vendor program, student payroll and the discount Broadway ticket program in Usdan.

Q: How does students’ input influence university center activities?

A: All of the professionals on the “U-team” value the input of our student staff that has already made important contributions to many aspects of our policies and procedures. I am also working with students who request tables or banner space in Usdan, or any student who has a meeting or program in the buildings when I am working. So my student contact is limitless, and one of the main reasons why I have been here for so long. Wesleyan students are amazing individuals with whom to work.

Q: What is your relationship with the vendors that sell their wares outside the university center? What does Wesleyan charge for them to set-up, and how is money raised from them spent?

A: Some of the vendors have been visiting campus for over 20 years. They are charged a flat fee of $50 per day. This revenue is deposited into a Usdan account that is used to help defray the staffing and operational costs of the buildings.

Q: When is the university center open?

A: Our normal business hours during classes are 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in?

A: I graduated from Holy Cross College with a double major in French and psychology. I earned a Connecticut Teacher Certification and a Masters in Higher Education Administration from the University of Connecticut. Somewhere in between all that bookwork, I received my J.D. Cum Laude from Western New England College School of Law. I practiced for a year and a half. That was enough for me. Then I returned full circle to my first passion, education.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, what were you doing, and what led you to Wesleyan?

A: “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a poet, a pirate, a pawn, and a king.” My apologies to Mr. Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” but I have traveled down a few different paths with my own. My first position was as a high school French and English teacher, and I also coached varsity tennis. I was a copywriter for an ad agency for a short time, managed a video store, coordinated cultural exchange programs for Connecticut high school students and practiced law. When I finally realized that I always loved being a student and the learning environment, I returned to where I first began my professional odyssey: education. Except now at Wesleyan, I am not lecturing behind a desk, but teaching every moment I can as I interact with the Usdan student staff and the Wesleyan students whom I meet and assist daily.

Q: What are your hobbies and interests?

A: I have had a true passion for long distance running since my first year in high school. I only run three times a week now, and certainly not as long as I did back then. I tell everyone that I do not play golf, golf plays me. Next spring will mark the 10th start of the golf season for which I have emphatically declared each time: “This will be my break through year.” I am a fanatic, well beyond just “fan,” of the Green Bay Packers who are having a dream season, and my office at Usdan 126A is proof of that. I also enjoy reading and the cinema. I am a mediocre cook, but do love to eat. I am just beginning to appreciate the world of red wines, of course solely for the health benefits!

Q: Where do you live and do you have family?

A: I live just over the Arrigoni Bridge in the sleepy little hamlet of Portland. I have been sharing life with my spousal equivalent/partner Jean for 17 years. We have a wonderful 6.5 pound Yorkshire terrier named Abbey. She is 12 years old, spoiled rotten and she owns us.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan to Create Athletics Hall of Fame


Brian Katten ’79, sports information director, stands in the Warren Street Lobby, home to Wesleyan’s future Athletics Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will honor top athletes, coaches, trainers, teams and athletic contributors throughout Wesleyan’s 144-year athletic history.
Posted 01/15/08
In 1864, Wesleyan began its rich history participating in intercollegiate sports.

Wesleyan scholar-athletes have won Olympic medals, NCAA championships, regional titles and participated on teams that won New England titles. And many Wesleyan coaches and alumni have been major contributors on professional teams, in athletic associations, in promoting a sport, or as innovators in the evolution of a sport.

To celebrate and honor Wesleyan’s 144-year athletic history, the Department of Athletics is establishing an Athletics Hall of Fame to recognize members of the Wesleyan community for outstanding achievement as an athlete, coach or for service to sports.

“It is important for a university with Wesleyan’s stature to celebrate its past,” explains John Biddiscombe, director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department. “The athletic hall of fame will provide a link for our current students, faculty and staff to Wesleyan’s rich athletic history. By knowing our past we better understand the foundations that were laid to support today’s programs.”

The Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame will recognize members of the Wesleyan community for outstanding achievement as an athlete, coach, or for service to sports. Members of the Wesleyan community include, but are not limited to, alumni, coaches, and trainers.

Approximately four individuals will be inducted annually. However, in the first two years this number will be doubled. The recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and their names will also be displayed prominently in the Freeman Athletic Center Warren Street Lobby.

The inaugural Hall of Fame class will be inducted during Reunion & Commencement Weekend 2008.

“What Wesleyan is undertaking is relatively unprecedented among our NESCAC peers,” says sports information director Brian Katten ’79. “Only two of the 11 NESCAC members currently sponsor a Hall of Fame. As someone who has witnessed a lot of Wesleyan sports history as a student, alumnus and veteran sports information director, I appreciate what our athletes, coaches and teams have accomplished. A Hall of Fame is one more way of providing a permanent place for these outstanding achievements to be highlighted.”

The Department of Athletics and Office of Alumni and Parent Relations are seeking nominations for the Hall of Fame. At this time we are not accepting self-nominations or nominations for club sports.

A qualified candidate must be a degree holder from Wesleyan University or a member of the Wesleyan community. Candidates must be at least 10 years post-graduation or, in the cases of non-Wesleyan bachelor degree holders, candidates must have been a member of the Wesleyan community for at least five years. Teams with major accomplishment will also be selected annually.

Nomination categories include: Athlete – candidates nominated in this category must have displayed extraordinary ability while participating in athletics; Coach – candidates nominated in this category must have made outstanding contributions to the field of athletics through coaching and/or with professional coaching organizations; Contributor – outstanding contributor to athletics/sport through clinics, writing, organizations, support of Wesleyan athletics, as an administrator, volunteer work, professional athletics or international sport organizations; and Team – outstanding record or accomplishments such as NCAA championship or finalist, ECAC champion, or undefeated season.

A nominee stays active for five years. If not inducted after the five years, candidates must wait three years before being nominated again. Individuals in any category may be deceased. However, if an individual becomes deceased at least two years must elapse before that individual may be considered.

The Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee will only accept nominations submitted using the official nomination form. Additional statements of support received via phone, letter, email or in person cannot be considered. The form is available online here.

Completed forms can be e-mailed to halloffame@wesleyan.edu, or mailed to Kelly Roos, associate director of alumni and parent relations, at 330 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459. Nominations received after Feb.1, 2008 will not be considered for the first class, but will be considered for future classes for up to five years.

For assistance in gathering information on a nominee, contact Brian Katten at bkatten@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-2887.

“It is our hope that by recognizing the accomplishments of Wesleyan athletes through an athletic hall of fame, we will help relight the love that athletic alumni have for the university,” Biddiscombe says.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor and Brian Katten, sports information director

Professor Emeritus Norman Rudich Dies at 85


Posted 01/15/08
Norman Rudich, professor of letters and of romance languages and literatures emeritus, died Dec. 20, 2007 at home in New York City. He was 85 years old.

Professor Rudich joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1952 and served with distinction until his retirement in 1991. He earned his Ph.D. in French from Princeton University and did graduate work at the Sorbonne. Rudich was an accomplished scholar who edited two notable books, Premiers Oeuvres (with J. Varloot) and Weapons of Criticism, and published numerous articles, essays and reviews.

Rudich was one of the founding members of Wesleyan’s College of Letters. His former colleague Paul Schwaber notes that “Norman was a master teacher, a brilliant dialectician, a committed Marxist, and an engaging and stimulating colleague.”

He is survived by his son Steven Rudich, his daughter Suzy Rudich, and four grandchildren. Memorial plans are pending. Donations in Professor Rudich’s memory may be made to The Lighthouse International.

Associate Dean Helps Students Succeed Through Wesleyan’s Multiple Academic Resources


Sarah Lazare, associate dean of Student Academic Resources, coordinates Wesleyan’s  Disabilities Services, the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN) and SARN Peer Advisors and the First Year Matters Program.
 
Posted 01/15/08
When a student encounters academic woes at Wesleyan, Sarah Lazare will find a pathway that may lead the student to success.

“There are so many academic resources available to our students,” says Lazare, associate dean of Student Academic Resources. “When students find themselves stumbling, all they have to do is ask. We will help them find a solution.”

Dean Lazare works with students from all areas of campus and all class years. She administers Disabilities Services, oversees the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN) and SARN Peer Advisors, and coordinates the First Year Matters Program.

As part of the Office for Diversity and Academic Achievement, Lazare oversees reasonable accommodations for almost 200 undergraduates with a diagnosed disability. “Disability” could mean something as simple as a problem sleeping, social anxiety or trouble with visually processing information, to chronic illnesses and diseases. What makes it a disability is if it substantially limits or impairs a major life activity.

“Sometimes I get to be a creative problem solver,” says Lazare. “Whether it is a student who has a reading disorder, or a student with arthritis or even a chronic illness that prevents a student from getting to class on a regular basis, I try to work with the student, professors, or residential life to come up with a reasonable accommodation.”

Lazare helps some students with reading disabilities gain access to their course readings through the use of Kurzweil 3000, a screen reading software that converts images to text and then speaks material to them. This allows students who have processing and executive function disorders or other visual reading disorders to hear the text while reading it.

She also educates students and their professors on how a disability might substantially limit a student’s learning. It is the responsibility of everyone involved to obtain the most appropriate access to education for a student, she explains.

“The students I work with, regardless of learning disabilities, are some of the most brilliant students on this campus,” she says.

She encourages anyone who has questions about disabilities or what a “reasonable accommodation” means, to ask.

In addition to helping students with disabilities, Lazare oversees the development of the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN), and trains 14 juniors and seniors to be SARN peer advisors. These advisors meet with first year or transfer students to offer advice on curricula, course registration and strategies on ways of studying and managing time. They also provide referrals related to academic support services. Some of these services include writing and math workshops, life sciences study groups, services for non-native speakers, the Quantitative Analysis Center for teaching and research needs, the Office of International Studies, the Career Resource Center, the Health Professionals Partnership Initiative, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program and one-on-one tutoring.

Lazare also coordinates the First Year Matters program, which provides information and events on academic and community life at Wesleyan. The program introduces first-year students to a campus where community members interact daily with the complexities and responsibilities of living in an inclusive and multicultural world. It entails meetings, guest speakers, exhibitions, discussions and a frequent e-newsletter.

Lazare started working at Wesleyan in December 2006. She holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from Smith College; a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and a law degree from CUNY School of Law.

At Smith College, Lazare served as the coordinator of Tutorial Services, interim coordinator of Disability Services, assistant director of the Peer Mentoring Program for Underrepresented Students in the Sciences and resident director of the Community Colleges Connections Summer Program. At CUNY School of Law, she served as the coordinator of Student Activities and Events.

As for practicing law, Lazare says “the best part of it” was the research and advising.

“I didn’t like courtroom trial work and I missed working with students,” she says. “I really love the opportunities my job here at Wesleyan provides. I love helping students attain their dreams.”

Lazare, a resident of Middletown, spends her free time with her two border collie mixes, Cole and Dudley Roy Gates Lazare. She also enjoys playing pool and singing.

“If you see me on campus with my dogs, please come and introduce yourself. We’d love to meet you,” she says.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

FROZEN IN TIME: A wintry mix created an icy glaze over Wesleyan’s campus Dec. 3 following the first winter storm of the season. Freezing rain slowed commuters and resulted in power outages throughout much of Connecticut.

A fall-bearing fruit glistens with Hall-Atwater Laboratory in the background.
Ice-covered, heavy branches hang low on College Row. Pictured in back is the Center for American Studies. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Student Entrepreneur Creates, Operates T-Shirt Business


Dan Lachman ’09 hires designers from all over the world to create images for his T-shirt and computer-skin business, Sharp Shirter. He runs the business when he’s not busy with classes. Lachman is wearing one of his designs, above, featuring a gorilla riding an ostrich.
Posted 12/07/07
For the past year, Dan Lachman ’09 has gotten used to wearing his heart on his sleeves. The Wesleyan junior has put all his creative energy into an online-based T-shirt company, and his imaginative designs are selling world-wide.

Psychology major Lachman created his business, Sharp Shirter, in September 2006 after turning a daydream idea into a T-shirt design. This month, he’s releasing the 21st design to the T-shirt collection.

“It’s pretty exciting how this business has taken off,” says Lachman, 21. “It shows that there’s a real demand for graphic tees with warped themes that blend reality with fantasy.”

Lachman is the sole business owner and oversees a dozen designers from as far away as Bolivia, Thailand and The Netherlands. He ships the T-shirt orders from his home in Bethesda, Maryland, and relies on his mother to help with the orders while he’s away at college.

But even on campus, Lachman’s life is absorbed with the business. Being a full-time student and part-time entrepreneur has become a grueling routine.

“Managing time between my business and school is getting tougher each month,” Lachman says. “My free time and weekends are mainly spent catching up on business chores. Luckily, I structured my course schedule to be on the less strenuous side.”

Lachman’s tee line-up evolved from a couple of run-of the-mill word shirts like “No Double Dips”, to a variety of graphic based designs such as “The Paper Plane Tree” which displays a tree with paper planes growing on its branches, flying around, and crumpling up on the ground like leaves (pictured at right). Among the other out-of-the-box designs an exploding fire hydrant, a gorilla riding an ostrich to victory, a computer mouse munching on nails (pictured below), a dancing bear with a tape player stuck on its head and person standing in a bucket at the bottom of a wishing well.

These twisted yet playful designs gradually caught on, and are now big sellers in major department stores like Lord and Taylor and YRB.

Through a grueling cold-calling routine, Lachman got his tees to make national headlines. In October 2006, the Washington Post ran a photo of the design “Transphoner” and mentioned Lachman’s new site. America’s Top Model TV show contestant wore “The Plane Tree” tee on MTV, and fabsugar.com suggested the Sharp Shirter “Mosquito” design as an inexpensive and “cool guy gift idea.” The business also was mentioned as a “Clothing Site of the Day” by Indigo Clothing and the design “Electrobug’ was featured on tshirtisland.com.

But 3,000 tee sales is just the beginning of Lachman’s business plan. As of this week he will be releasing a new line of 13 Sharp Skins, graphic adhesive stickers that mount to the back of a laptop, and can peel off without leaving any mark.

“The backs of laptops are blank canvases waiting for a sweet design to get slapped on.” He explains. “Nowadays everyone has a laptop, but I’ve only seen a couple stickers on the back. The market for skins seems to be wide open.”

Lachman targets his sweatshop-free cotton tees to men and women, college-aged to late 20s. Its main sources of revenue come from retail stores Lord and Taylor, Yellow Rat Bastard and Defunker.com (the owners of collegehumor.com and Busted Tees). Lachman sells them from his own website, sharpshirter.com, and also by word of mouth.

“I do wear my tees quite a bit on campus,” he says. “Every now and then I get a comment from someone that doesn’t know I made the tee. When they hear that the tee comes from my company, they usually want a free one. Unfortunately, I’m not big enough to be handing them out yet, but we’ll see where I am next year.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos by Olivia Drake and Ben Rowland. Models are Wesleyan students Austin Purnell, Nicolas Nauman and Katerli Batista.

Former Graduate Student Led Study That Uncovers Eating Disorders in Young Men


Posted 12/07/07
Eating disorders are most often identified with young, white females, but a new study provides data showing that males and other ethnicities are not immune to developing eating disorders.

After examining ten years of data, a group of Wesleyan researchers led by a recent graduate student has found that male adolescents are at increased risk of developing eating disorder symptoms. The researchers also found that black female adolescents are the least likely to practice weight control behaviors.

The new study was published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the official journal of the Academy of Eating Disorders. Freeman Scholar and psychology graduate student Y. May Chao ’06, MA ’07, a native of Taiwan, led the study and conducted the research while she was a student at Wesleyan.

“Often eating disorder studies do not include males,” Chao says. “Close to no [eating disorder] studies include ethnic minority males. Adolescence is the age of onset for eating disorders. Other research has found that treatment during adolescence is more effective than treatment during adulthood.”

The study used data gathered from more than 60,000 subjects between 1995 and 2005.

The study’s other researchers included Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor and chair of psychology; Lisa Dierker, associate professor of psychology; Faith-Anne Dohm, associate professor of psychology and special education at Fairfield University; Francine Rosselli, former psychology visiting scholar at Wesleyan; Emily M. Pisetsky ’07; and Alexis May ’05. The study is unique and an important accomplishment in the field of eating disorder research because of the large sample size and inclusion of males and ethnic minorities.

The data for the study came from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) survey, which has been conducted every two years since 1991 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the prevalence of health-risk behaviors among teens. The YRBSS data came from nationally representative samples of high school students from 1995 to 2005.

Chao got the idea to use the YRBSS for her master’s thesis while she was in Dierker’s Applied Quantitative Methods in Survey Research class. Out of the existing data sets available to examine in that class, Chao chose to use the YRBSS. Then, Striegel-Moore encouraged her to do trend analysis on the data and consider ethnic differences.

The study pulled data from the YRBSS that was administered in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005. During each one of these time points, more than 10,000 students were surveyed.

“The large sample size is nice. You can find specifically significant results,” Chao says.

The researchers found that, among males, white adolescents are the least likely to practice weight control and Hispanic adolescents are the most likely. These results were very interesting to the researchers. According to the study, the authors state “the higher prevalence of overweight among Hispanic male adolescents” may be the reason for the increase in weight control behaviors among that population.

“Previous literature has indicated that people who are more overweight will practice more weight control behaviors, especially the unhealthy weight control behaviors such purging, fasting or using diet products,” Chao says.

Not only are adolescents at risk for eating disorders, the disorders themselves can have serious health effects—leading to death in some sufferers. The National Eating Disorders Association website notes that researcher Patrick Sullivan examined data which indicates that “anorexia nervosa has the highest premature fatality rate of any mental illness.”

For the YRBSS, weight control behaviors included dieting done to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight; or eating less food, fewer calories, or foods low in fat to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight. Behaviors also included using diet products such as pills, engaging in purging behavior, exercising or engaging in vigorous exercise.

The prevalence of dieting and diet product use among all female adolescents increased in the years studied. In addition, the mean Body Mass Index (BMI) among female adolescents has also been increasing. Among female adolescents, black females are the least likely and white females are the most likely to practice weight control.

“This result is consistent with findings that black females have flexible concepts of beauty and emphasize making what you’ve got work for you and thus are more satisfied and comfortable with their bodies,” the study noted.

Overall, Chao says that although other literature on the subject has suggested that there are no ethnic differences in weight control behavior, it was surprising that, in her research, the ethnic differences were consistent over the 10 years studied.
 

By Corrina Balash Kerr, associate director of Media Relations

NSF Grant Expands Study of Self-Medicating Caterpillars


Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, is the recipient of a NSF grant which will enable him to hire a postdoc and undergraduate student to collaboratively research behavior of the woolly bear caterpillar.
Posted 12/07/07
When a woolly bear caterpillar becomes infected with a parasite, it can’t go to a pharmacy for medicine, so it does the next best thing: It eats the leaves of medicinal plants.

This behavior and recognition for the need to self-medicate when ill is at the heart of a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal by Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, titled “Self-medication: function and mechanism in a woolly bear caterpillar.”

The two-year, $314,267 grant will permit Singer to study in more detail this prescient behavior by the woolly bear caterpillars, also known as Grammia geneura.

“All animals have immunological defenses, subject to modification by diet,” Singer says. “Herbivorous animals may be especially prone to self-medicate by ingesting pharmacologically active chemicals found in the plants they eat. This project will allow me to investigate the means of self-medication by the woolly bear caterpillar, and ultimately help us all better understand the links in the behavior and ecology of wild animals to animal health.”

The grant allows Singer to continue a study he initiated a few years ago, the results of which were published in the July 27, 2005 issue of the esteemed scientific journal Nature.

Singer’s study will include distinct segments. It will begin with behavioral experiments that will characterize the dietary choices of experimentally parasitized caterpillars in relation to caterpillars without parasites. Then experimentally parasitized caterpillars will be given different diets to evaluate the role of specific diets in resistance against parasites. Physiological experiments will evaluate the effects of these diets on the caterpillar’s immune response to parasites.

In addition, to analyze the direct effects of caterpillar diet without the immune system, the parasites will be grown in artificial diets that reflect different caterpillar diets. Theory predicts that caterpillars employ two distinct mechanisms of self-medication that vary in their severity of negative side effects.

“We hope to generate some definitive findings by the end of the study, Singer says.

The grant comes at a time when grant funding by the NSF has become extremely competitive and difficult to obtain.

“That Mike has been successful in obtaining NSF funding indicates the very high regard that Mike’s colleagues across the country have for his research and scholarship,” says Janice Naegele, professor and chair of biology. “This recognition in the area of ecology and integrative organismal biology comes early in his career and will have a positive impact on his upcoming case for tenure and promotion at Wesleyan.”

Along with funding Singer’s research, the grant will also pay for a post-doctoral research fellow. In addition, there is funding to hire an undergraduate research assistant during each summer.

“This will allow a student to gain a high quality research experience along with peers in the Hughes and Mellon summer research programs at Wesleyan,” says Singer. “A postdoc will also enhance training of undergraduate and graduate students working in my lab by spending more hands-on time with students in the lab than I can provide as well as by offering a different intellectual perspective than my own.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

International Librarians Share Experiences, Learn about Information Access at Conference


Charles Batambuze, executive director of the National Book Trust of Uganda, visits with guests inside Olin Library during the Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression-International Federation of Library Associations conference Nov. 27.
Posted 12/07/07
Alice Miranda stood in awe at the plethora of books available for check-out at Olin Library. Miranda, a professor at the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica, says Wesleyan’s library has more books than seven countries in Central America combined, including 15 universities.

“There are 1.5 million books in this library,” Miranda says, peering at the wall shelves in Olin’s Smith Room. “In Central America, our libraries are nothing like this. Our biggest library would have 1,000 books, and some have less than 100. And the books we do have are old. The books of medicine are from the 1970s. In Central America, the libraries just don’t have the money to buy enough books.”

Miranda, at left, was one of 10 librarians from other countries who visited Olin Library Nov. 27-Dec. 1 for the Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression-International Federation of Library Associations conference and workshop. The topic was “The Internet Manifesto and Public Health Information: The Library’s Role.”

For five days, the international librarians attended lectures and field trips to local libraries in Middletown, Hartford, New Haven and New York City to talk about access to information. At Wesleyan, the guests attended presentations on internet use in Wesleyan’s libraries, and access to public health information in the Science Library.

Each librarian brought his or her own perspectives to the conference.

Lampang Manmart, an assistant professor, teaches library and information studies at Khon Kaen University in Thailand. There, she says, a library is used as a community center, and generally boasts a coffee shop, shopping area, exhibition area and bank. Street musicians or bands often perform at the library’s entry way.

Khon Kaen has 200 full-time staff members tending to multiple libraries across the campus. The campus’s main library has three massive sections for its more than 30,000 students.

“The problem with our library is that it’s just too large, overcrowded and there’s not enough computers for everyone,” Manmart explains. “I like that here, at Wesleyan, the library is small and comfortable. It’s not crowded, and it’s in a very beautiful building.”

Barbara Jones, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian, hosted the conference and held an open reception Nov. 27 for the international guests. (Jones is pictured at right with Manmart)

“By having them at Wesleyan, we were able to talk about the importance of libraries, and also about the importance of freedom of expression and access to information as part of the academic enterprise,” Jones says. “It also gave Wesleyan students and faculty an opportunity to discuss their dedicated to global initiatives.”

The guests received tours and lectures of the Russell Public Library in Middletown, the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University, the Hartford Public Library; the Connecticut State Library; and the Queens Borough Public Library in Jamaica, N.Y. Program topics included Cancer and HIV/AIDS Community Outreach Initiatives, health projects, library health literacy programs, community outreach initiatives in the U.S. Middle Atlantic Region, electronic resources for public health information and policies to provide public health information through the internet.

In addition, the conference included topics about internet usage, and how government transparency and anti-corruption projects have a direct impact on libraries’ ability to provide information openly and inexpensively.

In Costa Rica, Miranda says most libraries are the size of one or two classrooms, and not only lack books, but computers. Her university’s library hosts only 50 computers for its 17,000 students. In contrast, a public library would have only one machine available for internet access, she explained.

The conference’s guests of honor included Miranda; Manmart; Victoria Okojie, president of the Nigerian Library Association in Nigeria, Africa; Martha Castro, sub-directora de USBI-VER at the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico; Agnes Chikonzo, a librarian at the University of Zimbabwe, Africa; and Fatima Darries, faculty librarian at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology Institution, South Africa..

Also Charles Batambuze, executive director of the National Book Trust of Uganda; Lilia F. Echiverri, assistant law librarian at the University of the Philippines Law Library; Marica Rosetto, president of the FEBAB, Brazil; and Paul Sturges, professor at the University of Loughborough, United Kingdom.

The conference was sponsored by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), The Hague; and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Uppsala.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Honorary Degree Recipient to Lead Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration


Posted 12/07/07
Singer, composer, historian and honorary degree recipient Bernice Johnson Reagon will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Wesleyan.

Reagon, who founded the internationally-renowned a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, will participate in a class, facilitate a lunch discussion and speak at the community wide MLK celebration Jan. 29. The MLK discussion will begin at 4:15 p.m. Jan. 29 in Memorial Chapel.

Reagon received an honorary degree recipient from Wesleyan University in 2001.

Wesleyan annually honors and celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., who also received a honorary degree from Wesleyan in 1964. King Jr. also preached at McConaughy Hall in 1966.

Reagon is professor emeritus of history at American University. The recipient of the 2003 Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities for her work as a scholar and artist in African American cultural history and music, Reagon serves as curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington DC.

Reagon recently retired after 30 years from performing with Sweet Honey In The Rock, the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973. She produced most of the group’s recording including the Grammy nominated “Still The Same Me.” Her work as a scholar and composer is reflected in publications and productions on African American culture and history, including: a collection of essays titled If You Don’t Go, Don’t Hinder Me: The African American Sacred Song Tradition; We’ll Under-stand It Better By and By: Pioneering African-American Gospel Composers; We Who Believe in Freedom: Sweet Honey In The Rock: Still On the Journey; and Voices of the Civil Rights Movement, Black American Freedom Songs, a 2-CD anthology with booklet.

In addition to the day of events, there will be a display of 16 significant Civil Rights Movement events and people in the Zelnick Pavilion Jan. 22-29.

Topics include the Underground Railroad in Middletown, Black Women and the Suffrage Movement, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Rosa Parks and The Montgomery Bus Boycott, School Desegregation In Elementary and Secondary Education, Community Organizing Efforts in 1960-1964, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Voting Rights: Selma to Montgomery Marches, Malcolm X: Life and Death, The Legacy & Memorial to Dr.King and A Pledge for the Future, Slavery in North America and Sojourner: Witness of Truth.

“The exhibit features a few snapshots of the immense time and effort, loss and pain, triumph and joy, heroines and heroes whom have sought to make our world a more just and equitable place for all,” explains MLK Celebration committee member Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, director of community service and volunteerism. “We hope that through experiencing this display, the viewers will learn something new, think about something in a different way and, most importantly, question something about what they thought they knew and think about how we can each continue to create civil rights landmarks in our own time.”

The MLK Celebration Planning Committee is requesting the Wesleyan community to submit any Civil Rights movement event or display ideas prior to Dec. 15. To propose a topic, e-mail a topic and a brief summary to Cathy Lechowicz at clechowicz@wesleyan.edu. The MLK Planning Committee reviews all topics submitted. Those selected will be asked to submit the content for the story board – up to 600 words – by Jan. 20.

For more information about the program, go to http://www.wesleyan.edu/mlk.

Wesleyan Librarian Receives Intellectual Freedom Award


Posted 12/07/07
Barbara Jones has taken her commitment to intellectual freedom around the world and back again.

The Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian has put forth extensive work on behalf of intellectual freedom, both in the United States and abroad. For her efforts, she received the 2007 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, given by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Dec. 3.

Jones’s work on behalf of the Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression has taken her to Costa Rica, Dubai and Mexico to present a series of workshops on such topics as access to HIV/AIDS information, internet access, and libraries in the fight against government corruption. She just completed hosting a workshop at Wesleyan, attended by librarians from Africa, East Asia and Latin America. She has presented papers on intellectual freedom at conferences in Croatia, Japan, and Norway, and over the next few years, Jones will visit Ecuador, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

In her position as Wesleyan’s head librarian, Jones has coordinated faculty programs on scholarly communication and the Patriot Act and serves as co-chair of the Intellectual Property Committee, working with university legal counsel on intellectual property and privacy presentations to faculty and students.

“Barbara is a respected authority on matters related to intellectual and academic freedom, and has been highly visible in her work. We are very fortunate to have the benefit of her expertise here at Wesleyan,” says Joe Bruno, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

Jones has been an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and spent two terms as chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. She is currently a member of the faculty of Lawyers for Libraries, a project of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom “designed to build a nationwide network of attorneys committed to the defense of the First Amendment freedom to read and the application of constitutional law to library policies, principles, and problems.” In 1999, the ALA honored Jones by naming her to the Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor.

Jones is the author of Libraries, Access, and Intellectual Freedom: Developing Policies for Public and Academic Libraries. Her second book, Intellectual Freedom: Academic Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, will be published by the ALA in 2008.

Jones’ previous positions include coordinator of special collections and rare book and special collections librarian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; head of reference at the Minnesota Historical Society; and head of cataloging at New York University’s Bobst Library. She earned her master’s degree in library science from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Minnesota.

A reception to honor Jones will take place during the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association at the Crowne Plaza in Philadelphia on Jan. 12, 2008. The Greenwood Publishing Group provides the honorarium to the recipient of the Downs Intellectual Freedom Award and also co-sponsors the reception. She will receive a $500 honorarium.

“The faculty members were impressed by Barbara’s contributions to the literature, her development of lectures, workshops and training sessions and her activities in national and international profession associations that represent over the years a commitment to the principles that guard intellectual freedom in the profession of librarianship,” says John Unsworth, professor and dean at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is given annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the GSLIS faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his 25th anniversary as director of the school.

Additional information about the award and past recipients can be found at www.lis.uiuc.edu/about/awards/downs-award.html.