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Assistant Dean of Student Services Co-Advises Student Judicial Board


Kevin Butler, assistant dean of Student Services, is the contact person for students with physical differences and co-advisor of the Student Judicial Board.
 
Posted 09/09/05
Q: When were you hired at Wesleyan?

A: I was hired in fall of all 2004 and started in January 2005 as the assistant dean of Student Services.

Q: What led you to working at Wesleyan?

A: I have excelled in conflict resolution and judicial affairs at several institutions. I thought it would be interesting to advise a student judicial board, which is something I hadn’t done before.

Q: And what is your role with the Wesleyan Student Judicial Board?

A: I’m co-advisor with Michael Whaley. It gives me the opportunity to mentor students and help them understand what it means to “uphold community standards,” and how to successfully communicate that through the decisions the Board makes.

Q: Where did you learn about the judicial board process?

A: I have worked on judicial boards at Johnson and Wales and been the primary judicial hearing officer for my area as a hall director and area coordinator at Bryant University, Johnson and Wales and Quinnipiac University. In total I have about eight years experience being involved in judicial processes at various institutions. I wanted to be a part of a process that leaned more towards student involvement rather solely administrators making all the decisions.

Q: What are your other duties as an assistant dean?

A: My position exists to support students in their endeavor to succeed here at Wesleyan. In addition, I have replaced Dean Rick Culliton as the main contact for student with physical differences. Last semester I was able to streamline the process for students who need accommodations under The Americans with Disabilities Act/504 who requested housing and other accommodations. The next step for me will be to start working to offer programming that may help our community become more aware of how people with physical and learning differences are living and functioning every day.

Q: Do you interact with students on a daily basis?

A: I do have some interaction with students on a daily basis, however not as much as I would like. Because I’m new on the staff here, students are just realizing that I can be a resource for them. During orientation for the class of ’09 I was able to meet a number of incoming and returning students and start building a rapport with them.

Q: What are some of their concerns or questions, and how do you go about resolving problems?

A: I have had the opportunity to talk with some students regarding judicial procedures, sanctions and disability and difference accommodations but I think that being here at the beginning of the term will make it easier for me to make connections with students.

I am very honest with students. When they come to me seeking advice I try to be constructive and developmental. If I don’t know the answer to a questions I try to steer them in the right direction towards someone who is better suited to provide them with the information they are seeking. I always try to get the student to look at both sides of any situation and empower the student to speak up for themselves if that is necessary and/or take responsibility for their part in the situation.

Q: What other offices do you meet or collaborate with?

A: I collaborate with Graduate Student Services, Residence Life, the Class Deans, Health Services, Behavioral Health and Student Activities and Academic Affairs.

Q: Do you feel most students are aware of all the services Wesleyan offers?

A: Probably not. I only say that because there so many.

Q: What goes on during your day here?

A: It varies from day to day. It is the way Student Affairs professionals survive. It is extremely difficult to anticipate what any day will bring. I am very happy to be working at an institution where my student affairs colleagues understand how important it is to be flexible and have a wealth of knowledge regarding student life issues that ensures our preparedness in case of emergency and celebration.

Q: Why do you enjoy working with students and their issues?

A: I enjoy working with all students but especially those students that are working through situations for the first time. I enjoy having conversations with students regarding their reasons for being at Wesleyan and how getting an education may be one of the most important things they will ever do.

Q: What qualities does it take to be the assistant dean of Student Services?

A: When I am asked this question I am reminded of a book I once read in Philosophy 400 class “Insight into Insight”. One of the books topics was the “ah-ha” factor; the realization of an idea. When you are able to witness that process it can be absolutely inspirational. It takes patience and understanding to work in Student Services. There always seems to be someone who needs something. And there’s the rub. Helping students is what keeps me enthused about what I do.

Q: Where did you attend college and what are your degrees in?

A: I got my bachelor’s of arts in theater from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, and my master’s of fine art in performance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Q: Are you still interested in the arts? What else?

A: I am very interested in film and theater. I used to play a lot of racquetball until I came to Wesleyan. Now I play a lot of squash. I sing in my church choir and play volleyball once a week. I do a little writing when I can which has been happily complicated by the birth of my son.

Q: And what is his name? And your wife’s?

A: Marshall. He’s seven months old. My wife Carleen works at Quinnipiac University. She coordinates community service and experiential learning.

Q: What sums up your personality?

A: I am always willing to help.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Auxiliary Operations and Campus Services Spearheads Transportation, Bookstore, Laundry Services


Manny Cunard, director of Auxiliary Operations and Campus Services, works from his new office on Pine Street.
 
Posted 09/09/05

When Manny Cunard came to Wesleyan two and a half years ago, several services were in need of structure. Others needed to be invented.

“I resolve problems,” says Cunard, director of Auxiliary Operations and Campus Services. “That’s what this job is all about. You have to be committed to problem solving to provide the best services for Wesleyan’s students, staff and faculty.”

Cunard is responsible for such operations such as the campus bookstore, dining services, the House Sale Program, laundry services, graduate student housing, transportation services and student residence revenue management. He also oversees campus services such as the Rental Properties Program, Wesleyan Station and mail services, the Memorial Chapel, Russell House and ’92 Theater and non-academic scheduling and reservations.

When Cunard came onboard, one of his first initiatives was to re-cast the campus bookstore.

“There was a local book store, but it wasn’t meeting the needs of Wesleyan’s students and faculty,” he explains. “The new Broad Street Books services Wesleyan, it supports its academic needs, and Wesleyan sees some revenue from it.”

The new bookstore also sells used books to students at a reduced cost.

Cunard also initiated the One-Card Access Program. It allows students to use their Wesleyan ID card to gain entry to dormitories or the gym, or pay for laundry, photocopies, campus meals. Faculty and staff also have the option of putting funds into their One-Card account for use at campus dining halls, vending machines.

Wesleyan ID cards are also equipped with an encoded stripe that allows students, staff and faculty to use The Middletown Cash Program at 17 participating off-campus venues.

“We’ve seen a tremendous response from the One-Card Program,” Cunard says. “Now students and staff have the option to break away from the routine and go have a good meal downtown or use a variety a services using a single card.”

Cunard also help improved Transportation Services for the campus. A shuttle runs between 7 and 4 p.m. seven days a week around campus and makes loops downtown Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Marcello Curridori, manager of Transportation Services, says Cunard always treats his staff with respect.

“Manny has a positive attitude and down to earth personality which motivates staff to do a great job everyday,” Curridori says. “Not only that, he’s very knowledgeable and reliable. We can always count on him to answer any questions we might have.”

Cunard has his hands full of projects this semester. He’s working on the Dining Services master planning, a new design for the bookstore, a student driver policy, a senior prototype house project and planning auxiliary services’ role in the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center. He’s also placing new laundry and vending machines on various sites on campus.

To get these tasks done, he meets daily with managers of each auxiliary service or campus service and discusses issues and university priorities. In addition, he seeks input from students, student groups and parents. He responds to concerns about student services and costs of those services.

“Faculty members will ask for more vending machines, and parents call with food service questions,” he says. “I deal with stuff like this all the time.”

Cunard, who holds degrees in zoology, chemistry, counseling psychology and higher education, spent 12 years working at Loyola University; nine years at Colorado State and eight years at the University of Virginia. During those stints he managed housing programs, student life and activities, bookstores, retail issues and other auxiliary services.

Three years ago, the Rhode Island native applied for the newly-created director of Auxiliary Operations and Campus Services position at Wesleyan.

“Along with the challenges of the job, being part of a small, New England university seemed like a perfect next step in my already exciting career,” he says.

At Wesleyan, Cunard is part of several campus committees that meet to discuss ways to better services on campus. These include the Dining Services Advisory Committee, the Bookstore Advisory Committee, the Campus Auxiliaries and Facilities Advisory Committee, the Graduate Student Housing Advisory Committee and the Scheduling and Events Committee.

Through these committees, Cunard has the opportunity to meet with students and staff from other departments. They discuss issues such as student living conditions and housing needs, meal choices, book prices and bookstore services, campus events and other services.

Cunard helps Wesleyan staff and faculty find places to live through the Rental Properties Program and House Sales Program. He also contributes to creating living space for local residents. As a Middlesex Habitat for Humanity board member and site supervisor, Cunard devotes much of his free time helping to build homes with other Habitat members. He also spends time with his wife of 36 years, Donna, his grown daughters Sarah and Elisabeth, and his 10-month-old granddaughter, Brianna.

In whatever time is left, Cunard enjoys restoring foreign cars. In the past-three years, he’s refinished a Triumph TR6 and Jaguar XKE, as well as an MGB for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Currently he’s half-way finished with an Austin Healey 3000.

“I put them in shows, or drive them to work or around town. They’re just my passion,” he says.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Grounds and Special Events Manager Knows the Landscape


Dave Hall, grounds and special events manger, stands in front of an old elm tree planted along College Row. Wesleyan once had hundreds of elms on its property, and now only a few remain. The rest have fallen prey to old age or disease.
 
Posted 09/09/05
When Dave Hall takes a daily stroll across Wesleyan’s campus, he has no destination in mind. He simply enjoys the luscious landscape. It is, after all, his masterpiece.

As manager of Wesleyan’s grounds and events, every tree, shrub, flower garden and grassy knoll is part of his canvas.

“Most people walk through campus looking straight ahead or at the ground,” Hall says, gazing into an elm. “There’s a whole new world to see if you look up. There’s lots of interesting trees to see here on campus.”

Hall has memorized where virtually every tree stands on campus. He knows their species, in many cases their age and even their quirks. As he walks through campus he points out some of his favorites.

The 1826-built Russell House property hosts Wesleyan’s oldest trees – four cut-leaf European beeches. Hall suspects these were planted inside the iron fence just after the Russell House was built.

Another campus oldie grows in front of the Davison Arts Center. Recognized by its gray, elephant-skin-like trunk, this beech is more than 150 years old. And then there’s the pink-blossomed cherry tree atop Foss Hill.

“I couldn’t even guess as to how old that cherry is,” Hall says. “But it sure is gorgeous in early spring when it turns into a pink cloud.”

The President’s patio possesses the second largest Japanese zelkova tree known in Connecticut. The state’s third largest is down the street in front of Alpha Delta Psi.

Hall says a giant sycamore, located between the Center for the Arts’ North and South Studios, is one of Wesleyan’s most striking trees. Its spotted bark makes it a prime study for student’s art projects.

“You should see this tree in the winter,” Hall says. “When there’s snow on the ground and the tree is all barren except for its branches, it brings ideas of suspense and horror stories.”

The campus landscape has changed drastically over Wesleyan’s 175 year history. In a 1830s photograph, Hall points out a row of elms lining a sidewalk to North College. Today only one remains. Dutch Elm disease was the main culprit.

“Those elms used to be all over,” Hall says. “There were probably hundreds of them here in the 1800s, and now there are only 20 left on campus.”

Wesleyan’s formerly abundant hemlocks have also been destroyed by a human-imported nemesis known as the wooly adelgids. And then there was the huge oak tree on Church street.

“It was a sad, sad day when we had to take down that old oak between Shanklin and the library,” Hall says, noting that it had rotted from inside-out.

But when one tree goes, another is planted — or transplanted — if possible. In the early 80s, a series of five-year-old pear trees were removed from the Judd Hall area and transplanted in front of College Row on High Street. Hall calls these white-blossoming trees “the soldiers.” They’re lined up in formation.

He also helped plant the mature red oaks on College Row in the early 1980s.

“You know that you’ve been here a long time when you see trees grow from seedlings to full size,” he says, grinning.

Nancy Albert, university coordinator of events and Russell House Programs, admires Hall for nurturing the rose arbor behind the Russell House. She also counts on his advice when planning outdoor events.

“Dave knows what lies beneath the ground, so stakes do not accidentally sever phone or computer lines, and he has an uncanny memory about what was done over the past years,” she says. “Plus his weather instinct is the best. If he says it’s going to rain, follow his advice.”

Hall, who grew up in Lincoln, Maine never took any agriculture or landscape classes. Hired into Wesleyan as an equipment operator, Hall self-taught himself grounds management. Now he oversees Wesleyan contractors Stonehedge Landscaping, which handles many of the university’s grounds crew needs.

Hall says no two days are alike. Some days he’ll oversee sidewalk repairs, remove fallen branches, or plant shrubs. Recently, he helped set up the football stadium. In the winter, he oversees snow removal.

He’s constantly responding to calls from Public Safety, Physical Plant or other departments needing grounds service.

“I like how nothing is monotonous, and the things that I do here make a difference and I can feel good about that,” Hall says. “Whether it be removing a low branch as a safety issue, or planting a new shrub that makes campus look more beautiful, the things that I do to make campus better can be very fulfilling.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Economics Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor


Abigail Hornstein, assistant professor of economics, studies corporate performance.
 
Posted 09/09/05
Abigail Hornstein has joined the Economics Department as an assistant professor.

Hornstein received her bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and history; her master’s degree in economics and international business from New York University Stern School of Business; and her Ph.D in economics and international business from the New York University Stern School of Business.

Her dissertation examined the capital budgeting decisions of multinational enterprises. She examined U.S. firms in the 1990s to determine if effective capital budgeting is associated with where a firm invests.

“I found that effective capital budgeting is strongly and significantly associated with multinationality after controlling for characteristics of the countries where a firm invests,” she says.

At Wesleyan, Hornstein is interested in exploring the relationship between corporate performance and corporate structure.

“In my work so far I’ve taken a narrow approach by examining the relationship between the efficacy of corporate capital budgeting decisions and various corporate characteristics, particularly multinationality,” she says.

Hornstein says she’d like to extend this work in several dimensions to ascertain the relationship between corporate capital budgeting and CEO turnover, corporate governance, and the use of patents to protect proprietary firm-specific knowledge.

Hornstein has held several economics-related positions outside of academia. In 1994, she worked in Hong Kong for a boutique management consultancy, advising a multinational clientele on issues pertaining to investing in China. In 1996, she joined HongKong and Shanghai Banking Corporation’s China research group, covering China’s foreign investment and foreign trade for the group’s research publications and the bank’s clients. In 1998, Hornstein assumed full coverage for HSBC of the ASEAN economies (Indonesia, Malyasia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

Since her days as an undergrad at Bryn Mawr, Hornstein’s had a strong interest in the liberal arts environment.

“I’ve always believed strongly in the importance of a liberal arts undergraduate education and I’m thrilled to join a faculty that places such a strong emphasis on both research and teaching,” she says. “It is really exciting to have such an accomplished set of colleagues, and brilliant students to teach.”

Hornstein will teach Corporate Finance in the fall, Investment Finance in the spring and Quantitative Methods in Economics both semesters.

Hornstein married her husband, Seth Bittker, in July and they reside in Norwalk. Her hobbies include hiking, ceramics and cooking.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

Going . . . Construction crews demolished sections of the old Alumni Gym, also known as “the Cage” July 20 through Aug. 5. The new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center building will be constructed in this location. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

 

Going . . .
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GONE.

Fitness Coordinator Promotes Active, Healthy Lifestyles for Wesleyan Employees


Heather Minetti, adult fitness program coordinator, climbs Last Dollar Pass at 11,000 feet during a trip from Telluride, Colorado to Moab, Utah this summer.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Q: How do you apply your love for exercising and fitness enthusiasm into your position as the Wesleyan Adult Fitness Program coordinator?

A: I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Wesleyan community. Here, we are surrounded by a very diverse and interesting staff and an administration that actively supports and views opportunities for personal wellness as a benefit that should be available to all. Within walking distance from all corners of campus are outstanding facilities, including indoor and outdoor tracks and tennis courts, one of the finest natatoriums in New England, a new 10,000 square foot fitness center as well as new squash courts. These just scratch the surface. It is easy to get excited about coming to work in this kind of an environment.

Q: Do you consider yourself to be a positive role model for the Wes community?

A: I try to role model a healthy active lifestyle, a positive attitude and I try to encourage and support safe and effective participation at all levels of intensity, in our fitness programs. Over the years, I have seen many self-professed “non-exercisers” blossom into athletes and make tremendous lifestyle changes. Helping someone break through a personal fitness barrier is particularly satisfying.

Q: Do you coordinate classes and teach?

A: My role is to develop, market and assure the provision of a range of wellness programming for all staff. Points of emphasis include the hiring of quality, experienced, instructors, ensuring diversity in the type and intensity of classes and, most importantly, the safety of all participants.

I look forward to the close interaction, camaraderie and feedback when actively participating and routinely teach at least one class each semester. This summer, Wesleyan supported my participation in an excellent two-day conference on osteoporosis that I hope to integrate into my work.

Q: What are a few examples of Adult Fitness classes at Wesleyan?

A: Our goal is to offer a range of wellness opportunities and to encourage safe participation at each level of intensity. We have offered fun, movement oriented activities like ballroom and swing dance, a variety of stretching/toning classes, tai chi, yoga, pilates, as well as strength training, low-impact aerobics, water aerobics and sport specific classes such as squash instruction.

Q: You’re also the Lunch & Learn Program coordinator. Tell me a bit about that program.

A: The Lunch and Learn program is an educational series that focuses on current health and wellness as well as quality of life topics and issues. This past year featured nationally recognized physicians in the fields of dermatology and cancer care as well as a debate about the Atkins Diet.

Q: Why should the average, sit-at-a-desk and stare-at-a-computer all day Wesleyan employee take advantage of these programs?

A: There is no down side to taking advantage of the outstanding facilities we have at Wesleyan and by adding a bit of exercise to your day. Whether you join us for a walk, or try tai-chi or ballroom dance, ice skating or do some strength training, you will feel better, interact with some fascinating people, laugh more and, you just might return to that computer refreshed and energized for the afternoon.

Q: I understand you recently returned from a bike trip out west. Where did you go?

A: A group of friends got together and completed an epic six-night trip on mountain bikes from Telluride, Colorado to Moab, Utah. This was a self-guided trip following unpaved logging and forest service roads with an occasional technical riding section. The route is linked by a series of one-room huts that we reserved almost a year in advance.

Q: How many miles did you trek, and/or how many mountains did you climb?

A: The trip was just a little over 200 miles long. As we traveled along, we either passed by or traversed through three distinct mountain ranges: the San Miguel and Sneffels Ranges in Colorado and the San Juans in Utah. All three feature multiple peaks in excess of 12,000 feet. Mount Sneffels, at more than 14,000 feet is the highest peak. All were heavily snow covered.

Q: How long have you biked, and what other physical activities do you enjoy, and why?

A. I have been biking since I was 10-years-old. My first group adventure ride was a trip from Nova Scotia to Bakerville, Connecticut at age 16. In addition to biking, I have a passion for cross-country skiing, classic style. This year I am committed to taking a couple of lessons in freestyle or skate-skiing. Other outdoor sports that I enjoy are hiking, flat water kayaking and recently I began to do a little running.

Q: Where are your degrees from and in what?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from the University of Colorado, a bachelors degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut, and a masters degree in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut.

Q: How long have you worked at Wesleyan?

A: I have been working at Wesleyan since January 1991.

Q: Do you have other hobbies in addition to fitness-related hobbies?

A: Yes, I play in a cribbage tournament each summer and I love to read as well as enjoy quiet time.

Q: How many bikes do you have?

A: I have both mountain and road bikes. I bought my mountain bike used about 12 years ago for $150 from the Mountain Biking Center at Mount Snow, Vermont. Great deal, great bike, which I have put at least a couple thousand miles on.

Last fall, as a birthday gift, my husband purchased a new road bike for me. A Trek 5000. It really is a finely crafted, aggressive riding machine. I am working hard to elevate my riding in order to match the performance of this racing machine, and to keep up with Joan Adams, assistant to the dean of admission.

Q: How long have you been married?

A: My husband, Gary, and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We feel fortunate as our interests in adventure travel and fitness have merged over the years. We hike, bike, paddle and ski together. One point of diversion is Gary’s interest in long-distance backpacking. I prefer a long day-hike. Who can argue with a nice hot shower and a glass of wine at the end of the day?

Q: Anything else I should know about you?

A: Thank God I married an Italian who knows his way around a kitchen. Cooking is just not my strength.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

When Ill, These Caterpillars Acquire a Taste for Medicinal Plants


Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, discovered that the wolly bear caterpillar, Grammia geneura, ingests medicinal plants when sick.
 
Posted 08/17/05
When tiger moth caterpillars get a bug, they do what a lot of us do – ingest some medicine and hope it provides a cure.

These findings by co-investigators Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, and Elizabeth Bernays, regents professor emerita of entomology at the University of Arizona, appear in the July 27 issue of Nature.

During a study of the caterpillars of two types of tiger moths, known as Grammia geneura and Estigmene acrea, Singer and Bernays observed that when the caterpillars were besieged by potentially deadly parasites, they underwent a chemical change that affected their taste sensing cells. The result: the infected caterpillars suddenly acquired a taste for plants that contained compounds – iridoid glycosides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. When plants containing these compounds are ingested by the caterpillars the parasites die, often before they could inflict mortal harm on the caterpillars from within.

Singer and Bernays noted that the taste for these medicinal components was heightened in the infected caterpillars while remaining unchanged in uninfected caterpillars.

“In essence, contracting the parasites actually triggers a chemical reaction inside the caterpillars that makes them more disposed to eating the very plants that may help them get rid of these deadly organisms,” Singer says. “The parasites are actually setting in motion a process that may lead to their own demise, provided the caterpillars can get to the right type of plants in time.”

Singer adds that this type of chemical “taste change” that gravitates the caterpillars toward medicinal foods has not been observed in other caterpillars, but is likely to occur as in other animals that are known to self-medicate, including some primates.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

New Study Will Examine Digital Use at Northeast Liberal Arts Institutions


Posted 08/17/05
A picture may be a worth a thousands words, but what is its value in the college classroom, especially if the picture is digital?

This will be among the issues considered by a new digital image study spearheaded by Wesleyan University and the Center for Educational Technology.

The six-month study will examine how digitized images of all sorts are used by faculty at 34 elite teaching and research institutions. The hope is that by assessing current practices in the classrooms, methods for more effective use of these images can be identified and implemented.

“There is also an opportunity to build a community among these institutions which could lay the groundwork for future collaborations,” says Michael Roy, Wesleyan’s director of Academic Computing Services and the study’s principal investigator. “We are always interested in new and better ways we can use technology to improve teaching and academic inquiry.”

Along with Wesleyan, the institutions participating will include Allegheny, Amherst, Bard, Barnard, Bates, Bennington, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Colby, Colgate, Connecticut, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Hamilton, Haverford, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Middlebury, Mount Holyoke, Princeton, Sarah Lawrence, Skidmore, Smith, St. Lawrence, Swarthmore, Trinity, Ursinus, Vassar, Wellesley, Wheaton, Williams and Yale.

The project has engaged David Green of Knowledge Culture to lead the survey and site visit process. Green’s Web site is http://www.knowledgeculture.com/index.html.

The study is being funded by a grant from the Wesleyan Fund for Innovation and is co-sponsored by the Center for Educational Technology with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The results will be presented in a one-day workshop, published and posted on the Academic Commons Web site at http://www.academiccommons.org.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Planetary Group Discusses NASA, Spaced-Based Achievements

Members of the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) met at Woodhead Lounge July 20-22. Martha Gilmore, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, (pictured second from left in the first row) coordinated the meeting. 
Posted 08/17/05
Martian oceans, solar system exploration and telescopic studies of Neptune were all topics of discussion during a planetary committee meeting at Wesleyan.The Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) met at Wesleyan’s Woodhead Lounge July 20-22. COMPLEX advises the National Academies’ Space Studies Board on the entire range of planetary system studies that can be conducted from space as well as on ground-based activities in support of space-based efforts.

The 10-member committee assists the board in carrying out studies, monitoring the implementation of strategies, and providing evaluations of programs and strategic priorities for NASA and other government agencies.

Martha Gilmore, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences and COMPLEX member, coordinated the Wesleyan meeting. The committee meets about three times a year in various locations.

“Some of the work we performed in this meeting is to consider some of the consequences of the change to a new NASA administrator and the president’s Vision for Space Exploration on solar system exploration priorities as they were defined by the community prior to these changes,” Gilmore says. “It is anticipated that the group will formulate and participate in studies to address this issue.”

Andrew Dantzler and Douglas McCuistion of NASA Headquarters provided a Mars Exploration Program status report and the status of NASA solar system exploration activities.

In addition, Gilmore spoke about the geology and rocks from the opening of the Atlantic Ocean; James Greenwood, research assistant professor and visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, spoke about geochemistry of a martian ocean; and William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of the Van Vleck Observatory, discussed the circumstellar disk of KH15D.

Members of the board included representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, University of California, Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University.

For more information on the committee or their projects, visit: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/complex1.html or http://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/explore_main.html.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Procurement Specialist is Wesleyan’s Top Negotiator


Olga Bookas, procurement specialist, negotiates prices and purchases mailing equipment, furniture, paint, light bulbs, and even window shades for the university.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Q: When were you hired in Financial Services as a procurement specialist?

A: I started working at Wesleyan in January 2005.

Q: Please explain what a procurement specialist means.

A: I am responsible for negotiating and developing contracts with vendors. Some of my purchasing duties include processing purchase orders for furniture, lease copiers, cell phones. I also meet with Wesleyan colleagues to determine their purchasing requirements and then I meet with vendors to ensure that they are reliable and can support the university with quality, service and best price.

Q: What do you purchase for the university?

A: Pretty much anything a university employee needs my assistance with! When I first started here, one of my first objectives was to negotiate the office supplies contract. We are very pleased with the results and the huge savings. Other purchases include the centralization and implementation for new Pitney Bowes mailing equipment, furniture, paint, light bulbs, window shades and much more. In addition, I search for new vendors and find creative opportunities on how to save money for the university.

Q: How much money are we talking about?

A: For example, Lisa Davis and I worked as a team and convinced four other departments to centralize all outgoing mail and eliminate the leases for additional meters. Cost savings for the university resulted $60,000 for a five year contract. Mike Conte and I have finalized the elevator agreement. I am currently assisting Peter Staye in negations for the water treatment and oil proposals.

Q: You have 18 years experience in customer service and purchasing. Can you elaborate on your past careers?

A: Although I worked at Superior Electric for 11 years, I believe my career started when I worked for Heublein. I was the international customer service leader selling Smirnoff and other spirits all over the world! I truly believe in customer service. I feel that we need to service our internal and external customers the best and fastest way we can! I gained vast experience on international laws, shipping, exporting goods, and had fun selling some of our best wines to the Army!

Q: How did you come to Wesleyan?

A: My career changed due to Heublein’s downsizing. After taking a year off, I completed my associate’s degree and within a month, I was hired at Associated Spring/Barnes Group as a purchasing assistant. My love to negotiate started to flourish when I started to deal with vendors. My path brought me to Wesleyan where I strongly believe that working together as a team we can achieve huge savings for the university and continue to implement purchasing procedures and processes to make it easier for our internal customers and departments.

Q: Was it a straightforward or challenging transition from the corporate world?

A: I always wanted to work for an educational institution where one can excel and bring new ideas. My experience so far has been rewarding and a little challenging at times. I like challenges because I feel it is a great opportunity to learn and try new things.

Q: Can you fill me in on any new initiatives or projects?

A: We have successfully launched the office supplies project where 95 percent of our employees go to our Web site and place their orders on line. That is a huge time savings!

Q: How do these purchasing skills carry over into your personal life?

A: I do watch prices either at grocery stores or when I purchase items for the house. I do the negotiating. Negotiating for me comes natural.

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I obtained an associate’s degree in business management from Tunxis Community College and a bachelor’s of science degree from Saint Joseph’s College.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

A: I love to walk and listen to Greek music. I have a couple of friends that I go walking with almost every morning at 4:45 a.m. and at night. Also, I like to read a lot. My favorites are mystery and murder novels.

Q: Are you involved in any volunteering activities?

A: I volunteer a lot of my time to my church. I teach the Greek Language to children and adults at my church. The class began with only five children and two adults three years ago and now we have over 30 children and seven adults. I’ve also been president of the Philoptochos Society for 15 years. Philoptochos means “Friend of the Poor.” This women’s organization is the right hand of the Greek Orthodox Church. I also have been one of the Friendly Visitors at the local convalescent homes visiting the elderly once a week.

Q: Would you like to tell me about your family?

A: My husband, Tony, and I have been married for 35 years and live in Bristol. We have two children, George and Angela and a dog named Liza. Our son and his wife, Renee, also live in Bristol. Angela lives in our apartment upstairs. We feel blessed that our family lives so close because all our extended relatives are back in Athens, Greece.

Q: Greece. So that would explain your accent.

A: Yes. My coworkers tell me that I have a cute Greek accent. My voice is easily recognized.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of the Green Street Arts Center Promotes Creativity in the Classroom


 
At top, Ricardo Morris, director of the Green Street Arts Center, is developing classes for the center’s fall semester.

At right, Morris enjoys a snack with participants of the Free Lunch Program inside the center in Middletown’s North End.

 
Posted 08/17/05

When Ricardo Morris taught English in public schools, he refused to let his students simply read “Beowolf.” The class would feast, dance and listen to 10th century music – all before opening the epic narrative.

His unconventional teaching methods, however, weren’t appreciated beyond the classroom.

“I was sent to the principal’s office far more than any of my students,” he says, smiling. “I was always looking for new ways to teach literature, and although the students loved it, the principal didn’t always like my holistic-approach.”

Nowadays, his avant-garde lessons are encouraged and respected. As director of the Green Street Arts Center, Morris constantly invents ways to bring creativity into the classroom.

Via Green Street’s After School Program, Morris immerses youngsters in the visual, media, dramatic and literary arts and music. During the evening, he ensures adults and families express themselves through acting to the latest hip hop moves.  

“Arts are essential to life,” he explains. “We’re not trying to turn our students into artists, but expose them to the arts, and hopefully that will improve the quality of their life. You don’t know what you like until you try it.”

Morris – a musician, dancer, director, teacher and arts administrator  – was brought on to direct the art center just 12 months before its grand opening in January 2005. The center’s location in the heart of the Middletown’s North End was a familiar environment for the Chattanooga, Tennessee native.

“I grew up in a very similar community,” Morris explains. “It was predominately black, underprivileged, distressed and poor. So working here in a similar neighborhood was appealing. I was excited to start something from scratch while helping to revitalize the neighborhood.”

Morris was responsible for the overall look and feel of the center, sponsored by Wesleyan, the City of Middletown and the North End Action Team. He used his knowledge of feng shui along with Centerbrook architects, feng shui consultant Pat McGrath, and Jerry Zinser to develop the center’s practical layout and powerful color scheme. The Arts Café, for example, is painted in cornflower blue to calm children prior to their art lessons. The visual arts studios are neutral-colored and lit with natural sunlight.

“Initially, they were going to have the administration offices up front, but I didn’t want students coming in and seeing offices,” he says from his rear-corner office. “They should see dance and music activity happening. So I suggested we flip the plan, and put the offices back here, hidden away.”

Morris, the oldest of five children, is the first and only member of his family to go to college. After earning his bachelor’s degree in speech and theater from Tennessee State University in 1985, he returned to Chattanooga and taught school for eight years.

During his summers off, Morris attended summer institutes studying theater and writing. And in 1994, he applied at Yale, graduating three years later with a master’s of fine arts in art administration.

While in New Haven as a graduate student, Morris founded the Dwight/Edgewood Project, collaboration between Yale School of Drama students and children in the Dwight/Edgewood neighborhood.  Before accepting his new position at Wesleyan, Morris was the executive director of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Carver Theatre for the Performing Arts in Birmingham, Alabama. He also served as director of arts in education for Allied Arts of Chattanooga where he was responsible for the inclusion and promotion of the arts in schools in southeastern Tennessee. 

Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, says it took the Green Street Arts Center search committee eight months to find a Green Street director.

“Ricardo is a triple threat: artist, educator and administrator,” Tatge says. “He was the only candidate who had this kind of a varied resume alongside a history of living and working in neighborhoods like the one we have in the North Ends. “He hit the ground running last year and pulled everything together so we could open GSAC this past January. His work at integrating the center into the life of the neighborhood, into Middletown’s arts scene, and into the life of our campus has been exceptional.”

At Green Street, Morris hired an assistant director, Manny Rivera; an administrative assistant, Rachel Roccaberton, several community volunteers, 40 teaching artists and over 50 Wesleyan-students, which work as teaching assistants and tutors.

“North End parents wanted their students to have contact with Wesleyan students,” Morris says. “They believed that the Wesleyan students’ ‘I can accomplish anything’ attitude would rub off on their kids. That they’ll learn that there are no rules to what you can do in life if you work hard.”

Morris often works a 12-hour day. The center opens at 9 a.m. and the community is welcome anytime. This summer at 11:30 a.m., Morris hosts a free lunch program for community children that also introduces them to a variety of arts disciplines . During the regular school year between 3 and 6 p.m., he helps oversee the center’s after-school program, which hosts 7-18-year-olds for visual and applied art, dance, theater, music and film classes. And between 1 and 10 p.m., Morris supervises the adult and family classes and workshops, taught by visiting and Wesleyan artists.

Classes range from line dancing, sound design and digital photography to playwriting, bomba drumming and Vejigante mask making, and much more.

In fact, he has personally helped out by assisting instructors in ballet, modern dance and recorder classes.

During the facility’s first semester, the GSAC had 52 after-school students and 120 adults. Morris’ goal for the upcoming year is to continue spreading the word about Green Street and enroll 90 students in the after-school program and 250 in the adult evening classes.

“Monday through Saturday, we want these classes filled to capacity,” he says.

To stay in tune with the North End and surrounding community, Morris is a member of the North End Action Team, and discusses public safety, housing, police protection and other issues with the community. He has a plot in the community garden, and helps train working artists to become teaching artists.

“It’s important to be visible in the community,” he says. “I want the community to know Green Street has their best interest at heart and they can trust that we’re not going anywhere.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Psychology Department Welcomes New Assistant Professor


Steven Stemler, a new assistant professor of psychology, will teach Psychological Statistics this fall.
 
Posted 08/17/05
Steve Stemler has joined the Psychology Department as an assistant professor.

In an era of increasing specialization, Stemler says he admires Wesleyan for recognizing the importance of training undergraduate students to value the diversity of knowledge accumulated across different fields of study.

“There is a tremendous value to studying such topics as classical languages, hard sciences, social sciences and the arts simultaneously,” he says. “I believe that a liberal arts education results in a well-rounded person who will be capable of seeing broad perspectives on complex issues without being stuck into the kind of black and white thinking that seems to be increasingly encouraged in today’s society.”

This fall, Stemler will be teaching Psychological Statistics and anticipates teaching other courses on educational psychology, intelligence, the psychology of good and evil and the psychology of conflict resolution.

The Washington State native received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington and his master’s of education and Ph.D from Boston College. He completed his postdoctorial research at Yale University.

Before coming to Wesleyan, Stemler was the assistant director of the Yale University Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE) for more than three years. He also held an appointment with the Framingham State College International Educational Program, a program in which faculty members are sent to various developing countries to teach intensive, two-week courses in their area of specialization. Stemler taught courses in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Stemler’s research intertwines education and psychology. He studies the purposes of schooling articulated by school mission statements, historical documents, legal court precedent and other sources. His goal is to develop assessments of creativity, wisdom, social and emotional skills that meet the same rigorous standards for testing quality as conventional tests.

He presented a paper titled “Measuring teachers’ practical skills,” at the annual meeting of the International Association of Cognitive Education and Psychology in Durham, England in July; and another paper titled “Practical intelligence and teacher preparation” at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Montreal, Quebec in April.

Stemler lives in Hamden, Conn. with his wife Karen and their two yellow labs, Alex and Jack. He enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, walking the dogs, and spending time with his wife.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor