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NSF Grant to Support Women’s Advancement in the Geosciences


In center, Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, teaches visiting 5th grade students about rocks. O’Connell was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support building a community of women geoscience leaders.
Posted 04/02/07
A three-year, $488,367 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Mary Anne Holmes, research associate professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will help women from all academic levels take part in a community that stresses professional development in the geosciences.

The project, titled, “Building a Community of Women Geoscience Leaders” is funded by the NSF’s ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation and Dissemination Award. Wesleyan’s portion of the grant is$259,593.

“We want to overcome isolation, a known factor in the non-retention of women scientists, teach women skills to help them succeed in academia, and develop strategies with female and male department chairs to develop an environment that is more supportive of women,” O’Connell says.

The grant will fund a program designed to increase the retention of women in geoscience programs. The program, called GANE, or Geoscience Academics in New England, will target colleges and universities located in the northeast region of the country.

O’Connell and Holmes hope to implement professional development workshops and writing retreats to provide women necessary skills to reach their full potential as academic and scientific leaders. Geoscience department chairs will be offered special workshops, as well, with an emphasis on increasing gender balance. These workshops will address strategies to increase department diversity, while providing a productive environment for all faculty.

A database of academic geoscientists will be created to measure progress. Results may be shared with other regions across the country.

O’Connell and Holmes are both members of the Association for Women Geoscientists, an international organization devoted to enhancing the quality and level of participation of women in the geosciences. It also aims to introduce girls and young women to geoscience careers. In 2000, O’Connell was given the association’s Outstanding Educator Award.

O’Connell says it was a physician who inspired her to become a professional woman. When O’Connell was 10, she fell off a fence and was taken to the hospital. Lying for hours in a large green room, she saw many incredible sights, but what amazed her most at the time was that the person who treated her was a woman.

“A woman doctor! That was a revelation,” O’Connell recalls. “At that time, I was planning to be a nun, but now it occurred to me that maybe I could be a doctor. That woman, just by her presence, started me thinking. Like that physician, we are all role models. Who knows what ideas we can implant in young heads.”

O’Connell didn’t grow up to be a physician or nun, but she did receive a Ph.D studying marine sediments, focusing on how large quantities of land sediment get transported to the deep sea by turbidity currents. She teaches Wesleyan students about sedimentology, marine geology, climate change and oceanography, and researches past climate change by studying sediment cores from the ocean.

“I don’t think we can always know how we are influencing others,” O’Connell says. “But I do think that we, as women geoscientists, help every young girl to know that she has wider career options. It’s often not easy, but it is exciting.”

O’Connell was featured in the March 2007 issue of Nature, Volume 446 Number 7133, in an article titled, “Leaks in the pipeline: Why do women remain curiously absent from the ranks of academia?” The article is online at http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2007/070315/full/nj7133-346a.html.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Watson Fellowship Allows Seniors to Study Abroad


 
At left, Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 received Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowships, which facilitate independent projects abroad.
Posted 04/02/07
Two Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct independent studies as Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellows.

Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 each received the $25,000 award. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship provides graduating college seniors with a one year fellowship to explore an independent project outside of the United States, to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

Approximately 195 students were nominated to be Watson Fellows; of these, only 50 were accepted. They come from 24 states and seven foreign countries.

Louise Brown, associate dean of the college and campus liaison, nominated Bishop and Senderowicz.

“We are delighted that Marlon and Leigh will have this unequaled opportunity to experience learning on a global scale, “Brown says. “They will not only engage in a project about which they are passionate, but also experience the personal and intellectual stretch from undertaking an independent project in countries outside the United States. Being awarded seven fellowships over the past five years is a wonderful recognition of the intellect, creativity and character of Wesleyan students.

Bishop will travel to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Ecuador and Brazil for his study “From Punta to Palos: Exploring the Hidden Afro-Latino Musics.” Senderowicz will travel to Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey for a study titled “Taboo and Tolerance: Reproductive Health in Cultural Context.”

Bishop’s psroject comes from a personal musical connection to the African-derived musical styles of the United States, a great interest in Latin America and its cultural milieu, and a musicological education at Wesleyan. The Queens, N.Y. native started playing piano when he was 10, and started performing musical jams at the age of 14. He’s explored rock, American blues, soul, funk, jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, and at the age of 16, developed a fascination for Latin American culture and music during a visit to Peru.

Bishop recalls playing his charango, a small Andean string instrument, and a group of teenagers with guitars and flutes came by, curious to see what a “fair-haired gringo” was doing with a local instrument. Though he only knew a handful of chords, it was enough to play along and he and the Peruvians spent the rest of the day playing.

“Though I spoke little Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate meaningfully with people who lived a world apart through music,” Bishop says. “The Watson year will take my personal, musical, and academic development to the next level, synthesizing the knowledge I have achieved into a single vision of the cultural processes that make music what it is.”

Senderowicz will look at how women’s health is affected by the laws of a nation, the dictates of culture, the directives of religion, the politics of international development organizations, and the values of the women themselves. Specifically, she will examine reproductive health choices by looking at the situation at each rung of the ladder as aid money travels from international organizations down to women seeking health care.

She intends to talk with administrators, doctors, nurses, traditional health care practitioners, and most importantly, women seeking reproductive health care at non-governmental organizations and local health clinics.

“The biggest thing I hope to accomplish is gaining a sense of what my role in a broader global context should be,” Senderowicz says. “I’m going to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a chance to re-engage and try to figure out where I can make positive interventions.”

The foundation selects its fellows by identifying individuals who demonstrate leadership, resourcefulness, imagination or vision, independence, integrity, responsibility and emotional maturity and courage. A candidate’s academic record, while not of primary importance, is also considered, together with those extracurricular activities that reflect both initiative and dedication.

Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects. Fellows set their agenda and decide how questions can be answered, when it is time to move on, if a project must be adjusted in any way. All fellows are required to maintain contact with the foundation during their year abroad, and submit a final evaluation.

“I’m very lucky not to have to jump into the grind of a career, and want to make the most possible out of this year,” Bishop says. “A year of travel, adventure, new sights and sounds, education, the joy of exploration of a little-studied subject. It all sounds like a great experience.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Secretary Assists Coaches, Administrators, Student with Athletic, Physical Education Needs


Nancy Chesbro, secretary for the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, attends several Wesleyan athletic events. She’s worked in the department for 26 years.
 
Posted 04/02/07
Q: Nancy, you’ve been a secretary in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics for 26 years. What led you here in the first place?

A: I had worked in the Physical Education Department at the University of Connecticut, so when I decided to look for a job in Middletown, Wesleyan was the logical place to start. When I was offered a position in Physical Education it was a perfect match for me. I started with a part-time position, which was helpful since I had children in elementary school and I was able to be home when they were. The job worked itself into a full-time position.

Q: When you started, where was your office located?

A: The Athletic office was located on Wyllys Avenue, in a place which is now a parking lot. The department moved as a whole from Wyllys to the Freeman Athletic Center in June of 1990.

Q: What are your primary job responsibilities? What goes on during the day?

A: My main responsibilities are to assist the coaches and administrators in any way they need help. Recruiting goes on all year and much time is spent doing mailings. I am also responsible for the team rosters which appear on the athletic Web pages, officials for all games, facility user memberships, faculty and staff lockers, coordinating our banquets and gate receipts at all home football games. I am also the administrative support person for the Adult Fitness Program.

Q: How often do you interact with Wesleyan coaches and Wesleyan athletes?

A: I interact with all coaches on a daily basis. I get to know students that come by the office frequently.

Q: What goes on during a day at the office?

A: Each day is different. You have to be able to work with interruptions and be ready to change your focus in a minute. Many prospective students and parents stop by the office daily and you always have to be ready to speak with them and get them to the coach they are seeking. I could be anywhere in this building and be working.

Q: Do you attend any of the athletic events at Wesleyan?

A: My husband and I attend many of the athletic events. We traveled to Florida over spring break the past few years with the women’s lacrosse team and have had a great time with the coaches and athletes. We also travel to some of the away events with Bowdoin being the longest trip.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: I like it here, the atmosphere is friendly and we have a great group of coaches and staff. I enjoy the changes that take place every season, which makes the job new and exciting, and rarely boring.

Q: What is your favorite sport?

A: My husband and I are golfers so we like to spend vacations playing golf. We have spent many vacations playing in North and South Carolina and Florida. I think the most famous courses we have played are Pinehurst and The Legends in North Carolina and Yale, TPC at River Highlands and Lake of Isles in Connecticut.

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: I have two children, and three grandchildren. My son and son-in-law are both golf course superintendents at private courses and my daughter is a physical education teacher in the Middletown school system. My grandsons are 4, 3 and 6 months. The 3-year-old already has a pretty mean golf swing. He asks to go to the course.

Q: Red Sox or Yankees?

A: Go Yankees!
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Selects 16th President

Michael S. Roth, a historian and president of California College of the Arts, will become the 16th president of Wesleyan at the beginning of the 2007-08 academic year.

Roth, a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1978, has been a professor in history and the humanities since 1983 and is recognized both as a curator and author. He is noted for founding the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, Calif., as a center for intellectual exchange across disciplines, for his scholarly leadership in the arts community as associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and for enhancing the academic excellence, national reputation and financial strength of California College of the Arts (CCA).

“Michael Roth embodies the qualities of leadership that Wesleyan strives to instill in its students,” says Wesleyan Board of Trustees Chair James van B. Dresser ’63, P’93. “His broad intellectual curiosity and his great personal energy have enabled him to drive innovation across a range of disciplines and in a variety of institutional settings. I can think of no one better suited to lead Wesleyan as we continue to build and promote its academic strengths and to enhance students’ experiences.”

Roth traces his scholarly and administrative successes back to his undergraduate experience. “I discovered my intellectual passions at Wesleyan,” he notes. “Over time I came to appreciate more fully that the gifted teachers I had were consistently advancing knowledge through both their classroom work and their scholarship. This experience shaped how I have approached my own historical work, as well as the values I have brought to academic leadership throughout my career. The bridging of disciplines, the efforts to foster intellectual community, the pursuit of problem-oriented research, and the combination of art and public culture have been expressions of the intellectual principles I first encountered at Wesleyan. I look forward to connecting to my roots while helping to build the future of the institution.”

Faculty Finds Strongest Evidence Yet of Link Between CO2 and Global Temperature Change


A study by Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, has established a calculable relationship between increases in CO2 and global surface temperatures.
Posted 04/02/07
The connection between CO2 concentrations and increased global temperatures just gained a significant amount of evidence – about 420 million years worth of evidence, to be specific.

In a paper published in the March 29 issue of Nature, Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, and two colleagues from Yale University have used nearly 500 data points to create the most comprehensive model of the relationship between CO2 and temperature to date. The findings indicate that over the last 420 million years increases in CO2 in the atmosphere have had a direct and calculable relationship to increases in global surface temperatures.

Royer is the study’s primary investigator; his co-authors on the paper are Robert Berner and Jeffrey Park who are both faculty at the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University.

The study provides the strongest and most conclusive evidence to date that, in the history of the Earth, rises in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are directly linked to increases in global surface temperatures.

“This link has been established by previous studies, but the most expansive of these only went back about 15,000 years,” Royer says. “That’s barely a blink of an eye in terms of the life of the planet. Our study went back much further in time. It was intriguing that much of what we found was consistent with these other studies.

Specifically, what Royer and his co-investigators found was that every doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations resulted in an approximately 3° C (approx 5 ° F) increase in global surface temperature. This ratio is consistent with shorter-term models and surveys.

Of course, identifying accurate data points for atmospheric CO2 are what make studies such as these difficult. Before approximately 50 years ago, there were no atmospheric CO2 measurements made directly by human beings. However, scientists have been able to use a variety of methods that rely on studies of soil, sediments, sea beds, and even fossils.

“One method involves analyzing the stomata of certain kinds of fossilized plants,” Royer says. “When the CO2 concentrations are higher, plants will have fewer pores for gas exchange. When it is lower, these plants will have more pores. This information can be combined with what we know about the temperature and other environmental factors from that period in a particular kind of modeling.”

Royer and his fellow researchers were able to draw together the data generated from a variety of methods to create their study.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Postal Clerk Expert on Haitian Music, Celebration


Holly Nicolas, postal clerk at Wesleyan Station, helps two students send their mail. He was recently featured on Afropop Worldwide Radio.
 
Posted 04/02/07
It’s 20 minutes after noon and postal clerk Holly Nicolas heads to the Wesleyan Station window. Students begin trickling into a line. Some want to send letters, others wait to pick up packages.

“When the students get out of class, we really get hit,” Nicolas says in his Creole-accented English.

Holly, pronounced “O-Lee,” is a Haitian native who moved to the United States in 1993. His days begin with sorting incoming mail for the university’s faculty, staff and students. At 10 a.m., Wesleyan Station opens and Nicolas, fellow postal clerk Illana Konerding and student workers service the window until it closes at 3 p.m.

“It’s fun to interact with the university’s faculty, staff and students every day, and I like when I can put a face with a name,” Nicolas says. “Working here, you see people’s names over and over and it’s good to know who they are. The students are surprised when I can know their mailbox number off the top of my head, but when you look at them every day; it stays in your head.”

If a mail carrier is out, Nicolas often volunteers to deliver the campus-wide mail. He’ll also work on mail forwarding and sorting mail throughout the day.

The heaviest mail season occurs during the first few weeks of the academic year. During this time, “tons and tons” of packages arrive to Wesleyan Station containing students’ clothing and school supplies, Nicolas says. The mail traffic slows, but picks up again around Feb. 14.

“Valentine’s Day is so busy,” Nicolas says, smiling. “There are lots and lots of flowers to deliver.”

In addition to his mail duties, Nicolas has one other job requirement – playing the role of deejay for Wesleyan Station. The lifelong music lover is an expert on Haitian beats, from traditional kompa dance music to band a pied, which is played with brass horns and drums.

“Holly is a very important person here,” explains Konerding. “He is great with the customers, fixes anything that breaks around here, and most importantly, he is in charge of all of our music.”

In February, Nicolas was featured on Afropop Worldwide Radio. The interview of Nicolas was conducted by Sean Barlow ’79, president of World Music Productions/Afropop Worldwide Radio in Brooklyn, and freelance guitarist and Afropop Worldwide host Banning Eyre ’80. The recording is online here.

Nicholas talked about his memories of Haitian Carnival. The carnival season begins Jan. 6 on Three Kings Day and runs until Fat Tuesday. During the last three days of this period, some Haitians dress in colorful costumes and dance, sing, dance and celebrate their culture.

The celebration was a tradition for Nicolas, who grew up in Ouanaminthe, a small town that borders the Dominican Republic on the northeast of Haiti. During one carnival, he recalls, local musicians sang about a woman who stole a chicken.

“That was funny to me, because I knew that woman. She lived next to me,” he says.

This is Nicolas’ eighth year working at Wesleyan. In the early 1990s, he met Wesleyan’s Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor religion, African American Studies and American Studies. McAlister was in Haiti, studying Haitian traditions and Voodoo. The couple married and spent three years trying to get Nicolas’ daughter, Lovely, to America. She is now 20 and a sophomore at Hampshire College.

Nicolas and McAlister live in Middletown with their children, Sacha, 13, and Julien, 8. He enjoys cooking Haitian food for his family and playing intramural soccer.

He returns to his native country once a year but never regrets moving to the U.S.

“Moving to American was a good move for me, but it was especially a good move for my daughter, who now lives in a safer environment with better educational opportunities,” he says. “We are both very fortunate.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

ETCHED IN TIME: Annalisa Kelly ’08 and Evan Barton ’08 discuss artist Jim Dine’s The Pine in a Storm of Aquatint (1978) displayed at Davison Art Center’s gallery March 8. The piece was part of the DAC’s exhibit “Etching Since 1950.”

Kelly looks over a seven-plate etching from artist Mimmo Paladino titled Among the Olive Trees (1984). The print was acquired by the Friends of Davison Art Center in 1985.

A print titled Incubus (1998) by David Schorr, professor of art, was on display in a glass case inside the gallery. This sequence of proof states record Schorr’s process as he developed a single image, created on a copper plate. Schorr’s art was among more than 30 etchings on display. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Blumenthal Featured at Wesleyan Earth Day Celebration


Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will speak April 18 on campus.
Posted 03/16/07
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will deliver a keynote address on Connecticut’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming at Wesleyan University’s Earth Day celebration at 8 p.m. April 18 in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward in the adjoining Zelnick Pavilion.

The presentation is being sponsored by The Robert Schumann Lecture Series in the Environmental Studies Certificate Program.

For more information, contact Valerie Marinelli at 860-685-3733 or vmarinelli@wesleyan.edu.

Computer Protocols Changed to Insure Private Network


Wesleyan will keep its Internet services private.
Posted 03/16/07
Wesleyan will adjust its computer network access protocols in order to remain exempt from an order by the Federal Communications Commission that requires facilities-based Internet service providers to engineer their networks to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders.

The changes, intended to ensure that the university’s network is viewed as “private” and thus exempt, include requiring log-ins for access to the campus wireless network, kiosks and library computers. To facilitate guest use, each Wesleyan user will be able to request as many as five guest accounts through the electronic portfolio; each guest account will remain active for three days. ITS expects to have these changes implemented in May.

The 2005 FCC order extends the terms of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to facilities-based Internet service providers. CALEA is a federal law that requires providers of commercial voice services to engineer their networks in such a way as to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders. Only private networks are exempt from the FCC order. Analyses by EDUCAUSE and the American Council on Education support the use of two criteria in determining whether a college or university can hold itself exempt: it may not own the hardware that connects its network to the Internet, and it must authenticate all users who access the Internet from its network. The hardware Wesleyan uses is owned by the Connecticut Education Network.

The right of law enforcement agencies to legally intercept all forms of communication, including the Internet, and use the results as evidence in a court of law has existed since 1968. CALEA does not change the legal requirements to wiretap. CALEA requires providers to engineer their systems to make wiretapping easier and less expensive for law enforcement; in doing so, it places what can be a significant financial burden on the provider.
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs

Student Selected to Join Institute for Responsible Citizenship

 

Posted 03/16/07
This summer, Gaël Hagen ’09 will be doing something a little different than he’s used to. Specifically, he’ll have the opportunity to meet with such high-level government officials including Supreme Court Justices, the Secretary of State, U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, as well as business leaders.

Hagen, pictured at right, is a newly-selected scholar to the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership program centered at Georgetown University. Each year, 24 minority male students are selected to participate in the two-summer program in Washington, D.C. During the first summer, students take courses on campus while interning in the D.C. Metro area. During the second summer, students work full-time and act as mentors to the next group of 24 newly-admitted candidates.

“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen among a group of individuals who all are highly talented and have managed to do astonishing things with their lives thus far,” Hagan says. “It will be both a great honor and a privilege to be a part of the institute and enjoy all it has to offer.”

A stipend is provided to cover the cost of transportation and food. Students live in university housing provided by the institute during the program.

Hagen, who is studying in the College of Social Studies, became interested in law during high school. Since then, he’s tried to immerse himself in as many law-related activities as possible; the institute being one of them. The institute will provide him with not only a legal internship in America’s political powerbase, but offer encouragement within a valuable academic and social environment.

“What personally draws me to law is the way in which it demands a person to perform and analyze in a constantly changing environment,” Hagen says. “The practice of law, at least as I have witnessed it, is something that is never a stagnant ordeal. New cases provide new hurdles, new personalities, and new problems. It seems as though it requires a person who likes a consistent challenge.”

A resident of Centennial, Colorado, Hagen came to Wesleyan, seeking a university that offered a new environment. He favored the College of Social Studies for its closeness and intensity. He also joined the crew team as a freshman, looking for a different kind of intensity.

“Certainly the culture here is much different than in Colorado, or most places west of here, for that matter; so it was a compelling move,” Hagen says. “For some, being involved in a two-season sport like crew and studying in the College of Social Studies is an all but desirable combo; but for me, it means that every day I get to do the two things that I love most about being at Wesleyan.”

A recipient of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Academic Scholarship for his academic achievements, Gaël was also named Student of the Year by the Colorado Association of Black Engineers and Scientists in 2005 for his distinguished leadership skills. Last summer, Gaël interned at Holland and Hart LLP, where his proficiency in French aided the firm immeasurably.

Hagan says his background and cultural experience provides him with a toolset and a perspective with which he can employ as a unique advantage, not only at Wesleyan but at the institute.

“The experience of the American minority is one that is highly important for the country as a whole given its ‘melting pot’ origins, and I think that our voice is one that is, and rightfully should be represented and respected in the nation’s judicial activities,” he says.

On the other hand, Hagan winces at sloppy references to cultural or ethnic groups as just ‘the minorities’ and ‘people of color.’ He believes it places too much emphasis on a separation of cultures, which only discourages unity and distances people from each other.

“I do not consider myself to be a minority or a ‘person of color’ before I consider myself a young person, a student, a person with career goals, an athlete; no different from any other person who might fit those categories,” he says. “Yes, I happen to have a multi-ethnic background which, if I were to explain in depth, would span four continents; but I don’t feel that those are my primary personal attributes and encourage people in both camps – ‘the minority’ and ‘the majority’ — to understand not how their cultural experiences differ them from others, but how their cultural experiences connect them to others.”
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

WesLink Connects Campus to Business Opportunities, Events and Each Other


University Relations created WesLink for faculty, staff, students and alumni to post events.
Posted 03/16/07
On a single site, Wesleyan alumni can market their businesses, faculty can promote their newly-released books, students can seek volunteers for their community service projects, and much more.

WesLink, a Web site launched Feb. 16 by the Office of University Relations, enables all alumni, faculty, staff and students to post non-Wesleyan sponsored events, announcements, activities, and services to the greater Wesleyan community.

“We are always looking for opportunities to engage alumni with the university and with each other, and WesLink helps to bridge that engagement, while at the same time showcasing some of the extraordinary talents of the greater Wesleyan community,” explains Jennifer Jurgen, senior associate director of Regional Programs and Networks.

WesLink, https://weslink.wesleyan.edu/ is reserved for all members of the Wesleyan community. Users can post events occurring on or off campus. These events may be theater, music, comedy, literary, athletic or community-service related.

WesLink offers a dozen regional sections where alumni living in these areas can post their own local events. These sections include the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC, and Connecticut.

In addition, the site features sections on Real Estate and Housing, Wesleyan Authors, Reunion & Commencement Weekend 2007; Business Marketing and an Everything Else category.

The site is maintained by University Relations and Information Technology Services staff. The site mirrors the Wesleyan Classifieds, which was established in 2005.

“In the process of working with our regional club programming, we often hear from alumni who want to promote their theater events, concerts, comedy shows, art exhibits, etc,” Jurgen says. “Since the timing doesn’t always allow us to work these alumni-sponsored events into our club event calendars, we wanted to create a forum where they could still get their information out to the greater Wesleyan community.”

Wesleyan’s online newsletter, The Wesleyan Connection, and online magazine, The Wesleyan Extra, also receive dozens of e-mails each month from the campus community eager to announce upcoming events or business endeavors. WesLink will provide a venue for people to post these announcements if they are unable to be published in one of these publications.

WesLink was an instant success with alumni, who contributed more than two dozen postings in the site’s first week of being active.

Heidi Mastrogiovanni ’79 took advantage of the Los Angeles Events section by posting an animal rescue volunteer opportunity. In the ad, she mentions she is a board member of volunteer-operated Forgotten Animals of Los Angeles. Elizabeth Ehrlich ’04 posted an announcement of her business, Snuggle Up, in the Business and Marketing section of WesLink. In her posting, she mentions she is a stay-at-home mom selling personalized towels, hand-dyed clothing, fleece blankets and more for babies and kids.

“She sells baby clothes with watermelons painted on them. They are too cute. I had to send the link to three of my friends,” Jurgen says.

While the public may view the postings, only Wesleyan alumni, students, faculty, and staff have the ability to post items to WesLink. The site requires a Wesleyan username and password to log into the system. Users are allowed to upload one photo with each posting.

Items posted to the system automatically expire after 30 days, however users will be sent an email a week prior to the expiration date, which will offer the option to extend the posting for an additional month.

WesLink administrators reserve the right to edit or remove postings with inappropriate content.

For more information, to obtain a lost username or password, or to make a suggestion on the new system, e-mail weslink@wesleyan.edu.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Web Designer Creating Interactive Sites for Wesleyan Departments


Ryan Lee, Web designer, was instrumental in designing the “175 Years” logo, posted on the glass doors of Zelnick Pavilion, as well as numerous Wesleyan department Web sites.
 
Posted 03/16/07
Q: Ryan, when did you come to Wesleyan?

A: My first day here was Nov. 29, 2004—a day I remember vividly, as I had previously been unemployed with a new mortgage for four months. I was hired as a one-year temporary contract position, Web designer, which has since, thankfully, turned onto a permanent position.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, what was your Web experience?

A: My first job out of college was sort of a low-level Web-producer job for the New England Sports Network (NESN) in Boston. Less than a year after I started there, my boss left the company. I made my case to be elevated to Web master and was in that role for about a year and a half, during which time I redesigned and re-coded their site. Through a corporate re-shuffling, I was then sent to work for Boston.com as an online sports producer working in the Boston Globe’s main newsroom. Boston.com is a 24-hour news operation working at a pace that grinds people up and I got burned out there after a couple years of doing sports updates and a minimal amount of design work.

Q: Where are you from, where did you attend college, and what did you major in?

A: I grew up in Old Lyme, Conn. After high school I went to the University of Connecticut for two years, splitting time as an undecided major between the Avery Point campus in Groton and the main campus. As a commuter, I was not getting the “college experience,” and UConn didn’t have the program I was really looking for. So I transferred to the Atlanta College of Art in Atlanta, Ga. and majored in digital multimedia. Living in the city for the first time really opened my eyes to the world in many ways.

Q: Please explain how digital multimedia is different than graphic design/print media.

A: Digital multimedia was the umbrella under which Web design, interactive CD-ROM creation, photography, video shooting and editing, sound editing, and some graphic design and typography all fell. I loved my major because I learned about all of these things.

Q: How do you give all the Wesleyan sites a consistent look, however give each its own identity?

A: It is important to stay within the main Wesleyan brand, and we try to adhere to certain color sets and layouts so the main site, as a whole, is not scattered all over the place. That being said, we do strive to give each department their own individual presentation to the world. Photography plays a leading roll in the sites we design. A strong representative photograph is such a powerful tool in establishing concepts and expectations, as well as familiarity for our audience. There are so many sub sites that if everything looked the same, that would be a real turn-off to potential students, parents, and anyone else looking for information about the school.

Q: What are some recent department sites you have worked on

A: Wesleyan University Press is one that just went live last week. I worked on a pretty fun design for the computer store, which is still in the works and a complete overhaul of the Department of Athletics site was a big project that I worked on with Sports Information Director Brian Katten all within the past several months. The Strength and Conditioning site was a fun project that we worked on with coach Drew Black who had the great idea of putting videos on his site of all the different weight lifting and other strength training movements online.

Q: Some of Wesleyan’s sites are interactive, such as the Virtual Wesleyan site and the Strength and Conditioning Web site. What programs do you use to create multimedia-based and interactive pages and will the Web at Wesleyan be seeing more of these?

A: The special sites are always fun to work on, and I have learned a lot about Adobe – formerly Macromedia – Flash since being here. Most of the interactive work is done in Flash and I think you will start to see more of that though not always in obvious ways. We added the Flash top of the homepage as part of the 175th celebration, and will replace it with something equally dynamic once the anniversary year comes to a close. Another dynamic site in the works is an online brochure for the upcoming Faculty Art exhibition, which will have a nice Flash opening page and everything beyond that page will dynamically pull from various databases. Mary Glynn and Pat Leone in Information Technology Services have been instrumental in helping bring this project to fruition.

Q: How is Web designing rewarding?

A: Even though a lot of the sites I work on wind up having a relatively similar look and feel, each does present its own challenges. I have worked quite a bit with ITS staff to further the use of the Channel Maker tool to create more dynamic sites that are easier to update, maintain, and sometimes to keep archives. The Wesleyan Extra site is one example of a site that is run almost entirely by Channel Maker. I used some of those technologies, and collaborated with Anne Marcotty, our department’s senior designer, to create the look. Anne maintains the Extra’s site. The idea is to make each site work within the department’s framework that they have in place for maintaining the content. We work with people of all different skill sets, and sometimes folks who have never edited a Web page in their lives. It is critical to these projects that the person I am handing them off to doesn’t look at the files and have no idea what to do with them. In that respect, part of the rewarding part of my job is working with people around campus to create the site that they are envisioning in their minds when they come talk to us, and deliver them something they are both proud of and not intimidated by.

Q: Although you are a Web designer, have you worked on other design-focused projects at Wesleyan?

A: Most of what I do is either online, or in some sort of digital format. It was, however, very rewarding to be part of the team that put together the 175th anniversary exhibit at Zelnick Pavilion that really transformed that building into a walk-through of Wesleyan’s illustrious history. It has also been a wild ride seeing the 175th anniversary logo that I sort of accidentally designed being used on everything from napkins to 60-foot tall banners on North College. I have a pretty good rapport with Steven Jacaruso, Wesleyan’s art director, and Bill Burkhart the university photographer, and have worked on various other projects with them as well.

Q: Are the sites a collaborative effort?

A: Definitely. Everything our office puts out there for the world to see is truly a team effort. I work very closely with Jen Carlstrom, director of New Media Services, on every project I do. Every project I am assigned comes through Jen, and if she thinks she may have me work on a project, she is great about inviting me to the initial meetings about those projects so I have a full understanding of what the “client” is looking for. We also have a critique process on a weekly basis so I get constant feedback from folks in my department. Pat Leone in ITS is also an instrumental part of what I do here at Wesleyan. She and I bounce coding ideas off each other on almost a daily basis and she has taught me a lot in the 2-1/2 years I have been here.

Q: You also are a student in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

A: My concentration is in the arts, with a strong tendency towards photography, which has always been a hobby of mine. Some of my My favorite classes so far were a three-week long intensive course taught by Bill Johnston, and then a rigorous documentary photography course about a year ago taught by Wes alumna Sasha Rudensky. It is amazing how many great people with similar interests you get to meet in the GLSP program, and I have kept in touch with many of my former classmates. Photography has always been a big part of my life. I am a very visual person and see the world in a pretty strange way. I am pretty much always looking for the right angle to look at something, or finding strange things that would make interesting photographs. I love shooting landscapes as well as macro pictures of things that become quite bizarre when their individual details are amplified. I have some of my work online at http://www.ryandlee.com in case anyone is interested.

Q: What are your other interests and hobbies?

A: A little over three years ago, my wife, Nicoletta, and I bought a house that has been in the family since my great-grandparents bought it brand new in 1948. It needs a lot of work. We’ve redone the kitchen and bathroom, transformed a one-car garage into our dining room, and added a sunroom off the back. This summer we plan to blow out the back half of the roof and put a full dormer across the back of the house to allow for a second bathroom and a couple bedrooms upstairs in what used to be the attic. It is fun and rewarding to do this work ourselves, with a lot of help by my parents. We also have a dog, four cats, and recently lost our guinea pig. Every one of our animals has been rescued from some sort of extenuating circumstances, and each is quite unique. I also am working on learning to speak Italian, which I have been far too lazy in picking up. Nicole’s whole family still lives in Italy and it’s about time I learn to converse with them — and my wife, of course — in their native language. Nicole and I also spend a good deal of time educating ourselves on ways to conserve energy and live more earth-friendly lives.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor