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Wesleyan Breaks Fund-Raising Record, Garners Award


Max Schenkein ’08 chats with an alumnus during a Wesleyan Fund fund-raising drive. Below, Sean Collins ’08 and Ana Lombera ’09 request gifts for Wesleyan. The student callers, along with staff in University Relations, helped raise more than $35 million this past year.
Posted 07/28/06
Wesleyan enters its 175th anniversary year celebration with a tremendous gift from its alumni, friends, and other supporters: a record-breaking $35,054,196 in cash gifts, surpassing the 2005 record by $3.7 million.

These funds will support financial aid, faculty, facilities, and programs. Fifty-four percent of alumni participated in giving to Wesleyan in 2006, equaling 2005’s participation rate.

The official tally, announced this week by Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, marks a significant milestone for Wesleyan.

“This generous support ensures Wesleyan’s future and announces to the worldwide Wesleyan community that our University is strong, getting stronger, and will be here for future generations,” Wilson says.

Wilson added that the Board of Trustees, President Douglas Bennet, alumni and parent volunteers including the Development Committee and the University Relations staff, are vital members of Wesleyan’s fund-raising effort.

“This development team represents a rare convergence of talent, skill, professionalism, dedication, and energy,” Wilson says.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) agrees with Wilson. CASE has awarded Wesleyan the CASE-Wealth ID Award for Educational Fund Raising: Overall Performance in the Private Liberal Arts Institutions category. In 2002, Wealth ID, a provider of wealth screening services and fund-raising solutions, joined CASE as a sponsor of the Educational Fund Raising Awards.

“What is best about the CASE Award is that this honor was awarded not for what Wesleyan received, but for what so many alumni, staff, and friends gave,” Wilson says. “The more we give, the more we receive. That defines the Wesleyan experience.”

“Wesleyan, already ranked highly for academic excellence, now demonstrates an exemplary new standard of excellence in support of private education through its fund-raising performance,” says Mark Bailey, director of Development Communications.

CASE, a nonprofit education association, supports educational institutions by enhancing the effectiveness of the alumni relations, communications and fund-raising professionals who serve it.

Other winners in the private liberal arts institution category include Amherst College in Massachusetts; Berea College in Kentucky; Bowdoin College in Maine; Middlebury College in Vermont; and Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

 
By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs. Photos contributed by Regan Schubel.

Iberian Studies Major Unveiled this Fall


A new Iberian Studies major will enable students to focus primarily on Iberia, mainly Spain, but includes Portugal and former colonies.
Posted 07/28/06
Iberian studies will be introduced as a new major by the Spanish section of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department this fall.

The major is designed for students interested in studying the literature, history, culture and society of the Iberian peninsula. The new major will complement the current Spanish major, which provides students with a broad knowledge of the Spanish-language literatures of Spain and Latin America.

“Over the years students have repeatedly expressed an interest in a Spanish major that would allow them to study Spain in depth,” says Michael Armstrong-Roche, associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and head of the Spanish section.

Iberian studies will enable students to focus primarily on Iberia, mainly Spain, but includes Portugal and former colonies.

Lynn Cartwright-Punnett ‘07, was happy to switch from her double major in Spanish and History to Iberian Studies and History this past spring.

“The Spanish major did a great job of integrating aspects of Spanish culture, but Spanish, as a major, also deals with Latin America, which I am less interested in,” says Cartwright-Punnett “Iberian Studies gives me more flexibility and relates more directly to my varied interests than purely literature based major would.”

Incoming Wesleyan sophomore Bryan Jones also plans on majoring in Iberian studies, primarily in order to master the Catalan language of the Iberian Peninsula.

“While visiting friends in Barcelona, I was intrigued by the Catalan language and culture, and have since obtained the desire to master that language as well as Spanish,” says Jones. “Clearly, the Iberian Studies major allows me to do so, as well as looks into the numerous
regions of Iberia, where the culture and language are as rich, profound, and intriguing.”

Armstrong-Roche says that Iberian studies majors such as Cartwright-Punnett and Jones may count up to four courses taken outside the Spanish section in English or Spanish.

“The requirements permit students to earn major credit for coursework on Iberia offered on campus outside the Spanish section, in the History Department, for instance, along with coursework on Iberia in fields other than literature offered by approved study abroad programs such as our own program in Madrid,” says Armstrong-Roche.

Iberian studies majors must qualify for the major with a grade of B- or better in Spanish 221 or the equivalent. Spanish 221 is not required but may be counted towards the major. Students are expected to maintain at least a B- average in the major program and are required to do a minimum of five of their nine required courses in Spanish literature with faculty from the Spanish section of Wesleyan’s Romance Languages and Literatures Department.

Armstrong-Roche says the Iberian studies major may interest students who want to pursue graduate work focused on Spain or other professional options that involve Spanish companies or international organizations.

Cartwright-Punnett plans on turning her thesis about sites of memory from the Spanish Civil War into a tourist guide book about the history of the war and to teach high school, where she can use her European History and Spanish background.

Jones is interested in working in Spain’s Catalonia region or in the U.S. teaching at a secondary school or hopes to land a job in international relations, either within a business or the government.

For more information about the Iberian studies major, please contact Michael Armstrong-Roche at 860-685-3128, e-mail marmstrong@wesleyan.edu or visit  http://www.wesleyan.edu/registrar/catalog/rlant.htm#Spanish.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Research Team Studies Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico


At top, Anda Greeney ’07 and Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, prepare to deploy a bathyphotometer, an instrument that measures bioluminescence, into a bay in Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico.

At right, Tim Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, shows students how to drill a core sample in a bay they are studying.

Posted 07/28/06
Ten miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, on the island of Vieques, three mangrove-lined bays are illuminated with unicellular marine life known as dinoflagellates. One of the bays has an unusually high abundance of these microscopic creatures that produce their own light through bioluminescence, a chemical reaction similar to the one that makes fireflies glow.

But why do these colorful creatures thrive so well in these bays? That is the question Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and Tim Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, want to answer.

As part of a grant-funded research study, O’Connell, Ku and Anna Martini of Amherst College took 13 students from eight colleges, including Anda Greeney ’07, Andrea Pain ’08 and Ulyana Sorokopoud ’08, to the Puerto Rican island for a two-week intensive study. The trip was succeeded by two weeks of lab analyses at Wesleyan and Amherst.

“This ecosystem is so special and we’re curious to know why so many dinoflagellates live here,” Ku says, browsing through digital photos of the turquoise-water bays. “It’s most likely very fragile. We hope to learn what could destroy them, and also, how to maintain a bay that supports this type of ecosystem.”

The study, supported by the Keck Geology Consortium (now funded by the National Science Foundation), began June 17. The students and researchers hauled along their necessary research equipment to the Caribbean, including sediment core samplers, water quality monitors and centrifuges.

They rented a house on the ocean, living on the top floor and using the main floor as a laboratory. Ku and O’Connell taught classes on the front porch, overlooking the water.

Every day, the group drove to the south-central side of Vieques, and studied the Puerto Mosquito, Puerto Ferro and Bahia Topin bays, each less than a mile apart from each other. The researchers studied the hydrodynamics of the water, present-day and past sediment sources, nutrient and metal cycles, and satellite imagery to see how the area has changed through anthropogenic development and hurricane activity. Studies were conducted by wading, snorkeling, kayaking or and boating in the bays, and core samples were taken of the layered sediment. These samples will be the basis of the student research throughout the year on campus.

Ku says the most bioluminescent bays in Vieques have a narrow opening to the ocean to maintain the necessary balance of temperature and water flow and; the surrounding mangroves may supply other key nutrients to feed the dinoflagellates. In addition, a nearby salt flat may be crucial in providing proper nutrients. On the neighboring island Jamaica, a bioluminescent bay no longer glows at night when developers decided to build a hotel in the salt flats to better see the bay.

“To conserve these fragile environments we need to understand how they function and how they respond to environmental threats,” O’Connell says.

The bays are a unique find, world-wide. For more than 60 years, they’ve have been untouched by developers. The U.S. Navy used sections of the island for military exercises, blocking access to the bays. In 2003, the land was transferred from the Navy to the U.S. Department of Fishing and Wildlife to become a wildlife refuge. Although the lack of development kept the area pristine, pollution from the Navy’s bombing residues is being studied and activities and plans are underway to clean-up material left by the Navy.

But it’s not only the toxic pollution that concerns the researchers. It’s actually light pollution encroaching on the bays. Light beaming from a full moon alone is enough to hide the brilliant bioluminescence. There are pressures from both individuals and the Puerto Rican government to develop the hills above the bay and in the public beach area to the west.

Wesleyan students Greeney, Pain and Sorokopoud, who were funded in-part by the Mellon and Hughes programs, will continue their research during the academic year. They’ve returned home with core samples, which will be examined in depth inside Wesleyan laboratories. O’Connell and Ku hope to obtain additional grant funding in the future to continue studying the unique ecosystem.

O’Connell made her first trip to Vieques seven years ago and returns each year, most recently to teach courses in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

“Once I saw these bays, I fell in love with them, and I want to study them and preserve them,” she says.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos contributed by Tim Ku and Suzanne O’Connell.

ITS VP Says His Department Can Handle Any Technology Problem


Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker has worked at Wesleyan 20 years. He was recently promoted to associate vice president of Information Technology Services.
 
Posted 07/07/06
When there’s nothing broken, don’t try to fix it.

That’s how Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker feels about Information Technology Services. The newly-promoted associate vice president of ITS says the university can feel comfortable that its technology needs are in good hands.

“I inherited a very hard working organization and I’m not intending to change anything drastically within the department,” Ravishanker says from his fifth floor office in Exley Science Center. “Technology problems can arise and hit us very fast, and our department is very capable of responding to these situations.”

This has always been the case, he says.

When Ravishanker arrived at Wesleyan 20 years ago, he shared a dual appointment in the former Wesleyan Computing Center and the Chemistry Department with David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics and professor of chemistry. Professor Beveridge’s group measured the movement of DNA molecules over time using molecular modeling program. Though they could only capture the motions over a hundred picoseconds (1 picosecond is one-trillionth of a second) the results from these simulations were huge.

He and Beveridge developed a program called Molecular Dynamics Analysis Toolchest, to analyze and present this data in a concise graphical format. This is still in active use by several molecular modeling labs.

“Keep in mind, this is 1986. Computer power was very limited, but we were doing cutting-edge simulations of DNA,” Ravishanker says. “It was very rare for a small university to have the computer equipment we had, and that has always been one of the best parts about working at Wesleyan. We are always able to go looking for the next best thing in technology and implement them.”

As technology became more complex, so did Ravishanker’s responsibilities. Although he enjoyed working in the Beveridge lab, he was offered a full-time management position in the Wesleyan Computing Center. The number of people using personal computers and applications such as e-mail was growing in leaps and bounds, and the Internet was just beginning to take form. Managing all these posed special challenges and Ravishanker wanted to be part of this, and jumped at the opportunity.

“I feel very privileged that I got to be part of the evolution of the Internet right from the start,” he says. “I had no idea the Internet would become so huge and simplify lives the way that it has. It’s been nothing but an exciting journey here.”

From 1994-1996, the Wesleyan Computing Center under went several iterations and changes in management. Ravishanker spent a year as interim director and was later promoted to director of Technology Support Services. He stayed in this role until June 2006, when he was promoted as associate VP.

“Ravi is one of the most energetic, customer-orientated, bright, down to earth, collegial people that I have ever worked with,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration. “I’m supremely confident he will guide ITS in a superb fashion in his new VP role.”

Ravishanker leads monthly meetings for the entire ITS department to keep everyone abreast on each other’s projects and upcoming deadlines. He offers help and advice to anyone who needs it, and enjoys taking on his own projects when time allows.

Ravishanker is the E-Portfolio’s author and wrote several of its applications, such as the bulk email system and various e-mail tools. He’s mastered several programming languages including as Java, FORTRAN and PERL and understands all e-mail, server and networking issues on campus.

“I used to be a very hands-on manager,” he says. “I wanted to be able to do anything anyone else in this department can do, in addition to being a manager. But that has to change now.”

Ravishanker, a native of Sri Lanka, attended college in southern India and earned a Ph.D in theoretical chemistry Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has always had an interest in technology.

In his new VP role, Ravishanker has two immediate goals in mind. He wants to make Web Mail more efficient. A group of ITS staff are currently implementing various technologies to accomplish this. He also wants to explore with the cooperation of ITS staff opportunities available through Web 2.0 and see how these services can be advantageous to Wesleyan. The term Web 2.0 refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that allows users to collaborate and share information online. He cites blogs and wikis as examples of Web 2.0 technologies. Leading by example, the “gone paperless” guru already uses a Web 2.0 blog to communicate with his department.

“Applying new Web technologies to enhance the sense of community and help collaborate better will be our goal in the coming year,” he says.

Ravishanker spends his free time playing golf and the occasional game of cricket. But he returns to the computer for his ultimate hobby – tuning into South-Indian music stations.

“I’m always humming along with them,” he says, smiling.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Chris Potter: Hockey, Golf Coach Busy on the Greens and Ice


Posted 07/07/06
Q: Chris, you’re the head men’s ice hockey coach and the head golf coach. How do you manage doing both?

A: I have a strong passion for both sports and I enjoy coaching both teams. It does get a little crazy, but being organized helps. Also, I have great support for both programs. Lastly, I am very fortunate to coach great student-athletes. They are very motivated and they know what it takes to balance their academics with athletics, which is not always easy.

Q: Who are your assistant coaches?

A: Jim Langlois and Matt Plante are assistant coaches in hockey. Jeff Gilarde is my assistant for golf. He has a great passion for the game and loves working with the players. Matt has been with me for two years and has been a tremendous asset for the program. We have been heavily recruiting for the past two years and he has done a great job. Jim has been with Wesleyan Hockey for more than 20 years and has a lot of experience in coaching. Having good people working with you is extremely important.

Q: How long have you coached at Wesleyan?

A: I have coached the hockey team for three years and the golf team for two and a half years.

Q: Do you consider ice hockey and golf at all similar?

A: I would have to say yes and no. I think the obvious reason for it not being the same is hockey is more of a team sport than golf. Golf you are out there on your own and you have to deal with ups and downs on your own. Golf can really test you mentally. Hockey from a coaching perspective is more difficult. We practice four days a week, focusing on how to get the team to work together to achieve our goal: winning. The team relies on individuals and the individuals rely on the team. I think where they may overlap is dealing with people on an individual basis. Coaching golf I tend to rely on coaching the individual and that can carry over to hockey. Not everyone is motivated the same way. Coaching golf has helped my coaching ability with hockey.

Q: How old were you when you began playing sports?

A: I started playing hockey when I was 4. I also played baseball growing up.

Q: At the University of Connecticut, you were a four-year ice hockey letterman, an All-American as a senior and a two-time all-NECAC and all-New England selection. When did you decide that you wanted to be a coach and where did you first coach?

A: At first, I always wanted to play. I was playing in Roanoke, Virginia after college and I really started to understand the game and learn more about coaching. I played for Frank Anzalone and he had a strong passion for the game and coaching. He was extremely detailed and always prepared. I finished my third year and received a call from my college coach Bruce Marshall. They started a graduate assistant program and asked me if I was interested. It was a great opportunity to get into coaching and further my education.

Q: What did you major in at UConn?

A: I graduated with an economics degree and earned my master’s in education.

Q: What classes do you, or have you taught, as an adjunct associate professor of physical education?

A: I teach a golf class, intro to skating and a fitness class.

Q: In 1997, you got involved with the USA Hockey-Team New England as an instructor, assistant coach, and later as a head coach. Are you still involved with this team?

A: I was fortunate to get involved with Team New England when I coached at UConn. Jim Tortorella at Colby College was the program director. I am still involved today and have also coached at the national festival for the 17 age group. New England is one of many districts in USA hockey. Every summer, New England runs a 13,14,15, and 16 camp in Burlington, Vermont. In conjunction with those camps we select players to participate in the national camps held in St. Cloud, Minnesota and Rochester, New York. For the past six years I have coached at the 17 festival, which this year is July 7-14. It is a great opportunity to see the best 17’s in the country and learn more about the game. Dallas Bossort, the NESCAC Rookie of the Year, played for Team Dakota at the 17 festival.

Q: Do you follow the National Hockey League?

A: I do follow the NHL and I am very pleased with the rule changes and the leagues focus on improving the game. I am a Bruins fan but disappointed with the trade of Joe Thorton. I always enjoy watching the Red Wings play.

Q: What months does the hockey season span? Golf season?

A: Golf has two seasons. We have a fall schedule and a spring schedule. The golf team will begin practice in September. We get right into it. The NESCAC’s are Sept. 9-10. It’s like playing for the championship the first week of practice. We finish the fall season in October and hockey picks up Nov. 1. Hockey feels like two seasons because we have six to seven games before exam break and Christmas break. The players are off the ice for about two weeks. They return the first week of January and we play every weekend into the first weekend in March. After the playoffs and depending how far we go it usually ends middle of March right before Spring Break.

Q: Where does the golf team practice and play?

A: We have a great relationship with Lyman Orchards in Middlefield. They have two 18-hole courses and a great practice facility.

Q: In your opinion, what makes an ideal student-athlete? Would you like to mention any individuals who will be key players on the teams next year?

A: I think we have a lot of the ideal student-athletes here at Wesleyan. You have to be self-motivated and utilize good management skills to be able to balance both. We have a good core of players coming back next year and the addition of some new faces. Will Bennett has been the team’s captain for two years and he will be joined by Ryan Hendrickson. Last season our goaltending emerged. Freshman Mike Palladino did a tremendous job in the first half and when Dave Scardella returned he stepped up and helped our team into the playoffs, which earned him NESCAC 2nd Team. I was also very pleased with our D-core last year the sophomores took another step and the freshman class really adjusted well. Dallas Bossort was recognized as the NESCAC Rookie of the Year.

Q: Do you continue to play hockey and golf aside from coaching the sports?

A: I do more golf than hockey, but I do occasionally skate. There is a charity league in Rhode Island I get to every now and then.

Q: Do you have any free time?

A: My wife, Lisa, and I have 15 nieces and nephews, so between spending time with them and hockey and golf, I am always busy.

Q: What are your thoughts on working in Wesleyan’s Athletic Department?

A: I have really enjoyed working here at Wesleyan. Duke Snyder built a tremendous hockey program and impressed a lot of people and they continue to give back. I have been amazed at the support. I look forward to adding to these two programs and continue to improve them everyday.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Summer Programs Extend Learning Year-Round


Harry Saranchak, a Wesleyan Writers Conference participant, reviews his writing outside the Davenport Campus Center June 19. The conference is one of 31 campus programs occurring this summer at Wesleyan.
Posted 07/06/06
Learning never ceases at Wesleyan, even in the summer.

 

The Cardinal Hoop Clinic. The Russian Intensive Program. The Health Professions Partnership Initiative. These are just a few of 31 on campus programs running during the summer months.

 

The programs are not just for college-aged students, either. Many are specifically designed for younger children and adults.

 

The programs actually began this year before the class of 2006 attended commencement May 18 with the Russian Intensive Program. May closed with the opening of the Hughes Summer Research Program.

 

June’s highlights included 50th edition of The Wesleyan Writers Conference and the beginning of the six-week-long Upward Bound program, which is designed to prepare selected students academically and socially for the upcoming school year. In addition to academics, students participate in activities addressing the issues which affect today’s teens: AIDS, teen pregnancy, drugs and alcohol.

From June 26-August 11, Wesleyan’s Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science  (PIMMS) holds nine day-long summer institutes for area teachers. Teachers can take workshops on problem solving; using math games and activities to teach estimation; helping students master fractions, ratios, proportions and percents; and using technology in the classroom.

The Health Professions Partnership Initiative (HPPI) began June 26 and ends August 4. Through this program, minorities who recently graduated high school can explore health professions. At Wesleyan, the students have the option to study anatomy, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, biotechnology, chemistry, pre dentistry, dentistry, epidemiology, biomedical engineering, genetics, pre-medicine, nursing, nutrition, pathology, pre-pharmacology, pharmacology, psychology, public health, science and biostatistics.

Several programs focus on athletics. The Cardinal Softball Camp, Summertime Sports Soccer Academy, Select Soccer Academy, Adult Baseball Clinic, Cardinal Field Hockey Camp, Fundamental Basketball Camps, The Lacrosse Schools, the East Coast Soccer Academy, the Total Volleyball Camp, and Tennis Camp all begin in July. Wesleyan coaches create the curriculum and teach at many of these camps, and Wesleyan student-athletes are often employed as instructors.

 

Summer activities round out Aug. 25 with International Student Orientation and New Student Orientation on Aug. 29.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Classical Studies Welcomes Latin Literature Expert to Department


Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies, will teach Latin and a course on Vergil’s Aeneid next fall.
 
Posted 07/06/06
Lauren Caldwell was hired as an assistant professor of classical studies on July 1.

Caldwell has an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University and received her M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Michigan. Her research interests are Roman social history, Latin literature, Roman law and ancient medicine.

Strong support for the faculty’s scholarly and pedagogical goals attracted Caldwell to Wesleyan.

“I am strongly committed to my research and to my teaching, and Wesleyan does a remarkable job of supporting faculty scholarship, while also focusing on undergraduate instruction,” Caldwell says. “Universities that successfully balance these two parts of academic life are rare, and for this reason I am thrilled to be at Wesleyan.”

Moreover, since the days when she wrote a senior undergraduate thesis on literacy in the Roman world, Caldwell has recognized the value of students’ receiving close guidance from faculty.

“Wesleyan is wonderful because its small size allows faculty to follow students through their time at the university, especially in their major,” she explains. “When I visited the campus and the Classical Studies Department, I was impressed by both the students – many of whom asked excellent questions about my research and teaching – and by the faculty, who are dedicated to advising students and helping them gain the most they can from their coursework. I wouldn’t be here today without the support of advisers and mentors, and I am happy to have the opportunity to give some of that back at Wesleyan.”

Caldwell comes to Wesleyan from the Department of Classics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where she was a visiting assistant professor. At Georgetown, she taught intermediate and advanced Latin, including the authors Cicero, Vergil, Tacitus and Apuleius. She also taught the History of the Roman Empire and courses on Roman Egypt, Roman law, ancient slavery and ancient medicine.

At Wesleyan, Caldwell will teach First-Year Latin and a course on Vergil’s Aeneid in the fall and focus on revising her book manuscript, Scripted Lives: Girls’ Coming of Age in the Early Roman Empire, for Cambridge University Press. Her other publications include “Roman Girls’ Transition to Marriage in Legal Thought,” in Finding Persephone: Women’s Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean, forthcoming with Indiana University Press, 2007; and “Dido’s Deductio: Aeneid 4.127-168,” for Classical Philology.

Caldwell lives in Middletown with her husband, Bob, who is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, exploring Connecticut’s state parks, and, less often, traveling to Roman sites, most recently in Tunisia and Spain.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

SUMMER LECTURE: Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science, pictured in center in blue, speaks to an audience as part of The Hughes Program in the Life Sciences Summer Lecture Series June 14 in Shanklin 107. Royer’s talk was titled “What Fossils Can Tell Us about the Climate and Ecology of Earth Millions of Years Ago.” The Wesleyan University Hughes Grant was awarded to encourage participation and interest in the life sciences by undergraduates. The Lecture Series is ongoing throughout the summer and open to the public. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

Bennet Attends Forum on Education, Democracy


Posted 06/16/06
The Association of American Colleges and Universities invited Wesleyan President Doug Bennet to attend a forum June 22-23 in Strasbourg, France.

The forum, titled “The Responsibility of Higher Education for a Democratic Culture: Citizenship, Human Rights, and Civic Responsibility,” was held at the Council of Europe headquarters. The council co-sponsored the forum.

Bennet was one of 300 higher education leaders, policy makers and public authorities from North America and Europe to attend.

“For this select group, we chose President Bennet because we thought he would be especially effective representing United States higher education and he would likely use his influence to help underscore the importance of educating students to be informed, empowered and responsible local and global citizens after they graduate,” says Carol Geary Schneider, president of the AAC&U.

In addition to 12 years as Wesleyan’s president, Bennet has served as U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organizational affairs, as president of National Public Radio, and as head of the Agency for International Development and as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations..

The forum addressed a number of key issues including fostering democratic cultures; social cohesion and intercultural dialog; promoting human rights and democratic citizenship; teaching, research and engagement; building sustainable democratic communities; and knowledge, actions and civic responsibility.

“These issues are essential in terms of how we approach liberal education now and in the future,” said Bennet. “Our goal must be to enable students to become thoughtful innovators and conscientious global citizens who can engage the world around them and make it better.”

The forum explored the responsibility of higher education for advancing sustainable democratic culture and invited participants to discuss a declaration and practical follow-up activities.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor and David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Professors, Alumni Perform and Direct in Tuba Ensemble in New York


Pictured at left, Stewart Gillmor, professor of history and science and professor of science in society, performs during “The Bang on a Can Marathon” June 4 in New York City. Below, Anthony Braxton, professor of music, directs the band. Braxton wrote the band’s composition.

Posted 06/16/06
Strutting outside the World Financial Center in New York City, Stewart Gillmor bellowed his five valve double-belled euphonium for thousands of spectators. He was one of 75 tuba players to march in the annual “The Bang on a Can Marathon” June 4 in New York City.

Gillmor, professor of history and science and professor of science in society, is a member of the Tuba Marching Band, directed by Wesleyan Professor of Music Anthony Braxton. Braxton’s band performed his own opus, “Composition No. 19,” a marching piece for tubas.

“It was quite a show, and quite a good, avant-garde thing to do in New York,” Gillmor says.
The “Bang on a Can Marathon” is a 10-hour eclectic super-mix of boundary-smashing genre-defying music by pioneering artists from around the world. It featured newly commissioned works by classical, electronica, jazz and rock artists. The New York Times heralded “Composition No. 19” as the “biggest spectacle at this year’s … marathon.”

With a baton in hand, Braxton led the tuba band with co-conductors and Wesleyan alumni Taylor Bynum ’98, James Fei ’99 and Matthew Welch ’01. Each conductor led a quarter of the band, with players horning with old European instruments called helicons, and sousaphones, tubas, mini-baritones and euphoniums.

Gillmor’s euphonium was rare. Most have three or four valves, but his 1940 Holton-brand has five, which allowed him to switch between two horn “bells” with the fifth key. It is one octave higher than that of a tuba.

“There were several real musicians there, some were symphony musicians, but most of us were not professionals,” Gillmor says. “Most of us were aspiring artists. It was a very geeky group.”

The uncomplicated melody of “Composition No. 19,” included fluttering notes, growls, 10-second solos, whispery sounds and several “blab, blab, blab,” sounds, Gilmore explains.

In addition to Braxton’s tuba band, performers included Julia Wolfe’s piece for six pianos; Yat Kha, a Tuvan-throat-singing Siberian punk band; Amiina, the all-female Icelandic ambient quartet; Bang on a Can drummer David Cossin with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche; Björk collaborators Matmos with So Percussion; Evan Ziporyn’s Gamelan Galak Tika; cellist Maya Beiser; the group Alarm Will Sound; and Aphex Twin, among others.

The show finished inside the Winter Garden. Braxton’s group, which is made up of tuba and low brass players from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, had only two rehearsals prior to the performance, one the day before, and then again on the day of.

“We sounded pretty good and the audience seemed to really like us,” Gillmor says.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos by Stewart Gillmor III.

Seniors Start Web Site to Spur Balanced Political Dialogue


President Doug Bennet congratulates five Wesleyan seniors on their new endeavor, beyondpartisan.org. The students, who graduated in May, are, from left, Adam Jack Gomolin, Bill Ferrell, David Tutor, Robert Weinstock and Nathaniel Byer.
Posted 06/16/06
Last August, four Wesleyan seniors got together for a friendly chat on political issues, each disenchanted with the nature of Internet politics and the few venues available for American citizens to express their viewpoints in a neutral environment. True, there are hundreds of political-action Web sites, such as MoveOn.org and CitizenJoe.com, online periodicals, and single-view blogs, but the students felt the World Wide Web lacked a site that encouraged balanced and consensus-oriented dialogue.

That’s when the College of Social Studies majors Adam Jack Gomolin, Nathaniel Byer, Robert Weinstock and David Tutor entertained the idea of starting their own Web site.

The group of four asked their political and Web-savvy friend Bill Ferrell, from the Departments of Philosophy and Physics to join. After months of planning and five design renovations, the students registered the domain, beyondpartisan.org, on Jan. 26.

“BeyondPartisan.org is a response, on one hand, to bipartisan political incompetence, and, on the other, the hyper-speed, unilateralism and overwhelming partisanship of the blogosphere,” Gomolin says. “We believe that it represents a new wave of youth-oriented and Web-based politics, the ‘anti-blog’, or at least ‘multi-blog’.”

The site, co-engineered with the design firm Dreampod.com and software architects of Pacific Northwest Software, currently gets more than 500 visitors a day and has close to 1,000 registered users.

“On TV, you have all these talking heads yelling their viewpoints, and it becomes a contest of who can shout the loudest,” Tutor says. “Our goal with Beyond Partisan is to get viewpoints out there and constructively challenge each other. You may think you are red or blue, but read others’ viewpoints, engage with those you don’t necessarily agree with.”

Beyond that, Weinstock and the others see100 U.S. senators and 435 congressmen preaching partisanship and screaming sound bytes.

“The result is a vain discord that impedes honest legislation capable of helping Americans of all creeds and classes,” Weinstock says. “What are we? We’re honest solutions, or at least, honest starting points.”

The Beyond Partisan process begins with an issue-article, a brief and accessible piece focusing on a single policy area, meant to prompt dialogue with and between users. They offer article-specific commentary, independent forums and personal messaging. Ferrell says the site offers a level of administrator-user parity offered in few other venues, certainly none political.

“Simple, short and open dialogue,” Byer explains. “It is a conversation to which each American is invited. We must, as citizens, reflect upon our discussion and draw from it the shared values upon which we may move forward.”

The editors have posted articles on gay marriage, stem cell research, educational vouchers, abortion and ports-management, among other topics.

BeyondPartisan.org, they explain, is partly about going “beyond the beltway” mentality and myopia. For instance, in the cleverly punned “Our Civil Union”, co-written with another Wesleyan student, they offer a simple solution to the hotly-debated topic of gay marriage: limit the government to ‘civil unions’, while devolving the ‘religious bond’ to independent bodies. “If the Catholic church does not want to marry two gay Americans, that is their choice,” they note, “but no tax-paying American should be denied the secular privileges consistent with marriage because of their sexual orientation.”

This is not a new solution, they point out, just one roundly ignored by elected officials.

Charles Lemert, the John C. Andrus Professor of Sociology, is a BeyondPartisan.org reader and contributor.

“I’ve followed this project for most of the year and can honestly say that it is one of the most brilliant student projects I’ve seen in a long while,” he says. “The student leaders are themselves very smart of course, but the brilliance is in their ability to pull together BeyondPartisan.org. I’m pleased but not surprised that the site has attracted so much notice. The essays are very compelling and the political theme quite obviously needed.”

The students used their own out-of-pocket money to start the site and also received additional financial help and enthusiastic encouragement from President Doug Bennet.

Although the students graduated in May and are now in various locations across the country, they will continue to co-manage the site via the Web. Weinstock says the site will become self-sustaining by allowing other writers and patrons themselves to make lead story contributions: “The more patron-produced the site is, the more successful we have been.”

“This is a perfect opportunity for people our age who want to be engaged in politics to log on and discuss today’s issues,” Byer says. “It’s a place to bring and share ideas.”

Beyond Partisan is located online at http://www.beyondpartisan.org. Users can log on and sign up at http://www.beyondpartisan.org/login/register.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Busy with Summer Projects


Installation of fire protection systems in student housing and wiring are ongoing projects this summer.
Posted 06/16/06
Wesleyan’s summer to-do list is 98 lines long. And each must get checked off before the students return for fall semester.

Judd Hall’s fifth floor needs a renovation, student housing needs life safety improvements and the Center for the Arts needs its lighting replaced with energy-efficient bulbs. High Rise needs a security card access system installed, campus roofs need a maintenance plan and the Butterfields need two fire escape landings rebuilt.

“We have close to 100 projects we plan to complete this summer. Our priority continues to be the maintenance and restoration of our existing buildings,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for Facilities. “It’s a never ending process.”

The summer’s tasks range from small maintenance projects like painting houses campus wide, to major construction projects like overseeing the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.

Wesleyan’s renovation, construction and maintenance bill averages approximately $30 million a year. Included in the spending is a list of major maintenance projects, which total approximately $7 million according to Cliff Ashton, director of physical plant. Major maintenance projects are performed on campus to extend the life of buildings and their functions, Ashton explains. This can be anything from code and safety issues, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, exterior and structural shortcomings, cosmetics and immediate landscape issues.

For example, Olin Library needs a carpet stretched this summer to extend its life another couple of years. Davison Health Center’s infirmary needs stairwell handrails because they are below code requirements. Student wood-framed homes need carbon monoxide detectors in place.

“Our focus during the summer is generally on student housing and academic spaces while they are vacant,” Topshe explains. “However, major maintenance work will continue throughout the year on the remainder of campus. We have more than 100 major maintenance projects a year, and much of this work occurs during the summer when our buildings are less occupied.”

While projects like these will be ongoing throughout the summer, Wesleyan will pay special attention to safety requests such as installing several new blue light phones on campus, additional lighting in dark places near the Center for the Arts and installation of lighting behind Foss Hill.

With so many projects to handle, Wesleyan needs a capable team to make sure the work gets done. The Wesleyan facilities team employs almost 150 workers year round, about two thirds of which are Wesleyan employees. The remaining staff is contract workers in grounds maintenance, custodial, and project management. The facilities team includes 38 professional trade staff in physical plant. These plumbers, electricians, heating/ventilating/air conditioning technicians, carpenters and locksmiths assist with projects when they’re not busy maintaining existing campus buildings, while yet another group manages the power plant and energy management systems.

“We are fortunate to have a very talented facilities and physical plant staff that have been instrumental in supporting our projects,” Topshe says. “This adds tremendous value for Wesleyan since these are the people who know our buildings the best and are responsible for maintaining our buildings into the future.”

The summer work begins this month, with a major renovation on Foss Hill to install fire sprinklers, upgrade fire alarms, construct four new undergraduate program apartments, plus some general renovations. Work has begun to construct new compact storage in the Science Library basement and construction of a new 15 bed senior house on Fountain will be completed in August. Building renovations will take place in the English and Physics departments’ faculty offices, High Rise’s kitchens and bathrooms and the Athletic Fields.

Wesleyan is approximately three years into a $300 million strategic facility masterplan and several hundred projects have already been completed throughout the 2.7 million square foot campus.

The most notable projects include the renovations to Downey House for classrooms and academic offices, a new Center for Film Studies, an addition to the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, an addition to the Freeman Athletic Center, renovations to more than 80 classrooms throughout campus, renovations to the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater, construction of the new Bessie Schoenberg Dance Studio, renovations to create the Green Street Art Center, construction of new undergraduate student housing for 270 students on Fauver Field and 24 new beds for seniors on Fountain and Warren Streets, and the construction of a new synthetic turf playing field.

To view other major maintenance projects for the summer and the 2006-07 academic year, visit
http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/other.html.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor