Wesleyan University made a record-breaking contribution to this years Middlesex United Way annual community campaign.
Frank Kuan, director of community relations and volunteer community campaign chair, reported that Wesleyan raised $140,018 for the local United Way chapter, exceeding the campaign goal of $135,000. This is the most Wesleyan has ever raised for Middlesex United Way in the 60-plus years the university has been involved in the campaign.
Middlesex United Way supports critical human care services and county-wide projects that improve community conditions.
This goes to show that Wesleyan employees care about the community that they work in, and many of us live in, Kuan says. Raising a record amount is a pretty amazing feat, and its a result of everyones diligence and effort.
Wesleyan was among the top three contributors in the Middlesex United Way Campaign. Kevin Wilhelm, Middlesex United Way executive director said Wesleyan consistently ranks in the top 4 percent of all universities nationally with respect to average gift and percent. This year, Wesleyan represents 6.5 percent of Middlesex United Way’s total of $2,150,000.
Although it was a successful year in terms of dollars raised, the level of participation dropped, a development that has Kuan concerned. Last year Wesleyan had 62 percent of its employees participate; this year that number fell to 59 percent.
Every dollar really counts and it all adds up for what we want to do locally, Kuan says.
Despite the drop, seven departments did have 100 percent participation: the Center for Humanities, Classical Studies; Dean of the College Office; Financial Aid; Philosophy; Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS) and the Registrars Office.
The Leadership Circle, comprising 44 individuals and six vendors who pledged at least $1,000 a year, accounted for $71,050.86 or 50.7 percent of the total amount raised.
John Biddiscombe, director of athletics, chair of the department of physical education, Middlesex United Way Executive Committee 2002-04, and past president of the Middlesex United Way Board of Directors said the United Way campaign has emerged over the past ten years to the point where the employee contributions ranks first in Middlesex County.
Wesleyan has always provided strong support for the United Way, Biddiscombe says. However, now, not only does Wesleyan provide volunteers, but we also provide significant dollars to local people in need.
In Middlesex County, United Way provides ongoing funding for 35 programs and services including the Amazing Grace Food Pantry, Girl Scouts Connecticut Trail Council Inc., Boy Scouts Connecticut River Council, Inc., Literacy Volunteers of Greater Middletown, Middlesex Hospital Family Advocacy Program, Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater and YMCA of Northern Middlesex County.
In addition to United Ways core services, the organization is creating three new initiatives:
In 2003, United Way touched 26,809 people, or 62 percent of Middletowns population. Overall, it reached 53,750 people or 34 percent of all people in Middlesex County.
Middlesex United Way recognized Wesleyans contributions with three awards at its recent annual meeting: a Silver Award for Participation, a Special Award for Excellence in Leadership Giving, and an Employee Honor Roll award for Five Consecutive Years of Campaign Growth.
Joyce Jacobsen, professor of economics, and Mike Zebarth, director of PIMMS, will serve as co-chairs for the 2005-06 campaign.
For more information go to www.middlesexunitedway.org.
by Olivia Drake •
|Laurie Zolty, assistant to the coordinator of University Lectures, poses with lecture advertisements inside the Horgan House.|
Q: When did you join the staff at Wesleyan and why?
A: I joined the staff in the fall of 2000 looking for a career change. A very good friend was on staff here and spoke so highly about working at Wesleyan. I was searching for almost a year, looking for a position where each day would be different working a diverse schedule, meeting new people, taking on new tasks and challenges. This newly created position with University Lectures seemed like the perfect fit.
Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?
A: My last job wasn’t very exciting. I was the office manager for a local orthodontist. But the one before that was great. I handled all human resources, payroll and office management for The Tournament Players Club at River Highlands, which meant my employer was the PGA Tour. That was cool.
Q: How do you and Jean Shaw, the University Lectures coordinator, work together?
A: Jean Shaw and I have worked wonderfully well as a two-person team. We handle the logistics for a number of endowed lectures, from their inceptions to their completion. We also assist faculty when they are applying for and receiving funding from the Edward W. Snowdon Fund. These Snowdon supported lectures are more numerous and we do everything from advising to organizing the lecture events and setting up small dinners to working with the graphic designer on advertising and posters. We also assist or manage individual lecture budgets and attend the events we help sponsor.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Id say the diversity of skills used and the exposure and opportunity of working with and getting to know such a large number of faculty and staff.
Q: I understand working with lectures isn’t the only thing you do at Wesleyan.
A: The major part of my job is working with Lectures, but one-quarter of my time is connected with Reunion and Commencement. This part of my job is to coordinate and streamline the payment process for all R and C invoices and help to track all expenses. In addition, I have taken on assisting the Marshal of the Faculty for commencement. These come at the perfect time, when logistical work on lectures quiets down in the spring and early summer, so it rounds out my work schedule in a nice way.
Q: Do you attend lectures your department put on?
A: Yes, we attend every lecture, activity and performance, whether it be an endowed lecture, such as the Hugo L. Black or Raymond E. Baldwin events where we are totally involved, or be it a lecture, event or residency organized by an academic department, including all events funded through the Snowdon grant process.
Q: What would be an example?
A: A great example of this is the current series of 19 events spanning three semesters that the Center for Film Studies has organized in conjunction with different academic departments. We also work closely with faculty, like Anne Greene, to help support her major Writing Program lectures each year, the Annie Sonnenblick Lecture and the Joan Jakobson evening.
Q: What have been some of your favorite presenters or lectures?
A: Its hard to say. Ive had the opportunity to meet some amazing people over the past four years. Our first Snowdon Fellow was Steven J. Gould who was remarkable. I actually had the chance to accompany him on a private tour of Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. It was amazing. But Id have to say my favorite lecture each year is the Sturm lecture. Kathryn Johnston, of the Astronomy Department, brings in terrific speakers and for me, the topics are fascinating as each lecture explores an area of astronomy that is far beyond our world but so relevant to our lives on earth.
Q: Who generally presents the lectures? Professors? Visitors? Are there certain topics they address?
A: The lectures that we support and are involved with are always given by visitors. They are often professors from other universities, but can be dignitaries, judges, authors, dancers, college presidents, movie directors, journalists or clergymen. For Snowdon funding, a faculty member writes a proposal with a specific speaker, or speakers, and topic in mind. Snowdon supported events are required to have participation from multiple departments, so the topics can range as wide as your imagination will take it.
Q: What would I find you doing on a weekend?
A: You can find me most Sunday mornings sitting in my three-season room with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Over the past few years, my husband, Allen and I have been busy with a series of redecorating projects at home and this seems to be a never-ending process. One room triggers another. I enjoy the decorating process, searching for just the right fabric or accessory. My degree was in textiles and marketing so I love the hunt for a bargain and have a feel for what works and what doesnt.
Q: That sounds like a fun, but inexhaustible project. Do you have other hobbies?
A: I like to cook and I sew and I used to play a bit of tennis. I really enjoy going to the movies and eating late dinners afterwards, so Allen and I will do one or both on most weekends. Our closest friends include people I grew up with and even though they live in New Jersey or New York, we often meet up for an afternoon or dinner. Every few months we try and get into New York. I just love the theater and the energy of the city.
Q: Where did you meet your husband? Do you have any kids, and if so, what do they do for a living?
A: I met Allen when we were both at UConn. Weve been married for 32 years and have two sons. Allen has spent his career in labor and industrial relations with Pratt and Whitney, which afforded me the opportunity to stay at home with our kids while they were growing up. Stuart, our oldest, has been married for three years, works as a financial advisor and lives just outside the city. Our daughter-in-law, Meredith, is the general manager of the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company. Andrew, our younger son, lives and works in New York. He is an interactive Web designer, loves to travel and is focusing his time and energies promoting Seven Ender, a rock band that he fronts.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Psychology Professor Karl Scheibe will retire from Wesleyan this spring after a 42-year career here.|
Fresh out of the Ph.D. program at the University of California at Berkeley, 26-year-old Karl Scheibe accepted a faculty position at Wesleyan University. Apparently, he liked his first job.
It sure lasted a while, says Psychology Professor Scheibe, who has spent the more than four decades since teaching and doing research at Wesleyan. Ive considered going to other universities, but never did. And Ive never regretted staying here.
Scheibe, a social psychologist known for his classes emphasizing relationships between psychology and theater, will take his final bow when he retires after the spring semester.
Throughout his career, hes taught 20 different psychology courses, some of which are self-invented. In 1980, he introduced an experimental course titled The Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology, which proved to be popular with both psychology and theater majors. The course explores the use of the language of theater in the illumination of psychological questions, exploring issues such as politics in theater, audience effects, role-playing as a teaching and therapeutic technique, the actors identity problems and general theory of the mask.
Today, the class is so well-known, Scheibe interviews students before allowing them to enroll in the size-restricted class.
The class isnt for everybody, he explains. This is for people who really want to get engaged and take charge. People who would rather sit through a lecture shouldnt be here.
Psychology major Elizabeth Thaler 05, says discovering the intersection of drama and psychology is intuitive to many students. The class, she says, helps students experience a real-life illustration of everything the psychology department teaches.
The first day there was a buzz of mystery and excitement, because all anyone knew about the class was that it was intense, revealing, and huge amounts of fun, Thaler says. The fun is very importantwe make ourselves pretty vulnerable and at times go into dark territory. The fun keeps us eager for more.
Thaler says Scheibe puts class into the students hands, but stands by as a guide, providing agency and support.
There is a feeling of trust in that classroom that I haven’t experienced anywhere else at Wesleyan, and the trust works both ways. He seems infinitely wise yet eager to learn from his students; we’re all in it together, she says. In the weekly journals we write him, I feel free to talk honestly about almost anything, from my personal life to my complaints about the class. I didn’t walk in feeling that way, it was the way Scheibe leads us that opened me up.
Scheibe applied for a position at Wesleyan based on its yeasty qualities, he said.
Wesleyan was a traditional New England small college, but it had this known quality of change this avant garde on-the-edge element that other colleges around here lacked, he says.
A faculty position at Wesleyan also came with a daunting reputation. Scheibe said he and other junior faculty colleagues were bathing in tenure anxiety from the very beginning.
When he was hired in 1963, he was one of only six psychology professors in the department; now there are 14 on tenure and tenure track.
Wesleyans 11th president, Victor L. Butterfield, was in charge of the all-male university. Fraternities were quite conspicuous on campus, and Scheibe found himself in the curious position between teaching and being one of the boys.
I was 26. I was listening to the same music as the students and sharing their culture. I even chaperoned frat parties, as back then, parties had to have chaperones, he says, recollecting memories of his early days. Wesleyan was a very different place then. But then, as now, it was an exciting place to be.
Scheibe was promoted to associate professor in 1967, was awarded tenure in 1968, and was promoted to professor in 1973.
Wesleyan was rich and resourceful and it was able to afford the best professors in the nation, he says. It was a superior institution, and it still is.
Like most professors at the time, Schiebe came to Wesleyan with a broad array of abilities. Throughout the years, his research has focused not only on psychologys association with theater, but also on theoretical issues of psychology of self and identity. His current research interests also include problems of substance abuse and other excessive appetites.
Julie Glickman 04, events assistant for the Center for the Arts, took two of Scheibes classes. Scheibe was also her academic advisor while she was pursuing her degree in psychology.
Professor Scheibe is a kind and compassionate man, she says. He had the ability to captivate not only a small seminar of 20 students, but an entire auditorium with 350 students. He was an exceptional instructor and mentor.
Psychology master’s student Justin Freiberg says Scheibe creates a structure in his class that makes the students feel safe enough to share openly, and to be spontaneous.
“He makes students take the initiative in figuring out what exactly they just learned,” Freiberg says. “You might think to yourself that what just happened was really a bunch of improv, and while this is true, it is in connecting the classes back to the readings and to past studies, be they in psychology or drama, that the real value lies.”
In addition to teaching courses at Wesleyan, Scheibe taught two-week graduate-level classes at an English-speaking DUXX Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico during the entire seven-year existence of the program. He also had two Fulbright appointments at the Catholic University of Sao Paulo, the first in 1972, the second in 1984. He taught these in Portuguese.
In Brazil, Scheibe wrote his first book, Beliefs and Values. Hes also the author of Mirrors, Masks, Lies and Secrets,” Self Studies and The Drama of Everyday Life, published in 2000 by Harvard University Press. The book describes human lives as dramas, that we all live in boxes, that are little theaters wherein the play is earnest and the players all convinced of their grasp on reality.
Upon retiring, Scheibe has plenty to keep him busy. Currently a part-time clinical psychologist, Scheibe will continue to practice at his business in Old Saybrook. Hell focus the bulk of his time as the director of the new Wasch Center for Retired Faculty. This new center, slated to open on Lawn Avenue in fall 2005 creates a shared intellectual and social community where retired faculty members can continue their scholarly activities and participation in university life. Here, Scheibe hopes to complete another book, which is well underway.
As a retired faculty member, I and others, need a place to go to think and write and read. And, when I am retired, theyre probably going to want to give my office to someone else and I will need a place to put all these books, a smiling Scheibe says, peering up at hundreds of hard cover books, files and notebooks.
Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor of psychology and chair of the Psychology Department, says her colleague will be missed by other faculty members and students alike.
Karl Scheibe has been a tremendous force in the psychology department, she says. In the past 40 years, he has taught a broad range of courses to thousands of Wesleyan students, including The Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology, which exemplifies Karl’s impressive breadth of scholarship and teaching. His students attest to his passion for teaching and his dedication to mentoring.
Scheibe says he will miss teaching and that it never became mundane. The students, he says, keep class motivating.
Every semester had fresh students and its like directing Hamlet all over again, he says. Every cast was unique.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Economics Professor John Bonin is the editor of “Journal of Comparative Economics.”|
| As John Bonin recalls a recent overseas trip, one scene in particular stands out.
“The tree-lined streets with boutiques sprinkled among retail giants like the Gap could have easily been in a European city,” says Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science and editor of the “Journal of Comparative Economics.”
Perhaps the most remarkable part of this recollection is that the streets he describes weren’t in Europe or even the west. They were in Shanghai, China. The image is important because it illustrates how quickly China is growing economically.
And yet, when Bonin traveled to the nearby city of Wuxi, he encountered another image along the way that impressed him just as much.
“There were huts sitting in mud with peasants attempting to eke out an existence from farming or fishing in small ponds,” he says. “It was as if these people were from another time entirely.”
Much like the two extremes of China, Bonin studies extremes within the world of banking. His research focuses on financial sector reform and bank privatization — the successful transition of financial institutions away from the controlling hands of the government towards private control.
His travels and research have landed him in many far away countries, including China, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia. Bonin’s love for far away countries developed during grade school after he wrote a paper about China’s Yangtze River. Ever since, it’s been this country that has captured Bonin’s attention the most.
“I’ve always had this romantic notion of China,” he says. “I guess you could say I came full circle.”
Bonin’s most recent visit to Shanghai last May stemmed from an invitation to speak at a conference on the governance reform of state-owned enterprises in China.
“When I lectured at Peking University in Beijing in 2001 to a room full of about 50 Chinese students, it was incredibly rewarding,” he says. “They were the most inquisitive, captivated audience I’ve ever had.”
Bonin is also asked several times a year to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with World Bank leaders who are eager to collaborate with economists and research groups. Some of his research has even been circulated as policy briefs in Washington for government officials and members of Congress.
In addition, he compiled a case study of a privatized Polish bank for a U.S. Treasury Department funded project about banking in Central Europe and Russia.
It can take years for emerging-market countries to develop efficient financial institutions, he explains.”My job is to supply them with background information based on the experiences of other countries,” he says.
For example, while in Beijing, Bonin met with an official from the banking supervision department of the People’s Bank of China. This person eventually became very interested in Hungary’s experiences with bank privatization.
One of Bonin’s newest project includes collaboration with assistant professor of economics Masami Imai. They are researching how stock prices of companies in Korea, including Daewoo and Hyundai, are affected by news of changes in their main bank’s ownership.
The study will shed light on the impact that foreign owners of domestic banks have on domestic lending, especially lending to long-standing large corporate clients.
Bonin enjoys the research, but enjoys his work with students even more. He recalls one former student, David Lipton, ’75 who went on to become the Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1990’s.
“I was sitting across from Lipton one night over dinner and he looked at me and said ‘You’re the reason I’m an economist,'” Bonin says. “To hear that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.”
Bonin will also travel to Paris in April to teach a master’s class on financial economics in transition countries at the Sorbonne.
“First hand experience compliments standard research sources,” Bonin says. “Experiencing other places and cultures allows me to bring the real world into the classroom and enliven the learning process.”
by Olivia Drake •
| On March 4, Tom Cornish ’05 was transported to a local hospital with symptoms consistent with meningitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tom was infected with strain B of Neisseria meningitidis, a strain not protected against by any existing vaccine, though one is in development.
Based on this information, Tom had meningococcal meningitis, which is a type of bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Tom’s condition has improved significantly since being admitted to the hospital and he is making steady progress toward recovery.
Wesleyan’s Office of Health Education has compiled a page with information about this disease:
There are different strains of Neisseria meningitidis. Tom was infected with a strain not protected against by the vaccine mandated for Wesleyan undergraduates. The bacteria can be spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (such as through coughing or kissing). Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as agents that cause the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. A vaccine for strain B Neisseria meningitidis is in development.
Persons in the same household or who have had direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions would be considered at increased risk of acquiring the infection. Even though the risk of getting meningococcal disease is generally very low; as a precaution, close contacts are often advised to take an antibiotic, usually rifampin or ciprofloxacin. Even when that step is deemed necessary, it does not imply an increase in risk for the broader community.
The University Health Center has contacted and provided or arranged treatment for those identified as having close contact with Tom. Medical staff maintained a telephone hotline around the clock to answer questions from members of the community and to direct them to further medical consultation or treatment, as appropriate.
by Olivia Drake •
|Luke Snelling ’05, a DJ with WESU 88.1FM, speaks on air during his talk show March 3. The student-run station now broadcasts shows via the Internet.|
On March 14, Wesleyan’s student radio station, WESU 88.1 FM, introduced a new broadcast schedule that combines original programs by students and community members with program feeds from WSHU in Fairfield, Conn.
For the first time, WESU will begin to broadcast via the Internet, a move that should add listeners both on campus and among alumni and parents. In addition, WESU will begin to raise funds from its alumni, local underwriters, and its listeners.
Live streaming of the stations broadcasts can be heard here: http://www.wesufm.org/.
The format changes are intended to provide additional programming options, to enable the station to meet FCC broadcasting requirements when local programming is not available, and to add crucial financial support that can allow it to upgrade its operations and equipment, according to University Communications Director Justin Harmon, who serves as administrative liaison to the station.
Programs produced by students and community members will continue as the mainstay of the WESU lineup. An eclectic mix of ethnic and alternative music will remain the primary feature of the station’s original programming. In addition, WESU is initiating a program to produce public affairs shows about local issues as part of a plan to further serve the listening community and the educational mission of the University. Monday’s community-based show “Talk For Your Rights” (4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.) will serve as a model for such programming. Other talk shows, such as “The Audio MTO” on Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m., feature comedic and other live talent.
Student leaders at WESU and the Wesleyan administration have developed a weekday schedule that features National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m., “The Diane Rehm Show” from 10 a.m. until noon, and “Talk of the Nation” from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. On weekends, the lineup will include NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and “Car Talk.”
Students have re-organized WESU’s board and operations to put programming and operating decisions firmly in the hands of students while at the same recognizing Wesleyan’s ownership of the license and broadcast equipment. Wesleyan will hire a general manager for the station who will be accountable to the board and will report through the University Communications Office. Ben Michael, a long-time station volunteer, will serve as consulting manager for the station pending a search for a full-time general manager. Wesleyan students and members of the community will continue to serve as on-air talent, producers and technicians.
“We have maintained WESU’s distinctive blend of music and community programming and added high-quality programs from NPR,” says WESU President and Station Manager Jesse Sommer ’05. “We intend to build our listener base on campus and in the greater Middletown community, and we hope that our alumni will tune in to our new online service. We are counting on the active support of all these audiences as we move forward with our campaign to revitalize the station.”
The station’s financial support will come from a variety of sources. The University will continue to subsidize the station by providing offices and utilities. The station will continue to depend on allocations of student activity fees through the Wesleyan Student Assembly. A new non-profit affinity group, the Friends of WESU, will provide fund-raising support and structural guidance.
WESU will receive a portion of the receipts generated by WSHU’s fund-raising staff from listeners to the NPR programs WESU carries. Wesleyan will cover the station’s remaining budget until these fund-raising sources can sustain the new cost associated with hiring the general manager. It is hoped that, in the third year, fund-raising will attain levels needed to begin investments in much needed production equipment and facilities.
The contract with WSHU runs for 18 months. It places no limits on the content or format of WESU’s original programming.
“WESU’s purpose is to provide Wesleyan students the opportunity to learn radio as a medium for culture and public service,” says Harmon. “Our goal is to keep the station strong and independent. We think this partnership of students and community members, alumni and broadcast professionals best serves this goal.”
by Olivia Drake •
|Mary Alice Haddad, assistant professor of government and East Asian studies, came to Wesleyan in June 2004.|
Mary Alice Haddad joined the faculty in the Government Department and East Asian Studies Program as an assistant professor in June 2004.
Haddad, a native of Washington, D.C., completed her undergraduate work at Amherst College and earned a Ph.D at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her dissertation, “Creating Citizens: Volunteers and Civil Society, Japan in Comparative Perspective, was about civil society in Japan. Her primary area of research is comparative civil society, with a focus on Japan.
I am especially interested in traditional organizations like neighborhood associations and volunteer fire departments that have largely been overlooked by other scholars, she says.
Haddad taught Japanese politics this past fall and is developing a course in Chinese politics that she expects to teach in 2006.
Her current research includes an examination of the ways traditional Japanese civic organizations such as neighborhood associations, which were instruments of social control used by the fascist state to manipulate the people, have become institutions of democratic accountability now used by citizens to lobby the government.
Haddad is the author of a journal article Community Determinants of Volunteer Participation: The Case of Japan published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Research 33:3, September 2004 and a book review The Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector in Japan published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Research 33:2, June 2004. She is working on a manuscript titled Performing Their Civic Duty: Voluntary Participation in the US and Japan in Comparative Perspective.
Haddad said she is very committed to liberal arts education, and thats among the reasons she came to Wesleyan.
I was also attracted to the ways that Wesleyan promotes both teaching and scholarship among its faculty, without privileging one over the other, she says.
Haddad lives in Middletown with her husband Rami. She enjoys sports, outdoor activities and pottery. Her first child is due May 3.
May 3rd is the last day of class, so people can see me waddle around campus this semester as I grow increasingly round, she says.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|COOKIN’ IT UP AFTER WWII: An exhibition titled “Cookbooks and Gender in Postwar America,” is on display at Olin Memorial Library through March 31. The exhibit brings together 30 cookbooks and printed ephemera that document cooking and gender in midcentury America, and explores the changing social conditions under which Americans lived and worked after the war.|
by Olivia Drake •
|Ulrich Plass studies German literature and continental philosophy with an emphasis on aesthetics.|
| Ulrich Plass joined the faculty in the German Studies Department as an assistant professor in 2004. He teaches language courses as well as classes on a range of other topics that fall under the interdisciplinary rubric “German Studies.” Plass completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hamburg in Germany, received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and completed his Ph.D at New York University with a thesis on the essay form in Theodor Adorno’s “Notes to Literature.”
Plass is currently revising his dissertation for publication. It focuses on philosophical interpretations of literature within the social and cultural context of post-war Western Germany. Plass’s academic work encompasses German literature from Goethe to the present, as well as continental philosophy with an emphasis on aesthetics. He is currently collaborating with friends on developing a conference about the intersections of popular culture and intellectualism in the works of the writer Rainald Goetz. In the next few years, he plans to work on 19th century poetry. Prior to coming to Wesleyan, Plass met people who spoke highly about the university.
“And it just so happened that I felt very comfortable and welcome here from the time I first visited,” Plass says. “I appreciate that Wesleyan’s size is very manageable, especially coming from Hamburg, Michigan, and New York, all places that can be nightmarishly confusing, if not hostile. I also really like the students, and I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues.”
Plass lives close to campus with his significant other.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Carol Scully, director of Foundation and Corporate Relations seeks grants for the university from local and national foundations, corporations and private agencies.|
When University Relations decided to spearhead a comprehensive campaign drive seven years ago, they needed someone to work with corporations, foundations and private funding agencies.
Carol Scully was their leading lady.
As director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, Scully helped Wesleyan raise more than $30 million from 219 funding sources for the recently completed Wesleyan Campaign. Most of these donations range between $10,000 and $3 million.
Weve been quite successful, she says, modestly. But it was a team effort.”
Scully has mastered a process to find grants. She begins by researching prospective sources foundations, corporations and other public and private funding agencies analyzing their support interests and how much they could give or have given in the past. Shell send them a letter of inquiry, write up a grant proposal and invite them to tour Wesleyan. Each tour is catered to the program officers, and usually includes a meeting with President Doug Bennet.
We love to have them visit, so we can show off Wesleyan, and show theyll be making a good investment when they give to Wesleyan, she says. Its usually easy to sell Wesleyan. Funders are attracted to an organization that knows where it is going.
In addition to the Wesleyan Campaign, Scullys office helped raise more than $1 million – or 50 percent of the total dollars to start-up and fund the Green Street Arts Center. The funds were contributed by corporations, foundations, and federal, state and local government agencies.
Many foundation grants during the campaign helped establish new academic initiatives. For example, grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have funded the Center for Faculty Development, a post-doctoral program at the Center for the Americas, and the environmental studies program. The Freeman Foundation gave Wesleyan $1.9 million that created the Asian Asian/American Initiative. In 2000, the W. M. Keck Foundation awarded Wesleyan $500,000 to jump start its genomics program, and the Surdna Foundation gave three $75,000 grants in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to support the Service Learning Center, part of the Center for Community Partnerships.
The key factor is to maintain good relationships with our donors, she says. When awarded a grant, we make sure we do what we said we would do and show results. Funders like to know their money has made a difference.
Though Scully works for University Relations, shes more than willing to help anyone, campus wide, with grant-writing procedures. She encourages faculty members to stop by with drafts of grant proposals used to fund their research or special projects.
Were sort of grant central here, she says. We edit, tutor and do whatever we can to be helpful. Sometimes people need help every step of the way, while others just need a signature.
Scullys office has collaborated with Academic Affairs and Financial Services to create a grant Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/grants. The site provides databases for corporate, foundation and government-affiliated funding sources and highlights the grant-writing process. The three offices work closely together to support the Wesleyan community in their search for external funding – from the initial search for sources, to development of the proposal, to the administration of the award.
Scully, who earned a bachelors degree in English from Fairfield University and a masters degree in communications from Syracuse University, said she acquired most of her grant-writing skills on the job. She worked in Wesleyan’s development office doing corporate and foundation giving between 1983 and 1987. She tutored English at Manchester Community College and wrote grant proposals for the Science Center of Connecticut and Saint Joseph College in West Hartford. And in 1997, she returned to Wesleyan as the director of foundation and corporate relations, building the new department from scratch. She oversees Betsy McCormick, associate director and Christina West-Webster, administrative assistant.
“She is an extremely effective Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations because she is very skilled, has extremely high standards, respects and works well with many different constituencies, and is thoughtful and proactive,” says Ann Goodwin, assistant vice president for University Relations. “She is also a delightful colleague and a consummate team player who is always looking out for what is best for Wesleyan. We are very lucky to have her.”
Scully is also co-chair of the Resource & Development Committee for the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics (PIMMS) Advisory Council.
Working at Wesleyan is very rewarding, she says. I get to work with many different people from many different areas. It can be very interesting.
Scully lives in Hebron, Conn. with her husband, Jack and children Dan, 15, and Maura, 18. Most of her free time is spent at high school athletic events or in her garden. But before spring hits, shes going to take up a new sport herself squash.
The new squash facilities here at Wesleyan are quite appealing, she says.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Matthew Sharpe, assistant professor of English, is the author of “The Sleeping Father,” which will be part of Norwalk’s “One Book, One Community” celebration.|
| More than 20 publishers rejected the manuscript for “The Sleeping Father.” But one small independent publisher, Soft Skull Press, decided to take a chance. Since then, “The Sleeping Father” has earned critical praise, won the 2004 Independent Publishers Award for fiction in 2004 and been part of the “The Today Show Book Club.”
In April it will receive one more distinction: the town of Norwalk will kick off its first “One Book, One Community” celebration with “The Sleeping Father.” “The success of my book is almost making me revise my glass-is-half-full-of-air outlook on life,” says Sharpe, assistant professor of English. This is Sharpe’s third published book and, so far, his most successful. More than 30,000 copies have been sold since its release in October 2003. The “Sleeping Father” is a dark comedy about Bernard, a divorced father of two teenage children, who accidentally takes two incompatible antidepressant medications and lapses into a coma. When he comes out of it, his son and daughter attempt to rehabilitate him. “The Sleeping Father combines family drama and social satire with elements of the wacky teen caper, all couched in finely-tuned language that is a pleasure to read,” says William Stowe, the Benjamin Waite Professor of English Language in the English Department. “It stands out for its clarity, and it’s up-to-date and playfully postmodern without being self-important or obscure.”
When writing “The Sleeping Father,” Sharpe wanted to understand the enormous change in American mental healthcare, which he says now relies much more heavily on psychopharmaceuticals than it did even ten years ago.
Sharpe adds that a The New York Times report indicated 120 million Americans took antidepressants in 2002. “I know a lot of people who have been substantially helped by antidepressants, and even therapist friends of mine who favor the talking cure say some of their patients are too depressed to talk without the pills,” Sharpe says. “But still, if half the country’s taking them, I think we can safely say they’re over prescribed.” Characters in “The Sleeping Father” have a comic bent, but Sharpe says they are decidedly realistic.
“The book is always humane,” he says. “The characters may sometimes behave like figures out of a comic book or a laugh-track sitcom, but they are fully developed and elicit caring not just amusement.” Sharpe, who joined the English Department last September, said some of his most profound influences have not been writers but people working in other fields. James Ensor, Julius Hemphill, Marlon Brando, and Violeta Parra, among others, have inspired him.
Sharpe wrote his first story when he was 10 years old about a bulldog who was a construction worker. “It was hard to write that first story and it’s been hard to write every story since then,” he says. “So why do I still do this? Because the career as an international supermodel didn’t pan out.” Sharpe will also make a presentation about “The Sleeping Father” during a luncheon at the Norwalk “Festival of Words” on April 9 at Norwalk Community College. Sharpe’s first book, “Stories from the Tube” is a collection of 10 short stories based on TV advertisements. His first novel, “Nothing is Terrible,” is loosely based on “Jane Eyre” and set in the late 20th century in New York City.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
New Faculty, Renovated Classrooms, Scholarships, Financial Aid all Outcomes of $281M Wesleyan Campaign
by Olivia Drake •
|Money from the Wesleyan Campaign helped to fund a variety of initiatives, including new facilities and refurbished facilities like this computer resource center in The Exley Science Center.|