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New Faculty, Renovated Classrooms, Scholarships, Financial Aid all Outcomes of $281M Wesleyan Campaign


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.
Posted 02/23/05

In October 2000, Board of Trustees Chairman Alan M. Dachs ’70 made a pledge to the Wesleyan community:

“I promise you that when you contribute to the Wesleyan Campaign, your gift will produce results and ensure Wesleyan’s legacy for the next generation and generations to come,” he said.

His promise is already being fulfilled.

Five years and $281 million dollars later, Wesleyan has renovated dozens of classrooms, added 20 new faculty positions across the curriculum, offered 140 additional scholarships and rejuvenated Clark Hall, Memorial Chapel and The Patricelli ’92 Theater and Ring Family Stage with the Zelnick Pavilion connecting the buildings. The Rosenbaum squash center with nine courts and the Andersen Fitness Center have also made a presence on campus.

These projects are all made possible through the Wesleyan Campaign, which capped its $250 million goal by $31 million on December 31, 2004.

“With the success of this campaign, we have learned that our alumni, parents and friends are incredibly generous and they know their gifts can help shape the university,” said Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations. “People had a wonderful time when they were students and that’s why they give. They want students to have the same opportunities that they had.”

The priorities of the Campaign came directly from the Strategy for Wesleyan and, of the funds raised, $47,160,000 went towards Endowment for Financial Aid; $48,700,000 to the Freeman Asian Scholars Program; $19,900,000 into the Fund for Excellence; $40,300,000 was directed toward Faculty and Academic Programs; $46,100,000 to support new facilities and the Campus Renewal Fund; $57,000,000 into the Wesleyan Annual Fund. An additional $21,800,000 pledged is currently undesignated.

Because of generous gifts to support financial aid, students are borrowing on average $8,000 less over their four years at Wesleyan.

“The students are the life blood of this institution, and lowering their post Wesleyan loans was one of our biggest priorities,” Wilson said. “The students are already seeing the effects of the campaign in their scholarship packages and through the physical environment.”

A record-setting 68 percent of alumni participated in the campaign, along with 3,472 parents, 219 corporations and foundations and more than half of the senior faculty.

This was Wesleyan’s second official campaign drive, built on the foundation of the Campaign for Liberal Learning, which raised $67 million by 1987. In 1995, a firm advised Wesleyan to set a $100 million goal for the Wesleyan Campaign. Wesleyan continued to set the bar higher. They decided to aim for a quarter of a billion dollars, a number that appealed to John Woodhouse ’53, chair of the Wesleyan Campaign.

“Some donors give $25 a year and 56 individuals or families made commitments of $1 million or more,” said Ann Goodwin, assistant vice president for university relations. “Each and every gift is incredibly important as Wesleyan continues to provide an excellent education for our students. We asked people to stretch for Wesleyan and they did!”

Although the campaign is over, University Relations is building on the momentum of the campaign to focus on the Wesleyan Annual Fund, further increasing the endowment for financial aid and emerging facility priorities, including support for the Usdan University Center and a new Life Sciences building.

The campaign has brought Wesleyan to a new level and it has given us the building blocks to maintain our level of excellence,” Wilson said. “But we can’t rest on our laurels. Excellence is dynamic. It doesn’t just stop.”

A “Thank You” in sound and photos from President Bennet on behalf of Wesleyan can be viewed at http://www.wesleyan.edu/campaign/thankyou/.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Campaign Contributions

$281 million was raised through the Wesleyan Campaign, which ended December 31, 2004. As a result, Wesleyan has been able to:

  • Hire 20 new faculty members, improving the student-faculty ratio from 1:11 to 9:1
  • Offer 140 new endowed and current scholarships to students
  • Secure the Freeman Asian Scholars Program, which enrolls 22 top-level Asian students in each class from 11 Pacific Rim countries
  • Create more than 40 multimedia classrooms
  • Build and open the Andersen Fitness Center and Rosenbaum Squash Court
  • Launch a new Center for Faculty Development
  • Design the Usdan University Center. Groundbreaking is planned for March
  • Establish six new professorships
  • Encourage more than 60 science students to participate in summer research each year
  • Convert a former Middletown school into the Green Streets Arts Center
  • Initiate new programs in areas such as environmental studies, genomics and bioinformatics, computational biology and bioethics
  • Develop a Center for Community Partnerships
  • Provide generous financial aid packages, reducing student borrowing by 25 percent
  • Create a visiting scholar-in-residence, an endowment for speakers in Jewish Studies and an endowment to benefit Jewish life activities
  • Build the Zelnick Pavilion and Center for Film Studies
  • Launch an endowment for the College of Social Sciences
  • Renovate the Center for the Americas, the Stewart M. Reid Admission Center, Clark Hall, Memorial Chapel, the Patricelli ’92 Theater and Ring Family Stage, Downey House
  • Study May Affect Future Land Use in Middlesex County


    Jessica Pfund, ’05 and Phillip Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, observe one of Middletown’s few remaining agricultural sites.
     
    Posted 02/23/05

    It started out with little more than an idea, some old aerial photos and a handmade map. Several months and a lot of hard work by three dedicated people later the result may provide a whole new way to evaluate and influence the look and growth of towns in Middlesex County for years to come.

    Not bad considering it all started out as a question from an inquisitive undergraduate.

    The undergraduate, earth and environmental sciences major Jessica T. Pfund `05, was a student Earth and Environmental Science 322: “Introduction to GIS (Geographical Information Systems),” in the spring of 2004. The class’s instructor, Phillip Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, had brought in a guest speaker, Sandy Prisloe, a geospatial extension specialist from the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land-use Education and Research (CLEAR).

    Prisloe’s presentation included a discussion of how satellite data were being used to quantitatively measure changes in Connecticut’s landscape and to infer the impacts of these changes on the quality of life and the environment.

    “Sandy mentioned that he had a map from the 1970s that showed the areas that were farmland at that time,” says Resor. “He also mentioned that, if someone was motivated to use data that was recently created by a the group at the University of Connecticut showing the land cover in 2002 and compare what was found to the data from 1970, it would be interesting to see how things had changed.”

    Pfund was intrigued, and she was looking for a possible research project.

    “Many of my classmates were doing studies that were more theoretical and scientific,” she says. “This seemed to have scientific and social implications for the local area that could have a relatively immediate impact.”

    After discussing the idea further with Resor, Pfund decided: this would be her project. 

    Aided by a $2,500 grant from the Middlesex County Community Foundation and additional support from the Mellon Foundation and The University of Connecticut, Jessica, who was responsible for the bulk of the data collection, got to work.

    “I don’t think when I started I had an idea of exactly what I was getting into,” Pfund says, now almost a year into the project. “It’s been very interesting and exciting, but it’s also been a lot of work.”

    Much of this was linked to the differences in how the information being examined was generated. The images from the 1970 study were based on a hand-made mylar map that was in turn based on aerial photographs of the county. The information this would be contracted with was generated by images derived from satellite images of the same area in 2002.

    “The images and data didn’t match up,” says Resor. “The satellite images are way precisely located, but can’t image anything smaller than 30 meters. By contrast, the 1970s map was generated by aerial photographs and on the ground surveys that could capture small details, but weren’t necessarily as well located. So we had to find ways to account for the differences.”

    There were some other challenges too. For instance, the old maps identified the land as: “active agricultural,” “inactive agricultural” or “nonagricultural.” GIS images provided more than a dozen different characterizations, including assessments of soil viability for agricultural use and disposition of wetlands.

    Translating the GIS data also had some interpretive challenges that were produced because of how things have been done in the state over the years.

    “Because of the way small plots of land are often used in Connecticut, what LandSat (the satellite) may identify as a large lawn area may actually be an active or inactive cultivated field,” Pfund says. “This meant we had to visit some locations in person to verify exactly what the use was.”

    Currently there is still a substantial amount of data to crunch and quantify, but Resor and Pfund anticipate having the study done sometime in the spring. They will publish a report with Prisloe detailing their findings. There will be public presentations and discussions of the data at town meetings in Middlesex County. The towns can then use the data to better plan new housing and business construction.

    “A lot of towns in Middlesex County are proud of their rural atmosphere,” Resor says. “This information can help them maintain that atmosphere as they move forward with new developments.”

    However, the study has already generated a result that will be producing more benefits for the county. Resor received a service-learning grant from Wesleyan to expand his efforts in these types of studies. This spring, his students are working on similar projects for The Nature Conservancy, The Connecticut River Costal Conservation Commission, The Middlesex Land Trust and the Town of Portland.

    “It’s been pretty interesting to do a scientific study that actually has social implications and affects local issues,” says Pfund. “People don’t often think of scientists working that way.  It’s been a very rewarding project.”

     
    By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

    New Book Features Photos, Recollections of Wesleyan


    “Wesleyan University: In a New Light” is photographed by William Mercer, a 1964 alumnus. The book is for sale at Broad Street Books.
     
    Posted 02/23/05
    Wesleyan as it appears every day, Wesleyan as you remember it, and Wesleyan as you’ve never seen it before.

    Those are the images and words that fill “Wesleyan University: In a New Light,” a new book produced by University Relations and the Office of Communications.

    Rich with the colors, activities, and faces that populate the campus, the book features 150 high quality images taken during the 2003-2004 academic year by photographer William Mercer ’64. Mercer specializes in “on location photography” and images for specialty books. His images in this volume provide a fresh perspective to Wesleyan’s grand and familiar landmarks, as well as views on the smaller more intimate events that occur throughout the campus community during an academic year.
      President Douglas Bennet ’59 wrote the book’s introductory essay while Joseph F. Siry, professor of art, contributed a piece on Wesleyan’s distinctive architecture. Alumni, faculty from the present and past, and current students also provided short, insightful, personal impressions and recollections about the campus and its people.
    David Low, ’76, associate director of publications, was the book’s editor; Anne Bergen, director of development communications and stewardship was the project manager; Suzy Taraba ’77, the university archivist and head of special collections at Olin Library, served as archival consultant.

    Copies of “Wesleyan University: In a New Light,” are available for $39.95 through Broad Street Books at 860-685-7323 or at www.wes.bkstr.com. Faculty and staff receive a 10 percent discount; departments receive 20 percent off.

    Director of Community Relations Focused on Wesleyan as a Partner with the Community

    Frank Kuan, director of community relations, stands outside the Center for Community Partnerships.
    Posted 02/23/05
    Q: Community Relations collaborates initiatives between the university and the greater Middletown community. How does this benefit Wesleyan and the community?A: I would echo President Bennet’s sentiment: what is good for Middletown is good for Wesleyan, and vice versa. Wesleyan is a key employer and economic generator in Middletown. Under President Bennet’s leadership, Wesleyan has taken a proactive approach to town-gown relations – of course, the leadership of the City of Middletown has also reciprocated on this positive connection. One of our most recent efforts has been the establishment of the Center for Community Partnerships. The Center is comprised of the Service-Learning Center with Professor Rob Rosenthal, the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism with Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, our administrative assistant is Migdalia Pinkney and the Office of Community Relations. Our goal is to look for opportunities that further collaborative relationships between Wesleyan and greater Middletown.

    Another key contribution of Wesleyan to the community is in the form of employee contribution to the Middlesex United Way annual community campaign. This past year, I have the pleasure of serving as chair. Because of everyone’s diligence and effort, we raised a record amount of $140,018.18. This money stays in the local community to help with critical needs. Wesleyan University is one of the top three contributors in the County to the Middlesex United Way Community Campaign.

    Q: What are some of your personal goals to strengthen partnerships with the city?

    A: One of my goals is to be visible in the community and to actively participate in local events. Building partnerships between the city and Wesleyan University requires strong collaboration. I try to foster relationships with a diverse constituency. Working with my colleagues in the Center for Community Partnerships will also be a goal. There’s a great deal of synergy in this operation, and it will have a positive impact on strengthening town-gown partnerships. I work for Peter Patton, vice president and secretary of the university, and I look to support the work of his office as well in any way I can.

    Q: How would you describe Wesleyan’s image in the city of Middletown?

    A: I would say that our current relationship and image are generally positive. Folks in town are aware of the myriad of work with which Wesleyan is involved. Main Street Middletown, Inc., The Inn at Middletown, the Green Street Arts Center, Community and University Service for Education, and our work with Macdonough School are just a few of the many community collaborations of Wesleyan. The volunteer involvement of our students and faculty, staff and administration is also significant and appreciated by the local community. Not to say that everything is perfect; town-gown relations are not static. There are always issues to work on, and improvements could always be made. It takes all of us to work together to maintain communication and connection.

    Q: How does Wesleyan help the local economy?

    A: Because of Wesleyan, Middletown receives PILOT funding (Payment in Lieu of Taxes); in 2001, this was $3.6 million. The indirect economic impact of Wesleyan is estimated at $107.3 million this past year. The Center for the Arts brings world-class artists to Middletown, and this certainly enriches the cultural landscape locally. The CFA has increased its community audience by 60 percent over the past four years. Through the Admission Office, we have 15,000 visitors a year to Middletown, and this certainly adds to the vitality of Middletown.

    Q: When did you come to come to Wesleyan, and were you hired in as director of community relations?

    A: I began my work at Wesleyan as the director of community services in June 1998 and worked in this position until June 2002. On a temporary basis, I worked with the Green Street Arts Center. In November 2002, I was appointed to be the director of community relations.

    Q: What is your education background, or what led you to this position?

    A: I have an undergraduate degree in biology with minors in Asian-American Studies and chemistry from California State University, Fresno. I also earned a master’s degree from CSUF in counseling, with an emphasis in career counseling. I would say that having the scientific education helps me to be more analytical with my work. I feel that the counseling background has been helpful in my previous work in community service and now in community relations.

    Q: Are you involved in any community service, personally?

    A: I do my share of volunteering and am involved with a few boards locally – Girl Scouts Connecticut Trails Council, Inc., Northern Middlesex YMCA, North End Action Team, Main Street Middletown, and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce – Central Business Bureau Executive Board. Over the years I have been active with the Chamber’s Holiday on Main Street and Annual Business After-work Auction. For the past few years, I have also worked with the Friends of Long Hill Estate on a dinner/dance gala to fundraise for the annual summer concert series at Wadsworth Mansion, which is free to the public.

    Q: Why do you feel as though you should volunteer in the Middletown community?

    A: Middletown has been a great place for me over the past twelve years. Being able to give back a little through my volunteer work is one way I can contribute to making Middletown a better community in which to live, work and play.

    Q: On a personal note, let’s be ‘Frank.’ You sound very busy. Do you have any free time?

    A: My life is fairly ordinary, actually. During our free time, my partner, Mike Sciola, and I enjoy going to the movies – Mike would say that this is one of two foundations of our relationship – the other being dining out. Our taste runs the gamut – independent films, blockbusters, B-movies, and horror flicks. We’re not too discriminatory but just enjoy movies in general. It’s a great escape. I also enjoy shopping – Mike would say that I am a “clothes-horse.” I do have a fun tie and watch collection.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Olin Memorial Library Earns “Building of the Year” Award


    Erhard Konerding, documents librarian, works inside the Olin Memorial Library, which was built in 1928.
     
    Posted 01/31/05

    When Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library opened in 1928, the classically symmetrical structure fronted with six marble columns stood out as a bold yet elegant structure. Nearly 80 years later, the building is still turning heads.

    On January 13, The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Hartford awarded the library with The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) award in the historic building category. The TOBY award recognizes excellence in building management, operational efficiency, tenant retention, emergency planning and community impact. The Olin Library won in the “proper maintenance of the historical building,” category.

    “It was built in 1928 and still has that old world charm,” said Pete Caniano, chairman of the TOBY award committee. “I could find myself getting lost in a great book in Olin all the time.”

    Caniano, district manager for American Building Maintenance Janitorial Services of Danbury, Conn., provides janitorial services to Wesleyan and nominated the library for the award.

    “I nominated Olin because I felt it had great architectural character and it has gone through some excellent architectural renovations throughout its history that add to its appeal,” he said. “Olin library is a wonderful landmark on campus.”

    Caniano and members of the judging panel inspected the facility, grading it on physical attractiveness, cleanliness, mechanical functionality, aesthetics and standard building operation equipment and procedures. Each category had to receive a passing grade for the building to be considered for the award. Caniano said Wesleyan’s Physical Plant had a lot to do with the outcome of the judges’ findings.

    “If the building had been simply attractive and architecturally marvelous but not maintained well and had antiquated maintenance systems, it would not have won,” he said.

    Caniano noted many positive points while touring the library. The stacks, he said, are well organized; the building is kept in pristine condition; and the ambiance of the reading room “is exceptional.” He also favored the private alcoves used for student research and described the library’s staff as “very helpful.”

    “The building is kept in pristine condition and is very practical for student use,” he said.

    Olin Memorial Library was first opened as a memorial to Stephen Olin, Wesleyan’s president from 1842 to 1851, and his son Stephen Henry Olin, class of 1866, a Wesleyan trustee for 45 years and the university’s acting president in 1922 and 1923.

    The original plans for the building were begun by Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and after his death were completed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. It currently provides Wesleyan’s 2,730 students and 1,060 staff and faculty members with 1.5 million publications and a variety of electronic and archival services.

    A major renovation and expansion of the building, completed in 1986, was designed by Perry, Dean, Rogers & Partners. It nearly doubled the space available in Olin for study areas and collections.

    The 163-foot wide façade surmounted by a pediment and capped by a balustrade. Marble, exterior and interior, amounted for 20 percent of the final construction cost of $727,000.

    Now that the library has won at a local level, it has an opportunity to advance to the regional level in each of the eight North American regions of BOMA International. Regional winners advance to the international level.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Tsunami Hits too Close to Home


    Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, director of Technology Support Services and adjunct associate professor of chemistry, explains where his home countries were struck by the December 26 tsunami.

     
    Posted 01/31/05

    Millions of Americans watched as the Dec. 26 tsunami obliterated south Asia’s coastal belts. But for Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, the event was far more personal.

    Ravishanker, director of Technology Support Services and adjunct associate professor of chemistry, is a Sri Lanka native and attended college in southern India where the tidal waves battered both shorelines for a half-mile inland.

    “Those are both places where I have spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years and have vivid memories of,” Ravishanker said. “Most of my extended family members live in these two countries.”

    The tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia, killed more than 170,000 people as it crashed the shores of 10 countries around the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka and Indonesia received the hardest hits.

    Ravishanker, who lost his parents as a young child, grew up with his aunt, uncle, sister and 11 cousins in the country’s capital, Colombo. Three of these cousins are raising families in Sri Lanka and the rest moved to southern India.

    “I was just getting back from vacation and I was still in a relaxing vacation mode, when they started flashing news about the tsunami damage on TV,” he said. “I immediately thought about my family. Many of them were living in area close to the coast.”

    Relatives in Tamil Nadu, India, immediately e-mailed Ravishanker in America and let him know they were OK. His relatives in Sri Lanka, however, were still unaccounted for. Although his relatives lived inland in Kandy, he feared they may be traveling on a train that was derailed by the tsunami.

    “All I could do is sit, watch and wait,” he said.

    Sri Lanka, a pear-shaped island four times larger than the state of Connecticut, is located 18 miles southeast of India. With no communications available to his homeland, he waited as the death toll climbed to 30,000. The missing count hovered at 5,600. More than 200,000 families were displaced by the earthquake-spawned waves.

     “The Sri Lanka that I remember, that I grew up in, was one of the most enjoyable places. It was surrounded by the ocean, there were beaches, a perfect climate and the people were very friendly. It was a great place,” he said. “It was like paradise.”

    Via Indian television channels, Ravishanker watched debris of fishermen’s wood shacks envelop the once pristine, palm-lined beaches. Disfigured bodies “in all forms and shapes” piled up near landmarks all recognizable to the Sri Lanka native.

     “It was heart-wrenching to watch,” he said. “I was thinking of my family, but also these poor children affected by this disaster. What’s so sad is that the first wave came in and pushed all these fish up on shore, and all the fishermen told their kids to come out and see and play with the fish. Little did they know that a bigger wave was coming to eat them all up.”

    On Dec. 30, Ravishanker finally heard from his Sri Lankan relatives. Everyone was alive. With his family all accounted for, Ravishanker immediately pursued ways to help the victims of the disaster.

    Rescue efforts are somewhat hampered by an ongoing civil war in the country between the Sinhalese and Tamil Tigers. Pockets of the northern and eastern areas are heavily mined. A physical presence of rescue workers in these areas carries a certain amount of danger.

    The Sri Lankan government has urged donor nations to donate $15.6 billion to rebuild tsunami-affected parts of the country, but Ravishanker was advised to hold off and carefully explore more long lasting avenues to help those affected. He’s considering funding an orphaned child’s education for life. His brother-in-law, Shankar, is working with these orphaned children directly back in Chennai, India.

    “I take great pride in my brother-in-law for doing this, and I think the outpouring of local support is a great thing to see. People are setting aside their religious differences and caste barriers are vanishing,” he said. “I can’t imagine people doing this 20 years ago. People are already setting up shops and makeshift schools. Recovery have been remarkable.”

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Women’s Studies Administrative Assistant Participates in Youth Mentoring Program and has Interest in Women’s Issues


    Noreen Baris, administrative assistant for the Women’s Studies Program, stands outside her office on High Street. Baris serves as a liaison between the program’s chair, faculty and students.
     
    Posted 01/31/05

    Q: When did you become the administrative assistant in the Women’s Studies Program? Were you working at Wesleyan before then? 

    A: Yes. I first came to Wesleyan in November 1986 and worked in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department until 1992. I’ve been at Women’s Studies since then.

    Q: How would you describe a typical day? Are you mostly working at your desk, talking on the phone or meeting with people?

    A: This position is rather diversified and I do all the above mentioned duties on a daily basis. I work closely with the chair of Women’s Studies and I serve as a liaison between the Women’s Studies chair and the faculty and majors.  I also coordinate the scheduling of  Women’s Studies meetings, luncheons and events, manage the budget, update the Web page, do other computer related duties and monitor Women’s Studies course offerings.

    Q: What do you like most about your job and working in the Women’s Studies program in particular?

    A: I have found the Women’s Studies faculty to be exceptional in many ways and I enjoy working with them. I also like the diversity of the position. In addition to my other duties, the Women’s Studies Program has two major events per year: The Women’s Studies Symposium in the fall semester, and the Diane Weiss Memorial ’80 Memorial Lecture during spring semester. I enjoy coordinating the many details required for both events.

    Q: Do you, yourself, have any interest in women’s issues?

    A: Yes, I am interested in women’s issues such as better medical research and health care of women, equal pay for men and women doing the same job, and better benefits for working mothers.

    Q: What do you do after work? Do you have any hobbies?

    A: My hobbies are knitting, quilting, and gardening, and I enjoy doing them in my spare time. I also enjoy and have been serving as a mentor for children for the past eight years. Originally I started mentoring teenage girls and being a “buddy” at the Cromwell Children’s Home.  I am now affiliated with The Children’s Center Youth Mentoring Partnership and have been mentoring the same young girl for the past four years, at least five hours per week. I’m very much involved with her life, her problems and her accomplishments.

    Q: Tell me about your family.  

    A: I have been married to my husband John for 35 years and we live in Durham.  I have two daughters, Laney, who is 30, and Carrie, who is 26. Laney is a veterinarian practicing in New Jersey and Carrie is a high school English teacher in California. I am very proud of them both.

    Q: I understand you have the summers off. Do you travel much?

    A: We have traveled extensively in the U.S. Up North, down South, out West. We’ve especially enjoyed Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion national parks, and we’ve also gone to Hawaii. We’ve been to Canada — Montreal, Quebec and cities in-between — several times. Also traveled to Aruba and Europe. Last summer,  we traveled to Switzerland and Austria. We visited Italy, France and England in May 2002.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Instructor Impressed with Intelligence, Humanity of Students and Colleagues at Wesleyan


     
    Carol Wright is a visiting instructor in the African American Studies Program.
     
    Posted 01/31/05

    Q: You started working at Wesleyan in 2003. What has impressed you most about the university?

    A:  I am impressed with the incredible depth, intelligence and humanity of many Wesleyan students and my colleagues in the African American Studies Program.

    Q: What does ‘visiting’ instructor refer to? Where are you visiting from and how did you end up at Wes?

    A: Visiting instructor refers to the fact that my position is non-tenure track and temporary. As a practical matter, I am visiting from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where I held a pre-doctoral fellowship for two years. During my final year at Bowdoin, I saw the Wesleyan job advertisement and jumped at the chance to apply.

    Q: Are students of all ethnic and backgrounds interested in a degree in African American studies? How would you describe it?

    A:  The African American Studies Program is strong. Many, many students of all different backgrounds are interested in an AFAM degree. The program is interdisciplinary in nature. Course discussions and debates include issues of economics, globalization, gender, class, politics, cultural and literary representations among other things. Students learn important content, but further, I think the program has a profound effect on the ways students think, how they understand and re-organize the experiences of their world.

    Q: What issues would you bring up in the classroom?

    A: Broadly, I teach courses specializing in African American education. This includes issues of social inequality, urban educational policy and the relationship between educational theory and practice. Most recently, I’ve taught a service-learning course that will place students in a local middle-school with a focus on the effects of the No Child Left Behind policy.

    Q: What do you hope students take away from your classes?

    A: I would like to think students leave my courses as better critical thinkers and writers while simultaneously understanding that African Americans have a complex educational past and sometimes a contradictory educational present.

    Q: Do you have a philosophy about teaching? How do you help students become critical thinkers in the classroom?

    A: I approach teaching as if I’m telling a story. Stories have a beginning, middle and end and you can’t just jump in at the middle, or only a few students will figure it out. By giving a full narrative, I try to capture as many students as I can. I also try, every semester, to show at least one film, have a guest speaker and let students give their own presentations. Many students request to to work on a thesis, or are interested in doing independent studies on these subjects.

    Q: Do you enjoy being in the classroom more so that researching?

    A: I love teaching. I enjoy engaging students, but I can find it to be a real challenge to teach and find time to spend on my own research. I’ve been collecting a lot of data about African American college students at small, liberal arts universities, that I have to go through. None from Wesleyan, though.

    Q: Where did you go to college and what are your majors?

    A: I went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania where I majored in anthropology and sociology and French. Academically speaking, I am a huge supporter of small liberal arts colleges. Socially, well, that’s another story.

    Q: On campus, have you attended many student events, concerts or dances?

    A: Students have invited me to events, but I often have to decline due to scheduling conflicts. Last year I attended a creative student performance and I thought it was fabulous. It was great to see students in a less rigid, more creative/expressive milieu. I was reminded that students have many talents — I was also reminded of my lack of artistic talent — and express them in multiple ways.

    Q: You mentioned that you visit family in New York. Is that where you’re from?

    A: Both my parents are from the Caribbean, but I was born and raised in New York City. Other than New York, I have lived at least one year in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maine, Connecticut, Brussels, Belgium and Dijon, France.

    Q: What’s something humorous or unique that I should know about you?

    A: I once drove across the country in the middle of the summer in a bathing suit. It was about 100 degrees and my car did not have an air conditioner. Also, at one point I had a part-time job selling Lancome cosmetics.

    Q: Oh, so you’re a saleswoman too?

    A: I was pretty good; I won an award or two. Go figure!

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Students, Administration and Faculty Continue Dialogue


    Posted 01/31/05

    A forum on January 25 engaged more than 300 students, faculty and staff in a discussion of the administrative response to issues raised at a student-organized forum in December. The forum followed by a week the distribution of a report detailing student participation in University governance, itself a response to complaints from some students that they felt excluded from decisions that affect their lives on campus.

    At the forum, held in the Chapel, senior administrators were joined onstage by leaders of the faculty and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. Professor of Philosophy Brian Fay moderated the session, during which students raised questions or made comments based on the report.

    It appeared that most students had read the report, said Interim Dean of the College Peter Patton. “Some students expressed dissatisfaction about the status of specific issues they care about,” he said. “On the other hand, it seems  that most now realize that Wesleyan students do have significant opportunities to influence University decision-making.”

    The issues that received the most attention during the forum were student interest in having a multicultural dean, accommodations in housing for incoming students who identify as transgender, and the future of the student radio station, WESU 88.1FM. Later in the week, President Doug Bennet emailed students to describe steps the University is taking to follow up on these issues. He reiterated his intention to engage the leaders of the WSA and the faculty in a follow-up discussion of governance and communication issues treated in the report.

    Bennet informed students that he, Patton and Interim Director of Affirmative Action Michael Benn would meet with leaders of student of color groups to discuss the specific issues underlying students’ expressed desire for “safe spaces,” a dean of multicultural affairs, and diversity training for faculty.

    Bennet reminded students that Patton would continue to work with the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee (URLC) and the Student Life Committee to identify acceptable solutions for gender-neutral housing. While returning students may select their own roommates regardless of gender, Residential Life currently accommodates transgendered first-year students in making room assignments. In making first-year assignments, the University does not support roommate pairing of students of different biological sexes. First-year students requesting accommodation are assigned to a single room or to a double room with another student requesting accommodation. Last year, the language describing “gender-neutral housing” was not clear to many first-year students, and the URLC is working to clarify the description for 2005-2006.

    Communications Director Justin Harmon will continue to work with student leaders of WESU to help them develop plans that will enable the station to become financially viable and maintain its independence. Wesleyan has committed to hiring a full-time general manager who will help bring continuity to the station and build its fund-raising and operations.

    “These will not be the only opportunities available for continuing the dialogue, but I think they are a good start,” Bennet wrote. “I welcome other suggestions about how to advance these issues.”

    Students of Color Applications Up

    Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Hargrave Meislahn told those present at the January 25 forum that applications to Wesleyan have risen approximately 5 percent from last year and that applications from students of color have increased at even higher rates.

    As of January 21, Wesleyan had logged 6,848 applications, as compared with 6,509 on the same date the year before, Meislahn said. Applications from African-Americans had risen 18 percent, to 504 from 428; from Asian-Americans 13 percent, to 659 from 584; and from Latinos 7 percent, to 424 from 395. The number of applications from each of these groups represented at least an 8-year high for Wesleyan, Meislahn said. Final application numbers will be available later this month.

    Wesleyan has gone to extra lengths to recruit students of color, Meislahn said, since experiencing a dip in applications from African-American students. Admission Office staff held a community forum and a follow-up meeting with interested students early in the fall to solicit their advice and to engage them in helping to recruit students, Meislahn said. In addition, a letter from the dean of admission and the vice president of University Relations was sent to alumni of color seeking their help in identifying and recruiting talented prospective students.

    Meislahn invited everyone at the forum to be part of the solution. 

    “As the admission cycle moves forward there will be many opportunities for students and faculty to assist the admission office in reaching out to admitted students,” she said. “Phonathons and plans for hosting students in April are underway.”

    Anyone interested in being involved should contact the Admission Office, Meislahn said.

     

    New Findings Center on Human Pheromones


    Robert Lane, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, co-authored a study that indicates scientists may have overestimated the use of the vomeronasal organ in pheromone perception by animals.
    Posted 01/31/05

    A new study co-authored by Robert Lane, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, suggests that human pheromone detection may occur right under our own noses – literally.

    In an article due out in the February issue of “Genome Research,” Lane provided new evidence that scientists may have overestimated the use of the vomeronasal organ, or VNO, in pheromone perception in animals. The VNO has been described as the predominant pheromone-detecting organ, based mostly on rodent studies that point to its role in evoking innate reproductive and social behaviors.

    Lane, along with Wesleyan graduate student Marijo Kambere and his colleagues from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, discovered that one of the main putative pheromone receptor families expressed inside the VNO has been decimated in domesticated dogs. This finding suggests that the VNO may play a diminished role in dogs and perhaps other non-rodent mammals. 

     “As keen as the dog sense of smell is and as elaborate a pheromonal system dogs seem to have, it could be that the main nose, not the VNO, underlies elaborate pheromonal communication in dogs,” Lane said.

    If this is true, then the observation that humans probably do not possess a functional VNO may not mean an inability to detect pheromones. “Our apparent lack of a functional VNO might not be a handicap if pheromone responses can be mediated by our main olfactory system,” Lane said.

     

    By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

    History, East Asian Professor Explores Trauma Through Poetry


    Vera Schwarcz, professor of History and East Asian studies, collaborated with artist Chava Pressburger for the book, “In the Garden of Memory,” published by March Street Press. The publication features 18 poems with accompanying paper-art images.
     
    Posted 01/31/05

    How does memory speak?

    Not with words

    in this small country of silenced song. Winter

    is the native tongue

    of children without food.

    -words from Vera Schwarcz’s “In the Garden of Memory”

    When visiting Jerusalem in 1991, a striking oil painting caught Vera Schwarcz’s attention. The Romanian-born daughter of Holocaust survivors instantly felt a connection with the artwork titled “Memories.”

    “I was deeply moved by its abstract depiction of a shattered world,” Schwarcz said. “The painting evoked huge, shards of stone, a rubbled world held together by a fragile thread, lace and barbed wire that I envisioned as memory threads held onto by sheer will alone. In wake of total annihilation, that moved me as an act of spiritual courage.”

    Schwarcz, professor of History and East Asian studies at Wesleyan and published author and poet, later met the painting’s artist, Chava Pressburger. Pressburger, a native of a Jewish community in the Czech Republic, was imprisoned in Terezin in1943-44. Her younger brother was killed in Auschwitz in 1944.

    Although Schwarcz was born after the war, their similar backgrounds were the start of a friendship and professional collaboration. Six months ago, the duo released a book together titled “In the Garden of Memory,” published by March Street Press. The publication, which they consider “a conversation in paper, poetry and print,” features 18 poems by Schwarcz with accompanying paper-art images by Pressburger.

    Pressburger’s artwork is created from paper she produced herself from plants cultivated in her garden and near her home in Nagev, Israel.

    “As a Jew, as a China scholar, the past is not dead for me. It’s very alive, very important,” Schwarcz said. “I have been looking for ways to give it voice. Through this collaboration, we are putting into the world something that will seed reflection and pleasure. A garden is a bordered space for slow placed reflection. This is an invitation to come into the garden.”

    Before going to print, Schwarcz and Pressburger exhibited the artwork in Prague, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The display explored the themes of historical trauma in contemporary life.

    Schwarcz, like many children born in the generation following the war, was named after other children who had died in the war.

    “Our parents often did not tell us about the earlier kin. We thus grew up carrying the name, the destiny of precursors who remained a haunting, vague nameless presence,” she said. “Hence, perhaps my compulsion as a writer to name things, as a historian to document truth. If something can have a name and place in the heart, mind the page, it may be somehow be laid to rest.”

    “In the Garden of Memory” isn’t the first time she’s written about the holocaust. In her last book, “Bridge Across Broke Time,” she wove together her own family’s memoirs to with words of poets and historians to show how it is possible to maintain cultural identity in the face of the most disheartening events.

    “What was new in this project with Pressburger was poetry, an art form I have been exploring for two decades. Here finally was a way to write about something historical and personal–using the craft of poetry I had been polishing for a while,” she said.  

    After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1969, a master’s degree from Yale in 1971, and a Ph. D. from Stanford in 1977, she wrote over fifty articles on Chinese intellectual history and comparative memory studies. She’s also the author of five other books titled, “A Scoop of Light,” “Fresh Words for a Jaded World,” “Time for Telling Truth is Running Out: Conversations with Zhang Shenfu,” “The Chinese Enlightenment: The Legacy of the May Fourth Movement in Modern China,” and “Long Road Home: A China Journal.”

    Since the publication of “In the Garden,” several other artists – and photographers – have approached Schwarcz interested in similar collaborations.

    She’s interested, but she’s already made a commitment with a 19th century Manchu Prince named Yi Huan. Huan (1840-1891) wrote poems in Chinese responding to the burning of Beijing’s princely palaces by French and British armies in 1860.

    “I am adapting Yi Huan’s voice to the cadence of historical traumas in the 20th century, including the post September 11th scorched landscape that is our inheritance today,” said Schwarcz, who is fluent in Chinese, French, Hebrew, Romanian and Hungarian, and can read Japanese and German languages.

    To date, Schwarcz has already published about 25 of these renditions and envisions publishing a collection of 50 poems in the next two years called “Sea of Shards.”

    Recently, she’s working on a new book, “Truth in the Ruins of History: A Comparative Inquiry.” And her latest prose/academic book, “Singing Crane Garden; Art and Atrocity in One Corner of China,” was submitted to the University of Pennsylvania Press this month. It will be part of a series on the history of landscaped spaces.

     “I find myself wanting to write new books all the time,” she said. “In the Garden of Memory is available at Broad Street Books and http://www.marchstreetpress.com/.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Career Resource Center Director Helps Students Find Meaningful Careers by Exploring Their Interests and Passions


     
    Mike Sciola, Career Resource Center director, helps Talya Marshall, ’07, find photography career opportunities.
     
    Posted 01/31/05

    Q: The Career Resource Center (CRC) aims to establish relationships with students and help them find jobs. If a student approaches you, how would you go about helping him or her?

    A: We take a three step approach: self assessment, career exploration, and job search.  Most people, and not just students, think the first step to finding a meaningful career is to write a resume and start sending it out to job sites on the Internet. The problem with this approach is that folks tend to go with the familiar. 

    For a lot of students, their knowledge of the world of work is fairly limited. Many have a short list of occupations of which they have a personal understanding, such as being a ­doctor, lawyer or teacher. In reality, taking the time to assess one’s interests and passions first, next exploring a wide-variety of options, and then crafting a targeted job search strategy yields a much more satisfying result.  We have a variety of career interest assessment tools, a very specialized collection of print and electronic resources covering a wide array of occupations, and an incredible network of alumni and parent volunteers available to share their knowledge and perspective.

    Q:  Where do the students end up going?

    A: That’s the beauty of a Wesleyan liberal arts education – it can take you anywhere in the world. Our students have been taught to think and to analyze. They have the tools to pull together disparate information into a new understanding of the world. These skills are highly valued by top companies and institutions. I believe a Wesleyan degree is more relevant at the beginning of the 21st century than ever before.

    We often get the question about where do Wesleyan graduates go after leaving Middletown. The Career Resource Center Web site has a breakdown of where our alumni work.  We analyzed the alumni database. With information on 12,252 alumni, the top five occupations are business (28 percent), education (20 percent), health professions (9 percent), law (8 percent), and entertainment (6 percent). 

    Q: What is your day like?

    A: As director of the career center, I have two distinct roles: managing the office and staff and, at the same time, maintain a significant counseling schedule. These are often competing needs.  I work with an incredible group of talented and dedicated professionals. To date this year, the CRC has had 3,688 counseling interactions with 1,188 individuals. We’ve already organized 69 programs and events, and have had more than 60 organizations participate in our recruiting programs. And February is traditionally our busiest month!  It is a lot to coordinate. I have to say, though – I’ve got the best job at Wesleyan. Every single day, I get to talk with smart, articulate, motivated young people about their plans for the future and about the world they are about to change for the better. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Q: How long have you been at Wesleyan?

    A: I’ve been at Wesleyan for nine years. I had been the associate director of Career Services at Brown University prior to coming to Wesleyan. Before that, I worked at California State University, Fresno, the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Hampshire in a variety of student affairs positions ­ residential life, student life, and fraternity and sorority affairs. My bachelor’s degree is in gerontology and my master’s degree is in human development, counseling and family studies. I knew that I wanted to work with students, and that I wanted to use my counseling skills.

    Q:  Is your job rewarding? Do you keep in touch with the students after they leave?

    A: Incredibly rewarding. I’m so impressed with Wesleyan students and alumni. Now that I’ve been at Wesleyan for a significant time, I have the joy of reconnecting with former students at reunion or getting an e-mail message of the blue.  I was in New York recently and was stopped by a member of the Class of 2000. It was thrilling to hear that he was happy and enjoying life and doing amazing things.  I learn something new about the world everyday by talking with our students and alumni.

    Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies or tidbits that I should know about you outside of work?

    A: I’m a singer and have been a member of the Greater Middletown Chorale since coming to Wesleyan. We once got a call to sing with Kenny Rogers at the Oakdale Theater. This December, we were Governor Rell’s guests at the Governor’s Mansion in Hartford. Mostly, though, we sing the classical choral repertoire. I’m also on the board of Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.

    Q: Do you live in Middletown?

    A: Yes, on Ridge Road, and our next door neighbors on three sides are Wesleyan faculty and staff. We call it ‘The Compound.’ Did you know that there used to be a horse-drawn trolley that started in the North End on Main Street, turned up Ridge Road off of South Main and came all the way up to Crystal Lake?  I would have loved to see that.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor