by Olivia Drake •
by Olivia Drake •
David Rabban ’71 will speak on “Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the American University” during Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day Lecture.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Smith Reading Room inside Olin Memorial Library. The lecture, hosted by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library is free of charge and open to the public.
This talk will cover the judicial treatment of free speech and academic freedom at American universities from the 1950s to the present. It will explore the First Amendment rights of professors, students and universities as institutions, and the tensions that arise when these rights conflict.
by David Low •
Award-winning film and television director, producer and writer Joss Whedon ’87 is the subject of the informative and entertaining Joss Whedon: The Biography (Chicago Review Press) by Amy Pascale, a director at MTV.
The book begins by tracing Whedon’s growth from a creative child and teenager who spent years away from his family at an elite English boarding school (Winchester College in Hampshire), through his early successes—which often turned into frustration in television (Roseanne) and film (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The biography then covers his breakout career turn as the creator, writer, and director of the highly successful Buffy television series, which garnered a passionate fan base.
Following Buffy, Whedon directed, produced or wrote more television series (Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and the current ABC hit Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), several movies, Marvel comic books, and an innovative web series, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which gave him his first Emmy win. He went on to direct and write The Avengers film in 2012, which earned a worldwide box office of $1.5 billion. He followed this blockbuster with his film of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a critically acclaimed personal project shot in black-and-white at his home with a cast of friends.
One of the chapters of the biography deals with Whedon’s time at Wesleyan, where he majored in film. As an undergraduate, he further developed his keen interest in gender studies and feminism. He also wrote a paper on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which focused on four themes: the Watcher, the Watched, Isolation, and the Role of the Viewer, themes that would appear in his own creative work. Whedon became a TA for film classes and made a student film. He studied with Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English Emeritus, and with Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, who says: “His lectures were absolutely brilliant. They had … a kind of poetry that showed how his heart and soul really understood the medium, as well as his brain … He wasn’t just intellectually sharp about film, he was also emotionally, creatively sharp about it.”
Pascale conducted extensive interviews with Whedon and his family, friends, collaborators and stars, resulting in candid, behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of his groundbreaking TV series and films, and new stories about his work with Pixar writers and animators during the creation of Toy Story.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Jason Jacobs ’98, creator of the RunKeeper smartphone fitness app, sat down recently with The Boston Globe to chat about his business. The article notes that Jacobs, a government major at Wesleyan, proves that “you don’t have to be a techie to start a successful tech firm.”
“I didn’t study a whole lot,” Jacobs tells the Globe, “but when I did, American government was my major. I got out in the late ’90s, and I came to Boston and started working in small, high-growth technology. I’m not trained as an engineer. The plumbing of the Internet is very important but it’s not something that I could relate to a ton.”
Read more of Jacobs’ secrets to his success here.
by Olivia Drake •
On May 23-25 hundreds of Wesleyan alumni flocked to campus to celebrate Reunion & Commencement Weekend.
In addition to class reunions, alumni attended WESeminars, academic department open houses, a parade of classes, campus tours, an all-college picnic and festival, and an all-campus party featuring mamarazzi and Illegalize. The weekend culminated with the 182nd Commencement Ceremony featuring commencement speaker Theodore Shaw ’76. View the full schedule online here.
Classes ending in “4” and “9” celebrated their reunions.
For psychology major Sheryl Sturges ’79 and theater major Jonathan Duell ’79 of Cornwall, N.Y., being together on campus is all too familiar.
“I just showed up here in 1975 and I met my significant other,” Duell said.
“We met on the lawn in between Harriman Hall and Clark Hall, before Olin had an addition put on,” Sturges said. “We could see each other at night by pointing a flashlight through the window.”
Duell said the biggest change to campus is the addition of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
by Olivia Drake •
by Olivia Drake •
Zin Lin ’12 received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his research on PT-symmetric systems performed while a student at Wesleyan. Lin’s advisor was Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.
Lin was selected for his “outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well [his] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. He’s currently studying quantum nonlinear photonics as a second-year graduate student at Harvard University.
As a fellow, Lin will receive a $32,000 stipend for 2014-15. Fellows are expected to make satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their graduate degrees, as defined and certified by the Fellow’s GRFP institution. Upon completion of his fellowship, Lin is required to provide an Annual Activities Report that documents his activities, accomplishments, progress and productivity.
At Wesleyan, Lin double majored in physics and mathematics and graduated with high honors. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Robertson Prize, awarded during his sophomore year for “excellence in mathematics.”
by David Low •
Sue Guiney ’77 has published her second novel, Out of the Ruins (Ward Wood Publishing). At the beginning of the book, a Cambodian doctor is frustrated that the poor women in his country are dying needlessly. He reaches out to friends to help him create a new clinic for the local villages around Siem Reap’s world famous temples, and they answer his call.
An Irishman, Dr Diarmuid, arrives with his English assistant, Dr. Gemma, and a Canadian administrator Mr. Fred. Together they establish a place where poor women of Cambodia can find the basic care that so much of the world has long since taken for granted. A young and ambitious Cambodian nurse, Srey, acts as an interpreter and connection to the trust of the local community, but her idealized view of western medicine will be seriously challenged.
Tradition collides with science as East meets West, and though the doctors are all too eager to help, they have much to learn about their own personal demons in a desperate and seductive society.
In a recent interview in The Phnom Penh Post, Guiney comments on an aspect of her writing process: “I do quite a lot of research for my books, both through reading and on the Internet, but most importantly, by immersing myself in the place, walking the streets and talking to the people. For example, to research Out of the Ruins, I found a Khmer guide in his 20s who was willing to take me to streets where there are karaoke bars and tin-roofed shacks with girls of all ages offering themselves up for sale. He was brave to take a middle-aged Western woman to places she had no right being in. And I suppose I was brave to go with him. But I need to see things with my own eyes, even if they are just buildings and surroundings. And I need to talk to people about their experiences if possible.”
Guiney has lived in London for nearly 20 years where she writes and teaches fiction, poetry, and plays. Her work has appeared in prestigious literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her first book, published by Bluechrome Publishing in 2006, is the text of her poetry play Dreams of May, (now been relaunched by Ward Wood Publishing). which premiered at London’s Pentameters Theatre. Ward Wood has also published her poetry collection Her Life Collected and her first novel set in Cambodia, A Clash of Innocents.
Avery Esdaile ’00 started his new job as athletic director for Boston Public Schools on Monday, April 14. Before his recent transition, Esdaile spent 12 years in the Wellesley College Athletic Department.
Ken Still, the former athletic director for Boston Public Schools, retired in October, leaving the schools without an AD for much of the fall and the entire winter season. Esdaile, with a degree in sociology from Wesleyan and a master’s of science in management of sports industries from the University of New Haven, says he is looking forward to being “in a position to hopefully down the line develop a program that infuses some learning and life lessons through athletics” because he hopes to help “kids that participate in athletics not only grow athletically but grow as the people that they are,” according a Boston Globe article.
Esdaile will face challenges through the transition from college to high school including the huge shift in size; at Wellesley he had only one team in each sport but as AD for Boston Public Schools, he has multiple teams participating in each sport. One issue Esdaile is planning to tackle is “the lack of interest in certain sports in the city.”
Less popular sports include hockey and swimming and Esdaile hopes to give students more opportunities to participate in these sports. Speaking about his plans, he states, “Right now, for me to come in and make changes would be foolish. The goal is to get through the year, take that breath, and then start to get ready for next year and look at what are some of things that we can do that make us more efficient or open the lines of communication or deal with anything that will just make what we do in this office here work at a higher level.”
by David Low •
Julia Morrison ’96 has co-produced, co-written and edited a new film, Hank and Asha (website), which opened at the City Cinemas Village East Theater New York City last weekend and will run at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in Los Angeles from April 18–24. This lovely romantic comedy about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life’s what-ifs was co-written and directed by James Duff, who is also Morrison’s husband.
In the film, an Indian woman (Mahira Kakkar) studying in Prague and a lonely Southerner (Andrew Pastides) living in New York begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters—two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship develops, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face.
Hank and Asha premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Since then it has screened at more than 25 festivals worldwide, and has won 11 awards.
In his New York Times review, Nicolas Rapold writes: “A rare sustained epistolary romance, … this winsome, whisper-thin tale shimmers along with the charming urge to connect and reveal yourself that links its two correspondents. … this is a movie by people who honor the pleasures of waiting, wondering and longing in an instantaneous world.”
NPR interview with Julia Morrison and James E. Duff
Hank and Asha on Facebook
Jeremy Serwer ’70 joined the Outlet Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2005, the Developers of Outlet Centers and Retailers started the Outlet Industry Hall of Fame to honor people in the outlet retail industry who help the industry grow and improve. Serwer is the president of a consulting firm he began in 1993.
At Wesleyan, Serwer majored in French, Russian, and music, so his decision to enter the retail industry shocked his family. As a 14-year-old boy working in a girls’ clothing store, Serwer thought that retail was the most exciting market. “The constant demand and constant energy and the measurement of your efforts every day through sales really turned me on,” he said.
With a client list that includes Michael Kors and Jockey, Serwer has worked on both developer and retail sides of the industry. As he accepted the award, Serwer said he had “never envisioned that the industry would become a primary channel of growth and innovation. We started with a cigar box for cash and 2-year-old inventory, and then one day a landlord offered to write a check to build a store.”