Alumni news.

Roth: Universities Must Ensure Quality and Equality

In an opinion piece for a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth discusses how colleges and universities, like secondary schools, must reverse the trends of limiting access to intellectual and social opportunities for all their students, regardless of economic background. Roth says that specialization has received too much emphasis and that “many people have pointed out that higher education itself is beset by problems that undermine its ability to provide students with this flexible, pragmatic framework for lifelong learning. Take, for example, the powerful, long-term trends toward specialization in university culture, trends that have a decidedly negative impact on undergraduate education…At many colleges, this has led to a fragmentation of intellectual life, with powerful departments defending their own interests without regard to the welfare of the institution as a whole.”

Basinger, Dombrowski ’92 on Celebrity Culture Today

In The New York Times OpEd forum “Room for Debate,” Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, and Lisa Dombrowski ’92, associate professor of film studies, both examine the question of the difficulty of celebrity for film stars today as opposed to the old studio system that produced such luminaries as Elizabeth Taylor.

Basinger says that one of the big differences today is the scale and scope of scrutiny: “Today we’ve added on TV coverage, instant Internet coverage, international coverage — and all the news seems to be entertainment news.”

Dombroski says that the studio system protected stars, though there were caveats to this, while stars today are “freelancers supported only by agents, managers, and personal publicists whose employment relies on the approval of the star.”

Roth Reviews Barkan’s ‘Michelangelo: A Life on Paper’

In a review for The Washington Post, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth discusses the new book by Leonard Barkan: Michelangelo: A Life on Paper. While volumes have been written about the great artist and his work, Roth says this book is different and intriguing because of its perspective. “It focuses…on the artist’s ‘life on paper,’ the hundreds of sheets that have survived containing drawings, poems, doodles, instructions to assistants and ‘notes to self.’ For Barkan, a professor of comparative literature at Princeton, these sheets are a treasure trove of aesthetic delights; traces of the historical context of Renaissance art making; and, most important, a window onto the personality and artistic practice of a figure who came to define genius.”

Math, Science Alone will not Increase Competitiveness

In an OpEd for The Houston Chronicle, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth says that while the recent emphasis on math and science studies to increase students’ international competitiveness is laudable, it is not enough. Only a balanced education that also includes the humanities, social sciences and arts will give students the depth of knowledge and critical thinking skills they will need to lead and compete in the fast-changing 21st Century workplace.

Devane ’09 Find NYC Ideal for the Life of an Entrepreneur

Tim Devane ’09

Tim Devane ’09 was recently interviewed by the tech blog We Are NY Tech.Devane describes himself as a “British-born NYC-living entrepreneur, wanderer, environmental advocate, hustler, business developer, and most importantly writer.”

In the interview, Devane discusses why he came to New York City:

“New York is where things happen. I was drawn in by the electricity, the excitement, and have been overwhelmed by the shear capacity to create and accomplish that people here exhibit. That goes for tech and for many other areas. It’s like everyone has their noses to the grindstone but they’re looking up winking at you, because they know New York is the only place they could do what they’re doing.”

Devane also talks about his connection with Wesleyan alumni:

“I owe quite a lot to the alums I connected with just before and after graduating from Wesleyan. … Many of these alums are people I count as friends and colleagues today. Wes alums gave me advice on where to go, what to do, and who else to speak to. They introduced me to industries and companies I was unaware of. More than anything, they helped me gain a stronger sense of what I wanted to do, because I really wasn’t sure when I left school.

Devane also recently contributed an op-ed, “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Job Search Today,”to the Huffington Post. In searching for a job, he suggests sending e-mail constantly to contacts, moving to the place where you want to work, and keeping up the hustle in the wake of rejection.

Devane works at Betaworks, a tech incubator and venture firm founded by two Wesleyan graduates, Andrew Weissman ’88 and John Borthwick ’87. The firm starts and invests in promising Web services, and was featured last year in The New York Times.

Devane is the co-founder (along with Eli Bronner ’10) of Birthright Earth, an environmental nonprofit program that funds eye-opening trips for young people to the rain forests of South America. For more information, go to

Posner ’09 Brings “Do Something Award” to Wesleyan

From left, President Michael Roth, Jessica Posner ’09 and Shining Hope for Communities board member Rob Rosenthal, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

On Nov. 1, Jessica Posner ’09 met with Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Rob Rosenthal, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, and the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, to share her “Do Something Award.”

On July 19, Posner was declared the top world-changer among all Americans under 25 by VH1. She received a trophy and a $100,000 award for Shining Hope for Communities, an organization she co-founded in August 2009 with Kennedy Odede ’12. Shining Hope created the first free school for girls in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum.

The award ceremony is featured online here.

Roth OpEd: This is the Cynical Season in Politics

In an opinion piece for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth says that this may be one of the most cynical election cycles ever, a mood abetted by the recent Supreme Court ‘Citizen’s United’ case that allows for more special interest group advertising. But while cynics are ‘no fools,’ cynicism in general does not lend itself well to positive change or progress. It also can lead to withdrawal from the political process.

Undefeated 1969 Football Team Won in Tense Era

The Hartford Courant profiled the undefeated 1969 Wesleyan Football Team and discussed the heady social and political environment on campus and in the U.S. back then. The perfect season came complete with protests against one opponent, Army, as well as a bomb threat, war protests, and racial unrest. Despite all the turmoil, the team became a unifying force on campus. The 1969 team will have a reunion on the night of Saturday, Oct. 23, as part of HomeComing/ Family Weekend. The team has also been inducted into the Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame.

Zilkha Exhibit, Ho Bynum’98 on ‘Where We Live’

A new exhibit at the Zilkha Gallery titled “Connectivity Lost” was featured on a recent broadcast of WNPR’s ‘Where We Live.’ The exhibit examines the disconnects in modern society between people and their surroundings.

‘Where We Live’ also featured Taylor Ho Bynum ’98, a jazz musician who is currently on a 1,000 mile tour – using his bicycle as his sole mode of transportation. Bynum said the tour is a combination of his great loves: music, biking, and experimentation.

Four Alumni Win Emmy Awards

The following alumni received Emmy Awards at the 62nd annual Emmy Awards  on August 29.

Bruce McKenna ‘84—Co-Executive Producer, Outstanding Miniseries, The Pacific. The Pacific received 8 Emmy Awards, more than any other program.

Matthew Senreich ’96—Executive Producer, Writer, Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program, Robot Chicken.

Matthew Weiner ‘87—Executive Producer, Mad Men, Outstanding Drama Series; Writer (with Erin Levy), Mad Men, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”. Mad Men received 4 Emmy Awards.

Bill Wrubel ‘85—Co-Executive Producer, Modern Family, Outstanding Comedy Series. Modern Family received 6 Emmy Awards.

A complete list of nominees from the Wesleyan community can be found here, and a complete list of all Emmy winners can be found here.