Campus News & Events

Smolkin in The Conversation: Why a Centuries-Old Religious Dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Matters Today

Victoria Smolkin

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin explains the historical context and significance today of a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. Smolkin is also associate professor, Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, and a tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Why a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church matters today

A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine.

Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and transferred its jurisdiction from the church of Moscow to the church of Constantinople, located in Istanbul.

This competition between the churches of Constantinople and Moscow for dominance in the Orthodox Christian world is not new – it goes back more than 500 years. But the birth of the new Orthodox Church in Ukraine opens a new chapter in this history.

So what is Ukraine’s new church, and how will it change the global political and religious landscape?

Gilmore Speaks on Venus’s Terrain at American Museum of Natural History

Sporting their Earth and Environmental Sciences–labeled jackets, John Hossain MA ’18 and Avi Stein ’17 posed for a photo with Professor Marty Gilmore during her recent talk at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Martha “Marty” Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology and professor of earth and environmental sciences, presented a talk at the American Museum of Natural History on Feb. 4 titled “Venus: One Fate of a Habitable Planet.” Gilmore’s presentation was part of the museum’s Frontiers Lecture Series, which highlights the latest advances in our knowledge of the universe by presenting the work of scientists at the cutting edge of astrophysics.

Gilmore, a planetary geologist, uses surface mapping and orbital spectroscopy to study Venus’s terrain. During her talk, she spoke about the planet’s oldest rocks and what they can tell us about the history of water on one of Earth’s closest neighbors. Gilmore supports her investigations by studying minerals formed and/or weathered under conditions on Venus.

Gilmore also uses spectroscopy to evaluate the extent and health of plant species local to Connecticut.

Wesleyan alumni Avi Stein ’17 and John Hossain MA ’18 attended the standing-room-only talk.

Gilmore is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the deputy chair of NASA’s Venus Exploration Analysis Group. At Wesleyan, she’s also the director, graduate studies, and co-coordinator, planetary science.

Joe Reed Remembered for Teaching at Wesleyan 44 Years

Joe Reed

Joe Reed

(Information provided by the Office of Academic Affairs)

Joseph W. Reed, professor of English and American studies, emeritus, died on Feb. 11 at the age of 86.

Reed arrived at Wesleyan in 1960 after receiving his BA, MA, and PhD from Yale University, and having served on active duty in the Navy. During his time here, he served as the chair of the English Department and of the Sesquicentennial Committee, and was one of the founding architects of both American Studies and Film Studies at Wesleyan. He played an important role in cultivating numerous interdisciplinary initiatives on campus and was involved in a long-term collaboration with Jon Barlow, professor of music, focused on William Faulkner’s fiction, John Ford’s films, and Charles Ives’s music. He retired in 2004 after 44 years at Wesleyan.

Reed is remembered for his legendary teaching of up to 200-400 students a year, his wide-ranging scholarship, and his kind and generous colleagueship.

6 Students Honored for Creative Writing, Poetry, Essays

Caridad Cruz, Oriana Ullman, Doc Polk, Nic Guo, Natalie Ruby, and Sahara Sidi.

Caridad Cruz ’21, Oriana Ullman ’21, Doc Polk ’19, Nic Guo ’20, Natalie Ruby ’19, and Sahara Sidi ’22 presented readings at Russell House on Feb. 13. All six students are recipients of creative writing and English Department Prizes. (Photo by Douglas Martin, assistant director of creative writing)

Six Wesleyan students were recently honored by Creative Writing at Wesleyan and the English Department.

Caridad Cruz ’21 is the recipient of the Sophie and Anne Reed Prize. Established by Leon Reed; his sons, S. Chadwick ’41 and Dr. Victor Reed; and his grandson Ted Reed ’70, the prize is named in memory of Sophie Reed and Anne Reed, for the best poem or group of poems.

Wesleyan Announces 2019 Honorary Degree Recipients

At the University’s 187th Commencement on May 26, 2019, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the historic Vanguard Class of 1969 and the founding of the African American Studies program at Wesleyan, Wesleyan will present three honorary degrees.

Saidiya Hartman ’84, a groundbreaking scholar and cultural historian, will deliver this year’s Commencement address. Hazel Carby and Edwin Sanders II ’69 also will be honored.

Film by Leter ’21 to Premiere in Paris

The poster for “Pau” was designed by Sarina Hahn ’21 and Vincent Warne ’18.

The poster for “Pau” was designed by Sarina Hahn ’21 and Vincent Warne ’18.

“Pau,” a feature-length film by Alexandre Leter ’21 will be premiering at the Cinéma Saint-André Des Arts in Paris on March 13.

“It’s a very engaged art-house and cinema that’s very supportive of young filmmakers,” Leter said. “I sent them a DVD of the film last summer, and they agreed to show it.”

Leter, who is majoring in religion and minoring in film studies, started making “Pau” during his senior year of high school in Paris and finished the film during his freshman year at Wesleyan. The film follows “Pau,” a young girl who begins to experience hallucinatory visions as a result of mourning her father’s premature death. The idea for the film came to Leter after his junior year of high school, when his father passed away.

“When you’re grieving someone, you start imagining them around you in a way, as if they’re still there, if you walk by a place where you used to go with that person,” Leter said. “For me, I would start seeing my dad there, imagining him in my head. The idea of the film was having that kind of experience, these illusions or hallucinations, of someone who just lost someone who was close to them.”

Leter’s mother is from Chicago, and both his mother and his sister went to colleges in the U.S., so Leter knew early on he wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“In France, you need to know exactly what you want to study after high school,” Leter said. “Even though I loved film, I didn’t want to be set on doing one thing right out of high school…I felt like the liberal arts education here was a really good fit.”

Once he began searching for schools, Leter became interested in Wesleyan for its emphasis on the arts.

“Wesleyan really caught my eye for being really strong in the arts and also academically, and having a really good film program, and having a lot of really dynamic people,” he said.

Watch a trailer for “Pau” online here. The film will run at the Cinéma Saint-André Des Arts until March 25.

Read more about Leter and “Pau” in this Feb. 13 LeParisien article.

Davison Art Center Acquires 23 Prints from American Artist Jasper Johns in Honor of Former Curator

Richard "Dick" Field and Miya Tokumitsu

Former Davison Art Center curator Richard “Dick” Field P’09 visited Wesleyan on Feb. 7 to view a series of screen prints recently donated to the DAC by artist Jasper Johns. Pictured, Field and DAC curator Miya Tokumitsu discuss one of Jasper Johns’ silkscreens titled Corpse and Mirror, 1976. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Jasper Johns signed a copy of the book, Jasper Johns: Prints 1960-1970, which was written by Dick Field. The book is housed in the Davison Art Center’s library. 

More than 40 years have passed since Richard “Dick” Field P’09 laid eyes on a silkscreen titled Corpse and Mirror.

“I enjoy seeing this. It’s part of my past,” Field said during a stopover at the Davison Art Center on Feb. 7. “It’s like visiting an old friend.”

Corpse and Mirror, created by American artist Jasper Johns, is one of 23 prints donated to the Davison Art Center in December 2018 by the artist himself. Johns donated the images to Wesleyan in honor of Field, who served as the DAC’s curator from 1972 to 1979.

Johns, an 89-year-old artist, is known for his textured screenprints and paintings of flags, numbers, lightbulbs, and targets. He engaged with pop art, minimalism, conceptual art, and abstract expressionism movements.

“Personally, I am thrilled that Wesleyan has been designated by Jasper Johns to be a recipient of his work,” said Miya Tokumitsu, curator of the Davison Art Center. “Also, I am very happy that Dick’s legacy will be honored in this way. Although Dick has long since left Wesleyan, he continues to care deeply about the DAC.”

Field first encountered Johns’ work in 1964 when he purchased a piece titled Ale Cans.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Wall Street International Magazine: “Tula Telfair: Reverie”

Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s new exhibition of landscape paintings, “Reverie,” is presented Feb. 7 through March 30 at the Forum Gallery in New York. According to the article, “In the fourteen paintings that comprise ‘Reverie,’ she explores the inner reaches of her dreams and memories, taking us to places she has been or believes in so fully that she is able to portray and take the viewer to the essential, emotional center of every location as she recalls not only the place, but the sense of discovery, of wonder she felt as she found it.”

2. Hartford Courant: “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: Wesleyan University Expands Hamilton Prize for Creativity Scholarship”

The Courant reports on news that beginning this year, three incoming students will have an opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding creative work under Wesleyan’s prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity. In addition to the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan—the University will also award two honorable mentions, along with $5,000 grants to support creative work. The announcement was also covered in Playbill and The Middletown Press.

3. NBC Connecticut: “National Girls and Women in Sports Day Encourages Girls to Get Out and Play”

Jacobsen Named President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen

On Feb. 8, President Michael Roth announced in a campus-wide email that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen will become the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., beginning July 1.

In announcing Jacobsen’s appointment as president, Hobart and William Smith’s Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Bozzuto said, “President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith. In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values, and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”

Jacobsen joined Wesleyan’s Economics Department in 1993 and has contributed to the University in myriad ways—as a scholar, teacher, and administrator—since that time.

In the all-campus email, Roth wrote, “As a leader of the University, Joyce has touched nearly every aspect of university operations—overseeing the entire academic enterprise at Wesleyan, including Athletics, Institutional Research, and Community Partnerships. She has also been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, and has helped create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborated on admission and enrollment strategies.”

Apply for an Olin or Winchester Fellowship

The English Department awards two fellowships that support summer projects or graduate study. The deadline for application is 5 p.m. on April 1.

Olin Fellowships are open to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors.

Founded in 1854 by the mother of Stephen Olin (Wesleyan president 1839–41 and 1842–51) and later increased by gifts of Stephen Henry Olin (Class of 1866 and acting president 1922–23) and his wife, the Olin Fellowships are awarded in recognition of achievement in English to support independent research or creative writing. The fellowships are to be used for work in English outside the Wesleyan course structure. Such work may consist of research (in preparation for a thesis, for example) or training in research methods, study in an academic program, or creative writing.

Fellowships will be awarded on the basis of a project’s merit, the student’s ability to carry it out, and in recognition of both promise and achievement in English studies. Financial need will be a factor although it is not the primary consideration. Apply for an Olin Fellowship here.

 

Winchester Fellowships are open to graduating seniors and recent graduates.

Wesleyan established the Winchester Fellowship in 1938, in memory of Professor Caleb Thomas Winchester and to support graduate work in literature or writing.

The fellowship is intended to support work for the PhD. Applicants must already be admitted to a graduate program in order to receive a fellowship. The Winchester award is intended to be used as a substantial supplement to fellowships, teaching assistantships, and the like, or to enable students to undertake research or travel. The maximum award is $5,000. Apply for a Winchester Fellowship here.

Alumni Lead Students on 3-Day Career Trek

During the inaugural New York City Career Trek, hosted by Wesleyan’s Gordon Career Center, several students visited the Lincoln Center Theater to meet with Wesleyan alumni who are active in the theater industry.

Forty-six Wesleyan students interested in finance, journalism, public health, tech, theater, and music had the opportunity to participate in a three-day immersive career exploration program over winter break.

Spearheaded by the Gordon Career Center‘s Winter on Wyllys programming, the inaugural New York City Career Trek, held Jan. 16-18, allowed students to travel to New York City and meet and network with Wesleyan alumni at their places of work.

Industry sites included: Citi and Bloomberg for finance; The New York Times and Hearst Communications for journalism; Atlantic Records and BtOVEN MUSIC for music; Pfizer and the National Hemophilia Foundation for public health; Squarespace and Google for tech; and Lincoln Center Theater and Vineyard Theatre for theater.

Klusmeyer Receives a Chambliss Award for Astronomy Research

After a star forms, a dusty ring of space debris may begin orbiting around a star. These circumstellar disks are composed of asteroids or collision fragments, cosmic dust grains, and gasses.

Astronomy graduate student Jessica Klusmeyer is interested in understanding the molecular composition of the debris disk gas. “It has important implications not only for our knowledge of debris disks but also for planet formation,” she said.

Klusmeyer joined more than 25 Wesleyan affiliates and shared her research during the 233rd American Astronomical Society Meeting Jan. 6-10 in Seattle, Wash. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) awarded Klusmeyer a Chambliss medal for her poster presentation titled, “A Deep Search for Five Molecules in the Debris Disk around 49 Ceti.”

The Astronomy Achievement Student Awards recognize exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students who present at one of the poster sessions at the meetings of the AAS. Awardees are honored with a Chambliss medal or a certificate.

Klusmeyer competed for the Chambliss award against hundreds of graduate and PhD students from research universities around the country.

A second-year masters student, Klusmeyer is working on the project with her advisor, Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy and assistant professor, integrative sciences.

“Professor Hughes has a very active and supportive research group that covers a wide variety of circumstellar disks and planet formation topics,” Klusmeyer said. “She works in radio wavelengths of light and the group often utilizes data from the world-class Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope.”

Klusmeyer joined Hughes’s group during her first year of graduate school and is working on unlocking the molecular composition of a nearby debris disk surrounding 49 Ceti, a star located in the constellation of Cetus. Cetus, which is named after a Greek sea monster, resembles the shape of a whale and can be viewed from campus (or as far away as Chile!).

Scientists once thought that debris disks would lose their gas composition after planet formation, however, more than 20 debris disks containing molecular carbon monoxide gas have already been detected by astronomers.

“Our project wants to understand the nature of this gas,” Klusmeyer explained. “Is it leftover material from when the star formed, or is it constantly being produced in collisions from exocomets or other small bodies orbiting around 49 Ceti?”

If a debris disk has gas, “it may provide a longer period of time for gas giant planet formation or we could detect other molecules commonly found in comets and have the first glance at the molecular composition of comets around other stars,” she said.

Girish Duvvuri ’17 received a Chambliss medal in 2018. Read more.