Campus News & Events

Gordon Career Center Teaches Career Education through Course, Podcast Interviews

The Gordon Career Center launched Careers by Design.

The Gordon Career Center’s Careers by Design program is a series of lectures and exercises designed to help students identify what factors may be influencing their choice of major, internship, or career path.

The Gordon Career Center is helping students design their future.

Through a new intensive seminar called Careers by Design, Wesleyan students can explore the many influences on their career decision making and make choices that are right for them. The Gordon Career Center’s innovative approach to career education encourages students to design their own careers by exploring the intersection between their interests, the skills they have and wish to acquire, and market demand.

“Careers by Design is a framework that applies the principles of design thinking to solve every college student’s ultimate questions: ‘Who do I want to be? What do I want to become?’” said Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon career Center.

Careers by Design, which is offered in January as part of Wesleyan’s Winter on Wyllys career programming, also is taught through an online course. Students learn how to apply design thinking to the search for meaningful work, write an “elevator pitch” to describe themselves, analyze the past and visualize the future, understand and define workplace success, and explore ways to launch their career. The online course, which runs for about an hour and 15 minutes, includes multiple exercises and recommended resources.

In addition, Careers by Design boasts a series of interviews by well-known Wesleyan alumni and guests including Joshua Boger ‘73, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Andy Brandon-Gordon ‘86, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Ed Heffernan ‘84, CEO of Alliance Data; Laura Walker ‘79, CEO of WNYC; Bradley Whitford ‘81, actor (The West Wing, The Cabin in the Woods, Transparent); and more.

These interviews are offered as podcasts and can be accessed through iTunes U and Sound Cloud.

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$1 Million Cardinal Challenge Exceeds Expectations

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Last month members of the Cardinal community joined together to secure an additional $1 million for financial aid for students during Wesleyan’s $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. The success of the challenge provided a strong finish to Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign, which came to its close on June 30.

The Cardinal Challenge was funded through the generosity of John L. Usdan ’80, P’15, ’18, ’18, who pledged $500 for financial aid for every gift of any amount to any Wesleyan cause received during the month of June, for a total of up to $1 million for financial aid. The challenge inspired 2,831 Wesleyan Fund gifts for a total of $3,178,864—plus the additional $1 million from Usdan.

“As an institution, we’re lucky to have such consistent and generous donors who understand how important their giving is to the lives of students,” said Chuck Fedolfi ’90, director of annual giving for the Wesleyan Fund. “And it’s extra-special when someone like John Usdan steps forward to inspire our alumni and parents with such a generous challenge.”

Wesleyan Raises $482 Million in THIS IS WHY Campaign

More than 1,300 members of the Wesleyan community attended the “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway” on Oct. 2, 2015 to raise funds for Wesleyan's THIS IS WHY Campaign. Pictured, from left, is Miranda Haymon ’16, Melissa Leung ’16, Wayne Ng ’16, Lauren Langer ’16, Amanda Roosa ’16, Emma Buford ’16 and Sadichchha Adhikari ‘16.

More than 1,300 members of the Wesleyan community attended the “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway” on Oct. 2, 2015 to raise funds for financial aid through Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY campaign. Pictured, from left, is Miranda Haymon ’16, Melissa Leung ’16, Wayne Ng ’16, Lauren Langer ’16, Amanda Roosa ’16, Emma Buford ’16 and Sadichchha Adhikari ‘16. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

#THISISWHY

Wesleyan University closed out its most successful fundraising campaign ever on June 30 with $482 million raised, far surpassing the original goal of $400 million. The biggest share, $274 million, went to financial aid, making a Wesleyan education possible for motivated and talented students who could not otherwise afford to attend. More than 36,000 donors gave to the THIS IS WHY campaign.

In June 2016, the Cardinal community joined together to secure 1 million for financial aid by participating in the $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. John Usdan ’80, P’15, ’18, ’18 gave $500 towards every gift made.

In June 2016, the Cardinal community joined together to secure $1 million for financial aid by participating in the $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. All funds raised were contributed to the THIS IS WHY campaign.

Not only was the THIS IS WHY campaign the most successful in Wesleyan’s history, but this past fiscal year was Wesleyan’s biggest fundraising year ever with $79 million raised in gifts and pledges. In the month of June alone, Wesleyan received 3,400 gifts, spurred by the $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. John Usdan ’80, P’15, ’18, ’18 donated $500 for every gift made during this challenge. In the last five days of the campaign, donors stepped up with $30 million in new pledges.

The campaign could hardly have started at a more inauspicious time, just before the financial markets collapsed at the start of the Great Recession in late 2007. Yet the Wesleyan community banded together to make a Wesleyan education their cause, with nearly 80 percent of alumni donating to the campaign. Wesleyan parents also donated $51 million.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the extended Wesleyan family during the course of the THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “In traveling around the world and speaking to alumni and parents about why they choose to make a Wesleyan education their cause, I have been so impressed by the loyalty and ambition of this community. The loyalty comes from a sense of belonging to an institution that decisively affected one’s life, and the ambition comes from the desire to see that institution continue to grow and provide to others a liberal education characterized by boldness, rigor and practical idealism.

“I have been able to describe to them how their gifts to Wesleyan enable us to strengthen the things they care so much about. This being Wesleyan, our supporters are not primarily interested in replicating the past. Instead, they tend to want to recreate the conditions of change that have allowed our University to have a powerfully transformative impact on its students.”

From left, Brandon Coulter ’11, Thalia Bernstein ’11, Julian Silver '12 and Stephanie Ullmann '11 gather during the "How to Destroy Higher Education" conversation in Los Angeles with President Michael Roth on Oct. 29, 2014. (Photo by Maiz Connolly '90)

From left, Brandon Coulter ’11, Talia Bernstein ’11, Julian Silver ’12 and Stephanie Ullmann ’11 gather during the “How to Destroy Higher Education” conversation in Los Angeles with President Michael Roth on Oct. 29, 2014. The event was held in conjunction with the THIS IS WHY Campaign. (Photo by Maiz Connolly ’90)

The three goals of the campaign were to increase funding for access, inquiry and impact. Of the funds raised, $286 million went to the endowment, to ensure future financial stability, while $196 million went to current use. The more than $274 million raised for access included the creation of 152 new endowed scholarships. About half of all students at Wesleyan receive financial aid. The two other focal points of the campaign were inquiry—more than $145 million in new resources to recruit and retain the most talented faculty—and impact—more than $61 million to advance students’ opportunities to deepen their learning through the creative interaction of scholarship and engagement with their community.

Highlights include the launch of four new interdisciplinary colleges—in the areas of film, East Asian studies, environmental studies, and integrative sciences—as well as the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, and endowment support for the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, Center for the Humanities, the Gordon Career Center, and the renovation of Boger Hall.

At a gala in Grand Central Terminal in New York City on June 16 to celebrate the success of the campaign, President Roth recognized the campaign leaders, including Campaign Chair and Trustee Emeritus John Usdan; Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09, newly-retired chair of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees; Ellen Jewett ’81 P’17, trustee emerita; Alan Dachs ’70, Hon. ’07, P ’98, chair emeritus of the Board; and Donna Morea ’76, P ’06, chair of the Board—and thanked the entire Wesleyan community for its support. He also credited Vice President for University Relations Barbara-Jan Wilson and her team for their work throughout the THIS IS WHY campaign.

Wesleyan Students Help Local Preschoolers Get a Kickstart on Kindergarten

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Stephanie Blumenstock ’16 works with children in the Kindergarten Kickstart program on July 14 at Bielefield School in Middletown. The program, which is taught by Wesleyan students and local teachers, is celebrating its fifth year this summer. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Kindergarten Kickstart, a research-based, summer pre-K program for children in Middletown created by Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman and her students, is celebrating its fifth year. It’s marking the occasion with an event July 20 at the Middletown Roller Skating Rink (free for any current or past Kickstart family, 4 to 6 p.m.) and using a new grant to further develop student innovation in the program.

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At left, Megan Dolan ’17 and Stephanie Blumenstock ’16 help Kindergarden Kickstart students during outdoor playtime.

Shusterman and three of her students first launched Kindergarten Kickstart in summer 2012 as a pilot program with 15 children at MacDonough School. They designed the curriculum and taught the program together with a MacDonough teacher. Today, this five-week program serves 35 children at Bielefield and Farm Hill schools (who will be entering kindergarten at those schools plus MacDonough), with six Wesleyan undergraduates and recent alumni leading the classes and developing the curriculum. A certified teacher continues to work at each site. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including a small budget from Wesleyan’s Provost, the Foundation for Greater Hartford, Safe Schools/Healthy Students, and a seed grant from Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

The program is intended for children who could benefit from an extra pre-school experience before beginning kindergarten in the fall. Through a partnership between university-based research labs, Middletown Public Schools and local community organizations, Kindergarten Kickstart aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap and improve participants’ school readiness skills through a short-term, high-impact, low-cost preschool program.

According to Shusterman, children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten with academic skills up to two years behind their peers. Research shows that quality early childhood education makes a huge difference in helping to shrink this achievement gap. In fact, economists estimate a $7 return for every $1 invested in early childhood education, resulting from lower spending on school remediation, incarceration, unemployment and other programs that become necessary when children do not start out on the right foot.

Shusterman said Kindergarten Kickstart was started as a way to put early childhood research into practice.

President Roth, Ulysse Respond to Recent Black Men Killings, Police Murders

In a July 11 Roth on Wesleyan blog, President Michael Roth responds to two recent killings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the murders of five police officers in Texas. In the blog, titled, “On What Matters” Roth shares his own thoughts and the reflections of others that he found meaningful. He writes:

Too often I have written blog posts about tragedies, violence, injustice. From attacks in other parts of the world to devastation right here in the USA, I have expressed sorrow, anger—and often a feeling of solidarity with those who have suffered, are suffering. Readers have pointed out that my compassion, like other forms of attention, is selective. There are plenty of injustices that have gone unremarked in this space, either because of my own ignorance or my judgments about what I should be writing about in this Roth on Wesleyan blog.

I have followed the news reports and commentaries closely over the last week. What horror unfolds before us! The brutal killings by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana and the vicious murders of police officers in Dallas that followed have underscored how violence can destroy individual lives while shaking communities to the core.

In her latest piece in The Huffington Post, Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, responds to the recent killings of black men.

She writes:

My optimism wanes and my patience continues to be tried with each new extra judicial killing, each exoneration. Each one is more confirmation of the deep rootedness of our inequality. We bear the weight of history so unequally. It is written on our bodies and etched in the color of our skin. Human chattel. Property. Slaves. That is the undue burden, the inequity we live with, that simply cannot be undone unconsciously. Its transformation, if that (I am not naïve), requires so much more than will. To bring about a modicum of change we must not only intentionally attempt, but also be determined, to shift. It will not happen par hazard. Because history has seen to it that the exchange, use, and sign value ascribed to Black lives remains unequal to that of Whites. We are differentially positioned and invested.

What story do you tell yourself to assuage the comfort you find in the social luxury of being in an unmarked body. Your silence is your complicity. Where is your outrage as we all bear witness to this moment?

Read more here.

Wesleyan Group Helps Discover First Philistine Cemetery

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg '19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg ’19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.

Two Wesleyan students, one recent alumna and a faculty member contributed to a groundbreaking discovery of the first Philistine cemetery, a crowning achievement of more than 30 years of excavation in Ashkelon, Israel. Archaeologists and scholars have long searched for the origin of the Philistines, and the discovery of the cemetery is poised to offer the key to this mystery. Findings from the cemetery, dated to the 11th–8th centuries BCE, may well support the claim – long inferred and recorded in the Bible – that the Philistines were migrants to the shores of ancient Israel who arrived from lands to the West around the 12th century BCE.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of art history, is the assistant director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon and has been bringing Wesleyan students to the site since 2011 to participate in the research and excavation. The 3,000-year-old site, located in the southern district of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, offers clues to the Philistines’ way of life. Little is known about their origins.

Sarah McCully '16 has worked for the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon for three years.

Sarah McCully ’16 has worked for the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon for three years.

This summer, Joy Feinberg ’19, Jaimie Marvin ’19 and Sarah McCully ’16 worked on the Philistine cemetery. McCully ’16, who came to Ashkelon with Birney years ago, is now a staff member for the Leon Levy Expedition. In addition, Sam Ingbar ’16, Hannah Thompson ’17, Maria Ma ’17 and Sabrina Rueber ’18 are also in Ashkelon this summer working on the excavation of a 7th century merchants’ neighborhood.

Humanities Open Book Program Supports Out of Print Book Digitizing

Wesleyan recently received a $100,000 grant through the Humanities Open Book Program for digitizing select titles in the areas of dance and theater that were previously published by Wesleyan University Press but are no longer in print.

The Open Book Program is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, and is part of the agency-wide initiative called The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square. The purpose of the Open Book grant is to make out-of-print titles previously published by academic presses widely available in an open access (free) e-book format.

Wesleyan Oral History Project Available on WesScholar

The Wesleyan Oral History project features an interview with Bob Rosenbaum.

The Wesleyan Oral History project features an interview with Bob Rosenbaum.

Twelve oral history interviews of Wesleyan community members, including faculty emeriti and administrators, are available at Olin Library. Transcripts and recordings have been deposited in Special Collections and Archives, and Leith Johnson, university archivist, has worked to make the transcripts available on WesScholar.  (A link to the collection of memoirs will also be available from the Wasch Center website.)

The set includes an extensive interview with Bill Firshein, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, Emeritus, who passed away in December 2015. In this interview, Firshein related a whole complex of matters having to do with his Wesleyan career—his work as a scientist, his Jewish identity, his relationship with the administration, his colleagues, his hobbies and avocations. Another treasure in the collection is an interview with Bob Rosenbaum, who just completed his 100th birthday celebration in November. Rosenbaum is a University Professor of Sciences and Mathematics, Emeritus. He also served as academic vice president, acting president, and chancellor at Wesleyan.

“Should anyone undertake a history of the last 50 years of Wesleyan, going forward, these oral histories will be invaluable resources,” said Karl Scheibe, director of the Wasch Center. “And if no such history emerges, the oral histories will be even more important for the detail they contain and the perspectives they represent.”

Heather Zavod and Christine Foster, freelance writers who have contributed to Wesleyan magazine, are working on a new set of interviews this year, thanks in part to funding from the Friends of the Wesleyan Library and the library. The new participants are Jelle DeBoer, John Driscoll, Rick Elphick, Dick Buel, Duffy White, and Allan Berlind.

(This article was originally printed in the Spring-Summer edition of Check it Out, a publication from Wesleyan University Libraries and written by Karl Schiebe.)

Students Catalog Roman Gems during Museum Internship

Margot Metz '18 holds a tiny intaglio gem from the early Roman Empire that appears to be made of carnelian or sard, and depicts an athlete holding a strigil (a tool for scraping oil and sweat from the skin during exercise). Metz, Maria Ma '17 and Emma Graham '19 spent four weeks this summer cataloging about 200 gems during an internship at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. 

Margot Metz ’18 examines a tiny intaglio gem from the early Roman Empire that appears to be made of carnelian or sard, and depicts an athlete holding a strigil (a tool for scraping oil and sweat from the skin during exercise). Metz, Maria Ma ’17 and Emma Graham ’19 spent four weeks this summer cataloging about 200 gems during an internship at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. An intaglio is made by grinding material below the surface of the gem, leaving an inverse image.

During the Roman Empire, the art of gem carving or intaglio provided a way to characterize one’s self, family or acquaintances.

This summer, three Wesleyan students with an interest in classical studies worked with a Roman intaglio collection previously owned by J. Pierpont Morgan (father of J.P. Morgan) at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.

As interns, Maria Ma ’17, Margot Metz ’18, and Emma Graham ’19 collaborated on documenting and cataloging about 200 intaglio gems, which made the collection accessible to a wider audience of scholars and museum visitors. The gems were hidden from public view for decades.

The student researchers determined this Roman intaglio (at right) pictured Ajax carrying Achilles over his shoulder. An arrow is sticking out from the top of Achilles' foot. By using The Handbook of Engraved Gems by C. W. King, the students were able to find an illustration of a similar gem. "This is how we came to the conclusion that it is Ajax carrying Achilles," Margot Metz said. 

The student researchers determined this Roman intaglio (at right) pictured Ajax carrying Achilles over his shoulder. An arrow is sticking out from the top of Achilles’ foot. By using The Handbook of Engraved Gems by C. W. King, the students were able to find an illustration of a similar gem. “This is how we came to the conclusion that it is Ajax carrying Achilles,” Margot Metz said.

“It’s so exciting that our students had the opportunity to work in the local community and to employ what they know about Greek and Roman antiquity in a partnership with a wonderful museum like the Wadsworth Atheneum,” said Lauren Caldwell, associate professor of classical studies.

Graham, a College of Letters major, felt the internship would perfectly combined her two intellectual passions: classics and art history.

“I have always been interested in how these two areas of study overlap and influence each other,” Graham said. “Also, I have always been a great lover of museums and I was interested in what goes on behind the scenes at a museum.”

The students would frequent the museum three days a week for about six hours a day. During their time, they documented the gems’ measurements, material and imagery.

“The subject matter of the gem determined how long we spent on each one. For example, we were able to identify animals very quickly but other gems, such as badly weathered gems or gems with more complex imagery, took more much time,” Graham said.

In order to determine the symbolic meaning of each gem, the students worked together and consulted intaglio collections online owned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and The British Museum, as well as a huge collection of imprints of intaglio gems housed at Cornell University.

“We were able to personally work with every gem in the collection, which was truly an amazing experience,” Graham said.

Metz was interested in the internship because she wanted to explore another area of ancient civilization. “It was fascinating being able to apply what I had learned in the classroom at Wesleyan in a practical manner at the museum. We were able to identify generic figures as gods and goddesses, such as Neptune and Ceres, by using the objects they were pictured with in gems and comparing them to stories in mythology,” she said. 

The internship, which concluded June 23, was jointly supervised and organized by Wesleyan faculty and Atheneum staff including Caldwell; Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center; Linda Roth, the Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts; and Johanna Miller, school and teacher programs specialist at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Watson Squire Fund in the Department of Classical Studies supported the students’ room and board expenses. Students applied and interviewed for the internship through the Atheneum.

“The interns did a great job and their work will be entered into our database and made available to the public through our website,” Roth said. “There already is a small selection on view now in a gallery devoted to Art and Curiosity Cabinets.”

Model Composes Music for Silent Films

Ben Model

Ben Model

Ben Model, visiting assistant professor of film, is spending the summer months composing scores and arranging music with the Frederick Symphony Orchestra in Frederick, Maryland.

Model, a silent film accompanist, performs on both piano and theater organ. The orchestra will perform a concert on July 20 at Baker Park in Maryland, including Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant; Buster Keaton’s Cops; and Felix the Cat in Pedigreedy

Model also is performing live music this summer, including a Leo McCarry retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art; at a festival in South Korea in August; and a silent movie festival in Northern Norway in early September. Learn more about Model online here.

Model, who taught at Wesleyan in 2015-16, will return to campus next spring to teach a class on silent film.

Wireless Technology Innovations Discussed at Wesleyan’s Eduroam Summit

The Eduroam Summit was held inside Usdan University Center on June 23.

The Eduroam Summit was held inside Usdan University Center on June 23.

On June 23, Information Technology Services hosted a Eduroam Summit to discuss innovations in wireless technology. Eduroam (education roaming) is a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. Eduroam allows students, researchers and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop or smartphone.

Representatives from Wesleyan, Russell Library, the Connecticut Education Network, Middletown Public Schools, and the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology attended the summit, which included a talk by Eduroam’s U.S. founder Philippe Hanset. Employees from Wesleyan included Karen Warren, director of user and technical services; James Taft, assistant director of technology support services; Ken Taillon, network administrator; and Mohit Bachhav, network administrator.

“We implemented Eduroam for our campus community, extending access for Wesleyan faculty, staff and students beyond Wesleyan’s campus to participating institutions worldwide,” Warren said. “Now that service may being expanded to K-12 students with the goal of enabling students throughout the state to access wireless via eduroam on Connecticut’s campuses and libraries. Wesleyan wants to be at the forefront of this initiative in partnership with Middletown Public Schools and Russell Library.”

The event was coordinated by Information Technology Services in conjunction with the Center for Community Partnerships.

Personick Wins LaMer Award from American Chemical Society

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, received the Victor K. LaMer Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. The honor, which comes with a $3,000 monetary award, was presented at the ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium June 5-8 at Harvard University, where she presented a plenary talk.

The Victor K. LaMer Award is presented to the author of an outstanding PhD thesis in colloid or surface chemistry. LaMer was the editor of the Journal of Colloid Science (now the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science) from its founding in 1946 to 1965. In addition to his seminal work on colloids, LaMer’s fundamental contributions to physical chemistry have found their way into every textbook and university course on that subject.

Personick received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Middlebury College in 2009 and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University in 2013. Her doctoral thesis was titled “Controlling the Shape and Crystallinity of Gold and Silver Nanoparticles.”

A key advance of her dissertation work was the development of a comprehensive set of design guidelines for controlling the shape of gold nanoparticles via reaction kinetics and surface passivation effects. Her graduate research contributed to 15 articles published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nano Letters, Science and others.

From 2013 to 2015, Personick was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. As a member of the Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC) Energy Frontier Research Center, she studied selective oxidative transformations of alcohols on nanoporous gold alloy catalysts. In July 2015, she joined the faculty at Wesleyan where her research focuses on the synthesis of noble metal alloy nanoparticles with well-defined shapes and catalytically active high-energy surfaces.

The Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry is one of the most active Divisions in the ACS with approximately 2,500 members throughout the world.