Campus News & Events

Gilvarry Named “5 Under 35″ Award Winner from National Book Foundation

Alex Gilvarry, visiting writer in English

Alex Gilvarry, visiting writer in English.

Alex Gilvarry, visiting writer in English, was named a “5 Under 35″ award recipient from the National Book Foundation.

Gilvarry is the author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, published by Viking/Penguin Group in January 2012. He was selected for the award by 1993 National Book Award Finalist Amy Bloom, the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing.

Gilvarry was born in Staten Island, N.Y. in 1981. He holds an MFA from Hunter College and has been a Norman Mailer Fellow and a visiting scholar at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin. His first novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, won the Hornblower Award at the 2012 New York City Book Awards. He is an artist-in-residence at Monmouth University and teaches the course, Techniques of Fiction at Wesleyan.

Gilvarry will receive the award during the National Book Foundations’ Ninth Annual Celebration of Emerging Fiction Writers. The “5 Under 35″ authors will be honored at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 17.

The Mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

Royer’s Study Suggests that the Meteorite That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Changed Forests

Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of a study that suggests fast-growing deciduous plants replaced slower-growing evergreen plants after an impact of a meteorite 60 million years ago. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Sixty-six million years ago, a meteorite struck the Earth with enough force that the ensuing environmental changes, including floods, earthquakes, variable temperatures and light-obscuring dust clouds, possibly wiped out dinosaurs and other pre-historic life. Scientists believe this opened a path for mammals, and ultimately humans, to evolve.

A new study by Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and colleagues from the University of Arizona and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science suggests that the chaos in the wake of the space rock’s impact changed the Earth’s plant life as well. Deciduous plants survived and flourished to a much greater extent than flowering evergreens, the scientists believe, probably because their properties made them much better able to respond to climate conditions post-impact. The deciduous plants, not needing to maintain their leaves year round, essentially needed less energy for survival.

Residential Fraternities Required to Become Co-Ed

On Sept. 22, President Michael Roth ’78 and Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09, chair of the Board of Trustees, sent the following message to the Wesleyan community:

To the Wesleyan community:

As you may know, we have been considering the future role of Greek life at Wesleyan, and over the summer a great many Wesleyan alumni, students and faculty offered their views. Some have urged that we preserve the status quo; others have argued for the elimination of all exclusive social societies.

Roth Discusses “The Future of Education” at Social Good Summit

Logo_SGS2014President Michael Roth discussed “The Future of Education” at the 92nd Street Y’s Social Good Summit on Sept. 21.

In his second appearance at the annual two-day festival of ideas, Roth discussed why education is still the best vehicle for social change, even while it has become more controversial then ever.

Michael Roth

Michael Roth

“Education remains the most potent tool for changing the world, ” he said. “And training teachers who can help students acquire the skills to keep learning, the skills to think for oneself, is one of the most pressing demands of social justice.”

Last year, Roth’s inspirational talk at the 92Y event focused on “how to change the world,” which later became the topic of a popular MOOC he taught on the Coursera platform. This year, his speech was informed by his recently published book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale Press).

This year’s summit, with the theme “Connecting for Good, Connecting for All,” brought together world leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists, and voices from around the world to explore how technology and new media can be leveraged to benefit people everywhere and create a better world by the year 2030.

Faculty, NPR Reporter Speak at Berlin Wall Commemoration

berlinwallIn 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic began constructing a 96-mile-long dividing wall in attempt to prevent Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state. The Berlin Wall, made of concrete and barbed wire, prevented emigration and more than 170 people were killed trying to cross or get around the wall. On Nov. 9, 1989, the head of the East German Communist party opened the checkpoint, allowing thousands of East and West Berlin residents to pass through. Elated residents, later known as “wallpeckers” used hammers and picks to break apart the wall.

In 1990, East and West Germany reunified into a single German state. To date, the wall serves as a symbolic boundary between democracy and Communism during the Cold War.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Studies Department is hosting a series of lectures.

At noon, Sept. 24, Eric Grimmer-Solem will speak on

5 Athletes, 1 Coach to be Enshrined in Wes Athletic Hall of Fame

Five notable Wesleyan athletes and one long-time coach will be enshrined in the seventh class of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame. In total, the Hall, established in 2008, now includes 37 individuals and 11 teams. Joining the Hall of Fame Oct. 17 will be:

  • Joe Barry Morningstar ’39, a three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball) for whom Wesleyan’s annual men’s basketball outstanding player award is named;
  • Cochrane Chase ’54, a tremendous football and wrestling talent during his undergraduate career;


  • Marion J. Stoj, M.D. ’74, a high-scoring forward in men’s soccer who earned All-America honors;
  • Thomas Vincent Reifenheiser III ’94, the most accomplished men’s tennis player in Wesleyan history, who earned NESCAC crowns and national Division III ITA titles and also played squash, two seasons as the team’s No. 1 player;
  • Sarah D. Hann, D.V.M.  ’95, an outstanding distance runner for the Cardinals with a NESCAC cross-country title and All-America laurels to her credit, who went on to international repute as a runner after graduation;
  • J. Elmer Swanson, who joined the Cardinal staff in 1963 as track and cross-country coach, adding the women’s teams in both sports to his portfolio when they turned varsity during the 1970s, and served as a mentor to hundreds of Wesleyan student-athletes during his 30 years as a full-time head coach.

The induction ceremony will take place Friday, Oct. 17 during Homecoming Weekend. To register for the event, go here. For more information on homecoming, go here. Read past AOF stories here.

WW I Posters Shine at Davison Art Center Exhibit

dac_pr_2014-08_action_bakerdac_pr_2014-08_action_christyIt was called “the war to end all wars.” Causing the downfall of three major empires, and eclipsing all previous wars in its destruction, World War I changed the course of global history. And decades before television and sophisticated print advertising, it changed the way conflict was marketed to the American people.

A new exhibit, Call to Action: American Posters in World War I, at the Davison Art Center, displays dramatic posters that recruited soldiers, celebrated shipbuilding, called women for war work and even urged homemakers to prepare alternative foods in support of the war effort.

“The best illustrators of the day were recruited to donate their time to make these posters,” said Clare Rogan, curator of the DAC. “Artists recognized this was how they could serve. And this was the high point in American illustration, you have fabulous artists working as illustrators, and monthly periodicals are all illustrated before photography takes over in these areas.”

Beta Residence to Be Closed to All Students

The following message was sent to members of the Wesleyan community on Wednesday, Sept. 10:

To the Wesleyan Community:

We write to announce that the Beta Theta Pi residence at 184 High Street will be off-limits to all Wesleyan students effective Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The students currently living there will be provided with alternative university housing. The decision to prohibit students from using the Beta house is based on the long history of incidents there. Most recently, during a party at the house a student fell from a third floor window and was seriously injured. We have lost confidence in the ability of the fraternity members to manage social and residential activities at the house and abide by university policies. Wesleyan has an obligation to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of every member of the community, including the Beta fraternity members and their guests. The Beta house will remain off-limits to all Wesleyan students for the rest of the academic year at least. Down the road we are open to seeing from the fraternity a considered plan for the house and social activities there that satisfies our expectations for residential life at our university.

Michael S. Roth

Michael Whaley
Vice President for Student Affairs

East Asia’s Religion, Folkore Shared at New Student-Curated CEAS Exhibit

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Uncover the hidden stories of East Asia’s religion and folklore at a new exhibit, “Not of This World,” at the College of East Asian Studies’ gallery. To inaugurate the new College of East Asian Studies, students curated this exhibition of the most compelling artworks from the college’s collection.

“Not Out of This World” is on display Sept. 10-Dec. 5 and features aesthetically pleasing pieces that reveal spiritual worlds filled with love, betrayal and faith.  A ghost woman who searches for her husband, an immortal trapped in a peasant’s body, and a wheel that spins prayers are examples of the East Asian artwork displayed that weave the supernatural with mystical elements.

The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. The gallery will be closed Oct. 18-21 and Nov. 25-Dec. 2. For more information call 860-685-2330.

Photos of the show’s opening are below: (Photos by Dat Vu ’16)

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“Freedom Summer” Commemoration to Feature Concert, Speakers

BxGx8blCMAAKaUmThe summer of 1964 saw thousands of young people — many from colleges and universities in the North – mobilize to register voters, educate citizens, and support other civil rights work in the Jim Crow South. What came to be known as “Freedom Summer” is credited with ending the isolation of states where racial repression and discrimination was largely ignored by news media and politicians, despite the  the landmark Civil Rights Act passed that July.

Wesleyan students joined the struggle. “Five Wesmen to Fight Voter Discrimination in Mississippi,” said a front-page headline in the Argus. That May, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had given the baccalaureate sermon, and other civil rights leaders had visited campus.

A commemoration Sept. 12 and 13 celebrated not only Wesleyan’s participation, but the unique moment Freedom Summer occupies in American history. (See photos here.)

“Wesleyan’s tradition of engagement and activism goes back over half a century,” said Rob Rosenthal, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. “This will be a tremendously exciting chance for students and the community to hear from Wesleyan alums who traveled South to participate in this extremely important period of history, and from activists who were at the forefront of the struggle to gain voting rights for all Americans.”Argus May 12 1964 Freedom Summer (1)

Of particular interest to Rosenthal and to Lois Brown, director of the Center for African American Studies, is the connection between organizers of the 1960s and today’s student activists. Brown is also chair and professor of African American studies, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

In a recent op-ed for the Huffington Post, Rosenthal and Brown said: “… The task of our activists is not to tell their young successors how to carry on their struggle, but to convey the joy that deliberate engagement, unapologetic persistence, and luminous integrity brings.”  

Author, Poet C.D. Wright to Teach 3 Master Classes at Shapiro Center

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

This semester, the Shapiro Creative Writing Center is hosting three master classes taught by award-winning author and poet C.D. Wright. Master classes are open to all poetry-writing upperclassmen free of charge. Each class will last 2.5 hours and include one dinner. The classes will meet Sept. 23, Oct. 14 and Nov. 11, and the deadline to apply is Sept. 12.

Wright is currently the I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University where she teaches advanced poetry.

Wright was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. She has published over a dozen books, including Rising, Falling, Hovering, Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems, and a text edition of One Big Self: An Investigation, focused on Louisiana inmates. She has published several book-length poems including Deepstep Come Shining and Just Whistle.

She also has composed and published two state literary maps, one for Arkansas, her native state, and one for Rhode Island, her adopted state. Wright is formerly the State Poet of Rhode Island, and with poet Forrest Gander, she edited Lost Roads Publishers for more than 20 years.

Wright is winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in March 2011 for her most recent title, One With Others: [a little book of her days], which was also a finalist for the National Book Award and was selected as winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her honors include awards from the Wallace Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts as well as the Lannan Literary Award. In 2004 Wright was named a MacArthur Fellow; in 2005 she was given the Robert Creeley Award, and elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Rising, Falling, Hovering won the International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Amy Bloom ’75, the Kim-Frank Family University Writer-in-Residence and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, emphasized that the key merit of the masters program is the opportunity to work with a professional writer.

“The motivation [behind the program] was to bring some of America’s best poets to Wesleyan and to give the students the opportunity to work with them,” Bloom said. “[Wright is an] outstanding, articulate American poet with a passion for poetry and teaching. It’s not just she’s professional, it’s that she’s so gifted.”

The classes are capped at a dozen participants, all selected by Bloom and Wright based on a submitted cover letter. Bloom stated that the limit is designed to keep the classes intimate and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work closely with Wright.

Wesleyan Nearly Doubles Its Teach for America Cohort

Wesleyan nearly doubled its number of Teach for America participants this year over 2013, the national organization said. With 19 participants in the 2014 cohort, Wesleyan is tied for third among “small schools”  (those with under 2,999 students) who send graduates into the corps.

The Wesleyan alumni join the most diverse corps in Teach for America’s 25-year-history, with one third of the members the first in their families to attend college, half identifying as people of color, and nearly half Pell Grant recipients as undergraduates.

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, they recruit and develop outstanding individuals to commit to teach in high-need schools. This fall, 10,600 corps members will be teaching in 50 urban and rural regions across the country.

“Many of our students are passionate about addressing educational inequality, and see Teach for America as a perfect place to launch their careers,” said Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Wesleyan Career Center.

Wesleyan, which sent 10 graduates to TFA in 2013, tied this year with the University of Richmond and came in behind DePauw University and Spelman College, both with 20 participants. To learn more about Teach for America, go here.