Campus News & Events

Wesleyan Introduces New Cardinal

On Aug. 15, Wesleyan unveiled a new Cardinal—a modern and bold bird that looks to our future while paying tribute to our past.

The new Cardinal is being introduced in connection with the University’s core messaging project, which has been rolled out over the past year. It is part of an overall updated look and feel for Wesleyan Athletics, which captures the recent historic success of the program, and for the university as a whole. University Communications worked in close partnership with the coaching staff in designing the new Cardinal, and took input from faculty, staff, alumni, and students throughout the project.

“The previous Cardinal was developed in the early 2000s, long before digital and social media became dominant forms of communication. That mark was challenging to use in the digital realm, where vibrant and flexible graphics thrive,” explained Marketing Director Deb Katz.

Undergraduates Share Summer Research

poster session

Ben Sullivan ’20 presents his poster titled “Tracking New York Times Coverage of Every Senator First Elected in the 1990s” during the Summer Program for Research in the Sciences Poster Session on July 25. His advisor is Logan Dancey, associate professor of government.

The 2019 summer program for Research in the Sciences culminated with a research poster session in the lobby of Exley Science Center, with more than 100 students participating.

The program, held May 29 to July 26, was open to frosh, sophomores and juniors currently enrolled at Wesleyan. Wesleyan science faculty members served as mentors for student research in their laboratories. In addition to the closing poster session, the students participated in weekly seminars and workshops, a symposium, and various social events. After the poster session, students displayed their posters in the hallways outside the introductory biology laboratories.

Wesleyan Celebrates Historic 2018-19 Athletic Season

Women's tennis celebrating the 2019 National Championship (photo by Jamie Schwaberow).

Women’s tennis celebrating the 2019 National Championship (photo by Jamie Schwaberow).

After a historic 2017-18 campaign that featured the University’s first national team championship (men’s lacrosse) and a record-setting five-time individual champion in tennis (Eudice Chong ’18), the Cardinals raised the bar once again this past year with arguably the greatest all-around season in Wesleyan Athletics history.

The 2018-19 campaign was highlighted by the women’s tennis team winning the National Championship–becoming the first women’s team ever at Wesleyan to claim a national title–while Ivie Uzamere ’21 of the women’s track and field team won the National Championship in the weight throw at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Wesleyan’s women’s teams led the way this past year with historic performances across the board. The women’s tennis team won its first-ever Little Three Championship and first-ever NESCAC title before reaching the NCAA Tournament and hosting the first, second, and third rounds for the first time in program history. After cruising through the regional rounds and the quarterfinals, the Cardinals upset the top-ranked team in the country, Emory, 5-4 to advance to the championship match. In the Finals, Wesleyan earned another thrilling upset when sophomore Polina Kiseleva prevailed in the final match as the Cardinals defeated the defending national champions and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 5-4.

Theater’s Oliveras Performs in World Premiere of Kiss My Aztec!

Desiree Rodriguez and Maria-Christina Oliveras in Kiss My Aztec! (Photo by Kevin Berne)

Desiree Rodriguez and Maria-Christina Oliveras in Kiss My Aztec! (Photo by Kevin Berne)

This summer, award-winning actor, singer, producer, and new assistant professor of theater Maria-Christina Oliveras acted in the world premiere of Kiss My Aztec, a new musical on Latino history.

Written by John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone, winners of the 2018 Special Tony Award for Latin History of Morons, the musical debuted May through July at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Performances will continue at La Jolla Playhouse starting Sept. 8.

Oliveras became involved in the musical’s developmental process in 2014, when it started out as a play and evolved over time.

“I am a new works junkie. There is nothing like ‘brain-childing’ a piece from its inception,” Oliveras said in a recent interview with Broadway World. She described the show as a “non-traditional epic musical comedy with teeth. It is brash, bold, hilarious and vulgar. An Aztec take or retake of history in the vein of Spamalot or Book of Mormon. We are not aiming for historical accuracy. And we are ‘equal opportunity offenders.'”

“Understanding Russia: A Dramatic Return to the World Stage” Topic of 2019 Shasha Seminar

RussiaThis year’s Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, “Understanding Russia: A Dramatic Return to the World Stage,” will be held Oct. 11–12. It begins on Friday with a keynote address by Andrew Meier ’85, a former Moscow correspondent with Time. On Saturday, a full day of panel discussions led by Wesleyan professors and alumni who are leaders in their field will be available to registrants.

The Shasha Seminar, an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends, explores issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues. Last year, for example, the seminar explored suicide and resilience.

Peter Rutland

Professor Peter Rutland is directing the 2019 Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns.

In this Q&A, we speak to Shasha Seminar director Peter Rutland, Wesleyan’s Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought. Rutland frames the seminar in terms of providing discussion and insight into the recent aggressive behavior we’ve seen from Russia—military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, and interference in elections from Macedonia to Michigan, for instance.

Q: How did this year’s topic for the Shasha Seminar come about?

A:  I think this idea came from Marc Eisner, Henry Merritt Wriston Chair in Public Policy, who was dean of the social sciences last year, and who suggested a Shasha Seminar focused on Russia since it was in the news.

Wesleyan’s Girls in Science Summer Camp Gets Young Scientists Excited about STEM 

GIS

Marty Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, leads an experiment about meteors during the Girls in Science Summer Camp Aug. 8. (Photo by Kerisha Harris)

(Story by Kerisha Harris)

For the sixth year in a row, the weeklong Wesleyan Girls in Science Summer Camp welcomed dozens of middle school-aged girls for a week of learning, exploration, and STEM-centered fun.

From Aug. 5-9 inside Exley Science Center, the 32 campers in grades 4-6 spent the week learning about everything from how to extract DNA from a strawberry, to the parts of the brain, and even how to make (but don’t touch) an ice-cold comet. By Friday, the young scientists were excited to share all they had learned with their friends and families, and did so through a poster presentation and art display.

Girls in Science participants observe a "comet" they created during the camp.

Girls in Science participants observe a “comet” they created during the camp.

This partnership between Wesleyan and Middletown Public Schools gives girls the chance to explore and cultivate their interest in science by conducting fun experiments in real-life labs, discovering scientific concepts, vocabulary and equipment, and learning from female Wesleyan professors and students in the sciences.

This year marked the first time in the program’s history that the camp took place fully under the umbrella of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.  Additionally, the Jewett Center partnered with In-Reach, a program coordinated by Melisa Olgun ’20, to bring local high school girls in as program assistants. These young scientists-in-training provided guidance and support for the campers, while also getting to spend time in research labs at Wesleyan.

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.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. The Hill: “Advice on Climate Policy for the 2020 Presidential Candidates”

In this op-ed, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Emeritus Gary Yohe and his coauthors write that they are encouraged by the “unprecedented attention being given to climate change among those vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination” and offer words of advice for creating an ambitious but credible climate policy.

2. AINT — BAD: “Isabella Convertino”

The photography of Isabella Convertino ’20 is featured on this website, an independent publisher of new photographic art. According to the article, “Her work has been published by ROMAN NVMERALS press, and was recently acquired by the MoMA library. Convertino’s images speak to the complications of adolescence, compounding memory and trauma as points of departure. Interested in the interplay between familial and gender structures, her work probes modes of power-inheritance and the potential devastation of genetic happenstance.”

3. EOS: “Resurrecting Interest in a ‘Dead’ Planet”

Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, is quoted in this article on new research suggesting that, contrary to popular belief, the surface of Venus actually may be quite active today. “Venus is an Earth-sized planet and now—who knew?!—there are Earth-sized planets all over the galaxy,” said Gilmore. “So now, Venus is even more relevant for that reason.”

4. The Middletown Press: “High School Students from Around World Take Part in Wesleyan Summer Arts Camp”

Sixty-eight Center for Creative Youth (CCY) participants from around the country and the world recently demonstrated the skills they had learned in just a week of intensive art study during a community share day. Wesleyan assumed leadership of CCY in fall 2018 as an official University program, and this is the first time the camp has been offered under Wesleyan’s management.

Gonzalez ’96 Named Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Amin Gonzalez

Amin Gonzalez. (Photo by Adrienne Battistella)

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96 has been hired as Wesleyan’s new vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, President Michael Roth announced in an email to campus on July 17. He will begin in August.

Gonzalez, who was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Wesleyan, previously worked in the University’s Office of Admission as an associate dean in the late 1990s and 2000s. In this role, he selected, trained, and supervised the senior interviewers; coordinated the University’s fall Ambassador Program and supported spring yield efforts; served on the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and University Scholarship selection committees; and worked with the QuestBridge partnership team.

“Since Wesleyan is both where I learned to think critically as an undergrad and got my start in the admission field two decades ago, I’m incredibly excited and honored to serve as its next dean of admission and financial aid,” said Gonzalez. “I look forward to collaborating closely with members of my team, senior administrators, faculty, current students, alumni, and community partners to ensure Wes continues to attract, enroll, and graduate some of the most exceptionally talented, socially conscious, and dynamically diverse students from across the country and around the globe.”

Meislahn Reflects on Challenges of Her Career as Dean of Admission

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Student success “is what has recharged my batteries over the years and kept me doing this wonderful work,”  Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, will retire in September following the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she admitted to Wesleyan. In this Q&A, she reflects on the main challenges, changes, and highlights of her accomplished Wesleyan career. (Read her retirement announcement in this past News @ Wesleyan article.)

Q: You are the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan’s history. How are you feeling ahead of your impending retirement?

A: Definitely a bittersweet moment, but I’m ready. I’ve admitted 20 classes to Wesleyan and that should be enough—for me and for the institution. Time for new leadership! I firmly believe we are all replaceable and that change is good.

Q: During your tenure, applications to Wesleyan (including international student applications) have nearly doubled. To what do you attribute this impressive growth?

A: It was a clearly articulated strategic goal to double the international student population, and create a bigger “global footprint” on campus. So, we set out to work! We increased Wesleyan’s on-the-ground presence, expanding recruitment especially in India, Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, building on the very strong reputation of the Freeman Scholars program. We invited overseas counselors to campus and increased our engagement with international professional associations. It has been a team effort and extremely rewarding to see how we’ve been able to bring more students from all over the world to Wes.

Barth, Patalano Receive $1.09M NSF Grant to Support Numerical Cognition Research

Sophie Charles ’20,

Student research assistant Sophie Charles ’20, a neuroscience and behavior major, shows the line estimation task used by the Psychology Department to understand how people make judgments about number and quantity.

Hilary Barth and Andrea Patalano, both professors of psychology, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support collaborative research on numerical cognition.

Hilary Barth, professor of psychology, and Andrea Patalano, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support collaborative research on numerical cognition.

Collaborative research by Hilary Barth and Andrea Patalano is supported by the National Science Foundation.

The three-year $1,091,303 grant, which is funded by NSF’s EHR Core Research program focused on STEM learning, includes support for Wesleyan student participation in the proposed research project, which will involve experimental studies of children’s and adults’ understanding of, and judgments about, number and quantity.

The two labs collaborate frequently, and have been working jointly on another project for the past three years supported by an earlier NSF grant. The new project is distinct, but grew out of a discovery made in the Barth lab during the earlier project related to a number line estimation task. In this task, participants are shown a line with numbers at each endpoint (e.g., 0 and 1,000) and asked to estimate where on the line a particular three-digit number would fall. The researchers found that participants had a tendency to place two numbers much farther apart on the line than they actually were when those numbers had a different first digit, even if they were quite close to each other in actuality (for example, 799 and 802). This was true even of adult participants, who have a good understanding of numbers.

Jenkins Analyzes 200-Year-Old Theatrical Tradition in New Bilingual Book

Ron Jenkins, pictured second from left, celebrated his new book in a garden of an 18th century villa with performances of the play that is the subject of his book, Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro. He's pictured with actors, from left, Adriano Cimino, Gianni Di Chiaro, and Emanuela Paolozzi along with the translator of the Italian version of the book, the poet Maria Giusti.

Ron Jenkins (pictured second from left) celebrated his new book in the garden of an 18th-century villa with performances of the play that is the subject of his book, Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro. He’s pictured with actors (from left) Adriano Cimino, Gianni Di Chiaro, and Emanuela Paolozzi, along with the translator of the Italian version of the book, the poet Maria Giusti.

Ron Jenkins, professor and chair of theater, is the author of a new book titled Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro published by Bulzoni in July 2019 as part of the company’s international series on “Theater and Memory.” The volume is in dual languages; the first part is in Italian, the second translated into English.

Resurrection of the Saints is an analysis of a 200-year-old theatrical tradition in the Italian village of Venafro, where the citizens still perform an 18th-century play that recounts the martyrdom of their patron saints in the third century. In 1792, Giuseppe Macchia wrote the play, “Religion Triumphant” and labeled it “a sacred tragicomedy.”

The book includes Jenkins’s translation of the play and interviews he conducted with the performers, whose professions include nurse, architect, graphic designer, and art restorer.

“Framed as a battle between an angel and a devil for the souls of the saints, the play is a lost link between the medieval traditions of sacred theater and the modern comic masterpieces of the late Italian Nobel Laureate, Dario Fo,” said Jenkins, who has translated Fo’s works for performance at the Yale Repertory Theater, Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, and other venues.

“My experience working with Fo helped me to capture the comic theatrical rhythms of Macchia’s play,” he said. “Anyone interested in the power of the arts to unite a community and preserve the traditions that define its cultural identity would enjoy the play and this book.”

Jenkins is the author of numerous books and was named Honorary Member of the Dante Society of America for having performed theatrical representations of excerpts from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in prisons throughout Italy, Indonesia, and the United States. Resurrection of the Saints is part of Jenkins’s ongoing research on theater and community.

Price’s Civic Engagement Work Supported by Newman Civic Fellowship

Anthony Price '20

Anthony Price ’20 will begin a Newman Civic Fellowship next fall.

For his efforts in demonstrating the potential for effective long-term civic engagement, Anthony Price ’20 was invited to participate in Campus Compact’s 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship. He will have access to exclusive virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2019–2020 academic year for the duration of the one-year fellowship term.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Price joins 261 student fellows representing Campus Compact member colleges and universities from 41 states; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Greece.

Price, a government and American studies double major, is the founder and executive director of Be The Change Venture, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that teaches young people networking skills to support their career development. He also spent a full semester in Washington, D.C., with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program (see article). Price returned back to the Capitol this summer working for New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker, in the United States Senate. He also served as one of the executive core-planning members for the TedXWesleyan U conference.

“I look forward to being a part of an amazing cohort, building lifelong relationships, and learning from other change agents who are also on the ground serving others,” Price said. “[The fellowship] will be essential for my own civic engagement work serving young people in both inner city and rural communities that tend to get overlooked.”

Wesleyan President Michael Roth nominated Price for the fellowship.

“[Anthony has an] inspiring talent for civic engagement and an admirable dedication to making our society more equitable,” Roth wrote. “At Wesleyan, Anthony has consistently sought opportunities to collaborate with peers and community members on projects with social impact, from organizing a pitch competition for local high school and college students to joining our Nonprofit Board Residency program. As someone who seeks out opportunities to improve his skills in building relationships across sectors and industries, Anthony has held internships with various organizations, ranging from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.”

As a Newman Fellow, Price receives training and resources that nurture his passions and help develop strategies for social change. He’s able to participate in virtual events focused on skill development and professional learning; present papers at Campus Compact conferences; receive one-on-one leadership development mentoring; and connect and network with other engaged student leaders.

Although the fellowship doesn’t begin until fall, Price has already had conversations with his mentor and attorney Rudhir Krishtel, regarding Price’s nonprofit work. The connection was made through Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

“Rudhir already has played a pivotal role in thinking about how I want to expand upon the impact my team and I have made while at the same time remaining committed to civic engagement work long-term. Specifically, he has advised me on a few things I’m considering pursuing—law school, Fulbright, or perhaps working on Capitol Hill, and staying civically engaged,” Price said. “Overall, I’ve already gotten a head start in crafting the scope of my fellowship months in advance before the fall conference.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship was created in honor of Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for the role of higher education in preparing students for active and engaged citizenship. The Newman Civic Fellowship is generously supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

The 2019 Newman Civic Fellows National Convening will take place in November 2019, in Boston.

“There I’ll meet other fellows and learn about the work they’re doing in communities across the country,” Price said. “I’m looking forward to it!”

After graduation, Price aspires to be a cross-sector change agent, focused in particular on low-income communities. He plans to become an attorney, using the power of the law and policy to address the root causes of inequity in American society.