Campus News & Events

Students Discover Hunger Problem in Middletown Children

Amelia Long ’06, Tiffany Lo ’05, Beth Coddington ’05 and Maria Nankova ’05, students in the Community Research Seminar, completed a study titled “Hungry Children in Middletown.”
 
Posted 05/23/05
Four Wesleyan students have discovered that one out of five local children lives in a household that suffers from food insecurity.

Beth Coddington ’05, Tiffany Lo ’05, Amelia Long ’06 and Maria Nankova ’05 presented results of their study, “Hungry Children in Middletown” on May 12. The students were enrolled in the Community Research Seminar taught by Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology.

The Middlesex Coalition for Children commissioned the survey. The project’s purpose was to assess the rate of food insecurity among Middletown households with children under 18.

The USDA defines food insecurity as: “a limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways.”

The students found that 20.1 percent of Middletown children (1,883 children) were living in food-insecure households during the past 12 months. Of those children, 15.5 percent (1,452 children) experienced food insecurity in their household but were shielded from actual hunger. However, the other 4.6 percent (431 children) experienced food insecurity with hunger within the past year. The rest of Middletown’s children, an estimated 79.9 percent (7,481 children) lived in houses that were food secure.

“We tapped into a fantastic team of young researchers,” says Betsy Morgan, director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children. “Thanks to our research team, we know there is a serious problem.”

They also found food insecurity is about as prevalent in Middletown as it is in the U.S. as a whole – nationally with 16.7 percent of households with children were food insecure — but food security with hunger among Middletown households with children exceeds the national average of 3.8 percent.

The results are based on 329 telephone and paper surveys, administered by the students and local organizations. The survey was designed by the USDA and is currently used by the federal government to measure food insecurity at the state and national level. The students made calls between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. Sunday.

Lo, an earth and environmental science major, chose to take part in the research project to integrate herself in the Middletown community.

“The results were rather surprising as I didn’t expect to see so much hunger going on in Middletown,” she says. “But finding this out was definitely the first step towards ending hunger here.”

The students also asked people about their coping strategies for when they were running low on food or money to buy food. The students found a trend of higher usage of food pantries than food stamps among Middletown’s more food-insecure and lower income households, something that differs from the national tendency.

Long, a government major, said the food-secure families surveyed were surprised to hear so many households in their own community were having trouble affording food.

“Also, a lot of people seem to think that individual factors like laziness and poor spending habits are the biggest factors contributing to hunger in families as opposed to bigger structural issues like outdated income qualifications for food stamps,” Long says.

The research project grew out of the past year’s work by the Middletown Childhood Hunger Task Force. The Task Force was prompted by the discovery that some Middletown families with pre-schoolers didn’t have enough food. Composed of local anti-hunger agencies, the Task Force is co-sponsored by the the Middlesex Coalition for Children and Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton, who attended the student’s presentation.

Now that the students have documented their findings, they are working on ways other Wesleyan students can further help the reduce or eliminate problem in the future.

“We’re going to need everybody in Middletown to help these children,” Morgan says. “It’s going to be a long-term project to build up and strengthen our charitable food programs. We’ve got out work cut out for us.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

18th-Century Man: Assistant Professor of History Researches a Revolutionary Tale

Kirk Davis Swinehart, assistant professor of history, specializes in early American history. (Photo by James Ward Swinehart, Jr.)
 
Posted 05/02/05

Kirk Davis Swinehart, assistant professor of history, has been spending most of his time in the 18th century with an Irish knight and a Mohawk woman.

Swinehart’s research and teaching focus on events from the period just before and leading up to the American Revolution. He has also done extensive research on the New World soldier-adventurer Sir William Johnson (1715–74) and his families, Irish and Mohawk, both of which fought for Britain during the American Revolution. Funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Career Enhancement Grant, Swinehart will spend next year finishing his book on Johnson and his Mohawk common-law wife Molly Brant.

“Sir William’s story is easily one of the eighteenth century’s most seductive—a story of setting out and making good, a story reenacted for centuries throughout the British Empire,” Swinehart says. “Monarchical, rich, and sexually corrupt in the eyes of a fledgling nation, this unlikely couple represented all that America struggled to define itself against after winning independence from Britain.”

Swinehart’s book, tentatively titled “Molly’s War,” is a narrative that recounts an intimate history of the Crown’s uneasy military alliance with the Mohawk Indians of central New York. The story chronicles Sir William Johnson’s 20-year relationship and domestic life with Brant (1736–96), a powerful Mohawk woman who struggled to maintain the Mohawks’ allegiance to George III after Johnson’s death.

The book is under contract with Houghton Mifflin in North America and Hodder Headline in the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth. 

Swinehart’s “Molly’s War” derives its narrative verve from the events and places that shaped Brant and Johnson’s lives: their childhoods in the New and Old Worlds; the circumstances of their meeting and subsequent two decades together; the building of the estate they shared uneasily with their eight children and with Johnson’s three white children; and the two decades Brant spent without Johnson, waging war and living as a single mother confronted with heartbreaking blows.

Many have written about Johnson since his death in 1774 but too often he has been depicted as a caricature of the British colonial official. Swinehart says his research, conducted in British and American archives–including the British Library, the Public Records Office in London, and in Sir William’s own published papers–suggests a more complicated portrait than the ones offered by previous biographers and scholars. Swinehart says Johnson was a devoted father, a great lover of fun, and a man of tremendous intelligence and empathetic powers.

To complement his research, Swinehart spends time in physical locations where Johnson and Brant lived. He has spent extensive time at the house they shared, Johnson Hall, which still stands, 45 miles northwest of Albany. This summer, he’ll be in London, searching for the family’s banking records, and in Dublin, visiting Johnson’s childhood house.

Swinehart’s interest in Johnson and Brant dates back six years. After earning a master’s degree from the University of Delaware, where he studied American decorative arts, he pursued a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University. While at Yale he studied with prize-winning colonial historian John Demos, who changed forever how Swinehart writes history. That is when he began his doctoral dissertation on Johnson.

“Writing narrative history is for me a way of enriching our sense of the eighteenth century,” Swinehart says. “So, too, is reconciling the history of early America with the history of the British Empire.”

Swinehart says he hopes to spend his life doing work that combines scholarly rigor and accessibility in equal measure, inside the classroom and on the page. Students, he finds, learn best about early American history when people and life stories are placed front and center: when enormous social and economic changes can be discerned in the life of a James Boswell or a Benjamin Franklin or a Molly Brant.

At Wesleyan, Swinehart has taught all self-designed courses. These include the survey of early American history, narrative nonfiction and historical biography and the British Empire, a seminar on the Puritans, and another on early American furniture and art.

“I believe in reaching intelligent, curious people, in opening up worlds to people who may never become scholars but who — if you can persuade them of a book’s capacity to transport and transform — may become discerning adult readers of serious literary nonfiction,” Swinehart says. “It’s always a marvel to watch young readers connect for the first time with people who lived over 200 years ago.”

In addition to the Mellon Foundation Career Enrichment grant, Swinehart is the recipient of a Yale College Teaching Prize and of fellowships from the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, and the New York Public Library. Prior to coming to Wesleyan in 2002, he was the Mellon Research Fellow in American History at the University of Cambridge.

“That’s my vocation,” he says. “To reach those who will never become professional historians, teach them that reading books is a lifelong pleasure — and the cheapest vacation they’ll ever take.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Human Resources Launches Virtual Orientation Web Site

The Human Resources department’s new Virtual Orientation Web site provides vital information for new employees.
 
Posted 05/02/05

Prospective employees can learn all about Wesleyan before they even set foot on campus — just by going online.

The Human Resources department has launched a Virtual Orientation Web site this month for new employees. The site can be viewed at:

http://www.wesleyan.edu/hr/newemployee

The site features a list of important resources, interesting facts and valuable information that employees will need before they arrive and during their first month at Wesleyan.

“We wanted to create a place for new employees to learn as much as possible about Wesleyan before they arrived” says Julia Hicks, associate Human Resources director.  “We also wanted to provide a place where existing employees can also view useful human resources information.”

The Virtual Orientation web site contains similar material given to new employees on their first day but includes additional features such as an information on campus dining, the computer store and child care resources, the adverse weather policy, and even Wesleyan trivia. A new employee checklist explains where to pick up a Motor Vehicle Registration Form, Wesleyan Identification Card and how to get signed up for Wesleyan benefits.

The site also offers resources to employees who are not familiar with the Middletown area. An extensive list of places to eat and things see and do in Middlesex County is available on the site, as is a map of Middletown.

“Even employees who have been here for years will find a great deal of useful information on this site,” Hicks says.

The site was developed by Vanessa Sabin, Human Resources administrative coordinator; Pat Leone, World Wide Web administrator, Jennifer Carlstrom, Web manager and Sasha Foppiano, formerly a web designer for the Office of University Communications. Sabin and Dan Pflederer, Human Resources functional specialist, coordinated focus groups to gather input and feedback regarding the site.

The development team explored numerous university orientation Web pages and came up with our unique look and feel.

“We picked a design that we felt would be the best fit for Wesleyan,” Hicks says.

Harriet Abrams, director of Human Resources, encourages Wesleyan employees to offer feedback on the site and included a suggestion box link on the site for this purpose.

“We consider this a work in progress and we’ll be continually updating and enhancing it,” Abrams says. “The site is primarily focused on new hires but since it’s accessible to anyone visiting Wesleyan’s site, it’s also a terrific marketing tool to encourage others to apply.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

International Students Share Wesleyan Memories at Senior Reception

From left to right, Ambika Ahuja ’05 of Thailand, Zaheed Essack ’05 of South Africa, Phudorji Sherpa ’05 of Nepal, and Lianne Morris-Smith ’05 of Jamaica converse at the International Student Senior Reception.
 
Posted 05/02/05

The Office of International Student Services held an International Student Senior Reception at the Russell House April 27.

More than 25 international students and exchange students attended. Some gave brief remarks about their experiences at Wesleyan while others mentioned ways they plan to stay connected with Wesleyan after graduating.

“Whether they stay in this country or travel back to their home country, these students can maintain a relationship with Wesleyan,” says Theresa Cann, coordinator of International Student Services.

Wesleyan staff, administrators, and faculty attended, including the Senior Class Dean, Louise Brown.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Stereochemistry Topic of 33rd Leermakers Symposium

Posted 05/02/05

More than 150 guests, many from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, attended the 33rd Peter A. Leermakers Symposium May 5 at the Exley Science Center.

The annual, one day meeting brings together internationally recognized chemists for a day of intensive examination of a particular subject in chemistry.

This year’s symposium, titled “Chirality,” united scientists working in the general area of stereochemistry. The speakers have played a fundamental role in the control and understanding of stereochemistry.

Stereochemistry is a property that certain molecules have that can make two molecules behave completely differently as drugs, even though the structures of the two molecules look very similar. Stereochemistry depends on the symmetry of a molecule and is very difficult to control when one is synthesizing the molecule.

Speakers of the day-long event included Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; Michael Frisch, visiting scholar in chemistry; Professor Kendall Houk from the University of California, Los Angeles; Professor David Evans from Harvard University; Edward Grabowski from Merck Research Laboratories; Professor Eric Jacobsen from Harvard University; and Professor Geoffrey Coates from Cornell University.

The speakers presented results related to asymmetric catalysis, the synthesis of stereoregular polymers, the computer modeling of stereoselective reactions and the use of spectroscopy.

“These scientists are all at the very top of their fields and have been recognized by numerous awards,” says Michael Calter, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Leermakers Symposium.

The first symposium was held in 1972 on the chemistry of vitamin B12 and featured the late Robert B. Woodward, who reported on the just-completed total synthesis of this complex molecule. Since then topics have included natural biology, theoretical chemistry, extraterrestrial chemistry and chemical reaction dynamics.

The symposium was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Merck Research Labs and Pfizer Global Research Division.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Speakers Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, Wesleyan University

Professor Geoffrey Coates, Cornell University spoke on “New Catalysts for Constructing Small Molecules and Polymers of Defined Stereochemistry.”

Professor Eric Jacobsen of Harvard University spoke on “Seeking General Asymmetric Catalysts.”

Michael Frisch, Visiting Scholar in Chemistry spoke on “Spectroscopy of Chiral Molecules.”

Professor Edward Grabowski of Merck Research Laboratories spoke on “Novel, Asymmetric Hydrogenations.”

Professor Kendall Houk, University of California, Los Angeles spoke on the “Theory and Modeling of Stereoselectivity”

Professor David Evans spoke on “From Crystal Structures to Chiral Catalysts.”

Wesleyan Jewish and Muslim Students Explore Faith, Society in Turkey

At left, Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger and Muslim Chaplain Imam Abdulla Antepli try on traditional Turkmenistan hats in an Egyptian Bazaar. At right, Jessica Strom ’07, Alana Miller ’08 and Jeremy Gillick ’07 observe the only mosque in Ankara, Turkey.
 
Posted 05/02/05

What is life like in a secular Muslim nation, especially for Jews?

This was the question that motivated 17 Wesleyan students – 12 Jewish, 5 Muslim – to go to Istanbul, Turkey, in March during spring break to see for themselves.

The eight-day trip, which was envisioned and created by Wesleyan’s Muslim Chaplain Imam Abdullah Antepli and Wesleyan’s Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger, was discussed at a presentation on April 19 in Judd Hall.

Leipziger says the objectives of the inter-religious trip were to study successful Jewish-Muslim coexistence in Istanbul, to interact and build bridges with the Jewish and Muslim communities and to visit major religious and historical sites.

“Most importantly, we wanted to them to learn about each others’ backgrounds in order to build strong and vibrant inter-religious programming at Wesleyan,” he says.

During the discussion, nine of the students took turns discussing their views on the country’s politics, government, social interactions, impressions of the country and interactions between the Wesleyan students. Dan Janvey ’06 of New York, N.Y., presented a short documentary on the trip, which included clips of a mosque, prayer, music, and personally delivering a Wesleyan T-shirt to a chief rabbi.

Students went on guided tours through Istanbul. Destinations included old Istanbul, a Jewish museum, the Turkish parliament, and a historical home in the Galata area. The students also went to an Egyptian Bazaar, mosques, Faith University, a Turkish music concert, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, a sufi dance performance, and a Muslim prayer service.

The students influential religious and secular leaders in the city, including Chief Rabbi Ishak Halevo and local Jewish leaders, Turkish journalist Ekrem Dumanli local Christian leaders, as well as Vatican representative George Marovitch, and Turkish peace activists and interfaith workers. They also met with U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman in the U.S. Embassy.

But it was during dinners that the students received the most personal interaction with the Turkish people. Every night they’d share a meal at a local resident’s home, one night with a Muslim family, the next with Jewish hosts.

Yaneez Nojib, ’08, of Saint-Pierre, Mauritius, said for a few of the Muslim families, this was their first time hosting Jews in their homes. They also allowed the Jews to pray in their living rooms during Sabbath.

“One night, we ate at this man’s home,” Nojib says. “He was dressed like he was from the O.C. so we thought he was a businessman, but when we sat down for dinner, he didn’t have servants to bring us our food. He personally came and brought us out food, and that just shows what wonderful, hospitable, welcoming people they are. If there’s one thing I learned, it is that I need to find myself a Turkish wife.”

The country of Turkey has welcomed Jews, expelled from Spain, and Muslims since 1492. Because Turkey is a secular state and forbids census-takers to include questions of religious affiliations, the exact number of the Jewish population is unknown. By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1,647 or 11 percent of the total, and the present estimation is around 26,000, with the majority living in Istanbul.

Although Judiasm has a small presence in Turkey, among nearly 70 million Muslims, Andrew Inchiosa ’07 of Woodcliff, N.J. says the Jewish community is evolving with the Turkish culture. During a Shabbat service, one practice seemed especially anomalous to the group. 

“At the mosques, they’d hold out their hands in prayer, but we also observed that at the synagogue,” Inchiosa says. “It involved a partial, one-handed waving motion. We met an American student studying in Istanbul after the service, and he explained that this was a distinctly Turkish tradition.”

Inchiosa says there were also few religious divisions from a culinary standpoint.

The students were served Turkish tea at many different religious functions, and experienced a version of Turkish delight, featuring milk chocolate, at the home of the ambassador to the Vatican.

Other students who went on the trip were Alana Miller ‘08, Jeremy Gillick ‘07, Jessica Strom ’07, Leora Abelson ‘07, Saad Mustafa Handoo ‘06, Marie Brophy ‘08, Lillian Siegel ‘08, Nitzan Ziv ’07, Jacob Goldin ’07, Ben Smyser ‘08, David Abravanel ‘08, Emiria Wijayanti ‘07, Joel Bhuiyan ‘06 and Nabil Ansari ’06.

Handoo, of Clarksville, Md., says the students want to reach out to area newspapers, deliver presentations in their hometowns, write articles for Turkish newsletters, hold discussions and conferences about their trip, and reach out to Wesleyan alumni regarding their interfaith experience.

“Now that we have this knowledge, we want to share it with a broader base and other religious circles,” he says. “What we have been through has been a transforming experience.

Another trip is being planned for March 2006.

Anyone interested in ordering a DVD of the students’ documentary, or having the Wesleyan students make a presentation at individual synagogues, mosques, schools or other venues, contact Rabbi Leipziger at 860-685-2278 or dleipziger@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan University Announces 173rd Commencement Honorary Degree Recipients

Posted 04/19/05
Wesleyan University recently announced that it will confer four honorary degrees during its 173rd commencement exercises on Sunday, May 22 to the following recipients:
  • Amy Gutmann (Doctor of Letters) – Amy Gutmann, Wesleyan’s commencement speaker, became president of the University of Pennsylvania this year. Formerly, she was provost and Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She was the founding director of the Princeton University Center for Human Values, a multi-disciplinary center that supports teaching, scholarship and public discussion of ethics and human values.
  • Bill Belichick (Doctor of Humane Letters) – Bill Belichick earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Wesleyan in 1975. Also a Wesleyan parent, Belichick and his wife, Debby, have been long-time advocates of and contributors to Wesleyan and community charities. In 2002 Coach Belichick guided the underdog New England Patriots to their first world championship, against tremendous odds. He has since repeated that feat twice, most recently this year at Super Bowl XXXIX. Belichick has earned a reputation for being one of football’s elite game strategists whose defensive game plans have consistently been credited for defusing some of the NFL’s most potent offenses.
  • Edward P. Jones (Doctor of Humane Letters) – Edward P. Jones was educated at Holy Cross College and the University of Virginia. His first book, Lost in the City, was originally published by William Morrow in 1992 and short-listed for the National Book Award. A collection of fourteen short stories, Lost in the City deals with African American working class and underclass experiences in mid-20th century, inner-city Washington, D.C. Jones was named a National Book Award finalist for a second time with the publication of his debut novel, “The Known World,” which subsequently won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • William Barber (Doctor of Letters) – William Barber is the Andrews Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wesleyan. Barber joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1957 after receiving his doctor in philosophy degree from Oxford University. He is recognized as an expert on the history of economic thought, on economists as policy advisers, and on development economics. His next book, Volume 4 of “Perspectives on Applied Topics and Forward Trajectories,” is expected to be published in 2005.

Wesleyan will also bestow the Baldwin Medal, the highest alumni honor presented by the University, to John F. Woodhouse, ’53, P’79, former president and CEO of Sysco Corporation, named trustee emeritus following 15 years on Wesleyan’s Board, and most recently, chairman and leader of the successful $287M Wesleyan Capital Campaign. David B. Jenkins, ’53, P’83, former CEO and president of Shaws Supermarkets, named trustee emeritus following 12 years on Wesleyan’s Board, chair of the Campaign for Liberal Learning and National Leadership Gifts Chair for the Wesleyan Capital Campaign, will receive the Baldwin Medal at Homecoming/Family Weekend this fall.

The Baldwin Medal pays tribute to the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin of Wesleyan’s Class of 1916. Baldwin was the only man to have held the offices of Connecticut governor, U.S. senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Saturday Program is All About The Kids

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Pictured above, Lydia Bell ’07 (center) and area children watch the Footnotes Dance Theater perform during the Saturday for Kids Program’s “Buddy Day.” Bell is a substitute teacher at Saturday for Kids, a recreation/respite program for children with disabilities.

At right, Saturday for Kids Program Director and Wesleyan administrative assistant Debbie Sierpinski helps a child with a craft project. Sierpinski is recruiting volunteers and performers for the program.

Posted 04/15/05

Twice a month, Lydia Bell ’07 gets to mingle with an aspiring rock star.

“He really loves to get everyone singing ‘Yankee Doodle,’ or doing the moves for the ‘YMCA,’” Bell says about her 10-year-old friend, David*.

Bell and David meet during The Saturday for Kids program, a recreation/respite program for children with disabilities. Several Wesleyan students, staff and faculty are donating a few hours a month to socially interact with the youngsters, and they’re always looking for more Wesleyan volunteers to work with children ages 6-12.

Saturday for Kids program Director Debbie Sierpinski, administrative assistant for the Classical Studies Department, Medieval Studies Program, and the Archaeology Program, says this is an ideal opportunity to give back to the community, while meeting other Wesleyan student and employees who they normally wouldn’t meet on campus.

“Since Wesleyan has really pushed for community services to be an important aspect of the Wesleyan community, I feel that the Saturday for Kids program is a vital avenue for Wesleyan students, faculty and staff to accomplish this,” she says.

Saturday for Kids is part of the Middlesex Association for Retarded Citizens: Community Resources, Ltd., most commonly known as MARC. The private, non-profit organization provides services to adults and children with cognitive disabilities and their families.

The Saturday for Kids Program is held two to three Saturday mornings a month. Structured activities, crafts, toys and free time for play offer valuable social interaction for the children.

Bell started volunteering in 2004 and was hired as a sub this year. She says the most rewarding part of working with the program is having the luxury of working one-on-one with a child. 

“With time and patience I have found rewarding connections through games and lots of smiling and laughing,” Bell says. “Working with special needs children is a great way to prepare for a teaching career or to be active in the greater Middletown area. I would recommend it to other students as a great way to get off campus and get involved with the community around us.”

Sierpinski has already written several recommendations for students who are applying for fellowships in this field or who are looking for summer employment working with children. 

Wesleyan’s Community Relations co-sponsors the program to enable some meetings to be held at Wesleyan. When the organization holds its Community Service Fair in September, Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations, recruits Wesleyan students and staff to man the information booth.

“Debbie and her student volunteers have been the heart and soul of the Saturday for Kids program,” Kuan says. “It’s a very worthwhile, service-orientated cause.”

Some Wesleyan employees have got involved in the Saturday for Kids Program through their talents. Helen Mensah, an artist in residence in dance, played African drums for the children. Juliana Shortell, collections manager of the Archaeology Program and member of the Footnotes Dance Theater performed a dance for the kids. Kids on the Block, a volunteer group associated with Oddfellows Playhouse and Wesleyan students, put on a play with puppets that have disabilities. 

Shortell says Footnotes has performed at schools and libraries around the state, but the Saturday for Kids Program is her favorite group to work with.

 “Usually there is a fair bit of snickering and shyness,” she says. “Not so with these kids.  They welcome us and jump right in, and because everyone cannot necessarily move or communicate in the same way, we all learn about different ways to relate to words, music, and movement. In the end, there is very little ‘performing’ going on, as we are all just playing together. And that is the way we like it!”

These special performances take place once a month during “Buddy Day.” During this event, the children can invite friends and siblings and anyone from the community to join in on the fun.

“It is a way to educate the community about what special needs means and makes the program more inclusive,” Sierpinski says.

Sierpinski is hoping more students and faculty from the theater, music and other departments donate their skills to entertain the children.

 “We have found that the common link with all of these children, no manner what level of functioning they are at or what kind of cognitive and physical disabilities they have, is music and dance,” she says. “Some of our non-verbal children give us a huge smile and we know that we have touched their soul.”

Sierpinski says the Classical Studies Department supports her working for the program. For a while, she was storing toys in the Classical Studies’ library. 

“One day, one of the visiting faculty members was riding one of the kids adult trikes down the hall,” she says. “I thought I was seeing things. He said the tires were flat, he had inflated them and was checking out the bike. I am very lucky to work at Wesleyan, a place very committed to community service.” 

The Saturday for Kids Program meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Woodhead Lounge, Mercy High School or at the MARC administration building, 421 Main Street in Cromwell.

“These are a fabulous group of kids,” Shortell says, “and you will always get back as much, if not more, than what you put in.”

For more information or to become a volunteer or performer, email Debbie Sierpinski at dsierpinski@wesleyan.edu or call Lou Alperowitz at 860-635-5151 extension 305.

(* last name withheld by request.)

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Vice President for Finance and Administration Retiring

Posted 04/15/05

Vice President for Finance and Administration Marcia Bromberg will retire from Wesleyan at the end of the fiscal year.

In her four years at Wesleyan, Bromberg has overseen numerous improvements. When she was hired she was charged with providing a more transparent financial planning and reporting system. This led her to a revamping of the budget planning cycle, budget and long-range planning materials, and the annual budget and financial statements. The result has been a more open and understandable set of processes and documents.

Bromberg also opened up the facilities planning process with the establishment of the Master Plan Executive Committee, which has coordinated on-campus planning and oversight for all facilities projects.

She recognized the need for a specialist to manage the university’s auxiliary services and created a director position to oversee those areas. She led in the recasting of the university’s bookstore, now operated by Follett College Stores, which has succeeded in providing the level of textbook services and support required by students and faculty.

In collaboration with a committee she established, Bromberg developed a new administrative staff evaluation and compensation system that links performance assessment to individual and University goals and provides a reward system for meaningful accomplishments. More recently, in collaboration with the faculty’s Compensation and Benefits Committee, she conducted a health plan review which led first to moving the university from a fully insured to a self-insured plan, and this past year, to an improved program that incorporates new plan designs and healthy living options.

Bromberg’s creative vision enabled Wesleyan to construct new residence halls on Fauver Field that will allow the university to house almost all students in university-owned housing.

March 30 was the culmination of another initiative: Wesleyan’s first Environmental Awareness Day. Students, faculty, the Connecticut Consortium of Independent Colleges and local civic and political leaders celebrated campus energy conservation initiatives, recycling activities and our plan to incorporate clean-energy electric vehicles into its campus service fleet. Through this initiative, Bromberg channeled student interests and concerns towards collaborative and positive results.

Wesleyan will soon begin a national search for Marcia’s successor. In the interim period after June 30, Vice President and Secretary Peter Patton will provide oversight to the Facilities and Auxiliary Services offices. Vice President for Information Technology John Meerts will provide oversight to the offices of Finance, Human Resources, Legal Projects, and Project Coordination. Tom Kannam, director of investments, will report to President Douglas Bennet while maintaining a dotted-line relationship with the interim and then the permanent vice president for finance.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

$800,000 Grant to Benefit Computer Sciences

A new grant will expand emphasis on computer science instruction and resources.
 
Posted 04/15/05

An $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant will allow the Mathematics and Computer Sciences departments at Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College to collaborate on a new cost and resource sharing arrangement, expand the departments’ curricula and provide incentives for more computer science faculty to work in a liberal arts setting.

The grant will fund the hiring of four post-doctoral fellows in computer science who will develop new courses, seminars and workshops. While each fellow will be employed by a “home” institution, all four will provide instruction and collaborate with colleagues at the three participating academic institutions. This will include on-site instruction and the simultaneous teaching of courses at the institutions through video conferencing.

The grant also focuses on providing resources for the recruitment, mentoring and training of women and underrepresented students in computer sciences. Methods will include faculty and peer mentoring, workshops and programs on career and research opportunities, and the creation and distribution of materials aimed at interesting nontraditional students to enroll in introductory computer science courses.

Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College have enjoyed a long tradition of academic collaboration known as the CTW Consortium, which includes sharing instructional technology and library service resources. In recent years, the Mellon Foundation has also awarded grants to the CTW Consortium to sponsor a computer sciences joint colloquium and to build on existing shared resources to improve the curricula of all three member institutions.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private foundation that makes grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education, museums, and art conservation, performing arts, population, conservation and the environment and public affairs.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations with Eric Cárdenas, Connecticut College

Noted Journalists Debate Iraq, Foreign Policy

Posted 04/15/05

“Vanity Fair” contributing editor Christopher Hitchens and Pulitzer Prize nominee Michael Parenti participated in a debate titled “Iraq and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy” April 18 at Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

Hitchens is an Oxford-educated self-described liberal who has become a supporter of U.S. intervention in Iraq. A former columnist for The Nation and book critic for Newsday, he is now a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine. His books include “Hostage to History: Cyprus From the Ottomans to Kissinger” and his most recent, “Love, Poverty and War: Journeys and Essays.”

Parenti, a Yale graduate, has been a persistent critic of U.S. foreign policy for over 25 years and strongly opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. His most recent book, “Superpatriotism,” explores the cultural dynamics that underpin America’s approach to foreign policy in recent years. He has reportedly written over 250 articles for scholarly journals, periodicals and newspapers.

The presentation was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Office of the President, the Sociology and Government departments, WESU 88.1FM, WesPeace, the United Student Labor Action Coalition and the Muslim Students Association.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Red & Black Cafe Donates 1% to Financial Aid

 
Posted 03/31/05

The next time you grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink at the Red & Black Café, you’ll also be helping students in need at Wesleyan.

Ed Thorndike, Jr. ’89 and Karen Kaffen-Polascik, owners of Wes Wings and Red & Black Cafe, will donate 1 percent of their gross sales from Red & Black Cafe to support financial aid through the Wesleyan Annual Fund (WAF).

“This is something we’ve really been wanting to do,” says Thorndike. “I contacted University Relations and we were able to set it up and make it work. It’s really gratifying to know that this money will be going to help Wesleyan students in need.”

Their intention is to give semi-annually in May and January.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations