Campus News & Events

Student-Athlete Breaks Team Record for Hits


Baseball player Jeff Maier ’06 has received national media attention this month for breaking Wesleyan’s career hits record.

Posted 04/17/06
Jeff Maier ’06 a government major and third baseman on the varsity baseball team set the all-time record for most hits in a career against Bates College on April 12. During the game he finished 2-for-3, doubling twice, to give him 170 career hits. Prior to the game he posted four of the Cardinals’ 13 hits during a double-header with Middlebury at home April 9 to tie Bill Robinson ’03 for the team lead in career hits with 168.

Maier’s achievement has been chronicled in more than 35 newspapers in the United States and Canada, including a front-page story in The New York Times. He has also been featured on local news and ESPN.

The New York interest is particularly acute since Maier gained a measure of fame there 10 years ago for catching a ball hit by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees during the American League Championship game. The ball was headed for the glove of a Baltimore Orioles player but Maier’s reach-over catch made it a home run and the Yankees went on to win the American League Pennant and the World Series.

As of April 13, Maier ranks first on the squad with a .404 batting average. Wesleyan won the game, beating Bates 14-2. Baseball has been played at Wesleyan since 1865 when the university played its first game, which was against Yale University.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations and Brian Katten, director of Sports Information

Economics Professor Testifies Before U.S. Senate


Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, suggests that the government place a growing tax on the cost of carbon during a hearing March 30 in Washington D.C.

Posted 04/17/06
When Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, received a call from Senator Joseph R. Biden’s office to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., he didn’t hesitate. In fact, he hurried.

Yohe, who was the sole expert, recommended by both the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Center on Global Climate Change to Senator Biden’s office, had only a few days in which to prepare his brief testimony on “The Hidden (Climate Change) Costs of Oil.”

In a five-minute prepared opening statement, Yohe called attention to the sources of economic cost attributed to climate change and suggested that government respond by placing a permanent and growing tax on the cost of carbon. The point of such a tax (or any policy that would add the climate cost of carbon to the price of oil) is to hedge against, or reduce the likelihood, of the extreme consequences of global warming.

“We don’t have to go overboard,” Yohe explained, but “adopting a risk-management (hedging) approach to minimize the cost of future policy adjustments would be appropriate and economical over the long run.”

Yohe says he believes Senators Biden and Richard G. Lugar seemed to agree with his testimony.

“We were there for almost two-and-one-half hours and the two senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee were fully engaged and almost thinking out loud with us,” says Yohe. “The staffers were incredulous that they spent so much time with us.”

According to Yohe, Senator Biden said that people might get used to paying a persistent tax on petroleum.  Biden was particularly interested, though, in how such a charge might be factored into the investment decisions of American businesses as they frame the energy infrastructure for the next half-century.

Senator Lugar, on the other hand, was specifically interested on how best to implement an
effective climate insurance policy.

“I had a short amount of time to get in front of two people who essentially could take my research and make a difference,” says Yohe. “After generating pages of points that I wanted to raised, I picked out what I thought was the most important information and tried to tell a
simple, but interesting story.”

To read the full transcript of Yohe’s testimony, please refer to the following link:
http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2006/hrg060330a.html.
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

“We Are Family” Theme of Alumni of Color Reunion


All alumni of color are invited to a reunion April 21-23 on campus. The reunion will coincide with WesFest so alumni have the opportunity to mingle with prospective students.
Posted 04/17/06
Wesleyan’s alumni of color will have the opportunity to reconnect with each other and meet the newest generation of students of color during a reunion on campus on April 21-23.

“We Are Family: Wesleyan through the Years” will allow fellow alumni of color to reminisce about five decades of Wesleyan’s distinctive history. It will also provide an insider’s glimpse of Wesleyan today and all of the renovations, enhancements and new improvements to student life on campus.

During the event, which coincides with WesFest, alumni will spend time with students and prospective students and receive updates on new strategic plan, “Engaged with the World.” There will also be presentations by distinguished alumni of color, a campus tour and other opportunities to socialize.

“The schedule includes something for everyone and we are delighted to welcome our alumni of color back to campus for an exciting opportunity to revisit with old friends and get a fresh perspective on the Wesleyan we love,” says Barbara Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations.

“We Are Family” events kick off on April 21 with a reception at the Rocky Hill Marriott, dinner with trustees in honor of former Dean of the College Edgar Beckham ’58. The program will include a welcoming address by Board of Trustee Chairman Jim Dresser ’63 and a DJ Party with Smokey Fontaine ’93.

April 22 events include a breakfast and conversation with President Doug Bennet and Midge Bennet and a meeting with Sanford Livingston ’87, National Chair of the Black Alumni Council. The day also includes a presentation by Majora Carter ’88, a talk about the admissions process and a chat with current students about their Wesleyan and a career fair. April 23 includes a breakfast at the Rocky Hill Marriott and informal alumni gatherings throughout the day.

Members of the Alumni of Color Network also will have the chance to meet with their councils during the weekend. The network includes the Asian Pacific American Alumni Council, the Black Alumni Council and the Latino Alumni Council. Each council develops events and programs that reflect specific interests and experiences of alumni of color. The network promotes interests pertaining to communities of color and collaborates with university offices to assist and support on- and off-campus programs.

“This is a special opportunity to come back to campus in the spring, slow down, reconnect with old friends and make some new ones,” says “We Are Family” coordinator Faraneh Carnegie, who is assistant director of Regional Programs and Networks and staff liaison to the Alumni of Color Network.

“We Are Family: Wesleyan through the Years” is sponsored by the Black Alumni Council and the Alumni of Color Network. The cost to register is $50 for alumni and guests per person; $25 per person for Graduates of the Last Decade and their guests; and $10 for each child, ages 13-18. Childcare is available.

For more information or to register, contact Faraneh Carnegie at 860-685-4829, or by e-mail at fcarnegie@wesleyan.edu, or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/alumni/aoc/weekend/

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Fauver Takes First Place in Building Competition


First-year student relax in the Fauver Residence Hall lounge. The Fauver Field Residences were recently honored by the Connecticut Building Congress.

Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan’s Fauver Field Residences received a First Place Award in the 2006 Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) Project Team Awards competition. It placed in the New Construction category, and competed against other buildings, of which construction costs exceeded $10 million. Fauver’s construction began in August 2004 and the student residences were completed in September 2005. The CBC requests that projects submitted in the competition be located in Connecticut and substantially completed during 2005.
 
“We’re honored Fauver is setting a positive example for other new constructions in the state,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president of facilities. “A great deal of time and effort went into the planning, and it shows. It’s a lovely facility, and one that not only affords more students a comfortable place to live, it has made the campus more beautiful. This is something the entire Wesleyan community should be very proud of.
 
Each year, the Connecticut Building Congress looks for outstanding nonresidential building projects that exemplify project team excellence by representing building owners, architects, engineers and constructors. CBC’s goal is to recognize project team members who have adopted this close collaboration as an industry standard for improving a project’s quality.

A panel of judges is selected to include representation from each of the major disciplines that form the project team: owners, architects, engineers and constructors.

Susan Labas, associate and director of marketing for van Zelm Heywood & Shadford Inc. of West Hartford and CBC member says Wesleyan was judged for meeting the its budget and schedule constraints; documenting team cooperation and collaboration from conceptual design through project completion; having a team which approached the project’s unique challenges; and considerations made for the project’s social, economic or sustainable design.

Fauver Field Residences consist of two buildings on the corner of Vine Street and Cross Street. The units comprise of about 85,500 sq-feet. The Fauver Apartment Building houses 104 upperclass students and the Fauver Residence Hall for first-year students, houses 166 students. It opened for the 2005-06 academic year.

The Connecticut Building Congress was formed in 1952 and initiated the Project Team Award program 11 years ago to recognize and promote teamwork among participants in the construction process. Plaques will be presented during the CBC Awards Program in New Haven, Conn. May 18.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Study Gives Teeth to Leaf Activity


Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, researched why pointy-leafed plants are more common in colder climates.

Posted 04/01/06
Smooth or pointy – is there a reason?

If that question refers to a leaf, a study by a Wesleyan researcher may have an answer that includes some cold facts about sap flow and the weather.

The study by Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer and featured in a recent issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences looks at the characteristics of plants with pointy leaves versus smooth-leafed plants and finds the difference is more than just cosmetic.

The pointy or “toothed” leaves contain high concentrations of xylem, a type of tissue that facilitates the transportation of the plant’s sap, which is rich with nutrients and water. The water then evaporates from the leaves causing the plants to draw up even more sap.

“The result is a greater rate of sap flow earlier in the spring,” says Royer. “The process apparently helps to jumpstart the plants’ photosynthetic season.”

This may explain why so many trees and other plants in colder climates have pointy leaves.

“The colder the climates generally have shorter growing seasons so the greater rate of sap flow is very beneficial to these plants,” says Royer. “The trade-off is that there is a higher rate of water loss among these plants. So there still needs to be sufficient rain during the growing season.”

Royer and co-author Peter Wilf from Pennsylvania State University performed the study by analyzing the moisture transpiration and photosynthesis activity of more than 60 woody species in two decidedly different regions: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They found that photosynthesis and transpiration activity increased by as much as 45 percent among toothed-leafed plants during the first 30 days of the growing season. The analogous rates of smoothed-leafed plants in the same regions were significantly less.

The findings, while not definitive, certainly provide yet another example of nature’s ability to adapt to varying conditions. However, Royer adds that, in this case, there could be negative implications with climate change.

“It’s very speculative, but most of these toothed leaf trees are hardwoods that, along with their environmental benefits, also carry economic value,” Royer says. “It would not take a large rise in average temperatures during the growing season to put point-leaf plants at a competitive disadvantage.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

No Break this Spring: Wesleyan Students Donate Time-Off to Help Others


At right, Jessica French Smith ’09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. She was one of more than 100 Wesleyan students who volunteered their spring break time to help others around the nation and world.

Posted 04/01/06
Jane Maxson ’06 spent her spring break on the gulf coast; however she wasn’t sporting a sun hat and flip-flops on the beach. Equipped with a hammer, nails and tool belt, Maxson spent her time-off school volunteering for hurricane relief efforts.

Maxon was one of over 100 Wesleyan students and faculty volunteering world-wide during break.

Helping the Hurricane Victims

Maxon and 50 other students, many of whom are Wesleyan Christian Fellowship members, teamed up with “Willing Hearts, Helping Hands,” a Christian ministry aiming to rebuild 200 houses in hurricane-affected areas. The students left March 11 and returned March 18. They aided victims on the Mississippi coast.

As part of their project, the Christian Fellowship members sought to explore the intersections of faith and service, specifically how faith motivates service.

“We spent the days doing relief work and the evenings discussing the Christian motivation for serving the poor, the idea of meeting needs in a holistic way and the specific cases and challenges associated with Hurricane Katrina,” explains Jane Maxson ’06. “I had a fantastic time, and I don’t think I could have had a more enjoyable time doing anything else.”

Another 50-plus students went directly to the hurricane’s path of wrath in New Orleans. They were housed in and around a Catholic school in the hardest-hit Upper Ninth Ward that had been converted into a base of operations for the organization they worked for, Common Ground Relief. Some students slept in classrooms, while others slept in tents outside.

Brian Thorpe ’07 spent nine days in the shattered city armed with crowbars, shovels,
and wheelbarrows, doing what he could to help clean-up and rebuild. He went there desensitized by the images on television. However, his perceptions changed when he came face-to-face with reality.

“Untold amounts of people in neighborhoods are still suffering from the effects of Katrina,” Thorpe says. “The raw truth is that seven months after the hurricane there is still precious little being done by the state, local, and especially federal government to rebuild the city and help the poorer citizens of the area to get back on their feet. Yet while I came back from New Orleans frustrated and disheartened, I still felt hopeful to see so many people my own age giving up their time and money to go down and help.”

Developing Wesleyan Partnership in Nicaragua

Jessica French Smith ’09, Kevin Young ’07, and Octavio Flores, adjunct associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures went to Nagarote, Nicaragua as part of Wesleyan in Nicaragua (WIN) organization for 10 days. WIN is partnered with The Norwalk-Nagarote Sister City Project and together, the groups planned and to participated in community service activities which benefit the people of Nagarote.

The trio stayed for 10 days, living with local families, researching for future Wesleyan initiatives, meeting with teachers, members of the Ministry of Education and the Norwalk/Nagarote
Sister City Project Directiva. They worked with preschool students, delivered material aid to the classroom, and worked on creative projects with a group of at-risk high school age group in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town.

This was French Smith’s third time going to Nicaragua to do service work, and she’s already promised to return next year.

“Knowing that there are people all over the world living in horribly unjust conditions keeps me working hard to take advantage of the resources available to me and to use these resources to help others as much as possible,” she says. “Besides, it’s a much more satisfying alternative to Cancun. I don’t think anyone cries when they leave Cancun because they are going to miss their host family, or because they couldn’t stay longer and work harder.”

French Smith says there is a lot of potential for other Wesleyan students to work in help, even remotely. The group met with met with community leaders, teachers and members of the Board of Education and found that in the future there is a definite need for both didactic and consumable teaching materials. She hopes students can help with the development/fundraising for these materials.

French Smith says this was not a one-time kind of trip, but rather one designed toward building an ongoing relationship necessary to successful service work.

“I met so many incredible and loving people in Nicaragua and I learned a lot about myself and my personal philosophies concerning service-work,” French Smith says. “I definitely know that it is something all Wesleyan students should have to opportunity to get involved in, work for, and experience in the future and this is something I’m going to be working toward back on campus.”

Building Homes in South Carolina

A dozen students involved with Wesleyan Habitat for Humanity went to Georgetown, South Carolina to help build a Habitat House for nine days. Georgetown is a rural, poor area on the South Carolina coast with a large population of people living in substandard housing.

Mark Purser ’08 says the tip allowed several students who had never been to the South to experience its unique culture.

“The trip’s purpose was to give students an opportunity to spend their spring break participating in community service as well as learn about substandard housing and poverty in America,” he says.

The student worked on two Habitat houses, constructing and raising interior walls, sheeting the exterior walls and installing insulation.

Improving Children’s’ Lives in Mexico

In addition, nine students traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico over spring break to participate in a community service project. The helped build a structure that will house “Cala y Emes,” a group in Oaxaca whose mission is to help young people with special needs develop skills to enter the work force. This is a brand new organization that hopes to not only improve the lives of the kids they support, but also to educate/re-program the Oaxacan community about people with special needs.

The Wesleyan students helped clear donated land, poured the building’s foundation, and installed sinks, drainage and other necessities.

Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, director of the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism at Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships is impressed by the diverse range of projects dealing with economic development, hurricane relief, housing and long-term partnership building. She hopes to work with the students to share their experience for the entire Wesleyan community.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the interest, motivation and dedication of the students organizing and going on the trips,” Crimmins Lechowicz says. “These immersion experiences can have a powerful impact on student’s perspective on issues.”

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Science Explored through Series of Films, Discussion


Posted 04/01/06
In an ongoing initiative to increase connections between science and film at Wesleyan, a series of programs will be presented in April. This part of the series, arranged by Film Studies and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the last in the “Celebrating the Liberal Arts Tradition Through Film” program in which over 18 departments have participated.

This is the fifth semester the Film Studies Department has hosted the series of seminars, lectures, screenings and discussions.
 
“Film was born out of science, and now science is being reborn through film,” says Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of the Film Studies Department and curator of Cinema Archives. “Both film and science are about time and space and require the ability for acute observation. We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with our science colleagues.”
 
The programs are of particular interest to students enrolled in “Science and Film: Defining Human Identity,” taught by Bob Lane, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Scott Higgins, assistant professor of film studies.
 
The upcoming programs include:
 
“A “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program will begin at 5 p.m. April 10 with a screening of “CONTACT” from 1997, starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. It will be shown in The Goldsmith Family Cinema at 5 p.m. April 10.
 
Around 8 p.m. there will be a panel discussion led by Bryan Butler, staff scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and science advisor to the film; Fred Cohan, professor of biology at Wesleyan; and Peter Gottschalk, associate professor of religion at Wesleyan. Butler will comment on the “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program depicted in the film and for which radio wavelength observations have been a major component. He will also discuss his experiences as a science advisor to this film, and share his perspectives about the use of science in Hollywood film-making. 
 
Cohan will comment on the origins of life on this planet, and the prospects of finding life elsewhere in the universe. Gottschalk will discuss how empirical science has historically challenged both anthrocentric and theocentric views in Western cultures and religions, and compare how discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would mirror the Copernicus revolution.
 
Following the short presentations, the audience will be invited to ask questions and share perspectives on these topics. This event is open to the public.
 
The films and lectures are supported by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund; the Fund for Innovation; the Deans of Divisions I, II, and III; the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department; the Astronomy Department; the Film Studies Department and the Cinema Archives.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement


Posted 04/01/06
Wesleyan will commemorate its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremonies May 25-28. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.

John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University will give the principal address at commencement and will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony.

In addition, Wesleyan will award honorary doctors of letters to Mary O. McWilliams ’71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.

Franklin is an internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist. He has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President’s Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin’s numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.

McWilliams ’71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan.

Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P‘79 and Biff Shaw ‘51, P’79. As an alumni leader, Biff Shaw’s diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown. She played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.
 
The commencement ceremony is scheduled to be held on Andrus Field, where seating will be unlimited. President Doug Bennet invites all parent-educators to participate in the academic procession.

“This initiative was introduced at the 1997 commencement and is becoming a much-beloved tradition at Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “I look forward to welcoming everyone to Wesleyan on this wonderful occasion.”

Academic regalia will be worn by all who participate in the procession and can be ordered through the campus bookstore.

The Office of the Dean of the College will contact graduating seniors with information regarding graduation announcements and activities for Reunion and Commencement Weekend.

WesGuitars Club Strummin’ Up Worldly Music on Campus, Local Community


Pictured at top, Alex Gorelick ’09 performs during a WesGuitars meeting March 9. Pictured in back, from left, are Bolivian guitarist, Marcos Puña and Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar and WesGuitar coordinator. Pictured below is WesGuitars member Sylvia Ryerson ’09.
(Click the speaker button to hear
Gorelick playing Prelude No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
Posted 03/16/06
Sylvia Ryerson ’09 came to Wesleyan with an interest in classic guitar, but no real ability to play the instrument. But after joining a new club called WesGuitars, she’s already memorized pieces by Brazillian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cuban conductor Leo Brouwer.

“I’ve always loved the sound of classical guitar,” she says. “It’s great to sit in a room with a bunch of other guitarists and share what I’ve been working on, and hear music by others. It’s a really fun and encouraging group.”

WesGuitars, a campus group generated last semester, meets twice a month in the Davenport Campus Center. During the March 9 meeting, Ryerson played a Villa-Lobos composition live for the club. Afterwards, fellow WesGuitar members complemented her efforts and offered constructive criticism.

The performance-oriented meetings serve as an opportunity for players to get feedback, tell stories, discuss different composers, ask questions, meet guest artists and be inspired. Sometimes, the WesGuitars will break out into a jam session.

The Music Department’s Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical guitar, coordinates the informal club gatherings. He says the club’s purpose is to promote classical guitar awareness at Wesleyan and the Middletown community. The students may also perform in various concerts throughout the year.

Although the guitar originated in Spain, the students study music from American, Mexican, Turkish, Brazilian, Japanese musicians, among others.

“Everyone has their own diverse interests, so we encourage each other to learn music from all over the world,” says Duruoz, who has studied and performed internationally. “The students are always free to write their own music, too.”

Alex Gorelick ’09, a chemistry and music major, has played guitar for seven years. During the recent meeting, he performed “Prelude No. 1” by by Villa-Lobos and “Sakura,” a popular fast-fingered folk song from Japan. The song took him three months to master and memorize. Afterwards, guest artist Marcos Puña of Bolivia inspired Gorelick by playing the same song an octave higher.

“There are many variations on how to play a song, and writing the music for guitar is close to impossible,” Duruoz explains. “So much the way someone plays a song comes from the way they were influenced. I just recommend that they play the way they are most confident with.”

Graduate student Glenn Henshaw says audiences respond the varied sounds of the guitar. The instrument can be tender and sonorous or it can be deeply rhythmic and angular, he explains.

“The guitar is a relatively young instrument but it has timeless qualities,” says Henshaw, who is learning “Homenaje – Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy” by Manuel de Falla. “We want people to walk away from our performances and say, “I had no idea the guitar could do that.’”

The guitar repertoire is diverse and affective. Some members of the group have performed duets with pianists, flautists and vocalists. Guitar newbie Ryerson says her life-long experience with the violin and reading music has helped the learning process tremendously, even though the fingering on the violin and guitar are backwards.

Most of the club members take or have taken private lessons with Duruoz, however WesGuitars welcomes all musicians from campus and the surrounding area to join. Henshaw says the relaxed environment ensures that beginners or non-classical players can feel comfortable enough to pick up a guitar and play.

“Despite the fact that the Wesleyan music program is decidedly theory based there is widespread interest in performance; groups like ours will cater to both the casual and serious musicians on campus and in the community,” Henshaw says. “We’d really like to make Wesleyan and Middletown a mecca for classical guitar.”

The club will culminate this year with a concert as part of the Chapel Music Series on April 7. They also are sponsoring a concert by Spanish guitarist Juan José Sáenz at 7 p.m. April 9 in Crowell Concert Hall. He will play a program of Spanish works.

For more information on WesGuitars e-mail Cem Duruoz at cduruoz@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

5 Faculty Awarded Career Enhancement Grants

Posted 03/15/06
Five Wesleyan faculty members received Mellon Career Enhancement Grants for the 2006-07 academic year.Wesleyan, along with Amherst College, Grinnell College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, Reed College, Smith College and Williams College, are in the third year of a major collaborative grant from the Mellon Foundation to enhance faculty career development. Faculty members from each of the institutions compete for semester research leaves, summer stipend grants, and workshop grants designed to encourage and promote increased scholarly activity for the faculty of the eight institutions.

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, and Abigail Hornstein, assistant professor of economics, received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants. Laurie Nussdorfer, chair of the College of Letters and professor of letters and history, and Ethan Kleinberg, associate professor of letters and history, received a Mellon Workshop Grant. Stephen Angle, associate professor of East Asian Studies, associate professor of philosophy, chair of the East Asian Studies Program and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, received a Mellon Semester Research Leave.

Proposals for these grants are reviewed at each participating institution by a committee including the academic deans. This is the fourth year the Mellon grants were issued.

  
Barth (pictured at left) and Hornstein (pictured at right) are among 16 professors from the eight colleges who received Mellon Summer Stipend Grants to be used in summer 2006. Recipients receive $4,500; an additional $3,500 is available for student research assistance for each recipient.

Barth’s research project is titled “Visual statistical processing in young children.” The project is based on the previous finding that adults can rapidly extract certain kinds of quantitative information from visually-presented sets.

“For example, after a very brief look at a large set of elements, we have a good idea of the average size of all of the elements in the set,” Barth explains. “We don’t have to be told beforehand to try to figure out the average size of this bunch of objects: we seem to extract this ‘statistical summary information’ about the set very quickly and automatically.”

This finding is relevant to her broader research program, which concerns the remarkable quantitative skills children possess even prior to formal education. The rapid extraction of statistical summary information from visual stimuli is likely to play an important role, yet scientists know very little about this ability in children. This summer, Barth and her lab assistant will explore the way this ability contributes to young children’s quantitative cognition.

Hornstein plans to work with Minyuan Zhao from the University of Minnesota to study the relationship between effective capital budgeting and the internalization of research and development using a panel dataset of U.S. firms in the 1990s. To estimate the efficacy of a firm’s capital budgeting decisions, she will use a self-developed process, and acquire patent application data from the U.S. Patent Office. Hornstein’s proposed study will examine issues that she discusses regularly with her Wesleyan students, for example corporate investment criteria, how firms make capital budgeting decisions, and how firms evaluate investments.

“This research may also be of interest to my colleagues who teach industrial organization courses as firms use patents to buttress firm boundaries and maintain first-mover advantages,” she explains.

In the long-term, Hornstein anticipates teaching courses that combine corporate finance and corporate strategy. These courses would share a common theme: how to develop and maintain a firm’s competitive edge while maximizing shareholder wealth.

  
The Mellon Workshop Grant received by Nussdorfer (pictured at left) and Kleinberg (pictured at right) is worth up to $25,000 and supports workshops designed and organized by faculty members on scholarly and pedagogical topics.

Nussdorfer and Kleinberg are spearheading a workshop collaboratively. It will be titled “Philosophy and Literature: Reading across the Disciplines,” and is scheduled for May 9-10, 2007. The professors are inviting several scholars to explore the intersections, relations and tensions between literary and philosophical studies.

The workshop’s morning sessions will be open to the public and academic community, in which two invited presenters, one from literary studies and one from philosophy, tackle the same text, each from his or her perspective. In addition, experts from Wesleyan and other area institutions will convene to explore specific aspects of topics raised in more detail, drawing on the insights of the public sessions.

“The focus will be not so much on what the two different disciplines are as on what literary scholars and philosophers actually do when they interpret a text, and what assumptions or mechanisms guide their arguments and interpretations,” Kleinberg explains.


Angle was one of 10 professors across the eight colleges awarded a semster leave. He could receive one semester leave with pay during the 2006-2007 year. Awards for semester research leaves are based on the strength of the proposal and evidence of previous scholarly accomplishment, with priority given to projects that show promise of substantial progress and that can result in products that will be ready for peer review by the end of the leave period.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Campus Safety Upgrades Continue


Passers-by walk across Cross Street at a pedestrian walkway. Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the center of the street in an effort to improve campus safety.

Posted 03/15/06
In its on-going efforts to continually improve campus safety, Wesleyan has been taking various measures to upgrade services and capabilities appropriately. These include:

Pedestrian Safety
Brightly-colored signs have been installed in the middle of crosswalks on Church Street and Cross Street reminding motorists that they must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Lighting has been improved at several crosswalks and a new crosswalk signal will be installed on Washington Street.

Public Safety’s on-going dialogue with the city to investigate other areas for crosswalk improvement has yielded a plan for further improvements that will add traffic calming measures by moving curbs, removing on-street parking in some areas, adjusting crosswalk locations to fit pedestrian traffic patterns, installing raised crosswalks and improving signs both on the sides of the road and painted on the roadway. The plan is pending approval and funding by the city.

Fire Safety
During the last 12 months, new fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems were installed at Low Rise Apartments, and the wood-framed residences on Vine Street, Warren Street, Home Avenue.

Other renovations include fire alarm upgrades to 200 High St., 200 Church St., Center for the Arts Art Studio North and South, the CFA Cinema, 5A & B Fountain, 14 A, B & C Warren, and Physical Plant’s Cady Building on Long Lane.

In addition, part of a recent $10 Million Bond-funded project includes $2.5 Million for fire alarm and fire sprinkler upgrades to existing wood frame houses.

Campus Shuttle Program
The “RIDE” Campus Shuttle Program was expanded in the past year to insure safe and convenient transportation services for students during evening hours. The new Shuttle Program operates seven nights a week during the academic year from 7 pm until 4 a.m. In addition to the two shuttle lines, the program now offers a downtown shuttle every Wednesday through Saturday nights from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The shuttle stops at several locations on Main Street every 20 minutes. Access for people with disabilities is available during the same times and over the same routes. All shuttle locations are in the vicinity of a blue light emergency phone and in well lighted areas. Pick up times have been added to all shuttle locations. Times and locations can be found at www.wesleyan/transportation.

In addition, all shuttle drivers have completed a driver safety course and attend several meetings each semester on driver safety and customer service skills. Each shuttle van has comment cards students can complete and send to the transportation services manager. All comments, complaints and suggestions are followed up on immediately.

Residence Hall Card Access
In the fall of 2006, Wesleyan will complete a comprehensive installation of electronic proximity access equipment on all undergraduate residence hall facilities accommodating more than 20 students. The new proximity access program uses student picture identification cards to provide visual verification of users, and create information related to who enters residences, as well as the time and date of entry.

Wesleyan is always looking for ways to improve campus safety. Please direct suggestions to David Meyer, interim director of public safety, at dmeyer@wesleyan.edu.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Research Professor Examines Greenhouse Emissions in Deep Sea Biota at National Symposium


Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, examines the fossils of sea creatures from her office in Exley Science Center. Thomas extracted her samples from the ocean’s floor. She says they are more than 65 million years old.

Posted 03/01/06
The largest habitat on Earth lies hundreds to thousands of feet beneath sea level, in a dark, near-freezing, high-pressure environment with little food.

About 65 million years ago, the life forms living on the ocean-floor in this habitat survived the an asteroid impact, which probably wiped out the dinosaurs and many other forms of life on land and in the sea. But 55 million years ago, an episode of rapid global warming caused extinction of a third to half of the species of sea-bottom dwellers.

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, argues that fossils from these unicellular sea creatures can help in understanding how the biota would react to another onslaught of global warming caused by a rapid emission of greenhouse gases.

“In general, deep-sea benthic foraminifera do not easily suffer large extinction; most of them are cosmopolitan, and can survive local environmental problems in a refugium somewhere in the world’s oceans,” Thomas explains. “The extinction was most probably caused by metabolic and ecosystem restructuring due to rapid global warming,” she says.

Thomas recently presented her ideas in an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) symposium on the topic “Ancient Greenhouse Emissions and Hothouse Climates,” held Feb. 17 in St. Louis, Mo. The AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world.

In this session, Thomas and six other experts examined the major periods of hothouse climates and their associated greenhouse gas levels from a geological perspective and integrated geologic, chemical, and biologic proxy records.

Thomas discussed “Deep-Sea Biota: Consequences of Massive Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” and recalled the global warming episode about 55 million years ago. During this period, the planet’s temperature rapidly rose between 9 and 16 degrees F in a short period of time.

“Deep-sea biota are so poorly known so that we can not predict their reaction to direct and indirect effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, but their fossil remains can be used to study the behavior of deep-sea biota during global warming,” Thomas explains.

Thomas joined speakers from Pennsylvania State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Northwestern University, University of California, Santa Cruz, Columbia University, Rice University and The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The speakers’ joint argument was that this period of natural global warming can be used as an example to give scientists valuable information on what happens to the planet and its life during such episodes of greenhouse warming. After debating, the speakers concluded that it is possible that climate sensitivity to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is larger than specified in most commonly used climate models. It is thus possible that the earth will warm up more than presently expected as a response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

The sessions were attended by scientists, but also journalists, teachers and others simply interested in science. Because the symposium was spread out over four days, Thomas was able to attend other presentations outside of her field of expertise.

“I attended highly interesting, interdisciplinary sessions on intelligent design, scientific integrity, and a session on political and economic aspects of climate change in the near future,” she says.

Thomas also was selected to be an interviewee at the AAAS-organized press conference prior to her talk. She and four other speakers gave brief introductions to their research and answered questions from journalists. Thomas spoke to reporters from the AAAS paper ‘Science’, and other non-science media such as The Economist from the United Kingdom, a Swedish newspaper, and two Dutch TV-radio stations. Thomas, who is originally from The Netherlands, spoke to these reporters in Dutch.

“They were very thrilled to be able to interview someone who is from Holland and could speak in Dutch,” she says. “I had not realized what a large international press representation there was going to be.”

AAAS President Gilbert Omenn says the symposium’s program was designed to challenge scientists, engineers, teachers and citizens to frame important scientific and societal problems in ways that create opportunities to apply the best in science and technology for broad benefit.

“We can mobilize individual disciplines and cross-disciplinary work on major national and global goals,” he said. “We can boldly define problems and potential solutions for the decades ahead, thereby inspiring the scientific and engineering community and attracting young people to this mission.”

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor