Campus News & Events

Student Selected to Join Institute for Responsible Citizenship

 

Posted 03/16/07
This summer, Gaël Hagen ’09 will be doing something a little different than he’s used to. Specifically, he’ll have the opportunity to meet with such high-level government officials including Supreme Court Justices, the Secretary of State, U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, as well as business leaders.

Hagen, pictured at right, is a newly-selected scholar to the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership program centered at Georgetown University. Each year, 24 minority male students are selected to participate in the two-summer program in Washington, D.C. During the first summer, students take courses on campus while interning in the D.C. Metro area. During the second summer, students work full-time and act as mentors to the next group of 24 newly-admitted candidates.

“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen among a group of individuals who all are highly talented and have managed to do astonishing things with their lives thus far,” Hagan says. “It will be both a great honor and a privilege to be a part of the institute and enjoy all it has to offer.”

A stipend is provided to cover the cost of transportation and food. Students live in university housing provided by the institute during the program.

Hagen, who is studying in the College of Social Studies, became interested in law during high school. Since then, he’s tried to immerse himself in as many law-related activities as possible; the institute being one of them. The institute will provide him with not only a legal internship in America’s political powerbase, but offer encouragement within a valuable academic and social environment.

“What personally draws me to law is the way in which it demands a person to perform and analyze in a constantly changing environment,” Hagen says. “The practice of law, at least as I have witnessed it, is something that is never a stagnant ordeal. New cases provide new hurdles, new personalities, and new problems. It seems as though it requires a person who likes a consistent challenge.”

A resident of Centennial, Colorado, Hagen came to Wesleyan, seeking a university that offered a new environment. He favored the College of Social Studies for its closeness and intensity. He also joined the crew team as a freshman, looking for a different kind of intensity.

“Certainly the culture here is much different than in Colorado, or most places west of here, for that matter; so it was a compelling move,” Hagen says. “For some, being involved in a two-season sport like crew and studying in the College of Social Studies is an all but desirable combo; but for me, it means that every day I get to do the two things that I love most about being at Wesleyan.”

A recipient of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Academic Scholarship for his academic achievements, Gaël was also named Student of the Year by the Colorado Association of Black Engineers and Scientists in 2005 for his distinguished leadership skills. Last summer, Gaël interned at Holland and Hart LLP, where his proficiency in French aided the firm immeasurably.

Hagan says his background and cultural experience provides him with a toolset and a perspective with which he can employ as a unique advantage, not only at Wesleyan but at the institute.

“The experience of the American minority is one that is highly important for the country as a whole given its ‘melting pot’ origins, and I think that our voice is one that is, and rightfully should be represented and respected in the nation’s judicial activities,” he says.

On the other hand, Hagan winces at sloppy references to cultural or ethnic groups as just ‘the minorities’ and ‘people of color.’ He believes it places too much emphasis on a separation of cultures, which only discourages unity and distances people from each other.

“I do not consider myself to be a minority or a ‘person of color’ before I consider myself a young person, a student, a person with career goals, an athlete; no different from any other person who might fit those categories,” he says. “Yes, I happen to have a multi-ethnic background which, if I were to explain in depth, would span four continents; but I don’t feel that those are my primary personal attributes and encourage people in both camps – ‘the minority’ and ‘the majority’ — to understand not how their cultural experiences differ them from others, but how their cultural experiences connect them to others.”
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

New Science Center Gets Boost from Trustee, Wife


Posted 03/16/07
A $2.5 million pledge from Board of Trustee member Joshua Boger ‘ 73, and Amy Boger will support planning for a new molecular and life sciences building at Wesleyan.

Joshua Boger, pictured at left, who founded and currently serves as president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, leads Wesleyan’s Science Advisory Council, which works to strengthen the sciences at Wesleyan and to raise their visibility on and off campus. He also has served as a charter trustee of Wesleyan since 1999.

Payette Associates of Cambridge, Mass., is working with faculty in the molecular and life sciences disciplines on programming and feasibility studies for the building, which would replace the Hall-Atwater Laboratory. These studies will provide the basis for a schematic design to be completed within a year. A $1 million gift from Board of Trustees member George Ring P ’98 ’02 and his family has supported the initial planning. The Bogers’ gift is intended both to support this work through the schematic design phase and to catalyze further fundraising for the project. The building is expected to provide at least 175,000 square feet of space and to cost at least $125 million. If fundraising proceeds quickly, construction could begin as early as 2009.

Boger believes that, in addition to serving the needs of science faculty, graduate students and science majors, the new building should support the efforts of Wesleyan faculty to address a crucial need for science literacy among college graduates. “The challenge to society is to have everyone comfortable and conversant with the sciences,” he says. “We want all our students to be able to go out into the real world and be players in discussions that involve science issues, to understand what it means to be a scientist, to be confident approaching scientists and talking to them about the many questions of the day that concern science. That means all our students, whether English majors or economists, should have some experience with real science.

“Part of the goal for the new building will be to help pull the rest of the campus into the experience of real science,” Boger adds. “We think the architecture should be inviting and support the sense that science is fun.”

Wesleyan’s educational model features science graduate programs situated within a traditional liberal arts college, as well as a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching. Wesleyan undergraduates have opportunities to participate in extramurally funded research in close partnership with faculty and graduate students. They frequently participate in upper-level project-based laboratory experiences, and over a third of science majors execute independent research projects in the laboratories of Wesleyan faculty. According to data compiled by the National Science Foundation, Wesleyan consistently ranks among the top 10 baccalaureate colleges in the numbers of students going on to obtain the Ph.D degree in the sciences.

Boger began to realize his own love of the sciences when as a boy of nine he began growing potassium permanganate crystals in a lab he set up above the family garage. He also swabbed the mouths of neighborhood playmates and grew cultures in his mother’s refrigerator.

“If you had asked me then if I was going to be a scientist, I wouldn’t have understood why you were asking,” he says. “It was simply that science was a fun thing to do.

“Fast forward a few years to the day I walked into Max Tishler’s organic chemistry class, and that was a good moment as well,” Boger says. “Max was amazingly animated and passionate about why this was all so important. Peter Leermakers was my Intro to Chem teacher, and he had the same sense of fun.”

Boger is a director and vice chairman of BIO, the biopharmaceutical industry trade association; a founding director of the New England Healthcare Institute, and a director of the Hastings Institute. He holds a BA in chemistry and philosophy from Wesleyan and MS and PhD degrees in chemistry from Harvard University. Amy Schafer Boger , a physician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a professional ceramic artist.

“We are grateful to Joshua Boger for his leadership on the Science Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees and to Joshua and Amy for their personal generosity to Wesleyan,” says President Doug Bennet. “Their enthusiasm for Wesleyan science education inspires all of us to think expansively about ways we can advance our work to address a crucial societal need. We look forward to having a facility that will support the experience of science as a vital and integral part of the education all our students receive.”
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs

Tuition to Increase by 5.5%, Fees Simplified


Posted 03/02/07
Wesleyan will increase tuition for the 2007-2008 academic year and simplify its fee structure. The new comprehensive fee structure will combine charges that are now billed separately as room and board.

Tuition will increase by 5.5 percent to $36,536 for all students in 2007-2008. For freshman and sophomores, the residential comprehensive fee will be $10,130. For juniors and seniors, the fee will be $11,512. The residential comprehensive fees are based on the current room and board charges experienced by students at these class levels, plus a fee increase of $590 and $550, respectively.

The increases in student charges are attributable to growth in salary and benefits costs, as well as energy and other costs that outpace general inflation. In addition, students voted this fall to increase the Wesleyan Student Assembly’s student activities budget, yielding an increase in the student activity fee to $270. Thus, next year student charges will total $46,936 for first-year students and sophomores and $48,318 for juniors and seniors.

The comprehensive residential fee will make it easier for families to budget by eliminating the variability in room and board rates. It will also enable the university to simplify recordkeeping and to increase grant aid to ensure that financial aid packages take full account of student expenses.

The higher residential comprehensive fee for juniors and seniors reflects the higher cost of the options available to them. Juniors and seniors have access to apartments and houses in addition to residence hall rooms. The university previously has charged a differential room rate according to the accommodation the student chose. In addition, juniors and seniors have greater flexibility in dining options, including the opportunity, in many cases, to cook for themselves. Students have reported to the administration that they value this progressive independence.

Wesleyan remains committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student. Simplifying the fee structure will enable the Financial Aid Office to ensure that students’ full need is met whatever their housing choices. Wesleyan will increase scholarship grants by $850,000 to cover this change.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Battle for American Bookstores Topic of Faculty Documentary


An image from: “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore” by Jacob Bricca ’93, adjunct assistant professor of film studies. The film was screened March 6 at the Center for Film Studies.
Posted 03/02/07
Though he loves to read, Jacob Bricca ’93 admits that he was never “a book person,” one of those individuals who have an affinity for books and bookstores. But when he heard that an independent bookstore called Printers, Inc., in his hometown of Palo Alto, California, was closing, he was immediately saddened.

“When I was growing up, even if you weren’t into books, that was the place to hang out,” Bricca, an adjunct assistant professor of film studies, says. “Everyone went there from singles to kids to parents with small children and senior citizens. It was a community place that had a reputation of being cool and welcoming.”

And yet they were closing.

Bricca, pictured at left, a filmmaker and editor who was living in Los Angeles at the time, was curious: what would cause an iconic place so welcomed by the local community to suddenly shut its doors? Camera in hand, he drove up the coast to see if he could find out.

That was in 1999, and the trip became the beginning of what would become a six-year project that culminated in a multi-award-winning documentary film “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore.” The film was shown March 6 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema at the Center for Film Studies. Admission is free. After the screening Bricca was joined by Stu Hecht, owner, The Book Vault in Wallingford, Conn., and Thomas Talbot ’91, manager, Crawford-Doyle Booksellers in New York City. The event was sponsored by The Friends of the Wesleyan Library, www.wesleyan.edu/library/friends/, and The Center for Film Studies.

“Indies Under Fire” follows the fate of a handful of small independent bookstores located on the peninsula south of San Francisco Bay as they confront the pressures of large chain bookstores such as Borders and the explosion of Internet vendors such as Amazon.com.

The documentary is an engaging 56-minute production that draws in viewers as it explores the personalities and complexities beneath the surface issue of “indie versus big box.” Key players on both sides offer frank assessments of the marketplace as well as their opinions on their adversaries. There are face-to-face encounters between opponents with emotions coming to the fore on more than one occasion.

Bricca, who has edited such films as “Lost in LaMancha,” “Jimmy Scott If You Only Knew,” and “Tell Me Do You Miss Me,” had to handle several jobs on “Indies Under Fire,” in part because the way it came together.

“I was working in L.A. as an editor for most of the process, so I didn’t have time to chase financing or go after grants,” Bricca says. “But I kept at this because I thought it was a dynamic issue that was being played out all over the country. It became a real labor of love. As a result I directed it, edited it and acted as co-producer.”

Still, any film is a collaboration, and for this one, Bricca was able to call on some friends and family to help turn it into a reality. Among them: Jonathan Crosby, a long-time friend, co-produced the film. Josh Ferrar ’93, composed some of the film’s music and his guitar playing is featured on the soundtrack. Bricca’s wife, Lisa Molomot, visiting assistant professor of film studies, served as editorial consultant. His brother David created the film’s Web site, www.indiesunderfire.com, and his sister-in-law Morgan did the painting of Printers, Inc. that appears at the beginning of the film.

Released late in 2006, the movie won the award for “Best New England Film” at the Newberry Port Documentary Film Festival, was screened at the Wine Country Film Festival in Sonoma, and will be shown at the Santa Cruz film festival in April. It also recently made its PBS premier on KTEH in San Jose.

“This isn’t a monolithic film by any means,” Bricca says. “I tried to keep it balanced in its approach, but it does seem to generate some strong emotions with independent booksellers. It’s nice to get some recognition, but I really enjoy the fact that people are finally getting to see it. It was a lot of work. It’s nice to know it’s resonating with audiences.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

New Freecycle List Allows Wesleyan Community to Exchange, Reuse Unwanted Items


Posted 03/02/07
A new Wesleyan program will facilitate the opportunity for one person’s trash to become another person’s treasure.

This month, the Wesleyan freecycle program is launching its own electronic mailing list. Staff, faculty and students are eligible to join the freecycle program.

Launched last May by the Wesleyan Recycling Committee with the appearance of the “PODS”, the Wesleyan freecycle program, encourages students, staff and faculty to exchange unwanted items, rather than throwing them away. Wesleyan’s program is part of the national freecycle movement where people give away things that they don’t need, or ask for items they do need.

“Anyone who joins the freecycle program will have the opportunity to exchange items that are still usable,” says William Nelligan, associate director of environmental health and safety and the Wesleyan recycling coordinator. “These items will be free and recycled, hence the name freecycle. If a student has a working TV in her dorm room that she no longer wants, she can post it on the list. Everyone on the list will get this posting, and if someone is interested, they can contact the student and make arrangements to pick it up. The best part is that the TV is going to be reused and not thrown away.”

Leslie Starr, assistant director and marketing manager at Wesleyan University Press, has previously donated unused reams of large-size paper from the Press’s office to another department that used them. She’s also asked for plastic filing tabs and within a week, two departments with extras donated them to her. This email list will make exchanges like this easier.

“It would be wonderful if everyone on the campus joined the new Wesleyan freecycle list, to exchange excess or needed office supplies, furniture and other work-related stuff,” Starr says. “We all have office supplies in the back of our closets that we’re not using. Why not see if another department can use them?”

Personal items can also be exchanged, including clothes, art supplies, cameras, text books, gardening supplies, kitchenware, curtains, even pets. All of them are eligible to be placed on the freecycle list.

“We all come together to the same place everyday, so it would be easy to exchange items,” Nelligan says. “Freecycle can be a nice community builder.”

To join the Wesleyan Freecycle list, e-mail lyris@lyris.wesleyan.edu with a blank subject and one line in the body: join freecycle. Lyris will reply back with a confirmation e-mail link needed to confirm the membership. Once confirmed, users can send messages through freecycle@wesleyan.edu and will receive all messages sent to that list.

“Basically, you can’t play Wesleyan Freecycle if you don’t sign up for the list,” Starr says. “And the list will work much better if lots of folks sign up!”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection Editor

Five to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement


Posted 03/02/07
Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 27, and will complete the 2007 Reunion-Commencement Celebration that will run from May 24-27. During that ceremony, the following people will receive honorary degrees:

Jim Lehrer, P ’85, who will also give the principal address at commencement, will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony. Lehrer has anchored The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on the Public Broadcasting Service since 1995. Lehrer joined PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. They began in 1975 what became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and, in 1983, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on television. Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. In the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally televised candidate debates. Lehrer has written 15 novels, his latest, The Franklin Affair, published in April 2005. He also has written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter, Lucy Lehrer, is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1985.

Nobutaka Machimura, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, currently serves as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives representing Hokkaido 5th District. As foreign minister of Japan from September 2004 to October 2005, his efforts were directed toward signing a treaty with Russia resolving a border dispute and toward investigating the whereabouts of Japanese hostages who had been kidnapped by North Korean agents during the 1970s and 1980s. Educated in economics at the University of Tokyo, he attended Wesleyan for one year as an exchange student. His career in public service has included appointments to the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the National Land Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy (from which he retired as director of the planning division for petroleum). He also served as minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and director of the National Defense Division of the Policy Research Council. He has been elected to seven terms in the Japanese House of Representatives.

Alan M. Dachs ’70, P’98 serves as chair of the University’s Development Committee. He served 14 years as a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and eight years as Board chair. In that role, he led in fund-raising for the Wesleyan Campaign, as well as in strategic planning and in strengthening the University’s finances, operations and reputation for academic excellence. He was elected trustee emeritus and chair emeritus in 2005 upon his retirement from the Board. Dachs is president and CEO of Fremont Group, a private investment company based in San Francisco.

Rosa DeLauro was elected to Congress from Connecticut’s Third District in 1990 and is currently serving her ninth term. She sits on the House Appropriations and Budget committees. In addition to her work on the full committees, Representative DeLauro chairs the House Appropriations Subcomittee on Agriculture, which is responsible for funding the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Stamps program. She also sits on the Labor – Health, Human Services – Education and Commerce – Justice – Science Subcommittees. DeLauro has built a reputation as an advocate for economic development, healthcare and education. She has been a strong proponent for student aid, advocating such measures as increasing the size of Pell Grants in order to restore their purchasing power, allowing the consolidation of student loan debt and cutting interest rates to make student borrowing more affordable, and defending against cuts in programs that help to increase students’ access to college , such as Upward Bound and TRIO. A frequent visitor to Wesleyan’s campus and to Middletown, DeLauro has shown herself eager to meet and talk with faculty and students. She has strongly supported Wesleyan’s efforts to establish and fund the Green Street Arts Center. Since she first came to Congress in 1990, DeLauro has put every pay raise she has received toward a scholarship program she founded in memory of her late father. To date, her scholarships have helped 420 students further their educations.

Jewel Plummer Cobb is renowned as a teacher, a research biologist, and an advocate for the participation of women and members of minority groups in the sciences. A graduate of Talladega College, she earned her Ph.D. in cell physiology at New York University. Her scientific research has centered on factors influencing the growth, morphology, and genetic expression of normal and neoplastic pigment cells and on the changes produced in vitro by chemotherapeutic agents, by hormones, and by other agents known to disrupt cell division. She taught at NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connecticut College before becoming dean of the college at Connecticut, then dean of Douglass College, and finally president of California State University at Fullerton. Currently president and professor of biological science, emerita, at Fullerton, Dr. Cobb continues to be active in promoting science education programs for minority youth and in promoting the greater representation of women in science. In 1993 the National Science Foundation honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Advancement of Women and Underrepresented Minorities.

Assistant Professor Launches Radio Program on Indigenous Politics


Posted 03/02/07
A new WESU 88.1 FM radio program is gaining a nation-wide audience with its emphasis on indigenous politics.

The show, titled ”Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond,” was launched Feb. 5 from the Wesleyan-based radio station. J. Kehaulani Kauanui, assistant professor of anthropology and American Studies, is the producer and host of the program.

The multi-media program airs shortly after 5p.m., right after the “Jive at Five” community calendar, and runs until 6 p.m. each Monday with a live streaming Web cast on www.wesufm.org. ”Indigenous Politics” features interviews with political leaders, community activists, filmmakers and artists, and cultural authorities, as well as academic scholars whose work addresses cultural politics and sovereignty struggles.

Kauanui, a Native Hawaiian, says most guest speakers are indigenous or local to Connecticut and the New England area. She opens her show saying “We are here in Middletown, Connecticut, also known as Mattabessett—the traditional homeland of the Wangunk tribe.”

“I really want to privilege the voices of Native New England,” Kauanui says. “The show is also Native New England and beyond but, first and foremost, I think we need to educate local listeners of the struggle going on right here.”

Kauanui’s first show featured an in-depth interview with Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee and a poet, writer and policy advocate who has helped Native peoples recover more than 1 million acres of land. The second program featured Richard Velky, leader of the Kent, Conn.-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation since 1987, who discussed his tribe’s legal battle in response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs reversal of their federal acknowledgement after state officials intervened. The follow week, Kauanui interviewed Randolph Lewis, assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who discussed his new book, Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker.

Kauanui hopes to include future shows on Hawaiians and the politics of federal recognition; Native feminisms; same-sex marriage bans in Indian country; indigenous environmental issues; U.S. militarism and indigenous peoples’ service; domestic violence and restorative justice; indigenous language revitalization; sports teams and Indian mascots; the U.S. presidential election and American Indian voters; indigenous peoples and the prison industrial complex; contemporary land rights; Indian gaming and the politics of casinos; and indigenous youth movements.

Ben Michael, WESU 88.1 general manager, expects Kauanui’s new show to be a national success. Already, WESU transmits to sections of Connecticut, Massachusetts and the Long Island area of New York. But, since the scope of Kauanui’s program is regional and national, Michael hopes to eventually syndicate it nationally through the station’s affiliation with Pacifica Radio. This would create a potential audience of millions of people.

“WESU has a mission to serve as a resource for underserved communities by providing access the radio airwaves for mass communication. Kehaulani’s program accomplishes this in an educational and professional format,” Michael says. “It’s very fulfilling to see WESU being utilized in such positive and effective manner. This is why community radio exists and is such an asset.”

Kauanui was tapped for the radio program by Ken Weiner, the station’s public affairs director. Like any other student or community volunteer wanting to be an on-air host, she took a six-week training course. In addition, she completed two internships and community service hours before taking a practical and written exam on the station.

Kauanui said she is motivated by several key issues affecting nations across the country, most notably the fact that many tribes do not have ”basic” federal recognition. Historically, she explains, recognition differed between state-recognized tribes from the original 13 colonies and the ‘treaty tribes’ in the Western states.

“More recently, the backlash against casino development has been instrumental in the opposition to federal recognition. The conflation of federal recognition with the specter of Indian casinos indicates that most non-tribal residents in these states refuse to uncouple questions of tribal economic development – a question of a nation’s political economy – and the social justice issue of honoring the U.S. trust doctrine,” Kauanui says.

The 21st century’s ”most notorious cases” involve two Connecticut tribes – the Eastern Pequot and Schaghticoke tribal nations, Kauanui says.

In addition to hosting the radio show, Kauanui is teaching two courses this year, “US in the Pacific Islands,” and “Methodologies in Ethnic Studies,” and is continuing her research on white settler colonialism and indigenous self-determination. She is currently co-editing a book with Andrea Smith, Native Feminisms: Without Apology, and embarking on two new book monograph projects: one on Native Hawaiian feminist decolonization and the other on Hawaiians in New England in the early 19th century. Her first book, Long Division: Genealogy, Hawaiian Blood Quantum, and the Question of Sovereignty is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2007.

Her radio program has already had mentions in Hawaiian Independence Blog, Arizona Native Net, and Indian Country Today, an American Indian news source based in Canastota, N.Y.

Kalia Lydgate ‘07, Raffi Stern ’08, Liz Love `07, and Amelia Dean Walker ’07 help Kauanui produce the show.
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Segments of this article were adapted from a Feb. 19 article titled “Native Radio/Web Program Launched” by Indian Country Today writer Gale Courey Toensing.

Former Professor Nelson Polsby Dies at 72


Posted 02/16/07
Nelson Polsby, renowned political scientist, died on February 6 at the age of 72. Polsby was a member of the Wesleyan faculty from 1961 through 1968, rising meteorically from the rank of assistant professor to full professor.

According to Karl Scheibe, professor emeritus of psychology, “Nelson left an indelible mark on Wesleyan, even though he was only here for seven years.”

Polsby was a prolific author of books and articles and editor of The American Political Science Review, the premier political science journal. Perspectives on Politics noted that Polsby ranked in the top ten of most frequently cited political scientists among those entering the field when he did.

In the early 1980s, Polsby was a visiting professor at the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., a private think tank that specialized in issues of defense policy and disarmament. Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet was the Roosevelt Center’s first president and he and Polsby remained life-long friends.

Nelson Polsby is survived by his wife, Linda, his children, and grandchildren.
 

Photo by Jane Scherr, University of California, Berkley.

Recycling Committee Boosting Efforts Campus-Wide


Used electronics, including computers, can be placed at the Exley Science Center’s loading dock on Pine Street for recycling.
Posted 02/16/07
The Wesleyan Recycling Program is increasing their efforts to make Wesleyan a leader in waste reduction and environmental responsibility.

“Recycling is required by law in Connecticut, and is the obligation of every member of the Wesleyan community,” explains Bill Nelligan, Wesleyan recycling coordinator.

Mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, metal and plastic are already picked up from sites all over campus and from Wesleyan housing. Wesleyan also collects aerosol cans, batteries, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, cell phones, motor oil, rubber-soled shoes, block or peanut-sized Styrofoam and clean textiles. Computers, monitors and other electronic equipment can be dropped off at Exley Science Center’s loading dock for recycling.

Ink and laser printer cartridges also can be recycled at Wesleyan. The recycling center for these items is located in Exley Science Center’s lobby. They can also be campus-mailed in a plastic bag to Bill Nelligan, Physical Plant, 170 Long Lane.

In addition, the committee has placed a new outdoor bin for bulky scrap metal located behind Physical Plant at 170 Long Lane. They also are working on a drop-off recycling center for compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury. These are currently recycled as “universal waste.” Meanwhile, these bulbs can be picked-up by a facilities electrician by calling 685-3400.

The recycling committee wants to assemble a listing of all the Wesleyan Community efforts supporting environmental sustainability. Contact Leslie Starr at lstarr@wesleyan.edu with a brief description or Web link of any projects.

For additional information on recycling, reducing and reusing, visit the http://www.wesleyan.edu/recycling,  or e-mail recycling@wesleyan.edu.

The committee is seeking new members to help their efforts, and is currently creating a new composting sub-committee. Call Bill Nelligan at 685-2771 for more information.

Roundtable Meetings Promote Conversation, Sharing of Resources


Mike Sciola, standing, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center, speaks during an Academic (Technology) Roundtable meeting Feb. 8.
Posted 02/16/07
Intellectual property issues, using visual images in the classroom and rock and roll memories are all upcoming topics for the Academic (Technology) Roundtable.

The weekly roundtable meetings aim to promote conversation, cooperation, and the sharing of information and resources among Wesleyan’s faculty and staff.

“This is an informal way for faculty, librarians and staff members to get together and talk about technologies, academic issues and student life,” explains Andy Szegedy-Maszak, director of the Center for Faculty Career Development, the Jane A. Seney professor of Greek and chair of the Classical Studies Department and roundtable moderator.

During the Feb. 8 meeting, some 40 guests came to hear a talk by Mike Sciola, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center. After a presentation on learning styles of “The Millennials,” or the students born after 1988, more than a dozen participants chimed in with questions or stories pertaining to the topic of the day.

Like “The Millennials,” not all topics are entirely technology-focused. The Academic (Technology) Roundtable, which is abbreviated as A(T)R shifted gears about four years ago when Szegedy-Maszak and Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services and Digital Projects, took charge of coordinating the meetings.

Rather than discussing technology only, they began welcoming a wide variety of other subjects such as university services, grading practices, publishing in academic journals, and students’ mental health. Most presentations are by Wesleyan staff or faculty members, along with some outside speakers.

“That’s why we put the ‘T’ in parentheses now,” Szegedy-Maszak says. “Although we still include technological topics, our subjects are broader to appeal to faculty and staff with different interests.”

Future A(T)R topics vary. On Feb. 22, Don Moon, dean of the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs and the John E. Andrus Professor of Government, will lead a discussion on public speaking, which has been identified by Wesleyan faculty as one of the academic “essential capabilities.” On March 1, James Neal, vice president for Information Services at Columbia University, will speak on intellectual property issues within higher education; March 5, David Green will speak on a National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education report on visual images in the classroom. Other upcoming topics and presenters can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr.

Roy and Szegedy-Maszak encourage the Wesleyan community to suggest a topic of interest, nominate a presenter or volunteer to make a presentation via its Web site at http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr/suggestions.html.

“A(T)R is really the best-kept secret on campus,” says Barbara Jones, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian and regular meeting-attendee. “It’s a wonderful resource for our library staff, and it’s a great place to meet new colleagues.”

Sponsors of A(T)R include The Center for Faculty Career Development, Olin Library and Information Technology Services. Meetings take place at noon most Mondays and Thursdays in Olin Library’s Develin Room. Buffet lunch is served and any member of Wesleyan’s faculty and staff is welcome to attend.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Committee Lists Impacts of New Computer Cluster


Posted 02/16/07
Members of the Wesleyan Cluster Computing Committee have listed the impacts on research from the newly-installed computer cluster.

The Cluster Computing Committee members are Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Science and Mathematics; Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor pf physics; George Petersson, professor of chemistry; and Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics.

The committee is supported by the Information Technology Services staff, who made commitments of space, personnel resources, and developed an upgrade program so that the facility does not become rapidly obsolete.

ITS staff involved include Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Jolee West, academic computing manager; James Taft, assistant director of technology support services and Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services.

Among other abilities, the cluster will enable the following:

1. Faculty can produce new science in diverse research projects, including the structure and formation of galaxies, molecular dynamics of proteins, elucidating activity patterns in cortical circuits, DNAs and protein DNA recognition, methods developments and applications in molecular quantum mechanics, complex quantum dynamics and mesoscopic transport phenomena, computer simulations of the clustering of nanoparticles and studies of the assembly and properties of soft materials.

2. Distributed resources currently are maintained by individual faculty who aim to have enough computing resources to meet their peak needs. As a result, computational resources sit idle during non-peak usage periods. A shared facility would allow users to take advantage of computing time that would otherwise go wasted, meaning that the total aggregate computing resources needed not be as large as if they are distributed.

3. A central computing facility and internal computing workshops would provide an environment to bring together researchers from different areas of the sciences and foster collaborative activities. The current distributed model does not encourage collaboration.

4. A centralized cluster facilitates the present computational research and lowers the barrier to initiate new computational projects, permitting faculty and students quicker involvement with projects and the ability to more-easily explore new approaches to their research.

5. Removing the burden of maintaining computational facilities from faculty members will free them to focus on the effective use of resources to strengthen research and educational activities. Moreover, access to such facilities is vital to maintain the competitiveness with larger universities.

6. The cluster serves as a learning tool to develop student scientific computing proficiency both through existing courses and though assisting faculty with research. Such training is invaluable to prepare students for the expanding field of information technology.

7. Computational facilities quickly become obsolete with the furious pace of technological development. Often, individual faculty are not able to keep up with the pace of innovation lacking either the time needed to stay informed about the latest innovations or funds necessary to buy them (or both). Wesleyan’s ITS is committed to the maintenance and regular upgrading of facilities once they are in place. This is a truly major matching commitment and provides a longevity, continuity and stability to research computing that is currently missing in the current model of distributed resources.

8. Six faculty research groups involving postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and undergraduate students pursuing honors thesis research comprise the primary cadre of users of the cluster. Nine additional groups are expected to be involved in significant but smaller scale computer-related research initiatives, as well as a number of inter-group collaborations and projects. In total, there will be roughly 50 regular users of this facility. A centralized cluster computer introduces a new era to the quality and inclusiveness of computationally intensive research at Wesleyan, affecting both faculty programs and the undergraduate and graduate students involve in those programs. Overall, this revision in Wesleyan’s institutional strategy towards information technology fits naturally within the university’s mission of achieving excellence in undergraduate education via the effective integration of teaching and scholarship.

New Computer Cluster Will Improve Research Campus-Wide


From left, Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; and James Taft, assistant director of technology support services, look over the newly-installed 10-terabyte computer cluster at Information Technology Services.
Posted 02/16/07
It takes 10, 250-volt plugs to power up. It takes 9,000 BTUs to keep it cool. It can communicate 14 times faster than high-speed internet, and it has the potential to store more than 2.5 million MP3s.

But most important, this state-of-the-art high-performance computer cluster will offer both education and research opportunities for the university on a level which has never before been available. The cluster was installed this month, and will be connected to the entire Wesleyan network.

“This is going to change the way Wesleyan conducts research,” explains Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services. “This powerful computing cluster will offer advanced hardware and software resources for teaching strategies and research not specific to any one department or discipline.”

The high-performance cluster is made up of 288 central processing units from Dell, Inc. that work together as one machine. The unit has two functions – it can either split one computational task across several different computers for a faster result, or it can process dozens of tasks at one time.

Together, these units offer 10 terabytes of storage, equivalent to 10,000 gigabytes. A typical desktop computer has 150 gigabytes of disk space.

“It takes three to four terabytes to store all the information from the entire campus and this unit alone has 10,” explains Henk Meij, applications technology specialist, who is overseeing the cluster’s operation.

The cluster was funded by a $190,000 National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program grant, awarded in July 2006. The grant proposal was written by Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry; and Katherine Johnston, formerly an assistant professor of astronomy. Each is involved in computationally-intensive research.

In the past five years, four Wesleyan faculty set-up their own clusters. Of these, one is defunct, one is obsolete, and two are saturated and will soon be out of date. Starr, who is currently conducting research through this older, 80-unit cluster, will use the new cluster to benefit his own research on DNA-based nanomaterials and supercooled liquids. Since his work requires computer simulations that focus on molecular dynamics, the new cluster will drastically increase his ability for scientific computation.

“Now I will be able to get 288 answers in the time it would take to get one,” Starr explains, while rotating a visualization of the molecular structure of water on his Mac. “With the new hardware, I’ll be able to explore the assembly of new molecular structures on a much larger scale, helping the development of nanomaterials with customized properties.”

And since the unit will be maintained by ITS, Starr looks forward to spending less time maintaining his current cluster and more time doing research and spending time with students.

The cluster is a central resource so anyone can connect to it from their office or even home. Several Wesleyan faculty in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics have taken interest in the new computing unit, however it is not exclusive to NSM.

Rex Pratt, the Beach Professor of Chemistry, can use the cluster to make models of small molecules that bind to enzymes. Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science, can further his research of tumor development and treatment, using massively computation-intensive geometric computation simulations. Mark Flory, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, carries out comparative searches of proteomic data with corresponding sequence databases. Cluster facilities will enable him to greatly expand his studies from small samples analyzed on a single workstation.

Several other faculty researchers will immediately benefit as well.

In addition to faculty use, undergraduate and graduate students will have opportunities to conduct research with these machines. There are already established extramurally-funded research programs at Wesleyan in theoretical astrophysics, liquid state chemical physics, nanotechnology, quantum chemistry, molecular biophysics, and the emerging field of neuroinformatics and structural bioinformatics, all of which depend on high-end computing to be competitive. Courses that involve computers are offered in each of these areas.

“Now, students are limited to the computers at their labs,” Starr explains. “We need to teach students how to get access to the cluster and take advantage of what it can offer. There is no end in sight for what we can do.”

The impacts of the new cluster can be seen at : http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/2007/0207cluster2.html
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor