|Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, teaches a lesson on probability to his peers during a Molecular Biophysics Journal Club class Feb. 7.|
| Alicia Every, a graduate student in chemistry, went to class last week not only to learn, but to teach.
She and the other 20 students taking the course, Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II, are expected to prepare a lesson on relevant course material and present a micro-lecture to their peers.
For 20 minutes she spoke, jotting equations on the chalkboard while explaining that heat is in random motion. She drew a gas molecule inside a box, and talked about its behavior at the molecular level, relating it to macroscopic systems such as in proteins and nucleic acids.
What makes Journal Club different from a typical lecture is that we have some degree of freedom in our discussions, Every says. This allows us to not only focus on one particular topic, but to digress to other related topics that the class might feel necessary to cover in more detail. In a way, this allows the students to have control over the lecture.
The Biophysics Journal Club is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and may be taken repetitively. Enrollment is unlimited, although its geared most closely for majors from chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry. The program will soon include a bioinformatics track in conjunction with the Center for Integrative Genomics and the Biology Department, and students from any Natural Sciences and Mathematics department are welcome.
Faculty participants in the Molecular Biophysics Program attend the class meetings and offer input when necessary; at least one faculty member is always present to lead the class.
The idea of Journal Club is for students to learn about the cutting edge of science in this area outside of their own research project. This also provides students experience with discussion of diverse subject in the area, and to get some teaching experience by preparing short lectures and giving them to each other and the faculty, explains one of the class instructor David Beveridge, the University Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and co-coordinator with Ishiuta Mukerji of the program. Club is not quite the right word but is the local parlance for this kind of thing – a skull session, workshop, brainstorming session. Faculty serve as a resource and offer appropriate feedback. We are aware that various degrees of experience and language capabilities are in the mix so we expect to keep the class atmosphere friendly and constructive for students.
Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II is a non-exclusive companion to Molecular Biophysics Journal Club I, which is held Fall Semester 2006. Biophysics Journal Club I is not a precursor to Journal Club II; each course has a different focus. In Journal Club I students lead active discussions of a series of current research articles in the field of molecular biophysics and biophysical chemistry. They read articles from the Biophysical Journal, Biopolymers, Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and the Annual Review of Molecular Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure.
Journal Club II focuses its attention on only one book. This semester it’s Biological Physics by Philip Nelson. This book, Beveridge explains, is highly regarded in the field and emphasizes understanding the principles and applications of biological molecules as molecular machines. Each student prepares their presentation based on one chapter, or part of a chapter, from the Nelson text.
It will possibly take us two semesters to get through the whole book, he says. Students will find that preparing lectures is far more time consuming than they expected.
The Journal Club is part of Wesleyans Biophysics Training Program, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an arm of the National Institute of Health (NIH). As part of this grant, the NIH requires that participating students receive ethical and quantitative training on the nature of their interdisciplinary area.
During the class, Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, provided a lesson on probability, to relate the distribution of molecules in their physical states to the likelihood of a molecule being in a specific state.
He took Journal Club I last semester to discuss current research that is outside his field of interest. In addition, he hopes improve his teaching ability.
It is difficult to get in front of your peers and teach, but at the same time, its rewarding because they can give you insight on what was good about your lecture and what was bad, he says.
While some of the students are less comfortable speaking in front of their classmates, it now comes naturally to Every, who has taken the Journal Club for 10 semesters, her entire graduate career.
It is not difficult as long as you have some idea of your peers background knowledge, she says. I prefer Journal Club over a standard lecture course because it forces you to be an active learner. We usually spend 15-20 minutes in lecture and the rest is spent discussing or analyzing the topic. This requires you to learn the information as well as analyze and apply it to different systems.
After graduating with a Ph.D., Every hopes to continue research in biophysics. She is considering a post-doctoral position. Moreno also plans to continue doing research and eventually wants to teach.
I have not yet decided if I would like to be a professor, but either way, I think it is important that I have some experience teaching because it has trained me to clearly understand different topics as well as be able to put into words what I have learned, Every says.
The Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is open to the campus community. Meetings are held 1:10 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the NSM Conference Room. For more information e-mail David Beveridge, Ishita Mukerji or Manju Hingorani.
Laure Dykas, a Ph.D candidate in chemistry said student guest lectures Andrew and Alicia did an excellent job teaching.
I hope I can do as well, Dykas says, smiling. I give my presentation next week!
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
Campus News & Events
by Olivia Drake •
|This image by Ben Rowland ’08 will be on display at the Brooklyn Artists Gym Gallery.|
| During winter break, Ben Rowland 08 traveled to Istanbul for a vacation with his cousins. A hobbyist photographer, he took several photographs. One of these has found a place in a New York gallery.
That image, titled, The Man and the Mosque, is now part of a group gallery show called: Look See: Photographs on Reflection at the Brooklyn Artists Gym (B.A.G) Gallery in Brooklyn. The opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24.
In Man and the Mosque Rowland captured a scene during a late-afternoon prayer time in the mosque. He wasnt allowed to take photographs, but Rowland decided to capture the moment anyway.
I put the camera on the floor and shot secretly, he explains. I took the shot on very long exposure 20 seconds I think, and as a result, the lights inside appear as stars, and everything is in focus because of the enormous depth of field. Also because of the long exposure, the viewer can see through the subject, except for at his knees and feet, which were still as he prayed.
This is Rowlands first time exhibiting his work in a major art gallery or in a juried show. Applicants were allowed to submit up to three images; however the B.A.G. jurors were extremely selective.
Once in the show, photographers have the option of putting a price tag on their work. Rowland, pictured at right, has already sold prints to parents of Wesleyan students privately, and is hoping to push more sales form his newly-created Web site.
Rowland, who is pursuing a degree from the College of Social Studies, is the photography editor this semester for the Wesleyan Argus. He attends performing art, sports and general campus events, watching them all behind a lens. Several of his Wesleyan photos are posted on his Web site at http://www.benrowlandphotography.com.
Hes also photographed several bands and concerts, scenes from his travels in Istanbul, America, England, France and The Netherlands, and has done artistic portraits.
The artistic ability to see interesting subjects behind the camera, however, comes natural for Rowland. He continues to experiment with different subjects.
In the past few months Ive been shooting, Ive gone through many stages and Ive watched and analyzed my progression, he says. I used to shoot only objects or things, and yet now Ive moved almost exclusively to using photography as an anthropological tool. I love studying people in their environments.
Rowland is still exploring what options to take after college, but he already has a few ideas in mind.
I would enjoying doing work for The New York Times, while still pursuing personal artistic endeavors, he says. I would love to photograph a rock band or a war.
The exhibit Look See: Photographs on Reflection will run from February 24 through March 4. BAG Gallery is located on the third floor of 168 7th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| 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 Centers 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.|
by Olivia Drake •
|Used electronics, including computers, can be placed at the Exley Science Center’s loading dock on Pine Street for recycling.|
| 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 Centers 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 email@example.com with a brief description or Web link of any projects.
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.
by Olivia Drake •
|Mike Sciola, standing, director of Wesleyans Career Resource Center, speaks during an Academic (Technology) Roundtable meeting Feb. 8.|
| 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|
by Olivia Drake •
| 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). Wesleyans 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 Wesleyans institutional strategy towards information technology fits naturally within the universitys mission of achieving excellence in undergraduate education via the effective integration of teaching and scholarship.
by Olivia Drake •
|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.|
| 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 clusters operation.
The cluster was funded by a $190,000 National Science Foundations 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, Ill 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|
by Olivia Drake •
|Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, will leave Wesleyan to conduct a study at the Universidad del Pacifico’s Research Center in Peru.|
| Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, will leave Wesleyan at the end of her contract in June 2007.
At the invitation of a United Nations office and Universidad del Pacifico, Lima, Peru, Cruz-Saco will lead a study on aging, equity and income security in Peru. While leading this study in 2007-08, she will be a Fulbright Scholar at Universidad del Pacifico’s Research Center. In 2008-09, Cruz-Saco will resume teaching as professor of economics at Connecticut College.
My response when I heard the news was that as a former economic development person, I could only celebrate Maria’s mission, says President Doug Bennet. I want to thank Maria for her extraordinary leadership as Wesleyan’s dean.
Under Cruz-Sacos leadership, Wesleyan created the Office for Diversity and Academic Advancement, enhanced First Year Matters through collaborations with the Center for the Arts and the Office of Academic Affairs, introduced a new peer advising program, integrated orientation for new and international students and created opportunities for rich educational experiences outside the classroom. Wesleyan has established a task force that is articulating a vision for religious and spiritual life on campus, preparing the opening of the Usdan University Center, and better aligning student affairs with our educational mission. The dean’s office has grown in strength and has the capacity to handle a leadership transition.
Wesleyan is an exceptional place, students are bright and creative, the educational opportunities are rich, and I have been honored to serve as dean of the college and work with a splendid group of professionals, Cruz-Saco says. I know that I will miss being part of this community. But, I will come visit since I will be down the road when I get back from Peru!
Bennet intends appoint an acting dean for a year, allowing time for his successor to develop a sense of what the dean’s office requires and to organize a search for a permanent replacement.
I believe the acting dean should be a current faculty member or staff person who is familiar with the institution and able to provide leadership for a strong, ongoing enterprise, Bennet says.
Bennet welcomes nominations and volunteers, and will consult broadly with faculty, students, and staff as I review faculty and staff lists for candidates.
by Olivia Drake •
|Bon Appétit Management Company will provide the meals for the new university center.|
| Wesleyan is finalizing an agreement with a new dining services provider, Bon Appétit Management Company, to begin a new dining contract as of July 1, 2007.
The new company will provide campus dining in the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, Summerfields, Pi Café, WEShop and campus catering.
This was a difficult decision to make but also an exciting one, says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration, and member of Wesleyans Dining Review Committee.
Bon Appétit says it cooks food from scratch with seasonal ingredients. The company aims to serve a wide variety of menu items at each meal, offering authentic and nutritious foods, even for vegetarian, vegan, kosher and international diners.
In addition, the new dining plan provides flexibility, including longer service hours and variety in meal plan options; and promotes sustainability and making socially responsible purchasing decisions in regards to produce, meat, seafood, eggs, coffee and disposable plates and service wear.
Bon Appétits proposal for the new campus dining program will maintain the current level of represented dining staff.
Much of the success Bon Appétit can anticipate at Wesleyan will depend upon the many staff members who have been a part of campus dining for years, Meerts says.
As the semester progresses, the Dining Review Committee will work with Bon Appétit to provide more detailed information about the future of campus dining.
Bon Appétit has agreed to have longer hours of operation to meet the varied schedules of students, faculty and staff. Summerfields will be open for lunch and dinner. Pi Café and WEShop will continue to operate hours similar to their current schedules.
While WesWings, Red and Black Café, Chic Chaque and Star and Crescent operate independently from the campus dining program, they will continue to offer alternative options in the upcoming year.
According to Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs and director of the university center, the second floor of the Usdan Center, known as The Marketplace, will offer All-You-Care-to-Eat meals seven nights a week, plus brunch on Sunday. During breakfast and lunch for the rest of the week, the Usdan marketplace will be open for retail dining. The café on the first floor of the Usdan Center will be open from 8 a.m. through late night seven days a week.
In addition, the Daniel Family Common, located on the third floor of Usdan, will serve as a faculty/staff dining room and be available for special events when not in use for residential dining.
We are very excited that the Usdan Center and our campus dining program will bring together the Wesleyan community in so many new ways, Culliton says. The convergence of these significant changes will transform campus life for all of us.
The Dining Review Committee met for six months with student focus groups. They relied on Wesleyan Student Assemblys Concept for dining narrative, which helped frame their efforts. The review committee included Meerts; Culliton; Annie Fox ’07; Chris Goy ’09; Deana Hutson, director of events for University Relations; Estrella Lopez ’07; Peter Patton, vice president and secretary of the university; Nate Peters, associate vice president for Finance; Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for facilities; and Michael Whaley, dean of Student Services.
Aramark Campus Services will continue to serve the Wesleyan community throughout the spring semester. The campus community is grateful to the Aramark management team for all they have contributed to the campus over the years.
We are excited about the challenges that lie ahead and look forward to working together to make Wesleyans dining program the very best it can be, Meerts says. Our goal is to be recognized by the campus community and by peer institutions as having a premier dining program.
For more information on Bon Appétit, go to: www.bamco.com
by Olivia Drake •
| Daniel Stern, former fellow in the Wesleyan Center for the Humanities, the Boynton Visiting Professor in Creative Writing in the College of Letters and a visiting professor in Letters and English, died on Jan. 24 at the age of 79. He was living in Houston, Texas.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Stern had taught in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where he was a Cullen Distinguished Professor of English since 1992.
Wesleyan Professor of Letters Paul Schwaber has shared the following tribute to Professor Stern, which he wrote in 1991 when Stern was given the Cullen Professorship at the University of Houston:
You already know of his extraordinary literary talent and productivity, that he broods on the moral catastrophes of the century and how they have been and may be rendered in art. He is a novelist, essayist, and dramatist of consistent and genuine accomplishment, and his commitment to the art and hard work of writing is inspirational. He is also a wonderful teacher–for he brings to bear in especially vital ways his loyalty to craft, his insider’s view of the literary world, his fascination with persons, his love of music, and his broad, lively experience in business. He talks easily with student and evokes from them a pitch of pleasure in words and a moral seriousness they may not have sensed in themselves. Very successful with lecture courses, seminars, and writing workshops, Dan is witty, kind, full of information, a superb anecdotalist, a splendid responsible, warm, and delightful colleague. He is also a fine listener. As you may imagine, I wish I could offer him a job here. Your students will be lucky indeed to be taught by him, to be inspired and encouraged by his presence.
Stern grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side and began playing cello as a child. At 17 he skipped his high school graduation to go on the road behind jazzman Charlie Parker. He spent a year playing with the Indianapolis Symphony, during which time he began writing stories. Although he studied at various institutions, including Columbia University and the Juilliard School, he never earned a college degree.
In 1953 he published The Girl With the Glass Heart, the first of his nine novels. His most important novels include Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die? (1963), an early contribution to literature of the Holocaust, and After the War (1965), which focuses on postwar experimentation by young people trying to make up for lost time.
Stern held high-profile day jobs to support his writing habit. In 1963, he married Gloria Branfman and went to work in advertising, eventually becoming senior vice president of the McCann-Erickson agency. In 1969 he joined Warner Bros. as the studio’s vice president for advertising and publicity worldwide.
When Stern taught at Wesleyan he inaugurated the annual Philip Hallie lecture at the College of Letters. He worked at CBS before joining the University of Houston, where he succeeded Donald Barthelme in the prestigious Cullen professorship.
The late 1980s marked a watershed in Stern’s writing. He published Twice Told Tales, stories organized in a fresh, imaginative way. Stern took famous works like Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener or Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and wove their themes into a new context. A second volume of twice-told tales, Twice Upon a Time, came out in 1992.
Stern numbered among his friends literary heavyweights such as Elie Wiesel, Joseph Heller, Frank Kermode, and Bernard Malamud. In a 2006 festschrift devoted to Stern and his work, Wiesel wrote, “To spend an evening with him without laughing is quite simply impossible.”
Stern is survived by his wife, Gloria Stern; son and daughter-in-law Eric and Beverly Branfman; and grandchildren Melissa and Joshua Branfman.
Burial was in Sag Harbor, N.Y.
|Obit information adapted from the Houston Chronicle.|
by Olivia Drake •
| Jim Lehrer P85, anchor of Public Broadcasting Service’s The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, will be the featured speaker at Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement ceremony, which will be held on May 27, 2007.
Lehrer began his career at PBS in 1972 and partnered with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Watergate hearings. In 1975, the two men began anchoring The MacNeil/Lehrer Report In 1983 the show became the nations first 60-minute television evening news program and was re-titled The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.
Lehrer has been honored with numerous journalism awards, including a Presidential National Humanities medal in 1999. During the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally-televised candidate debates.
An accomplished writer, Lehrer has written 15 novels; his latest, The Franklin Affair, was published in 2005 by Random House. He has also written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter Lucy Lehrer is a member of Wesleyans Class of 1985.
This years Reunion-Commencement Weekend, which will run from May 24-27, will also mark the finale of Wesleyans 175th Anniversary Celebration. Wesleyans charter was granted on May 26, 1831.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo courtesy of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.|
by Olivia Drake •
|Civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez speaks during Wesleyans Celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. event Jan. 30 in Memorial Chapel.|
| Poet, author and civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez delivered the keynote address during Wesleyans Celebration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. event Jan. 30. She met King in 1957 and shared excerpts of Kings speeches with an over-flowing audience in Memorial Chapel.
Often in poetic rhythm, Sanchez spoke about her own life and the troubles she and her family faced as being poor, black Americans. She emphasized her years in New York City, and explained her struggle for identity. She talked about her involvement in the Civil Rights movement. She shared her opinions on war and offered advice to the students.
My brothers, my sisters. This is your century. Demand that this world moves forward in peace, she said. This is your country. This is your time. Learn what it means to walk upright as a human being in the 21st century. What does it mean to be human? You got to ask yourself that question.In addition to Sanchezs talk, Ruby-Beth Buitekant 09 and Melanye Price, assistant professor of government, offered a reflection; The Roadside Girls (pictured at right) and Ebony Singers provided song, and Kevin Butler, associate dean of Student Services, welcomed the audience.
Following an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.s Wesleyan Baccalaureate Address June 7, 1964, President Doug Bennet delivered remarks on King Jr.s history with Wesleyan.
To chronicle Kings visits, Bennet and staff consulted with several people who were part of the King era at Wesleyan and wanted to share their memories. Bennet thanked John Maguire, formerly a professor of religion at Wesleyan and president emeritus of the Claremont Graduate Schools; Willard McRae, an administrator at Middlesex Memorial Hospital, frequent adviser, and guide to Wesleyan students volunteering in Middletown; and Rick Tuttle, 62 who was a civil rights volunteer in Mississippi and Georgia in the summer of 1963.
The Wesleyan connection with King began when John Maguire joined the Religion Department at Wesleyan in 1960. As an 18-year-old student in Virginia, Maguire had by chance met and become a close friend of the then-21-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. who was studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. During the late 1950s, King had begun coming to New England to speak and raise money for the civil rights movement. When he arrived at Bradley airport, Maguire, who was by then studying at Yale, would pick him up and drive him to his speaking engagements.
These werent Kings first visits to Connecticut. When he was 16, after his first year at Morehouse College, he spent a summer working in the tobacco fields near Hartford. He came north for the good pay and the chance to observe race relations in New England. King later reflected that he was elated to find that he could sit anywhere in a restaurant and order food.
In May, 1961, Maguire and his department chair, David Swift, joined the Freedom Riders. They were jailed briefly in Montgomery, and later met with King. Maguire invited King to preach at Wesleyan, and arranged it so that Kings first visit to campus. On Jan. 14, 1962, King preached to an overflowing chapel. He stayed overnight at the university guesthouse on High Street in order to be available most of the next day to the College of Social Studies students and faculty.
In February of 1963, King preached at Yales Battell Chapel in the morning, got a ride from Maguire to his house at 44 Home Avenue, took a brief a nap, then preached again that evening in the Wesleyan chapel.
Early in 1964 President Victor Butterfield asked Professor Maguire to see if King would be willing to be Wesleyans end-of-school Baccalaureate preacher and to receive the universitys honorary doctorate degree. King agreed, but said that he had to make it tentative since he was not always sure of his schedule.
Then, on the Monday before he was to arrive for the weekend ceremonies, King went to jail challenging segregation in St. Augustine, Fla. Maguire and Kings chief aide, Andrew Young persuaded King to post bail on Saturday afternoon and fly to Bradley, arriving early Sunday morning.
Following his baccalaureate address, Maguire presented King with his degree and they stood while the crowd gave King a long, standing ovation. As they made their way from the platform back to North College, there was continuous applause. On Monday, King flew back to St. Augustine and reentered jail for another few days.
In 1966, King paid his last visit to Wesleyan, again to preach at McConaughy Hall. The audience overflowed.
The Wesleyan Board of Trustees was meeting on the weekend following Kings death in 1968. President Ted Etherington asked the meeting to adjourn early the morning after the assassination and move to the Chapel where he asked John Maguire to provide an informal eulogy for King.
The Wesleyan community has continued its commitment to civil rights and justice, Bennet said. Poet Sonia Sanchez keynote embodies that tradition.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration received funding from the Office of the Dean of the College, the President’s Office, and the Office of Affirmative Action, with planning and support from a committee of staff, students and faculty.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor and Elan Barnehama, university writer|