Campus News & Events

Wesleyan’s Endowment Performs in Top Quartile


Posted 06/15/05

In the year ending March 31, 2005, Wesleyan’s endowment has performed in the top quartile of schools with similar-sized portfolios, according to data collected by the Office of Finance and Administration. Wesleyan’s return of 11.7 percent was not only 2.2 percentage points above the 25th percentile for peer schools, it was almost twice the S&P 500 return for the same period.

These results reflect a series of improvements in Wesleyan’s portfolio management, according to Vice President for Finance and Administration Marcia Bromberg.

In 1997 the university developed new endowment guidelines that divided the activities of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees’ Portfolio Subcommittee, into asset-class working groups. The Board engaged alumni who are experts in the various asset class fields—such as marketable equities, fixed income, private equity and hedge funds—to participate in choosing and reviewing managers and finding investment opportunities. Wesleyan hired a professional director of investments, Tom Kannam, to work with the Portfolio Subcommittee to identify, vet and monitor manager results. Kannam has provided data and detailed analysis that allow the Portfolio Subcommittee to better assess asset allocation decisions and identify segments of the market ripe for investment opportunities.

Wesleyan’s new strategic plan recognizes the importance of adding new gifts to the endowment. The university has set an annual goal of new gifts equal to 1.5 percent of beginning endowment value. That goal will increase over the next several years to 3 percent of beginning endowment value.

While Wesleyan’s endowment lags those of competitors among the elite liberal arts colleges, the reason has never been investment performance, according to Bromberg. To understand why the university’s endowment fell relative to this group since the early 1980s, Bromberg’s staff compared Wesleyan’s endowment over a 15-year period (1983-1998) with six of its strongest peer liberal arts colleges. Wesleyan began the period with the second-largest endowment and ended with the smallest. Reviewing investment results, endowment spending formulas and new gifts to the endowment, it became clear that Wesleyan’s average to above-average investment performance was not the reason the endowment lost ground. Nor was spending, although the university spent marginally more than its peers. The key to the relative decline was that the other schools added significant new gifts to their endowments during this period and Wesleyan did not.

The recent success of the university’s fund-raising efforts, as evidenced by the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, and the commitment to building the endowment through new gifts will be crucial to strengthening Wesleyan’s relative financial position, according to Bromberg. Improved investment performance will both maximize the leverage of gifts to the endowment and increase donor confidence in Wesleyan, she said.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Trustees Adopt New Strategic Plan


Posted 06/15/05

Wesleyan’s trustees formally adopted a new strategic plan for the university at their meeting on May 20. “Engaged with the World: A Strategic Plan for Wesleyan University, 2005-2010” (www.wesleyan.edu/wesleyanplanning/) sets ambitious goals for academic and student life programming and for campus renewal, according to President Doug Bennet.

The new plan is the product of almost two years’ dialogue among faculty, students, staff, alumni and trustees. It notes institutional advances that resulted from the implementation of its 1998 precursor, “Strategy for Wesleyan,” and the success of the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, including the addition of 20 faculty across the disciplines, as well as advances in curriculum and pedagogy, student aid, and campus facilities.

“Engaged with the World” describes the ongoing work of the faculty to implement the curricular innovations envisioned in “Wesleyan Education for the 21st Century,” as well as to prepare students to engage in an increasingly global society. It emphasizes the need to encourage more students to participate in the sciences as an integral part of their preparation for citizenship.

The new plan identifies programmatic priorities to be implemented according to the university’s future fund-raising success. These initiatives include:

·         the addition of eight new faculty positions to meet student demand for courses and majors, particularly in the social sciences, including psychology;

·         an increase in grant aid for the most disadvantaged students;

·         the addition of a dean of student academic resources to the Dean of the College Office;

·         endowing the Center for Faculty Career Development and the Service Learning Center;

·         further increasing aid grants to reduce loans as a percentage of each student’s cost of attendance;

·         providing additional financial support for distinguished visitors and campus events planned by faculty and students for the residence halls and the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.

The new plan establishes priorities for renovation and construction of campus buildings. These projects constitute the third phase of the facilities plan developed as part of the Strategy for Wesleyan and confirmed during the Facilities Masterplan study in 2002/03. They include a new molecular and life sciences building; renovations to Davenport Hall, Olin Library and the Davison Art Center; the second phase of the Center for Film Studies, and the rehabilitation of the old squash building as a museum to house Wesleyan’s collections of art and material culture. These projects will proceed as targeted fund-raising efforts make them possible.

The plan cites a crucial need to increase Wesleyan’s per capita endowment. One of the university’s highest priorities must be to support a growing proportion of essential and predictable costs (such as faculty salaries and financial aid) through the endowment, the plan states. Over the long term, increasing endowment in this manner will increase Wesleyan’s budgetary flexibility and reduce its dependence on tuition. “We must take every opportunity to increase the endowment through new gifts, careful stewardship, and successful investments,” according to the plan.

In order to implement these initiatives, Wesleyan will need to raise funds even beyond the levels achieved through the Wesleyan Campaign.

“Thanks to the success of the campaign and to the extraordinary work of our faculty, staff and volunteers, I feel very confident about our ability to implement the priorities outlined in ‘Engaged with the World,'” says Bennet. “This is an ambitious plan, and it merits our best efforts on behalf of the university.”

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Anthropology Professor’s Exhibit on Display in International Museum


This photograph of a West Bengal wedding altar by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and film studies, and Lina Fruzzetti of Brown University, is on display in The Museum of Cultures in Helsinki, Finland. It is part of an exhibit titled “Divine Gifts: Marriage and ritual in rural West Bengal.”
 
Posted 06/15/05

In India, marriage carries great social and cultural meanings. It ensures the continuity of the male line and it is vital to the maintenance of caste status.

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and professor of film studies, has spent the past three years traveling to Bishnupur, West Bengal researching marriage rituals. His results – documented with photographs and objects – is currently featured in The Museum of Cultures in Helsinki, Finland.

It’s titled “Divine Gifts: Marriage and Ritual in Rural West Bengal.”

“Divine Gifts” is funded by a three-year grant from the Finnish Academy of Social Sciences and is supported by the University of Helsinki.

“I first went to Bishnupur in 1967, and I wanted to go back to see the changes that took place over this 40-year period,” Östör says. “I’m interested in how the festivals, temples and rituals are changing, and the bazaar’s economic system.”

Östör was part of a three-member research team. His wife, Lina Fruzzetti, professor of anthropology at Brown University and Sirpa Tenhunen, research fellow of social and cultural anthropology at University of Helsinki, also contributed to the show.

The exhibition features several pieces from Östör and Fruzzetti’s personal collections of more than 40 years. It includes a crown of the bridegroom, a conch-shell ritual trumpet, a golden cotton shawl used by the priest in weddings, a wedding ceremony bell, pitcher and oil lamp and a kerosene lantern manufactured from recycled materials.

These are all common parts of a Bengali marriage, known as a biye. The biye also consists of two major elements: the payment of the dowry and the gift of a virgin.

“The gift of a virgin is a ritual of sacred connotation, when the father gives his daughter to another kin group as a divine gift,” Östör says.

In addition, the exhibition represents kitchen and household utensils relating to women’s every-day life; home altars, deities and ritual objects used in daily worship; and Bankura terracotta horses and elephants given as votive gifts to the snake goddess Manasha.

On Sundays, four documentary films by Fruzzetti and Östör are open as part of the showing. Each film reveals the everyday life in rural West Bengal and of devotion to the goddess Manasha and the gods Krishna and Shiva.

Östör has also put his research into two books, each published by DC Publishers in 2004. He’s the author of “Calcutta Conversations” and “The Play of the Gods: Locality, Ideology, Structure, and Time in the Festivals of a Bengali Town,” an expanded edition of his older work.

“Divine Gifts” will close in October.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

“The Wesleyan Experience” is Wesleyan – Virtually


 
Wesleyan has launched a new virtual tour for the campus community and prospective students. Above, an interactive Wesleyan campus map highlights 50 campus buildings. At right, a part of a guided tour by a Wesleyan student.
Posted 06/15/05

Take a trip from Freeman Athletic Center to the Center for Fine Arts, locate all the wi-fi sites in between, find a place to eat, learn a little Wesleyan trivia and even see what’s happening on campus – all without ever leaving your computer.

A new Web site called “The Wesleyan Experience” http://www.wesleyan.edu/virtualtour/ gives users a chance to do all this a more. The site combines online tours with interactive-campus-wide information using maps, audio, digital video and text presentations.

The site was launched in May after more than a year of planning by the Office of University Communications and the Office of Admission.

“Originally, we wanted the virtual tour to give prospective students a glimpse into the day-in-the-life of a Wesleyan student,” says Jennifer Carlstrom, Web manager and virtual tour project manager. “But when we started building this, and adding campus maps and trivia, it became a tool for the whole campus community.”

From “The Wesleyan Experience” home page, users have the option of seeing the day’s events, going on campus-tours guided by three different students clicking into campus maps for information about specific campus locations and services.

The campus map section of the site includes illustrations of all Wesleyan buildings. When a user mouses over a structure, the building’s name appears.

Clicking on the building produces a pop-up window describing the facility’s purpose. Photographs accompany all descriptions.

Users can obtain physical and factual information regarding all 50 buildings on campus. Events of the day are noted, computer labs and wireless zones are marked and the location of all the campus public safety call boxes are displayed. Users can quickly find locations and descriptions of the campus’s seven eateries. A campus-wide Wesleyan trivia map is also available and provides fun and interesting facts that may come in handy as Wesleyan approaches its 175th anniversary.

The student-hosted tours offer a different view of campus. Each tour is told from the particular student’s perspective, mixing audio, video and still photography. The guides lead viewers through their typical day of classes, sports practice, social events and extracurricular activities.

The guided tour section of the site features three students, Nathan Victoria ’05, Micaela Gutierrez, ’07 and Al Asante ’07. Viewers can sit through Nathan’s Wesleyan Student Assembly meeting; speak French with Micaela; or attend football practice and choir concert with Al.

“Nathan, Micaela and Al’s daily routines are snapshots of what typical student life is like at Wesleyan University,” says Laura Perillo, associate director of media relations and copywriter for the project. “No two students share the same Wesleyan experience – each is quite unique – and our goal with the virtual tour is to highlight that for our perspective students.”

Carlstrom and Perillo, along with World Wide Web administrator Pat Leone, Web designer Ryan Lee and former Web designer Sasha Foppiano designed the site. William Holder, director of Publications and David Low, associate director of Publications, assisted with the writing and editing; and William Burkhart, university photographer, photographed images used on the site.

Nancy Meislahn, dean of Admission and Financial Aid provided funds for the project. Charlotte Lazor, associate director of the Admission Information System, and Kristen McQueeny, program and events coordinator for the Office of Admission, helped coordinate and conceptualize the site.

“Wesleyan had a virtual tour before, that basically replicated our walking tour,” Lazor says. “It was time to bring this tour into the 21st century. Now the virtual tour isn’t just a tour – it has many other dimensions.”

The site uses Macromedia Flash technology, a tool used for creating interactive and animated Web sites. Avenue A Razorfish, an interactive services firm, aided with the site’s structure and back-end Flash technology.

“Since we were working with a younger audience, we thought we would create a flashy, interactive Web site,” Carlstrom says. “We’re competing with movies and video games, so we thought by using Flash technology, we’d be able to draw the audience in, and keep them interested.”

The site will be reevaluated during fall semester. The site’s creators are planning to add incoming freshman as tour guides and add additional interactive buildings. 

“I hope the new virtual tour site is an easy, fun and interactive means by which perspective Wesleyan students can learn about academic and campus life,” Perillo says. “Perspectives are able to closely analyze different avenues that our Wesleyan students are known for exploring. It’s our hope that the virtual tour site is just as dynamic as each of our students.”

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

South College Renovation, Bell Addition Begins in July


In July, South College will receive eight new bells. Scaffolding will surround parts of the building, as crews install the bells and remodel the belfry. Sections of the white panels will be removed, however the copper-top will stay in tact. 
 
Posted 06/15/05

The South College belfry will receive eight new bells and a facelift during the next several months.

This renovation will add eight new bells to the current 16-bell array. This will upgrade the status of the Wesleyan bells from a chime (10-22 bells) to that of a carillon (23 or more).

“Now we’ll have more notes, so we can play more songs, and more complicated songs,” said six-year chimemaster Peter Frenzel, professor emeritus of German studies. “We’re moving out of the minor league of bell playing and into the major league.”

Staff from Physical Plant will replace the roof within the bell tower prior to the bell addition. Staff will paint and restore the exterior railings, louvers and wood portions of the tower. Painting of the interior stairwell will also occur.

Construction will begin in mid-July and conclude in September. The bell’s keyboard has already been temporarily dismantled.

The actual work to the bells is expected to take six weeks. The new bells will be cast by Petit & Fritsen, the Royal Dutch Bell Foundry in The Netherlands, and then shipped to Cincinnati via New Orleans and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. They’ll later be completed and fine-tuned and installed by the Verdin Bell Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Peter Staye, associate director of Physical Plant’s Academic and Administrative is coordinating the exterior renovation. The new bells, he says, will be hoisted up by crane and installed through back panels in the belfry.

The copper-top dome of South College will not be removed or altered.

Eagle Rivet Roofing Services of West Hartford will erect all scaffolding around all four sides of the bell tower. The scaffolding will remain in place until the carillon is complete.

Acquiring a carillon for the university has been in the planning stages since 1999. The new bells, which will greatly expand the music being played, were all donated by Wesleyan friends, alumni and parents.

During construction, all entrances, exits and stairways in South College will be open.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Construction Begins on University Center; Parking, Walkways Altered


A new, 18-foot-wide, gravel access road will run along the Usdan University Center construction zone. An 8-foot chain fence will go up this week. A new gravel access road will be put in for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.
 
Posted 06/07/05

It’s hammer time.

Starting this month, construction for the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center begins.

Alan Rubacha, project manager, is setting up an 8-foot chain-link fence that will surround the old Alumni Athletic Building and Fayerweather Gymnasium. The driveway and cement walkway that currently provide access from Wyllys Avenue to the lot behind South and North College will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians as of Monday, June 13. The lot itself will be closed except for handicap access and service. Parking has been reassigned to the lot adjacent to the Office of Admission and to the lot behind the Center for Film Studies.

Foot traffic will be diverted around the “L” shaped construction site. The pathway along College Row, between Wyllys Avenue and Judd Hall will not be affected.

Foot traffic west of Fayerweather will be diverted onto a temporary gravel access road. The road, 18-feet wide, will cut from Wyllys Avenue across Andrus Field behind Fayerweather and end in the lot behind South and North College. This access road will be for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.

A portion of Fayerweather, the old Alumni Athletic Building and power plant will be demolished to make room for the Usdan University Center.

Between four and six construction trailers will be set up behind South College. Rubacha will mark this area with white stripes. He warns that, for employees of the Office of Admission, North and South College, the site will be “noisy and dusty.”

“It will be loud, there’s no question about it,” he says.

The Usdan University Center will consolidate dining facilities for students and faculty, and will provide seminar and meeting spaces. It will house the Wesleyan Student Assembly, the post office, and retail space. Facilities for formal and informal gatherings and events will complement those available in the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater. A south-facing plaza and second story terrace will overlook Andrus Field and will provide an outdoor venue.

David Hall, manager of Grounds and Special Events, says the construction zone will not affect athletic games or bleacher set-ups. 

The building is expected to be completed in August 2007.

For more information on plans for the University Center, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/univcenter.html.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan’s 173rd Commencement Features Inspiring Speakers, 718 New Graduates


More than 700 students graduated from Wesleyan May 22.
 
Posted 05/23/05
During the last four years, Wesleyan University students have generated responses to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the war in Iraq, the genocidal crisis in Darfur, the Tsunami of 2004 and several other events. In his commencement address on Wesleyan’s campus on Sunday, May 22, Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet `59 urged the 718 undergraduates from the Class of 2005 to continue their good work.

“My commencement wish for each of you is that you never lose your instinct for challenging the society around you,” Bennet said.

Bennet exhorted the students to take special interest in those around them who struggle economically

“In our parents’ time, we had a patchwork of social legislation, tax policy, public programs, including some foreign aid, to provide help and hope so that families could move up,” Bennet said. “There does not seem to be a consensus in the public today about what we can or should do for the have-nots…I am counting on you, everyone here, not to ignore this issue. There is a moral imperative to address it so that the outcomes are not decided by default.”

The commencement speaker, Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, echoed Bennet’s remarks but also asked students to adapt an attitude of mutual respect.

“Mutual respect is not about walking on eggshells,” Gutmann said. “It is not about playing down differences. Rather, it is about giving serious consideration to our differences and disagreements and working through them. It is about pursuing common goals in a constructive spirit of engagement, even when many differences remain.”

Gutmann added that mutual respect is “the life blood of democracy” and yet has become more scarce in a society that seems increasingly polarized and partisan.

“Without mutual respect, democracy is dead, and so are your prospects for living in a just and peaceful world,” she said.

Students also heard from New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick `75, P `07, who received an honorary doctorate from the university during the ceremony. Belichick urged the graduates to give heed to their passions rather than taking the easy way out.

“Follow your dreams,” he said. “Resist the opportunity to take the job that might pay a little more in the short term but offer nothing in the long term. Pursue the thing you really love. Do that, and the rest will come.”

Along with Belichick and Gutmann, Pulitzer prize winning author Edward P. Jones and William Barber, the Andrews Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wesleyan also received honorary degrees.

Wesleyan bestowed the Baldwin Medal, the highest alumni honor presented by the University, to John F. Woodhouse, `53, P `79, a Wesleyan alumnus, former president and CEO of Sysco Corporation, and trustee emeritus, chairman and leader of the first-ever Wesleyan Capital Campaign that raised $287 million.

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

Along with the 718 bachelor of arts degrees, Wesleyan also awarded 14 Ph.D. degrees, 40 master of arts degrees in individual fields, 65 master of arts in liberal studies degrees and two advanced certifications. Wesleyan also honored and recognized its alumni from the World War II era during the ceremony.

For the full text of the speeches visit:

Full text of Amy Gutmann’s speech

Full text of Doug Bennet’s speech

Belichick receives honorary degree at Wesleyan

To see photos of the weekend visit:

http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/snapshot/0505randc2005.html

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Students Discover Hunger Problem in Middletown Children


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

City-Wide Dance, Violinist, Liz Lerman on CFA Spring Slate


Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, announces the lineup for the ’05-06 CFA season during a presentation May 4.
 
Posted 05/23/05
An American brass quintet, ballet, African rhythms and Bulgarian bebop are all in the mix for the upcoming year at Wesleyan.

During the Center for the Arts season announcement on May 4, CFA Director Pamela Tatge introduced the 2005-06 season events.

The season opens with Middletown Dances! on September 10. In Collaboration with the City of Middletown and community groups, the CFA is planning a citywide dance festival. The event will culminate in a community dance on Wesleyan’s Andrus Field, with performances and workshops along Main Street.

“We want to take over College through Green Street,” says Tatge. “We want to have an explosion of dance here in Middletown.”

The Crowell Concert Series will offer seven performances next year, bringing a wide array of world-class musicians to the intimate setting of Crowell Concert Hall. On the list is FleytMuzik by the Klezmer Band, the American Brass Quintet, Bulgarian Bebop, Lionheart, Ernest Dawkins and the New Horizons Ensemble, SFSound and violinist Midori.

“The audience is going to love the a capella of Lionheart and the bebop with Bulgan influence,” Tatge says. “Once you enter into that type of music, you don’t want it to stop.”

The Breaking Ground Dance Series will include performances by David Dorfman Dance; Electric Haiku: Calm as Custard; DanceMasters Weekend and the world premiere by the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Choreographer Liz Lerman, who will join Wesleyan’s faculty next year as a visiting dance instructor, is a 2002 MacArthur Fellow and founded the company in 1976.

Through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor and a company of performers whose ages span six decades, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange stretches the expressive range of contemporary dance. She will participate in Middletown Dances! and premiere Ferocious Beauty: Genome at the Center for the Arts as the culmination of a year-long, interdisciplinary residency at Wesleyan.

Other activities will include workshops at the Green Street Arts Center and teaching week-long intensive programs, such as the Summer Dance Institute 2005.

“The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is really the anchor of our program for next year,” Tatge says.

The Outside the Box Theater Series kicks off with The Neo-Futurists: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Other theatre performances and discussions will be announced later in the year.

Additional events of note include The Disasters of War: From Goya to Golub in the Ezra & Cecile Zilkha Gallery, the Navaratri Festival, Celebrating Don Quixote, Eiko & Koma: Cambodian Stories and the Green Street Arts Festival.

During CFA Days on June 28 through July 26 the Center for the Arts will feature Selected Songs of Charles Ives; Music, Nature and Silence; Making Basquiat, Broadway’s Best with Frank Mastrone, Folk Songs of Ireland, India and America. La Timba Loca, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Wesleyan organist Ronald Ebrecht and the Jay Hoggard Quintet will be performing on campus, along with a reading from novelist and non-fiction writer Amy Bloom.

The Wesleyan-sponsored Green Street Arts Center will celebrate its one-year anniversary in 2006. Ricardo Morris, director of the Green Street Arts Center, said the center is already planning classes in radio broad casting, studio recording, videography comic strip arts and tap dance.

For more information on any CFA event call 860-685-3355.

  Non-Credit Dance Courses Offered

The Summer Dance Institute 2005 featuring Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will be offered June 13-17 and June 20-24 at Wesleyan.

Participants can learn the tools and techniques for cutting-edge dance making, public art building and experience personal growth.

Courses include “Dance is Big: Art-making and Community Building,” “Words and Movement,” “Dance Intensive for Senior Adults.” Another course, “Dance Deep: An Intensive for Dancers, Writers, and Theatre Artists,” is a three-credit graduate course offered through Wesleyan’s Division of Continuing Studies.

Participants must be 18 or older and register by June 10. The course is sponsored by Academic Institutes at Wesleyan.

For more information call 860-685-2900, e-mail csinquire@wesleyan.edu or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/ ccst/.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Professors Lecture to Local High School Students


 
Above, Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and director of the Service-Learning Center, draws a troubadour to illustrate how the message of music is perceived differently during a lecture to high school students.

At right, high school students listen to Rosenthal’s lecture during the High School Humanities Program.

Posted 05/23/05

This semester, local high school students read “The Odyssey,” and watched “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” but it wasn’t with their high school English teachers.

As part of the High School Humanities Program, more than 80 high school students had the opportunity to participate in six discussions at Wesleyan. Wesleyan faculty members facilitate the lectures. Students were bussed in from Vinal Technical High School and Middletown, Killingworth, Mercy and Xavier high schools.

Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and director of the Service-Learning Center, lectured about social music and culture on May 6. He played music samples for the students including songs by Woody Guthrie and Aretha Franklin.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What kind of respect is Aretha asking for here,” Rosenthal asks the students. “If you study this stuff, you can’t simply listen to the lyrics. Think about the style, the voice, the year it came out.”

Rosenthal sketched a troubadour and other people on the chalkboard to illustrate how the music, or the message, is interpreted differently. One person may really favor the lyrics, another may like the beat and rhythm, and still another may not really be paying any attention, he explained.

“It’s difficult to pin-point the real connection between music and social movement, he says. “Individuals take this in and react, as well as reflect, differently,”

Other viewings this year included “Glory,” “Monsoon Wedding,” “Slam,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The High School Humanities Program is supported by Community and University Services for Education, most commonly known as CAUSE.  Established in 1967 by Marjorie Daltry Rosenbaum, CAUSE facilitates the implementation of cooperative programs and projects between Wesleyan, the Middletown community and the public and private schools in the Middletown area.

In addition to the High School Humanities Program, CAUSE also supports the following:

  • The Art Show, a unique exhibition of more than 1,200 artworks of Middletown students in grades K-12 at Wesleyan’s Zilkha Gallery. This annual event in April showcases the art curriculum in Middletown public schools and attracts hundreds of students and their families to the Wesleyan campus each spring.

  • Silent Sounds, a collection of selected literary works submitted by students in Middletown Public Schools grades 6-12. Categories include poetry, short stories, literary analyses and personal essays.

  • Mini-grants to local Middletown teachers to develop innovative and creative short-term projects to engage their students in learning.

    Rosenthal is one of six professors involved with the High School Humanities Program. Other lecturers this semester have included Andy Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies, and the director of the Center for Faculty Career Development; Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English and professor of American Studies; Indira Karamcheti, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies and associate professor of women’s studies; Kate Rushin, adjunct assistant professor and visiting writer of African American studies; and Sean McCann, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies and chair of the American Studies Program. Peter Frenzel, professor of German Studies Emeritus, served as faculty director of the program and Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations, offered administrative support for the program.

  • For more information, call 860-685-2245 or 860-638-1401.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Students Receive Awards, Prizes, Scholarships


    Pictured in center, Migdalia Pinkney, administrative assistant for the Center for Community Partnerships and Lisa Currie, director of Health Education, congratulate Gabrielle Tynes-Labonte ’06 (left) and Vladrose Petit-Frere ’05 during the Academic Awards, Prizes and Scholarships program May 3. The students both received the Mosaic Award, given to four students who have brought about cultural awareness and education on race, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.

     
    Posted 05/23/05
    More than 240 Wesleyan students received accolades and formal recognition during the 2005 Academic Awards, Prizes and Scholarships program May 3 in the Russell House.

    “These are honor students who represent the highest ideals of Wesleyan University: intellectual curiosity, academic excellence, creative expression, leadership and service,” says Peter Patton, interim dean of the college, vice president and secretary of the university and professor of earth and environmental sciences.

    Students were honored for excellence in astronomy, music composition, biology, chemistry,  earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, history, film, women studies and computer science, among other subjects. Others earned awards for demonstrating outstanding leadership, special aptitude in the history or art, debating and public-spirited citizenship.

    While celebrating these recipients of awards, prizes and scholarships, Patton also honored and thanked alumni and friends for their generous contributions and gifts. Several awards are the result of legacies of alumni, administrators, faculty and friends whose lives and work are honored through endowed gifts.

    For the complete list of students and their awards go to:

    http://www.wesleyan.edu/deans/awards2005.html.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Behind the Scenes: Reunion & Commencement Weekend Result of All Departments


    ]]>
    At top, hired students worked stuffed 3,000 packets and created nametags in preparation for Reunion & Commencement Weekend at University Relations.

    At left, Gemma Ebstein, director of Alumni and Parent Relations and Deana Hutson, director of Events, look over Reunion & Commencement Weekend schedules prior to the four-day event.

    Posted 05/23/05

    It all starts the day after.

    Deana Hutson, director of Events, began planning for the 2005 Reunion & Commencement Weekend the day after the 2004 Commencement Weekend ended. On the agenda: Hire 150 student workers. Print 20,000 brochures. Rent 10,000 chairs. Block 900 local hotel rooms. Contact 50 vendors. Plan events for 9,000 guests.

    “There is so much going on behind the scenes of Reunion & Commencement Weekend,” says Hutson, who has been critical to the success of six R&Cs so far. “It starts with a small team of staff meeting and program planning and culminates with a team of 1,000 making it happen. We want alumni, parents and seniors to walk away with wonderful memories of the weekend.”

    On May 16, just three days before the big weekend, Hutson and Gemma Ebstein, director of Alumni and Parent Relations, spend their day going through a pen-scribbled list and an 80-page flow document. The document details who is in charge of each event, the time of the event and a description.

    The duo coordinates more than 150 individual events including picnics, dinners, parties, academic department tours, senior projects, campus walking tours, 36 WESeminars, 15 class reunions, a parade, an annual meeting and assembly, a grandparents gathering, a children’s day camp, class photos and of course, the 173rd commencement ceremony.

    “We just go with the flow,” says Ebstein, who has co-coordinated 14 reunions and six reunion and commencement events. “These lists may look crazy, but it explains everything we need to do to run the weekend.”

    Ebstein says virtually all the university’s departments contribute to the weekend in one way or another. Physical Plant staff spends Saturday night setting up chairs for commencement. Campus Dining prepares more than 90 percent of all meals. The Office of University Communications writes, photographs and edits the brochures and award citations. The Wesleyan grounds crew grooms the campus lawns and flower beds. And all academic departments plan open houses for the weekend.

    Even students get involved. More than 500 students apply for R&C Weekend employment, but only 150 are hired. They often cover odd-hour shifts, some beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 2 a.m. the next morning.

    “Students want to be here working for commencement,” Hutson says. “They enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun. And we want them here. They’re representing Wesleyan, and they’re proud of their school. Alumni love talking to the students, and for the students, meeting Wesleyan alumni on this weekend puts it all into perspective for them.”

    When planning more than 150 events throughout the weekend challenges are sure to arise. The staff, however, is accustomed to expect the unexpected.

    About 670 alumni registered for 2005 reunion, however, an additional 350 can show up depending on the weather. The coordinators keep their eye on the numbers, which can affect last-minute food orders, rental orders, tables and table cloths, napkins, tables, chairs, silverware, plates, glasses and even the number of flower and balloon arrangements.

    And in recent years, challenges have run the gamut:

    Brochures and nametags were delivered incorrectly printed. the University Relations staff stayed up throughout the night to get them finished days before the event. 

  • A picnic ran low on turkey sandwiches forcing, students, staff and campus dining crew to scramble to locate lunchmeat and make sandwiches during the picnic.
  • When rain poured for seven days before commencement, the Wesleyan grounds crew laid a makeshift mulch road so vendors could get onto the flooded field.
  • A water main broke one year forcing the coordinators to reroute shuttles through campus at the busiest time of the weekend.
  • A tent fell over just before an all-campus picnic.
  • When the 2000 fireworks show went off with a bang, it left a blanket of soot on the commencement chairs and stage overnight. Physical Plant staff had to hand-wipe all 10,000 chairs clean before morning.
  • “We’re constantly problem solving,” Ebstein says. “Even with the best laid plans, things go awry. The key is to stay calm, be pleasant, assess options and take action.  We strive to do everything possible to make this weekend a positive experience for alumni and parents. Some alumni may not return to campus for another five years, so this experience really matters.”

    Members of University Relations and Physical Plant are assigned different tasks, but among the most important are to be the eyes and ears of the university. All problems and questions are communicated through cell phones and radios. Seventy-two of them to be exact.

    Crunch time for University Relations begins in March when brochures are mailed off, a Web site is developed and registration begins. In May, the staff begins working longer hours and weekends. During the R&C weekend, some of them sleep an average of two hours a night. The staff includes Makaela Steinberg, associate director of Alumni Relations; Linda Kavan, associate director of Events, Suzanne Kampen, administrative assistant with Alumni and Parent Relations; Gail Briggs, associate director of Alumni Education, Meg Zocco, director of Parent Programs and Camille Dolansky, assistant director of Parent Programs. Jean Shaw, now coordinator of University Lectures, was the overall coordinator from 2000-2003, helping to combine the once separate reunion and commencement celebrations into one event.

    The hectic schedule affects their personal life, and Hutson and Ebstein say it takes an understanding family to get through it.

    “My husband knows I’ll be coming home late every night, and my sons know I can’t make it to their basketball and soccer games this time of year,” Ebstein says. “But when they come and see what the weekend is all about, then they get it.”

    Hutson compares planning for R&C Weekend like a running up a hill.

    “It can be agonizing trying to get up and over that hill, but once you’re on top you’re so proud of what you’ve accomplished, you forget how hard it was to get there.”

    After R&C Weekend, the University Relations staff sends evaluation assessments to alumni. Feedback lets Wesleyan know they’re efforts pay off in the end.

    “Although we offer many ways for alumni to stay connected, reunion weekend is one of the more traditional programs and has a unique appeal, ”Ebstein says. “Sometimes alumni won’t have much contact with Wesleyan for many years, then return for reunion and gradually become re-engaged. There’s really something special about the reunion experience; it has a lasting impact.”

    And then on Monday, the planning starts for 2006.

    By the Numbers:

    562
    The number of steps in parade route

    2
    The average hour of sleep per night by events staff

    48
    The hours to clean and prep dorm rooms

    300
    The number of student workers

    10,000
    The number of chairs used/rented

    300
    The number of hours to plan, cook and set up post-commencement reception

    3,000
    The number of hours student staff works during the weekend

    20,000
    The number of brochures printed

    72
    The number of two-way radios used]]>

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor