Campus News & Events

Interim Promoted to Vice President for Finance


Posted 05/04/06
Interim Vice President for Finance John Meerts has become Wesleyan’s permanent vice president for Finance and Administration effective May 1.

Meerts has responsibility for the Offices of Finance, Human Resources, Facilities and Legal Affairs. The Board of Trustees will act on a resolution to appoint Meerts as treasurer of the university at its annual meeting this month. In addition, he will continue his oversight of the Office of Information Technology Services, which he has led since coming to Wesleyan in 1996.

“In his interim role, John quickly demonstrated the ability to manage a complex budget situation,” says Wesleyan President Doug Bennet. “He successfully developed a five-year plan to reduce substantially Wesleyan’s reliance on its endowment, and he communicated the key issues with great clarity to faculty and staff and ultimately to the Board. John’s colleagues give him credit for great personal integrity and the transparency with which he conducts business. He will provide the financial and administrative leadership we need to implement the next phases of the university’s strategic plan.”

Meerts joined the Wesleyan administration in July 1996, from Yale, where he had been director of administrative systems since 1991. As director of information technology services at Wesleyan, he led a substantial overhaul of the organization, as well as the university’s technology and applications. He became vice president for information technology in 2002.

After Vice President for Finance and Administration Marcia Bromberg retired in July 2005, Meerts assumed interim responsibility for Wesleyan’s finances. His permanent appointment follows a national search for Bromberg’s successor.

“It has been tremendously rewarding for me to serve Wesleyan in this broader capacity over the past several months,” Meerts says. “I look forward to continuing as part of the team that delivers on Wesleyan’s promise of educational excellence.”

President Bennet to Step Down


Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan President Doug Bennet will conclude his presidency at the end of the 2006-07 academic year, he informed faculty, students and staff on May 4.

Bennet, who became president in April 1995, led Wesleyan’s historic $281 million capital campaign, expanded the size of the faculty, launched an ambitious campus building program, and shaped the university’s first comprehensive strategic plan.

“Wesleyan is doing well, both institutionally and in its daily pursuit of excellence,” Bennet said to members of the campus community gathered at the steps of North College. “The university is prepared well to engage new leadership, and the time is right for Midge and me to move ahead to the next phase of our lives.”

Bennet praised the ongoing work of Wesleyan’s faculty in envisioning and implementing a liberal arts and sciences curriculum intended to engage students with the world around them and to enable them to become leaders. He also cited the strategic planning processes that have mobilized the campus and alumni communities around clear institutional priorities.

“Universities progress in several ways,” he said. “There are big turning points that affirm fundamental institutional commitments. The work we did to define a Wesleyan education for the 21st century, to improve student aid, to add faculty, and to begin a process of campus renewal—all of these show that Wesleyan can make big decisions and act upon them.”

He added: “The daily progress of an educational community is ongoing and never-ending–the discovery, the teaching, the care and respect for all within the community. New students arrive every year; new issues come to the fore. They show who we really are, especially in making good on the potential of our diversity. They help individual students define their values and learn the confidence that will empower them as change-makers.”

Midge Bennet thanked the assembled students, faculty and staff. She added that, even after their retirement, she and the president would look forward to “lectures and sporting events, as well as lunch at the new Usdan University Center.”

“We will continue helping Wesleyan in any way we can,” she said.

James van B. Dresser ’63, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, was on hand to thank and congratulate the Bennets.

“The hallmark of Doug’s tenure has been his ability to forge a strategic direction for the institution,” Dresser said. “Through cycles of planning and action, Doug has moved Wesleyan forward. His well-placed faith in the willingness of alumni, parents, and friends of the college to fund plans they believed in has brought Wesleyan important new resources. The school has never been stronger, and thanks to his leadership, the Wesleyan community has the pride and confidence to move from strength to strength.”

Dresser called Midge Bennet “for many of us … the wisest and warmest counselor and friend we have known.” He added: “Her undying faith in our common purpose and our bright future have inspired all who have had the good fortune to come into contact with her in any setting, over all these years.”

Dresser assured those assembled he would consult the Board of Trustees immediately about plans for a presidential search. “I promise that we will keep the campus community fully informed about this process, and that we will keep students, faculty and staff meaningfully involved,” he said.

Bennet’s Legacy
Douglas J. Bennet ’59 was elected the 15th president of Wesleyan University on
April 7, 1995, and began his tenure on July 1, 1995. He was U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs when tapped by Wesleyan, though he was best known for his decade (1983-93) as chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio.

Once installed as Wesleyan’s president, Bennet led the university community through its first-ever strategic planning process, a comprehensive effort that included faculty, staff and students, alumni and parent leaders. This process yielded a vision for liberal education in times of rapid change. “Wesleyan Education for the Twenty-First Century” (1997) sought to define the essential capabilities of an educated person and established the principles on which to make ongoing curricular choices. It affirmed the value of scholarship and teaching in a residential community and confirmed that knowing how to learn is the most durable legacy of a Wesleyan education. The process also produced “Strategy for Wesleyan” (1998), which defined key institutional priorities: an enduring commitment to need-blind admission and thus to building the University’s student aid program; an expansion of the faculty in order to improve teaching ratios and expand scholarship and teaching in new, interdisciplinary areas; and the beginning of a program of campus renewal. 

To view Bennet’s accomplishments, including his efforts with strategic planning, student aid, faculty additions, campus renewal, fund-raising, endowment management, technology and athletics, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/administration/president/accomplishments.html.

These priorities became the foundation for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, by far the most successful fund-raising effort in the university’s history. The campaign garnered contributions from 68 percent of Wesleyan’s alumni. Total gifts in a single year tripled, from $10.4 million in 1995 to $31.3 million in 2005.

As the campaign concluded in 2004, Bennet led a second strategic planning exercise. The second strategy, “Engaged with the World” (2005), describes priorities for the period 2005-2010, including continuing curricular innovations and renewed commitments to international studies and to science. It outlines priorities for academics, campus life, student aid, and physical infrastructure.

Bennet’s emphasis on planning and on strict allocation of budget resources according to the priorities thus established has enabled Wesleyan to devote the highest proportion of its total spending to teaching and research and the lowest to administration among the top 50 schools in the annual rankings produced by U.S. News and World Report. It has enabled Wesleyan to compete for students and faculty against much better-endowed institutions. It also has enabled the University to maximize the impact of fund-raising and borrowing to invest in strategic priorities, while almost doubling the market value of its endowment during his presidency.

The Bennet presidency also represented a new era of collaboration with the city of Middletown. Under Bennet’s leadership, Wesleyan participated actively in the city’s development efforts, including investing University funds to bring to the city a downtown hotel, the 100-bed Inn at Middletown, which opened in 2003. Wesleyan established the Green Street Arts Center, a community arts center in the city’s North End, offering classes and workshops for children and adults in music, visual arts, dance, theater, literary and media arts. The center, a collaboration with the city of Middletown and the North End Action Team, is an important part of efforts to revitalize the city’s North End.

“I think they will be talking about Doug Bennet’s legacy for many generations to come,” said Alan Dachs ’70, chair of Wesleyan’s Development Committee who also served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005. “He did an outstanding job as our president. He will be very hard to replace. Everything we value most has been improved under his leadership. Financial aid packages are better, and the academic enterprise is more robust. He has raised more money than ever before in our history, and our investment returns are in the top quartile. Everything he was asked to do, he did and more, much more.”

In January 2006, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made a grant of $200,000 to Wesleyan in honor of Doug Bennet’s service to the university over the past 10 years. The grant created an endowment that will support an annual lecture and program focused on ethics, politics and society.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Turf Field Completed, Will Open this Month


Wesleyan’s new turf field, located behind Physical Plant on Long Lane, was dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony. It is expected to be available for use later this month.

Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan athletes will be breaking new ground this month on their new synthetic turf field.

The field, dedicated April 29 during a ribbon cutting ceremony, will be put to use in May. Men’s and women’s soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams will use the outdoor field regularly, and it will be available for several other activities, as well.

John Biddiscombe, director of athletics and chair of physical education, said Wesleyan is among the last universities in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) to possess a turf field.

“We’re no longer the turf nomads,” he said during the outdoor ceremony. “We’re no longer at the disadvantage.”

The artificial field, composed of Polytan Megagrass 2025, is located behind the Physical Plant building on Long Lane. Underneath the synthetic “grass” is a rubber padding, gravel and drainage pipes to keep the field puddle-free in the event of wet weather.

Men’s Head Lacrosse Coach John Raba said the field will be ideal for on- and off-season practices. In addition, the turf will serve as a drawing card for recruiting top student-athletes.

Baseball and softball teams will also use the field for pre-season practice in late February when Bacon Field House becomes overcrowded. The field will be available for selected club sports, intramural play, sport camps and selected use by the local community.

“This is a great situation for us, and for all sports,” Raba said, who cut the ribbon. “I’m going to guess that this field is always going to be busy.”

Wesleyan’s Office of University Relations and Athletics personnel worked with parents and alumni to raise the $920,000 needed to build the field. More than 160 alumni, parents and friends of the university were actively involved in helping to raise the funding for the field, including Bill Belichick, ’75, P’07, Moira Byer P’06, David Campbell ’75, P ‘10, Michael and Marilyn Dee P’06, Mike McKenna ’73, Jim Walsh P’07, Cole and Katherine Werble P’07 and Preston Smith ’64, P’06.

Preston Smith, who’s son, Matt, is a varsity lacrosse player, reminded the ribbon-cutting ceremony audience that it took the fund-raising effort of five teams, with support form five decades of alumni, to provide the two-acre turf field.

“This field is not only the best in the division, but the best in New England,” Smith said to the crowd.

Wesleyan hopes to raise another $400,000 to pay for lights, bleachers, a scoreboard, protective netting and a paved walkway between the Freeman Gymnasium and the turf field.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Professor of Chemistry Promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs


Posted 05/04/06
Professor of Chemistry Joseph Bruno will become Wesleyan’s vice president for Academic Affairs, effective July 1. Bruno has served as dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2003.

Bruno will serve as chief academic officer for the university, responsible for attracting and retaining faculty and for supporting their research and teaching activities.

In February, after Vice President for Academic Affairs Judith Brown announced her intention to step down, Wesleyan President Doug Bennet began extensive consultations with faculty on the characteristics to seek in her successor, as well as nominations. Bennet decided to seek a Wesleyan faculty member to fill the post.

“In addition to the personal qualities one expects in an academic leader—intelligence, articulateness, fair-mindedness—faculty cited such characteristics as demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and colleagueship, and the energy and enthusiasm to launch initiatives that will distinguish Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “In every respect, Joe Bruno meets the desires expressed by the faculty. I have great confidence in his ability to lead.”

As dean of the natural sciences and mathematics, Bruno supports the research and teaching efforts of faculty in 10 departments and programs. He participates in budgeting for faculty positions, as well as in recruiting and hiring decisions. He reviews grant proposals and works with the chairs of the academic departments on curricular and administrative issues. Bruno also is responsible for developing plans for the construction and renovation of science facilities.

Bruno has served as vice chair of and science representative to the Advisory Committee, which advises the president on matters relating to appointments and promotions of the faculty. He also served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and president of the Wesleyan chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Bruno’s teaching and research activities have garnered grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the State of Connecticut, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, among other sources.

After earning his Ph.D in organometallic chemistry from Northwestern University, Bruno spent two postdoctoral years at Indiana University before joining the Wesleyan faculty in 1984. He received tenure in 1991.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had at Wesleyan over 22 years, working alongside colleagues on the faculty, in the administration and on the staff,” Bruno said. “I look forward to building on these experiences as vice president for academic affairs. Wesleyan has generated considerable momentum, and I am very excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Economics Professor Testifies Before U.S. Senate


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

“We Are Family” Theme of Alumni of Color Reunion


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Winter Athletes Honored at Reception


Above, Midge Bennet chats with men’s basketball coach Gerry McDowell during the Winter Athlete Reception April 13 in the Freeman Athletic Center.

At right, President Doug Bennet speaks to winter athletes during the reception.

Below, wrestling coach Drew Black, pictured on left, shakes hands with John Biddiscomb, director of Athletics.

Posted 04/17/06

President Doug Bennet, Midge Bennet and John Biddiscombe, director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, honored winter athletes at a reception in the Freeman Athletic Center’s Bridge Lobby April 13.
 

“The positive spirit and enthusiasm of the teams seemed very strong this winter,” President Bennet said. “Midge and I have enjoyed coming to some of the games and sharing in the excitement.”
President Bennet acknowledged all winter teams including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s indoor track, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and wrestling. The teams’ members and coaches attended the reception.
 
Bennet and Biddiscombe gave special recognition to stand-out student athletes.

Bennet acknowledged this year’s recipients of Wesleyan’s Roger Maynard Memorial Award, presented annually to the outstanding male and female scholar-athletes. The winners were Hannah Stubbs ’06 and Owen Kiely ’06.

Stubbs is captain of the women’s basketball team and has a 3.52 GPA. She will stay on at Wesleyan after graduation to get her masters. She is a three-time, first-team NESCAC basketball player. She is ranked number two on the all time scoring list. Last year, she was was an Academic All-American.

Kiely, a cross country, indoor and outdoor track team member, has a 3.57 GPA. He won the 2006 New England Division III Championship and finished 14th at the Division III NCAA Championship earning All American status.

The winter teams were lead by the women’s basketball team that had an 18-8 record and this team was among the top four teams in NESCAC and also participated in the NCAA tournament. The women’s basketball team was coached by Kate Mullen and assisted by Chris Lanser and Molly Dullea.

The men’s and women’s swim teams also distinguished themselves. Bennet honored the men’s team for it’s 12-4 record and for finishing fourth in the NESCAC Championship. The women’s team had 12 wins and six losses. The swim teams are coached by Mary Bolich and assisted by Molly Parrish and Jeff Miller.

Individual swimmers that qualified for the NCAA Championship were Ben Byers ’07 and Amanda Shapiro ’08. Shapiro earned All-American honors by finishing fifth in the 200-yard breast stroke and sixth in the 100-yard breast stroke.

Two other Wesleyan athletes also distinguished themselves by becoming NCAA All Americans in indoor track. Bennet honored Ellen Davis ’07, who qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships in the 5,000 meter, where she performed superbly in finishing fourth in the nation. Wes Fuhrman ’05 also represented Wesleyan at the national meet, competing in the 5,000-meter and placed seventh in his last race of his college career.

In addition, Ben Byers ’07 went to NCAAs for swimming and Dan de Lalla ’07 went to the NCAAs for wrestling but didn’t place.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor, and Brian Katten, director of Sports Information

Lecture, Electronic Recycling, Food Politics Parts of Earth Week


Posted 04/17/06
The Wesleyan community will celebrate Earth Week April 16-April 22 with a series of activities, lectures and observations. Events include:
 
Lecture on “The Purpose of Nature”
Verlyn Klinkenborg, a writer and professor of literature and creative writing at Fordham University and Harvard University, will deliver the Earth Day address “The Purpose of Nature” at 8 p.m. April 20 in Memorial Chapel. A reception and book signing immediately follow in the Zelnick Pavilion.

Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, The Rural Life, and Timothy: Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, and many magazine and newspaper articles. A modern Thoreau, his lyrical portrayals of rural living and nature captivate our imagination while delivering a critical message.  He is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.
 
His visit is sponsored by the Robert Schumann Environmental Studies Program.
 
Recycle Computer Electronics
Information Technology Services and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety are teaming up to promote a clean and safe environment by hosting a recycle day. Anyone with old computer terminals, monitors, televisions, printers, keyboards, ink jet cartridges, or other computer parts can place them at a designated area on the Exley Science Center loading dock between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 17-21. For more information contact Bonnie Penders at 860-685-3096.

Food Politics Week
In addition to Earth Week, Wesleyan’s Earth House residents are organizing Food Politics Week, celebrated April 22-29 on campus. They will offer a soy workshop for making tofu and soymilk; a bread baking workshop; a “dumpster-diving” workshop; a farm workday; an edible plants walk with Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology; and a lecture on organic farming. Their observation will conclude with Veg Out on April 27, a home-cooked, primarily local, organic vegan meal open to the Wesleyan community. The cost is $4.

Brooke Duling ’08 says the group aims to raise awareness about the political implications people take simply by choosing to eat certain foods. They will highlight the consumption of local, organic, vegetarian/vegan food and open a dialogue about how to access these foods.

For additional information, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/earthweek/ or contact Kathleen Norris, administrative assistant, Environmental Studies Certificate Program at 860-685-3733 or by e-mail at knorris@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Now That’s Using Your Head: Student, Professor Collaborate on Brain Activity Study


Rebecca Gordon ’06 and her thesis advisor, John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, pose with brain scans used in a recent study.

Posted 04/17/06
For psychology major Rebecca Gordon’ 06, developing a research project idea was practically a no-brainer. Well, except for the fact that she had to study brains.

By examining functional magnetic resonance images, known as fMRIs, Rebecca Gordon ’06 was able to see how the brain reacted on a cognitive and emotional level with healthy subjects and subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Her study “The Mere Exposure Effect and Schizophrenia: An fMRI Study” was completed April 11 after nine months of research. The “mere exposure effect” is a psychological way of saying people express likeness for things merely because they are familiar with them.

“There have been no published fMRI studies of the mere exposure effect so I wanted to do a study that would contribute something new and important to several fields of psychology,” says Gordon, who will graduate this year with a dual degree in psychology and music.

Gordon, whose father is a clinical psychologist, coordinated her own research projects throughout high school including working with Parkinson Disease patients at a lab in New York. During her first year at Wesleyan, Gordon excelled in Psychology 101, taught by John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Knowing that his student already had research experience, Seamon suggested that she follow up on procedures he and other students conducted in the 1980s and 1990s on explicit and implicit memory. Explicit memory is a form of memory that involves conscious retrieval of past events; implicit memory is a nonconscious retrieval of past events.

“I encourage students who do well in my classes to get involved in research, either in my own lab or with others in psychology, and Rebecca was one of those special students,” says Seamon, who became Gordon’s thesis advisor on the study.

Gordon, who was working at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living in Hartford last summer, had access to fMRI technology. Seamon suggested that she look for brain differences in explicit and implicit memory by measuring blood flow changes using the fMRI scanner.

Since July 2005, Gordon has spent her summer, winter and spring breaks immersed in conducting research, as well two to three days a week during the school year. She continually sought research advice from Seamon and technical advice from Godfrey Pearlson, director of the Neuropsychiatry Research Center and professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

By studying patients at the center in Hartford, she was able to perform two tests on 10 healthy control subjects and 10 schizophrenia patients. The subjects were placed inside the fMRI scanner during the study so she could monitor their brain activity.

Using an assessment method called the recognition memory test to measure explicit memory, Gordon projected a series of novel objects, each for a few seconds. Subjects were then asked to answer the question: “Is this a possible or impossible object?” After viewing these novel objects several times and recording the decisions, Gordon collected her results. She then resented pairs of objects, one old and one new, and asked the subjects to select the object in each pair that they previously viewed. When she analyzed the neurological activity during this explicit recognition test, she found memory accuracy was correlated with activation of the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for new learning.

In another test, called the affective preference test, Gordon measured implicit memory by asking the subjects which shape they preferred without asking them which one they remembered. During this test she found that there was still hippocampus activity along with a strong response from the amygdala, the almond-shaped neural structure in the brain that processes emotion.

Gordon and Seamon were thrilled with the new discovery.

“This is a remarkable achievement for an undergraduate to go from a discussion with her advisor, take an idea and turn it into a tangible experiment that she then performed over a period of months, learn about this state of the art technology, collect and analyze data with technical help from the staff at the Institute of Living and produce new and interesting findings,” Seamon says.

Gordon’s report was submitted for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the bachelor’s of arts degree with departmental honors in psychology. She hopes to get her study published in a professional psychology journal.

In addition, she will present her study during the Psychology Department Poster Session April 18.

“I can’t believe that even as I got to the very end of my project, I never got tired of it. I was always excited about the idea of finding something completely new,” she says, holding two gray brain scans, speckled with colors. The colors illustrate where in the brain activity was happening during the subjects’ tasks.

Gordon will return to the Institute of Living this summer for continued research, this time focusing on autistic children and people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Next fall, she will begin graduate school at Yeshiva University in New York where she plans to continue her studies in psychology.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Breaking Down the Barriers: Trip to Middle East Provides Examples of Peaceful Co-Existence


Pictured at top, Wesleyan students and staff  walk down a street in Istanbul on their way to the mosque during a trip to Turkey and Israel March 12-23.

Pictured at right, the group takes a break in the Teldan Nature Preserve in Golan Heights, Israel with their tour guide. The Wesleyan students are Ben Sachs-Hamilton, Avi Smith, Phil Zegelbone, Jamal Ahmed, Mike Figura,  Kulsoom Hasan, Maggie Mitchell, Tussy Alam, Rachel Berkowitz, Aaron Tabek, Jessica Eber and Joel Bhuiyan. Wesleyan Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Abdullah Antepli, pictured in center in purple and black shirts, coordinated the overseas trip.

Posted 04/17/06
Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, wanted to prove to his students that Jews and Muslims can peacefully coexist with one another.

But Leipziger Teva, who also goes by Rabbi David,
admits that for students to understand this complex co-existence, they must couple classroom knowledge with real life, personal experiences.

So Leipziger Teva and former Wesl
eyan Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli chose five Wesleyan Muslim students and six Jewish students, out of 23 who applied, and set out for an 11-day spring break excursion of Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem, Israel.

“The trip was very intense,” admits Leipziger Teva, who says he was most moved after seeing Palestinian and Israeli Christian, Muslim and Jewish children learning together in one classroom at the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem.

The group also visited Kibbutz Metzer, an Israeli socialist commune, where member Dov Avital shared his story about living peacefully, just yards away, from a Palestinian-Arab village.

In November of 2002, suicide bomber from a radical Palestinian terrorist group broke into this Israeli Kibbutz and killed five people. Leipziger Teva says that despite the terrorist attack the two communities remain committed to dialogue and friendship.

“Dov told the story with tears in his eyes and we were all moved by it,” says Leipziger Teva. “This is just one hopeful example, despite the violence of how Jews and Muslims are trying to co-exist with each other in peace and we wanted the students to see this.”

Jamal Ahmed, a Pakistani freshman from New York City, was also moved by Avital’s story.

“On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace,” says Ahmed.
“Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”

The group also met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders, including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo. They also visited popular landmarks including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall as well as other mosques, synagogues and visited with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and families.

Rabbi David says that during their trip, he witnessed a progressive transformation among the students.

“I saw a deepening of their individual religious spiritual identities,” he says. “They were all challenged and I was constantly motivated by the dialogue that was happening.”

Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external,” says Berkowitz. “I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.”

Leipziger Teva hopes that one day this Spring break trip will spark these students into making strides towards peace in the Middle East.

“Someone from this trip might one day become a senator, a Fulbright Scholar, or eventually may help draft future peace plans for Israel,” says Leipziger Teva, who feels that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to demonstrate compromise before real peace is established.

Next month Leipziger Teva, who is hoping to raise more funds in order to repeat the trip next year, will start showcasing a DVD documentary of the trip to mosques, churches, synagogues, and to high schools. He also plans on introducing the documentary at the Muslim Student Association Annual Conference and Hillel, the conference of Jewish College Communities later this year.

“No other school has ever taken Jews and Muslims together in one group to the Middle East,” says Leipziger Teva. “Wesleyan is unique and we hope we can help jumpstart dialogue and peace among all the children of Abraham – Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Growing Up – and Out


Rachel Ostlund ‘08 sprinkles seedlings inside a shelter at Long Lane Farm. The farm is expanding this spring to a full acre. Pictured below are vegetables grown last year by the Long Lane Farming Club.

Posted 04/17/06
Although Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Club uses organic methods to grow its produce, a little “Miracle Grow “ has been sprinkled on one aspect of their garden: its progress.

The Long Lane Farm Club was created in 2004 so students would have a place to come together and learn about food security issues. What began as a 50-foot plot of flowers and vegetables will be expanded into a full acre this spring. The expanded cultivation area will increase the club’s produce, which is shared by Wesleyan students and the local community.

Maddie Thomson ‘08 got involved in the farm last spring, favoring the idea of organic farming. When a person buys a tomato at the grocery store, chances are, it was not locally grown, she says.

“So much of our food is grown halfway across the world and shipped here using enormous amounts of fossil fuels,” Thomson says. “I think it’s really important to think about where our food comes from, and whether it’s produced sustainability. There is a growing movement to rethink the way we produce food, and at Long Lane we’re part of that movement, which is really exciting.”

The 50 members of the Long Lane Farming Club are thrilled to expand to a full acre. Knowing it will take extra helping hands, about 15 volunteers from the Wesleyan community have been recruited to help out with watering, weeding, pruning, mixing soil and other gardening duties. Almost all the work is done by hand.

In addition, the club’s Community Supported Agricultural Project will have 10 members this year. These members support the garden by paying a fee, and every week for 10 weeks, they receive a share of the produce. Each pays $350, of which $150 is a donation to make produce available to food-insecure people. Members also participate in the distribution process by manning the tables every week to help pass out food to the other members.

The club will have a farm stand in low-income areas of Middletown and can accept food stamps. Everything that doesn’t sell will go to soup kitchens.

The Long Lane Farm has more than 80 vegetables and herbs grown in the two-year-old organic garden. This includes tomatoes, broccoli, kale, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, corn, beans, eggplants, zucchini, pumpkins, squash. New this year will be a garlic crop.

The Wesleyan students have already planted seedlings inside their student residences. Once it’s warm enough, they will replant the seedlings into the garden.

This summer the student farmers plan to hire four interns to work on the farm. Since the farm doubles as an educational tool for the community, the Long Lane Farm has partnered with Snow Elementary School in Middletown to get kids out in the farm to work, play, learn about farming and plants, and taste-test a few vegetables.

In 2004, Rachel Lindsay ’05 planted the first crops in a circular-shaped plot. Local residents rounded out the corners with garlic and potato gardens, among several flower beds. Lindsay, Rachel Ostlund ‘06 and other Wesleyan students later planted a tomato and broccoli garden, among rows of Swiss chard, pumpkins and squash.

“I just love that Long Lane Farm is a totally student-run farm, so that we get a chance to see and participate in all of the aspects of running it,” Thomson says.

The Long Lane Farm is funded by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, the Rockfall Foundation and personal donations. It relies on donations to pay summer interns and make the garden possible.

For more information or to make a donation to the Long Lane Farm, e-mail longlanefarm@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Student-Athlete Breaks Team Record for Hits


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

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

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

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

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

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