Campus News & Events

David Titus, Professor Emeritus of Government, Dies


Posted 09/15/06

David Titus, Professor Emeritus of Government, died on June 13, 2006.

Professor Titus taught at Wesleyan from 1966 until his retirement in 2004, serving as chair of the Government Department, the College of Social Studies and the East Asian Studies Program. He played a crucial role in establishing East Asian Studies at Wesleyan; he served as Resident Director of the Kyoto Program three times, and was a member and frequent chair of its Executive Board. His masterwork was his Palace and Politics in Prewar Japan, which established his reputation as a leading scholar of Japanese politics; it was translated into Japanese in 1979.

Professor Titus as an avid birdwatcher, and a vital participant in the Mattabesset chapter of the Audubon Society, which he also served as president. Until his recent stroke, he loved to play the violin, enlivening numerous campus occasions over the years.

He is survived by two sons, Brian and Jeffrey, a daughter in law, Rie, and two grandchildren, Sion and Neo. A memorial service will be scheduled in the fall.

 

Memorial donations may be sent to the Mattabeseck Audubon Society, c/o Alison Guinness, DeKoven House, 27 Washington St., Middletown, CT 06457.

Leaf, Brain Neuron Analysis Among Studies at Hughes Poster Session


Grigori Enikolopov ’08 was one of more than 50 students to present their research at the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences Poster Session in the Exley Science Center.
Posted 08/24/06

When Grigori Enikolopov ’08 studied the leaf economics in river, swamp and upland areas, he found that the wetter the area, the more ridges – or teeth – the leaves of woody tree species possessed.
 
During the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences Poster Session Aug. 4, Enikolopov, explained that 70 percent of the trees in a swamp have teeth compared to 60 percent in the upland areas. He posted his findings on a poster board and titled his work, “Relating Leaf Economics to Sizes and Shapes of Leaves: Potential Proxies for the Fossil Record.”
 
“This was a great way to study science,” he explains. “We had the opportunity to do real research. I hope in the long term I can apply what I’ve done with a career in conservation or scientific documentaries.”
 
Enikolopov was one of 50 undergraduate research fellows who presented their research in the Exley Science Center. He and his peers have been working on their projects during the past 10 weeks under the tutelage of Wesleyan faculty advisors. Enikolopov and his project partner, Margo Fernandez-Burgos ’09, studied with Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science.
 
The poster session allowed the research fellows to present their research to faculty, graduate students, fellow undergraduates and other visitors. This year, area high school teachers and prospective undergraduate applicants also attended the event.
 
“The poster session provides a sense of the spirit and accomplishments of our undergraduates’ research experience this summer,” explains Michael Weir, professor of biology and director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. “Stepping back to communicate the logic of your research in a poster presentation is very important for thinking about where you have traveled in your research field and where you might go next. Students feel the excitement of discussing and interpreting their research, and experience what it can be like to be part of the community of scientists.”
 
Chemistry Major Katrina Adams ’07 presented her project “Oxidation of 1-Trimethylslyl-2-Phenylethane and 1-trimethylsilyl-3-Phenylpropane,” with the help of Albert Fry, professor of chemistry. Adams hoped to see if a primary carbocation – a short-lived highly reactive molecule – is formed when the compound is oxidized. 
 
“Most chemists think a primary carbocation cannot be made,” Adams explains, pointing to diagrams of chemical models. “We hope to show that the primary carbocation is possible for these two molecules.
 
Adams, who began similar research in 2003, plans to continue the study until she graduates.
 
Psychology major Azeb Gebre ‘07 studied “The Association between Age of Immigration into the United States and the Prevalence of Substance Use among Foreign-Born Youths in America,” with associate professor of psychology Lisa Dierker as her advisor. She analyzed data presented in a 2002 survey on drug use and health database.
 
“What I found is that the age of entry to United States is related to substance abuse. The younger someone is when they come to the country, the higher chance they have of using nicotine, marijuana or alcohol,” Gebre explains, peering over graphs on her poster. “I think this is because it becomes more socially acceptable for them.”
 
Among the other 54 projects displayed at the poster session were Phil Zegelbone’s ‘08 study on embryonic, larval, juvenile and adult myogenesis; Renee Sher’s ’07 study on hydrogen fuel storage safety; Rebecca Straley’s ‘07 study on the tectonics of Tellus Regio, Venus. Zegelbone worked with Stephen Devoto, associate professor of biology and neuroscience and behavior; Sher worked with Fred Ellis, professor of physics; and Straley worked with James Greenwood, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.
 
Students from the biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, math and computer science, chemistry, psychology, earth and environmental sciences and physics departments participated.
 
The Hughes grant is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to encourage participation and interest in the life sciences by undergraduates. The grant supports summer research and includes a stipend and participation in Hughes activities.
 
For more information on the Hughes Program for Life Sciences, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/hughes/.

 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Receives $500,000 Challenge Grant from Kresge Foundation


Posted 08/24/06
The Kresge Foundation of Troy, Mich., has awarded a challenge grant in the amount of $500,000 to Wesleyan University. This grant will be applied toward the purchase of equipment for several Wesleyan science departments, including biology, chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry, earth and environmental sciences and physics.

To apply to the Science Equipment Program, Wesleyan had to raise $500,000 and now must raise an additional $1 million to meet the terms of Kresge challenge grant and establish an endowment for repair and replacement of science equipment. According to the tenets of the grant, Wesleyan must raise $1.5 million to meet the challenge and establish an endowment for the repair and replacement of science equipment. To date the university has already raised $500,000 toward this goal.

Wesleyan’s planned purchases of advanced scientific equipment with the grant and additional money raised include:

– LC-Mass Spectrometer for Biology ($158,000)

– Gel Permeation Chromatograph for Chemistry ($148,000)

– Telescope Control System for the Astronomy department’s telescopes ($60,000)

– ICO-Mass Spectrometer for Earth and Environmental Sciences ($203,000)

– YAG/Dye Laser for Physics and Chemistry ($89,000)

– Microplate Reader for Biology ($61,000)

– Photosynthesis System for Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences ($31,000).

In the next few years, Wesleyan will construct a state-of-the-art facility for teaching and research in the life sciences. The new facility will add roughly 80,000 square feet of departmental and community space that will enable Wesleyan to continue its academic leadership in the sciences.

The Kresge Foundation is a national foundation with $3 billion in assets that seeks to strengthen nonprofit organizations by catalyzing their growth, connecting them to their stakeholders, and challenging greater support through grants.

Physics Professor Studies Exotic Atoms


Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, developed a laser lab in the basement of Exley Science Center. He uses a control panel to fire atoms and study quantum mechanics. His atom research is supported by a recent National Science Foundation award of $200,000.
Posted 08/24/06
In outer space, some protons and electrons can travel millions of years alone before colliding, forming super-excited exaggerated atoms. Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, wants these atoms to come back down to earth.

For the past 20 years, Morgan, an atomic and molecular physicist, has experimented with these excited atoms known as Rydberg atoms.

With the help of Wesleyan’s Scientific Support Services, he’s designed and created two accelerator collision systems in the basement of Exley Science Center. By shooting a laser beam at a series of regular atoms, he can create Rydberg atoms, which escalate the electron’s orbit 10,000 times further than in a regular atom. These giant atoms, with elusive properties, are ideal to study to gain insight into the connection between quantum mechanics and classical physics.

“What I’ve always been interested in is what I learn about an atom or molecule on a fundamental level,” Morgan says from his second floor office in the Exley Science Center. “I want to learn about their structure, their dynamics, and how the size of an atom affects its behavior.”

Over the years the Research Corporation, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation have supported his research. On Aug. 15, the NSF awarded a grant of $200,000 for laser research equipment.

Morgan began his career at Wesleyan 33 years ago by studying properties of fast protons colliding with alkaline atoms magnesium, calcium, strontium and barium. In the mid-80s, he began investigating Rydberg atoms in hydrogen and helium. Recently, his research interests include molecular spectroscopy and dynamics of highly excited Rydberg states in strong electric fields and plasma environments. His most recent contributions include studying Rydberg argon dynamics and the first measurement of a scaled-energy recurrence spectrum for molecules.

Morgan says he is among about a hand-full of researchers in the world studying scaled-energy laser-excited atoms in strong electric fields and the first to apply the technique to hydrogen molecules.

“When you’re doing cutting-edge research, it’s not going to be easy,” he says overlooking his self-designed laser-accelerator control panel. “Everything has to be perfect to get the right conditions and results. Doing this type of work requires not only brains, but a lot of patience and good hands.”

Lutz Huwel, chair of the Physics Department and professor of physics, says Morgan’s positive and constructive attitude in the classroom stands out just as much as his love for physics.

“Tom loves physics of all kind ­ above all the Rydberg atoms and molecules he and his dedicated group of students are investigating in his lab,” Huwel says. “He is always on the lookout for interesting things to do and to talk about. He has a knack for getting students excited about physics.”

In October, one of Morgan’s undergraduate students, Jack DiSciacca ’07, will be presenting his research results at a national laser science conference in Rochester, N.Y. DiSciacca is a Goldwater Scholar for the academic year 06-07 and is writing his senior honors thesis on Rydberg hydrogen molecules.

Morgan, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., says his interest in physics came about in high school, when his algebra teacher said he had “quite the ability in math.”

“I perked up at this, because this person thought I was actually good at something. That was my defining moment. It gave me the confidence to pursue math, and later physics,” he says.

He studied math and the sciences at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. and Montana State University, Bozeman and received his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971. His thesis covered the collisional formation and destruction properties of excited hydrogen molecules.

In 1973, after two years at Queen’s University of Belfast, N. Ireland, Morgan came to Wesleyan, and began teaching general physics classes, more advanced classes for majors and graduate level courses. Morgan has published more than 85 articles in leading physics journals. He’s overseen dozens of students pursuing Ph.D degrees and senior honors theses, who often report their findings at national conferences and publish in scientific journals.

Morgan, who also is Wesleyan’s Academic Secretary, served as the Chairman of the Physics Department for five years, and the Dean of the Sciences and Mathematics for three years. He has held several visiting research appointments at other universities, including the University of Paris, France, the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Mexico, Mexico City and at Dublin City University, Ireland, where as a Fulbright Senior Scholar he established a physics undergraduate student exchange program with Wesleyan.

“Wesleyan was great when I arrived here, and it’s great now,” Morgan says. “The teaching and research environment is wonderful and my colleagues are superb, but what I really love about Wesleyan is the students. It is the bright students in the classroom and in my lab that have kept me here all these years.”

He is presently a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he is collaborating on research programs devoted to plasma physics. He’s also a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

He’s also a four-time marathon runner, a big New York Yankees fan, and a singer/musician for an Irish Celtic band.

Morgan is one of three in his family to work at Wesleyan. His wife, Janet, retired in 2003 from Information Technology Services, and his son, Brent Morgan, is an instructional media specialist for ITS and the Center for the Arts. But after more than three decades here, Tom has no plans to leave Wesleyan just yet.

“No, I can’t even think about (retirement),” he says, turning the knobs on his laser lab control panel. “I am having too much fun.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Committee to Prepare Campus for Crisis, Disaster


Posted 08/24/06

A team of staff members is updating Wesleyan’s emergency response plan, which describes protocols for maintaining personal safety and the continuity of operations in the event of a crisis.

Led by Director of Physical Plant Cliff Ashton, the Business Continuity Planning Committee is updating a plan that was implemented in 2002. The plan covers hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as such manmade crises as power outages and chemical spills. The committee is exploring responses to more recent threats—such as the possibility of a pandemic contagion. It also is reviewing the plan for consistency with protocols established in the National Incident Management System created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The committee, which began its work last spring, will recommend a revised plan to the senior administration in the fall.

Questions and comments may be directed to Cliff Ashton at cashton@wesleyan.edu.
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs and director of University Communications

Memorial Service Planned for David McAllester


Posted 08/24/06
Wesleyan’s Music Department will sponsor a memorial service for David McAllester, professor of music and anthropology, emeritus, at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel Sept. 24.

McAllester, a founder of the Society for Ethnomusicology, died April 29, 2006, after suffering a stroke. He was 89.

“David had a huge impact on generations of Wesleyan students, many of them not music majors or grad students,” says Mark Slobin, professor of music, who worked with McAllester for 15 years. “When I was hired at Wesleyan in 1971 and looked at a college guide, the only course singled out was McAllester’s exciting course on American Indian Music, complete with a pow-wow on Foss Hill.”

A graduate of Harvard University, McAllester studied at the Juilliard School of Music and earned his doctorate in anthropology at Columbia. He began his career at Wesleyan in the Psychology Department, and soon established the Anthropology Department, where he was an instructor of anthropology. In 1957, he was promoted to a full professor and in 1971, he moved to the Music Department, where he co-founded the program in World Music. He remained in the Music Department until his retirement in 1986.

“The twin career in anthropology and music is the work of a man who, faced with the choice between art and science, embraced them both,” wrote Richard Winslow, professor of music, emeritus, in the summer 1986 issue of Wesleyan magazine.

One of the founders of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1952, McAllester served the organization in a number of positions, first as its secretary, and later as the president and editor of the society’s journal. His particular field of interest was Native American ceremonial music, especially that of the Navajos of the American Southwest.

Known internationally for his scholarly works and publications, he was a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research in new Native American music and of a Fulbright grant that provided him with a senior lectureship in Australia. He was a member of the board of trustees for the American Indian Archaeological Institute in Washington, D.C., and did extensive fieldwork with several native American groups, with books that include Peyote Music (1949), Enemyway Music (1954) and Navajo Blessingway Singer (1978).

With a longstanding commitment to nonviolence, he served in conscientious objector work camps during World War II. He was a founding member of the Middletown Quaker Meeting, as well as the South Berkshire Friends meeting, where he set up a tipi on the grounds, as well as helping to construct a swamp trail around a beaver pond.

Predeceased by his first wife, Susan McAllester, in 1994, he is survived by his wife, Beryl Irene Courtenay, a daughter, a son, two granddaughters, and a son-in-law.

“Up Against the Wall” Featured in Gallery Exhibit


Artist Mary Lum works on her painting, which is part of the exhibit “Up Against the Wall” opening in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Sept. 8.
Posted 08/24/06
“Up Against the Wall,” an exhibit featuring art that relies exclusively on the interior surfaces of architecture for inspiration and material support, will open at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Sept. 8.

Organized by Nina Felshin, curator of Zilkha Gallery, the exhibition includes work by William McCarthy, gallery supervisor of Zilkha Gallery and Davison Art Center gallery supervisor, as well as artists Shoshana Dentz, Elana Herzog, Mary Lum and Mary Temple. Also on exhibit is a collaboration between artist Sol LeWitt and Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music. The collaboration is executed by Wesleyan students.

Though the stylistic tendencies, technique and method of application or engagement vary, in each case the work becomes an integral part of the Zilkha Gallery’s architecture. When the exhibit is over, the gallery walls will be soaped down and repainted, and the works of art will cease to exist.

“The idea for the show has been percolating for some time,” Felshin says. “Finally, a critical mass of artists coalesced in my thinking and summer seemed to be the perfect time to invite artists to visit the gallery and execute their new work. The unique architecture of Zilkha Gallery continues, as it has in the past, to provide a rich source of artistic inspiration.”

The collaboration between LeWitt and Lucier, “Zug III,” is based on the Alpine ridge, as viewed from Zug, Switzerland, and consists of lines that repeat the ridge in a variety of colored markers. It was created in response to a composition by Lucier, in which he transcribed the mountain range into musical notation. Lucier’s musical piece accompanies the Lewitt wall drawing (click image at right to open a larger version of this painting).

The work of Lum and Herzog is more concerned with culture than it is with nature. Herzog’s wall-embedded multi-color chenille bedspread is simultaneously seductive and violent. Lum’s expansive acrylic painted drawing takes inspiration from the architecture of Zilkha Gallery and from her ongoing concerns with spatial illusion, the opposition between fact and fiction and the vagaries of human nature.

Dentz’s gouache drawing on Zilkha’s huge, wall-sized windows comments on how viewing art can sharpen one’s perception of his or her environment in general and specifically, in this case, beyond the gallery.

McCarthy, known for his landscape paintings, also applies his talent to Zilkha’s windows. And finally, a fleeting moment from the past is frozen in time in Mary Temple’s trompe l’oeil painting of mysterious shadows.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 in the gallery. The event will include a talk by Felshin and comments by several of the artists.

The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Sept. 8 through Oct. 8. Admission is free of charge.
 

By Lex Leifheit, press and marking coordinator. Photos by Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Noah Simring ’07 Dies at Age 21


Posted 08/15/06
Noah Lior Simring, originally a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2007, died recently in New York City, his hometown. He was 21.

Noah, who was on leave from Wesleyan for the past two years, graduated from the Horace Mann School in New York City where he enjoyed fencing. His interests included the sciences, theater, music, wilderness living, animation and rocketry and volunteerism.

He is survived by parents Ruth and James Simring and sister, Mia Simring.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Horace Mann School or Children International.

Kay Butterfield Celebrates 100th Birthday at Wesleyan


Friends and family celebrated Kay Butterfield’s 100th birthday July 27 in the Office of the President. Kay Butterfield is the wife of the late Victor Butterfield, who served as Wesleyan’s president 1943-1967. Pictured above is Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano declaring July 27 Kay Butterfield Day in the City of Middletown.
Posted 07/28/06
Kay Butterfield, wife of former Wesleyan President Victor Butterfield, turned 100 July 27. She celebrated the day with friends and family during a celebration at the President’s House.

Kay has lived a life of idealism and service. She was born July 27, 1906 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of Philip Geyer and Sophie Westerman Geyer. Her grandfather, Philip Geyer, Sr. had emigrated from Bavaria, settling first in Newark, N.J, where he and his brothers established a brewery. The family moved to Brooklyn, and Kay’s father followed his father into the profession of Master Brewer, eventually owning Frank’s Brewery.

In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibition, caused a reversal of fortune for the Geyer family, which had all its assets invested in the family brewery. One result was that Kay would eventually have to finance her own college education.

Kay graduated from Girls’ High School in Brooklyn in 1922, one month shy of her 16th birthday. In the spring of her senior year, searching the school bulletin board for employment opportunities, she spotted a notice for a city-wide essay contest for a one-year scholarship to the Manhattan Business School. She won the prize, attended in 1922-23, and then earned enough money as a legal secretary on Wall Street to pay for her first year of college.

In 1924, Kay entered Cornell University as a freshman. She was the publicity manager for the Women’s Varsity Council; the women’s editor for the Cornell Daily Sun, a varsity member of the women’s basketball team; and president of Delta Gamma Sorority. She also was involved in Alpha Chi Alpha, the honor society for journalism; Raven and Serpent, the junior honor society; and Mortarboard, the senior honor society.

During her junior year at Cornell, Kay met Victor Lloyd Butterfield at a dance. The duo got married June 11, 1928. Two days later, Kay graduated with a bachelor’s of art in English. She had paid her entire way through college by working as a secretary and typing student papers, and as a legal secretary in Manhattan during the summers.

The Butterfields moved to Deerfield, Mass. where Vic taught and coached at Deerfield Academy and Kay taught fifth and sixth grade in a single classroom in the Deerfield Elementary School. She called it “baptism by fire.”

In 1929, Vic joined the faculty of the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Kay taught mathematics to all grades at the Neighborhood School in Riverdale. An apartment and meals were included at Riverdale, allowing them to save all their earnings for graduate school for Vic. In 1931, the couple moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Vic entered Harvard as a Ph.D candidate. Kay became a door-to-door salesperson and typed doctoral theses for extra income. Her habits of thrift and industry enabled Vic and Kay to spend the summer of 1934 in Europe after Vic’s resident Ph.D work was completed.

Vic was hired by Wesleyan as the dean of Admission from 1935 to 1941, and worked as the associate dean from 1941 to 1942, acting president in 1942, then president from 1943 to 1967.

In 1938, the Butterfields built their first house on a four-acre plot on Randolph Road in Middletown. Kay cut all the studs and joists with a power saw, cut rock wool into bats for the insulation, and secured them with slats that she nailed in. They lived there until Vic’s appointment as president in 1943 and, then moved to a brick house on High Street. When the war ended, they moved into the President’s House at 269 High. After Vic’s retirement, they went back to their beloved small house on Randolph Road.

During the years of Vic’s presidency, Kay was heavily involved in college life. She loved the seminars, conferences, concerts, and the sporting events. She was a regular at games and matches, particularly football, basketball, and wrestling. She volunteered for decades at the Wesleyan Blood Drive, registering donors, as well as donating blood herself.

Much of her energy went toward the job of entertaining at the President’s House. Money was scarce in those days, and badly needed to improve faculty salaries. So Kay economized by cooking and baking for receptions and dinners for trustees, faculty, students and honorary degree recipients. On one occasion, during a period of intense rivalry in football between Trinity and Wesleyan, she even cooked and served dinner for both varsity teams on the night before the big game.

Kay became involved early on in the Middletown community. Before her own children were born, she was a Girl Scout leader. The YMCA was her earliest and longest commitment. As a member of the Women’s Board, she help nurture the girls’ club. She also raised large sums of money for the YMCA through her chairmanship of the Y’s annual Tour of Homes. When the women’s lounge needed new slipcovers, Kay and her fellow board members brought their sewing machines for a bee, and made them all themselves. It was through the “Y” that Kay was a long-time member of the Middletown League of Women Voters, as well as its president from 1936-37. She was also a member of the Board of Education (1952-1965), an annual campaigner for the United Way, and a Board member of Connecticut Citizens for Public Schools.

She also had a long connection with the Davison Art Center. In the early 1960s, Curator Heinrich Schwarz, hoping to add to the large print collection left to Wesleyan by George W. class of 1892 and Harriet Davison, proposed to Kay the idea of forming a “Friends of the Davison Art Center” to raise money for acquisitions.

Kay has been the recipient of a number of awards for her service, including the B’nai B’rith “Woman of the Year” award in the 1950s, the Baldwin Medal for service to Wesleyan in 1982, and received an honorary “Doctor of Humane Letters” from Wesleyan in 1997.

In the late 1960s, after Vic’s retirement from Wesleyan, Kay renewed her ties to the First Church of Christ, Middletown, which she had joined in the 1950s. Kay taught Sunday School until she was in her 90s, and after the Vietnam War, she tutored children from Vietnam and Cambodia through the church.

In the mid 1990s, she wrote a series of essays for the Middletown Press on backyard bird-watching, on her particular pleasure in crows, on Elderhostels, on her two hip replacements, and on her decision at the age of 94 to leave her beloved Randolph Road home and move to One MacDonough Place, where she now resides.

Another great love of Kay’s throughout her life has been music, and particularly singing. She had a huge repertoire – everything from Vaudeville to Negro Spirituals. Kay still loves singing – now with the One MacDonough Singers.

In honor of her 100 years, the Governor’s Office proclaimed July 27 as Kay Butterfield Day in the State of Connecticut, and the Mayor’s Office declared July 27 as Kay Butterfield Day in the City of Middletown.

 
Photos by Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Text contributed.

Students, Alumni Bring Fatal Fire Story to Life through Play


The American Story Project, a theater company comprised of Wesleyan students and alumni, will perform We Can’t Reach You, Hartford at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland Aug. 7-19.
Posted 07/28/06
In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire caused more than 150 deaths during an afternoon circus performance. Although the cause of the fire remains officially undetermined, five employees of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus were charged with involuntary manslaughter, and the circus was forced to accept full financial responsibility for the fire that occurred during their show.

This tragic, yet compelling story, will be retold and performed by the American Story Project, a new theater company comprised of Wesleyan students and alumni. The seven-member group will premier We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, a play by Jess Chayes ’07 and Stephen Aubrey ‘06, at the Bedlam Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland Aug. 7-19.

Under Chayes’s direction, the audience will witness the story of sad clowns, unlikely heroes and the forgotten tragedy under the big top. Performers include Annie Bodel ’08, Edward Bauer ’08, Elissa Kozlov ’08, Mike James ’07 and Hayley Stokar ’06.

In We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, Bauer plays the role of Emmett Kelly, a sad clown from the Depression-era 1930s who once performed as an actual member of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1942 to 1956. One of the most memorable pictures to emerge from the Hartford Circus Fire depicted Kelly, in full sad clown makeup, attempting to extinguish the flames that had already engulfed the entire circus behind him. Even until his death in 1979, Emmett Kelly never discussed what he saw that day in July.

James plays Meryl Evans, a band director who continued to conduct during the fire until the flames forced his musicians to flee.

“Jess really wanted to make the play a living document without following docudrama rules,” James says. “She and Stephen made something surprising. The play focuses mostly on the disaster’s periphery; it’s an eerie stage poem.”

This will be a second venture to the Fringe Festival for Chayes, James, Stokar and Kozlov. Last year, the American Story Project’s production of Tone Clusters premiered at the Bedlam Theatre and brought critical acclaim. The American Story Project has also performed at venues in Connecticut and New York.

“Each of our plays strives for honest, powerful expression among the more bizarre channels of the human experience,” Chayes says. “Each piece tackles difficult, haunting questions, striving not for answers, but for illumination, insight and a journey into the human condition.”

In 2001, a comprehensive history of the Hartford Circus Fire was published. Novelist Stewart O’Nan, author of “The Circus Fire: the True Story of an American Tragedy,” attended the company’s workshop performance in May. Afterwards, he wrote of the production: “We Can’t Reach You, Hartford re-imagines the tragedy of the Hartford Circus Fire with a strange and compelling immediacy. It’s a weird, nearly overwhelming tale, but director Jess Chayes, writer Stephen Aubrey and the players bring an intimate scale and bracing range to the material. Creepy, funny, touching–it’s a tour de force.”

A benefit performance of We Can’t Reach You, Hartford runs in Manhattan, N.Y., Aug. 2; and in Scarsdale, N.Y. on Aug. 3. For more information visit americanstoryproject.com.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Breaks Fund-Raising Record, Garners Award


Max Schenkein ’08 chats with an alumnus during a Wesleyan Fund fund-raising drive. Below, Sean Collins ’08 and Ana Lombera ’09 request gifts for Wesleyan. The student callers, along with staff in University Relations, helped raise more than $35 million this past year.
Posted 07/28/06
Wesleyan enters its 175th anniversary year celebration with a tremendous gift from its alumni, friends, and other supporters: a record-breaking $35,054,196 in cash gifts, surpassing the 2005 record by $3.7 million.

These funds will support financial aid, faculty, facilities, and programs. Fifty-four percent of alumni participated in giving to Wesleyan in 2006, equaling 2005’s participation rate.

The official tally, announced this week by Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, marks a significant milestone for Wesleyan.

“This generous support ensures Wesleyan’s future and announces to the worldwide Wesleyan community that our University is strong, getting stronger, and will be here for future generations,” Wilson says.

Wilson added that the Board of Trustees, President Douglas Bennet, alumni and parent volunteers including the Development Committee and the University Relations staff, are vital members of Wesleyan’s fund-raising effort.

“This development team represents a rare convergence of talent, skill, professionalism, dedication, and energy,” Wilson says.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) agrees with Wilson. CASE has awarded Wesleyan the CASE-Wealth ID Award for Educational Fund Raising: Overall Performance in the Private Liberal Arts Institutions category. In 2002, Wealth ID, a provider of wealth screening services and fund-raising solutions, joined CASE as a sponsor of the Educational Fund Raising Awards.

“What is best about the CASE Award is that this honor was awarded not for what Wesleyan received, but for what so many alumni, staff, and friends gave,” Wilson says. “The more we give, the more we receive. That defines the Wesleyan experience.”

“Wesleyan, already ranked highly for academic excellence, now demonstrates an exemplary new standard of excellence in support of private education through its fund-raising performance,” says Mark Bailey, director of Development Communications.

CASE, a nonprofit education association, supports educational institutions by enhancing the effectiveness of the alumni relations, communications and fund-raising professionals who serve it.

Other winners in the private liberal arts institution category include Amherst College in Massachusetts; Berea College in Kentucky; Bowdoin College in Maine; Middlebury College in Vermont; and Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

 
By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs. Photos contributed by Regan Schubel.

Wesleyan to Host Summer Institute on U.S. Citizenship, Race


Posted 07/28/06
Immigration, race and the history of U.S. citizenship are just a few of the topics that will be discussed during a summer institute presented by the Center for African American Studies for secondary school teachers from Aug. 7-10.

“Race and Membership: A History of United States Citizenship,” has pre-registered more than 20 social studies teachers, most hailing from Connecticut. The four-day institute is open to all secondary school educators (grades six through 12), support staff, curriculum specialists and school librarians.

The institute aims to foster a sustained and in-depth discussion among the participants about how to teach United States history, how to bring many different racial groups into the historical narrative, and how to connect historical issues to contemporary problems in Connecticut’s secondary school curriculum. Last year, the institute focused on the Civil Rights Movement.

Participants will examine some of the most recent scholarship on the history of several different racial groups, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics. With its focus on the theme of citizenship, the Institute will draw connections between historical debates about what it means to be American, how membership in the nation has been regulated, and contemporary debates about immigration and Native sovereignty rights.

“The summer institutes are so much fun for the Wesleyan faculty,” says Renee Romano, associate professor of History, African American Studies and American Studies and the institute’s director. “The teachers we work with are so dedicated and engaged and they are just a joy to work with.”

The following Wesleyan faculty members are participating in this summer’s institute: Demetrius Eudell, associate professor of History and African American Studies, Gayle Pemberton, professor of English, African American Studies and American Studies, Melanye Price, assistant professor of government, Kehaulani Kauanui, assistant professor of American Studies and Anthropology and Romano.

Besides engaging in activities and discussion with scholars, participants will also be split into four curriculum development groups to translate content into usable classroom lesson plans.

“It’s helpful to meet with teachers from different school districts and to discuss what effective materials and techniques are being used in their classroom,” says institute participant Doris Duggins, an eighth grade teacher of U.S. History at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield, Conn. “The institute affords me the opportunity to absorb information in the hopes of continually improving myself as a teacher.”

Romano says it is particularly important to explore the history of U.S. citizenship laws and practices given the current political debates about immigration, border control, and how the nation should deal with illegal immigrants.

“This institute will ask what it means to be a full member of the state, how the United States government has sought to control, which people can be considered a member of the nation, and how groups that have been excluded from membership or who have faced restrictions on full citizenship rights have fought for inclusion,” Romano says.

“Race and Membership: The History and Politics of United States Citizenship” is funded by Humanities in the Schools, a program of the Connecticut Humanities Council, the We The People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Wesleyan University.

For more information about the Summer Institute, please contact Professor Renee Romano at rromano@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-3579.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations