|A ribbon cutting on Jan. 5 marked the formal opening of the Green Street Arts Center (GSAC) L. to R. are: Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton, GSAC Director Ricardo Morris, North End Action Team President Peggy Busari, GSAC Assistant Director Manny Rivera, Wesleyan University President Doug Bennet. The center is housed at the former St. Sebastian School at 51 Green Street in Middletown’s North End. More than 250 people attended the grand opening. (Photo by Lex Leifheit)|
|Children draw in one of the two visual art centers at GSAS. The facility also has a dance studio and a performance studio with 100 seat capacity. Pre-opening pilot classes have already drawn 3,000 participants. (Photo by Olivia Drake)|
|President Bennet speaks with guests as Ricardo Morris looks on. Funds for the school’s renovation were raised through a partnership involving Wesleyan, along with grants from the city, state and national level. Wesleyan also partnered with The North End Action Team, the Macdonough School, Church of the Holy Trinity, Community Health Center and other organizations. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)|
|The Kamau Trio performs urban jazz at the opening. Pictured left to right are George Blackman, Jr., saxophone; Lance “Kamau” James, djembe; and Kalim Zarif, keyboard. All three teach music classes at GSAC. (Photo by Olivia Drake)|
|Teens dance inside the GSAC dance studio after the grand opening ceremony. More than 50 students have already enrolled in the GSAC after-school programs. Wesleyan students also volunteer as academic tutors for the children. (Photo by Olivia Drake)|
|Mayor Thornton and Jennifer Aniskovich, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Arts, Tourism, Culture, History and Film, greet guests during the grand opening. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)|
|For more information or to receive a spring catalog call 860-685-7871 or visit http://www.greenstreetartscenter.org/.|
Campus News & Events
by Olivia Drake •
|Erhard Konerding, documents librarian, works inside the Olin Memorial Library, which was built in 1928.|
When Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library opened in 1928, the classically symmetrical structure fronted with six marble columns stood out as a bold yet elegant structure. Nearly 80 years later, the building is still turning heads.
On January 13, The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Hartford awarded the library with The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) award in the historic building category. The TOBY award recognizes excellence in building management, operational efficiency, tenant retention, emergency planning and community impact. The Olin Library won in the “proper maintenance of the historical building,” category.
“It was built in 1928 and still has that old world charm,” said Pete Caniano, chairman of the TOBY award committee. “I could find myself getting lost in a great book in Olin all the time.”
Caniano, district manager for American Building Maintenance Janitorial Services of Danbury, Conn., provides janitorial services to Wesleyan and nominated the library for the award.
“I nominated Olin because I felt it had great architectural character and it has gone through some excellent architectural renovations throughout its history that add to its appeal,” he said. “Olin library is a wonderful landmark on campus.”
Caniano and members of the judging panel inspected the facility, grading it on physical attractiveness, cleanliness, mechanical functionality, aesthetics and standard building operation equipment and procedures. Each category had to receive a passing grade for the building to be considered for the award. Caniano said Wesleyan’s Physical Plant had a lot to do with the outcome of the judges’ findings.
“If the building had been simply attractive and architecturally marvelous but not maintained well and had antiquated maintenance systems, it would not have won,” he said.
Caniano noted many positive points while touring the library. The stacks, he said, are well organized; the building is kept in pristine condition; and the ambiance of the reading room “is exceptional.” He also favored the private alcoves used for student research and described the library’s staff as “very helpful.”
“The building is kept in pristine condition and is very practical for student use,” he said.
Olin Memorial Library was first opened as a memorial to Stephen Olin, Wesleyan’s president from 1842 to 1851, and his son Stephen Henry Olin, class of 1866, a Wesleyan trustee for 45 years and the university’s acting president in 1922 and 1923.
The original plans for the building were begun by Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial, and after his death were completed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. It currently provides Wesleyan’s 2,730 students and 1,060 staff and faculty members with 1.5 million publications and a variety of electronic and archival services.
A major renovation and expansion of the building, completed in 1986, was designed by Perry, Dean, Rogers & Partners. It nearly doubled the space available in Olin for study areas and collections.
The 163-foot wide façade surmounted by a pediment and capped by a balustrade. Marble, exterior and interior, amounted for 20 percent of the final construction cost of $727,000.
Now that the library has won at a local level, it has an opportunity to advance to the regional level in each of the eight North American regions of BOMA International. Regional winners advance to the international level.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
Managing the Cosmos: Astronomy Department’s Systems and Facilities Manager Helps Students Observe and Research the Night Sky
by Olivia Drake •
|Eric Williams, systems and facilities manager of the Astronomy Department and Van Vleck Observatory, stands outside the observatory’s 24-inch Perkin research reflector, where he often hosts weekly open houses and star gazings.|
|“What’s beautiful about astronomy is that there are always unanswered questions, and when you answer one, that will open up five more questions,” said Eric Williams, the systems and facility manager for the Astronomy Department and Van Vleck Observatory. “I’m always curious.”
An interest in astronomy, physics and computers led Williams to Wesleyan in 1996. “I’ve always wanted a job like this,” Williams said, “I get to experiment with all kinds of things.”
Before coming to Wesleyan, Williams spent five years hunting for planets outside our solar system as a sky observer with the planet research team at San Francisco State University. The team has contributed to the discovery of more than 100 extrasolar planets.
Williams says he isn’t a telescope equipment expert but he can answer just about any questions regarding how the Wesleyan scopes operate. However, most his time is currently devoted to, as he refers to it, “babysitting computers.”
At Wesleyan, Williams, spends about a quarter of his time on research and leading weekly star gazings for the public and an amateur astronomy group. He uses the observatory’s 24-inch Perkin research reflector, the 20-inch Alvan Clark great refractor and the 16-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector, all housed in their own domes on campus.
Formerly a sky observer for the SFSU planet search team, Williams says he isn’t a telescope equipment expert, but he can answer just about any questions regarding how the Wesleyan scopes operate.
As the systems manager, Williams oversees the department’s server – appropriately named ‘Astro,’ – as well as an array of 10 printers and 40 computers with MacIntosh and UNIX workstations. He assists students with software questions and checks for security alerts daily.
“I’m a troubleshooter and an anticipator,” he said. “If a problem comes up, I’ll find a solution. I don’t want people to get behind because of computer problems.”
Williams works from his basement office, which also functions as a storeroom. There, heaps of books, papers, computer monitors, keyboards, network cards and tangled wires dwell in any available space, including the floor.
Williams, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physics from San Francisco State University, acquired most of his programming knowledge on the job. He self-taught himself programming languages Java, Perl and PHP, and research software including Interactive Data Language, or IDL.
Nevertheless, Williams knew he’d never master the programming languages without further education. “I had an intellectual curiosity. I wanted to fill in the gaps in my knowledge,” Williams said.
Three years ago, he visited the math department and enrolled in a master’s degree program for computer science. He graduated in spring 2004 and learned what it takes to be a student at Wesleyan. “The kids here at Wesleyan are very smart. I had to keep up with undergrads in some of my classes,” said the 40-year-old.
Results from his master’s thesis, titled “Directional versus Omnidirectional Antennas for Energy Consumption and k-connectivity of Sensor Networks,” was recently accepted for publication.
At Wesleyan, Williams supports all research by William Herbst, professor of astronomy, who gained renown recognition for his discovery of KH15D, a far-off, winking star which appears to be displaying behavior thought to create our own solar system.
Eric is highly respected and valued by all the staff and students of the Astronomy Department, Herbst said. He helps us with all sorts of computer problems, manages the complex astronomy computer network, runs our public outreach programs, and participates in some research programs and in the intellectual life of the department.
He also volunteers his time and skills to community projects such as Project ASTRO, which uses an activities-based approach to excite third through 12th grade students about astronomy and help them learn the process of science.
Most recently, Williams joined a team working with Earth & Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Martha Gilmore on developing a Planetary Science Group for the campus and local community.
Although hes been doing research for the last few years in computer science, Williams is looking forward to the slight change of topic.
“I am excited to return to doing some of my own astronomy research now,” he said.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|