Campus News & Events

World Premiere of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange at Wesleyan


Wesleyan has partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for several fall events.
 
Posted 07/13/05
For the past three years, the Center for the Arts and Wesleyan faculty have partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange to explore the ethical and social repercussions of genetic research.

The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, led by MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, has been creating dance works that are metaphorical and powerfully visceral about the issues of the time.

The Wesleyan-Dance Exchange partnership has resulted in Wesleyan serving as a lead commissioner of “Ferocious Beauty: Genome”, which will premiere at the CFA on February 3, 2006, before touring major performing arts centers across the country.

The partnership has also resulted in the most comprehensive residency ever undertaken by a dance company at Wesleyan or in Middletown, with Dance Exchange members working throughout the fall semester with both science and dance students as well as community members at the Green Street Arts Center.

The following Dance Exchange events are scheduled:

  • “The Making of ‘Ferocious Beauty: Genome’” will take place at 8 p.m. September 20 in the CFA’s cinema. Enjoy an evening with Liz Lerman and Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University. Admission is free.

    Lerman will discuss her use of the dance medium to explore the meaning and potential of new genetic science research. Hudson will provide an update on the public policy issues raised by recent advances. Both women will share their insights into the crossing of boundaries between art and science and their growing understanding of creativity and inquiry in both fields.

  • “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” will take place at 8 p.m. October 11 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a lecture by Lee M. Silver, professor of molecular biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Admission is free.

    Silver, author of “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” published by Ecco Press, will examine Catholic, Protestant, post-Christian and Eastern spirituality’s responses to the advances of biotechnology and predict how these arguments will affect future scientific research.

  • The Double Helix: Law and Science Co-constructing Race” will take place at 8 p.m. November 10 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a talk by Pilar Ossario, assistant professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Admission is free.

    Ossario’s talk will explore the ways in which the law and guidelines mandating inclusion have had the effect of re-animating a very simple-minded set of arguments about race and genetics. Ossario is the former director of the Genetics Section at the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association. The event is sponsored by the Ethics in Society Project.

  • The World Premiere of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” will take place at 8 p.m. February 3 and 4 at the CFA’s theater. A pre-show talk begins at 7:15 p.m. February 3 in the Zilkha Gallery. Tickets cost between $8 and $19.

    “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is about how we heal, age, procreate and eat may soon change because of genetic research happening right now. The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange partnered with scientists and bio-ethicists to confront the promise and threat of a new biological age. The show explores this moment of revelation and questioning in an arresting theatrical work which combines movement, music, text and film.

    The planning committee for this residency includes Professor of Biology and Fisk Professor of Natural Science Laura Grabel, Associate Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen, Adjunct Professor of Dance Susan Lourie, Green Street Arts Center Director Ricardo Morris, Zilkha Gallery Curator Nina Felshin, CFA Associate Director for Programming and Events Barbara Ally and CFA Director Pamela Tatge.

    In addition, Lerman has consulted extensively with Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Laurel Appel, Professor of Biology Michael Weir and Professor of Chemistry and University Professor of Sciences and Mathematics David Beveridge, among others, on the development of Genome.

    Lerman will be making monthly visits to Grabel and Gruen’s Reproduction in the 21st Century course this fall, and is a fall faculty member of the Dance Department, teaching the repertory class.

    All events have been made possible by grants from Wesleyan University’s Edward W. Snowdon Fund, Hughes Program and the Fund for Innovation. “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the state arts agencies of New England and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    For more information or to order tickets, call 860-685-3355, or e-mail boxoffice@wesleyan.edu.

  •  
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    CASE Honors Wesleyan’s Fund-Raising Efforts


    Posted 07/13/05
    When it comes to fund-raising, Wesleyan is right on the money.

    The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has awarded Wesleyan the CASE-Wealth ID Award for Educational Fund Raising: Overall Performance. Wesleyan competed in the Private Liberal Arts Institutions category.

    Wesleyan shared this distinction with eight other institutions, including Wellesley College and Williams College.

    “Wesleyan is already ranked highly for academic excellence, but now it demonstrates exemplary 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. 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.

    Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, says Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, President Doug Bennet, the alumni and parent volunteers, and the University Relations staff are vital members of Wesleyan’s fund-raising effort.

    “This development team represents a rare convergence of talent, skills, dedication, and energy,” Wilson says. “Like the Yankees in 1927 and 1998, you have to see them perform to fully appreciate how important they are to the institution.”

    This year, of the 970 eligible institutions, 274 college and universities were considered meritorious, and 46 were recognized for the CASE-Wealth ID Awards for Educational Fund Raising in 18 categories.

    The awards program recognizes Overall Performance and Overall Improvement in educational fund raising based on data submitted to the Council for Aid to Education’s “Voluntary Support of Education” survey.

    Judges analyzed three years of data in their review of institutions. They selected the winners based on a multitude of factors: the pattern of growth in total support; evaluation of what contributed to the total support figure; overall breadth in program areas; pattern of growth in each program area; pattern of donor growth among alumni donors and other individual donors; impact of the 12 largest gifts on total support; total support in relation to the alumni base; and the type of institution.

    Wilson says that the CASE Award also recognizes Wesleyan’s overall fund-raising performance and its record-setting $281 million Wesleyan Campaign. The funds will support financial aid, faculty, facilities and programs.

    “What is best about the CASE Award, I think, is the fact 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’s the Wesleyan experience.”

    The judges also look for indications of a mature, well-maintained program.

    “Wesleyan’s fund-raising program has innovated and improved over several years,” Bailey says. “Today’s fund-raising program at Wesleyan is focused, client service oriented, and competes with the best programs in America and abroad. The CASE Award confirms Wesleyan’s growing leadership in this area.”

    Delegates from Wesleyan will receive the award during the CASE Annual Assembly July 16 in Miami Beach, Fla.

    Other winners in Category 5 include Bowdoin College in Maine; Colby College in Maine; Davidson College in North Carolina; Hope College in Michigan; Middlebury College in Vermont; and Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

    For the list of all winners, visit
    http://www.case.org/content/coe/display.cfm?contentItemID=5278.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Polish National Swimming Team Trains at Wesleyan


    Posted 07/12/05   Updated 07.25.05
    Olympic Champion Otylia Jedrzejczak, who also holds the world record in the 200-meter butterfly (2:05.78), was one of 17 athletes on the Polish National Swimming Team who trained at Wesleyan July 15 through July 21. The Polish squad was preparing for the World Championships to be held in Montreal, Quebec from July 24-31.

    It is customary for international teams to do time-zone acclimation training, according to Brad Flood, head women’s swimming coach at the University of Bridgeport. Flood has been working with the Polish National team for more than a dozen years and recruited a number of their talented performers for both the University of Iowa and Central Connecticut State University.

    “Athletes usually need one day of training for each hour of time-zone difference and there is a six hour time difference between here and Poland,” Flood says.

    In addition to eight two-hour practice sessions in Wesleyan University’s Natatorium the Polish squad practiced at the Cheshire YMCA outdoor facilities, since the World Championships in Montreal will be held outdoors.

    While 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jedrzejczak, currently ranked first in the world in the 200 butterfly by FINA, is the headliner of the Polish squad, a number of other swimmers are among the world’s elite in their events. This includes Pawel Korzeniowski who is ranked among the top 10 men in the world in both the 200-meter butterfly (third) and the 400-meter freestyle (10th).

    The practice sessions at Wesleyan were open to the public.

     
    By Brian Katten, sports information director

    South College Renovation, Bell Addition Begins in July


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Hughes Fellows Test-Drive the Life of a Research Scientist


     
    Summer Hughes Fellows Maiko Kondo ’07 (top) and Brandon Stein ’07 (left) work on their research projects in Wesleyan labs. Hughes Fellows have 10 weeks to finish a research project of their choice. Faculty members provide guidance and instruction.
    Posted 06/15/05

    In Wesleyan’s Mukerji Lab, Maiko Kondo ’07 studies peptides modeled after those found in Alzheimer’s plaques. Nearby in the Flory Lab, Brandon Stein ’07 examines nuclear functions of telomere-associated proteins.

    As Wesleyan University Summer Hughes Fellows, Kondo and Stein have 10 weeks to complete their research, work one-on-one with a faculty advisor and participate in a variety of Hughes activities. They’re among 49 students who received grants from the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

    Michael Weir, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department is the director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. Laurel Appel, visiting associate professor of biology and senior research associate is the program coordinator.

    Weir says the Hughes Fellows can test-drive being a research scientist in one of the Wesleyan research groups. This experience, however, comes with the successes and disappointments of exploring a new field of science.

    “When you come in to the lab in the morning, you don’t really know what you are going to find out by the end of the day or week — that’s the excitement, and sometimes frustration, of doing full-time research,” Weir says.

    The annual summer program is in its 17th year at Wesleyan and immerses undergraduates in a research topic that fascinates them without the time constraints and workload inherent to a full load of classes normally taken during the academic semesters.

    Thirty-three faculty members are on hand to help guide the students’ research. This year, students are studying topics as diverse as “Serotonin and its Effect on Dentate Gyrus Neurogenesis,” “Patterns in hiring practices for tenure-track positions in the geosciences,” and “Investigating the Beginnings of Chimpanzee Research in the United States,” among several others.

    “Research training during the Hughes Summer Program allows undergraduates a valuable opportunity to make serious strides of progress on a project, to have a positive experience doing full-time research, and to possibly solidify a desire to pursue a career in the experimental sciences,” says Stein’s summer advisor and Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Mark Flory.

    Kondo decided to pursue a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry after suffering from allergies her entire life. Ultimately, she wants to know why this is, and how people can be cured.

    “As I studied further in this field, I started to hope that I would be able to conduct research, exploring the relations between allergy and the immune system in my future,” she says. “The summer research program gives me a good opportunity to learn about research techniques, which are needed to approach my goal.”

    In addition to research, the Hughes Summer Program includes a special day-long workshop for all interested students, faculty, and staff on an emerging topic in the Life Sciences. This year, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange presents, “Breaking Boundaries: Scientists and Dancers, Investigations and Choreograph.”

    The summer program also includes a seminar series given by outside speakers who design their talks for the undergraduate audience of varying scientific backgrounds and fields. This year’s speakers include Margaret Livingstone of Harvard Medical School; Anna Martini of Amherst College; Mikhail Levin of the University of Connecticut Health Center; Katrina Catron of Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; Remus Th. Dame of Vrije Universiteit; and Monica Carson of the University of California.

    Although the research is intense, the program allows ample socialization time. Two picnics, a student-run movie series, softball league, field trips, access to the Freeman Athletic Center and drop-in lunches are offered for participants.

    Students applying for the 2006 Hughes Program must do so by March 3, 2006. The grant budget allows for 18 stipends, but with generous contributions from participating departments and faculty, as well as Financial Aid funds, the program can accept between 40 and 50 students each year. Students are responsible for their own housing.

    The program concludes August 5 with a poster session.

    For more information contact Maureen Snow, administrative assistant for the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, at msnow@wesleyan.edu.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Wesleyan’s Endowment Performs in Top Quartile


    Posted 06/15/05

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

    Trustees Adopt New Strategic Plan


    Posted 06/15/05

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

    “The Wesleyan Experience” is Wesleyan – Virtually


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Anthropology Professor’s Exhibit on Display in International Museum


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Divine Gifts” will close in October.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Construction Begins on University Center; Parking, Walkways Altered


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

    It’s hammer time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The building is expected to be completed in August 2007.

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

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

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


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

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

    Posted 05/23/05

    It all starts the day after.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And in recent years, challenges have run the gamut:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And then on Monday, the planning starts for 2006.

    By the Numbers:

    562
    The number of steps in parade route

    2
    The average hour of sleep per night by events staff

    48
    The hours to clean and prep dorm rooms

    300
    The number of student workers

    10,000
    The number of chairs used/rented

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

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

    20,000
    The number of brochures printed

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

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Students Receive Awards, Prizes, Scholarships


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor