Campus News & Events

New Method Gives Insight into Plant Characteristics During Global Warm-Up, Says Professor


Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science, presented his research on leaf economics at the Geological Society of America in October.
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Many scientists have long believed a major clue to rapid global warming is locked in leaf fossils that are millions of years old. Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science, has just found a key.

Royer and colleagues have generated a reliable method to ascertain from fossils from the Eocene period, 34 million to 56 million years ago, the leaf mass per unit of leaf area, an important trait that is related to “leaf economics.” His findings were highlighted at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA), which was held in Philadelphia from October 22-25.

“The early Eocene was a period when the planet experienced intense warming,” Royer says. “Quantify the leaf economics of that time allows us to see how plants and the environment around them responded to a warm-up and compare that with what’s happening now.”

Which brings us back to leaf economics, or more precisely, what kind of leaves the plants had and how quickly they grew. In essence, plants tend to be relatively quick or slow growing. Quick-growing plants tend to have a low leaf mass per area. They are typified by thinner leaves, a higher photosynthetic rate and use more nutrients. They also tend to have faster lifecycles and be more susceptible to insect damage. Plants with a high leaf mass per area tend to be slow-growing and have thicker leaves that are more resistant to insect damage. They also display slower photosynthetic rates, use fewer nutrients and longer lifecycles.

Obtaining these types of measurements is simple enough in present day, but, in all but a few examples, has been difficult to generate in the fossil record.

Royer and his co-investigators were able to solve this puzzle by relating leaf mass to the width of the petiole, the thin stalk that connects the leaf to the branch. Heavier leaves require thicker petioles for reasons of support. In fossils, petiole width and leaf area can therefore be measured to estimate leaf mass per area. They tested their methods on Eocene fossils from sites in Washington and Utah.

Royer hopes that this new method will open up a new area of inquiry into the fossil record that can provide important data for helping us understand the effects of climate change today.

“It’s always a best case scenario when you can find something from the geological record that helps us learn something new and useful about our own world,” Royer says.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Presidential Search Forum Provides Insight


Jennifer Bol, a consultant from Spencer Stuart, the agency selected to assist the Presidential Search Committee in recruiting Wesleyan’s new president, asks the Wesleyan audience what they are seeking in the university’s new president.
Posted 10/05/06
Pam Tatge wants a university president who has traveled or studied abroad. Michael Whitcomb wants a president who respects a diverse staff and student body. Suzy Taraba wants a president who values a liberal arts education.

These were all suggestions presented during a presidential search open forum Sept. 29 in Russell House. Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94 announced his decision that the 2006-07 academic year will be the final year of his presidency.

The forum was set up by members of the Presidential Search Committee to hear views and gain valuable feedback to be used in the search process.

“We’re here to find a leader who will thrive here and inspire our staff, faculty and alumni,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Kofi Appenteng ’81, P’07. “Doug Bennet’s leadership has strengthened the university considerably during the past eleven years, and the Presidential Search Committee is seeking to build upon this momentum.”

The attendees also met Jennifer Bol and Michele Haertel, consultants from Spencer Stuart, the agency selected to assist the Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees in identifying and successfully recruiting Wesleyan’s 16th president.

Bol led the forum, requesting that attendees speak about what qualities they’d seek in a new president. Ideas from the audience were numerous and varied.

Pictured at left, speaking, Suzy Taraba ’77, university archivist and head of Special Collections, said she hopes the new president will respect and honor Wesleyan’s unique history with the trend of mainstreaming in mind.

“I’m looking for a president who can understand that Wesleyan’s history is terrific and not something to be ashamed of,” she said.

Carol Scully, director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, suggested that Wesleyan and the new president continue to actively promote the value of a liberal arts education with policy makers and funders of higher education.

“We have noticed that funding for the liberal arts has declined at several major national foundations,” she said. “We need to insure that liberal arts institutions are part of the broader conversation about higher education in this country.”

Pam Tatge ‘84, director of the Center for the Arts, stressed that the new president should know the importance of using the arts in interdisciplinary ways, have experience working abroad, and have an interest in developing a positive relationship with the Middletown community.

“We’ve had a good track record under Doug Bennet’s legacy, and we need a new president who also can see the community relationship as an asset,” she said.

Makaela Kingsley ‘98, associate director of Reunion Leadership Giving, suggested that having some sort of connection to Wesleyan would be a plus; and Faraneh Carnegie ‘05, assistant director of Regional Programs and Networks, pointed out that the new president should value and respect Wesleyan’s diverse community.

“I’d hope the new president would like to continue to insure diversity among students, staff and faculty,” said Michael Whitcomb, director of Institutional Research.

Bol also asked the audience to describe the culture of Wesleyan.

Taraba explained that Wesleyan students tend to be “interested in everything,” and Camille Dolansky, associate director of Parent Programs, described Wesleyan’s students as “nice and intelligent.” John Driscoll ‘62, alumni director, summed up the student body in one word.

“They’re feisty,” he said. “We think of arguing as a sport. We get very excited about points of view.”

Others said they wanted a president who values athletics, racial and economic diversity, had good listening and public speaking skills, values alumni from different backgrounds, enjoys spending time with students, who has the ability to back up why decisions are made and someone who understands the economics of higher education.

“I hope our next president will understand the vision of the university and get people excited and keep moving forward towards this vision,” said Pat Tully, associate university librarian.

Paula Lawson, associate provost, hopes the committee doesn’t rule out someone from a business or law background.

“This is the 21st century and we can think more broadly,” she said. “It’s OK to think outside the box.”

For more information on the Presidential Search Committee, go to:
http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/0906pressearch.html

Current committee members have established a Web site to collect confidential nominations and feedback from the community at http://www.wesleyan.edu/presidentialsearch.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Payroll Going Paperless


Posted 10/05/06
Wesleyan is pushing for its payroll to go paperless.

All faculty, staff and students who receive a Wesleyan payroll check now have the option of receiving their pay stub online. This will eliminate all paper-processing.

“By going all-electronic, this is going to save more than the 25 cents it costs to pay for the paper,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration. “We’re going to save on distribution costs we well. And if you’re like me, I end up just tossing it aside, losing it or disposing of it. It will be more convenient not to get this every pay period.”

Going all-electronic can be completed in three steps.

First, sign up for paycheck direct deposit. Direct deposit eliminates the need to take paychecks to the bank, and an employee’s net pay is sent directly into his or her checking or savings account. To sign up, take a voided check to the Payroll Office located on the fourth floor of North College and complete the Direct Deposit Authorization Form. This form also can be printed from the Finance Web site at: www.wesleyan.edu/finance/financeDept/payroll/directDeposit.htt.
More than half of all students, staff and faculty already have direct deposit.

Secondly, register for a secure iPay viewer. iPayStatements allow employees and students secure, Web-based access to their pay statements and W2 wage and tax statements. This service is offered with secure, self service access to your pay data. You can enroll for iPayStatements online at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/finadm/introducing_ipaystatments_portfolio.htm
and access iPay through the staff and student Electronic Portfolio.

Thirdly, notify the Payroll Office to End Printed Pay Statements. Send an email to payroll@wesleyan.edu and request that printed pay statements are stopped. Employees should first make sure their pay amount is being deposited electronically into their bank account and they can access their electronic pay statement through iPay at least once.
Wesleyan’s Payroll Services and Finance and Administration Department will award anyone who completes the process with a $5 gift certificate to Pi Café or Red and Black Café.

All employees will continue to receive their W2 tax forms through the regular mail.

The idea to go all electronic is part of Project $AVE, an initiative to collect, review and implement new ideas for sustained cost savings and improved efficiencies throughout the Wesleyan community. More information is available at http://www.wesleyan.edu/projectsave/.

“We’ve had this option the past couple years, but now we want to make this a major initiative,” says Ed Below, director of administrative applications for Finance and Administration and Project $AVE coordinator. “It’s a win-win situation.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Voices of Liberal Learning Examine Issues that Shape Our World


Posted 10/05/06
Poetry, slavery, monks and dialects are among several topics of this year’s Voices of Liberal Learning seminars.

Voices of Liberal Learning is a series of stimulating educational programs and presentations available to the Wesleyan community.

“The Voices of Liberal Learning programs enrich the intellectual exchange among members of the community and offer the kind of substantive, outside-the-classroom learning experience treasured by all of us,” says Linda Secord, director of alumni education and university lectures. “We have a remarkable selection of educational programs throughout the year which will foster the evolution of knowledge and understanding at Wesleyan and challenge participants to think in new ways. I welcome everyone to take advantage of these offerings.”

Speakers and events occurring on campus during the Fall 2006 schedule are:

8 p.m. Oct. 4, Russell House, 350 High Street
An Evening with Poet Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart’s poetry met a wide and appreciative readership with the publication of In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

8 p.m. Oct. 5
Mansfield Freeman Lecture
Japan as the Earth Writ Small: Ecological Issues
Seminar Room, Mansfield Freeman Center for Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
Conrad Totman, professor emeritus of history, Yale University, will consider how industrialization has transformed Japanese society, making global rather than local environmental factors central to the history.

8 p.m. Oct. 10
Contemporary Israeli Voices — How Poets Think
Russell House, 350 High Street
Agi Mishol, Israeli poet, and Lisa Katz, her English translator, will lead a discussion about using marginal details and how they lead to metaphor.

8 p.m. Oct. 11
An Evening with Lynne Tillman
Russell House, 350 High Street
Lynne Tillman is a fiction writer, cultural critic, and oral historian whose books include Haunted Houses, The Broad Picture, No Lease on Life, and This Is Not It. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

8 p.m. Oct. 17
What’s Hot in Astronomy?!
McKelvey Room, Steward M. Reid Admission Building, 70 Wyllys Avenue
William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University, will look at recent discoveries in the universe and their implications.

4:15 p.m. Oct. 19
Fall Lecture Series: Revisiting Slavery
Center for African American Studies (CAAS) Lounge
Veteran Hartford Courant journalists Anne Farrow, Joel Lang ‘68, and Jenifer Frank will speak on “Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery.”

2 p.m. Oct. 21
Wesleyan Writers Conference 50th Anniversary Celebration
Featuring Readings by 2006 Conference Writers Katha Pollitt and Alexander Chee ’89
Russell House, 350 High Street
Award-winning journalist Katha Pollitt is known for her provocative columns in The Nation and essay collections including Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism. She will read from her new book, Virginity or Death! Alexander Chee’s first novel, Edinburgh, won numerous prizes and he received a 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award. His new novel, Queen of the Night, will be published this year.

5 p.m. Oct. 21
Dwight L. Greene Symposium
Unconventional Wisdom: Plurality and Innovation in Corporate America
Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Darryl B. Hazel ’70, president, Ford Customer Service Department, Ford Motor Company; Amy Radin ’79, chief innovation officer, Citigroup. The symposium, held in honor of Dwight L. Greene ’70, began in 1993 as a memorial to Greene’s life and work.

8 p.m. Oct. 24
Contemporary Israeli Voices: Death of a Monk — The Relation Between History and Fiction
Russell House, 350 High Street
Alon Hilu, a finalist for the Israeli Saphir Award, will discuss the relationship between the historic blood libel of Damascus in 1840 and his novel, Death of a Monk, a gay retelling of the Damascus Affair. Hilu received the 2006 Presidential Prize for Literature for Death of a Monk.

8 p.m. Oct. 25
An Evening with Poet Jeffrey Skinner
Russell House, 350 High Street
Jeffery Skinner has published five collections of poetry. In addition to his work as a poet, Skinner has had success as a playwright, having had his short plays produced in New York, Ohio, and Kentucky. Currently he is professor of creative writing at the University of Louisville.

4:30 p.m. Oct. 26
Listening to Chinese Painting
Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
Susan Nelson, professor emeritus, Fine Arts and EALC, University of Indiana
Chinese landscape painting ranks among the great achievements of world art, capturing the beauty, grandeur, and variety of nature, and giving a sense of the unending dynamism of the cosmic forces—the qi—that shape it. Those forces are manifest in the sounds of nature as well as in its visible forms; Chinese painters, seeking to convey the essence of landscape in all its dimensions found ways to suggest its sonorousness in a silent medium. How to read this aural imagery, and some broader questions about sounds and images, are the subject of this talk.

8 p.m. Oct. 26
Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns: Triumph of the Sports Culture
Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Frank Deford, senior writer at Sports Illustrated, commentator on Morning Edition on NPR, regular correspondent on the HBO show, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel kicks off the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns with his informed perspective on the role of sports in contemporary culture.

7:30 p.m. Oct. 30
Contemporary Israeli Voices: Out of Sight
Goldsmith Family Cinema, Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace
Daniel Syrkin, winner of Best Director Prize and Best Cinematography Prize, Israeli Academy Awards 2005 will lead a talk and movie screening.

4:30 p.m. Nov. 2
Enzheng Tong Memorial Lecture: An Underground Palace in Ancient China — The Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (d. 433 BC)
Seminar Room, Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
Robert Bagley, professor of art and archaeology, Princeton University will lead an examination of the richest discovery ever made in Chinese Bronze Age archaeology, the burial and contents of the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng.

8 p.m. Nov. 7
Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression
Public Forums: The Affirmative Side of Free Speech
Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Cass R. Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Chicago Law School, and author of many articles and books on constitutional law and free speech. This event is named in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo L. Black.

8 p.m. Nov. 8
An Evening with Poet Anne Waldman
Russell House, 350 High Street
Anne Waldman is the author of over 30 books of poetry and prose. She is a two-time winner of the International Poetry Heavyweight Championship Bout in Taos, New Mexico and co-founder, with Allen Ginsberg, of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

4:15 p.m. Nov. 8
Fall Lecture Series: Revisiting Slavery
Lois Brown, “Cultivating Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and Enterprise in Colonial New England.”
CAAS Lounge
Lois Brown, an associate professor of English at Mount Holyoke College specializes in nineteenth century African American fiction. She has won awards for her discovery and republication of a largely unknown 1835 biography of a freeborn African American child. She is currently working on a book about African American novelist Pauline Hopkins.

7:30 p.m. Nov. 9
Asian Migrations and Intimacy
Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
Nayan Shah, associate professor, University of California at San Diego
Professor Shah’s lecture, drawn from his new research project, pursues the history of the migration of men from the province of Punjab in British colonial India to Canada and the United States from 1890 to 1950. Court cases illuminate how regulatory systems shape subjectivity, social dynamics, and categories of race and sexuality in twentieth century North America.
Shah, author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is currently teaching a course at Wesleyan on the history of interracial and intercultural intimacy generated by the migrations from Asia in the Americas.

7:30 p.m. Nov. 9
Shackleton Memorial Symposium: A Living History of Marie Curie
Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Susan Marie Frontczak presents a one-woman dramatization of the life of Madame Curie, the first European woman to earn a doctorate and the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes.

8 p.m. Nov. 14
Contemporary Israeli Voices: Writing about the Holocaust with Humor
Russell House, 350 High Street
Amir Gutreund, winner of the 2002 Buchman Prize from Yad Vashem Institute for Our Holocaust and the 2003 Sapir Prize for Seashore Mansions, will hold a conversation about his memories as a son of Holocaust survivors.

4:30 p.m. Nov. 15
Cyber-History, Memory, and Violence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
Peter Perdue, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and professor of history, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In the spring of this year, Chinese students at MIT protested an educational web site on East Asian history developed by Professors John Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa. Professor Perdue will discuss the implications of this incident for researching modern Chinese history.

4:15 p.m. Nov. 29
Fall Lecture Series: Revisiting Slavery
Gerald Foster, “American Slavery: A Most Complete Story”
CAAS Lounge
Dr. Gerald Foster is Scholar-in-Residence at the United States National Slavery Museum, the first American museum dedicated to the history of slavery. The museum is currently under construction in Fredricksburg, Va.

8 p.m. Nov. 29
Public Scholarship and Community Engagement
Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street
Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president, Syracuse University will speak on community engagement.

4:30 p.m. Dec. 7
Singing the Way Home: A Personal Research into Hokkien Dialect Songs
Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace
A lecture by Singapore actress Ang Gey Pin. Brought up in Singapore in a time when the use of dialects was strictly restricted, theater artist Ang Gey Pin describes how she searched for songs in her family’s Chinese dialect Hokkien. In this talk, she emphasizes the connection between imagination and memory, linking the process of recovering cultural heritage to her own creative experience as a performer.

For more information contact Linda Secord at lsecord@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-3003. To learn more about these programs and their sponsors visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/175/liberal.html.

Presidential Search Committee Formed


Posted 10/05/06
Wesleyan’s Presidential Search Committee is fully constituted. The search committee is composed of alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and students and is undertaking a comprehensive search to identify and successfully recruit President Douglas Bennet’s successor.

The charge of the search committee is to review candidates and recommend a slate of finalists to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will select Wesleyan University’s 16th president.

The search committee is staffed by Joan Adams, special assistant, and search firm consultants Jennifer Bol, Michele Haertel and Kristine Johnson from Spencer Stuart.

The full description of the search committee can also be found on the Presidential Search Web site at www.wesleyan.edu/presidentialsearch. The committee will be spending the month of October conducting outreach in order to write a comprehensive position specification.

Anyone may use the Web site to make comments or suggestions for the search committee to consider and/or if you would like to make a confidential nomination.

The Wesleyan University Presidential Search Committee members are:

Kofi Appenteng, ’81, P’07
Chair, Presidential Search Committee, trustee emeritus of Wesleyan University and a partner in Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP

Stephen S. Daniel, ’82
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and Chief Executive Officer of AllCapital

Jim Dresser, ’63, P’93
Chair of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and retired senior vice president and chief administrative officer of The Boston Consulting Group

Alex Dupuy
Chair of the Sociology Department, professor of sociology

Joseph J. Fins, ’82
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and professor of medicine

Susanne Fusso
Professor of Russian language and literature

Laura Grabel
Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of biology

Ellen Jewett, ’81
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and vice president, Investment Banking Division of Goldman, Sachs & Company

Michael McPherson, P’98
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and president of the Spencer Foundation

Brittany Mitchell
Member of the Class of 2007

Megan Norris, ’83
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and attorney and partner at Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone

Peter Patton
Executive Secretary to the Presidential Search Committee, vice president and secretary of the university and professor of earth and environmental science

Patrick Senat
Member of the Class of 2008

Ted Shaw, ’76
Trustee emeritus of Wesleyan University and director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund

Shonni Silverberg, ’76
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and professor of medicine and director of the post-doctoral training program in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Ruth Striegel-Moore
Professor of psychology, Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences

Andy Szegedy-Maszak
Chair of the Classical Studies Department, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies, director for Faculty Career Development

John Usdan, ’80
Member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and president of Midwood Management Corporation

WesHome Program Teaches Students How to Live


Barbara Spalding, associate director of Campus Fire Safety, teaches housemates Sally Smyth ’07 and Kara Brodgesell ’07 how to plunge a toilet and shut off a water valve at their student residence as part of the WesHome Program.
Posted 10/05/06
Home sweet home. Or is it?

If a student’s residence is too hot, has a broken toilet, a burned-out entrance light, sticky windows or drafty doors, his or her home may not be more sour than sweet.

WesHome, a new program spearheaded by Physical Plant and the Campus Fire Safety Office, teaches students how to use, maintain and be safe in their Wesleyan habitats.

Wesleyan currently has 143 wood-framed homes, which house more than 554 students. Already, about 40 Wesleyan staff members have “adopted” their own WesHome.

“At Wesleyan we teach students all kinds of things, but we haven’t educated them how to live in their homes,” says Barbara Spalding, associate director of Campus Fire Safety.

On Sept. 29, Spalding visited the six students living in the 88 Home Ave. house. She brought along a pizza, soda, cookies and a plunger.

“Does everyone know how to use this thing,” she asks, smiling.

After a brief introduction, Spalding gathers with the students in their living room. She asks if the students are having any problems with their home, and takes note of their concerns. Any immediate problems are reported to Physical Plant.

Spalding then goes down a checklist, making sure their keys, doors, lights, windows, appliances, exhaust fans and heating system work. She explains where they are able to park, where their fire extinguishers are, when trash and recyclables are collected, how to close a storm window, how to hang a shower curtain inside the bathtub and how to control their thermostat.

She talks about prohibited items and behaviors such as using candles, burning incense, the use of electric heaters and halogen floor lamps, or placing furniture too close to the heaters.

Basements and attics are locked and Spaulding reminds students that unauthorized access to these areas will lead to a $500 fine.

Heating issues alone are worthy of an extensive talk. Spalding estimates that half of the students living in Wesleyan’s wood-framed homes have no idea where their home’s thermostat is located.

“Before you call Physical Plant and say your home is too hot or too cold, make sure your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature that everyone in your home can agree on,” Spalding says. “Fixing the heat is not usually a housing problem, it’s a behavior problem.”

Spalding proceeds with a home tour, showing the residents their boiler, electric box and fire alarm panel in the basement. She teaches the residents how to plunge a toilet and shut off a water valve.

Residents also receive an Emergency Planning Notebook, which contains a photo of the home, exit plans, emergency phone numbers, links to personal safety Web sites, Emergency Blue Light locations, fire alarm and sprinkler information, trash and recycling information, energy saving tips, cable modem information and a family-contact emergency form for each of the home’s residents.

Meredith Katz, an 88 Home Avenue resident, says she enjoyed learning how her home away from home works.

“Our home-mom, Barbara, taught us everything we need to know about maintaining a happy household,” she says. “Now we know how to respect and preserve our beautiful home.”

The WesHome program is seeking staff and faculty volunteers to adopt a home. For more information, contact Barbara Spalding at 860-685-3780.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

City of Middletown Honors Wesleyan’s 175th


President Doug Bennet and Midge Bennet accept a proclamation honoring Wesleyan’s 175th anniversary from City of Middletown Majority Leader Tom Serra.
Posted 10/05/06
The City of Middletown honored Wesleyan University with a proclamation honoring its 175th anniversary. The designation was made during the City of Middletown’s Common Council meeting Oct. 2.

President Doug Bennet and Midge Bennet accepted the proclamation in front of the council members and the public. The proclamation is mounted on a wall plaque.

Following the ceremony, President Bennet presented a brief history of Wesleyan, noting that it was founded in 1831 through collaboration among Middletown’s civic leaders.

Some of these leaders were Methodists, some not, but all of them agreed that establishing a college in what was then a booming metropolis of 7,000 people would be a good thing for the town. So they banded together and purchased the land and buildings on High Street that had comprised Partridge’s Academy, which had closed for financial reasons.

Willbur Fisk, a young Methodist minister and educator got to work establishing the college that would become Wesleyan. In his first inaugural address, he articulated a value that remains fundamental to the way we think about education. He said: “Education should be directed in reference to two objects: the good of the individual educated and the good of the world.”

“175 years later, Wesleyan has let go of its affiliation to the Methodist church, but not its indebtedness to its home city, nor a sense of common purpose with the people of Middletown,” Bennet said at the meeting. “We hope to continue contributing to the city’s welfare. Thank you for this honor.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor and Elan Barnehama, contributing writer

Wesleyan Celebrates 100 years of Hosting Government Documents


Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian, flips through the pages of Survey for the Transcontinental Railroad, dated 1860, located in Wesleyan’s Congress Serial Set in Olin Library. In 1906 Wesleyan became a designated depository for U.S. government documents.
Posted 10/05/06
In October 1906, United States Representative George Lilley allowed Wesleyan’s libraries to receive publications of congress, the president, federal courts and federal agencies, at no cost. Wesleyan was designated as one of the nation’s few depository libraries, under the auspices of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

In October 2006, Wesleyan libraries are celebrating their centennial as a Depository Library for United States Government publications. Judy Russell, superintendent of documents, will take part in the ceremony, scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in Olin Memorial Library.

An exhibit will accompany the celebration. It will feature documents from 1906-2006 and focus on the technologies that were present at the time.

“We are fortunate to receive the publications, whether monographs or subscriptions; both would cost us lots of money if we purchased them or subscribed,” explains Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian.

Konerding estimates there are about 1,100 designated Depository Libraries in the U.S., however the number is declining. The Regional Depositories, averaging one per state, receive 100 percent of the offerings; other libraries varying percentages. Wesleyan receives, free of charge, about 30 percent of the publications offered in pre-selected categories by the Government Printing Office, and is required by federal law to make them available to the general public.

Students, faculty and staff can access United States Government publications from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the United States government in several formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, diskette, videocassette, and online. Wesleyan’s collection emphasizes the social sciences, and is strongest in Congressional publications, statistics and government policy.

The main documents collection is housed on the Ground Floor of the Olin Library stacks.  Publications printed after 1976 are listed in Wesleyan’s library catalog, or online at http://www.marcive.com/webdocs/webdocs.dll.

As part of the centennial celebration, Olin’s Special Collections and Archives will be hosting an exhibit inside the library tentatively titled “A Century of Government Information.” This exhibit will feature examples of government documents, which Wesleyan possesses.
For more information on the U.S. Government Information offered through Wesleyan’s libraries, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/collections/govdoc/govweb.html.

 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Scientists Share Research at Molecular Biophysics Retreat


Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, speaks on “Neurons looking back before firing: the timing of action potentials” during the Molecular Biophysics Retreat Sept. 21.
Posted 10/05/06
Established and budding scientists attended the Seventh Annual Wesleyan University Molecular Biophysics Retreat at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown on Sept. 21. The retreat is an annual celebration of the Molecular Biophysics Program, which is co-directed by David Beveridge, professor of chemistry and Ishita Mukerji, associate professor and chair of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Organized this year by Beveridge and Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, the event was supported by the Edward W. Snowdon lecture fund, the Molecular Biophysics Program, the departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The retreat was designed to bring together students and faculty in the molecular biophysics and biological chemistry programs and provide them an opportunity to discuss their current research, explore new ideas and possible collaborative work. About 50 people attended this year’s retreat.

Jacqueline Barton, pictured at right, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Sciences, was the keynote speaker.

Barton discussed how electrons move through DNA structures and how this process can mediate DNA damage and repair.

“By researching what happens inside the cell that leads to DNA mismatch formation and repair, we may better be able to understand how certain types of cancer occur,” Barton says.

In a complementary talk titled “Mopping up after messy polymerases,” Professor Hingorani discussed her research on mechanisms of DNA damage and repair, involving proteins linked to carcinogenesis.

The event also featured 26 posters by several Wesleyan students and alumni including, Katherine Augustyn, a fifth year graduate student at the California Institute of Technology and double major in chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry.

Augustyn’s poster detailed how electric charges migrate through DNA, more specifically how cells, like those exposed to UVA radiation, could be damaged by charge migration. She also spoke with students about her research at a Wesleyan Women In Science seminar Sept. 22.

Rex Pratt, Wesleyan University professor of chemistry, described his studies about a class of enzymes that catalyzes the last step in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis.

“These enzymes are the targets of beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin,” says Pratt. “Our aim is to learn more about these enzymes at a molecular level to assist further drug development.”

Ryan Pelto, a fourth year chemistry graduate student at Wesleyan, who conducts research with Pratt, presented a poster about bacterial resistance to current ß-lactam antibiotics and how ß-lacatamase enzymes play a major role in bacterial defense mechanisms.

Other Wesleyan University scientists presented research, including new faculty member Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, neuroscience and behavior, and T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry.

Aaron’s research investigates how neurons communicate with each other and produce precise patterns of activity. The title of his talk was “Neurons looking back before firing: the timing of action potentials.”

“In this ongoing work, we are demonstrating that slow currents in some groups of neurons produce, in a sense, a memory of past communications from other neurons,” says Aaron.

“Thus, the decision of when to fire an action potential can incorporate messages from further back in time than had previously been assumed. This research may help us understand how precision is produced in a network that appears at first glance to be composed from imprecise elements.”

Westmoreland’s talk was titled “Marcus Theory and Atom Transfer: It’s not just for electrons.

“The most important type of atom transfer, both from a biological and an industrial point of view, involves the transfer of a single oxygen atom,” says Westmoreland.

Westmoreland’s talk reported on the progress in showing how the conceptual framework previously developed for reactions that involve transferring a single electron can be extended to include single atoms as well.

He hopes that this work will provide new insights into the functions of a number of important enzymes and may point to new industrial catalysts.
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations; photos by Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

A Sweet Sound: Chapel Receives New Piano


Neely Bruce, professor of music, plays the new, seven-foot August Foerster piano inside the Memorial Chapel Sept. 29.
Posted 10/05/06
The secret is in the strings.

That’s how Professor of Music Neely Bruce defends the exceptionally clear sounds of Wesleyan’s new chapel piano.

“This piano is extraordinarily beautiful, and quite different from the Steinway sound you may associate with a grand piano,” Bruce explains. “It is clearer, more agile, more evenly balanced and is the perfect size for the chapel. It is the best piano of its size on campus.”

The new August Foerster is a brand that’s legendary in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe. It’s the same type of piano that was favored by Serge Prokofiev, Emil Gilels, and most of the major Russian pianists of the first half of the 20th century.

The Music Department, with help from the Administration, purchased the $38,000, seven-foot instrument from piano dealer Wilhelm Gertz.

Three years ago, when the Memorial Chapel reopened, the department intended to move one of its 9-foot grand pianos into the space, however this proved impossible. A smaller Mason and Hamlin piano has been in use, but Bruce felt the piano was not appropriate for the chapel’s magnificent public space.

“The chapel piano is not just a concert instrument, it is used for weddings, funerals and memorials and campus worship,” Bruce says. “Many of you will appreciate that our community has this new resource.”

To introduce the new piano to the community, Bruce played a short recital Sept. 25 in the chapel.

“We are very privileged to have this great piano at Wesleyan,” he says.

(To hear the piano, view the video clips below of Neely Bruce playing.)

      
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Fall Features Lecture Series on Slavery, Distinguished Presenters


Posted 09/15/06
The Center for African American Studies is hosting a fall lecture series titled “Revisiting Slavery.” The schedule includes:

“Slavery and the United States Constitution”
4:15 Sept. 27 in the CAAS lounge by Lawrence Goldstone. Goldstone holds a Ph.D in American constitutional studies. He is the author of Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the U.S. Constitution.

“Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery”
4:15 p.m. Oct. 19 in the CAAS lounge by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jenifer Frank.
Farrow, Wesleyan alumnus Joel Lang and Frank are veteran journalists for The Hartford Courant. Farrow and Lang were the lead writers and Frank was the editor of a special slavery issue published in the newspaper’s Sunday magazine, which has since been expanded and published as the book, Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery.

“Cultivating Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and Enterprise in Colonial New England”
4:15 p.m. Nov. 8 in the CAAS lounge by Lois Brown.
Brown, an associate professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, specializes in 19th-century African American fiction. She has won awards for her discovery and republication of a largely unknown 1835 biography of a freeborn African American child. She is currently working on a book about African American novelist Pauline Hopkins.

“American Slavery: A Most Complete Story”
4:15 p.m. Nov. 29 in the CAAS lounge by Gerald Foster.
Foster is a scholar-in-residence at the United States National Slavery Museum, the first American museum dedicated to the history of slavery. The museum is currently under construction in Fredericksburg, Va.

Other fall events include:

“The Need to Question”
8 p.m. Sept. 14 by choreographer Bill T. Jones. Jones is famous for creating powerful works that fearlessly explore sexuality, race, politics, family and mortality.

“Another Evening”
8 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16 in the Center for the Arts Theater. A pre-show talk begins at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 15 in the CFA cinema.
Bill T. Jones and the Arnie Zane Dance Company will present an ever-evolving 90-minute collage interweaving new movement, excerpts from existing repertoire, original and traditional music, and text into a vibrant multimedia work.

“A Discussion with Immortal Technique”
4:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in the CAAS lounge.
Hip-hop artist and political activist Immortal Technique addresses a wide variety of contemporary political issues in his music, including U.S. foreign policy, police brutality, political killings by the FBI and the CIA, media censorship, and economic inequality. Born in Peru, “Tech” came with his family to Harlem when he was a child. His albums include Revolutionary Vol. 1 (2001), Revolutionary Vol. 2 (2003), and The Middle Passage (2006), all released by the independent label, Viper Records.

A Reading by Author Nathaniel Mackey
8 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Russell House.
Mackey’s works of poetry include Eroding Witness (1985), School of Udhra (1993), Whatsaid Serif (1998), and Splay Anthem (2006). He also is the author of two critical volumes and an ongoing prose work, of which three volumes have been published. Mackey’s work is keenly attentive to sound and to the role of writers as cultural workers. He is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a DJ, and professor of literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The event is co-sponsored by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund and the Wesleyan Writing Program.

“Democracy and Captivity: Race and the Penal Landscape” by Joyce James
8 p.m. Oct. 12 in the CFA Theater.
James is a professor of African studies and political science at Williams College. Her work focuses on political and feminist theory, critical race theory, and incarceration. She is the author or editor of many publications including Resisting State Violence: Gender, Race, and Radicalism in U.S. Culture (1996), The Angela Y. Davis Reader (1998), States of Confinement: Policing, Detention and Prisons (2000, revised edition 2002), and Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion (2003). This talk was organized by WESPREP.

“The War in Iraq” presented by Jonathan Cutler, associate professor of sociology and associate professor of American Studies
Noon Oct. 23 in the CAAS lounge.
The talk is part of the CAAS’s Pizza and Policy Lunch series. Lunch is provided.

A Discussion of Stem Cell Research
Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy and associate professor and chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program
Noon Nov. 20 in the CAAS lounge.
The talk is part of the CAAS’s Pizza and Policy Lunch series. Lunch is provided.

Wesleyan is No. 1 (and Top 10 in other Third-Party Rankings)


Posted 09/15/06
Each year, the Office of University Communications collects objective and comparative measures of Wesleyan’s strengths from data compiled by outside sources. Following is a brief list of recent findings:

No. 1 in National Science Foundation (NSF) Funding among Liberal Arts Peers
This is an objective ranking based on available NSF funding data. Between 2001 and 2003 Wesleyan received $14.49 million in NSF funding (this reflects the most recent data available – Wesleyan was also No. 1 in the previous survey that ran up to 2001). Next closest was Mt. Holyoke at $5.31 million. Carleton was 3rd, Barnard 4th and Wellesley 5th.

No. 1 in Science and Math Publications Among Liberal Arts Peers
Also objective and a very significant ranking within the scientific community, this data set runs between 1994-2004 and shows that Wesleyan had a little less than 1,061 scientific publications during this period. Williams was No. 2 with just over 508 publications. Rounding out the top five were Wellesley No. 3, Swarthmore No. 4, Amherst No. 5.

No. 10 in the 2006 U. S. News & World Report Rankings of Liberal Arts Institutions
This is probably the best-known national ranking list.

Wesleyan also ranked within U.S. News:
     No. 6 in Peer Assessment
     This number reflects Wesleyan’s over-all academic reputation and perception of excellence among peer institutions.

     No. 7 in Economic Diversity
     This ranking was determined by the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants within U.S. News’ top 25 ranked schools. While not a perfect gauge of economic diversity, “Pell figures are the best available gauge of how many low income undergrads there are on a given campus,” according to the editors.

No. 3 among All National Universities & Colleges by Washington Monthly
This magazine ranks schools by “not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country…Are our colleges making good use of our tax dollars? Are they producing graduates who can keep our nation competitive in a changing world?” The full rankings and methodology can be seen at: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0609.collegechart.html

No. 8 Wesleyan Athletics Power Ranking among Div. III Schools by NCSA
The National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) recently gave Wesleyan a power ranking of 8 nationally among Division III schools. According to NCSA, the rankings were developed to encourage student-athletes and parents to take a comprehensive approach to choosing a school based on its overall merits. Colleges and universities are given a ranking based on academics, athletics, and student-athlete graduation rates. Last year Wesleyan was ranked 13th in this survey. The full rankings can be seen at http://www.ncsapowerrankings.org/ under 2006 Rankings, then clicking Division III.

No. 10 of Top 50 Colleges in the U.S. for African Americans as Ranked by Black Enterprise magazine.
1. Florida A&M; 2. Howard University in Washington, DC; 3, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C.; 4, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; 5, Spelman College, Atlanta, Ga.; 6, Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; 7, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.;
8, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.; 9, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Penn.;
10, Wesleyan University.

Wesleyan is a Top 30 Private School according to Reform Judaism magazine’s “Insider’s Guide to Jewish Campus Life”
“Created for high school and college students, the guide’s centerfold documents colleges by Jewish population – the top 30 private and top 30 public North American school Jews choose. It also includes expert information on getting into top universities, why it is important to choose a Jewish-friendly school, finding Jewish-related scholarships and loans, and making the best of the college experience.” The full list can be seen at www.reformjudaismmag.org.
 

List compiled by David Pesci, director of Media Relations and the Office of University Communications staff