Campus News & Events

Molecular, Life Sciences Building Site Proposed

Bob Shaeffner of Payette Architects explains a proposal for Wesleyan’s new Molecular and Life Sciences building during an open house and design review June 12.
At left, Ben Winslow, a biology Ph.D candidate, listens to Robert Schmidt, project manager, explain a proposed design plan for the Molecular and Life Sciences building.
Posted 06/20/07
Physical Plant-Facilities held an open house and design review for Wesleyan’s new Molecular and Life Sciences building June 12.

The open house allowed Wesleyan staff and faculty, and members of the local community to comment on the proposed plans.

The goal of the building is to create a stronger sense of community among students and faculty in different areas of science by increased opportunities for informal interaction. Wesleyan is taking into account ways to use space more efficiently, improve administrative and science support services and to address mechanical, corrosion, and safety problems in the science buildings.

Bob Shaeffner of Payette Architects highlighted four proposals of where the new facility should be placed. In all plans, four Wesleyan-owned homes would be razed and replaced.

More than 60 Wesleyan staff, faculty, students and Middletown residents attended the meeting. Participants were welcome to ask questions and share their ideas.

For more information on the proposed Molecular and Life Sciences building project go to:

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Chemistry Lab Has New Environmental Perspective

Andrea Roberts, visiting instructor of chemistry, has introduced “green” techniques into her organic chemistry laboratory sections. Students use fewer chemicals, producing less waste.
Posted 06/20/07
At first glance, Wesleyan’s Organic Chemistry Laboratory doesn’t appear much different to the naked eye. But a closer look shows that virtually everything in the lab has changed.

“We’re going green,” says Andrea Roberts, visiting instructor of chemistry and Ph.D candidate. “We’re promoting sustainability and teaching the leaders of tomorrow better ways to do chemistry.”

Roberts started teaching the organic chemistry lab in Spring 2004, using a routine syllabus. The class had nine weeks of typical organic reaction labs and one, three-week final project.

“The Chemistry Department had been teaching the same organic chemistry curriculum for years,” Roberts says. “Some of the organic reactions students were doing were the same ones I did as an undergraduate. Although they were tried and true, they were becoming outdated. Very few industries nowadays are performing chemical reactions the way we were teaching them, and our experiments were producing a tremendous amount of chemical waste.”

In Spring 2007, Roberts made changes to the curriculum that allowed her to teach the same material using “greener” methods. This meant minimizing materials – chemicals, solvents and testing equipment; reusing or recycling materials in the lab; replacing harmful mineral acids and organic solvents with less toxic oxidants like peroxide and alcohols as solvents ultimately minimizing waste.

She began with the lab titled Introduction to Chromatography. For this task, students needed to separate a mixture of two compounds, fluorene and fluorenone.

Students previously used a gravity-based technique called column chromatography to separate and purify the chemical compounds. This slow method required .5 grams of fluorene and fluorenone to pass through a tube, or column, of 10 grams of silica gel. About 200mL of hexane was used to separate the compounds.

Roberts replaced this old-fashioned method with flash chromatography, a rapid method that pumps solvent through a cartridge, leading to quicker separations with less chemical waste. She replaced the fluorene and fluorenone with drops of water-soluble food coloring and used only .75 grams of silica, which later is recycled. Only 10mL of isopropyl alcohol is used, rather than hexane.

Roberts is able to recycle used silica gel in-house. As a result, no solid waste is generated in this experiment and only 10mL of alcohol is output as liquid waste.

Experiments with organic chemistry, a branch of chemistry that focuses on the properties and reactions of carbon-containing compounds, have the potential to be bad for the environment, explains Bill Nelligan, associate director of Environmental Health and Safety. By going green, Nelligan estimates the lab has reduced its solid and liquid waste by 50 percent each.

According to EPA guidelines, waste must be documented and discarded properly. These chemicals are sent to EPA-permitted Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities for disposal or to be used as fuel in energy conversion plants.

“Wesleyan owns all chemicals, from the time they are brought into the university, to the time they are used, and from the time they are recycled or end up in a hazardous waste facility or landfill,” Nelligan explains. “Chemicals are a cradle to grave responsibility.”

Roberts began the quest to go green in Summer 2006 when she met with Margaret Kerr, who received her inorganic chemistry Ph.D. from Wesleyan in 1998. Kerr is currently an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry at Worchester State College and an expert on green chemistry.

Kerr directed Roberts to the online database, Greener Education Materials for Chemists. This site features an interactive collection of chemistry education materials focused on green chemistry.

“I was able to find the same lessons using green chemistry and plug them into our curriculum,” Roberts says.

Organic Chemistry Laboratory is a required course for anyone majoring in chemistry or pre-medical, dental and veterinary studies. The updated, environmentally-friendly course, CHEM 258, has increased student enrollment 25 percent over the last few years. Roberts teaches six sections comprising no more than 20 students each.

By going “green,” Wesleyan is taking part in the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Chemistry Program. Green Chemistry Program has built hundreds of collaborations with academia, industry, government agencies, scientific societies, trade organizations, national laboratories and research centers to promote the use of chemistry for pollution prevention through completely voluntary, non-regulatory partnerships.

Next fall, Roberts will co-teach the laboratory-based Integrated Chemistry course Chem 375 with Albert Fry, professor of chemistry. Roberts plans to introduce green chemistry concepts to the lab.

“If we just focus on being one university going green, in one state, in one country, we are doing our part,” Roberts says. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every university in every state did their part? Imagine the impact.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Alumni Pledge $5M to Create New Center on Campus

Elena ’93 and Trustee Robert L. Allbritton ’92 have donated $5M to Wesleyan, to help build the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
Posted 06/04/07
Trustee Robert L. Allbritton ’92, his wife Elena ’93 and family have pledged $5 million toward the renovation of Davenport Hall to house Wesleyan’s new Center for the Study of Public Life and to challenge younger alumni classes to contribute to the Wesleyan Fund. The Center will be named for the Allbritton family.

“Public life is changing, in part because new media have accelerated the exchange of ideas among leaders in government, business, the arts and sciences, and grassroots activism,” said Allbritton, founder of The Politico, a newspaper and web site already renowned for its coverage of Capitol Hill and national politics. “I am proud to think that The Politico supports and informs this exchange. I believe that the Center for the Study of Public Life at Wesleyan also can help us understand and elevate our evolving public discourse.”

The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life is a response to significant changes across the social sciences, which include the creation of new interdisciplinary ventures, the use of multiple methodologies in research, and the rethinking of the idea of the public in a variety of intellectual and social movements. The Allbritton Center will build on evolving relationships between scholarly research and both the political process and the greater public. It will host courses taught by people who have had distinguished careers in public service, including law, business, government, the non-profit sector, and media. It also will house a Quantitative Analysis Center to educate students in the analysis and interpretation of large bodies of data.

Architectural planning is underway for the renovation of Davenport Hall, currently in use as a campus center, to house the Allbritton Center.

The Allbritton gift, in honor of Robert’s 15th reunion, is unprecedented in size for alumni of this generation. The Allbrittons have pledged a portion of their gift as matching funds to challenge members of Wesleyan’s younger alumni classes to give more.

The gift also honors two Wesleyan presidents: Doug Bennet, the University’s 15th president, who will complete a 12 year term this June, and Michael Roth, who will become the 16th president on July 1.

“Both Doug and Michael exemplify the finest qualities of the liberally educated,” said Allbritton. “Each has innovated across a range of activities and institutional settings. They are engaged, adaptive, and resourceful leaders.”

Bennet’s career has combined leadership roles at the U.S. Department of State and the presidencies of National Public Radio and Wesleyan. Roth, a historian, has shaped programs bridging scholarship, the arts and public life at Scripps College, the Getty Research Institute and California College of the Arts.

“This generous gift will help Wesleyan education keep pace with rapid changes in the workings of our democracy and our global society,” said Wesleyan President Doug Bennet. “I am grateful to Robert Allbritton for his own commitments to quality and innovation and to the Allbritton family for their willingness to help keep Wesleyan in the forefront.”

The Politico features intensive coverage by seasoned political reporters that is targeted both at decision-makers and the public at large. Its primary medium is the Internet, so important stories often are updated three or four times a day, said Allbritton. At the same time, it produces a print edition and news programming for television and radio.

Robert Allbritton is chairman and CEO of Allbritton Communications Company, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ACC is a family-owned company that owns and operates seven ABC-affiliated stations across the United States. ACC also owns and operates NewsChannel 8, a local 24-hour news cable programming service in the Washington metropolitan area.

Elena Allbritton is a physician and a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1993. The pledge comes jointly from Robert and Elena Allbritton and from a family foundation established by Robert’s parents, Joe L. and Barbara B. Allbritton.

“Wesleyan has a grand tradition of connecting research and education to the improvement of our public life,” said President-Elect Michael Roth. “I am very excited by the prospects of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Political Life to advance our understanding of how to be more effective global citizens. I look forward to working to ensure its success.”

3 Faculty Awarded for Excellence in Teaching

Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies and English, was one of three faculty members to receive the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching by President Doug Bennet during Commencement Ceremonies May 27.
Posted 06/04/07
Joyce Jacobsen, the Andrews Professor of Economics; Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies and English; and T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry were the 2007 recipients of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. They received the prize during the 2007 Commencement ceremony May 27.

The Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was inaugurated in 1993 as an institutional recognition of outstanding faculty members. One to three Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching are presented each year and are made possible by the generosity of the Binswanger family that counts numerous Wesleyan alumni, alumnae and parents in its ranks.

The standards and criteria for the annual prizes include excellence in teaching as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion.

Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of emeriti, current faculty members and appointed members of the Alumni Association’s Executive Committee. Recommendations are solicited from members of the last ten graduating classes, the current junior and senior classes, and current graduate students. Recommendations are based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the University including, but not limited to: teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Each recipient receives a citation and monetary prize made possible by the generosity of the Binswanger family. Previous recipients are excluded from consideration for seven years.

The credentials of this year’s honorees are extensive. Briefly:

Joyce Jacobsen joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1993. She received an A.B. in economics from Harvard University, a M.Sc. in economics from London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. Her main research interest is gender and racial/ethnic differences in employment and earnings patterns. Professor Jacobsen teaches courses on economics of gender, urban economics, econometrics, and microeconomic theory, and serves often as the CSS economics sophomore tutor.

Her books include The Economics of Gender (2007), Labor Markets and Employment Relationships (with Professor Gil Skillman, 2004), and a forthcoming reader on Queer Economics, co-edited with Adam Zeller ’00 (2007). She is the author of numerous book chapters and articles that have appeared in such publications as the Journal of Income Distribution, the European Economic Review, and the Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance. She is the editor of Eastern Economic Journal and the associate editor of Feminist Economics.

Richard Slotkin joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1966. He developed the American Studies Program and chaired it for 20 years, and also has been a major contributor to the development of film studies at the University. This is Slotkin’s second time receiving the award.

His latest book is Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality (2005), the story of two World War I regiments: the African-American “Harlem Hell Fighters” and the “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Division, raised from the immigrant peoples of New York’s tenements, who fought heroically for a country which refused to recognize them as equal citizens. He is best known for an award-winning trilogy of scholarly books on the myth of the frontier in American cultural history. Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860 (1973) was a finalist for the 1974 National Book Award and received the 1973 Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. The second volume, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890 (1985) received the literary award of the Little Big Horn Associates, and has become a standard reference in the field of American studies. The final volume, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (1992) was a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. Slotkin also has written three historical novels: Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln (2000), which received the Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction (2001) and the Book Award (2000); The Return of Henry Starr (1988); and The Crater (1980).

In 1995 he received the Mary C. Turpie Award from the American Studies Association, for his contributions to teaching and program-building. He also received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1997.

T. David Westmoreland received a B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Wesleyan faculty in 1989, he held postdoctoral appointments at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are concentrated in the area of inorganic chemistry. He and his research group are particularly interested in the functions of metal ions in biological systems. His research publications have spanned a number of topics in this area, from the relationship between electronic structure and spectroscopic features of molybdenum-containing oxidoreductase enzymes, to new manganese and chromium-based contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, his work includes exploring fundamental aspects of atom transfer reactions that are related to biological and industrial oxidation processes. His work has appeared in The Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Organometallics.

Professor Westmoreland teaches introductory general chemistry as well as advanced courses on inorganic chemistry and on chemical applications of symmetry concepts. He also has taught general education courses on pattern formation in nature and on scientific research ethics. He has been a research mentor to 24 Wesleyan undergraduates and six graduate students over the years.

Photo by Bill Burkhart, university photographer.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Keynote Speaker at Writers’ Conference

Posted 06/04/07
Edward P. Jones, pictured at left, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, will be the keynote speaker at the 51st annual Wesleyan Writers Conference, held on campus June 17-22.

The Writers Conference welcomes experienced writers, new writers and anyone interested in the writer’s craft. One of the leading writers conferences in the nation, it has launched many writers’ publishing careers, notes Anne Greene, director.

“All of the programs are designed to offer you new perspectives on your work and the company of other writers who share your interests,” Greene says.

This summer’s program include seminars, informal workshops, guest speakers, manuscript consultations and publishing advice, as well as quiet time for writing. Topics include the novel, short story, graphic novels, poetry, memoir, journalism, long-form nonfiction, writing about social issues, mixed-media work, and new forms of publishing.

The conference faculty includes some of the nation’s most distinguished writers and promising new voices: fiction writers Robert Stone, Roxana Robinson, Alexander Chee, Richard Bausch, Paul LaFarge, and Josip Novakovich; poets Honor Moore, Laura Cronk, and Sherwin Bitsui; journalists Lis Harris, Jonathan Schell, Gayle Pemberton, Jennifer Gonnerman, Katha Pollitt and George Packer; and several panels of editors and agents. Also musician and small-press founder Johnny Temple, Allison Lorentzen of the award-winning journal N+1, and Ravi Shankar, founder of the Internet poetry magazine, Drunken Boat.

Three readings are open to the community free of charge:

Author George Packer will speak at 3 p.m. June 20 in the Center for the Arts Cinema. Packer is the author of The Assasin’s Gate: America in Iraq and is a New Yorker staff writer.

Novelist Robert Stone, winner of the National Book Award, will read from his best-selling new book, Prime Green: A Memoir of the Sixties, at 4:30 p.m. June 20 in the Center for the Arts Old Cinema.

Edward P. Jones will read from his recent work and answer questions. He received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for his novel, The Known World. He has also published two award-winning short story collections, most recently All Aunt Hagar’s Children. In 2004 he received a MacArthur Fellowship. Jones will speak at 8 p.m. June 21 in the Center for the Arts, Old Cinema.

For complete information and registration, go to the Wesleyan Writers Conference web site: or contact Anne Greene at 860-685-3604 or

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photo by Bettina Strauss.

Scientists, Students Team Up for BioBlitz Event

David Wagner, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Connecticut, talks to Wesleyan faculty and Wesleyan Hughes and Mellon Fellows about the 2007 BioBlitz, to be held in Middletown June 8-9.
Posted 06/04/07
BioBlitz 2007 is coming to Middletown and Wesleyan faculty and students are playing key roles.

For those unaware, BioBlitz is a 24-hour environmental diversity survey that was originated in the state by the University of Connecticut and several partners. During BioBlitz, scientific specialists are partnered up with grade school students and others for field surveys and other activities. The idea is to get a snapshot of the biodiversity of a specific area in a 24-hour period.

This year, BioBlitz 2007 will focus on Middletown, taking place from June 8-9, with the public invited to attend between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. June 9.

Wesleyan has contributed $5,000 toward the survey and events. Wesleyan faculty, staff and students have been involved in planning, logistics, events as well as participating in the actual surveys. This includes Laura Appel, visiting associate professor of biology; Barry Chernoff, Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Sciences, professor of biology; Valerie Marinelli, administrative assistant for the Environmental Studies Program; Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology; and Michael Weir, professor of biology, director, Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. Both Chernoff and Singer will be leading field studies.

The fieldwork teams headed by Chernoff will survey three locations and identify and catalogue aquatic fish and invertebrates. He will be assisted by Kevi Mace ’07 and Nick Field ’09. Singer’s field teams will be in two locations identifying and cataloguing caterpillars. He will be assisted by Tim Farkas ’08, and Christian Skorik ’09.

As part of the ramp-up to BioBlitz 2007, the coordinator of the program David Wagner, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Connecticut, spoke to students on campus from the summer Hughes Program in the Life Sciences and Mellon Scholars, as well as others from the university community.

Along with Wesleyan, BioBlitz 2007 sponsors include the City of Middletown, University of Connecticut Center for Conservation & Biodiversity, the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, Pratt & Whitney, the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, and Middletown Public Schools.

For more information go to:

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Class Uses Local Lake as Laboratory

Posted 06/04/07
About 30 years ago, unnatural and excessive biological growth started occurring in the small, man-made Beseck Lake six miles southeast of Wesleyan’s campus.

Septic systems from lakeside homes deposited nutrients into the water, altering the biogeological cycles of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen and phosphorus in the aquatic ecosystem.

By 2002, the problem was remedied by connecting the homes to a city sewer system and the quality of the lake water improved. However, excess algae growth continued to form, proving that some unwanted nutrients continued to exist.

“What was still polluting the lake?’” asked Tim Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental science. Ku and 18 Wesleyan students volunteered to help find the answers.

As part of Wesleyan’s Service Learning Course, Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory, the students had an opportunity to research the lake focusing on cultural eutrophication – or the result of nutrient pollution in an ecosystem.

Prior to conducting the actual research, Ku taught the class a variety of geochemical analytical techniques. Classes were held on campus but the 116-acre Beseck Lake served as the laboratory.

The students broke into small groups to conduct individual studies. During the winter they cut holes frozen-over lake (pictured) and lowered probes into the water and sediment. The sediment measurements allowed the young researches to identify changes that have occurred in the lake since 1849, when the lake was created. Students also analyzed the lake’s water and the surrounding air.

Sarah Gillig ‘09, an earth and environmental studies major, worked on an organic sediment deposit study. Her goal was to find what was still causing the pollution in the lake, which can harm people and kill fish and natural aquatic life.

“We wanted to know if the problems were caused by outside factors, such as external organic pollution, runoff from a nearby mountain, or if they were internal,” Gillig explains. “We ultimately discovered they were internal.”

Jordan Schmidt ’08, earth and environmental sciences major, analyzed the amount of phosphate in the lake’s sediment. High phosphate levels can result in excess algae growth.

Emily Keeler ‘07, an earth and environmental sciences major, says she took the Service Learning Class because she’s interested in the ways that humans impact environments. Keeler focused her Beseck Lake studies on water chemistry.

By measuring the levels of dissolved oxygen, Keeler was able to investigate the magnitude of oxygen depletion and also whether the lake is overturning and mixing. She and her peers calculated alkalinity and measured ion concentrations in the water to determine existing contaminations.

“It’s difficult to look at this ecosystem and see how it’s being destroyed,” Keeler says. “People want to use it for recreation. They aren’t necessarily thinking about the fact that in order for the lake to not be eutrophic depends on a balanced lake ecosystem. That means they’re going to have to change parts of their lifestyle, like not using chemical fertilizers that run into the lake.”

Ku says once excess phosphate enters the lake, much of it is continuously cycled from the sediments into the water column. The Town of Middlefield has submitted a $100,000 bond proposal to the Connecticut State Bond Commission to improve the water quality and clarity of Beseck Lake. The bond has been approved by the Environment Committee and the Finance Committee, and is awaiting a vote.

To solve the algae problem, the class investigated the use of alum, a compound that binds phosphate. While this treatment could decrease the algae blooms at Beseck Lake the students cautioned that an alum application must be carefully designed and monitored. Too much alum may harm aquatic life such as fish; too little will not inhibit the algae growth.

“There is no easy solution for eutrophication at Beseck Lake, the nutrients can be very difficult to remove or inactivate,” Ku says. “Hopefully, the class research will lead to the remediation of the lake.”

The Service Learning project was held in cooperation with the Beseck Lake Association. Students took turns presented their finding to 35 members of the lake community on May 8.

“For a long time we have wondered whether the nutrients in the lake were caused by leaves washing down the mountain, farm animals that live on either end of the lake, or sewage that is stored in the sediment after 75 years of septic tank leakage,” says Richard Boynton, president of the Beseck Lake Association. “The students answered this question. Middlefield is lucky that Wesleyan provided this valuable research study, which would have otherwise cost us thousands of dollars.”

Gillig says the Service Learning program is a valuable addition at Wesleyan, and provides them with practical experience in things that are otherwise very abstract.

“Once you’ve done it yourself, you have a completely different comprehension and appreciation for things,” she says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos contributed by Tim Ku and his class.

Eclectic House Celebrates 100 Years of Campus Residence

The Eclectic Society house, located at 200 High Street, is 100 years old this year.
Posted 06/04/07
“Our reputation was one of respect from most everyone,” recalls Bill Moody ’59, P ’91.” We did not come across as rich or preppy or jock-filled or hyper-social or racist or nerdy. We did not dominate a given group or project or sport.”

Moody, author of the recently-published book, A History of the Eclectic Society of Phi Nu Theta, 1837-1970, shared memories with current and past Eclectic members during the 100th anniversary celebration of the completion of the Eclectic Society House May 26. The book is published by Wesleyan University Press.

Faces have come and gone, but the symmetrical brick house with a four-pillar façade at 200 High Street has changed very little.

“This house is truly what links the ever-changing society members,” says Eclectic Society member Omar Hunter Craighill ’09. “The house has very distinctive architecture and has been a very important part of campus for many generations of students.”

Formally named The Eclectic Society at Phi Nu Theta, the fraternity was established in the 1830s, when students began meeting for the purpose of helping each other with college studies, literary work and Saturday-evening social events. In 1837, the association became official, making it the first fraternity established at Wesleyan.

Now 170 years old, Eclectic is one of the oldest non-national fraternities in the United States. Many notable figures in Wesleyan’s history were members of Eclectic, including four who became Wesleyan presidents: Joseph Cummings, Class of 1840; Cyrus D. Foss, Class of 1854; John W. Beach Class of 1845; and Edwin D. Etherington ‘48.

Early Eclectic members gathered in a clubhouse; later they lived in a dormitory-like structure at 246 High Street. In 1900 they began extensive fund-raising for a home of their own, and in 1907, a house was completed. It was designed by Henry Bacon of New York City, who later designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The house had the “largest and finest dance-hall of all the college houses,” wrote Billy North Rice, chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors in 1921.

“This building was the first step towards bringing a highly distinguished American architect to serve as de facto campus planner and architect for Wesleyan,” says Wesleyan Historian David Potts ’60, author of Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England.

Bacon created Wesleyan’s first campus plan in 1913 and was the architect of the swimming pool addition to Fayerweather Gymnasium, the Skull and Serpent building, Van Vleck Observatory, Clark Hall, the Memorial Chapel Renovation of 1916, the South College belfry and the initial design for Olin Library. In 1923, Bacon won the highest award in his profession and Wesleyan’s campus “has by far the largest assemblage of his works, starting with Eclectic,” Potts says.

Nevertheless, the three-story brick building encountered several problems over the years. Just 13 years after it was built, the cost of house operations put the members $1,500 in debt. The house had a leaky roof and shower room, and the dining room ceiling required expensive repairs. In 1925, damages occurred from a lightning strike. In 1928, the house’s heating system failed completely. Repairs were made but financial troubles burdened the society for years to come. In the 1970s, the house had fallen into such disrepair that the Wesleyan bought the house from Eclectic alumni for $1 and began maintaining the house and bringing it up to safety standards.

Currently, the 200 High Street house has 18 single and three double rooms, a café, library, kitchen, television room and a large ballroom and dining room. The top floor of the house is used for society meetings.

Eclectic also continues its long tradition of hosting events that enrich the life and experiences of the entire Wesleyan community. Fundraising activities, film screenings, dance workshops, concerts, poetry readings, lectures, theatrical and creative art performances and student-run classes have all been held in open-spaced living room.

Douglas J. Bennet Delivers Final Commencement Address as Wesleyan President

Posted 05/27/.07
The following remarks were made by by Wesleyan University President Douglas J. Bennet during the 175th commencement ceremony May 27, 2007.

Welcome to the 731 members of the Class of 2007.

Slava! Slava! Slava!

And if you don’t know what that mean’s you’ll have to ask one of the students. They obviously knew of my love of Russian history.

Welcome parents, family members, friends, and well-wishers.
Welcome to our distinguished honorees.
Welcome Wesleyan trustees, faculty and staff.
Welcome alumni and your families, including
Welcome to Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement.

This is the last time as president I will have the honor to address the Wesleyan community. The class of 2007 and Midge and I will depart together, all of us sharing enduring Wesleyan educational values. I want to talk about those values and particularly the interrelationship of individual liberal education and concern for the common interest. Having received a dose of both at Wesleyan, I have found the combination incredibly enabling.

Willbur Fisk, Wesleyan’s first president, spoke at the opening of Wesleyan University on September 21, 1831. Education has two objectives, he said, “the good of the individual and the good of the world.” This dictum has been much quoted at Wesleyan commencements ever since, but there is more to this passage, so that education for the public good becomes the superior goal and essential to an individual’s success in life. President Fisk went on to say, ”As people are too disposed to consider their own separate interests and are prompted by selfishness to act in exclusive reference to that interest, the only safe course is to provide for the education of youth in direct reference to the wants of the world…. For, although a fatal error may result from consulting only what appears to be the interest of the individual, yet he or she cannot be educated wrong, for any of the purposes of life, who is judiciously educated in reference to the public good.“

In reality, education, then as now, is intensely individual most of the time. The process of finding out, learning, testing, articulating is facilitated by good teachers and mentors, but it is eventually sustained by inquiring individuals. You will find that these individual intellectual capabilities are not lost through life but refreshed and sharpened.

The individual side of education obviously contributes to the public good side of the equation. There are a lot of courses you have taken that will directly reinforce your civic capabilities. But beyond the classroom and the study carrel, there is something in this place that produces strong civic commitment.

At this point I find myself wanting—perhaps for posterity, when some future president tries to figure out what we were thinking at the turn of the 21st century—a Bennet-era statement of what a Wesleyan education is supposed to achieve. Here are some lines from a plan the faculty and I worked out just after I became president: It was the best we could do to envision the world a Wesleyan education would address:

“Wesleyan graduates will live in a world of plurality and change. They will change jobs, communities, countries. They will work on a turbulent frontier of new information and technological advances. They will have to make ethical and moral judgments based on the reliability of their own gyroscopes, more than on received wisdom. They will need confidence to choose their own directions. They will need the ability to capture the energy of change rather than being captured by it. They must be able to prosper in a global economy. Their success as individuals, citizens, and leaders will require both enduring skills and a platform of knowledge and values against which to assess an explosion of new information and unfamiliar circumstances.

“The task of liberal education, as we see it, today, is to instill capacity for critical and creative thinking that can address unfamiliar and changing circumstances, to engender a moral sensibility that can weigh consequences beyond self, and to establish an enduring love of learning for its own sake.

We intend that Wesleyan’s graduates have a strong sense of public purpose and responsibility for the global future. Wesleyan education for the 21st Century.”

I have great confidence in the civic education you have received and developed at Wesleyan. You care enough to act. You will know enough to find the levers of change. You will figure out ways to capture and direct the forces of change that are all around us. I have already seen you take action in residential life, in the classroom, and in the community, and you have shown that you are the people who will affect change. This has been your response to Hurricane Katrina, to the Indian Ocean Tsunami, to the tragedy in Darfur, to Virginia Tech, to your Middletown neighbors, and to issues here on campus including your leadership on environmental concerns. By working together, by transcending geographical, cultural, economic, and political boundaries to promote positive change, you have given each other valuable peripheral vision that will help orient you in these struggles.

I have traveled a lot during these twelve years, meeting with Wesleyan alumni/ae of all classes. They are accomplished academically, but they are, in addition, risk takers, change makers and people, individually and collectively, with an extraordinarily high level of concern for the welfare of society. The class of 2007 will find a lot of kindred spirits.

Fisk saw being “educated in reference to the public good” as an antidote to selfishness that might allow people to err. Having been educated in reference to the public good at Wesleyan, I suggest that its importance is positively empowering or, as I said earlier, enabling. It nourishes breadth of vision which helps you make life choices that are important and valid. It draws you to common enterprises that are stronger than separate ones. Those common enterprises will, if they are sound, be populated with the kinds of diversity of colleagues who have learned to appreciate Wesleyan.

Whatever your daily work or profession, your influence will be greater if it includes public commitments. Reference to public good can provide regular ethical check-ups.

There is one more thing I want to say to the class of 2007, Midge and send our love and congratulations and expect to stay in touch.

Thank you very, very much.

Photos of Wesleyan University’s 175th Commencement Ceremony

Posted 05/27/.07
(Click picture to open high-resolution picture. Large images are 300 DPI.)
Chair of the Board of Trustees Jim Dresser ’63 and Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient and speaker Jim Lehrer P’85. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient Nobutaka Machimura. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient Alan Dachs ’70, P’98 speaking in front of the Douglas Cannon. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient Rosa DeLauro. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient Jewell Cobb P’79. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Honorary Degree recipient Thomas Malone. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Doug Bennet and The Raymond E. Baldwin Medal recipient Robert McKelvey ’59. Photo credit: Bill Burkhart
Graduating seniors. Photo credit: Olivia Drake

8 Recipients of Honorary Degrees, Baldwin Medal, Alumnus Award

Posted 05/27/07
Wesleyan’s 75th Commencement Ceremonies were held on Sunday, May 27.

Wesleyan conferred: 731 bachelor degrees, 25 master of arts degrees, 58 master of arts in liberal studies degrees and 14 Ph.D. degrees.

During that ceremony, the following people received honorary degrees:

Jewel Plummer Cobb is renowned as a teacher, a research biologist, and an advocate for the participation of women and members of minority groups in the sciences. A graduate of Talladega College, she earned her Ph.D. in cell physiology at New York University. Her scientific research has centered on factors influencing the growth, morphology, and genetic expression of normal and neoplastic pigment cells and on the changes produced in vitro by chemotherapeutic agents, by hormones, and by other agents known to disrupt cell division. She taught at NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connecticut College before becoming dean of the college at Connecticut, then dean of Douglass College, and finally president of California State University at Fullerton. Currently president and professor of biological science, emerita, at Fullerton, Dr. Cobb continues to be active in promoting science education programs for minority youth and in promoting the greater representation of women in science. In 1993 the National Science Foundation honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Advancement of Women and Underrepresented Minorities.

Alan M. Dachs ’70, P’98 served 14 years as a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and eight years as Board chair. In his role as chair of the Board, he led the fundraising for the Wesleyan Campaign, helping the institution to raise a record-breaking $281 million for academic programs and new faculty positions, financial aid, and an ambitious program of campus renewal. Through his close partnership with President Douglas J. Bennet, he helped to guide Wesleyan in its strategic planning and in promoting Wesleyan’s reputation for academic excellence. Mr. Dachs is a staunch advocate for the value of liberal arts education and a tireless proponent of Wesleyan. He was elected trustee emeritus and chair emeritus in 2005 upon his retirement from the Board. Mr. Dachs is a member of the boards of directors of the Bechtel Group and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of The Brookings Institution and The Conference Board and on the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Engineering Systems Division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He recently was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Dachs also serves as chair of the University’s Development Committee. He is president and chief executive officer of the Fremont Group, a private investment company based in San Francisco. Mr. Dachs and his wife, Laurie, have four children and two grandchildren. Their son, Eric, is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1998.

Rosa DeLauro was elected to Congress from Connecticut’s Third District in 1990 and is currently serving her ninth term. She sits on the House Appropriations and Budget committees. In addition to her work on the full committees, Representative DeLauro chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which is responsible for funding the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Stamps program. She also sits on the Labor – Health, Human Services – Education and Commerce – Justice – Science Subcommittees. DeLauro has built a reputation as an advocate for economic development, healthcare and education. She has been a strong proponent for student aid, advocating such measures as increasing the size of Pell Grants in order to restore their purchasing power, allowing the consolidation of student loan debt and cutting interest rates to make student borrowing more affordable, and defending against cuts in programs that help to increase students’ access to college , such as Upward Bound and TRIO. A frequent visitor to Wesleyan’s campus and to Middletown, DeLauro has shown herself eager to meet and talk with faculty and students. She has strongly supported Wesleyan’s efforts to establish and fund the Green Street Arts Center. Since she first came to Congress in 1990, DeLauro has put every pay raise she has received toward a scholarship program she founded in memory of her late father. To date, her scholarships have helped 420 students further their educations.

Jim Lehrer (who also gave the principal address at commencement) has anchored The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) since 1995. Lehrer joined PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. They began in 1975 what became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and, in 1983, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on television. Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. In the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally televised candidate debates. Lehrer has written 15 novels, his latest, The Franklin Affair, published in April 2005. He also has written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter, Lucy Lehrer, is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1985.

Nobutaka Machimura, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, currently serves as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives representing Hokkaido 5th District. As foreign minister of Japan from September 2004 to October 2005, his efforts were directed toward signing a treaty with Russia resolving a border dispute and toward investigating the whereabouts of Japanese hostages who had been kidnapped by North Korean agents during the 1970s and 1980s. Educated in economics at the University of Tokyo, he attended Wesleyan for one year as an exchange student. His career in public service has included appointments to the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the National Land Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy (from which he retired as director of the planning division for petroleum). He also served as minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and director of the National Defense Division of the Policy Research Council. He has been elected to seven terms in the Japanese House of Representatives.

Thomas F. Malone, an environmentalist and expert on sustainability, is University Distinguished Scholar Emeritus at North Carolina State University. He has held a tenured faculty appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a senior vice president and director of research for the Travelers Insurances Companies, and has been dean of the Graduate School at the University of Connecticut. A past president of Sigma Xi, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society, he has also been foreign secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and a vice president of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Recent publications have included “Toward a Knowledge Society in the Americas,” “A New Agenda for Science and Technology for the Twenty-First Century,” “Reflections on the Human Prospect,” “Global Change, Science and the Human Prospect,” and, with Gary Yohe, “Knowledge Partnership for a Sustainable, Equitable, and Stable Society.” Professor Malone has long been active in issues that combine economic development and environmental quality. He has participated in two environmental conferences at Wesleyan.

In addition:
Robert G. McKelvey, Wesleyan Class of 1959, and a Rhodes Scholar, received the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal. President of the George McKelvey Company, Inc., an investment and advisory firm, McKelvey also serves as a trustee or director for a number of philanthropic organizations, with his commitment to these organizations, ranging from 10 to 35 years.

McKelvey has a long history of dedicated service to Wesleyan. He has served as an alumni-elected trustee, as a Wesleyan charter trustee, and as vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees. During his tenure he chaired the Development Committee and served on the Facilities and Finance Committees, as well as on the Budget and Portfolio Subcommittees. In 1983, at the request of the Board, he became a director of Zygo Corp., a struggling high tech company in which Wesleyan had a small investment. In 1995, Wesleyan sold that holding as one of the university’s most successful investments ever. In 1996 he was elected trustee emeritus. He continued to serve as a member of the Board’s Portfolio Subcommittee until 2005. From 2000-2004, he was also a member of the Development Committee. He continues to be an active leader of Alpha Delta Phi. Throughout the 1970s, he headed the fraternity’s alumni organization as the chapter converted to coeducational membership. In the 1990s, when the Alpha Delt coed chapters broke with the national to form a coeducational Alpha Delt national, he returned to lead the national organization for its first decade.

Taft Armandroff, Wesleyan Class of 1982, received Wesleyan’s prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award on May 26. Armandroff is the Director of the W. M. Keck Observatory, leading the organization that operates the world’s two largest optical/infrared telescopes, which are located on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Armandroff is a noted research astronomer with a specialty in deciphering the past history of nearby galaxies based on the stars that they contain today and an understanding of how stars evolve. His research has contributed to the recognition that galaxies like the Milky Way have been strongly influenced by past mergers with dwarf galaxies. He is also an expert in astronomical instrumentation, the complex technology that enables astronomers to analyze the faint light from distant stars and galaxies.

To view photos of the recipients, go to :

Jim Lehrer Delivers 2007 Commencement Address

Jim Lehrer P'85, anchor of T<i>he NewsHour with Jim Lehrer</i>, delivered the commencement address during ceremonies May 27. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Jim Lehrer P’85. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Jim Lehrer P’85, anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, delivered the commencement address during ceremonies on May 27, 2007. His speech is below:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am honored to be so honored, in such great company, by this great university.

It means so much to me personally because I am the devoted father of a Wesleyan graduate, Lucy Lehrer, class of 1985. And she’s sitting right over there.

My first encounter with Wesleyan was because of Lucy and it was a most memorable one. My wife Kate and I had come here to take Lucy to school as a freshman. And we took her to her room in the dorm at Foss 6.

Anybody here from Foss 6?

Well, there came a time and occasion for me to go to the men’s room. I inquired of someone about where one might be and I was told it was just down the hallway. There was a big swinging door, and I went to the door, swung it open and entered and there before me was a young woman. I quickly apologized and turned to run out and away.

“Oh don’t worry, sir,” said the young woman, “The rest rooms here are co-ed.”

And I said to myself silently, and later less silently to Lucy and to Lucy’s mother, “Welcome to the new world of Wesleyan.” And I thought, “At least they don’t have co-ed dorms.” But then I realized, no way will that ever happen.

I have personal Wesleyan connections also to two of the principal players in today’s commencement, both of them here on the stage: one of them a former president of Wesleyan, the other about to become a former president.

Colin Campbell, as was said, was president here for eighteen years; his reign including Lucy Lehrer’s splendid time as a student. We became close friends later through our association with Colonial Williamsburg and when he served as chairman of the board of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service.

Doug Bennet, about the stand down as president, and I have known each other since his days as assistant secretary of state, and then president of National Public Radio. And that’s when I met Midge.

It is these two gentlemen that are included in what I said at the beginning about my pleasure in the company I am keeping here today.

It is in my capacity as commencement speaker that I acknowledge this honor for all of them. We are indeed honored.

You can relax about the speaker part of this assignment; commencement speakers should be mostly seen rather than heard and usually are. I have been present during the delivery of hundreds of commencement speeches as a graduate, proud parent, reporter, friend. I not only cannot remember what any of the speakers said, I can’t remember what most of them looked like. I have no doubt that this will be the case again now. Nobody comes to commencement to hear a speech, only to cheer and applaud a happy graduate. With that in mind, I promise not to keep you long.

There is one thing I am going to do however, right now, to at least increase the chances of your remembering today’s commencement speaker. I am going to call a bus to Houston, something I have been doing off and on regularly since the 1950s. That’s because I worked as a ticket agent at the Trailways bus depot while going to a small junior college in Victoria, a small Texas city on the Gulf coast. One of my duties was to do this:

“May I have your attention please!
(Lehrer then went on to make his bus call, taking nearly half a minute and naming several small towns along the route) All aboard! Don’t forget your baggage please!”

Now, you may wonder, “Why in the world is he doing this?” I have done this in just about every commencement address I have given, and countless other speeches. It’s my good luck charm. It also proves: learn something early, well, and totally irrelevant, and you’ll never forget it.

But most importantly, I think I can count on the fact that there are no other commencement speakers, at Wesleyan or anywhere else, who have the skills needed to include a bus call in their remarks. So in other words, when you think of bus calls, think of me, your commencement speaker.

I have only a couple of real commencement-like messages to deliver, and then I will leave you be. First and foremost, graduates of the class of 2007, keep in mind that this is 2007 and next year is 2008, which in my professional opinion, may be the most important presidential election year of your, my, and several other generations.

We have a war going on, a conflict that has aroused passions that go to the heart and soul of what we are about as the United States of America. Sores and minds have been opened, as have mouths and wounds, about how we exercise the enormous power we have as Americans: political and economic and cultural power, as well as military. The debates, among pairs of people, one on one, and among thousands and millions, about it all must be raised. And I would strongly urge that every one of you, participate in those debates.

On the war.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the ages of most of the young Americans who are doing the fighting and dying in Iraq – 18, 19. 20, 21, 22 – your age, in other words, your generation. Whatever your opinion going into the war or now, four years later, I would urge each of you, as well as everyone else in this audience, and everywhere else, to keep in mind that each of us makes decisions about what to do with our lives. Those men and women chose a career in the military – that makes them no better, no worse than you or anyone else who chooses to do something else.

But they are in fact risking, some are giving, their lives and they do so in your name, my name, our names, in the name of our country. So, bottom line, please cheer them when they come home, no matter what your view on Iraq. Support what’s happening or hate what’s happening – cheer them when they come home.

And I would also urge each of you graduates of the class of 2007 to find ways to also serve. I don’t mean necessarily joining the Marines, to fight in Iraq or in the next war or two. I mean, no matter what you decide to do with your life, also serve.

Be rich or poor. Draw pictures, write novels, make movies, be single, be married, make babies, raise babies, try cases, treat sick people, teach people, drive buses, play baseball, play football, act, sing, play an instrument, bank, invest, invent, manufacture, experiment, compute, cook, research, pray. Whatever, wherever. But also find a way to serve – serve your neighborhood, town, city, county, state and country. To serve a common purpose beyond yourself and your immediate family and/or interests.

I happen to personally favor some form of mandatory national service. Not a draft, but a system for creating the shared experience of service for everyone, for us all. Service that could include civilian service – the Peace Corps, teacher corps, police corps and all kinds of corps besides the Marine corps.

But that suggestion isn’t going anywhere at the moment politically. Service is a voluntary act, so be it. You are graduating at a time when there are enormous opportunities to do great things, voluntarily. But also to do terrible things. The possibilities for good and evil have seldom been so limitless. We have, at the personal and political levels in our society, wrenching conflicts right now over race, health care, poverty, violence, as well as how we employ our military and diplomatic muscle.

Yes, those conflicts and others like it have always been there. But the difference now is that we – you and me and our respective peers – have a chance to solve them. If we are willing to simply accept that as a given and get on with it.

One way to serve of course, is by staying informed, by forming and expressing opinions, by questioning the opinions of others particularly those other people who hold public office or who otherwise exercise public power – including those who write and edit the newspapers and magazines and blogs you read; report on and produce the radio and television programs you listen to and watch. Complain about the things you do not like, praise those you do.

Ask questions about matters you do not understand. Be part of the dialogue, the debate, the decision making in our democracy. They are decisions that could literally set the course for our nation and our society for centuries to come. They are too important to be left to the experts, as smart as they are; to our public officials, as dedicated and honest as most are. We must all serve, with our minds and our voices and our hearts. I hereby implore you to do so.

Not just between now and election day, 2008, for now and ever more.

But as you do it, please, please be civil, be fair. One of the most serious losses we as a society have suffered in recent years, in my opinion, is that of civil discourse. There is a meanness of communication alive in the land right now. I see it in the mail and the e-mail we get at our program. I hear it on television and the radio, read it in the newspapers and magazines and on the blogs and elsewhere on the internet.

The controversies involving Iraq and the 2008 presidential election have and will continue to definitely heighten[ed] the passion of the rhetoric and the discourse at the moment. But there will always be differences because there must always be differences in a free and open democratic society. We are civilized people, we should disagree in a civilized manner. We should acknowledge the right of others to disagree with us. We should acknowledge the possibility that sometimes, some very rare times, we might be wrong. And strange as it may seem, we might learn more from listening than from talking, and more from talking than from shouting.

And speaking of being informed, let me say something about journalism, my life’s work, and the reason – aside from my skill at calling buses – that I have been awarded an honorary degree today.

I want you to know that I know that the honor is not so much personal as it is the kind of journalism I have and have continued to have the opportunity to practice on PBS. And for the record, a few years ago, I was asked by the sponsors of an Aspen seminar on journalism if I had guidelines I used in my own practice of journalism. I was not the only one they asked. Many journalists were asked. And they wondered if we would mind sharing them. Here is part of what I said then:

* Do nothing I cannot defend.
* Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
* Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
* Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
* Assume the same about all people whom I report on.
* Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
* Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything.
* Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
* And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

And now, let me tell you what I tell all graduates of every college or university I have had the pleasure of addressing. Do not make a mistake about what is happening here today. The fact that you are receiving a diploma from one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning does not mean you are educated. Some of the dumbest people I know received diplomas from great institutions of higher learning. They took their diploma in their hot little hands, pronounced themselves educated and proceeded to never read another book, entertain another fresh or new idea. And most tragically for their society and country, never again paid attention to much of anything other than themselves, to much of anything that was happening around them or to others.

Please, please do not do that. It goes back to what I said about serving.

I’m going to take a pass on giving you any further advice. Mainly because I read what my friend, the famed humorist, playwright, cartoonist Jules Feiffer said once about advice: “Be warned against all ‘good’ advice because ‘good’ advice is necessarily ‘safe’ advice, and though it will undoubtedly follow a sane pattern, it will very likely lead one into total sterility – one of the crushing problems of our time.”

I felt it was important to quote Jules is on this particular day; a most important person. He’s a parent, with his wife Jenny, of Halley Feiffer, a member of today’s graduating class of 2007.

And finally I have something similar to pass on that comes in the form of the ultimate recycled quote. It is what a fictional lieutenant governor of Oklahoma said in a commencement speech to a fictional graduating class at a fictional state college in the fictional town of Hugotown, Oklahoma. He said:

“As you search for your place in life, I hereby advise you to take risks. Be willing to put your mind and your spirit, your time and your energy, your stomach and your emotions, on the line.

“To search for a safe place is to search for an end to a rainbow that you will hate once you find it.

“Take charge of you own life. Create your own risks by setting your own standards, satisfying your own standards. Take charge.

“Congratulations to you all. It is unlikely that any of you will have occasion to remember either me or my commencement address and I don’t blame you. But if by chance, something does linger, I hope it’s just that there was a lieutenant governor guy up here who kept saying ‘Risk, risk.’ The way to happiness is to risk it, risk it.”

It is the ultimate recycled quote because it is from a novel published in 1990 called The Sooner Spy. I wrote that novel. I stole those lines verbatim from a commencement speech I made myself in 1984 to the graduating class of our oldest daughter, Lucy’s sister Jamie. So it’s a quote of a fictional quote that began as a real quote. Like I say, the ultimate recycled quote.

But I mean it as much today as the day I said it the first time in 1984. My fictional lieutenant governor of Oklahoma – I spoke to him recently – asked me to tell you he still feels that way too. He also joins me in congratulating each and every member of the Wesleyan University class of 2007. He also joins me in adding the word “serve” to the work “risk.”

Serve, risk.

I’ll see you at our reunions – class of 2007. And please remember, those two important points I made at the beginning: Don’t forget your baggage, please. And the restrooms at Wesleyan are co-ed.

Thank you for the honor you have given me today, and congratulations to all.