Campus News & Events

Students Receive Funding for Projects for Peace

At right, Jessica French Smith ’'09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. French Smith received a Projects for Peace grant, which will allow her and fellow Wesleyan students to return to the city this summer to build a community center.

At right, Jessica French Smith ’’09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. French Smith received a Projects for Peace grant, which will allow her and fellow Wesleyan students to return to the city this summer to build a community center.

After exams finish up, Kudakwashe Ngogodo ’08 hopes to provide safe drinking water in a rural community in Zimbabwe. Jessica French Smith ’09 wants to spend her summer building a community center for the troubled youth of Nagarote, Nicaragua.

With support from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace Program, Smith, Ngogodo and other students from 65 colleges and universities will receive funding to undertake their proposed projects. Philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, on the occasion of her 100th birthday in February, established the new program with a donation of one million dollars so that each of the projects will receive $10,000.

The objective of the program is to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century.

“The Projects for Peacep present to me an opportunity of a lifetime,” explains Ngogodo, who grew up between two Zimbabwe provinces, traditionally divided by ethnic groups. “The region has been marred by great conflicts, all in the in the interest of controlling the scarce resourced needed for survival, chief amongst them drinking water.””

Economics and math major Ngogodo, pictured at left, hopes to engage the community in a peace-building project titled “Hope Water Project.” The project will entail sinking at least two boreholes, which will serve the community with clean and safe water. He hopes that creating this clean-water resource will mean people in the community will no longer die from ingesting parasites and bacteria that exist in dirty water.

This will ensure dialogue and cooperation, and for the first time in my life, I will see a community divided for so long come together for common good,”he says. I want the boreholes to stand 10 years from now as a symbol of change, peace, and cooperation.”

French Smith, who is coordinating the project “Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership,” will use the fellowship to travel to Nagarote, Nicaragua with fellow group members Sean Corlett ’07, Lorena Estrella ’10 and Nelson Norsworthy ’10. This small community faces many hurdles to combat poverty including inadequate access to health care, low literacy and graduation rates, high crime rates, high drug usage and low wages in sweatshop-like environments.

The Wesleyan students have already partnered with youth and community members to begin the project in June. Funds have already been raised to purchase land and a building; however, the facility requires major renovations to function as an adequate classroom and gathering space.

“We firmly believe that this community center will help promote peace in the region by giving youngsters constructive activities as an alternative to drugs and violence,” French Smith says. “We can promote our education-based mission much more effectively and efficiently in this new space and it will provide youth from all over the city the opportunity to keep occupied and engaged, thus reducing crime, drug use and gangs.”

The projects were judged and accepted by the Davis United World Scholars Program office. Applications included a written statement of the project including expected outcomes, prospects for future impact, and a budget proposal.

The “Hope – Water Project” and “Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership” will be completed this summer.

“There is a future to consider not only for ourselves but also for those who come after us,” Ngogodo says.

Watson Fellowship Allows Seniors to Study Abroad


 
At left, Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 received Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowships, which facilitate independent projects abroad.
Posted 04/02/07
Two Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct independent studies as Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellows.

Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 each received the $25,000 award. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship provides graduating college seniors with a one year fellowship to explore an independent project outside of the United States, to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

Approximately 195 students were nominated to be Watson Fellows; of these, only 50 were accepted. They come from 24 states and seven foreign countries.

Louise Brown, associate dean of the college and campus liaison, nominated Bishop and Senderowicz.

“We are delighted that Marlon and Leigh will have this unequaled opportunity to experience learning on a global scale, “Brown says. “They will not only engage in a project about which they are passionate, but also experience the personal and intellectual stretch from undertaking an independent project in countries outside the United States. Being awarded seven fellowships over the past five years is a wonderful recognition of the intellect, creativity and character of Wesleyan students.

Bishop will travel to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Ecuador and Brazil for his study “From Punta to Palos: Exploring the Hidden Afro-Latino Musics.” Senderowicz will travel to Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey for a study titled “Taboo and Tolerance: Reproductive Health in Cultural Context.”

Bishop’s psroject comes from a personal musical connection to the African-derived musical styles of the United States, a great interest in Latin America and its cultural milieu, and a musicological education at Wesleyan. The Queens, N.Y. native started playing piano when he was 10, and started performing musical jams at the age of 14. He’s explored rock, American blues, soul, funk, jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, and at the age of 16, developed a fascination for Latin American culture and music during a visit to Peru.

Bishop recalls playing his charango, a small Andean string instrument, and a group of teenagers with guitars and flutes came by, curious to see what a “fair-haired gringo” was doing with a local instrument. Though he only knew a handful of chords, it was enough to play along and he and the Peruvians spent the rest of the day playing.

“Though I spoke little Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate meaningfully with people who lived a world apart through music,” Bishop says. “The Watson year will take my personal, musical, and academic development to the next level, synthesizing the knowledge I have achieved into a single vision of the cultural processes that make music what it is.”

Senderowicz will look at how women’s health is affected by the laws of a nation, the dictates of culture, the directives of religion, the politics of international development organizations, and the values of the women themselves. Specifically, she will examine reproductive health choices by looking at the situation at each rung of the ladder as aid money travels from international organizations down to women seeking health care.

She intends to talk with administrators, doctors, nurses, traditional health care practitioners, and most importantly, women seeking reproductive health care at non-governmental organizations and local health clinics.

“The biggest thing I hope to accomplish is gaining a sense of what my role in a broader global context should be,” Senderowicz says. “I’m going to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a chance to re-engage and try to figure out where I can make positive interventions.”

The foundation selects its fellows by identifying individuals who demonstrate leadership, resourcefulness, imagination or vision, independence, integrity, responsibility and emotional maturity and courage. A candidate’s academic record, while not of primary importance, is also considered, together with those extracurricular activities that reflect both initiative and dedication.

Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects. Fellows set their agenda and decide how questions can be answered, when it is time to move on, if a project must be adjusted in any way. All fellows are required to maintain contact with the foundation during their year abroad, and submit a final evaluation.

“I’m very lucky not to have to jump into the grind of a career, and want to make the most possible out of this year,” Bishop says. “A year of travel, adventure, new sights and sounds, education, the joy of exploration of a little-studied subject. It all sounds like a great experience.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan’s Douglas Cannon to Return after 10 Years?


Members of the class of 1918, the last class to hold a “Cannon Scrap” on campus, serenade the Douglas Cannon at their 55th reunion in 1973. Rumors have it that the cannon may return this year during Reunion & Commencement Weekend. Below, the cannon makes an appearance in Paris, France in the mid 1980s.
Posted 04/02/07
There are no promises, but rumors have been heard that the 139-year-old Douglas Cannon – a revered Wesleyan artifact – may make an appearance during the 175th Commencement this May.

John Driscoll, director of alumni relations, says he’s heard vague rumblings that the cannon might be leaving a current sanctuary and be heading towards Connecticut.

“I know I looked carefully throughout Southeast Asia and it wasn’t there,” Driscoll says. “But I daresay there is more than just rumor floating in the air. I would be exceedingly presumptuous to predict with confidence, but I hear there are noises, promising ripples not heard for too long. Like the promise of spring, they instill hope.”

The Douglas Cannon, a 140-pound, 29-inch long, brass artillery instrument, has been a celebrated saga on campus since the 1860s. A yearly contest, the “Cannon Scrap,” developed between the freshmen, whose mission it was to fire the cannon on Feb. 22, and the sophomores, who were charged with foiling the effort. The game ended in 1916 and in 1931, the cannon was filled with 100 pounds of lead and mounted to a block of brownstone between Memorial Chapel and South College. The cannon remained there for 26 years, only to be stolen by students in 1957, returned, then stolen again in 1959.

The cannon has traveled widely since that time: it has been hidden in dormitories, presented to the Russian Mission at the United Nations as a “symbol of peace, brotherhood, and friendship,” appeared unexpectedly in the offices of the managing editor of Life magazine, presented to President Richard M. Nixon as a protest against the war in Vietnam, and baked into Wesleyan’s sesquicentennial birthday cake in 1981.

In 1982, the gun went missing once more. Using bolt cutters, wire cutters, pliers, vice grips, a crow bar, sheet metal hammer and a hook and wood saw, cannon-nappers broke into the Office of Public Safety, where the cannon was residing. They left $5 to pay for their damages.

The thieves known as “Doug Addicts” took the cannon on a world tour, making stops in London and Paris, as revealed in photographs. A postcard from “Doug” arrived in the president’s office from Venezuela in 1989. Customs stamps on the cannon’s wooden crate, noticed at a later appearance, confirmed that it left the country.

It’s been 10 years since the cannon appeared on campus. In 1997, the cannon was “gifted” in a large plaster package with a red ribbon near the Davenport Campus Center. The plaster was broken apart with hammers and chisels and the wooden crate inside containing the cannon was swiftly carried off by a group of students.

Bill Burkhart, university photographer, has witnessed the cannon’s disappearing acts for 17 years.

“The Douglas Cannon tradition is becoming a non-tradition, since five classes have graduated, clueless to the cannon’s significance,” Burkhart says. “Come home Doug, come home. Soon.”

Driscoll says he and Suzy Taraba, university archivist, received photos showing the cannon “well cared for by scantily clad revelers” during Homecoming/Family Weekend three years ago. Two years ago, a cannon appeared at halftime during the homecoming football game, however, it was suspected of being a fraud.

“So, I think it is fair to say, subject to counter claims and evidence, that there has not been a full-blown appearance of the Cannon since 1997,” Driscoll says.

Driscoll says the 175th commencement would be a good time for the cannon to make an appearance.

“It certainly would be a good time, what with length of absence and too many Wesleyan folks knowing too little about this fun-filled tradition, and it being our 175th year, and, finally, it being the end of the Bennets’ good tenure –the name ‘Douglas’ should mean something — but it is too early to tell,” he says.

For more on the history of the Douglas Cannon, go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/schome/cannon/cannon.htm.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Post Doc Awarded Gilder Lehrman Fellowship


Posted 04/02/07
Jacob Dorman, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, has been awarded a research fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Dorman will conduct research at the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library. His project title is “Everyday Life and the Harlem Renaissance.”

Dorman received a bachelor’s of art from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in African American history. At Wesleyan, he teaches Black Urban Religious History.

He will use his Gilder Lehrman Fellowship to research the social history of black life during the Harlem Renaissance.

To support outstanding scholarship, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awards short-term fellowships in several categories: Research Fellowships for post-doctoral scholars at every faculty rank, Dissertation Fellowships for doctoral candidates who have completed exams and begun dissertation reading and writing, and Research Fellowships for journalists and independent scholars. The Gilder Lehrman Fellowships support work in one of five archives in New York City.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It helps to create history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. Since 1994, it has funded a total of 415 fellowships.

For more information on the Gilder Lehrman Fellowship go to http://www.gilderlehrman.org.

Student Presents Stem Cell Research at International Symposium


Jenna Gopilan ’07 researches neural stem cells in mice brains, and presented her research at a recent StemCONN conference.
Posted 04/02/07
Jenna Gopilan ’07 familiarized herself with the scientific research environment during her freshman year as a work study student. As a sophomore, she shadowed graduate students to learn their techniques. Now, as a senior, the neuroscience and behavior major had the opportunity to present her own research project to the Media and Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The briefing took place during Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research International Symposium, also known as StemCONN 07, March 27-28. Gopilan’s research, presented on a poster, was titled “Defects in the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Adult Mice Deficient for DNA Double-Strand Break Repair.” Political leaders, scientists, academics and the general public attended the symposium. Gopilian was the only undergraduate chosen from 10 other students to present for this session.

“It was a little intimidating to present my research to scientists from around the world and our state’s legislators, but it was an educational experience,” Gopilan says. “Listening to legislators’ inspiring speeches, I learned that scientists should take a more active role in their community.”

Launched in the wake of Connecticut’s historic decision to support human stem cell research, StemCONN attracted stem cell researchers from around the world. The program included events touching all aspects of stem cell research, including scientific, commercial, political and ethical dimensions. Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell opened the proceedings.

Gopilan received funding for her project from Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) and Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). The grant funds her studies of endogenous neural stem cells in the hippocampus of adult mice and the neurogenic response of the brain to seizures.

Last summer, Gopilan conducted research at the University of California, San Francisco. There, she learned how to harvest neural stem cells from the central nervous system of adult mice. She was able to use the technique back at Wesleyan in the lab supervised by Janice Naegele, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department.

“Although these are early days in her research project, Jenna already has some interesting data that she had the opportunity to present in the Capital and at StemCONN,” Naegele says. “Not only is this a very nice recognition of her interesting project, it is also an opportunity to present her ideas at an international conference where she was able to receive feedback from experts in the stem cell field.”

Prior to her junior year, Gopilan was accepted to be a Hughes Fellow, spending the entire summer working on a single research project “The Effects of Serotonin on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus of DNA-PKcs Mice”. Gopilan will graduate this May, but will continue her research as a fifth-year master’s student at Wesleyan.

After Gopilan offered her presentation side-by-side with scientists who have received major grants from the state, Dr. Gerald Fishbone and Dr. Jerry Yang, members of the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, lauded her work and offered advice for the young scientist.

“Their input allowed me to reevaluate my research and think of new and innovative experiments to answer questions I have for my research,” Gopilan says. “I would to like continue working with adult neural stem cells in the future. There are still many things left to understand and decipher.”

The long-term goal of her work is to repair brain damage in disorders such as epilepsy.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Selects 16th President

Michael S. Roth, a historian and president of California College of the Arts, will become the 16th president of Wesleyan at the beginning of the 2007-08 academic year.

Roth, a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1978, has been a professor in history and the humanities since 1983 and is recognized both as a curator and author. He is noted for founding the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, Calif., as a center for intellectual exchange across disciplines, for his scholarly leadership in the arts community as associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and for enhancing the academic excellence, national reputation and financial strength of California College of the Arts (CCA).

“Michael Roth embodies the qualities of leadership that Wesleyan strives to instill in its students,” says Wesleyan Board of Trustees Chair James van B. Dresser ’63, P’93. “His broad intellectual curiosity and his great personal energy have enabled him to drive innovation across a range of disciplines and in a variety of institutional settings. I can think of no one better suited to lead Wesleyan as we continue to build and promote its academic strengths and to enhance students’ experiences.”

Roth traces his scholarly and administrative successes back to his undergraduate experience. “I discovered my intellectual passions at Wesleyan,” he notes. “Over time I came to appreciate more fully that the gifted teachers I had were consistently advancing knowledge through both their classroom work and their scholarship. This experience shaped how I have approached my own historical work, as well as the values I have brought to academic leadership throughout my career. The bridging of disciplines, the efforts to foster intellectual community, the pursuit of problem-oriented research, and the combination of art and public culture have been expressions of the intellectual principles I first encountered at Wesleyan. I look forward to connecting to my roots while helping to build the future of the institution.”

NSF Grant to Support Women’s Advancement in the Geosciences


In center, Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, teaches visiting 5th grade students about rocks. O’Connell was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support building a community of women geoscience leaders.
Posted 04/02/07
A three-year, $488,367 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Mary Anne Holmes, research associate professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will help women from all academic levels take part in a community that stresses professional development in the geosciences.

The project, titled, “Building a Community of Women Geoscience Leaders” is funded by the NSF’s ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation and Dissemination Award. Wesleyan’s portion of the grant is$259,593.

“We want to overcome isolation, a known factor in the non-retention of women scientists, teach women skills to help them succeed in academia, and develop strategies with female and male department chairs to develop an environment that is more supportive of women,” O’Connell says.

The grant will fund a program designed to increase the retention of women in geoscience programs. The program, called GANE, or Geoscience Academics in New England, will target colleges and universities located in the northeast region of the country.

O’Connell and Holmes hope to implement professional development workshops and writing retreats to provide women necessary skills to reach their full potential as academic and scientific leaders. Geoscience department chairs will be offered special workshops, as well, with an emphasis on increasing gender balance. These workshops will address strategies to increase department diversity, while providing a productive environment for all faculty.

A database of academic geoscientists will be created to measure progress. Results may be shared with other regions across the country.

O’Connell and Holmes are both members of the Association for Women Geoscientists, an international organization devoted to enhancing the quality and level of participation of women in the geosciences. It also aims to introduce girls and young women to geoscience careers. In 2000, O’Connell was given the association’s Outstanding Educator Award.

O’Connell says it was a physician who inspired her to become a professional woman. When O’Connell was 10, she fell off a fence and was taken to the hospital. Lying for hours in a large green room, she saw many incredible sights, but what amazed her most at the time was that the person who treated her was a woman.

“A woman doctor! That was a revelation,” O’Connell recalls. “At that time, I was planning to be a nun, but now it occurred to me that maybe I could be a doctor. That woman, just by her presence, started me thinking. Like that physician, we are all role models. Who knows what ideas we can implant in young heads.”

O’Connell didn’t grow up to be a physician or nun, but she did receive a Ph.D studying marine sediments, focusing on how large quantities of land sediment get transported to the deep sea by turbidity currents. She teaches Wesleyan students about sedimentology, marine geology, climate change and oceanography, and researches past climate change by studying sediment cores from the ocean.

“I don’t think we can always know how we are influencing others,” O’Connell says. “But I do think that we, as women geoscientists, help every young girl to know that she has wider career options. It’s often not easy, but it is exciting.”

O’Connell was featured in the March 2007 issue of Nature, Volume 446 Number 7133, in an article titled, “Leaks in the pipeline: Why do women remain curiously absent from the ranks of academia?” The article is online at http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2007/070315/full/nj7133-346a.html.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Faculty Finds Strongest Evidence Yet of Link Between CO2 and Global Temperature Change


A study by Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, has established a calculable relationship between increases in CO2 and global surface temperatures.
Posted 04/02/07
The connection between CO2 concentrations and increased global temperatures just gained a significant amount of evidence – about 420 million years worth of evidence, to be specific.

In a paper published in the March 29 issue of Nature, Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, and two colleagues from Yale University have used nearly 500 data points to create the most comprehensive model of the relationship between CO2 and temperature to date. The findings indicate that over the last 420 million years increases in CO2 in the atmosphere have had a direct and calculable relationship to increases in global surface temperatures.

Royer is the study’s primary investigator; his co-authors on the paper are Robert Berner and Jeffrey Park who are both faculty at the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University.

The study provides the strongest and most conclusive evidence to date that, in the history of the Earth, rises in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are directly linked to increases in global surface temperatures.

“This link has been established by previous studies, but the most expansive of these only went back about 15,000 years,” Royer says. “That’s barely a blink of an eye in terms of the life of the planet. Our study went back much further in time. It was intriguing that much of what we found was consistent with these other studies.

Specifically, what Royer and his co-investigators found was that every doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations resulted in an approximately 3° C (approx 5 ° F) increase in global surface temperature. This ratio is consistent with shorter-term models and surveys.

Of course, identifying accurate data points for atmospheric CO2 are what make studies such as these difficult. Before approximately 50 years ago, there were no atmospheric CO2 measurements made directly by human beings. However, scientists have been able to use a variety of methods that rely on studies of soil, sediments, sea beds, and even fossils.

“One method involves analyzing the stomata of certain kinds of fossilized plants,” Royer says. “When the CO2 concentrations are higher, plants will have fewer pores for gas exchange. When it is lower, these plants will have more pores. This information can be combined with what we know about the temperature and other environmental factors from that period in a particular kind of modeling.”

Royer and his fellow researchers were able to draw together the data generated from a variety of methods to create their study.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Student Selected to Join Institute for Responsible Citizenship

 

Posted 03/16/07
This summer, Gaël Hagen ’09 will be doing something a little different than he’s used to. Specifically, he’ll have the opportunity to meet with such high-level government officials including Supreme Court Justices, the Secretary of State, U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, as well as business leaders.

Hagen, pictured at right, is a newly-selected scholar to the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership program centered at Georgetown University. Each year, 24 minority male students are selected to participate in the two-summer program in Washington, D.C. During the first summer, students take courses on campus while interning in the D.C. Metro area. During the second summer, students work full-time and act as mentors to the next group of 24 newly-admitted candidates.

“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen among a group of individuals who all are highly talented and have managed to do astonishing things with their lives thus far,” Hagan says. “It will be both a great honor and a privilege to be a part of the institute and enjoy all it has to offer.”

A stipend is provided to cover the cost of transportation and food. Students live in university housing provided by the institute during the program.

Hagen, who is studying in the College of Social Studies, became interested in law during high school. Since then, he’s tried to immerse himself in as many law-related activities as possible; the institute being one of them. The institute will provide him with not only a legal internship in America’s political powerbase, but offer encouragement within a valuable academic and social environment.

“What personally draws me to law is the way in which it demands a person to perform and analyze in a constantly changing environment,” Hagen says. “The practice of law, at least as I have witnessed it, is something that is never a stagnant ordeal. New cases provide new hurdles, new personalities, and new problems. It seems as though it requires a person who likes a consistent challenge.”

A resident of Centennial, Colorado, Hagen came to Wesleyan, seeking a university that offered a new environment. He favored the College of Social Studies for its closeness and intensity. He also joined the crew team as a freshman, looking for a different kind of intensity.

“Certainly the culture here is much different than in Colorado, or most places west of here, for that matter; so it was a compelling move,” Hagen says. “For some, being involved in a two-season sport like crew and studying in the College of Social Studies is an all but desirable combo; but for me, it means that every day I get to do the two things that I love most about being at Wesleyan.”

A recipient of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Academic Scholarship for his academic achievements, Gaël was also named Student of the Year by the Colorado Association of Black Engineers and Scientists in 2005 for his distinguished leadership skills. Last summer, Gaël interned at Holland and Hart LLP, where his proficiency in French aided the firm immeasurably.

Hagan says his background and cultural experience provides him with a toolset and a perspective with which he can employ as a unique advantage, not only at Wesleyan but at the institute.

“The experience of the American minority is one that is highly important for the country as a whole given its ‘melting pot’ origins, and I think that our voice is one that is, and rightfully should be represented and respected in the nation’s judicial activities,” he says.

On the other hand, Hagan winces at sloppy references to cultural or ethnic groups as just ‘the minorities’ and ‘people of color.’ He believes it places too much emphasis on a separation of cultures, which only discourages unity and distances people from each other.

“I do not consider myself to be a minority or a ‘person of color’ before I consider myself a young person, a student, a person with career goals, an athlete; no different from any other person who might fit those categories,” he says. “Yes, I happen to have a multi-ethnic background which, if I were to explain in depth, would span four continents; but I don’t feel that those are my primary personal attributes and encourage people in both camps – ‘the minority’ and ‘the majority’ — to understand not how their cultural experiences differ them from others, but how their cultural experiences connect them to others.”
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

New Science Center Gets Boost from Trustee, Wife


Posted 03/16/07
A $2.5 million pledge from Board of Trustee member Joshua Boger ‘ 73, and Amy Boger will support planning for a new molecular and life sciences building at Wesleyan.

Joshua Boger, pictured at left, who founded and currently serves as president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, leads Wesleyan’s Science Advisory Council, which works to strengthen the sciences at Wesleyan and to raise their visibility on and off campus. He also has served as a charter trustee of Wesleyan since 1999.

Payette Associates of Cambridge, Mass., is working with faculty in the molecular and life sciences disciplines on programming and feasibility studies for the building, which would replace the Hall-Atwater Laboratory. These studies will provide the basis for a schematic design to be completed within a year. A $1 million gift from Board of Trustees member George Ring P ’98 ’02 and his family has supported the initial planning. The Bogers’ gift is intended both to support this work through the schematic design phase and to catalyze further fundraising for the project. The building is expected to provide at least 175,000 square feet of space and to cost at least $125 million. If fundraising proceeds quickly, construction could begin as early as 2009.

Boger believes that, in addition to serving the needs of science faculty, graduate students and science majors, the new building should support the efforts of Wesleyan faculty to address a crucial need for science literacy among college graduates. “The challenge to society is to have everyone comfortable and conversant with the sciences,” he says. “We want all our students to be able to go out into the real world and be players in discussions that involve science issues, to understand what it means to be a scientist, to be confident approaching scientists and talking to them about the many questions of the day that concern science. That means all our students, whether English majors or economists, should have some experience with real science.

“Part of the goal for the new building will be to help pull the rest of the campus into the experience of real science,” Boger adds. “We think the architecture should be inviting and support the sense that science is fun.”

Wesleyan’s educational model features science graduate programs situated within a traditional liberal arts college, as well as a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching. Wesleyan undergraduates have opportunities to participate in extramurally funded research in close partnership with faculty and graduate students. They frequently participate in upper-level project-based laboratory experiences, and over a third of science majors execute independent research projects in the laboratories of Wesleyan faculty. According to data compiled by the National Science Foundation, Wesleyan consistently ranks among the top 10 baccalaureate colleges in the numbers of students going on to obtain the Ph.D degree in the sciences.

Boger began to realize his own love of the sciences when as a boy of nine he began growing potassium permanganate crystals in a lab he set up above the family garage. He also swabbed the mouths of neighborhood playmates and grew cultures in his mother’s refrigerator.

“If you had asked me then if I was going to be a scientist, I wouldn’t have understood why you were asking,” he says. “It was simply that science was a fun thing to do.

“Fast forward a few years to the day I walked into Max Tishler’s organic chemistry class, and that was a good moment as well,” Boger says. “Max was amazingly animated and passionate about why this was all so important. Peter Leermakers was my Intro to Chem teacher, and he had the same sense of fun.”

Boger is a director and vice chairman of BIO, the biopharmaceutical industry trade association; a founding director of the New England Healthcare Institute, and a director of the Hastings Institute. He holds a BA in chemistry and philosophy from Wesleyan and MS and PhD degrees in chemistry from Harvard University. Amy Schafer Boger , a physician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a professional ceramic artist.

“We are grateful to Joshua Boger for his leadership on the Science Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees and to Joshua and Amy for their personal generosity to Wesleyan,” says President Doug Bennet. “Their enthusiasm for Wesleyan science education inspires all of us to think expansively about ways we can advance our work to address a crucial societal need. We look forward to having a facility that will support the experience of science as a vital and integral part of the education all our students receive.”
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs

Davis ’07 Wins 5,000M National Indoor Championship


Posted 03/16/07
Competing in the 5,000M event in the NCAA Division III Indoor Track Championships for the third year in a row, Ellen Davis ’07 completed her rise from eighth in 2005, to fourth in 2006, and finally national champion in 2007 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. March 10.

Her winning time of 16:43.73 eclipsed the team record she set a year ago (16:46.61) when she entered the NCAAs with the fastest qualifying time in the country.

This race is equivalent to 3.1 miles.

Davis, pictured at far left, came into the event as the number four seed but ran away from the field, leaving second-place Shauneen Garrahan of Amherst 7.5 seconds behind. With 10 team points courtesy of Davis’ top finish, Wesleyan came in tied for 16th among 56 scoring teams at the NCAAs in 2007.

A three-time indoor track All-American, Davis also has two All-America performances in cross country to her credit, including a 9th-place finish in 2006.

Davis is Wesleyan’s second national female indoor track champion in the last four years. She joins Jenna Flateman ’04 who won 55-meter dash title in 2003 and was a four-time All-American in the event.

Davis’ victory is seen in the online video http://www.rose-hulman.edu/sports/ncaatrack/pages/5000womenweb.mov.

The next track meet for Wesleyan is the outdoor Trinity Invitational at Trinity College in Hartford on March 31.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director. Photo provided by Rose-Hulman.

WesLink Connects Campus to Business Opportunities, Events and Each Other


University Relations created WesLink for faculty, staff, students and alumni to post events.
Posted 03/16/07
On a single site, Wesleyan alumni can market their businesses, faculty can promote their newly-released books, students can seek volunteers for their community service projects, and much more.

WesLink, a Web site launched Feb. 16 by the Office of University Relations, enables all alumni, faculty, staff and students to post non-Wesleyan sponsored events, announcements, activities, and services to the greater Wesleyan community.

“We are always looking for opportunities to engage alumni with the university and with each other, and WesLink helps to bridge that engagement, while at the same time showcasing some of the extraordinary talents of the greater Wesleyan community,” explains Jennifer Jurgen, senior associate director of Regional Programs and Networks.

WesLink, https://weslink.wesleyan.edu/ is reserved for all members of the Wesleyan community. Users can post events occurring on or off campus. These events may be theater, music, comedy, literary, athletic or community-service related.

WesLink offers a dozen regional sections where alumni living in these areas can post their own local events. These sections include the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC, and Connecticut.

In addition, the site features sections on Real Estate and Housing, Wesleyan Authors, Reunion & Commencement Weekend 2007; Business Marketing and an Everything Else category.

The site is maintained by University Relations and Information Technology Services staff. The site mirrors the Wesleyan Classifieds, which was established in 2005.

“In the process of working with our regional club programming, we often hear from alumni who want to promote their theater events, concerts, comedy shows, art exhibits, etc,” Jurgen says. “Since the timing doesn’t always allow us to work these alumni-sponsored events into our club event calendars, we wanted to create a forum where they could still get their information out to the greater Wesleyan community.”

Wesleyan’s online newsletter, The Wesleyan Connection, and online magazine, The Wesleyan Extra, also receive dozens of e-mails each month from the campus community eager to announce upcoming events or business endeavors. WesLink will provide a venue for people to post these announcements if they are unable to be published in one of these publications.

WesLink was an instant success with alumni, who contributed more than two dozen postings in the site’s first week of being active.

Heidi Mastrogiovanni ’79 took advantage of the Los Angeles Events section by posting an animal rescue volunteer opportunity. In the ad, she mentions she is a board member of volunteer-operated Forgotten Animals of Los Angeles. Elizabeth Ehrlich ’04 posted an announcement of her business, Snuggle Up, in the Business and Marketing section of WesLink. In her posting, she mentions she is a stay-at-home mom selling personalized towels, hand-dyed clothing, fleece blankets and more for babies and kids.

“She sells baby clothes with watermelons painted on them. They are too cute. I had to send the link to three of my friends,” Jurgen says.

While the public may view the postings, only Wesleyan alumni, students, faculty, and staff have the ability to post items to WesLink. The site requires a Wesleyan username and password to log into the system. Users are allowed to upload one photo with each posting.

Items posted to the system automatically expire after 30 days, however users will be sent an email a week prior to the expiration date, which will offer the option to extend the posting for an additional month.

WesLink administrators reserve the right to edit or remove postings with inappropriate content.

For more information, to obtain a lost username or password, or to make a suggestion on the new system, e-mail weslink@wesleyan.edu.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor