Campus News & Events

Applications for Wesleyan Summer Grants Due Feb. 28

All undergraduates are eligible to apply for a 2019 Wesleyan Summer Grant, which allows students to pursue no- or low-pay career-related summer experiences.

Grant applications must be submitted before midnight on Feb. 28.

Wesleyan Summer Grants are funding resources awarded through the Gordon Career Center. These resources include Wesleyan Summer Experience Grants, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Grants, named grants, and others. View all the grant opportunities online here.

To be considered for funding, the summer opportunity should be full-time for a minimum (or the equivalent) of eight weeks. Grant awards typically range between $4,000 and $5,000.

For more information about eligibility, requirements of a particular grant, or the application process, contact Sarah McNamara, associate director for internships and campus recruiting, via email wseg@wesleyan.edu.

Read more about the summer experience grants in this Jan. 28 article in the Wesleyan Argus and in News @ Wesleyan.

Plous Honored with Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota

Scott Plous

For his accomplishments in research and scholarship, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychology is honoring Professor of Psychology Scott Plous with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Plous graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1980 with a BA degree in psychology, summa cum laude. He later completed a PhD in psychology and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. At Wesleyan, Plous’s research focuses on judgment and decision-making, prejudice and discrimination, and the human use of animals and the environment.

The University of Minnesota’s alumni awards honor distinguished alumni from the undergraduate and graduate programs. Nominations are solicited from alumni, faculty, and friends of psychology at Minnesota and are reviewed by a Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, who forward their recommendations to the department chair.

“This award recognizes [Plous’s] distinguished accomplishments in research and scholarship, both basic and applied, as well as in education and enhancing public awareness and impact of psychological science and practice,” wrote Jeffry Simpson, chair of the University of Minnesota’s psychology department, and Mark Snyder of the Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, in an award letter to Plous. “Your achievements are truly distinguished, and we are so pleased to have you among our truly distinguished alumni.”

Wesleyan to Expand Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Wesleyan has announced that it will expand opportunities for incoming students under its Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which was established in the 2016–17 academic year in honor of Wesleyan alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (writer/creator/original star) and Thomas Kail ’99 (director) of the international phenomenon, Hamilton: An American Musical.

Over the past two years, more than a thousand students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration. A distinguished selection committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, headed by honorary chairs Miranda and Kail, reviewed submissions and chose one winner each year to receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan. Read about past winners here and here.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The New York Times: “Anthony Braxton Composes Together Past, Present and Future”

Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, is profiled. Among other ongoing projects, Braxton has spent much of the past four years working on his newest opera, “Trillium L,” which, he says, “is a five-day opera”—if it is ever performed.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: “That Bit of Philosophy in All of Us”

Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, is interviewed about his book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus.

3. The Guardian“The Blake-Wadsworth Gallery of Reborn Dolls”

This original short story by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and professor of the practice, English, follows a woman coping with her elderly mother’s memory loss.

Coach Raba Inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame

John Raba

Wesleyan men’s lacrosse head coach John Raba was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Jan. 24 at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. Raba is one of 11 individuals and four teams inducted into the 26th class.

“It is an absolute honor and privilege to be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame,” Raba said. “I feel blessed to be recognized with some of Middletown’s finest. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with so many great administrators, coaches, and players throughout the years. Without their support and effort, this honor would not be attainable!”

Raba has been at the helm of the Wesleyan men’s lacrosse program for 22 seasons; in 2018 he led the Cardinals to the University’s first-ever national team championship. Wesleyan had the toughest road to the finals as it defeated No. 8 Cabrini (12-7), No. 2 Tufts (12-11), and No. 1 RIT (19-18) before earning an 8-6 win over perennial powerhouse, No. 3 Salisbury.

In his 22 years, Raba has amassed an incredible 265-113 (.701) record with 19 winning seasons, while competing in arguably the most competitive conference in the country. The three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year became the winningest coach in league history this past season. He was also named the 2017 USILA Division III Coach of the Year and is a six-time New England Coach of the Year.

Raba has coached three national position players of the year and 43 All-Americans during his tenure. His teams have qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament on six occasions and are 14-5 all-time with four semifinal appearances. Additionally, Wesleyan has won two NESCAC Championships and its 23 conference postseason wins are third all-time behind only Tufts (31) and Middlebury (26).

Students, Faculty, Alumni Attend American Astronomical Society Meeting

Mark Popinchalk ’13

Roy Kilgard and Mark Popinchalk ’13.

More than 25 Wesleyan affiliates attended the 233rd American Astronomical Society Meeting Jan. 6-10 in Seattle, Wash. All current Wesleyan students who attended presented posters of their research.

Campus attendees included: Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy and professor, integrative sciences; Roy Kilgard, associate professor of the practice in astronomy and associate professor of the practice, integrative sciences; Michael Henderson ’19; Allison Quintana ’19; graduate student Jessica Klusmeyer; graduate student Ismael Mireles; and graduate student Anthony Santini ’18.

Alumni included Hannah Fritze ’18, Aylin Garcia Soto ’18, Prajwal Niraula MA ’18, Amy Steele MA ’14, Nicole Arulanantham MA ’15, Mark Popinchalk ’13, Marshall Johnson ’11, Anna Williams ’09, Ken Rumstay MA ’77, Taft Armandroff ’82, Phil Choi ’95, Anil Seth ’98, Evan Tingle ’08, MA ’09, Diana Windemuth MA ’13, Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein ’15, Clara Moskowitz ’05, Emily Leiner ’10.

Diana Windemuth MA ’13 and Aylin Garcia Soto ’18

Diana Windemuth MA ’13 and Aylin Garcia Soto ’18.

Former graduate student Colin Littlefield, and former post-doctoral researchers Vicki Sarajedini and John Cannon also attended.

In addition, five college students who participated in the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium’s (KNAC) summer Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program at Wesleyan attended the meeting. Karina Cooper, Sadie Coffin, Aleezah Ali, Katie Chapman, and Diego Garcia worked at Wesleyan’s observatory last summer and were under the direction of Wesleyan faculty and students.

View additional photos of the meeting in this Van Vleck Observatory blog.

5 Students Receive NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Fellowships, Awards

Two graduate students and three undergraduate students are recipients of Fall 2018 NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) awards. They are among 39 students from 13 CTSGC academic affiliate institutions to be honored.

NASA CTSGC is a federally mandated grant, internship, and scholarship program that is funded as a part of NASA Education. There are Space Grant Consortia in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Earth and environmental science graduate student Christina Cauley received an $8,000 Graduate Research Fellowship for her project “Chemistry and Biology of Giant Hydrothermal Mounds in Paulina Lake, Oregon.” Her advisor is Joop Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science and Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. Varekamp also is professor of earth and environmental sciences; professor, environmental studies; and professor, Latin American studies.

Astronomy major Hunter Vannier ’20 received a $5,000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship for his project titled “Using Hubble to Look Back at the Sun’s Historical Trajectory Through the Local Interstellar Medium.” Vannier’s advisor is Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy. Redfield also is associate professor, integrative sciences, and co-coordinator, planetary science.

Three other students received $1,000 Student Travel Grants, which covered travel expenses to attend the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Seattle, Wash., in January.

At the meeting, Astronomy major Michael Henderson ’19 presented his senior thesis research titled “High Precision Photometry of Faint White Dwarf Stars from K2 Data.” Henderson’s advisor is Seth Redfield.

Astronomy graduate student Ismael Mireles, presented his master’s thesis research on “Searching for planets around the brightest stars in K2.” Mireles’s advisor is Seth Redfield.

And astronomy graduate student Anthony Santini ’18 presented his BA/MA thesis research titled “Determining Fundamental Properties of Galaxies with X-ray Binary Correlations.” Santini’s advisor is Roy Kilgard, associate professor of the practice in astronomy and associate professor of the practice, integrative sciences.

Q&A with Amy Grillo on Education Studies

In addition to teaching at Wesleyan, Amy Grillo works with a nonprofit media/production company that makes films about teaching and teachers. “Our aim is to make visible the actual work of excellent teaching … (and) also to inform and inspire those currently in the classroom or those considering the profession.”

In this Q&A, we speak with Amy Grillo, associate professor of the practice in education studies. This spring, she is teaching Schools in Society and Practicum in Education Studies.

Q: You joined Wesleyan’s faculty during the fall 2018 semester. Welcome to Wesleyan! What are your overall thoughts so far on the University?

A: I keep pinching myself, which is to say that I am incredibly happy to have landed here. I’ve found the students to be lively and engaged, both with their academic work and with the world beyond Wesleyan. The staff and faculty seem similarly energetic and positive. I was most impressed getting to know this year’s batch of new faculty during orientation in August because they seemed to hit the ground with a natural interest in collaborating and supporting each other in both teaching and research, and very open to thinking creatively about pedagogy. Few things could make me happier than working with people who care about teaching as much as I do.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan? Where were you working/teaching prior to Wesleyan?

A: Immediately prior to coming to Wesleyan, I spent six years at Mount Holyoke College, where I taught in the Psychology & Education Department and also in the graduate Master of Arts in Teaching Program. That was supposed to be a one-year visiting faculty gig, but it kept expanding. Prior to that, I was a core faculty member at Vermont College, an unorthodox, low-residency BA program for working adult students. This was an amazing little college, where students met all the requirements of a liberal arts degree by designing and conducting a series of 16-credit interdisciplinary independent studies with the guidance of a faculty mentor and a group of peers. We did teacher education through this model as well, which was a wonderful way to prepare teachers who know how to break out of the boxes that the current system of public education so often puts them in. I’ve also taught at places ranging from Harvard to Hampshire College, I’ve served as senior class dean at Mount Holyoke, and I was a dean of students at the tiny, democratically run, progressive Marlboro College, in Vermont. In all of these settings, my work has always been about looking closely at how we think about and conduct various processes of teaching and learning. So, when I saw that Wesleyan was looking for someone to work with the Center for Pedagogical Innovation and develop and teach courses in education studies, it seemed too good to be true.

Meislahn to Retire as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

 Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, recently announced that she will retire. Meislahn will leave the University in September after the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she will admit to Wesleyan.

Meislahn came to Wesleyan from her previous role at Cornell University in January 2000 and is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history. Over the past two decades, she has overseen a period of enormous growth and progress in Wesleyan admissions. For the Class of 2004, the first class admitted under Meislahn, Wesleyan received fewer than 7,000 applications and had a 27 percent acceptance rate. In contrast, nearly 13,000 applicants sought a spot in the Class of 2022, which enrolled this fall, and the acceptance rate was only 17 percent. Applications from students around the world increased dramatically during this period, and the international student population on campus has doubled.

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have,” Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In an email to the campus community, President Michael Roth ’78 wrote, “Nancy has led an admission and financial aid operation that embodies core Wesleyan values. She spearheaded several important initiatives to make Wesleyan more affordable for families in need of financial assistance, and expanded access to students from underrepresented backgrounds who may not have even considered applying here in the past.” Examples include building on long-standing relationships with organizations like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance and creating new partnerships with QuestBridge and the Posse Veteran Scholars Program.

Under Meislahn’s leadership, the Office of Admission also transitioned to an entirely paperless operation, introduced a test-optional policy, made Wesleyan’s admission process friendlier to undocumented and DACA-status students, and implemented two different database systems.

Roth added, “Nancy’s passion for her work and for Wesleyan shines through to all who meet her, whether it’s in cheering on our lacrosse and rowing teams, celebrating the creative work of our faculty and students, or in declaring ‘Say Yes to Wes!’ every spring.”

“I’ve often said this is simply the best job,” said Meislahn. “I’ve been so fortunate to work with some of the smartest, best educated, and most committed staff in admission and financial aid. As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have.”

Roth said that he intends to conduct a national search to find a successor, and will share more information in the coming months.

Meislahn staffs the desk inside the newly-remodeled Office of Admission.

Boulware Presents Paper on Labor Market Conditions at Economics Meeting

Karl Boulware

Karl Boulware

Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics, presented a paper at the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA) Annual Meeting on Jan. 4. The three-day meeting was attended by more than 13,000 economists, who gathered to network and celebrate new achievements in economic research.

Boulware’s paper, titled “Labor Market Conditions and Charges of Discrimination: Is There a Link?” examines whether the degree of labor market conditions affects the frequency of claims of discrimination based on race, sex, age, national origin, color, and disability.

“Our findings have implications for how macroeconomic policies might be used to promote equal opportunity in the labor market,” Boulware explained.

Economics majors Will Levinson ’19 and Avi Lipton ’20 also contributed to the project as research assistants.

This spring, Boulware is teaching courses on Quantitative Methods in Economics and Monetary Policy Transmission.

Sawhney Speaks at Tata Mumbai LitFest

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian Studies, spoke on a panel about the way in which outsiders write about India at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. Other panelists included, from left, memoirist Carlo Pizzati, Sawhney, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, second from left, spoke on a panel at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest about the way in which outsiders write about India. Pictured, from left, are fellow panelists: memoirist Carlo Pizzati, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, recently participated in Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. The ninth annual event was held Nov. 15–18 in Mumbai and was attended by more than 100 participants from around the world.

At the festival, Sawhney participated in a panel discussion about the way in which outsiders write about India, and how outside perspectives have shaped both Euro-American and South Asian perspectives on India.

“A lot of this conversation focused on the undying legacy of empire, and we had a nuanced conversation about issues of representation and authenticity, a discussion that seemed very relevant to parallel conversations occurring here at Wes,” he said. “The conversations were obviously focused on books and writers, and there were some big writers there, such as Allan Hollinghurst. But there were also provocative conversations about contemporary political issues, such as the rise of right-wing extremist policy and rhetoric in both Indian and North American politics.”

Bloom Creates New Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization on Coursera

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, recently launched a new nonfiction writing course housed on the Coursera platform. This is Wesleyan’s 21st free massive, open, online course (MOOC) offered through Coursera.

Launched on Jan. 14, Bloom’s Memoir and Personal Essay: Write About Yourself Specialization shows participants how to write with confidence. Taught by award-winning essayists and memoirists, this specialization provides tips, prompts, exercises, readings, and challenges that prepare students to write compelling nonfiction.

Bloom, author of two New York Times best-sellers, also is professor of the practice in creative writing and professor of the practice, English. In this Q&A, Bloom discusses the new specialization. (The Q&A also appears on Coursera.)

Q: What is the Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization?

A: The Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization focuses on these two popular forms of creative writing about the self. One of the wonderful opportunities in this kind of work is that memory and observation are even more important than imagination and the ability to create fictional plot lines. Here, you weave all these skills together to help you put to paper the story you’ve always wanted to share.