Campus News & Events

West African Drumming, Dance Concert Honors Ghana’s Independence


The West African Drumming and Dance Concert was held May 12 in the Center for the Arts Green. The event featured master drummer and visiting artist in residence Attah Poku and choreographer and artist in residence Iddi Saaka, joined by their 72 students, guest artists and 16 student drummers. This annual performance showcases the vibrancy of West African cultures through music and dance forms.

On March 6, 2017, Ghana celebrated its 60th independence anniversary from British colonial rule. This spring’s West African Drumming and Dance concert was held in honor of the anniversary. Apart from the usual traditional dances, students also dressed as Ghanaian chiefs and queen mothers. In addition, a Wesleyan band performed live Ghanaian highlife music and a Ghanaian church based in Worcester, Mass. provided live choral music.

Following the performance, guests were treated to a reception with an assortment of Ghanaian dishes.

Photos of the performance are below. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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President Roth Calls on Universities to Promote Intellectual Diversity

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael Roth

On May 11, Wesleyan President Michael Roth writes in The Wall Street Journal about the need for colleges and universities to proactively cultivate intellectual diversity on campus. While student protests over controversial speakers have dominated headlines of late, he writes:

The issue, however, isn’t whether the occasional conservative, libertarian or religious speaker gets a chance to speak. That is tolerance, an appeal to civility and fairness, but it doesn’t take us far enough. To create deeper intellectual and political diversity, we need an affirmative-action program for the full range of conservative ideas and traditions, because on too many of our campuses they seldom get the sustained, scholarly attention that they deserve.

Roth discusses initiatives at Wesleyan, including the Posse Veteran Scholars program, which brings cohorts of military veterans to campus on full scholarships.

These students with military backgrounds are older than our other undergraduates and have very different life experiences; more of them also hold conservative political views.

Now, Wesleyan plans to deepen its engagement with the military by working with the U.S. Army to bring senior military officers to campus. Starting next year, the first of them will arrive to teach classes on the relationship between military institutions and civil society.

Roth goes on:

Another new initiative for intellectual diversity, launched with the support of one our trustees, has created an endowment of more than $3 million for exposing students at Wesleyan to ideas outside the liberal consensus. This fall, our own academic departments and centers will begin offering courses and programs to cover topics such as “the philosophical and economic foundations of private property, free enterprise and market economies” and “the relationship of tolerance to individual rights, freedom and voluntary association.”

We are not interested in bringing in ideologues or shallow provocateurs intent on outraging students and winning the spotlight. We want to welcome scholars with a deep understanding of traditions currently underrepresented on our campus (and on many others) and look forward to the vigorous conversations they will inspire.

Students are also recognizing the value of the free exchange of ideas. This spring, the Wesleyan Democrats and Wesleyan Republicans joined forces to host a Bipartisan Political Series to encourage open political dialogue on campus.

WSJ subscription is required to access the full article. The Wesleyan community can access the article through the Olin Library website.

Students Honored with Academic Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships

Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 received the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

During the annual student awards reception on May 10, Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 was honored with the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships were honored at a reception May 10 in Daniel Family Commons.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Among the awardees were Mira Klein ’17, who received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating academic accomplishment and excellence in environmental stewardship; Page Nelson ’17, who received the Alumni Prize in the History of Art; Eric Meyreles ’18, who received a Miller Summer Internship Grant to pursue an internship related to a potential business career; Ainsley Eakins ’18, who received the university’s Social Activist Award; Sofi Goode ’17, who is the recipient of the Wilde Prize for excellence in economics; and AJ Wilson ’19, who was honored with the Richard McLellan Prize for commitment to public service and diversity.

Student-Athletes Honored at 5th Annual Dinner, Awards Program

On May 4, the Department of Physical Education and Athletics hosted its fifth annual scholar-athlete dinner and awards program.

Rachel Aronow ’17 and Michael Liu ’17 were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

Rachel Aronow ’17 and Michael Liu ’17 were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

The 170 student-athletes in attendance distinguished themselves through both their outstanding work in the classroom and their accomplishment in athletic competition.

During the event, Mike Whalen ’83, director of athletics, served as master of ceremonies and presented the Maynard Awards; Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 provided comments from the administration; Dan Lynch ’80, P’11, P’14 presented the Athletic Advisory Council Award; Rob Harbison ’17 and Molly Schassberger ’17 spoke on behalf of the scholar-athletes; and alumnus John Driscoll ’62 led the Wesleyan Fight Song.

Rachel Aronow ’17 (women’s ice hockey and women’s lacrosse) and Michael Liu ’17 (men’s tennis) were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the Wesleyan male and female senior scholar-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit, accomplishments and humility of Roger Maynard ’37, a former Wesleyan trustee who lettered in cross country and track. He died March 30, 1968.

Mike Whalen and Dan Lynch present Alan Dachs, center, with the Athletic Advisory Council Award.

Mike Whalen and Dan Lynch present Alan Dachs, center, with the Athletic Advisory Council Award.

Alan Dachs ’70, Hon ’07, P’98 received the Athletic Advisory Council Award.

The following individuals and teams were recognized for academic and athletic achievement by a national organization:

Men’s Cross Country — U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Division III All-Academic Team: Will Dudek ’17, Tate Knight ’18. As a team, Wesleyan qualified as an all-academic squad (3.396 GPA).

Women’s Cross Country — U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Division III All-Academic Team: Caroline Elmendorf ’17, Rhoen Fiutak ’19, Julia Mitchell ’19, Molly Schassberger ’17. As a team, Wesleyan qualified as an all-academic squad (3.626 GPA).

Field Hockey — National Field Hockey Coaches Association Academic Squad (3.30 GPA or higher): Lily Ardente ’18, Rachel Curran ’20, Claire Edelman ’17, Emily Hart ’17, Brooke Hodgson ’18, Erica Horowitz ’20, Phoebe Howe ’18, Meghan Jain ’19, Colleen Lynch ’17, Leah Pensler ’20, Rachel Pomerantz ’20, Maddie Shea ’20, Claire Taub ’20, Abby Warren ’19, Alyssa Wood ’19, Delaney Wood ’20, Lauren Yu ’17. Scholars of Distinction: Emily Hart ’17, Erica Horowitz ’20. As a team, Wesleyan made the national academic team list (3.0 or higher GPA).

Men’s Squash — College Squash Association National Scholar Athletes: Alex Kamisher ’17, Grant Lounsbury ’17, Zach Roach ’17, David Sneed ’17.

Women’s Squash — College Squash Association National Scholar-Athletes: Annie Ferreira ’17, Tatum Leclair ’17.

Men’s Swimming and Diving — College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America: As a team, Wesleyan qualified as a scholar All-America team, fall, 2016 (3.44 team GPA).

Women’s Swimming and Diving — College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America: As a team, Wesleyan qualified as a scholar All-America team, fall, 2015 (3.53 team GPA).

Wrestling — National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America: Isaiah Bellamy ’18. As a team, Wesleyan ranked 15th as a scholar All-America team (3.23 GPA).

Photos of the dinner and awards ceremony are below: (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

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6 Students Awarded Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships

The 2016-17 Mellon Mays fellows include, from left, Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond '19; Brianna Thurman '19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond '19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18 (not pictured). Demetrius Eudell, pictured at far right, is the Mellon Mays faculty coordinator.

The 2017-18 Mellon Mays fellows include, from left, Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19; Brianna Thurman ’19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18 (not pictured). Demetrius Eudell, pictured at far right, is the Mellon Mays faculty coordinator.

This spring, Wesleyan has awarded six Wesleyan students with a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. The fellowship is the centerpiece of the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase the presence of traditionally underrepresented groups in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning in the U.S.

Fellows participate in the program during the last two years of undergraduate study and receive a monthly stipend to offset work study requirements, modest research funds, and additional summer research funding as part of the fellowship. Upon successful completion of graduate study, Mellon Mays Fellows also receive up to $10,000 to assist in repayment of student loans.

The 2016-17 Mellon Mays fellows include Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19; Brianna Thurman ’19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18. Demetrius Eudell, professor of history, serves as faculty coordinator and Teshia Levy-Grant, dean for equity and inclusion, is staff coordinator. 

Patricelli Center Fellows Celebrate Year-Long Pilot Program

The 2016-17 Patricelli Center Fellows jumped for joy during their end-of-the-year celebration on May 9.

The 2016-17 Patricelli Center Fellows jumped for joy during their end-of-the-year celebration on May 9. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In Fall 2016, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship launched a for-credit, cohort-style, project-based fellowship program (CSPL 264 and 265) for 36 students. And on May 9, the fellows celebrated the success of the pilot program during a group lunch and discussion.

stu_patricelli_2017-0509111055Among the fellows are Alexandra Bacchus ’17, who is working to create a platform for day laborers to connect with potential employers in a safe and trustworthy way to combat job insecurity and low pay.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18 is expanding health education in his hometown of Garamuleta, Ethiopia through his organization, Rural Access.

Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr ’20 is using the power of storytelling to empower youth worldwide through his creative expression platform, narratio.org.

Shantelle Brown ’19 is empowering adolescent Jamaican girls to deconstruct violent and oppressive cultural norms through sisterhood and creative expression.

Etenish Abebe ’17, Jamilia Simon ’17 and Aliya Lyons ’17 are building a user-centered two-sided marketplace to connect freelance hairstylists to clients.

Joshua Nodiff ’19 is creating a nonprofit called Power To The People that seeks to implement energy democracy through urban environmental design.

Through his enterprise, Be The Change Venture, Anthony Price ’20 is connecting Cleveland’s youth and empowering them to be leaders in their community.

Learn more about all the fellows online.

The Patricelli Center is accepting applications for the 2017/2018 Fellowship. For more information, visit bit.ly/patricelli-fellowship.

Sultan Delivers Talks on New Approaches to Evolution

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, presented the keynote address at the 2017 Diebold Symposium, held at Kalamazoo College, April 27-29. Her talk was titled “Plant Environmental Response: A Weedy Answer to 3 Big Questions.” In the keynote talk, Sultan presented findings from her Wesleyan research group and discussed their implications for heredity and evolution.

In mid-May, Sultan will join an invited group of 16 biologists and philosophers at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna, Austria, for discussions of causality in evolutionary biology. The workshop is part of an international consortium of researchers and philosophers funded by the J.H. Templeton Foundation to develop an expanded conceptual framework for evolution. Following the workshop, Sultan will spend several days at the University of Lund in Sweden, as a seminar speaker and guest scientist.

Roth Calls on Government Leaders to Enact a Carbon Price as Climate Change Solution

In a letter released May 8, President Michael Roth joined 29 other college and university presidents from across the country in endorsing carbon pricing for its economy-wide approach to reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change. The letter calls on state and federal lawmakers to proactively work to enact a carbon price at the state and federal level. Roth was one of three leaders, together with the presidents of Swarthmore and Dickinson colleges, to first sign the letter back in February.

“As leaders of higher education institutions, we call upon our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of current and future generations by putting a price on carbon,” the letter reads. “We work to prepare our students for thriving futures, over which climate change casts a dark shadow of uncertainty. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an indispensable step we can take to effectively combat climate change.”

The complete letter can be found here.

The Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative is led by Our Climate, a youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of climate leaders. Our Climate co-leads the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign with the National Geographic documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, and partners with Citizens’ Climate Education to recruit, train, and support student leaders across the country to advocate for carbon pricing.

“At Wesleyan, we place a high priority on reducing our own carbon footprint to do our part to address climate change,” said Roth. “A national price on carbon can be an effective tool to address climate change on a broad scale.  Wesleyan is will develop an internal price on carbon to better address the environmental impact of our own energy intensive projects.”

This summer, Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst and Facilities Business Manager Jeff Murphy will be developing an internal method of accounting for the carbon footprint of high-energy-consuming Facilities projects.  This internal mechanism will set up a “shadow” price on carbon emissions from projects as a line item in projects’ lifecycle cost analyses, essentially proceeding internally as if national carbon pricing exists.  For example, if a project results in a 50-ton carbon emissions increase, and an internal price was set at $40/ton (price is yet to be determined), the shadow cost on carbon for that project would be $2,000.  This follows the strategy established in Wesleyan’s 2016 Sustainability Action Plan to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by providing the economic case for higher carbon footprint initiatives, and will prepare Wesleyan for the possibility of future national carbon pricing.

Wesleyan to Offer Muslim Studies Certificate

muslimstyThe certificate, approved by the faculty on April 25, was proposed by steering committee members Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, director of the Office of Faculty Career Development; Typhaine Leservot, associate professor of French studies, chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, associate professor of letters; and Ioana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies.

“Students in the certificate program will gain an appreciation for the diversity among Muslims geographically, culturally, historically, and religiously,” Leservot said. “They will become accomplished in multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of Muslim communities and their expressions and productions. In an American setting in which stereotypes reduce the more than 1 billion Muslims around the globe to singular caricatures, this represents no small accomplishment.”

The Muslim Studies Certificate will mirror an existing certificate in Jewish and Israeli Studies. Students must complete six designated courses in a range of areas, including contemporary society and practice; literary, artistic and musical studies; and historical inquiry. Courses involving Muslim studies already offered by more than a dozen faculty members will be included.

“This new certificate will highlight Wesleyan’s remarkable collection of faculty, courses, and resources for students interested in studying the lives of Muslims around the globe,” Gottschalk said. “Our faculty teach and conduct research in fields as diverse as Arabic, art history, College of Letters, English, French, government, history, music, religion, and Spanish. As Muslims become increasingly prominent in the United States, the number of faculty and students alike interested in Muslim studies has expanded.”

“The certificate aims to maximize students’ education in Muslim traditions by providing a structured program to guide their studies,” he added. “This will require students to diversify their exposure across disciplines and divisions, period and place.”

At a time when American Muslims are becoming increasingly marginalized, the certificate “will also help our non-Muslim students better understand a set of groups and traditions increasingly the target of disinformation and prejudice,” Matesan said. “Meanwhile, it would signal to our Muslim students and potential applicants that Wesleyan recognizes the diversity and significance of Muslim traditions.”

Wesleyan Media Project Researchers Write About What Americans Will Really Dislike about ‘Trumpcare’

Researchers affiliated with the Wesleyan Media Project wrote in The Washington Post on May 5 on what “Americans will really dislike about the House ‘Trumpcare’ bill.” The article, authored by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Courtney Laermer ’17, Wesleyan Media Project Project Manager Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust ’01, is based on data from Laermer’s senior thesis.

House Republicans voted on May 4 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their alternative plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The authors argue that this vote is likely to cause headaches for Republicans due to several unpopular changes it makes to the law. They focus, in particular, on the AHCA’s replacement for the individual mandate (unpopular itself with only 35 percent public approval) with a “continuous coverage requirement.” As they explain:

If you let your health insurance coverage lapse for more than 63 days, you would have to pay a 30 percent late-enrollment surcharge on top of the premium for the next year. (The bill passed with two amendments affecting these penalties. The widely debated MacArthur amendment lets states seek waivers to enable insurers to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions who fall into this coverage gap. The late-breaking Upton amendment added Wednesday provides $8 billion in funds to offset some of these higher penalties for waiver states, but most analysts don’t think it’s enough).

The researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 Americans in mid-March during the debate over the first version of the AHCA. Here’s what they found:

As much as citizens don’t like the requirement to purchase insurance or pay a penalty to the government, our evidence suggests that they dislike the AHCA’s penalty paid to insurers even more.

In short, AHCA opponents and potential challengers to House Republicans can choose from among many lines of attack: the public is already concerned about protections for people with preexisting conditions, huge cuts to the Medicaid program, and citizens losing insurance. Highlighting the AHCA’s coverage-gap penalty could drop public support further.

StemCONN Symposium Shows Connecticut is Leader in Stem Cell Research

Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, spoke on “A Protection Racket: Tbx6 and the Establishment of Muscle Stem Cells in the Zebrafish Embryo” during the StemConn 2017 conference, held April 27 in New Haven, Conn.

Professor Stephen Devoto spoke at the StemConn 2017 conference, held April 27 in New Haven, Conn.

The annual StemCONN conference, held April 27 in New Haven, made clear that Connecticut’s commitment to stem cell research has helped the state become a national leader in this burgeoning area of research and commercial development.

Wesleyan is one of the founders of the StemCONN conference, along with Yale and the University of Connecticut. This year marks the 6th StemCONN conference, an event that brings together more than 500 individuals from academic institutions, bioscience industry, and government.

“Stem cell research continues to be an exciting and fast-paced field with new discoveries fueling prospects for new therapies based on regenerative medicine for a range of debilitating medical conditions, and Connecticut is at the leading edge of this field,” said Janice Naegele, professor of biology and one of the symposium’s organizers. “A major emphasis of StemConn’s mission is education, and this year’s conference attendees included undergraduate trainees, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. Special interactive sessions over lunch provided a fabulous small group format for undergraduate and graduate students to ask questions and discuss career paths with our invited speakers. This is a one of a kind opportunity for many of our trainees.”

Connecticut passed ground-breaking legislation in 2005, becoming the first state to fully approve funding for stem cell research. The 12-year, $100-million per year initiative has enabled the state to compete successfully for scientific talent in the field and has helped to establish a growing bioscience corridor in the Hartford-New Haven area.

Doggo Meet and Greet Helps Students De-stress before Finals

Doggo Meet and Greet, April 29 at Wesleyan University.

Cloie Logan ’17 and Eliana Zimmerman ’17 snuggle Fika, a Danish Swedish Farmdog, at the Doggo Meet and Greet, April 29.

April 29 was a dog-gone good day for more than 150 students and 13 dogs as they gathered together at the Center for the Arts Green for a Doggo Meet and Greet.

Sara Dean ’17, a self-proclaimed “dog lover,” created the event and advertised it on Facebook. She invited Wesleyan students, staff and faculty to bring their pooches to campus.

“It hit me that there are a lot of students with emotional support dogs on campus,