Campus News & Events

Students in Rural Access Group Receive Davis Peace Grant

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members (l to r) are: Edelina Marzouk ’20, Momi Afelin ’20, Betty Bekele ’20, Emanuel Fetene ’21, Nebiyu Daniel ’18

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members include: (front row, from left) Edelina Marzouk ’19, Momi Afelin ’19, and Betty Bekele ’19; (back row, from left) Emanuel Fetene ’20 and Nebiyu Daniel ’18. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Five Wesleyan students determined to make life better for girls in rural African areas have received a prestigious $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Their start-up nonprofit, Rural Access, seeks to expand access to health and education in impoverished areas, while also raising awareness of pressing health issues. Among those is the need to address lack of menstrual hygiene products, which frequently keeps girls out of school and leads to high dropout rates, poverty, and other harmful outcomes.

This summer, Rural Access will be working in Ethiopia and Guyana to make menstrual hygiene kits and distribute them to girls. The project is far more complicated than it sounds because it involves establishing partnerships, winning the trust of communities, and overcoming adverse conditions, including near–civil war in Ethiopia.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18, the founder and leader of Rural Access, says that, “Work like this requires a lot of commitment. It takes a dedicated team, and we work on this every day.”

The team consists of Daniel, Momi Afelin ’19, Edelina Marzouk ’19, Betty Bekele ’19, and Emanuel Fetene ’20.

Daniel founded Rural Access on the principle that connection to the community served is essential. He was born in Ethiopia and spent his childhood there. In the summer of 2016, he returned to his native region of Garamuleta to work with elderly individuals and to distribute first-aid kits to 500 families.

President Roth to Debate Safe Spaces, Free Speech on June 23

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael Roth

On June 23, President Michael Roth ’78 will participate in a debate titled, “Trigger Warning: Safe Spaces Are Dangerous,” presented by Intelligence Squared U.S. in partnership with the John Templeton Foundation.

The debate will take place before a live audience in Banff in Alberta, Canada, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. (9:30–11:00 p.m. EST). It will be livestreamed here, and will air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Intelligence Squared U.S.”

According to the Intelligence Squared website: “Universities and students have come under attack in recent years for promoting the concept of ‘safe spaces.’ Proponents of the idea argue that safe spaces promise a reprieve from bigotry and oppression by allowing students of all backgrounds the opportunity to express themselves freely. But to their critics, safe spaces pose a dire threat to free speech. Are safe spaces coddling young minds, or are they a necessary component of modern education?”

125 Student-Athletes Make NESCAC All-Academic Team

Steven Chen (men’s tennis). The softball one should be credited to Jonas Powell ’18, and the tennis one should be credited to Christopher Winslow.

Men’s tennis player Steven Chen ’18 was one of 125 Wesleyan student-athletes named to the NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team. (Photo by Christopher Winslow.)

The Wesleyan University spring athletic teams put a total of 125 student-athletes on the 2018 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team on May 18, while 11 Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship Team honors as announced by the conference office May 17.

To be named to the All-Academic Team a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.40. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.

Tufts ranked first in the conference with 157 athletes on the All-Academic list, while Middlebury checked in at the No. 2 slot with 131. Little Three rivals Wesleyan and Williams were tied for the third-most selections with 125 each, as a total of 1,165 individuals from the 11 NESCAC schools earned this honor.

The women’s crew team led the charge for the Cardinals with 19 honorees, while the women’s track and field program saw 16 players earn the achievement. Men’s lacrosse, men’s crew, and baseball each placed 15 people on the All-Academic unit, while men’s track and field (13), women’s lacrosse (11), golf (8), softball (7), women’s tennis (4), and men’s tennis (2) were all represented.

Baerman, Stanton Receive Artist Fellowship Awards

Noah Baerman

Nicole Stanton

Two Wesleyan faculty were honored for their artistic excellence by the 2018 Artist Fellowship Program.

Nicole Stanton, associate professor of dance, African American studies, and environmental studies, and Noah Baerman, director of the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, each received a $3,000 grant in the program’s Performing Arts category.

The Artist Fellowship Program recognizes individual Connecticut artists in a variety of disciplines and allows these artists the opportunity to pursue new works of art and to achieve specific creative and career goals. The program is highly competitive: for the 2018 round, more than 235 applications were received and reviewed by 48 professional panelists representing a wide array of artistic disciplines.

Baerman and Stanton are among 39 artists in the state of Connecticut awarded Artist Fellowship Grants.

Stanton will use her Artist Fellowship to work on a movement-based performance tentatively called “The Welcome Table.”

“I’m interested in using the lens of food—its preparation, its cultivation, and the ways in which people, families, and communities consume and dispose of it—as a way of telling black women’s stories,” she explained. “I want to explore the ways questions of food justice, social justice, and environmental justice all interweave in women’s lives.”

Stanton already presented a version of the piece at the We Create Festival: Celebrating Women in the Arts in Boston in April (pictured), and she’s working towards a campus showing for the fall semester.

Baerman will use his award to seed the development and recording of a recent body of work in response to the loss of Claire Randall ’12, who was murdered in December 2016. Randall was Baerman’s student and subsequently became a collaborator both in music and in the work of Resonant Motion, Inc. (RMI), a nonprofit Baerman directs that addresses the intersection of music and positive change.

“After Claire was murdered, I began composing to process both my own grief and that of others bereaved by the loss, many of them also former students of mine at Wesleyan,” Baerman said. “The music was diverse enough stylistically that I couldn’t initially see how it might eventually come together, nor was that a short-term priority. Now I intend to take space to develop this music and eventually compile it into an album that embraces this eclecticism and the emotional rawness of the subject matter.”

The album will, in turn, serve as a benefit for Claire’s Continuum, an initiative that RMI is developing to commission new collaborations on music and interdisciplinary work that addresses social causes.

Krishnan Debuts Choreography at UC Davis, Jacob’s Pillow

"16 Shades of Red,

Hari Krishnan performs in “16 Shades of Red.”

“16 Shades of Red,” a full-length choreography created by Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance, premiered at the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis, on May 12 and 13. Krishnan is a member of inDANCE, one of Canada’s most progressive dance companies. “16 Shades of Red,” presented in two chapters, integrates original courtesan dance from South India, complex choreography, and live music.

At Wesleyan, Krishnan teaches Bharata Natyam, or South Indian classical dance.

“BN1 and BN3 students had performed material this semester at Wesleyan so incredibly well, and it was a crucial layer to building this new work,” Krishnan said. “I truly appreciate my job at Wesleyan where pedagogy and choreography are inextricably intertwined.”

In addition, Krishnan will be a Pillow Scholar-in-Residence June 20–24 at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass. On June 22, he will debut his solo choreography “Black Box 3,” which showcases virtuosic Bharatanatyam technique. The work features complex footwork, intricate gestures, architectural design, and a pulsating sound design of Indian, global percussion, and vocalized drum syllables.

Krishnan will offer a talkback following the performance.

Sultan Delivers Lectures around the World

Sonia Sultan, right, is presented with a plaque by Ellen Harrison, wife of the influential biologist Rick Harrison after whom the Harrison Keynote Lecture is named. Sultan presented the lecture at Cornell's annual Evo Day symposium in May.

Sonia Sultan, right, receives a plaque from Ellen Harrison, wife of the influential biologist Rick Harrison after whom the Harrison Keynote Lecture is named. Sultan presented the lecture at Cornell’s annual Evo Day symposium in May.

This spring, Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, has delivered several notable invited talks in different parts of the world.

In February, she presented the annual Darwin Day talk at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Sultan was the first woman scientist to present this prestigious lecture, in which a prominent evolutionary biologist shares their research and its broader implications. Sultan spoke on “Eco-Devo Insights to Evolutionary Questions,” using results from her Wesleyan lab’s plant research to address basic questions about individual development, inheritance, and adaptation. She was also interviewed about her contributions to current evolutionary biology for the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine podcast, Naturally Speaking.

In April, Sultan also gave a research seminar in Mexico City at the National University of Mexico’s Institute for Ecology, and in March, she presented her work to philosophers of biology at a European Union–sponsored conference in London.

Finally, on May 10, Sultan delivered the Harrison Keynote Lecture at Cornell’s annual “Evo Day” evolutionary biology symposium. The lecture is named in honor of Rick Harrison, an influential and much admired evolutionary biologist who served on the Cornell faculty until his death in 2016. Sultan’s next speaking event will be to give the closing lecture at a September meeting on “Advances in Evolutionary Biology” at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany.

Students Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Seventy-eight members of the Class of 2018 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society.

On May 26, 78 members of the Class of 2018 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society. The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded in December 1776 by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi-Beta-Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes. This essentially means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The spring 2018 inductees are:

Ryan Adler-Levine, Rachel Alpert, Dakota An, Vera Benkoil, Nicole Boyd, Kerry Brew, Chloe Briskin, Hailey Broughton-Jones, Maxwell Burke Cembalest, Steven Le Chen, Taylor Chin, So Young Chung, Danielle Cohen, Darci Collins, Theresa Counts, Isabelle Csete, Emmet Daly, Joshua Davidoff, Rocco Davino, Nicole DelGaudio, Max Distler, Luisa Donovan, Rhea Drozdenko, Dasha Dubinsky, Rebecca Eder, Sara Eismont, and Julia Gordon.

Also Chris Gortmaker*, Jack Guenther, Kenneth Sabin Hecht, Brandon Ho, Mariel Hohmann, Josephine Jenks, Melissa Joskow, Joanna Korpanty, Gretchen LaMotte, Julia Lejeune, Ariana Lewis, Aryeh Lieber, Anran Liu, Caroline Qingyuan Liu, Maya Lopez-Ichikawa, Christine Mathew, Maile McCann, Louis Medina, Joel Michaels, Eva Moskowitz, Emily Murphy, Andrew Olivieri, Paul Partridge, and Joanna Paul.

Senior Lacrosse Players Graduate Early Before Winning National Championship

Graduation came early this year for men’s lacrosse players for the best possible reason. With the team competing in the NCAA championship game on Commencement Sunday for the first time in the program’s history, graduating students missed the regular ceremony.

The graduating seniors, and one student receiving an MA in graduate liberal studies, received their degrees at a special ceremony in the Admission building, attended by President Roth and Provost Joyce Jacobsen, on Wednesday, May 23.

Also present were the families of the graduates, as well as Director of Athletics Mike Whalen and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley.

President Roth said, “This is a joyous occasion. You still have work to do, but that work gives us such pride, even awe.”

Seniors receiving the BA degree:
Nick Annitto
Jake Cresta
Ryan Flippin

Anita Hill Delivers 2018 Commencement Address

Anita Hill, University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University and a faculty member of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis, delivers the 2018 Commencement address.

Anita Hill, University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University and a faculty member of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis, delivered the 2018 Commencement address on May 27.

In 1991, Hill’s name became indelibly stamped on the national consciousness when she accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment while he was her supervisor. Her courage in speaking out and her dignity in the face of vituperative attacks remain inspirational, and over the years she has provided frequent commentary in the national media on gender and race issues. She recently was selected to head the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, intended to address sexual abuse and harassment in the media and entertainment industries. She also served as chair of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.

Her commencement address follows:

Good morning. It really is a great pleasure to be here. I want to thank the Board of Trustees, President Roth, and the faculty and staff of Wesleyan who have made this singular recognition possible. I proudly accept this honorary degree and the privilege of addressing the Class of 2018.

Class of 2018, so far you have been fairly reserved and quiet. And I suspect that at some point, maybe right now, you want to make some noise.

I want to say to my fellow honoree, Dr. Boger, you’re now my new model for how to do well in the world and also to do great works.

Wesleyan Awards 745 BA Degrees at 186th Commencement


The Class of 2018 graduated on May 27.

Graduates, their families, and other members of the Wesleyan community gathered on Andrus Field for the 186th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 27. Wesleyan conferred 745 bachelor of arts degrees; 41 master of arts degrees; 21 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; and 20 doctor of philosophy degrees.

Anita Hill received an honorary degree and delivered the Commencement address.

Anita Hill, University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University—and a frequent commentator on gender and race issues—delivered the Commencement address and received an honorary degree. She recently was selected to head the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, intended to address sexual abuse and harassment in the media and entertainment industries. She also served as chair of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.

“In 2018 I have new heroes—heroes and sheroes—all of whom represent courageousness,” Hill said. “And some of whom sit right here in this audience today. You have shared the truth about sexual assault and harassment, privately and publicly. Throughout the country, women and men have demanded that universities and workplaces take action to end sexual violence. Even today, however, silence breakers face backlash—often delivered instantly, harshly, and anonymously, with the click of a mouse. But speaking out, despite the hardship, can be self-liberating and can empower others.”

Alumni Celebrate a Festive Reunion, Commencement 2018

Alumni—especially those whose class years ended in 3 or 8—joined the families of graduating seniors of Wesleyan’s Class of 2018 for a campus-wide series of celebrations, WESeminars, thesis exhibitions, and festivities. Wesleyan’s Class of 1968, celebrating their 50th Reunion, began with a dinner on Thursday to gather the group and kick off the weekend. Other highlights included academic open houses, the annual parade of classes, the All-Campus Party featuring DJs Ben Resnick ’13 and Clément Guerner ’13, and Commencement speaker Anita Hill.

To see the Reunion photo gallery, click here.

To see the Commencement gallery, click here.

Boger ’73, P’06, ’09 Makes Remarks at 2018 Commencement

Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09, founder and former chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and former chair of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees, received an honorary doctorate during Wesleyan’s 2018 commencement ceremony on May 27.

Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, ’09, founder and former chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and former chair of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees, received an honorary doctorate during Wesleyan’s 2018 commencement ceremony on May 27. As the founder and former chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boger led the discovery and development of new pharmaceuticals for treating some of medicine’s most daunting challenges, including HIV, hepatitis C infection, and cystic fibrosis. Currently, he is chair of the campaign for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, vice chair of Boston’s Museum of Science, chair of the board of the Celebrity Series (Boston’s premier performing arts presenter) and chair of the fundraising campaign for Harvard Medical School, where he is chair emeritus.

 

Boger’s speech is below:

Wesleyan Class of 2018: When I sat where you sit now, some 45 years ago, in 1973, we impetuously embraced a popular mantra of the times: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now I thought that was a pretty good idea then . . . and I think it’s an even better idea now.

My generation has done some good things. We ended the war in Vietnam. We sequenced the human genome. We brought you the personal computer and then the iPhone. But on the biggest societal challenges of our time—such as the environment, income disparity, and the affordability of higher education—we haven’t done so well. Overall, I’d give us a solid “C.” (That’s a “Wesleyan A-Minus.”)