Campus News & Events

Professor Studies How Black, Immigrant Outcasts Become WWI Heroes, but still Return as Outcasts


Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English, professor of American Studies, studied the 369th Battalion’s and 77th Division’s roles in France for his latest book, “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality.”

Posted 12/19/05
In 1918, the United States loaned its all-black 369th Infantry Regiment to fight under the French flag in World War I. These soldiers, rejected for combat duty by their own country because they were black, fought for 191 days, longer than any other American unit in the war. The ‘Harlem Hell Fighters,’ received an honorable award for bravery from the French. In their heroic attack on Sechault, of some 2,500 riflemen who began the battle only 700 survived unhurt.

“They kept fighting until they couldn’t fight anymore,” Slotkin says. “Their efforts were extraordinary. Studies of combat psychology show that no person can handle more than 180 days in combat, and they fought for more than 190 days.”

Twenty miles away, 700 New York immigrants forming a battalion of the United States’ 77th Division, or ‘Melting Pot Division’ crossed German lines and advanced into France’s Argonne Forest. This unit of Jewish, Italian and other eastern Europeans battled for six days with limited ammunition and supplies, food, water and shelter. They refused to surrender, although their unit was completely surrounded. Only 200 survived.

Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English, professor of American Studies, has spent the past four years extensively researching the 369th Battalion’s and 77th Division’s roles in France. His latest book, “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality,” published in December 2005 by Henry Holt and Co., depicts American black and immigrant soldiers who were considered to be lesser citizens and racially inferior during and after the war.

In 1917, one in three people living in America was from a foreign country or had a foreign-born parent. Although the U.S. government would have preferred to send only white, American-born citizens to combat, immigrants were promised equality in return for their loyal service in the war.

“During World War I, we had to raise an army of 2 million men overnight, and we could not play this role without having minorities involved in the war,” Slotkin explains. “The government basically told these Blacks and immigrants that ‘if you go to war, we will accept you.’ The U.S. had to look at how all men are created equal in a way that never existed before.”

“Some of these guys were from Germany or Austria and could have taken an exemption from being in the war, but they wanted to show their American patriotism,” Slotkin explains. “But when they came back to the U.S., they still got the shaft.” Congress identified them as “races” incapable of full Americanization, banned further immigration and signalled acceptance of ethnic discrimination.

The U.S. also broke its promise to the Blacks.

The Army gave the French a “Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops,” which demanded the adoption of strict racial separation. The document stated that it was essential that Frenchmen understand that to Americans, displays of interracial friendship were deeply offensive. It declared that friendships would encourage “intolerable pretensions to equality, which would pose a danger to America’s civil peace when the troops came home.”

Slotkin studied World War I unit histories written in books and published on microfilm. He visited the National Archives to study World War I military books, and hired research assistants, one of which translated Yiddish newspaper clippings for the project.

He focused his research on the lives of about two dozen characters, including the Lost Battalion’s captain Charles Whittlesey, who was named a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest award given by the U.S. Army following the war. Whittlesey is also the main character in the Arts and Entertainment movie titled “Lost Battalion” from 2001. Slotkin says the movie portrays an accurate depiction of the events that occurred between Oct. 2-8, 1918.

The author says history buffs and scholars would be interested in his research, although the story is written in a way that can appeal to the general public. The History Book Club and Military Book Club have both accepted Slotkin’s book into their listings.

A recent Publishers Weekly Starred Review states that Slotkin’s story “examines the relationship between war and citizenship in this trenchant, gracefully written military and social history. … Slotkin smoothly telescopes from the trenches to the political and social implications for decades to come in this insightful, valuable account.”

“Stories like these haven’t been taught in schools because Americans don’t like to look at how hard it has been to become a multicultural nation,” Slotkin says.

Slotkin is the author of seven other books including “Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln,” “Gunfighter Nation” and “Regeneration Through Violence.” He is a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Prize.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

15 Students Inducted into National Honor Society

 

Posted 12/19/05
Wesleyan recently elected 15 seniors to the Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national scholastic honor society.

Election to the society is based on fulfillment of eligibility requirements, including a grade point average of 90 or above and nomination by the student’s major department. Phi Beta Kappa is limited to 12 percent of the graduating class each year. The newly elected students are:

Claire Nilsen Blumenson, a government, psychology and sociology major from Cambridge, Mass., is interested in child advocacy as it relates to academic failure and juvenile delinquency. Blumenson completed a semester abroad in Brussels, Belgium, which included a full-time internship at the European Parliament working for the Maltese Labour Party.

Jennifer Mary Bunger is a biology major from Southington, Conn., whose interests include dancing, teaching, and working with children. A dancer in the group Power Groove, Bunger is also ballet and tap instructor and choreographer to children ages 3-12. She has been a teaching assistant in both science and math courses and tutors several hours a week. She plans on attending medical school and studying pediatrics.

Thapana Chairoj is a math-economics major from Bankok, Thailand, and a Freeman Scholar. His experience here has broadened his intellectual sphere and deepened his experience as an international student.

Avishek Chatterjee, a physics, math, and astronomy major from Calcutta, India, spent the past two summers conducting physics research on theoretical simulations of vortex dynamics in a film of superfluid helium. He is an honors candidate in math and physics and interested in philosophy, particularly in relation to the implications of scientific theories. He is applying to graduate school for theoretical physics.

Katherine Leigh D’Ambrosio, a double major in English and history from Atlanta, Georgia, is a member of the History Majors Committee and on the editorial boards of Historical Narratives, Wesleyan’s undergraduate literature journal. As a university scholar, D’Ambrosio has worked as a research assistant in the English and history departments and as a writing tutor and recently performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Hoan Bui Dang is a math major and came to Wesleyan from Vietnam. He likes to challenge his mind with mathematical and logical thinking and wants to use this knowledge exploring physical nature. Dang is currently on the West Coast on a combined program.

Cassandra Dunkhase, a music major from Iowa City, Iowa, is a member of Wesleyan’s Chamber Music program and Cello Ensemble and has been principal cellist of the Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra for the past three years. Dunkhase was recently selected as the Senior Honoree in the 2005 Wesleyan Concerto Competition and will be performing a solo with the orchestra in May. She spent the fall of 2004 studying music at Royal Holloway University in London and is an experienced cello teacher.

Julia Fox, a double major in Spanish and psychology from West Hartford, Conn., spent a summer working with Miami ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) on a campaign that successfully raised the Florida minimum wage by $1. After a few years off, she plans on returning to school to further explore her interests and develop personal career goals that may include a combination of political campaign work, international travel and teaching.

Emily Jacobs-Palmer is a major in molecular biology and biochemistry from Greenfield, Mass. who has been researching a protein that corrects mistakes made in DNA during replication. After graduation, she plans to work for a year and then get her Ph.D. in a lab that applies the techniques of molecular biology to conservation problems.

Kimberly Anne Landry is a psychology major from Agawam, Mass, who studied abroad last spring in Canterbury, England. She loves astronomy and volunteers during the public observing night at the Van Vleck Observatory. Landry plans to go on to graduate school and will be applying to programs in Clinical Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy. Her career goal is to become a practicing psychologist or therapist.

Rachael Elizabeth Lax is a psychology major from West Newton, Mass. In the summer of 2004 she received the Dana Grant and was sponsored to work at a non-profit organization in Ecuador as a mentor to children living on the street of the inner city Quito. She is currently assisting in a research project at the Middletown Department of Children and Families and is treasurer of the Wesleyan chapter of Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honor Society.

Heung Ming Ngai is a math-economics major from Hong Kong. During his time at Wesleyan, he has been a co-chair of the Chinese Students Association and a resident advisor and chair of technology for ODE – the economics honor society. After graduation he plans to pursue a career in banking in Hong Kong.

Krista Eva Perks, a neuroscience and biology major from Phoenix, Md. worked over the summer at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole as part of the Hughes Summer Research Program. There, she studied the learning properties of the principle neurons of the cerebellar-like structure in the hindbrain of the “little skate.” Perks is a gymnastics coach in Middletown and was House Manager of Community Services House during her sophomore year.

Tal Gronau Rozen is a studio arts major from Amherst, Mass. In the fall of 2004, Rozen spent a semester studying High Renaissance and Baroque art history in Rome. In addition, he works as a layout editor for Fat Bottom Magazine, an experimental literary and arts student publication.

Liang Zhao is a double major in economics and math from China and a Freeman Scholar. He has worked for Information Technology Services (ITS), the math workshop, and has been a Chinese Economics Course Assistant. He has also been active in the Chinese Student Association. Zhao looks forward to returning to China and contributing to the future development of his home country.

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Programs Provide Jobs, Friendships for Special-Needs Adults


From left to right, Cecil Apostol ’08, Kristina, Kimberly Greenberg , Bobby and Carolyn go over math problems at the Davenport Campus Center. Kristine, Bobby and Carolyn are students enrolled in the Middlesex Transition Academy, which meets at Wesleyan daily. Pictured below are Jesse, Jessica Markowitz ’08, Bobby and Lauren.
Posted 12/19/05
The pizza served at McConaughy Dining Hall is prepared by a new member of the Wesleyan community. As part of a cooperative educational program for individuals with special needs, 19-year-old Kristina is learning hands-on how to work in food services.

“I prep the dough, oil the pans, and flip it,” Kristina says. “I technically make the whole pizza. I haven’t thought a lot about it, but I might want to work in a restaurant or pizza place after this. I do like to work with people.”

Preparing Kristina and six other disabled adults aged 18-21 to function individually in the community is the goal of the Middlesex Transition Academy. Launched in March 2004, the academy helps disabled individuals who recently graduated from area high schools find employment. Wesleyan provides classroom space and job opportunities for the grant-funded program.

Under direction of a job coach, the academy members learn about their strengths and weaknesses, managing money and social skills. While on campus, they also attend functional academic classes in the Davenport Campus Center.

At Wesleyan, they are assigned various jobs at Davenport, Exley Science Center, McConaughy Dining Hall, Freeman Athletic Center and WesShop.

Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations for the Center for Community Partnerships, says having the academy students on campus offers an excellent opportunity for them to be connected with Wesleyan students. The university also benefits by having this diverse group as part of the Wesleyan community.

“It is gratifying to see the growth of these students during their time on campus,” Kuan says. “You can see them developing their life skills and independence. This community connection is truly a win-win for all of us.”

While Lauren, 18, sorts and folds mail at the science center, Bobby, 18, is busy washing dishes at McConaughy or stocking shelves at WesShop.

Both agree that working in a college environment is gratifying. Bobby enjoys the friends he’s made. Lauren favors the college atmosphere and is overwhelmed by “cute college boys.”

“The job is pretty easy, and I just love working for money,” says Bobby, who works five days a week. “I love money!”

Normally, when a student is 18 and graduates from high school, he or she goes on to college or employment. Christine Jakubiec, an academy teacher, says the academy provides opportunities to address individual transition goals in an age-appropriate, college environment for these disabled adults in the 18-21 year range. As her pupils get closer to the age of 21, they are weaned off a job coach and should be ready to find similar jobs in local businesses.

All seven students enrolled in the Middlesex Transition Academy also are part of Wesleyan’s student program called “Best Buddies.” Best Buddies matches Wesleyan students with adults from the Middlesex County area. Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships began spearheading this collaboration last year. Best Buddies go bowling (pictured at left), star gazing and participate in other monthly activities.

Kimberly Greenberg ’07 says her buddy, Rick, brightens her moods. She can always find him making pizzas at McConaughy during the lunch hours.

In his second year with the organization, College Buddy Director Cecil Apostol ’08 has developed a meaningful relationship with his buddy Winston, 28. Apostol feels that society stigmatizes people like Winston.

“They have been neglected and marginalized as much as any other minority group,” Apostol says. “We expose them to a world that was denied to them for so long. Together, we both embrace the opportunity to participate in a long-lasting, meaningful friendship.”

Best Buddies is accepting associate members. For more information e-mail capostol@wesleyan.edu or kgreenberg@wesleyan.edu.

The Transition Academy meets at the Campus Center from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Former Music Professor Dies


Posted 12/19/05
Professor Robert Brown, one of the founders of the Wesleyan World Music Program, died recently.

 

Brown was one of the first students to receive a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from University of California Los Angeles. He was appointed assistant professor in Wesleyan’s Music Department in 1961 and joined the tenured ranks of the faculty in 1966. 

 

Brown helped the department to grow rapidly to national and international prominence. He brought with him from UCLA a concept called “performance study group,” a musical pedagogy that emphasizes the importance of direct contact between students and master musicians from around the world. In this context, he brought to Wesleyan T. Balasaraswati (1918-1984), the most renowned classical South Indian dancer, and her brothers, a renowned flutist and drummer, T. Viswanathan (1927-2001) and T. Ranganathan (1924-1987), followed by master musicians from Africa, Indonesia and Japan.

 

Professor Brown had an important role in giving Wesleyan’s music program a distinctive character and legacy. After his departure from Wesleyan in 1971, Brown led a program at the American Society for Eastern Arts.

 

In 1973 he established the Center for World Music located in Berkeley, California. From 1979 until his retirement in 1992, he was a professor of music at San Diego State University (SDSU). Bob was known as a promoter of gamelan studies in the United States and beyond.

 

He is survived by a niece and three nephews, and many great nieces and nephews. The arrangements for the memorial service at SDSU are still pending.

 

Budgetary Reliance on Endowment to be Reduced


Posted 12/02/05
Wesleyan will reduce its budgetary reliance on endowment over the next five years as part of a strategic effort to increase the size of the endowment. At the same time, it will spend more on fund-raising activities with the expectation of substantially increasing revenues, and it will invest a higher proportion of new gifts in the endowment.

According to “Engaged with the World,” the strategic plan adopted by the trustees last spring: “One of our highest priorities will be to support a growing proportion of essential and predictable costs (faculty salaries, financial aid) through the endowment. Over the long term, this will increase our budgetary flexibility and reduce our dependence on tuition. We must take every opportunity to increase the endowment through new gifts, careful stewardship, and successful investments.”

While trustee policy has allowed a 5.5 percent annual draw from the endowment to support the operating budget, two special, additional draws were instituted in the past few years. The first of these, a roughly 0.4 percent draw this year, has been used to build and sustain the Wesleyan’s fund-raising organization. The second, approximately 1.5 percent, represents gifts invested alongside the endowment through the so-called Campus Renewal Fund and drawn down each year to pay debt service on the bonds sold to build and renovate campus facilities. Together, these draws total 7.4 percent, a level that conflicts with Wesleyan’s goal to build the endowment and its plan to borrow in future years to finance additional facilities.

Accordingly, at their November meeting, the Board of Trustees reviewed scenarios for reducing the total draw to 5.5 percent and endorsed an administrative proposal to phase it down over five years to produce approximately $5.6 million in cumulative savings. This five-year plan is intended to allow for targeted reductions in the operating budget, as well as a restructuring of the Campus Renewal Fund to meet debt service obligations without a period of co-investment.

“While we will be faced with difficult decisions about the budget we are acting from a position of overall financial strength,” said President Doug Bennet. “We can be deliberate and strategic about our choices, thanks to the efforts of the volunteers and staff who have built our fund-raising, improved our investment performance, and identified operating efficiencies. I am confident that we have the financial discipline and the support to strengthen Wesleyan for the long term.”

Bennet and Interim Vice President for Finance John Meerts have met with faculty, staff and student groups to explain the change in financial practice. Meerts has invited members of the community who have suggestions concerning operating efficiencies to contact him. The Office of Finance and Administration will establish a Web site to solicit such suggestions and report on their implementation.

At the same meeting at which it was decided to reduce the University’s total endowment draw, the trustees also endorsed a plan to invest roughly $3 million in new resources in fund-raising activities. These funds, to be raised through donations, would augment fund-raising, alumni events, communications, and administrative support in order to accelerate the growth of Wesleyan’s annual gift revenues. Specific plans for this investment are being developed in consultation with the CORE Group, a firm that uses aggregate fund-raising data from more than 50 top private colleges and universities to provide normative recommendations on the allocation of resources to maximize the return on investment. According to CORE Group projections, Wesleyan’s anticipated investment could yield $26 million per year in additional gift resources in 10 years.

Wesleyan has set a goal of increasing the rate of its investment of gift revenues into the endowment. During the current fiscal year, the University will invest gifts equal to 1.5 percent of the total value of the endowment. That percentage will grow incrementally beginning in FY 2007/08, reaching 3 percent in FY 2013/14.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Professor Emeritus Dies at 72


Posted 12/02/05
Spencer Berry, professor of biology Emeritus, died Nov. 19 at his home in Middlefield, Conn. at the age of 72. His career at Wesleyan spanned 35 years.

Berry joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1964 and retired in 1999.

He earned a bachelor’s of art in biology from Williams College with a minor in art history; a master’s of arts in biology from Wesleyan; and a Ph.D at Western Reserve University.

An expert in the mechanisms of insect development, he held a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Career Development Award from 1971 to 1976 and received several research grants from the NIH and National Science Foundation. He published more than 40 papers in professional journals, and he delivered talks at many professional meetings and conferences.

Professor Berry also was a valued contributor to Wesleyan, serving on the Advisory Committee, the Association of American University Presses Executive Committee, the Editorial Board of the Wesleyan University Press, the Health Sciences Advisory Panel, the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities and several administrative search committees.

In the local community, Berry was a founding member of the Middlefield Land Trust, vice-chairman of the Middlefield Conservation Commission and the Middlefield Inland Wetlands Commission.

He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Alice, sons Matthew and Peter and several grandchildren.

A memorial service for Berry was held Nov. 29 in the university’s Memorial Chapel.

Groundbreaking Binge-Eating Study Undertaken by Psychology Professor


Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor and chair of psychology, is leading a binge-eating study.
Posted 12/02/05
The largest, most comprehensive binge-eating study ever undertaken has been initiated in Portland, Oregon, and the primary investigator is Ruth Striegel-Moore, professor and chair of psychology.

Striegel-Moore, an internationally-recognized expert on eating disorders, says the study will last four years and include male and female subjects between 18 and 50 years of age. People participating in the study who present with eating disorders will be offered treatment options. The study is being funded by National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease, and Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research of Portland, Oregon.

“Kaiser-Permanente’s involvement is the reason that the study will be conducted in Portland,” Striegel-Moore says. “That’s where they are headquartered and they will provide access to the study population and offer the clinical sites.”

Kaiser-Permanente’s inclusion is also part of the reason that this study will offer opportunities for ground-breaking inquiry. The HMO maintains an extensive database of all its members’ health care visits, conditions and treatments, as well as significant demographic information on each patient. It has extensive procedures in place that ensure patients’ information is protected and that individuals’ participation in the study is completely voluntarily. As a result, Striegel-Moore and her co-investigators will be able to look beyond the immediate data generally associated the eating disorder studies.

“For example, in these studies we usually know the subject’s age, sex and maybe a little bit more,” she says. “But this database will allow us to look at such things as health history, income level, education, past treatments sought and a wealth of other information that will allow us to get much more specific in our analysis. It’s a treasure trove of comprehensive data that is, quite frankly, a researcher’s dream.”

The study’s initial phase, a screening of nearly 7,000 men and women, is just finishing up. The screening phase targeted respondents randomly, rather than inviting participation only of individuals who self-identified as having a problem with their eating behavior. This component is unique and permits a more accurate estimate of the extent of binge eating in the community than when research relies on individuals to judge whether they have an eating problem. However, not everyone suffering from binge-eating is aware of the problem.

“Not seeking help can lead to needless suffering and create additional health problems that include obesity, heart conditions, infertility and hypertension,” Striegel-Moore says.
“However, effective treatments are available for binge-eating.”

She adds that, when studies selectively recruit individuals with eating problems and fail to actively recruit individuals who do not experience eating problems, the number of individuals who suffer from an eating disorder that are identified will be inflated.

Striegel-Moore says that this is the first major study to include male subjects and such a broad age range. As a result, the study will provide new data on how common binge- eating is in men and individuals who are beyond college-age.

“We know that men and people who are not in their teens and twenties suffer from binge eating too,” she says. “But for some reason they’ve been excluded from major studies.”

From the initial pool of respondents, 250 people will be identified for the second stage of the study and invited to participate in treatment. Each participant’s progress will be followed for a year. Researchers will analyze the effectiveness of the treatment options on several levels.

“One of the innovative components of this study is that we will examine in detail what treatments people receive as part of usual clinical care,” Striegel-Moore says. “Prior studies have investigated how successful an experimental treatment was. What is unknown is how eating disorders are being treated in clinical practices outside of clinical research studies. Our study will also examine the cost of our treatment compared to the cost of the typical treatment patients receive in the context of usual clinical care. This will help inform decisions about optimal use of scarce health care resources.”

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Family Moves into Wesleyan’s Habitat Home


The McNeil family will celebrate Thanksgiving in their new home built by more than 250 students, faculty and staff and community volunteers.
Posted 11/16/05
Wesleyan University and Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity formally welcomed Jennifer McNeil and her family into their new home on 34 Fairview Avenue on Nov. 13.   Wesleyan donated the four bedroom, white colonial to Habitat for Humanity last year and faculty, staff, students and other members of the Wesleyan community assisted with the home’s renovations.

McNeil is looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner next week with extended family members and her five children, Darryl, Tyquan, Titeana, Taquana and Jamarea.
 

Renovations are currently underway on a second house that Wesleyan also donated to Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity at 15 Hubert Street.

For more information go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/1005habitathouse.html
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Examining Venezuela’s Economic and Political Struggles


Francisco Rodríguez, assistant professor of economics and Latin American studies, worked as the chief economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly prior to coming to Wesleyan.
Posted 11/16/05
In the recent Summit of the Americas in Argentina, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez openly defied President George Bush by reportedly declaring that the meeting would mark the end of Bush’s push for free-trade era in Latin America. However, the meeting marked another step in the contentious relationship that Chávez has staked out with the American president.

According to Assistant Professor of economics and Latin American Studies, Francisco Rodríguez, this increasingly vocal and confrontational posturing by Chávez is typical. Rodríguez knows this first hand. He’s met Chávez. In fact, Rodriguez has even been a guest at the Venezuelan Presidential Palace.

That was in 2002, when Rodríguez was working as the chief economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly (2000-2004) where it was his job to compile economic outlook prediction reports for the country.

One of Rodríguez’s reports caught the attention of the moderates within Chávez’s administration. It warned of a looming Venezuelan financial crisis and deep recession.

“At that moment, it seemed that the meeting was a positive step towards Chávez becoming a more progressive, democratic leader,” says Rodríguez.

“Shortly after the meeting, however, Chávez realigned himself with the more radical advisors within his administration and our report was widely ignored.”

It wasn’t long after Rodríguez’s meeting with Chávez when Venezuelan citizens tried unsuccessfully to oust the dictator from power. The repercussions are being felt to this day. Numerous citizens, journalists and politicians have been thrown in jail for simply speaking out against Chávez.

Since joining Wesleyan, Rodríguez has continued much of the same research he conducted while working for the Venezuelan National Assembly.

At Wesleyan, he examines economic growth, the political economy and international trade relations of Latin American countries, like Venezuela. One of his most recent papers studies how economic policies like openness, redistribution and liberalization, which are successful within one country, cannot necessarily succeed in another.

“There are many relevant interactions between policies, institutions and economic structure that make it problematic to use one country’s growth experience to make inferences about other countries,” says Rodríguez.

Similarly, his recent research outlines how open trade could be harmful to Latin American countries. In fact, Rodríguez predicts the free and open trade agreement, proposed by the Bush administration at the recent Summit of the Americas, is bound to fail.

“Latin American countries run the risk of not being able to compete with U.S. high-tech goods or East Asian low-skill intensive manufactured imports,” says Rodríguez. “Therefore, they’re forced to specialize in less dynamic sectors such as natural resource and agricultural exports.”

Rodríguez is both academically and personally interested in Venezuela’s economic issues. He was born in Venezuela, yet admits he is critical of elements of the leftist Chávez administration.

“His human rights violations are simply atrocious,” Rodríguez says.

Even the new television station, Telesur, whose signal is broadcast over Latin America on a satellite, which Venezuela recently purchased from China, proves what a powerful hold the Chávez administration has on the people.

“It’s Latin America’s version of Al Jazeera,” says Rodríguez.

However, despite the negativity surrounding Chávez and his government, Rodríguez admits the administration has recently developed some positive social programs to assist the needy.

One called “Barrio Adentro” places doctors to live and work in the poorest areas of the country and other, “Mercal,” sells food to the needy at subsidized costs.

While Rodríguez admits that these social programs have raised living standards among the poor, he is skeptical of the government’s intention as well as of the sustainability of their policies.

He claims that Venezuela’s economy continues to be threatened by high budget deficits and an overvalued exchange rate.

“Before Chávez, oil cost $9 a barrel and after he came into power it rose to as high as $60 a barrel,” explains Rodríguez. “While some of the revenues are being spent on social programs, a considerable proportion is spent on lavish government projects.”

These include such “projects” as a luxurious $54 million A319CJ Airbus plane for Chávez’s personal use. Rodríguez says that Chávez and the Kuwaiti royal family are the only developing country government to have purchased the airplane for official use.

Another is a case of missing money — $3.2 billion. In 2002, the Venezuelan National Assembly assigned the money to the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund – a fund the nation uses to protect itself against sudden changes in oil revenues.

However, Rodríguez says the funds were never deposited and the government cannot account for their whereabouts. Rodríguez says the funds are thought to have been used to finance political destabilization in other Latin American countries.

“These revenues could instead be saved, invested and used to pay off Venezuela’s current debt,” he says.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media relations

Recasting Human Resources, Payroll will Improve Service and Access


Dan Michaud has been appointed as the interim associate vice president for Human Resources to manage a new department including Payroll, Benefits and Human Resources.
Posted 11/16/05
A recent reorganization of services has combined the Human Resources Department with the Payroll and Benefits Offices. The reorganization became effective on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and was announced by John C. Meerts, interim vice president for finance and treasurer and vice president for Information Technology Services. The intent is to create a single, one-stop office that handles compensation, benefits, personnel information, transactions and recruitment.

“By merging the two areas we’ve created a more efficient, more accessible service for faculty and staff,” says Meerts. “Bringing these areas together in a single department will provide better overall service in these areas and eliminate confusion about who to contact for any of these issues.”

Meerts adds that the offices will eventually be combined physically at a single location to provide additional convenience for faculty and staff.

Dan Michaud has been appointed as the interim associate vice president for human resources to manage the new expanded department. Michaud comes to Wesleyan from Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston, Mass.

“We’re very excited about Dan coming to Wesleyan,” Meerts says. “He has tremendous experience in managing these services in a nonprofit environment and we’ll be looking forward to his expertise and leadership, especially during this transitional period.”

Meerts and Michaud hope to finalize a new location for the department in the near future.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Wesleyan Science Program Energizes Local Elementary School Class


At top, fifth grader Taylor Spencer learns about the hydrogen make-up of vinegar, club soda and ammonia with Manju Hingorani, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Spencer Elementary School Nov. 10. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
Posted 11/16/05
When 18 fifth graders from the Spencer School in Middletown came home on Nov. 10 and were asked, ‘What did you do in school today?’ they had a few ready answers:

“We extracted DNA from wheat germ, checked hydrogen levels in household products and stripped-away pigments from M&M candies.”

Probably a little different from the responses parents had heard the day before.

The extracting, checking and stripping-away came courtesy of an all-female Wesleyan faculty and student organization called Action Science Kids (ASK), which is part of the Wesleyan Women in Science program (WesWIS). One of ASK’s goals is to generate interest in science among the elementary school-aged students, as well as to demonstrate to girls and boys that the sciences are not only accessible to men.

“The idea is to infuse a notion of intelligent, competent women in various scientific fields,” said Kate Longley, a ASK member and Wesleyan senior biology major from Delmar, N.Y.

The Nov. 10 demonstration in Mrs. Greenlaw’s homeroom class was ASK’s most recent effort. Students and volunteers were divided up into groups and participated in the three different science experiments.

Manju Hingorani, assistant professor of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, led an experiment where she explained how common household products like vinegar, aspirin and ammonia, among others, contain different levels of hydrogen. When mixed with red cabbage juice, students determined that the pink mixtures, like vinegar, contained more hydrogen than the green mixtures like ammonia.

“Learning how to engage such a young audience in scientific discussions is quite an experience,” says Hingorani.

She adds that she enjoys the presentations and is hoping more Wesleyan students will get involved with the ASK program.

“It is very effective to show kids that, at any age, how much fun they and grown-ups can have with scientific experiments,” she explained.

Emily Alexy, a Wesleyan senior and math major from Ohio, worked on the experiment extracting DNA from wheat germ.

“Does anyone know what DNA does?” she asked. “It’s like a recipe for something and tells your body what you’re going to look like.”

Alexy discussed DNA and its functions, using common items, like soap, rubbing alcohol and water. In her experiment, DNA strands bubbled up to the top of the student’s test tubes when they mixed soap with wheat germ, warm water, meat tenderizer and baking soda.

One of the students, a 10-year-old named Eleanor, grew excited when her DNA strand fizzed to the top of her test tube.

“I like science because you get to learn about your world and earth you live in!” she exclaimed.

Samsun Nahar, a freshman from Manchester, Conn. presented an experiment called candy chromatography. She led students through rubbing coffee-filter paper across the candy coating of brown M&Ms, brown Reese’s Pieces candies and purple jellybeans to observe their different color coatings and dyes.

For more information about ASK contact Manju Hingorani at 860-685-2284 or mhingorani@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Wasch Center for Retired Faculty Opens

The Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty opened Nov. 5 during an Open House.

The Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty opened Nov. 5 during an Open House.

The Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty at 51 Lawn Avenue held its Open House Nov. 5 during Homecoming/Family Weekend.

The Center is named for Susie and Bill Wasch ’52, P’84, who contributed their vision and support for the project.

This new center creates a shared intellectual and social community where retired faculty members can continue their scholarly activities and participation in university life.

Trustee Emeritus Bob McKelvey ’59 believes the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty will provide invaluable connections between different generations of Wesleyan faculty. In supporting this project, he honored former first lady Katharina Kay Butterfield with the naming of the Butterfield Room.