Campus News & Events

Khalied ’16 Delivers Senior Class Welcome (with video)

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 speaks to fellow graduates. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 delivered the following Senior Class Welcome during the 184th Commencement Ceremony May 22:

Five years ago, when I was still living in Karachi, Pakistan, and studying for an accounting certification, I logged on to my Facebook and realized that my wall was flooded with graduation pictures. I wrote the following status in a fit of passive-aggressive jealousy (and I quote): “I just realized that I will never have a regular graduation with a convocation where I get to wear a gown and that flat hat thingy.”

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Tahreem Khalied ’16 (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

I wasn’t just jealous…I was extremely sad. I believed wholeheartedly that I would spend my life auditing companies, and that was just depressing.

When I came to the U.S. four and a half years ago I did not know what to expect…and needless to say the first few months here were a cultural shock, completely nerve-wracking. Born and raised in Karachi, it was extremely difficult for me to adjust to the Wesleyan environment. I was scared on so many levels: scared about my future; scared about being the odd one out, the adult, foreign student in a sea of smart, articulate young people; scared about not being American enough to understand what it meant to be a Wesleyan student. Coming to Wesleyan was the first decision I had taken for myself, and it scared me that this one independent decision might turn out to be a big failure.

President Roth Makes Remarks to the Class of 2016 (with video)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth made the following remarks during the 184th Commencement ceremony May 22:

President Roth delivers his remarks. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

President Roth delivers his remarks. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Members of the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees, and the very mighty Class of 2016, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this Commencement.

When you began your time at Wesleyan in the fall of 2012, the presidential elections were moving into high gear. Barack Obama, who spoke from this podium eight years ago as a presidential candidate, was arguing for a renewed mandate for change, for finding ways to make even small amounts of progress on environmental issues, social justice concerns, and economic growth. There were many who opposed this vision, and they offered an alternative framework for imagining individual freedom, prosperity through work, and respect for tradition. Today you are graduating into another election cycle, and now differences in the visions for the future of this country seem greater than ever. Our politics have grown ever nastier, cruder, more vulgar, more juvenile. Many Americans, turned off by the triumph of vulgarity and corruption, seem ready to dis-engage from the political process. I trust this will not be the case for you. Resignation should not be an option. We so need your participation, your vision, your commitment to put justice, generosity, and care at the center of your lives and our communities.

Bachner, Eudell, Lipton Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Sally Bachner, associate professor of English, Demetrius Eudell, professor of history, and James Lipton, professor of computer science, received Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching at Commencement on May 22. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Recommendations were solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, as well as current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients were chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

Bios of the recipients follow:

Gruppuso, Tamaddon, Nury Deliver “Senior Voices” Addresses

Abigail Gruppuso ’16, Austin Tamaddon ’16, and Cyrus Nury ’16 delivered “Senior Voices” Addresses on May 21 in Memorial Chapel. Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:

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Abigail Gruppuso ’16 (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Abigail Gruppuso ’16

The lunch table in Usdan is where my friends and I split into two camps and argue whether Cherry Berry or Froyo World is better. It’s where Mike and I exchange stories about our study abroad experiences in Nepal and Beijing. It’s where I was urged to Feel the Bern and taught how to eliminate food waste. At the table by the window, Sarah tells me about her research to find a chemical solution to antibiotic inhibitors. And Wolfi and I blabber about our ridiculous idea to start a popup restaurant on campus. Our laughs echo through the dining hall when Lainey and Sam simultaneously yell “Anotha one!” because DJ Kahled is so engrained in their vocabularies. We know everyone is staring at us when we sing Justin Timberlake at the top of our lungs but we don’t care. The long rectangle table is where we support each other in times of crisis—where we tell one another they’re gorgeous and too amazing for that guy, it’s okay to get a bad grade once in a while and your mental health is more important than sticking with pre-med.

73 Seniors Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P’12 P’14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony. (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society, in a ceremony May 21 at Memorial Chapel.

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth welcomes the new members of Phi Beta Kappa.

The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country. Membership is conferred for high scholastic achievement. Fall election eligibility is based on a student’s grades at the end of junior year; spring election is based on four-year achievement.

Seventy-three students were inducted at the ceremony. They join fifteen other seniors inducted in December 2015.

PHI BETA KAPPA SPRING 2016

Holt Akers-Campbell
Elizabeth Marie Alexion
Hannah Monica Ang Ang
Leah Ruth Bakely
Maya Sarah Berkman
Stephanie Rose Blumenstock
Rebecca E. Brill
Kristin Ione Bumsch
Christopher O’Neal Caines
Matthew Werner Chilton

Wesleyan Commencement Weather Information

Wesleyan’s Commencement ceremony will take place outside on Andrus Field, as planned. Our best advice is to come prepared for cool, wet weather conditions, and bring along an umbrella. Please keep in mind the field may be wet and muddy.

A reminder that rain or shine the Commencement ceremony will be simulcast in the Memorial Chapel, Patricelli ’92 Theater, Ring Family Performing Arts Hall and Tishler Lecture Hall (150 Exley Science Center). The ceremony will also be available to view on the website wescast.wesleyan.edu.

For additional information about Commencement, please see the Reunion & Commencement website.

Wesleyan’s T.R.A.P. House Business Incubator Working in Hartford’s North End

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

Members of team behind T.R.A.P. House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

The Hartford Courant has featured the work of T.R.A.P House, a nonprofit business incubator that targets high-crime, high-poverty areas and has recently started working in the north end of Hartford. T.R.A.P. House is the creation of a team from Wesleyan: Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Sara Eismont ’18, and Bashaun Brown, a former student in Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, where he earned 16 credits while serving six years at the Cheshire Correctional Institution for bank robbery.

Brown will be a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 2018, starting in the fall.

T.R.A.P. stands for “transforming, reinventing and prospering,” and is a play on the street slang for a place to buy and sell drugs. According to the Courant:

The acronym doubles as the organization’s mission statement. Brown wants to set up shop in the North End and recruit drug dealers, providing them an outlet to “pivot their skills to the legal economy” through college-level entrepreneurship classes.

He has already started to make his rounds, visiting halfway houses and touring neighborhoods, spreading word of what he’s doing.

“There are no headhunters looking at these people, no one’s looking to hire them,” Brown said. “But I believe you have the same type of people in these neighborhoods that have the same business acumen that you might find at Harvard or Yale. They’re just using it for the wrong reasons.”

Brown knows this all too well from his upbringing on the streets of Plainfield, N.J., a city 30 miles south of Newark where “preteens act as lookouts and drug mules in exchange for soda-and-chip money.” He tried to distance himself from this life by enrolling at Morehouse College, but after one year, “his dreams collapsed under the weight of debt.” He returned home and made a series of bad decisions that ultimately landed him in prison.

Wesleyan Class Studies ‘Lost Tribe’ of Lower Connecticut River

The Hartford Courant reported on a study of the Wangunks, the indigenous people of Middletown and Portland, Conn., by members of a Wesleyan course taught by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of environmental studies. Eleven students spent a semester in the archives of the Middlesex County Historical Society studying the Wangunks as part of a course on local Native Americans: “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People.” Four of those students presented their research at a March seminar at Russell Library.

According to the story:

The Wesleyan students made use of a number of sources to piece together a comprehensive history of the Wangunk peoples, from their contact in the mid-1600s with the first English settlers of Middletown to the tribe’s gradual disappearance.

Through [Gary] O’Neal — a descendant of Jonathan Palmer, a Wangunk Indian who lived in East Hampton in the early 1800s — the students were able to learn about the tribe’s persistence in the area.

“We wanted to understand who the Wangunk were and what happened to them,” said [Maia] Neumann-Moore [’18], who looked at Wangunk migration patterns after the settling of Mattabessett, or Middletown, by the English in 1650. “It was as if the Wangunk disappeared into the woods. But they were here all along.”

The students found that the settlers were increasingly casual in their references to these Native Americans over time, especially their actual numbers. They said the word Wangunk appears often in 17th century records but far less frequently a century later, when a small band was living across the river on a reservation in Portland, known as Wangunk meadows.

Read the full story here.

Women’s Tennis, Crew Teams Qualify for NCAA Championships

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

The Wesleyan women’s tennis and women’s crew teams both qualified for the NCAA Championships this week. Women’s tennis, ranked No. 8 in the ITA national rankings, returns to the postseason tournament for the first time since the 2000-01 season, and only the second time in program history. The Cardinals earned a first round bye after posting an 11-5 overall record, and will face the winner of No. 14 Mary Washington and Simmons on May 14 at 11 a.m. on the campus of Amherst College, the regional host. If Wesleyan wins, it would advance to play either No. 7 Amherst, SUNY Geneseo or Ithaca in the third round May 15 at noon.

Women’s tennis is riding a historic season, in which the Cardinals won their first-ever NESCAC Tournament match. Wesleyan, seeded No. 5, defeated the No. 4 seed and sixth-ranked Bowdoin 5-1 to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals are led by reigning Individual Singles National Champion Eudice Chong ’18, and enter postseason play having won seven of their last eight matches.

In addition to the women’s team qualifying for the team championships, Chong and Aashli Budhiraja ’18 also qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships, while Victoria Yu ’19 was selected as a singles alternate. Additionally, Steven Chen ’18 of the 11th-ranked men’s tennis team qualified in singles play on the men’s side and Michael Liu ’17 was selected as an alternate. Chen and Liu were instrumental in Wesleyan’s success this season, which saw the team win its first-ever NESCAC Tournament match when it defeated Tufts, 5-3, to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals narrowly missed out on an at-large bid to the team championships and finished the season with a 13-6 record.

Women’s crew, ranked No. 3 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championships and will bring its Varsity 8 boat, comprised of Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Annalee Holmdahl ’17, Emma Koramshahi ’16, Ricky Flowers ’19, Emma Halter ’17, Annie Dade ’16, Amanda Molitor ’18 and coxswain Elissa Greenberg ’18. The Cardinals are making their second appearance in the postseason tournament, and first since 2014. Six teams qualified for the championships, while two at-large Eights were also selected. The championship regatta will take place May 27-28 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif. Wesleyan finished second overall at the New England Championships and third at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.

* Update 5/16/2016
The eighth-ranked women’s tennis team played No. 14 Mary Washington in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and defeated the Eagles decisively, 5-0. Advancing to the ‘Sweet 16′ on Sunday, Wesleyan faced No. 7 Amherst College on the Little Three rivals’ home court. The Cardinals came up short, as they were defeated 5-2. Wesleyan’s historic season came to an end as it finished the year with a 12-6 record.

Women's Crew.

Women’s Crew.

Fox ’19 Writes on Wesleyan’s Jewish Community, Campus Political Climate

Anna Fox ’19 wrote an essay in The Forward about Wesleyan’s Jewish community and the campus political climate surrounding the Israel Palestinian conflict. Though, as a Zionist, she was anxious about coming to a campus with a pro-Palestine reputation, she was met with a pluralistic community, “diverse opinions” and “students exchanging ideas thoughtfully—though rarely in agreement—and leaving the conversations with respect, compassion and nuanced approaches to their ideas.”

She writes:

The passion I see in my peers who engage with Israeli-Palestinian politics, regardless of their political affiliations, gives me so much hope about the future of the Holy Land. My voice is not just heard, but valued. My views have been challenged, certainly, and I often leave conversations grappling with the questions they provoked, but I am always met with compassion.

And this campus makes me feel closer to Israel. My community’s plurality doesn’t alienate me, but pushes me to think deeply about the conflict. When the Bayit embraces students with diverse political opinions, and when we have the opportunity to engage with the issues that we feel so deeply and passionately about, my peers and I are able to develop our opinions in an informed and responsible way. […] The openness of dialogue in this campus’s Jewish community never allows us to be blindly opinionated, or to trust that we are always right. Rather, we are constantly assessing the subtleties of our opinions, strengthening and shifting them as we continue to learn more about the world around us.

Fox concludes:

It’s tempting for adults to dismiss college students as starry-eyed idealists. But as young people, we know that at the end of the day, we have the potential to make the world a better place. When we have the spaces to explore this potentiality fully, we bring a new vitality to the conversation. We engage with one another, and we challenge both our peers’ beliefs and our own. We grow as Jews and as people. Jewish communal leaders looking to understand our generation ought to listen to us.

 

5 Tenure-Track Faculty Hired for Fall 2016

Wesleyan recently hired five additional tenure-track faculty who will begin their appointments during the Fall 2016 semester. They join eight other faculty who were hired in February.

The new faculty include:

Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies. Cho’s BA is from the University of Rochester, and she is completing her dissertation at Harvard, titled “The Dictator’s Modernity Dilemma: Modernization and Generation Turnover under Authoritarianism.”

Master Drummer Adzenyah Celebrated at Ceremony, Hall Dedication

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, at right, congratulates Abraham Adzenyah for teaching at Wesleyan 46 years and for the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). A ribbon cutting ceremony took place May 7.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, was honored with a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students (View photo set here). Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

Abraham Adzenyah speaks to the audience.

During the event, Adzenyah was honored with the naming of the Abraham Adzenyah Rehearsal Hall (formerly the Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall). This is the first time that a leading U.S. university has named a building after a traditional African musician. In addition, grateful students, alumni and friends have raised more than $225,000 to establish the Abraham Adzenyah Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship.

“West African drumming has been one of the most important parts of our Music Department since the beginning of our World Music Program in the 1960s,” said Professor of Music Eric Charry. “Abraham Adzenyah has been the pillar of the World Music Program, being here for so many decades and training so many of our students. He has been such a valued colleague within our Music Department. He has such breadth and depth of experience, and it’s just a pleasure to have had him around and for him to have offered the kinds of expertise that he does.”

Early in his career, Abraham Adzenyah studied, performed, and taught drumming in his native Ghana, including five years of formal study in music, dance, and drama at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. He was one of the first artists to be named Master Drummer in the Ghana National Dance Ensemble. On arriving at Wesleyan in 1969, he began to offer courses in West African music, dance, and culture. He received a BA in liberal arts from Goddard College in 1976, and an MA in music from Wesleyan in 1979.

Throughout his years at Wesleyan, Adzenyah was a visiting artist and teacher at dozens of workshops, colleges and conservatories, and has performed all over the world, alone and with eminent musicians such as the late Wesleyan Artist in Residence Ed Blackwell, Wesleyan’s John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Emeritus Anthony Braxton, Hugh Masekela, Steve Gadd, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Ornette Coleman and Rufus Reid. He has also influenced and inspired students and professional musicians through his recordings. While at Wesleyan, Adzenyah received the Afro-Caribbean World Music Symposium Achievement Award and the Percussive Arts Society Award.

Adzenyah was featured in the May 7 Hartford Courant in an article titled “A Unique Honor for Retiring Master Drummer at Wesleyan.”

The celebration was co-sponsored by the Center for the Arts, the Music Department, the Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, and University Relations.

Several past and present students, faculty and friends attended the celebration.

Several past and present students and faculty attended the celebration.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts,

Adzenyah was honored with a farewell concert.

The afternoon concert featured Wesleyan's  West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble, Tufts University's Kiniwe Ensemble with the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Kekeli African Music and Dance Ensemble, Berklee College of Music's West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Montclair State University's West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble with the Rhythm Monsters, and Ayanda Clarke '99.

The afternoon concert featured Wesleyan’s  West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble, Tufts University’s Kiniwe Ensemble with the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Kekeli African Music and Dance Ensemble, Berklee College of Music’s West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Montclair State University’s West African Drumming and Dance Ensemble with the Rhythm Monsters, and Ayanda Clarke ’99. (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19)

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.

On May 7, Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, emeritus, returned to campus for a ceremony, farewell concerts, and reunion featuring past and present students. Adzenyah taught West African music, dance and culture at Wesleyan for 46 years and retired in May.