Campus News & Events

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.”)

President Roth Makes Remarks at 2018 Commencement

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 addresses the Class of 2018 during the 186th Commencement ceremony on May 27.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 made the following remarks during the 186th commencement ceremony on May 27:

Members of the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees, and the mighty Class of 2018, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.

Do you remember the summer before you began your first year at Wesleyan? Were you working a tough job, attending an interesting program, or volunteering at an engaging not-for-profit? Like many in the summer of 2014, you might have been complaining about inertia in Washington, wondering whether things could get worse. Little did we know. There was cynicism in the air, to be sure, but nothing like the craven disregard for principle and process that we are witnessing today. The invective, insult, and manipulation we see today are antithetical to the inquiry, compromise, and reflection that are crucial for democratic governance—and at the heart of liberal education—one that aims at empowerment through learning.

Price ’18 Delivers Senior Class Welcome

Zenzele Price ’18 delivers the senior class welcome during Wesleyan’s 186th Commencement ceremony on May 27.

Zenzele Price ’18 delivered the following remarks during Wesleyan’s 186th Commencement ceremony on May 27.

Hi, my name is Zenzele Price, and I’m the 2018 Commencement speaker.

I’m trying to be optimistic, but right now graduating from college feels like being told to jump out of a plane. Standing here, with the wind battering my face, staring out at the great, terrifying expanse of the future, it’s easy to want to step back. Back to the cocoon of Usdan and Red and Black, back to saying “points please,” back to a sea of familiar faces.

But, in reality, there is no stepping back. In reality, we are dispersing, seeds cast to the wind, tumbling into the real world with painful, exhilarating, hopeful gravity. And it’s hard to trust my parachute.

Alumni Honored for Distinguished Achievements, Service At Annual Meeting

At the Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Alumni Association on May 26, six alumni received Distinguished Alumnus Awards. Two Outstanding Service Awards were presented, along with the James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award, which is given to a member of the community whose writing conveys “unusual insights and understanding of current and past events.” Front row (l. to r.): Distinguished Alumnus Paul Weitz ’88; James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award recipient journalist Hannah Dreier ’08; Outstanding Service Award winner Megan Norris ’83, P’17; Distinguished Alumnae Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98 and Jessica Rosenworcel ’93; and Vice Chair of the Alumni Association and Black Alumni Council Chair Nyasha Foy. Second row (l. to r.): Distinguished Alumnus Brian Frosh ’68; Outstanding Service Award recipient Alexander “Sandy” See ’68, P’98; Distinguished Alumnus Robert Crispin ’68; President Michael S. Roth ’78; and Distinguished Alumnus Bobbito Garcia ’88. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Megan Norris ’83, P’17 (left), with Paul Weitz ’88 and Bob Crispin ’68 enjoy President Roth’s welcome remarks to the crowd gathered for the ceremony in Memorial Chapel.

The award recipients are:

Robert W. “Bob” Crispin ’68: Robert W. “Bob” Crispin had a long and distinguished career as a senior executive in the insurance and financial services area, which culminated when he served as chairman and chief executive officer of ING Investment Management Americas from 2001 until he retired in 2007.

Brian E. Frosh ’68: Brian Frosh is the attorney general for the state of Maryland. Under his leadership, Maryland became the first state in the nation to issue guidance prohibiting discriminatory profiling by law enforcement, declaring definitively that race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and religion cannot be factors in routine police activity.

Michael Roth ’78 congratulates Distinguished Alumnus Brian Frosh ’68.

Jessica Rosenworcel ’93: Jessica Rosenworcel is a lawyer who currently serves as a commissioner to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency that regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

Bobbito García ’88: New York City native Bobbito García is a freelance creative who has put an indelible footprint on multiple urban movements. During the 1990s, he was one-half of the legendary Stretch and Bobbito program on WKCR, voted “Best Hip Hop Radio Show of All Time,” by The Source magazine. Currently, he is cohost of NPR’s What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito podcast.

Paul Weitz ’88: Paul Weitz is a writer, director, and producer whose directorial debut, along with his brother Chris, was American Pie. In addition to writing the animated film Antz, Mr. Weitz also co-wrote and directed About a Boy, for which he and Chris earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98: Maria Santana-Guadalupe is a New York–based anchor and correspondent for CNN En Español and frequent contributor to all CNN networks and platforms, including CNN, CNN International, HLN, and CNN.com.

President Roth congratulations Distinguished Alumna CNN En Espanol correspondent Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98,

Outstanding Service: Megan Norris ’83, P’17. Megan Norris is the chair of the Managing Partners and leader of the Employment and Labor Group for the law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone in Detroit. Elected by her national peers to both the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers, she has expertise litigating all matters of employment law. She is coauthor of Family and Medical Leave and the Law, published by the Law Journal Press in 2012.

Alexander “Sandy” See ’68, P’98: Sandy See, recently retired from a career in education, government, and the law, began his volunteer service to Wesleyan during his student years as president of the Cardinal Key Society and president of his class.

James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award: Hannah Dreier ’08. Hannah Dreier is a New York–based investigative reporter for the nonprofit news outlet ProPublica. She is focusing this year on covering immigration through character-driven, narrative storytelling.

Journalist Hannah Dreier ’08 was awarded the James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award. Previously a journalist in Venezuela, she covers immigration for ProPublica.

Wesleyan University Service Awards are presented to volunteers who have given sustained service to Wesleyan over time or who have given significant service in a specific area such as admission, career resources, fundraising, reunion planning, regional programs, or class notes. This year the awards go to:

Mr. Richard H. Goldman ’58
Mr. Donald J. Logie, Jr. ’68
Dr. John R. Mergendoller ’68, P’07, ’11
Mr. Frank B. Phillippi ’68, P’05
Mr. George K. Reynolds III ’68
Ms. Suki Hoagland ’78
Ms. Francine V. Rivkin ’78
Mr. Matthew A. Ember ’83, P’16
Ms. Laurie Hills ’83
Ms. Ruth E. Jaffe ’83, P’18
Mrs. Laurie Sklarin Ember ’84, P’16
Mr. Kwanghee Lee ’88, P’21
Mr. Stephen Geddes Morison Jr. ’88
Ms. Grace E. O. Ray ’88
Mrs. Jessica Gutow Viner ’93
Mrs. Makaela Jane Kingsley ’98, MALS’05

THE WUSA for Graduates of the Last Decade is presented to volunteers who have given sustained service to Wesleyan in the first 10 years after graduation, or who have given significant service in a specific area such as admission, career resources, fundraising, reunion planning, regional programs, or class notes in their 10th reunion year or earlier.
Mr. Osborne Leonard Hazel ’03
Ms. Sonya Behnke Page ’03
Ms. Cara Marisa Zwerling ’03
Ms. Alicia Collen-Zeidan ’08
Mr. Jacob Robert Levine ’08
Ms. Melody Elizabeth Oliphant ’13
Ms. Laura Zhi-yi Yim ’13

Dombrowski, Saaka, Taylor Receive Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching

President Michael Roth with Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching honorees Lisa Dombrowski ’92 and Erika Taylor. Honoree Iddrisu Saaka is not pictured.

During Wesleyan’s 186th commencement ceremony on May 27, Wesleyan presented outstanding teachers with the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. 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 are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, as well as current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

This year, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:

Lisa Dombrowski
Lisa Dombrowski ’92, associate professor of film studies, has been a member of Wesleyan’s faculty since 2001. She teaches in the College of Film and the Moving Image and is a core member of the College of East Asian Studies. She earned her BA in film studies and American studies at Wesleyan in 1992 and went on to receive an MA and PhD in film studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dombrowski is the author of The Films of Samuel Fuller: If You Die, I’ll Kill You! and the editor of Kazan Revisited. She has written for The New York Times, Film Comment, Film Quarterly, Film History, and the Criterion Collection, among others. Her research is concerned with the art and business of cinema, especially post-WWII film form and modes of production. Her teaching focuses on film history, the industry, and aesthetics in international art cinema, East Asian cinema, American independent cinema, and melodrama and the woman’s picture. Dombrowski is currently completing a book on director, screenwriter, and producer Robert Altman and American independent cinema in the 1990s and 2000s.

Iddrisu Saaka

Iddrisu Saaka (Photo by Perceptions Photography)

Iddrisu Saaka (unable to attend the ceremony)
Iddrisu “Iddi” Saaka, artist-in-residence in dance, has taught at Wesleyan since 2008. He earned a diploma in dance from the University of Ghana and an MFA in dance from UCLA. A dancer, dance teacher, and choreographer from Ghana, West Africa, Saaka has choreographed and performed at the World Festival of Sacred Music, the International Festival of Masks, the Skirball Center, Royce Hall, the Fowler Museum, Dance Arts Academy, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, El Portal Forum Theatre, and the Music Center in Los Angeles. At Wesleyan, he teaches courses in West African dance and also directs the West African Drumming and Dance Concert at the end of each semester. He has served as a visiting instructor of dance at UCLA, University of California San Diego, and the University of Ghana.

Erika Taylor
Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, environmental studies, and integrative sciences, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2007. She holds a BS in chemistry with honors from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was also a postdoctoral research associate at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Throughout her career, Taylor has worked at the interface of chemistry and biology where she strives to find ways to exploit enzymes found in nature to perform chemistry that can help advance the fields of chemistry and medicine. She also employs chemical synthesis to help answer questions of both biological and medical interest. At Wesleyan, her research has focused on the identification and characterization of enzymes that are important for the development of antimicrobials for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections—particularly bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli and V. cholerae. She also studies enzymes that can improve the efficiency of biomass to biofuel conversion, particularly the breakdown and bacterial utilization of lignin. She teaches courses in the areas of organic chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, and biomedicinal chemistry, among others.

View previous Binswanger recipients online here.

First Cohort of Posse Veteran Scholars Graduates

The Posse Veteran Scholars Class of 2018.

The Posse Veteran Scholars Class of 2018.

As the Class of 2018 accepted their diplomas this month, among them was a special group of students: Wesleyan’s first full cohort of Posse Veteran Scholars to graduate.

In 2013, Wesleyan made a commitment to dramatically increase the number of veterans it enrolls by entering into a new partnership with The Posse Foundation, Inc. At that time, Wesleyan was only the second institution to join the Posse Veteran Scholars Program, which identifies talented veterans interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees, and places them at top tier colleges and universities, where they receive four-year full scholarships. Each year, the veterans enter in “posses” of 10, which act as support networks to help these nontraditional students adapt to college life. As of the 2017–18 school year, Wesleyan has enrolled four full cohorts. One member of the first posse, Ky Foley, graduated a year early in 2017.

Before arriving at Wesleyan, members of the Class of 2018 Posse Veteran Scholars were members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and several served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some had previously attended other colleges and universities; two have families.

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies, is the faculty mentor for the Class of 2018 posse.

“I’ve often said that the Posse initiative is one of the best things Wesleyan has done, and I still believe that,” he said. “Being the mentor for the first cohort has been at various times rewarding, challenging, frustrating, infuriating, and joyful, but never dull.”

From left, Darryl Stevenson '18, Ryan Poulter '18, and Michael Smith '18 at the Wesleyan Posse Veteran Pre-Graduation Celebration on May 26.

From left, Darryl Stevenson ’18, Ryan Poulter ’18, and Michael Smith ’18 at the Wesleyan Posse Veteran Pre-Graduation Celebration on May 26.

Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion, Title IX officer, agreed.

“Without question, the partnership with the Posse Foundation and the influx of a critical mass of post-9/11 veterans on campus has been an overwhelming success,” he said. “The Posse Veteran Scholars are exceptional human beings who contribute across the board to the living-learning environment, and demonstrate the vast talent pool that exists within this particular nontraditional student population.”