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Category Archive for 'Campus News'

In Cuba’s first zombie movie, residents of Havana scream in panic as flesh eating zombies swarm streets and buildings. Watch Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead) on April 24 as part of the Hispanic Film Series.

In Cuba’s first zombie movie, residents of Havana scream in panic as flesh eating zombies swarm streets and buildings. Watch Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead) on April 24 as part of the Hispanic Film Series.

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures is hosting the 2014 Hispanic Film Series March 27 to April 24 at the Center for Film Studies.

“For the second year in a row, we’re showcasing recent award-winning films from Latin America and Spain,” said María Ospina, assistant professor of romance languages and literatures. “Last year, we had hundreds of students attend the screenings, and we’re hoping that this year the event is equally successful.”

All films start at 8 p.m. in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. Screenings are free of charge and are open to the public. Films have English subtitles.

March 27
Biutiful, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico/Spain, 2010
Javier Bardem brings admirable passion to the gritty story of Uxbal, a midlevel underworld figure whose main business is dealing with the black-market labor of illegal immigrants in Barcelona. Juggling two young children, a mentally unstable former wife and a terminal illness, he is faced with choices that test both his resolve and his decency, as he tries to be stoical, tough and compassionate.

April 3
Tanta agua (So Much Water), directed by Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, Uruguay/Mexico/Holland/Germany, 2013
Alberto, who doesn’t see his kids Lucía and Federico much since his divorce, refuses to allow anything to ruin his plans for vacation at a hot springs resort. (more…)

 Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy spoke to Wesleyan President Roth about Wesleyan's microgrid project on Feb. 6. The governor helped "power up" the new microgrid, which will provide an emergency shelter at the Freeman Athletic Center to residents of Middletown in the event of a large-scale power outage.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy spoke to Wesleyan President Roth about Wesleyan’s microgrid project on Feb. 6. In the event of a large-scale power outage, a newly-installed generator will provide power to a emergency shelter at the Freeman Athletic Center. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Gov. Dannel Malloy, Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, and other state and local officials were on hand March 6 to help Wesleyan celebrate and power up its new microgrid project, the first project to come online under the inaugural round of Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation statewide microgrid pilot program.

The group gathered in the lobby of the Freeman Athletic Center, near the site of Wesleyan’s 676 kW natural gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reciprocating engines. Using oversized shears, they cut a red ribbon, and Malloy used a computer to start the engines. The generator package will deliver 4,700 mWh annually. In the event of a widespread power outage, it will be able to power the campus in “island mode,” keeping the lights on independent from the larger electrical grid.

“This is a win-win for Wesleyan and Connecticut,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “This is a great occasion to celebrate innovative ways to power our campus and prepare for emergencies… This is part of our effort to reduce risk, to increase capacity and to do those things in a sustainable way, in as clean a way as possible.”

In July 2013, Wesleyan received a $694,000 grant from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to connect the CHP engines to the campus’ electrical grid. (more…)

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, works with students on a small radio telescope, located on the roof of the Van Vleck Observatory.

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, works with students on a small radio telescope, located on the roof of the Van Vleck Observatory.

A curious mix of dust and gas surrounding a distant star presents a unique mystery – and possibly a front-row seat to planet formation, according to Assistant Professor of Astronomy Meredith Hughes and colleagues, whose paper on the star appears in the March 6 edition of the journal Science.

The group of astronomers, including Hughes and 13 others, were the first to identify the asymmetry and “lumpy” quality of the gas surrounding beta Pictoris, using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. The discovery leads to two possible explanations: There may be a giant “exoplanet”  lurking nearby (forcing clumps of carbon dioxide to orbit the star on opposite sides) or there has recently been a collision between two Mars-sized bodies. More data must be analyzed to figure out which event happened.

“We actually already knew that there was gas around this star, but we didn’t know how much, or that the gas would be lumpy and asymmetric – the asymmetry is another indication that the gas was probably generated by a recent collision,” explained Hughes.

Beta Pictoris, which is actually a stellar neighbor of Earth, about 60 light years away, is in an active place for planet formation, Hughes said. And the evidence discussed in the Science paper points toward very recent (on astronomical timescales – in this case probably thousands of years) events. (more…)

Theodore M. Shaw ’76, one of the nation’s leading proponents of civil rights, will present Wesleyan’s Commencement address on May 25, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s address here. Wesleyan also will award honorary degrees to Helena Chmura Kraemer, whose work in biostatistics has had a transformative impact on medicine and psychiatry, and to Hayden White, a distinguished theorist of history.

Theodore Shaw ’76

Theodore Shaw ’76

Theodore Shaw ’76

For decades Ted Shaw has been one of the nation’s strongest advocates for equity and inclusion in our society. In courts throughout the nation, including the U.S. Supreme Court, he has argued cases involving voting rights, education, housing discrimination, capital punishment, and civil rights. He played a key role in initiating and drafting the admissions policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, and he has often testified before Congress and other legislative bodies.

He has worked with human rights lawyers in Africa, South America, Europe, and Asia, written numerous articles and opinion pieces for national publications, and has often provided expert commentary for television and radio shows.

He is professor of professional practice at Columbia University School of Law and is “Of Counsel” to Fulbright Norton Rose. For 23 years he served as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, concluding as director-counsel and president from 2004–2008. He obtained his law degree from Columbia Law School and started his career as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he currently serves on the board of the Wesleyan University Center for Prison Education. He is a trustee emeritus of Wesleyan. (more…)

More than 50 faculty, administrators, staff and students gathered to brainstorm and develop creative new ideas for Wesleyan’s next Sustainability Action Plan on Feb. 21.

More than 50 faculty, administrators, staff and students gathered to brainstorm and develop creative new ideas for Wesleyan’s next Sustainability Action Plan on Feb. 21.

By 2050, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is requiring that Wesleyan become carbon neutral. To meet this goal, the university needs to reduce its emissions 1,000 tons annually for the next 36 years — the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by 860 trees each year.

To help the university meet this goal, Wesleyan’s Sustainability Office and the Sustainability Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship (SAGES) hosted a Sustainability Action Planning Workshop on Feb. 21. More than 50 faculty, administrators, staff and students gathered to brainstorm and develop creative new ideas for Wesleyan’s next Sustainability Action Plan.

“In order to meet this goal, we need to get started now,” said Bill Nelligan, director of environmental services. “Many of us only work inx or visit a small number of buildings or areas on campus, so we’re looking for input from the entire campus community.”

Sheri Condon, accounting specialist, and Kiley Kennedy '16 both participated in the Sustainability Action Planning Workshop. Kennedy, a physics major, signed up to engage with Wesleyan faculty and staff on the issue of sustainability "because my conversations about sustainability are almost always with other students. This workshop gave me the chance to voice my ideas and hear from other perspectives," she said.

Sheri Condon, accounting specialist, and Kiley Kennedy ’16 both participated in the Sustainability Action Planning Workshop. Kennedy, a physics major, signed up to engage with Wesleyan faculty and staff on the issue of sustainability “because my conversations about sustainability are almost always with other students. This workshop gave me the chance to voice my ideas and hear from other perspectives,” she said.

The five-hour event included an introduction by Wesleyan President Michael Roth, a brainstorming session, group idea development sessions and presentations.

Workshop attendees broke into groups to focus on areas of campus buildings; dining and food; diversity, inclusion and affordability; education and research; energy; community and campus engagement; grounds; health and well-being planning; purchasing; transportation; waste; and water.

Physics major Kiley Kennedy ’16 joined the health and wellbeing workgroup, which focused on connecting the ecological and environmental factors with physical and psychological health. The group brainstormed several ideas, and suggested Wesleyan offer integrated (faculty/staff/student) fitness classes; outdoor classrooms; extensive outdoor running trails/maps; an outdoor fitness center above the Central Power Plant; and for-credit outdoor physical education classes.

“The overall goal of these ideas are to give people who have a hard time getting active or feel confined to the gym better access to physical activity outside of the gym. (more…)

Ishita Mukerji

Ishita Mukerji

Ishita Mukerji, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division, is one of 50 local scientists to be elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. Mukerji also is professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and is an expert on fluorescence and vibrational spectroscopy.

Mukerji is the 10th Wesleyan faculty to be elected into the academy. She will be introduced at CASE’s 39th annual meeting and dinner on June 5 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, Conn.

Election to the Academy is on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence.

“I’m thrilled and honored to join the academy! This is a great recognition of the hard work my research group, consisting of undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs have put in over the years and the strong support that Wesleyan gives to scientific research. This type of recognition really underscores the excellence of the sciences at Wesleyan and the scholar-teacher model that we embrace,” Mukerji said. “I look forward to working and networking with other scientists throughout the state and helping the academy do it’s work to advise the people and government of Connecticut on scientific issues.”

Mukerji’s research interests focus on the use of spectroscopic tools to investigate challenging problems in biology (more…)

Cheryl Cutler MA '71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department's history and changes as part of the Dance Department's grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Cheryl Cutler MA ’71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department’s history and changes as part of the Dance Department’s grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

The Dance Department now has a studio/office space of its own, having opened new digs in a converted church at 160 Cross Street Feb. 28 with a grand opening gala. Artist-in-residence, African dancer/drummer Iddi Saaka gave the inaugural performance at an intimate reception attended by dance majors and some early alumni from the program (which first took shape in the late ’60s and early ’70s as an extension of the Theater Department).

The newly renovated Dance Department building — constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

The newly renovated Dance Department building, constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

“We finally have our own space, our own building, our own entity,” said Hari Krishnan, assistant professor of dance. “Statistically, more than 40 percent of students at Wesleyan have taken a dance class during their time at Wesleyan. This has been the case for over 10 years and the figure is consistent across all three divisions. Now we can build on that. We can make it an integral part of life at Wesleyan. This building reaffirms that for us.”

The newly renovated building — constructed in 1978, once home to the AME Zion Church, and most recently, an archeology laboratory — will yield many benefits for the Wes dance community. Until now, faculty and students have been sharing offices and spaces in tight quarters, based inside the Center for the Arts. The Theater Department has taken over the former space. Now each faculty and resident has an office to him or herself and there’s adequate space to increase enrollment and continue expanding and evolving the program. Scheduling independence will allow for more performances and less hassle in the planning stages, Krishnan said. (more…)

Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome to participate in the Wesleyan Writers Conference this June.  Special topics include selling your book and writing for film, science and medicine and social issues.

Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome to participate in the Wesleyan Writers Conference this June. Special topics include selling your book and writing for film, science and medicine and social issues. Manuscript consultations and publishing advice are key parts of the program.

Registration is now open for the 58th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference, one of the nation’s leading programs, to be held on campus June 11-15. Both experienced writers and new writers are welcome. This is a time to start a new project or develop your current work with the help of the conference’s faculty, distinguished writers who work closely with participants. Manuscript consultations and publishing advice are key parts of the program. Participants may attend daily seminars in the novel, short story, poetry, and nonfiction (including memoir and literary journalism), and the program also includes guest speakers, readings, workshops, panel discussions and talks with editors and agents. Special topics include writing for film, writing about science and medicine, writing about social issues and how to sell your book.

“Writing is often lonely work,” said Anne Greene, director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference, director of Writing Programs. “It can be transforming to spend a few days outside of your writing room talking to people who share your interests. Former participants say they’re still in close touch with friends and writing colleagues they met at the conference, and they find these connections invaluable.” (more…)

At its meeting on March 1, Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 2.2 percent for the 2014–15 year, reflecting the second year of a new policy to link tuition increases to inflation.

The increase is based on the three-year national CPI average of June 30, 2013, the latest full fiscal year available. The Board adopted a three-year average in order to reduce year-to-year fluctuations in tuition increases.

“We’re committed to keeping Wesleyan affordable for all our students,” said President Michael Roth. “We’re holding down our tuition increases, ensuring that our students graduate not burdened by heavy debt, and providing a generous financial aid program.”

To keep Wesleyan affordable, the university meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted students who receive financial aid. Need-based support represents a commitment of about $51 million in the university’s budget next year. Wesleyan also has instituted an optional three-year degree program, saving families around $50,000 on their total tuition bill while retaining Wesleyan’s core academic experience.

Raising funds for additional scholarships is the top priority for Wesleyan’s $400 million fundraising campaign. To date, Wesleyan has raised $331 million toward that goal.

For the 2014-15 academic year, tuition will be $47,702 for all students. The residential comprehensive fee will be $13,226 for freshmen and sophomores, and $15,034 for juniors and seniors. Including the student activity fee, the total student charges will be $61,198 for freshmen and sophomores, and $63,006 for juniors and seniors.

 

This story has been moved to: http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2014/03/03/mukerjicaseelection/

During an internship last summer, Shannon Welch '14 discovered that the State of Maryland never rescinded the 13th amendment.  Welch brought the oversight to the attention of the current Maryland State Legislature.

During an internship last summer, Shannon Welch ’14 discovered that the State of Maryland never rescinded the 13th amendment. Welch brought the oversight to the attention of the current Maryland State Legislature. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Last summer, history and government major Shannon Welch ’14 was an intern at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. She was paging documents at the Center for Legislative Archives when she stumbled across a little known and disturbing proposed constitutional amendment on the books in her home state of Maryland.

“I came upon this 13th amendment that was making slavery institutionalized for the rest of time,” she said. “The federal government could never touch it. Then I found a document that Maryland had ratified it, and I was shocked. They let me keep researching, and I found out that Maryland had never rescinded this amendment, while other states had.”

The amendment had been ratified by the state’s general assembly on Jan. 10, 1862, not long after the start of the Civil War when the union was in a state of disarray. When the final version of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery was enacted in 1865, many had forgotten or were unaware of the obsolete, so-called “shadow” version, which stated:

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Shannon Welch is writing a senior thesis on Native American conversions by Jesuit priests and puritan missionaries in Maine in the late 1600s.

Shannon Welch is writing a senior thesis on Native American conversions by Jesuit priests and puritan missionaries in Maine in the late 1600s.

“You had two countries with two separate congresses pretending like they’re representing (more…)

Pictured, from left: Marcin Przeciszewski, director of the Catholic Information Agency; Bishop Mieczysław Cisło, head of the Committee for the Dialogue with Judaism at the Episcopate of the Catholic Church in Poland; Magda Teter; Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska, professor of Jewish literature of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin; Michael Schudrich, chief Rabbi of Poland; Jan Grosfeld, professor of the Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw..

Pictured, from left: Marcin Przeciszewski, director of the Catholic Information Agency; Bishop Mieczysław Cisło, head of the Committee for the Dialogue with Judaism at the Episcopate of the Catholic Church in Poland; Magda Teter; Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska, professor of Jewish literature of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University in Lublin; Michael Schudrich, chief Rabbi of Poland; Jan Grosfeld, professor of the Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.

Historians will tell you that the past can often have a direct and profound effect on the present age. 

Take Magda Teter, for example. A scholarly probe into post-Reformation Europe recently led the professor of history and director of Jewish Studies at Wesleyan to an event that may have changed the course of Jewish and Christian relations in Poland.

“This is how scholars can sometimes play a role in getting people to talk to each other,” she said. “It didn’t start that way, but that was the good result.”

Sandomierz, a sleepy Renaissance town in southeast Poland, (now known in Europe as the backdrop for a popular TV show about a crime-solving priest) was for many years considered a locus of anti-Semitism. The reason: a painting in the city’s cathedral church depicting the “blood libel” of Jews murdering Christian children. One of a series commemorating Catholic martyrs, it had been for many years covered up; calls to have it removed met with opposition, but it was the source of intense controversy and a big problem for the local bishop.

In the course of researching a book she is currently writing,  Teter met with the Sandomierz bishop. They discussed what to do with the 18th-century painting, and how to bring the community together around a solution?

The result of that conversation was a 2013 symposium on the issue, partially sponsored by Wesleyan, that brought together scholars and clerics and led to the decision to unveil the painting, add explanatory signage and convene again. (more…)

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