Campus News & Events

McEvoy ’22 Named 2021 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

Emily McEvoy

As Newman Civic Fellow, Emily McEvoy will join 211 other community-committed students from the U.S. and Mexico for access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2021–2022 academic year. McEvoy has a deep-rooted interest in town-gown relations with the City of Middletown. (Photo by Willow Saxon ’24)

When Emily McEvoy ’22 began her college career at Wesleyan in 2018, she felt a deep sense of detachment from the local environment. At a campus in the middle of her home state, how could this be? The insularity, she says, was jarring, and she decided to dedicate her time to combat this issue.

McEvoy immediately became involved with several local organizations, including Middletown’s North End Action Team, and the student cohort of volunteers who helped staff their office. Most recently, McEvoy has been an organizer with the Middletown Mutual Aid Collective, which has raised close to $70,000 to support Middletown residents in need.

“I developed a love for canvassing the neighborhood,” McEvoy said. “I like personal conversations with people, and I like deeply understanding the histories and issues at the table . . . before I do anything else.”

McEvoy’s leadership efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed, and in March, she was named a Campus Compact 2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

Wesleyan’s 189th Commencement to Be Held May 26 In Person

monogramWesleyan’s 189th Commencement will take place in person on Wednesday, May 26.

“This year’s Commencement was previously planned for May 30; however, due to a number of factors, including current pandemic conditions and cancellation of an in-person reunion weekend, we have decided to move up the date,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 said in a campus-wide email.

The University is hoping that conditions will allow for two guests per graduate to attend the ceremony. Wesleyan is pursuing plans to accommodate the seniors and other graduates who have been studying remotely to return to campus for Commencement exercises.

As with all of Wesleyan’s COVID-related policies and guidelines, these plans are tentative and subject to change if conditions necessitate. The University will continue to communicate regarding more specific details of Commencement in the coming weeks.

“I am very much looking forward to seeing our graduates on Andrus Field on May 26, and celebrating the accomplishments of the formidable Class of 2021,” Roth said.

Wesleyan’s reunion events will move to a virtual format.

Gilmore, Alumni Author Papers in 7 Journals

Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology and professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of seven new papers and articles. These include:

Distinct Mineralogy and Age of Individual Lava Flows in Atla Regio, Venus Derived From Magellan Radar Emissivity,” published in the March 2021 issue of JGR: Planets. Gilmore’s former postdoc Jeremy Brossier, Katie Toner ’20 and Avi Stein ’17 co-authored this paper.

The Venus Life Equation,” published online in the January 2021 issue of Astrobiology.

Variations in the radiophysical properties of tesserae and mountain belts on Venus: Classification and mineralogical trends,” published in the February 2021 issue of Icarus.

Venus tesserae feature layered, folded, and eroded rocks,” published in the January 2021 issue of Geology.

Long-duration Venus Lander for Seismic and Atmospheric Science,” published in the October 2020 issue of Planetary and Space Science.

Low radar emissivity signatures on Venus volcanoes and coronae: New insights on relative composition and age,” published in the June 2020 issue of Icarus. Gilmore’s former postdoc Jeremy Brossier and Katie Toner ’20 co-authored this paper.

Present-day volcanism on Venus as evidenced from weathering rates of olivine,” published in the January 2020 issue of Science Advances.

In addition, “Felsic tesserae on Venus permitted by lithospheric deformation models,” written alongside and Beck Straley ’07 and Phillip Resor, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research later this year.

OConnell Talks Ocean Exploration in Vox Podcast

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne OConnell

Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is featured on Vox Media’s podcast Unexplainable in a March 17 episode titled “Journey Toward the Center of the Earth.”

The podcast explores unanswered scientific questions about mysterious aspects of the world and examines what scientists are doing to find answers. The episode with OConnell delves into a 20th-century quest to drill into the Earth’s layers through the ocean, specifically to learn more about a very dense region between the crust and the mantle called the Mohorovičić discontinuity, or the Moho.

“Project Moho was a bust, but it lay a foundation for exploring the ocean, which hadn’t been done before,” OConnell said in the podcast. “We still don’t know that much about it, and every day, almost, we learn something so exciting and so important about our planet.”

OConnell explained that drilling into the ocean allowed scientists to learn about past life and climate on Earth and discover life in the remotest depths of the ocean floor.

“Drilling into the surface sediment, we had no idea what the surface sediment of the ocean was like, and it defined a whole new field of geoscience: paleoceanography,” OConnell said. “And there could be a whole new field of mantle rheology that could be discovered with more pieces of mantle material.”

Read an accompanying Vox article titled “How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth” online here.

 

Wesleyan in the News

Several Wesleyan faculty and alumni have appeared in national media outlets recently. They include:

March 10
EIN Presswire – AcademicInfluence.com Announces the Top-Ranked Private Graduate Schools in the U.S. for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

March 11
The Middletown Press – Wesleyan University: COVID tests essential for return to in-person learning. Focuses on Wesleyan employees’ efforts in creating the COVID-19 testing site.

Market Screener – Safari Energy Reaches 500th Commercial Solar Project. Mentions that Safari Energy’s first project was a small, three-kilowatt (kW) solar system installed at Wesleyan and how “that project was quickly expanded with the addition of a 92 kW rooftop solar system and a 111 kW solar parking canopy system at the university.”

Market Screener – Langham Hospitality Investments: Re-election of Retiring Directors. Mentions that economics major Ceajer Keung Chan ’79 has been an independent non-executive director of the company since August 2018.

The New London Day, via Yahoo News – Students adapt as pandemic continues to affect higher learning. Mentions Yalissa Rodriguez ’23, “a 19-year-old sophomore at Wesleyan University studying neuroscience.”

March 12
American Theatre – Old Globe Names 2021 Classical Directing Fellows. Mentions Edward Torres, assistant professor of the practice in theater.

American Theatre – Where the Year Went: A Look Back, and Forward. Features Katie Pearl, assistant professor of theater.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education – Three Black Scholars Appointed to Endowed Chairs at Yale University. Mentions Tavia Nyong’o ’95.

Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo – Watching the incarnations go by: “Being Ram Dass.” Mentions James Lytton ’69 (Rameshwar Das) and Wesleyan.

AZ Central/USA Today – 30 years of designing award-winning images, this former Creative Director launches her 2nd career as a fine art painter. Features artist, art director, and graphic designer Amy Feil Phillips ’81.

Stamford Advocate – Intelligent.com Announces Best Colleges In Connecticut for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

March 13
The New York Times – Enjoy a Book Tour in Your Living Room. Mentions author Kaitlyn Greenidge ’04.

Middletown Press – Acclaimed Poet and Memoirist Chosen as Wesleyan’s Graduation Speaker. Features Wesleyan.

CT Post – Vaccinated students still need to be tested. Mentions that Wesleyan reported three new cases of COVID-19 this past week.

All Events In – Art History from Home: Stories from the Collection. Mentions Josh Lubin-Levy ’06, visiting instructor in curatorial practice in performance.

March 14
The List – Net Worth: The Hamilton Star Makes More Than You Think. Features Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15.

Daily Republic – Mystery author virtual guest of Solano County Library. Features Edwin Hill ’93.

March 15
Newsfeeds Media – In the Heights Drops Two Trailers Plus New Photos. Mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and Wesleyan.

Worcester Business Journal – Movers & Shakers. Mentions retired investment professional Cynthia Strauss ’76 and Wesleyan.

March 16
Boston Review – Derek Chauvin and the Myth of the Impartial Juror. Op-ed by Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti.

PressFrom – Bill Belichick opened up the wallet, but will it work? Mentions Bill Belichick ’75, P’07, Hon.’15 and Wesleyan.

Middletown Police Department via Facebook – Thanks Wesleyan’s Office of Public Safety for raising over $430 for a local family displaced by a fire.

March 17
Middletown Press – Middletown Pride fest to kick off Pride Month with a virtual parade. Wesleyan is a sponsor.

Market Screener – Flywire Launches eStore. Wesleyan uses Flywire to improve process efficiencies and reduce financial risk. Quotes Controller Valerie Nye.

Vox – How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth. Features geologist Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Digital Music News – Audiomack Hires “Heems” Suri To Oversee South Asian Expansion. Mentions that Audiomack appointed Himanshu Suri ’07 to the newly created position of director of marketing and South Asian music strategy.

Roswell Park — Subspecialists Take On New Leadership Roles with Roswell Park Pathology Team. Mentions Dr. Gregory Freund ’83 and Wesleyan.

PBS NewsHour – In ‘Grief and Grievance,’ Black artists explore aspects of loss in contemporary life. Quotes Glenn Ligon ’82.

Vanity Fair – The Angelification of Girls: Winx Club as a neo-liberal-catholic project. Mentions Ellen Nerenberg, Hollis Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, professor of Italian (article appears in Italian)

March 18
Street Insider – Form 10-K SQZ Biotechnologies. Features bio on Amy Schulman ’82, P’11.

Connecticut Patch — Obituary for Ann M. Wightman, 70, of Middletown. Mentions the Ann Wightman Scholarship Fund, Wesleyan University. Whitman was a professor of history, emerita.

Screen Rant – How I Met Your Mother: 5 Times The Show Was Sex Positive (& 5 It Wasn’t). Mentions the characters attended Wesleyan.

Smithsonian Magazine – How Film Helps Preserve the World’s Diversity. Mentions filmmaker Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus.

The Good Men Project – We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Valuing Nature: Healthy Ecosystems Essential to Meeting Paris Agreement. Mentions Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Emeritus.

Street Insider – Form 424B4 Olo Inc. Mentions Warren Smith Jr. ’78, who “is a Trustee Emeritus of Wesleyan University and is a former member of Wesleyan’s Investment Committee.”

March 19
Baltimore Sun – Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to present Patriots coach Bill Belichick ’75, P’07, Hon.’15 with keys to the city next month.

The New York Times – Excellence Runs in the Family. Her Novel’s Heroine Wants Something Else. Features Kaitlyn Greenidge ’04 and Kirsten Greenidge ’96.

March 21
Yahoo! news via The Los Angeles Times – Op-Ed: Forgiveness in an Age of Cancel Culture by Michael Roth ’78.

The New York Times – Greg Steltenpohl, Pioneer in Plant-Based Drinks, Dies at 66. Quotes Chris “Kiff” Gallagher ’91, a longtime friend who also worked with Mr. Steltenpohl.

Street Insider – Design Therapeutics news. Mentions John Schmid ’85.

Street Insider – Oaktree Acquisition Corp. news. Mentions Trustee John Frank ’78, P’12.

March 22
The List – What You Don’t Know about Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02, Hon.’15].

The Hollywood Reporter – NAACP Image Awards. Mentions the winner of  Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry The Age of Phillis – Honorée Jeffers published by Wesleyan University Press.

March 23
Street Insider – Frontier Group Holdings news. Mentions Howard Diamond ’89.

Volcanic Lake Study by Varekamp, Former Students, Published in Geology

Joop Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, Harold T. Stearns Professor in Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental studies, is the co-author of an article published in Geology, March 2021.

The study, titled “Volcanic Carbon Cycling in East Lake, Newberry Volcano, Oregon,” focuses on the bubbling East Lake, the site of the Newberry Volcano, and the geological implications of the carbon reactions happening there.

Varekamp co-authored the article with graduate student Christina Cauley and former students: Hilary Brumberg ’17, Lena Capece ’16, Celeste Smith ’19, Paula Tartell ’18, and Molly Wagner MA ’19. The team researched this geological phenomenon from 2015 to 2019, and they are currently preparing several longer papers on their Newberry lakes findings.

Varekamp’s research centers around volcanic lakes, mercury pollution, and rising sea levels.

Lin ’22 Wins Biophysical Society Poster Award

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

During the 65th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting held virtually Feb. 22–26, Shawn H. Lin ’22 was honored with an Undergraduate Poster Award for his work on “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin, a Wesleyan Freeman Scholar, is among only six undergraduate students internationally to receive the award.

Lin’s advisors are Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin’s poster is below (click to enlarge):

Shawn Linn poster

Wightman Remembered for Being a Dedicated and Charismatic Teacher

Ann Wightman, professor of history, emerita, died on March 11 at the age of 70.

Wightman was born in South Euclid, Ohio. She earned her BA from Duke University and her MPhil and PhD from Yale. First arriving at Wesleyan as a visiting instructor in 1979, she remained here for 36 years until her retirement in 2015. Wightman was an accomplished scholar with a focus on Latin America. She felt that she found a “second home” doing research in the Andes, and she sought to capture the history of that region in her first book, Indigenous Migration and Social Change: The Foresteros of Cuzco, 1570-1720 (Duke University Press, 1990), which received the Herbert E. Bolton Memorial Prize for “the best English language book on any aspect of Latin American history.”

She was a mentor to many faculty and students, and a popular teacher. “Ann Wightman was an extraordinary and effective University colleague,” said Nathanael Greene, professor of history. “As a scholar, she won praise and prize; her teaching was uncommonly demanding but absolutely inspirational, and she was among the early recipients of the Binswanger Prize.”

Robert “Bo” Conn, professor of Spanish, said: “For decades students flocked to Ann’s courses. Walking around campus at reunion time with ‘Wightman,’ as students affectionately knew and even called her, was like walking around with a legend. They all had memories and stories of a dedicated and charismatic teacher who made Latin America come alive in the classroom with her brilliant lectures on colonialism, state formation, and cultural resistance, and who helped them to develop as critical thinkers and people.”

Wightman had a lasting impact on Wesleyan. She was instrumental in founding Wesleyan’s Center for the Americas, which brought the Latin American Studies and American Studies programs together as part of a common enterprise with shared, team-taught introductory courses.

“Ann was one of my best friends, and as colleagues, we worked together on creating the Center for the Americas,” said Patricia Hill, professor of American studies, emerita. “Ann was not only an admired colleague and teacher but a dear and best friend to many. She was devoted to the people of Wesleyan.”

Wightman is survived by her husband, Mal Bochner. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ann Wightman Scholarship Fund, c/o Wesleyan University Advancement, 291 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457, Attn: Jennifer Opalacz.

Wesleyan Experts Explore Benefits of Vaccination

vaccinations

On March 15, a panel of Wesleyan faculty and staff experts discussed the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine during a campus-wide webinar titled “Why Get Vaccinated?”

Speakers included Dr. Thomas McLarney, medical director of Davison Health Center; Donald Oliver, Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; William Johnston, John E. Andrus Professor of History; and Frederick Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology. Janice Naegele, Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, and Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division moderated the discussion and welcomed questions from the audience.

Campus Community Explores “Truth (and Lies) in Our Time” During Shasha Seminar

shasha seminar 2021

During the 2021 Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, held March 11–13, participants explored the topic of “Truth (and Lies) in Our Time.”

The Shasha Seminar is an annual educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.

David McCraw, vice president and deputy general counsel for The New York Times, presented the Shasha Seminar’s keynote address titled “Lies and Liberty: The Future of Free Speech in a Divided America.”

“Think about the information ecosystem as a spring-fed lake,” McCraw said. “You need that spring, with its fresh water, to flow and replenish the lake. Think of that as vital public information. And you need to stop people who are polluting the lake. Think of that as disinformation and misinformation.”

Torres Named 2021 Classical Directing Fellow for Old Globe

Edward Torres

Edward Torres

Edward Torres, assistant professor of the practice in theater, was named an Old Globe 2021 Classical Directing Fellow.

Torres has directed multiple productions at the San Diego, Calif.-based Old Globe, including Familiar, Native Gardens, and Water by the Spoonful, as well as two readings for the Powers New Voices Festivals. He recently directed a podcast version of Macbeth for NEXT Podcast and Play On Shakespeare. Torres directed the premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Victory Gardens Theater and Teatro Vista, which won two Jeff Awards. He’s also the artistic director emeritus at Teatro Vista.

Led by artistic director Barry Edelstein, the Old Globe 2021 cohort includes Torres, Meg DeBoard, Yolanda Marie Franklin, and Awoye Timpo.

“COVID-19 forced us to postpone our Classical Directing Fellowship last year, and I am truly delighted that we’ve found a way to gather these four talented directors virtually and resume this exciting work,” Edelstein said in a statement. “Meg, Yolanda, Awoye, and Eddie are deeply gifted, and I know our week together will be full of discovery, growth, and great art.”

The fellowship focuses on Shakespeare’s text, how it is put together, and how it works in the imaginations and voices of American actors.

At Wesleyan, Torres is teaching THEA 183: The Actor’s Experience; THEA 381: Directing II; THEA 427: Performance Practice A; THEA 431: Performance Practice B; and THEA 433: Performance Practice C this spring semester.

Connecticut Supreme Court Reverses Trial Court DKE Decision

President Michael Roth is gathering information and ideas from the Wesleyan community regarding the future of Wesleyan's fraternities.

The Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) residence is on High Street.

On March 5, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the 2017 trial court’s judgement in Kent Literary Club v Wesleyan. This judgment had imposed damages on the university, requiring Wesleyan to contract with the owners of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) residence to house students.

Wesleyan officials said they are pleased by the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision and hoped that it would put an end to the matter, though they noted that the fraternity may choose to continue its litigation.

In fall of 2014, after receiving much input from the campus community and consulting with the Board of Trustees, Wesleyan announced that all residential fraternities had to become fully co-educational over the following three years. Wesleyan knew that for many students and alumni, their experiences in residential organizations like DKE and others were truly formative—the basis of lifelong relationships and the development of leadership skills. The university saw no reason why these experiences should be confined to male residences or offered only on a “separate but equal” basis. Furthermore, Wesleyan was also well aware of the safety issues that had occurred at the fraternity houses, which the institution had an obligation to address.

The move to co-educate residential fraternities was intended to make Wesleyan a more equitable and inclusive campus. Wesleyan has been committed to co-education since the 1970s, and university officials said it was time to end the exception that allowed all-male organizations to house students in the private residences they own on the border of campus.

When Wesleyan announced this move to co-education, DKE made clear that it was opposed to the policy.  After extensive negotiations with the fraternity, Wesleyan concluded that the organization was unprepared to begin a process to accept women on full and equal terms. The organization sued the university in 2015, and Friday’s decision reverses the trial court’s judgment.

Since 2015, DKE has operated as a non-residential student organization. Before this semester began, however, that organization, along with a number of its members, was found responsible by a Student Conduct Board for a range of violations related to off-campus hazing activities, which were also a serious violation of university and governmental COVID-19 protocols. As a result, the Student Conduct Board suspended DKE as a student organization of any type, for at least two years. The DKE house remains off-limits to students.

Wesleyan is steadfastly committed to ensuring that its residential program is safe, fair, and accessible for all students, regardless of gender. The university is also committed to ensuring that all student organizations abide by university rules, particularly during the pandemic.