Campus News & Events

President Roth Writes a Strong Defense of Affirmative Action

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael S. Roth

In light of news that the Justice Department will investigate college affirmative action, President Michael S. Roth writes in Inside Higher Ed to urge resistance to efforts to restrict affirmative action.

“Ever since the founding of this country, we have recognized that education is indispensable to our vision of a democratic society. All men may be created equal in the abstract, but education provides people concrete opportunities to overcome real circumstances of poverty or oppression,” he writes. “Promoting access to a high-quality education has been key to turning American rhetoric of equality into genuine opportunity. And throughout our history, elites threatened by equality, or just by social mobility, have joined together to block access for groups striving to improve their prospects in life.”

Angle Awarded NEH Grant to Fund Innovative Philosophy Teaching Institute

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle

On Aug. 2, Stephen Angle, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of philosophy, together with colleagues at Notre Dame and Fordham, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support a two-week NEH Summer Institute for college and university faculty focusing on the idea of teaching “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” Twenty-five faculty from around the country will be invited.

The award—worth $137,045—is part of the NEH’s recent $39.3 million in grants for 245 humanities projects across the country.

The “Reviving Philosophy as a Way of Life: A NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers” will be held at Wesleyan July 9-20, 2018.

Personick Awarded Grant from American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

Michelle Personick joined the faculty this fall, and is teaching courses in Chemistry of Materials and Nanomaterials and an Integrated Chemistry Lab. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

During the fall 2017 semester, Michelle Personick will teach Nanomaterials Lab and a chemistry symposia.

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, received a two-year doctoral new investigator grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF) to synthesize and test new metal nanomaterials designed to make industrial chemical processes more energy efficient. Her study, titled “Tailored Bimetallic Catalysts with Highly Stepped Facets for Selective and Energy-Efficient Epoxidation and Hydrogenation Reactions,” will be supported for two years with a $110,000 award.

“Global energy consumption is steadily increasing, and the chemical industry is the second largest consumer of delivered energy,” Personick said. “The chemical industry is unique in that it uses energy resources, such as petroleum and natural gas, both as fuels to heat reactors and as starting precursors or ‘feedstocks’ for the production of chemicals and materials.”

As demand for products of the chemical industry—such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, and specialty chemicals—increases, the consumption of energy in this sector increases dramatically. Most industrial chemical processes rely on a catalyst—a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction but is not used up in the reaction.

The goal of the funded research is to understand how tuning the shape and composition of metal nanoparticles changes their performance as catalysts in industrially important chemical transformations. The long-term objective is to apply this fundamental understanding to the design of nanoscale catalysts which make industrial chemical reactions more energy efficient and sustainable by (1) enabling the reactions to take place at lower temperatures and/or (2) eliminating the production of unwanted byproducts, such as carbon dioxide.

Palmer ’98, Pope to Teach Wesleyan Students about “The Art of Doing”

Michael Pope and Amanda Palmer ’98 will collaborate on Wesleyan’s The Art of Doing course this fall.

Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to learn collaborative filmmaking skills before being transported to a metaphoric desert island with nothing but a camera phone and a song when award-winning independent filmmaker Michael Pope and singer-musician-writer Amanda Palmer ’98 team up for a new course this fall: The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making It Happen. The studio class, which will be limited to 15 students, will focus on non-traditional video production techniques resulting in a class-created video featuring music and performance by Palmer.

2016-17 One of the Most Successful Years in Wesleyan Athletics History

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, center, celebrates the football team's Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.

The Wesleyan football team, joined by President Michael Roth, center, celebrates its Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.

The 2016-17 Wesleyan University Athletics campaign will go down in the record books as one of the most successful years in Wesleyan Athletics history. Several programs notched their best seasons ever, while breaking numerous records in the process. In all, the Cardinals claimed two national championships, five Little Three titles, one NESCAC Championship, one semifinal appearance and one quarterfinal appearance en route to the No. 50 ranking out of 324 Division III schools in the Learfield Directors’ Cup – Wesleyan’s highest ranking since the standings were introduced in 1993-94.

Watch a sports highlight video below:


The Cardinals’ five Little Three Championships are the most since the 1992-93 season, and second most of all-time (Wesleyan won six overall in 1986-87).

The top accomplishments from the past year are broken down by season below:

Research Shared at Summer Poster Session

More than 120 undergraduate research fellows shared their summer and ongoing research during the Wesleyan Summer Research Poster Session held July 27 in Exley Science Center.

“This really is wonderful that all these students are on campus this summer and that they are here, sharing their research,” said faculty advisor Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics. “It’s really incredible.”

Photos of the poster session are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Amber Storey ’18 presented her research titled “How Does Polymer Structure Affect Fragility?” Her advisor is Francis Starr, professor of physics, professor of integrative sciences, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

Amber Storey ’18 presented her physics research titled “How Does Polymer Structure Affect Fragility?” Her advisor is Francis Starr, professor of physics, professor of integrative sciences, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

Nicole Dallar ’18 presented her study titled “Forest fragmentation reduces host plant quality for dietary specialist but not generalist.” Dallas’s advisor is Michael Singer, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies. Nicole Dallar ’18 presented her study titled “Forest fragmentation reduces host plant quality for dietary specialist but not generalist.” Dallas’s advisor is Michael Singer, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Nicole Dallar ’18 presented her biology study titled “Forest fragmentation reduces host plant quality for dietary specialist but not generalist.” Dallar’s advisor is Michael Singer, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Will Levinson ’19 shared his quantitative analysis study on “Discrimination Charges and the Labor Market.” His advisor is Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics.

Will Levinson ’19 shared his quantitative analysis study on “Discrimination Charges and the Labor Market.” His advisor is Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics.

At left, Kaila Scott 19 and Leslie Maldonado ’19 (center, in pink shirt) shared their psychology study titled “Power of Play 2: The Doll Study.” Their advisor is Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology.

At left, Kaila Scott 19 and Leslie Maldonado ’19 (center, in pink shirt) shared their psychology study titled “Can multi-ethnic dolls reduce children’s pro-white bias?” Their advisor is Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology.

Tess Counts ’18 shared her quantitative analysis study titled “Outsider Candidates Inside Congress: An Analysis of Campaign Rhetoric and Legislative.” Her advisor is Logan Dancey, assistant professor of government.

Tess Counts ’18 shared her quantitative analysis study titled “Outsider Candidates Inside Congress: An Analysis of Campaign Rhetoric and Legislative.” Her advisor is Logan Dancey, assistant professor of government.

Megha Khandelwal presented her physics research titled “Optimization of Monofunctionalized QD for Studying Endonuclease Activity.” Her advisor is Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lab assistant Megha Khandelwal presented her physics research titled “Optimization of Monofunctionalized QD for Studying Endonuclease Activity.” Her advisor is Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Sylwia Lipior ’18 speaks to Joe Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, about her biology research titled “Neuroligin2 overexpression in the hippocampus enhances inhibitory synapses and alters social behavior and navigational memory.” Lipior’s advisor is Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Sylwia Lipior ’18 speaks to Joe Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, about her biology research titled “Neuroligin2 overexpression in the hippocampus enhances inhibitory synapses and alters social behavior and navigational memory.” Lipior’s advisor is Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

At left, Dylan Jones ’19 and graduate student Will Setzer shared their physics research on “Ionization Nature of Tri-state Rydberg H2 Molecules.” Their advisor is Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics.

At left, Dylan Jones ’19 and graduate student Will Setzer shared their physics research on “Ionization Nature of Tri-state Rydberg H2 Molecules.” Their advisor is Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics.

Graduate Liberal Studies student Anika Dane spoke at the poster session about her study titled “The Association between Depression and Trouble Sleeping.” Dane’s advisor is Lisa Dierker, the Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, professor of psychology. Dane also is an administrative assistant in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department.

Graduate Liberal Studies student Anika Dane spoke at the poster session about her study titled “The Association between Depression and Trouble Sleeping.” Dane’s advisor is Lisa Dierker, the Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, professor of psychology. Dane also is an administrative assistant in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department.

Research poster presentations were made by students studying astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, math and computer sciences, molecular biology and biochemistry, physics, psychology and quantitative analysis.

Research poster presentations were made by students studying astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, math and computer sciences, molecular biology and biochemistry, physics, psychology and quantitative analysis.

Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment Is Established

Trustees and advisors of the Robert F. Schumann Foundation were on campus July 26 to celebrate the establishment of the new Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment with a $2.5 million grant to Wesleyan. The institute is named for the late Robert F. Schumann ’44. Pictured, at left, Timothy Crowley, Robert F. Schumann Foundation Trustee; Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment; Schumann’s sons Ford Schumann and David Schumann; Marc Eisner, dean of the Social Sciences Division; and Joe Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division.

The Robert F. Schumann [’44] Foundation has given Wesleyan $2.5 million to establish the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment (COE). The Institute will integrate approaches to learning, research and communication about environmental issues in ways that extend the COE’s educational programs within and beyond Wesleyan.

The Schumann Institute will provide students with life-changing experiences that will develop their abilities to address environmental issues. In order to achieve these goals the Institute will collaborate with or stimulate programs in global studies, civic engagement, arts, environmental (in)justice and sustainability and food security and agriculture.

Barry Chernoff, at left, thanks Ford Schumann, center, and David Schumann, for their father's gift to Wesleyan.

Barry Chernoff thanks Ford Schumann and David Schumann, who are the Robert F. Schumann Foundation advisors.

“I’m so pleased that Bob Schumann’s vision of engaging broader communities in environmental work will now be anchored in the Schumann Institute,” said Barry Chernoff, director of the COE and Robert F. Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. “I could not think of a more appropriate legacy for Bob, who was deeply devoted to environmental education and to Wesleyan.”

The Institute will emphasize project-based learning, with courses where students participate in faculty-led research teams. It will provide students with internship opportunities, working with specialists outside Wesleyan. Students will also be able to take new courses in food security that integrate research on the two-acre Long Lane Farm. Furthermore, the Institute’s program will develop the arts as an instrument of engagement, sustainability and communication.

“Bob’s generous financial commitment almost two decades ago

Fowler, Gollust ’01: Local TV News Is Making it Harder to Repeal Obamacare

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Writing in The Washington PostAssociate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and Sarah Gollust ’01 show how local television news coverage is making it more difficult for the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

“The ACA repeal was always going to be a tough, uphill battle in the Senate, as we explained here in May. The stakes are high — both for the millions of Americans who now have insurance through Obamacare, and for the Republican Party that promised to repeal it,” they wrote. “Senate efforts have failed so far for a variety of reasons. But here’s one that hasn’t yet been explored: local television news. That drumbeat of coverage in their home districts during Senate debates may have made some GOP senators think twice about angering constituents — including those of their own party.”

Graduate Student Khan Performs at Multiple Summer Music Festivals

Suhail Yusuf Khan

Suhail Yusuf Khan

This summer, graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan and his band Yorkston Thorne Khan are performing in music festivals around the world.

The band is comprised of Khan, a sarangi violinist and a vocalist of Indian classical music; James Yorkston, a folk singer and guitarist; and Jon Thorne, a jazz bassist.

Yorkston, Thorne and Khan performed at the Glastonbury Festival June 25 in Somerset, England. Afterwards, the group was mentioned in The Telegraph‘s “10 highlights” article written by Alice Vincent:

While it’s easy to stumble upon a whole new field or an excellent hidden bar at Glastonbury, the best festivals give you a couple of artists to go home and listen to afterwards. And Yorkston, Thorne and Khan, the Indian-folk/jazzy trio, collided to give a wig-out that rang beautifully over it all, Suhail Yusuf Khan’s vocals concertinaing over a jam so deeply felt it was as if you were observing a particularly good band practice. I don’t know the song name, I’ve barely heard of the band, but I’ll be playing them at home the minute I get there.

The group also performed at the Latitude Festival, held July 13-16 Suffolk, England, and the Rudolstadt Festival, held July 6-9 in Germany. In a Zeit Online article, author Christoph Dieckmann wrote:

Skepticism was the formation of James Yorkston / Jon Thorne / Suhail Yusuf Khan: a folk singer and guitarist, a jazz bassist, a sarangi violinist and a vocalist of Indian classical music. The booming world music market produces indeed multicultural soups of the flavors Bockwurst / Sushi / Cardamom, but these three turned out to be the highlight of the festival.

Listen to music from the band’s 2017 album, Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars, online.

Basinger Discusses the History of the Summer Blockbuster

Jeanine Basinger

How did summer get to be such a make-or-break season for Hollywood? It wasn’t always this way, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger recently told Marketplace, from American Public Media.

“In the old days, the studio system rolled out movies,” she said. “I mean, let’s take MGM. In 1952 [it] put out a feature film every week, so for 52 weeks they rolled out 52 features.”

In the 1940s, 80 percent of Americans went to the movies once a week. But with television gaining popularity, attendance had plummeted by the 1970s. Until 1975, when Jaws was released around the July 4th weekend. It was a smash hit. A few years later came another hit: Star Wars.

President Roth Examines Campus Intellectual Diversity in an Age of Polarization

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael S. Roth

Writing in Inside Higher EdPresident Michael S. Roth responds to a recent Pew Research Center survey showing a sharp partisan divide in how Americans view higher education. While 58 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents say colleges are having a negative impact on “the way things are going in the country,” 72 percent of Democrats and left-leaning independents see colleges as positive.