Campus News & Events

Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon. ’94 Remembered for Accomplishments as Wesleyan’s President

President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon.’94 passed away on June 10 at the age of 79.

“He believed that Wesleyan gave him so much, and he gave back unstintingly with deep affection,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campus email.

Bennet served 12 years as president, retiring in 2007. He oversaw the rejuvenation of the heart of the campus—from Memorial Chapel to Usdan University Center and Fayerweather—as well as the addition of the Freeman Athletic Center and the Film Studies Center.

Bennet set an ambitious strategic direction for Wesleyan with two planning initiatives, the first of which became the basis for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign—at that time the most successful campaign by far in the University’s history. Under his leadership, Wesleyan saw a 25 percent growth in applications for admission, a doubling of the endowment, and an invigorated relationship with Middletown.

Bennet’s presidency was the culmination of a distinguished career that included service as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under President Clinton, chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio, and head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

When Bennet announced his intention to retire as president, he spoke about the “Bennet family love affair with Wesleyan since 1929,” the year that his father enrolled as a first-year student.

“Doug never stopped showing his love for Wesleyan, and he, in turn, was a beloved member of the Wesleyan community. He will live on in our cherished memories and in Wesleyan history,” Roth wrote. “Please join me in expressing our sympathy to (his wife) Midge, (children) Michael ’87, Holly ’94, James, and the entire Bennet family.”

Read more on NPR, in the Hartford Courant, Politico, and The Denver Post.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The Washington Post: “Our Graduates Should Answer Cynicism and Insults with Inquiry and Reflection”

In this op-ed, President Michael S. Roth ’78 expresses his hope that this year’s graduates will feel empowered, and their capacity for inquiry, compromise, and reflection will be enhanced by their college educations.

2. The New York Times: “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Love Life, as Fodder for Fiction”

“[Amy] Bloom’s [’75] lyrical novel, laced with her characteristic wit and wisdom, celebrates love in its fiery and also embered phases,” according to this positive review of Bloom’s newest book, White Houses. Bloom is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan.

3. Be the Change Venture: “Makaela Trains Leaders to Change the World. This is How.”

Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, is interviewed about her career path, her goals for the future, and lessons she’s learned along the way.

4. Yahoo! News: “Generation Z Opens Up about the Refugee Crisis”

Ahmed Badr ’20 is interviewed about his experience as a young refugee from Iraq living in the United States. Badr has traveled the world telling his story and runs a project promoting youth storytelling as a means of self-empowerment.

5. American Museum of Natural History Podcast: “Visualizing Planets with Radio Telescopes with Meredith Hughes”

Meredith Hughes talks about how we understand planet formation, and how the relatively new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is “revolutionizing our view” of planet formation.

6. The New York Times: “Do You Know What Lightning Really Looks Like?”

Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker discusses the history of artists and scientists “pitting their fields against one another,” dating back to the emergence of meteorology as a scientific discipline in the 19th century. Tucker is also chair and associate professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; associate professor of science in society; and associate professor of environmental studies.

Recent Alumni News

  1. The Wrap: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s [’02] ‘In The Heights’ Set for Summer 2020 Release

    “Warner Bros. announced on Thursday that it will release the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical “In The Heights” on June 26, 2020.” This is the musical Miranda began writing as a Wesleyan undergrad.

2. Berkeley Lab: Steve Kevan [’76] Named Next Director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source

“After an international search, Stephen D. ‘Steve’ Kevan has been named the new director of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The ALS produces extremely bright X-ray, infrared, and extreme ultraviolet light for more than 2,000 visiting scientists each year.”

3. Boston GlobeBoston Will Be the Hub of the Biotech Universe Starting Monday; quotes Amy Schulman ’82, P’11 and mentions Agios (David Schenkein ’79, P’08 is CEO)

The article, anticipating the annual early June Biotechnology Innovation Organization convention in Boston, included a quote from Amy Schulman, a partner in the venture capital firm Polaris Partners and CEO of the Watertown-based start-up Lyndra Inc. She spoke to the need for greater diversity in the biotech industry: “Study after study shows that when you have diverse people—people with different perspectives, styles, genders, ethnicities, and orientations—then you have better conversations that translate into better outcomes,” she said. “It’s really important.”

4. NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!: “Not My Job: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper [’74, MA ’80, Hon. ’10] Gets Quizzed on 2020”

In this NPR show, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is asked introductory questions (“So we researched this—you are the first brewer to be elected to office, elected to be governor, since Sam Adams. You know that?”) that also flirt with his potential interest in running for president in the 2020 election. He is then invited to play a three-question quiz to win a prize for a listener.

5. AdLibbing: Badass Working Moms to Inspire You This Mother’s Day; includes Bozoma Saint John ’99

Profiled as one of “five mothers who are changing the world,” Bozoma Saint John was noted for “her illustrious career, in addition to raising her now 8-year-old daughter, Lael.”

 

 

Eudice Chong ’18, Coach Mike Fried: A Scholar-Athlete Program for Champions

Eudice Chong ’18 Coach Mike Fried, and Victoria Yu ’19 relax after a match last October at the Division I Fall Nationals. “Eudice and Vicky had just beaten the top team from the University of Kentucky (the defending champions) to advance to the doubles quarterfinals,” says Fried. “The photo was taken by Dr. Tim Russell, CEO of the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association), who later told me that it was his most popular tweet ever.”

On May 26 Eudice Chong ’18, a member of the Wesleyan tennis team, did something that no other collegiate tennis player—in any division—had done before: She won her fourth consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Singles Championship. And to add a twist to that already thrilling game, Chong, ranked number one on Wesleyan’s team, played the final match against her teammate, doubles partner, and friend, Victoria Yu ’19, ranked second on the team.

Back on campus following the victory, Coach Mike Fried reflected on the program and the experience. As an undergrad at Brown he had played on their tennis team and then enjoyed a stint as a professional player. Most recently, Fried had spent 10-plus years as a stock trader and asset manager in New York City before signing on as head tennis coach of Wesleyan’s men’s and women’s program in 2013 (“Wall Street allowed me to figure out how I wanted to be spending my time”). 

At Wesleyan, he was determined to create a team that drew on his experience at Brown—and built beyond it: “Most important was to create an environment that would allow us to be among the best teams in the country—and to do that in a way that was never at the expense of academics.”

And what was that environment? “Commitment; unwavering support for each other; and camaraderie, friendship.”

Fried recalls that, when recruiting for the team he imagined, Chong was “an incredibly good tennis player—but I’d be lying if I said I saw the full depth of her character or how invaluable a leader she’d be—let alone that she’d win four NCAA singles titles! We were lucky enough to convince her to join the program that we were creating, that Wesleyan was where she wanted to spend her college years—both for academics and tennis. We got very lucky.”

After Commencement, Chong, who majored in psychology with a minor in the College of East Asian Studies, headed home to China. There, she’ll play tennis at the professional level. The Wesleyan Connection caught up with her for a Q&A in New York City, where she was spending a few days before her flight.

Q: Will you talk about the experience of winning that fourth NCAA singles championship? What was it like to compete against your teammate, friend, and doubles partner Victoria Yu?

Q&A with Lacrosse Coach John Raba: What Makes a Winning Team

The 2018 Wesleyan lacrosse team won the Division III championship 8–6 over Salisbury University, a powerhouse that had been in the finals 18 times before. Taylor Ghesquiere ’18, who co-captained the team along with Jake Cresta ’18, Eric Meyreles ’18, and Harry Stanton ’18, said: “This championship wasn’t just for us or our class, it was for everyone. It was a culmination of the body of work that has been put in by every class for the past 22 years Coach Raba has been at the helm of the program. I think that was so evident in the alumni support we had all season and especially on Sunday at Gillette.”

On May 27, 2018, Wesleyan lacrosse won its first National College Athletic Association Championship, defeating Salisbury University, 8–6 at Gillette Stadium for the Division III title. 

When Lacrosse Head Coach John Raba, a graduate of the University of New Haven, began at Wesleyan in 1997, he was 25 and an assistant coach with the football team. Lacrosse—now his sole focus as head coach—was something additional that first year.

“If someone had told me back then that Wesleyan would win a national championship, I would’ve said, ‘Oh, great. What sport?’ Twenty-one years later, here we are. Congratulations, team!”

In a Q&A, Raba describes the growth of Wesleyan lacrosse—and what was special about the 2018 team.

Q: What words describe the Wesleyan lacrosse program?

A: Wesleyan lacrosse is an extremely disciplined team, focused on progressing each and every day. If we are disciplined and focused on getting better each and every day we feel we can compete with anyone in the country.

Q: And how have you built this team in the years since you started?

Grant Supports 240 Hours of Folk Song Digitization for the World Music Archives

For 30 years, musicians such as Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Alice Gerrard, Tom Paley, and Hedy West performed at a small café in upstate New York. The business’s owner, Phil Ciganer, recorded the multiple musical acts on reel-to-reel tape and cassettes, and in 2004, he donated thousands of hours of material to Wesleyan’s World Music Archives in hopes of the University making them available for education and research.

For more than a decade, WMA was able to release small segments of the collection, but now, thanks to a $48,573 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), more than 240 hours of these recordings will be digitized and available for in-house listening at the World Music Archives.

The targeted content contains 123 audio cassettes and 47 tape reels, recorded by Ciganer during the Great Hudson River Revival Festival and the Bear Mountain Festival of World Music and Dance between 1978 and 1982.

Frenzel Remembered for Scholarship on Medieval Music, German Culture

Peter Frenzel

Peter Frenzel, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Studies, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, May 20, 2018, at the age of 82.

Frenzel arrived at Wesleyan in 1966 after receiving his BA from Yale, MA from Middlebury, and PhD from the University of Michigan. He retired in 2003. During his 37 years at Wesleyan, Frenzel served on virtually every major committee, including advisory and educational policy, and he served in a number of administrative roles, including associate provost, dean of arts and humanities, chair of German studies, director of the Wesleyan Program in Germany, and as the Commencement Marshal. In his retirement, Frenzel served on the Advisory Board for the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty and was editor of the center’s newsletter. He was a carillonneur who oversaw Wesleyan’s carillon bells, and he played the glockenspiel with the pep band during football games.

Ulysse Commissioned to Create Work for British Museum

Gina Athena Ulysse.(Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

Gina Athena Ulysse. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

In response to an exhibit focusing on the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology, presented a commissioned work on March 16 at the British Museum.

The exhibit, titled “A revolutionary legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture,” featured a selection of objects, artworks, and poetry from the 18th century to the present. Objects explored the legacy of the Haitian Revolution and its leader Toussaint Louverture. Louverture was one of the leading figures in the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 as an uprising of enslaved men and women in what was then a French sugar colony. It culminated with the outlawing of slavery there and the establishment of the Republic of Haiti.

Ulysse, a Haitian-born artist-anthropologist, presented a multivocal remix of words (archival and oral history, poetry, personal narrative) titled “Remixed ode to rebel’s spirit: lyrical meditations on Haiti and Toussaint Louverture.” Her response is online here.

Ulysse’s audio accompaniment also includes a contemporary juxtaposition of Vodou chant with words of anti-imperial protest. While the U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, a religion practiced by people in the African diaspora was suppressed. During the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Vodou helped unite communities and helped enslaved people to organize themselves against injustice.

2017–18 Athletic Season Concludes with 2 National Championships

The Cardinals played in front of almost 21,200 fans May 27at the NCAA National Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.

The 2018 spring season will go down as the greatest in Wesleyan University Athletics history.

At left, Victoria Yu ’19 and Eudice Chong ’18 played each other at the NCAA Division III Individual Championships.

On May 26, Eudice Chong ’18 of the No. 5-ranked Wesleyan University women’s tennis team made history at the NCAA Division III Individual Championships in Claremont, Calif., as she became the first person to win four NCAA Singles Championships in any division of college tennis. She competed against her teammate, Victoria Yu ’19, in the finals while the duo also finished as runner-up in the doubles bracket. As a team, Wesleyan women’s tennis reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships for the first-time ever. Read a Q&A with Chong and Coach Mike Fried here.

And on May 27, the men’s lacrosse team won the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship with an 8–6 victory over No. 3 Salisbury University at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Senior Harry Stanton, the program’s all-time leader in goals, was named the Most Outstanding Player as he scored two more, including an assist on another. Read a Q&A with Coach John Raba here

11 Faculty Promoted, 3 Receive Tenure

Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology. and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of dance received tenure, effective July 1.

Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology; and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of theater, recently received tenure.

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure to three faculty members, effective July 1: Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology; and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of theater. They join eight other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, eight faculty members are being promoted: Kim Diver, associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences; Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history; Katherine Kuenzli, professor of art history; Joyce Ann Powzyk, associate professor of the practice in biology; Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, professor of psychology; Charles Sanislow, professor of psychology; Patrick Tynan, adjunct professor of physical education; and Tiphanie Yanique, professor of English.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Kim Diver
Diver is an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) whose research focuses on island biogeography. She promotes the use of GIS and other geospatial data analysis and visualization across the curriculum by providing GIS consulting to faculty, as well as a WesGIS workshop series. She has partnered with many local community groups to offer a GIS Service-Learning Laboratory course that allows students to apply GIS concepts and skills to solve tangible problems in the surrounding community. In addition to this service-learning lab, she offers courses on Introduction to (Geo)Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization; Introduction to GIS; and Advanced GIS and Spatial Analysis.

Barber in The Conversation: From Homelessness to Citizenship

Michael Rowe, left, and Charles Barber, right.

Michael Rowe, left, and Charles Barber, right.

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.”  In a new article, Charles Barber, visiting writer at Wesleyan, and Michael Rowe, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, write about a citizenship intervention program they developed over the past 20 years in New Haven to help homeless individuals reintegrate into society.

Not just a place to live: From homelessness to citizenship

Twenty years ago, Jim lived under a highway bridge in New Haven, Connecticut. He was in his 50s and had once been in the Army.

After an honorable discharge, he bounced from one job to another, drank too much, became estranged from his family and finally ended up homeless. A New Haven mental health outreach team found him one morning sleeping under the bridge. His neon yellow sneakers stuck out from underneath his blankets.

The team tried for months to get Jim to accept psychiatric services. Finally, one day, he relented. The outreach workers quickly helped him get disability benefits, connected him to a psychiatrist and got him a decent apartment.

But two weeks later, safe in the apartment, Jim said he wanted to go live under the bridge again. He was more comfortable there, where he knew people and felt like he belonged, he said. In his apartment he was cut off from everything.

As researchers in mental health and criminal justice at Wesleyan and Yale universities, we have been studying homeless populations in New Haven for the past 20 years. In that moment, when Jim said he wanted to leave what we considered the safety of an apartment, the outreach team, which co-author Michael Rowe ran, realized that, while we were capable of physically ending a person’s homelessness, assisting that person in finding a true home was a more complicated challenge.

Meyer Remembered for Shaping Curriculum in History Department

Professor Emeritus of History Donald Meyer passed away on May 27 at the age of 94.

Meyer received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1947 after taking a three-year hiatus to serve in the United States Army (1943–1946), and then went on to complete his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard for two years and UCLA for twelve years before arriving at Wesleyan in 1967.

Meyer was a social and intellectual historian who published three books and numerous articles over a long and productive career. According to colleague Nat Greene, “He was an expert in offering a vigorous challenge to prevailing views, especially about sectors of our society that figured much too little in our history.” He also made some lasting impressions on Wesleyan. His colleague Dick Buel said, “He was one of the founding organizers of Wesleyan’s American studies program and took a leading role in shaping the curriculum and personnel of the history department between the mid-1960s and his retirement in 1991.” The Meyer Prize was established in 1991 in his honor and has been awarded annually by the Department of History to deserving history majors for honors theses in American history.

Meyer is survived by his wife, Jean; his sister, Barbara Backstrom; and by his children and their spouses and partners—Rebecca Berwick; Sarah Berwick and Claude Dohrn; Jeffrey Berwick and Viv Kwok; Rachel Berwick and Warren Johnsen; and William and Kate Meyer—and his five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Professor Meyer’s name to the Meyer Prize and sent to the care of Marcy Herlihy, University Relations, 318 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.

Students in Rural Access Group Receive Davis Peace Grant

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members (l to r) are: Edelina Marzouk ’20, Momi Afelin ’20, Betty Bekele ’20, Emanuel Fetene ’21, Nebiyu Daniel ’18

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members include: (front row, from left) Edelina Marzouk ’19, Momi Afelin ’19, and Betty Bekele ’19; (back row, from left) Emanuel Fetene ’20 and Nebiyu Daniel ’18. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Five Wesleyan students determined to make life better for girls in rural African areas have received a prestigious $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Their start-up nonprofit, Rural Access, seeks to expand access to health and education in impoverished areas, while also raising awareness of pressing health issues. Among those is the need to address lack of menstrual hygiene products, which frequently keeps girls out of school and leads to high dropout rates, poverty, and other harmful outcomes.

This summer, Rural Access will be working in Ethiopia and Guyana to make menstrual hygiene kits and distribute them to girls. The project is far more complicated than it sounds because it involves establishing partnerships, winning the trust of communities, and overcoming adverse conditions, including near–civil war in Ethiopia.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18, the founder and leader of Rural Access, says that, “Work like this requires a lot of commitment. It takes a dedicated team, and we work on this every day.”

The team consists of Daniel, Momi Afelin ’19, Edelina Marzouk ’19, Betty Bekele ’19, and Emanuel Fetene ’20.

Daniel founded Rural Access on the principle that connection to the community served is essential. He was born in Ethiopia and spent his childhood there. In the summer of 2016, he returned to his native region of Garamuleta to work with elderly individuals and to distribute first-aid kits to 500 families.