Faculty

Hornstein, Nguyen ’12 Published in International Review of Financial Analysis

Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, and her former thesis student, Zachary Nguyen ’12 are the co-authors of a paper titled “Is More Less? Propensity to Diversify via M&A and Market” published in the International Review of Financial Analysis, June 2014, pp. 64-88.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) could lead to a firm diversifying into new industries, and the impact of this may be related to the firm’s prior diversification. By using a panel of 1,030 M&A transactions from 2000-2010, Hornstein and Nguyen found that that previously diversified firms are more likely to pursue industrially diversifying M&A.

“Both previous and contemporary diversification measures are not associated with the firm’s cumulative abnormal returns (CAR) at time of announcement but have a lasting effect on various performance measures up to two years later,” Hornstein explained. “We find evidence supporting both a diversification discount and premium, which can be predicted by the sign of the CAR at time of announcement.”

Their study suggests that while diversification is necessary to explain firm value, it is not sufficient.

After graduating, Nguyen worked at Charles River Associates in Boston 2012-14 and is now a first year student at The University of California — Berkeley School of Law.

Chakravarti on Why Obama Can’t Show His Rage

Sonali Chakravarti, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies, writes in Salon about President Barack Obama’s cautious response to the shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson, Mo., and other incidents. She writes that “Obama’s refusal to engage with anger makes sense as a strategic calculation, one that buffers against race-baiting criticism while consistent with his overarching philosophy of pragmatism and bipartisanship.” Chakravarti looks to how black leaders of the past, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, have shaped Obama’s own vision.

She concludes: “Obama’s calculation is to distance himself from anger in public while trusting that allies of a certain type will be able to see the conversation he is having with the legacy of black leaders. His strategy is to acknowledge in private, as in his memoir, that anger was at the core of his call to social justice and public service and that an appreciation of the complexity of anger is central to being able to understand the worldview of another person. Anger, based on his lived experiences, cannot easily be metabolized into compromise and professorial detachment.”

Read the whole essay here.

Telfair’s New Landscape Paintings on Exhibit in Zilkha Gallery

Tula Telfair, professor of art, will debut her newest collection of large-scale oil paintings at the Zilkha Gallery Sept. 16.

Tula Telfair, professor of art, will debut her newest collection of large-scale oil paintings at the Zilkha Gallery Sept. 16. Pictured is her painting titled “The Structured Depth of Meaning and Desire,” 2014, 72 x 100 inches.

“A World of Dreams—New Landscape Paintings” by Professor of Art Tula Telfair will be on exhibit Sept. 16 through Dec. 7 at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The exhibit’s opening reception will be held 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the gallery.

“Civilization Could Not Do Without It,” 2014, 75 x 100 inches.

A World of Dreams” includes new large-scale paintings in which Telfair presents monumental landscapes and epic-scale vistas that are simultaneously awe-inspiring and intimate. She combines stillness with motion, solitude with universality, and definition with suggestion in her bold and quiet works. This is her second exhibition in the Zilkha Gallery.

All paintings are oil on canvas.

“The work for this show is entirely different. The subjects are different, the techniques are different in each painting, and from piece to piece,” she explained. “There is a lot of diversity of images in this exhibition that reflect a broad range of environments from the Antarctic to the jungles of Africa to rolling fields and soaring mountains. There are a full range of landscapes.”

Telfair’s contemporary paintings demonstrate the spirit and potency

“Freedom Summer” Commemoration to Feature Concert, Speakers

BxGx8blCMAAKaUmThe summer of 1964 saw thousands of young people — many from colleges and universities in the North – mobilize to register voters, educate citizens, and support other civil rights work in the Jim Crow South. What came to be known as “Freedom Summer” is credited with ending the isolation of states where racial repression and discrimination was largely ignored by news media and politicians, despite the  the landmark Civil Rights Act passed that July.

Wesleyan students joined the struggle. “Five Wesmen to Fight Voter Discrimination in Mississippi,” said a front-page headline in the Argus. That May, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had given the baccalaureate sermon, and other civil rights leaders had visited campus.

A commemoration Sept. 12 and 13 celebrated not only Wesleyan’s participation, but the unique moment Freedom Summer occupies in American history. (See photos here.)

“Wesleyan’s tradition of engagement and activism goes back over half a century,” said Rob Rosenthal, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. “This will be a tremendously exciting chance for students and the community to hear from Wesleyan alums who traveled South to participate in this extremely important period of history, and from activists who were at the forefront of the struggle to gain voting rights for all Americans.”Argus May 12 1964 Freedom Summer (1)

Of particular interest to Rosenthal and to Lois Brown, director of the Center for African American Studies, is the connection between organizers of the 1960s and today’s student activists. Brown is also chair and professor of African American studies, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

In a recent op-ed for the Huffington Post, Rosenthal and Brown said: “… The task of our activists is not to tell their young successors how to carry on their struggle, but to convey the joy that deliberate engagement, unapologetic persistence, and luminous integrity brings.”  

Author, Poet C.D. Wright to Teach 3 Master Classes at Shapiro Center

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

This semester, the Shapiro Creative Writing Center is hosting three master classes taught by award-winning author and poet C.D. Wright. Master classes are open to all poetry-writing upperclassmen free of charge. Each class will last 2.5 hours and include one dinner. The classes will meet Sept. 23, Oct. 14 and Nov. 11, and the deadline to apply is Sept. 12.

Wright is currently the I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University where she teaches advanced poetry.

Wright was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. She has published over a dozen books, including Rising, Falling, Hovering, Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems, and a text edition of One Big Self: An Investigation, focused on Louisiana inmates. She has published several book-length poems including Deepstep Come Shining and Just Whistle.

She also has composed and published two state literary maps, one for Arkansas, her native state, and one for Rhode Island, her adopted state. Wright is formerly the State Poet of Rhode Island, and with poet Forrest Gander, she edited Lost Roads Publishers for more than 20 years.

Wright is winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in March 2011 for her most recent title, One With Others: [a little book of her days], which was also a finalist for the National Book Award and was selected as winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her honors include awards from the Wallace Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts as well as the Lannan Literary Award. In 2004 Wright was named a MacArthur Fellow; in 2005 she was given the Robert Creeley Award, and elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Rising, Falling, Hovering won the International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Amy Bloom ’75, the Kim-Frank Family University Writer-in-Residence and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, emphasized that the key merit of the masters program is the opportunity to work with a professional writer.

“The motivation [behind the program] was to bring some of America’s best poets to Wesleyan and to give the students the opportunity to work with them,” Bloom said. “[Wright is an] outstanding, articulate American poet with a passion for poetry and teaching. It’s not just she’s professional, it’s that she’s so gifted.”

The classes are capped at a dozen participants, all selected by Bloom and Wright based on a submitted cover letter. Bloom stated that the limit is designed to keep the classes intimate and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work closely with Wright.

COE Scholar Presents Multi-Media Exhibit on “Colony Collapse”

Joseph Smolinski, visiting scholar at Wesleyan's College of the Environment, is a guest artist at the Green Street Arts Center this month. His exhibit, Colony Collapse, explores the recent disappearance of millions of honeybees.  The work focuses on the notion of collapse in relation to human impacts on the environment in drawing, video and 3D printed sculpture forms.

Joseph Smolinski, visiting scholar at Wesleyan’s College of the Environment, is a guest artist at the Green Street Arts Center this month. His exhibit, Colony Collapse, explores the recent disappearance of millions of honeybees.  The work focuses on the notion of collapse in relation to human impacts on the environment in drawing, video and 3D printed sculpture forms.

The mysterious disappearance of millions of honeybees – known as colony collapse disorder – has frustrated and worried scientists around the world for more than seven years. The visiting scholar at Wesleyan’s College of the Environment explores this mystery in a new exhibit at the Green Street Arts Center that opened Sept. 4.

Joseph Smolinski, a noted artist who has exhibited in many venues ranging from MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. to the Cleveland Institute of Art , uses 3-D printing, video and other media to show the scale of the honeybee crisis – and note that environmental stressors

Matesan Studies Contentious Politics, Violence in the Middle East

This fall, Ioana Emy Matesan is teaching two sections of GOVT 157 Democracy and Dictatorship. Matesan is an expert on Middle Eastern politics. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Ioana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, is teaching two sections of GOVT 157 Democracy and Dictatorship. Matesan is an expert on Middle Eastern politics and joined the faculty this fall. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Matesan! Can you please tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m originally from Romania. I came to the U.S. for undergrad in 1998, and earned a degree in economics and political science from Monmouth College in Illinois. Coming from Romania, I had no sense of differences in states. I got together with a couple friends, and we looked at the admission of international students and amount of aid for them at different colleges, and we applied to the colleges with the most aid per international student. It was very much a cost-benefit analysis. I loved the small liberal arts college experience, which is one of the reasons why I love Wesleyan. It was a very good transition coming from Romania on my own at 18—I made meaningful connections with both faculty and students. After undergrad, I worked with a Romanian-American nonprofit, which I had volunteered with in Romania. They had incorporated as a 501(c)(3), and were looking for someone to start the fundraising arm in the U.S. We worked with families who were at risk of abandoning their children to orphanages because of economic or social problems. We offered tutoring and social activities for the children; we helped the parents get jobs, training, etc. After three years at the nonprofit, I decided to go to grad school at Arizona State, where I got my master’s in political science. Then I went on to Syracuse University and got my Ph.D. in political science. From there, I came to Wesleyan.

Q: How did you become interested in studying Middle Eastern politics?

A: I specialize in contentious politics and political violence, with a regional focus in the Middle East. The very first time I became interested in this topic was when I attended a youth UN conference in 1993. There, I met children from Israel and Palestine. I learned a lot about the conflict, but it also became very real, and I suddenly had friends I could associate with both sides.

Volleyball Coach Lackey to Retire After 37 Years, Hundreds of Victories

Wesleyan head women’s volleyball coach Gale Lackey, the senior athletics department member with 37 years of service, will retire in June. In her 30th year coaching volleyball, Lackey is also the senior woman administrator in athletics and an associate athletics director.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women's volleyball, will be inducted into the Connecticut Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women’s volleyball.

Lackey began coaching at Wesleyan in 1978, handling both field hockey and women’s lacrosse and leading the field hockey squad to its only undefeated campaign — and a subsequent berth in the Wes Athletics Hall of Fame —  in 1980.  She took over as volleyball coach in 1985.

“The time is right,” Lackey said. “Coaching and teaching here has been a blessing.  Wesleyan has given me the opportunity to pursue a variety of endeavors and ongoing support to grow professionally throughout my career. The energetic passions of my colleagues, the students, faculty, staff and alumni make Wesleyan a very special place.”

Lackey has the distinction of coaching Wesleyan women’s teams to Little Three championships in three different sports (volleyball, field hockey and lacrosse). With 464 career women’s volleyball victories at Wesleyan (and 477 in total) heading into the 2014 season, Lackey was named New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year in 2001.

Fowler Joins The Campaign Finance Institute Board

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

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

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, recently joined the Campaign Finance Institute’s (CFI) Academic Advisory Board.

Fowler was one of 16 academics appointed to the board, which advises CFI as it plans and works through its research agenda. Also appointed was Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project and a professor at Bowdoin College.

Founded in 1999, CFI is a campaign finance policy think tank. According to the website, its original work is published in academic journals, and is regularly used by the media and policymakers. Its tools are made available to stimulate new research by others, while its bibliographies bring the results of recent scholarship to the attention of the policy community. More information about the board is available here.

Center for the Humanities Explores “Mobilities” in Fall Lecture Series

Meritocracy and Mobility, Intertwined Histories of the South Indian Dance Revival, and What Do Mobile Phones Mobilize are just three of the topics to be discussed during the Center for the Humanities' fall lecture series.

Meritocracy and Mobility, Intertwined Histories of the South Indian Dance Revival, and What Do Mobile Phones Mobilize? are three of the topics to be discussed during the Center for the Humanities’ fall lecture series.

Over the past decade, a new approach to the study of mobilities has emerged involving research on the combined movement of peoples, animals, objects, ideas and information. This can be viewed through the lens of complex networks, relational dynamics, and the redistribution or reification of power generated by movement.

This fall, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities will offer 10 lectures on the theme of “Mobilities” as part of its lecture series. Five of the speakers are from Wesleyan.

All talks begin at 6 p.m., are open to the public, and are held at Daniel Family Commons. The dates, topics and speakers are:

Sept. 8
Ecological Poetics, or, Wallace Stevens’ Birds
Cary Wolfe, professor of English, Rice University

Sept. 15
Beyond Synthesis: The Return of Micro History in Global Contexts and the “Relationing” of History
Angelika Eppel, professor of history, Bielefeld University, Germany

Sept. 22
The Roma Question in France and the Return of Race
Éric Fassin, professor of sociology, École Normale Supérieure, Paris

Fowler, Baum, Students Present Paper at Political Science Association Meeting

Leonid Liu '14, Laura Baum, P. Marshal Lawler '16, Michael Linden '15, Eliza Loomis '15, Zachary Wulderk '15, Erika Franklin Fowler at the American Political Science Association meeting.

Leonid Liu ’14, Project Manager Laura Baum, P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15, Zachary Wulderk ’15 and Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler attended the American Political Science Association meeting.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Project Manager in the Government Department Laura Baum, and four students presented a paper titled, “A Messenger Like Me: The Effect of Ordinary Spokespeople in Campaign Advertising” at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association Conference, Aug. 30 in Washington, D.C.

The student authors are P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15 and Zachary Wulderk ’15.

The paper considers the effects of using non-elite spokespeople (ie. “the everyman”) in political advertising. The authors draw upon the Wesleyan Media Project’s vast database of political advertising, as well as original coding on almost 300 ads, and a new large-scale survey data set assessing the effectiveness and credibility of 2012 campaign ads. They found that using ordinary spokespeople is a common tactic, particularly in negative campaign advertising, and that their use is associated with higher credibility scores than ads without them, even after controlling for partisanship and political sophistication.

The paper grew out of a fall 2013 pilot course at Wesleyan, GOVT 378 Advanced Topics in Media Analysis. Read the full paper online here.

Plous on Social Psych and the Michael Brown Shooting

Scott Plous, professor of psychology.

Scott Plous, professor of psychology

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous spoke to the Associated Press about the tendency of observers to see the Michael Brown shooting as black and white. Those who support Officer Darren Wilson, and those who are convinced he unjustifiably shot and killed an unarmed man, look at the same facts and see no gray area largely due to “confirmation bias,” said Plous.

“It’s the tendency to seek out and give greater weight to information that confirms what we think rather than contradicts it,” he explained.

In this particular case, with little unambiguous evidence, “people are actually acting very reasonably,” said Plous.

“There is a void, and into that void, people will bring whatever they regard as the most reasonable evidence,” he said. “People are trying to make sense of this tragedy using the most compelling evidence they have available.”

This includes their own perspectives and experiences.

“We’re forced to reconstruct, to remember, to imagine what could have taken place,” Plous said, “and those are precisely the conditions when we’re likely to see bias.”