Center for Prison Education Receives $300,000 Grant from Ford Foundation

The Center for Prison Education has received a grant of $300,000 from the Ford Foundation, supporting the continuation of the program which has delivered a Wesleyan education to Connecticut prisons since 2009.

The grant will not only help fund the classes taught at the Cheshire and York Correctional Institutions, but also support CPE’s re-entry services, which assist students who complete their sentences in continuing their college education post-release.

“Support from the Ford Foundation recognizes the necessity of bringing educational opportunities to our prisons, the success of the Center for Prison Education’s model for doing so, and the ability of incarcerated students to meet the challenges of even the most demanding liberal arts education,” said Dara Young, manager of the CPE.

College of Film and the Moving Image Secures Challenge Grant with Mellon Foundation

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

This month, the College of Film and the Moving Image (CFMI) secured a $2 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

If Wesleyan is able to raise $4 million for the College over the next four years, the Mellon Foundation will offer an additional $2 million gift.

In 2011, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities received a similar challenge grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through support from generous donors, Wesleyan completed that match in 2013, establishing an endowment for the Center for the Humanities for the first time in its 50-year history.

The CFMI is dedicated to advancing understandings of the moving image in all its forms—film, television and digital media—through pedagogy, scholarship, community outreach and historical preservation. The focus throughout is on the study and practice of visual storytelling, and the model of a close-knit, interactive college is well suited to the inherently collaborative nature of work in the world of film, television and digital media.

Department of Defense Supports Kottos’ Symmetric Optics Research

Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, received a $575,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research‘s Multidisciplinary University Research Program (MURI). MURI is a basic research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The award will support Kottos’ study on “PT-Summetric Optical Materials” through April 2017. During this time, Kottos will develop a theoretical framework for Parity-Time (PT) Symmetric Optics using mainly polymetric platforms. Additionally, efforts will be made towards identifying other platforms/areas where PT-Symmetric ideas can be applied. Kottos will be coordinating his research with faculty at the University of Central Florida, Rice University, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Utah.

“We plan to explore a variety of opportunities provided by this reflection symmetry for a new generation of photonic materials, structures and devices that will exhibit novel optical properties and functionalities,” Kottos said. “We plan to pursue prospects in the areas of open quantum systems, plasmonics, and transformation optics. Our results may be also applicable to ultrasonics where stealth properties are often desired.”

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research granted six other awards to various academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. The AFOSR awards, totaling $67.5 million, are the result of the Fiscal Year 2013 competition conducted by AFOSR, the Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research under the Department of Defense’s MURI Program.

State Grant Supports Intel Math Institute Hosted by PIMMS, Green Street

PIMMS/ Green Street Director Sara MacSorley and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen.

PIMMS/ Green Street Director Sara MacSorley and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen.

A new state grant will support the creation of an Intel Math Institute for local teachers at Wesleyan starting this summer. The Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), a partner of the Green Street Arts Center, will develop the course for Middletown and Meriden teachers, supported by the Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership grant of $158,483.

The Institute will pair an intensive, 80-hour math course with ongoing academic-year professional development and arts integration workshops, to help teachers link Common Core concepts to classroom instruction. Artists from Wesleyan’s Green Street Arts Center will take the math course alongside the teachers and develop workshops for K-8 educators that integrate the arts into math instruction.

“The arts, like science and math, build skills in observation, visual thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving – all valuable skills for the next generation,” said PIMMS and Green Street Arts Center Director Sara MacSorley. “We want to create a space for interdisciplinary teaching and learning. This is the first time we’ve formally integrated the arts into a math professional development opportunity.”

The Institute will be co-taught by Christopher Rasmussen, assistant professor of mathematics, and Math Education Specialist Sharon Heyman, currently the only Intel-trained instructors based in Connecticut. Rasmussen taught an Intel Math course to teachers in the Danbury, Conn. area in 2013.

“I am proud and thrilled that Wesleyan has been awarded a Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant to implement an Intel Math Institute,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “We have long practiced interdisciplinary math and science education on campus, and we are eager to share what we’ve learned with teachers from across the state.”

PIMMS, with 35 years of demonstrated experience in delivering high-quality professional development for math and science teachers, will lead this partnership. MacSorley will serve as project coordinator. She  cited the award as a model for the state’s commitment to maintaining  workforce competitiveness through improved math and science instruction – with an arts-integration twist.

(Photo of Sara MacSorley by Catherine Avalone/ The Middletown Press)

Mellon Grant to Support Creative Campus, Institute for Curatorial Practice

The Center for the Arts received a $750,000 grant to support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the University’s post-graduate program.

The Center for the Arts received a $750,000 grant to support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the University’s post-graduate program.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts a $750,000 grant to support the Creative Campus Initiative and the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.

Half a million dollars of the $750,000 grant will be matched by $1 million to be raised to endow continued cross-disciplinary Creative Campus activities. With support from Wesleyan alumni, the fundraising campaign to meet this challenge is being launched on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the CFA during the 2013-14 season.

“This terrific grant is a recognition of the critical role the arts play at Wesleyan,” said President Michael S. Roth. “The CFA understands art as fundamental to a liberal education and its Creative Campus Initiative makes arts accessible to students and faculty in all disciplines; the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance supports an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to performance. Both of these programs contribute to the rich artistic life at Wesleyan and have impact far beyond campus as well.”

The grant will support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the university’s post-graduate program.

“With this leadership support, we will be able to continue forging powerful connections between numerous faculty in different departments and between faculty and visiting artists, so that the arts are more deeply integrated into non-arts areas at Wesleyan for the benefit of our students,” said Pamela Tatge, Director of the CFA. “We will also be able to extend the reach of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance through a field-wide convening this July.”

The event on July 25 will underscore ICPP’s commitment to the evolving field of performance curation, and will affirm its role as a leading proponent of curatorial inquiry, addressing  contemporary performance through a variety of institutional platforms and intersections with other disciplines. Designed for presenters, curators, artists and members of the cultural community, the day-long symposium will include panel discussions, artist lectures/performances, and interactive work-sessions.

The Mellon Foundation previously awarded the Center for the Arts a grant in July 2010 to help support the expansion of the Creative Campus Initiative’s cross-disciplinary exchanges, development of new courses, and student engagement in a wide variety of opportunities to make, experience and understand art; as well as support the planning and partial funding to launch the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance to enhance professional practice in the presenting field.

The goals of the Creative Campus Initiative at Wesleyan are to provide arts experiences for students that illuminate issues of cultural and societal concern; to allow students to integrate arts research and practice into their work in other disciplines; to provide non-arts faculty with the tools to involve integration of artistic research methods and modes of inquiry; and to support artists in theater, music and dance (both faculty artists and visiting artists) who work with scholars and materials in non-arts areas in ways that will advance the artists’ own research, and extend the arts into new areas of campus curricular and co-curricular life.

CFA Receives Funding for Muslim Women Voices Project

The Center for the Arts has received a grant of $200,000 to support the Muslim Women Voices Project during its 2014-2015 season. The project, part of the Creative Campus initiative, will present theater, music and dance performances by women from nine different countries.

The award, announced Jan. 10, is from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, a national service and advocacy group.

APAP distributes the grants (Wesleyan’s CFA is one of six organizations chosen this year), which are funded through the Building Bridges program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Building Bridges supports groups creating interdisciplinary and community collaborations expanding awareness of Muslim culture. 

“An essential part of Wesleyan’s mission as a residential undergraduate institution is ‘to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit,'” said Pamela Tatge,  director of the CFA. “This project will feature extraordinary artists from around the globe and will assist us in building a more inclusive and dynamic campus community while at the same time catalyzing important dialogues within our region.”

Along with the performances, a series of events including workshops, lectures, informal talks and meals with the artists will take place. Curricular projects will include work in Religion and French Studies and two new courses, the CFA said.

An artist will be commissioned to guide Wesleyan students and Muslim community members in creating a theatrical work; the team will conduct interviews with Muslim women and weave the gathered stories into a structure that integrates documentary theater, talk show, cabaret and traditional storytelling.

For the project, the CFA has partnered with Wesleyan’s Music Department, Dance Department, Religion Department, Psychology Department Culture and Emotion Lab, French Studies, Middle Eastern Studies Certificate Program, South Asia Studies, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Center for Community Partnerships, the Green Street Arts Center, the Turath House (a student program house), and the Muslim Students’ Association; and with community and national partners including the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, the Hartford Seminary, and the Al-Rawiya Foundation.



Sumarsam Awarded AIFIS Grant for Performing Arts



Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, received a Henry Luce Fellowship grant worth $5,000 from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS) in January 2014 for his research on “Expressing and Contesting Java-Islam Encounters in the Performing Arts.”

Since 2001 due to global geo-politics, issues of religion and culture have been highlighted, especially within Muslim cultures that were repositioning in non-normative ways.

“This adjustment, the popular if historically flawed perception of Islam as ‘against performing arts’ has made for significant dialogue about performing arts,” Sumarsam said. “Inserted in a taking its cue from global dialogue between wahabi Islam and westernized global culture in a nation reasserting its own spiritual and national identity in the aftermath of the 1998 ouster of the repressive Suharto regime, this study will focus on the discourse around the performing arts in Java/Indonesia and Islam.”

Sumarsam will focus his research on the use of wayang puppet performances as a proselytizing tool (dakwah) that involves three component tiers of hybridity: Java, Islam, and Western. In this dakwah, the preacher incorporates wayang to reenact stories based on Hindu epics but frames them in the context of Java-Islam. Many of these performances are accompanied not by traditional gamelan music, but by a Western rock band, yet the band performs gamelan compositions, alongside the repertoire of Java-Western popular music.

CFA Receives Grant to Support Community Partnerships

A $10,000 grant from the state of Connecticut will support local partnerships or “placemaking” by Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts in 2014. The grant, announced this week, will be used to support CFA performances in February and March.

The Arts Leadership grant is one of 104 to organizations and individuals around the state as part of the Arts Catalyze Placemaking program of the state’s department of economic and community development. The program was created to invest in the state’s arts-based cultural activities, advancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of Connecticut communities.

“Supporting the arts in our community is an important part of promoting better quality of life for our residents and ensuring local artists can succeed,” said State Rep. Matthew Lesser.

The performances at Wesleyan include, on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, the New England premiere of the dance work “Times Bones” by San Francisco’s Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, and the Connecticut debut by Vadym Kholodenko, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist.  The 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend, March 8-9, will also be supported by the grant.

The Center for the Arts has partnered with the Connecticut Dance Alliance, Middletown Senior Center, Moody Elementary School and the Green Street Arts Center to include classes during DanceMasters for seniors and children. Several Middletown restaurants will offer special fixed-price menus for dinner on Valentine’s Day, after which patrons can choose to attend either the dance performance or the classical music concert. Participating restaurants will include La Boca Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, Tibetan Kitchen Restaurant, Typhoon Restaurant, and The Nest.

“This grant will enable Wesleyan to connect more deeply with Middletown residents and businesses. We’re excited to have children from Moody and Green Street take classes with Brandon ‘Peace’ Albright, a master hip hop artist from Philadelphia, and have Middletown seniors experience the artistry of Middletown’s own Broadway veteran, Carolyn Kirsch,” said Pamela Tatge, Director of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University. “The grant will also enable us to promote patronage of area restaurants to people traveling to Wesleyan from all over the state to attend our Valentine’s Day performances.”


CFA Receives Doris Duke Foundation’s Grant Award for Adaptability

Pamela Tatge

Pamela Tatge

The Center for the Arts received an unsolicited national grant award of $400,000 from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in November 2013. The CFA is one of five arts organizations that will receive a total of $3.5 million in funding to help further develop long-term capacity to respond to changing conditions in the performing arts sector and the world at large, including those related to demographics, audience behavior and the impact of technology.

The grants were not open for application. Instead, an anonymous panel identified five organizations that have demonstrated a sustained appetite to innovate and experiment in ways that inform and lead their respective fields. Each organization will go through an organizational self-analysis, followed by an external assessment. Then they will develop and implement strategies and tactics to best enhance their long-term capacity to adapt.

The grantees will receive support over a period of up to four years. Appropriate uses of this money include, but are not limited to, staff expansion, creation of capital reserves, professional development, technology, board and staff retreats, convenings and consultants.

Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, said the CFA staff is honored to be recognized. “This grant will allow us to lay the groundwork for continued innovation and exciting programs that serve the campus and community, and advance the creativity of Wesleyan faculty and students and the talented artists we bring to campus,” she said.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Foundation’s Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them.

“This exciting award really speaks to the CFA’s tradition – 40 years and counting – of building a community of creativity and experimentation,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Under Director Pamela Tatge’s leadership our Center for the Arts has found ways to engage an increasingly diverse audience. An award like this also recognizes and supports Wesleyan’s extraordinary commitment to the arts.”

NEA Grant Support Dance, Poetry at CFA

A  $50,000 grant to Wesleyan from the National Endowment for the Arts will support dance programs at the Center for the Arts and poetry initiatives at Wesleyan University Press.

The award, announced by the NEA Dec. 11, recognizes the university’s commitment to the arts across all forms of artistic expression. It includes a $30,000 grant to the CFA, the ninth NEA award to the dance programs. That represents a 50 percent increase over the 2012-2013 season grant supporting the Breaking Ground Dance Series.

“Support from the National Endowment for the Arts has been central to our ability to fulfill our mission to become a vibrant center for dance in the state, and to bring contemporary dance to audiences who might not otherwise be able to access it,” said Pamela Tatge, director of the CFA. “We are grateful for the vote of confidence that this grant implies.”

The Breaking Ground series, now in its 14th season, features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned companies, and groups that push the boundaries of the art form. Past companies featured in the series include Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Chunky Move and Compagnie Marie Chouinard.

The $20,000 earmarked for Wesleyan University Press will support the publication and distribution of books of poetry, to be promoted through author tours, book trailers, social media and free online teaching guides.

“We are delighted with this grant to support the poetry list,” said Suzanna Tamminen, director of the Press. “We currently publish six poetry titles per year and try to maintain a mix of established and new poets, and translations of contemporary and modernist poetry.”

In 2013, Tamminen said, Wes Press will publish The Tatters, an elegy for the end of the pristine natural world, by Brenda Coultas; In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011, the first “selected” volume by critically acclaimed poet Peter Gizzi, and Favor of Crows,  a collection of original haiku from a preeminent Native American poet and novelist, Gerald Vizenor.

Poetry was among the first areas that Wesleyan University Press published in when it was established in 1957. Since the beginning, the press has been committed to pushing the boundaries of both poetic form and the imagination, and over the years, Wesleyan poets have earned many honors including Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards.

The grant counts toward Wesleyan’s multi-year $400 million fundraising effort supporting access, inquiry and impact across university programs.


Smith ’14 Creates Online Community for Amputees, Families

Amber Smith '14 recently received a 2013 Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action Grant to start up her social enterprise, "I AMputee."

Amber Smith ’14 recently received a 2013 Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action Grant to start up her social enterprise, “I AMputee.”

Amber Smith ’14 understands the importance of having connections with others who understand the hardships faced as an amputee. Smith, an African American studies major, was born with an upper extremity amputation of her left forearm.

On Nov. 6, Smith received a 2013 Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action Grant from the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. The award will serve as seed money for starting up her social enterprise, “I AMputee,” an online community designed for amputees and their families to connect with those of similar circumstances in an effort to create positive, reciprocal relationships grounded in common experience. I AMputee’s slogan is “I AM Human. I AM Inspired. I AMputee.”

“Because of my life experiences, I understand that while there are some amazing organizations geared toward amputee support, there isn’t quite something out there like what I want to create. I’m interested in starting an accessible community that will inspire a movement; a new way of thinking about amputees,” she said.

Smith’s parents didn’t know of her forearm amputation until she was born. They were connected with another couple in a similar situation through a penpal program, among a variety of other resources, through the Shriners Hospital.

Amber Smith '14 met Edward “Ted” Kennedy Jr. ’83 during the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame meeting Nov. 6. Smith said Kennedy "is one of I AMputee's biggest supporters."

Amber Smith ’14 met Edward “Ted” Kennedy Jr. ’83 during the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame meeting Nov. 6. Smith said Kennedy “is one of I AMputee’s biggest supporters.”

Smith hopes that I AMputee will evolve into an internet trading and social network where amputees across the world can pair together to purchase and/or exchange gloves and shoes, split the cost in half, and give new meaning to an unattended item.

In the grant application, Smith included a detailed timeline and budget. In receiving this grant, she’s gained much needed financial support and created the structure needed to start making progress and maintain momentum in building her project for the upcoming year.

During the Nov. 6 ceremony, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame honored Smith for “her outstanding project proposal and her commitment to providing assistant to amputees at home and abroad.”

“I want I AMputee to help us redefine our collective and individual identities,” she said. “I also believe it will help restore pride and humanity to a group of people who are often labeled in ways that strips them of such.”

Learn more about I AMputee on this Facebook site.


Ishiguro Receives Grant from Society for Asian Music

Maho Ishiguro

Maho Ishiguro

Music Department doctoral student Maho Ishiguro received a $2,300 grant from the Society for Asian Music in October 2013. Ishiguro will use the grant for her research on the booming popularity of Achenese dance traditions among high school girls in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Ishiguro, of Tokyo, Japan, moved to the U.S. when she was a junior in high school. This is her second year studying ethnomusicology at Wesleyan.

Grant Applicants must be full-time graduate students enrolled in U.S. institutions and may use these funds to supplement other grants.  Grants are to be used for research, including fieldwork, pre-dissertation research, travel, language study, and other related activities.

The Society of Asian Music aims to cultivate, promote, foster, sponsor, develop and disseminate among its members and to other interested persons an appreciation, understanding, interest, taste and love of the music, and arts ancillary to music, of Asia; to create a center for the advancement of such purposes and to maintain the same to secure the interest of patrons of these arts; to encourage the composition of such music so as to provide social and aesthetic activities, and provide entertainment and amusement and the exploitation of such talents.

Aaron Paige, also a doctoral student in music, received the grant in 2012.