Tag Archive for alumni

Hickenlooper ’74 Releases Engaging Memoir

The20Opposite20of20Woe20by20John20Hickenlooper-197x300Irrepressibly optimistic, funny, self-deprecating, at times self-doubting but driven to tackle difficult challenges. These are the qualities that shine through in John Hickenlooper ’74’s disarming autobiography, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics (with Maximillan Potter; Penguin Press, 2016).

It was in a moment of self-doubt, or perhaps profound personal insight, that Hickenlooper chose Wesleyan over Princeton, having been accepted to both universities in 1970. He confesses now that he didn’t think he was good enough for Princeton, but then adds, “I had a feeling that Princeton would be a bit too conservative, too buzz-cut and buttoned-down for me, and that Wesu’s long-haired liberal arts types would be more my crowd.” He was right.

Hickenlooper’s time at Wesleyan was remarkable for its longevity, and he devotes three chapters to “That Decade I Spent in College.” With candor unlike any politician bent on image burnishing, he tells in detail how he had his heart broken in love. An English major, he discovered his interest in geology in the second semester of his senior year, when he attended a lecture with a friend and found himself captivated by a discussion of leach fields and perc tests. He stayed at Wesleyan as a special student to take courses specified by the Geology Department as a prerequisite to being admitted into the master’s degree program, which he received in 1980.

Sociologist Smith ’60: What the Stock Market Teaches Us

what the market teaches usCharles W. Smith ’60, professor of sociology emeritus at Queens College, City University of New York, spoke to News @ Wesleyan about his latest book, What the Market Teaches Us: Limitations of Knowing and Tactics for Doing (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Q: I was surprised to note that you are a sociologist, not an economist. How, then, did this lead you to studying the stock market?

Charles W. Smith: The sociology of knowledge—how do people make sense of the world—has been my intellectual pursuit for the past 50 years? We create narratives, not only in our minds, but also in out communities. The stock market is a perfect venue to study the ways that we make sense of what happens around us..

Q. Were you surprised by the stock market crash of 2008?

CWS: Market crashes are part of the market. Knowing when they will occur, however, is another thing. The market is subject to so many different forces that you never know when it will happen or how large it will be. That is one of the major lessons that the market teaches us.n.

Q: In light of this, how should we navigate the market?

Charlie Smith ’60, professor of sociology emeritus at Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of the recently released What the Market Teaches Us.

Charlie Smith ’60, professor of sociology emeritus at Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of the recently released What the Market Teaches Us.

CWS: In part III of the book, I examine some of the major tactics for doing just that. The key is to know how to “act sensibly” rather than trying to “make sense” of what is happening. Market accounts and predictions have their uses, but as any successful trader knows when the market becomes turbulent you need to know what actions to take and this requires grasping what is going on. In the book I compare it to kayaking and surgery— things will happen and you have to respond in the moment to what is happening.

Q: So what does the market teach us?

CWS: It teaches us that elegant market theories and narratives have their functions – without them there would be no market, but they can’t manage the  contingencies and fluctuations of the market. Much the same can be said of grand accounts in general. Human societies are grounded in what we accept as sensible accounts, but that doesn’t mean that they are factually correct. This explains why ideologies prove to be so dangerous. For me this is the most important lesson that the market teaches us. In this sense I like to think of the market as being supportive of critical and pragmatic thinking along the lines promoted by Wesleyan.

Q: Could you give a more detailed description of what you see to be such critical and pragmatic thinking?”

CWS: Freeing ourselves from ideologies by contrasting how we actually experience concrete practices and events as they unfold—rather than simply accepting and acting upon what established accounts would dictate.

Saint John ’99 Wows Crowd at Apple’s Developers Conference

Bozoma Saint John ’99, head of Apple Music, spoke at their Worldwide Design Conference. Photo by Justin Kaneps for Wired.

Bozoma Saint John ’99, head of Apple Music, spoke at their Worldwide Design Conference. (Photo by Justin Kaneps for Wired)

Bozoma Saint John ’99 took the stage at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), held this year in San Francisco, and stole the show. “It’s not just that Saint John, head of marketing for Apple Music, was a black female executive appearing onstage at WWDC. It was the way she commanded the room—and the show—that blew everyone away,” wrote Davey Albey for Wired.

Saint John, who spoke about Apple’s streaming music service, which now has 15 million users, had led Apple Music’s marketing division since April 2014, when Apple acquired Beats, the company she had joined three months previously. Prior to that, she led the music and entertainment marketing group at Pepsi-Cola’s North America division,

Noted for her impressive career around connecting musicians and artists with brands, Saint John has received accolades and awards from numerous organizations, including induction into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement. Her appearance at WWDC garnered articles in Fortune and Business Insider. Nevertheless, she does not let her success go to her head, notes Albey, and explores the ethos behind Saint John’s work with Tiffany Warren, chief diversity officer and  senior VP of Omnicon group, an advertising and marketing company.

“'[S]he turns around and gives it back immediately,’ says Warren. …’She’s an incredible sponsor and mentor to many.’” Saint John also returned to campus for WesFest, speaking to admitted students and their parents about her formative years at Wesleyan as the place where she began to think about a career in the music industry.

MSNBC’s Women in Politics, College Edition, Highlights Kate Cullen ’16

Kate Cullen on campus with South College and Memorial Chapel behind her.

Kate Cullen ’16, who served as president of Wesleyan Student Assembly was selected for MSNBC’s “Women in Politics: College Edition.”

Kate Cullen ’16, an earth and environmental science and history major from Bethesda, Md., was selected for MSNBC’s Women in Politics: College Edition series. The president of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, Cullen received the University’s nomination “as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.” MSNBC plans to use the series to highlight women candidates and as a springboard for national conversations on women’s issues.

Cullen, who has “been fortunate to have a lot of strong female role models,” says she was motivated to work in student government by “making a tangible impact, whether through policy change, facilitated dialogue or a big community event…” Additionally, she notes, “I think student activism and free expression are of the utmost importance in fostering meaningful campus dialogues.”

Wesleyan Establishes Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. '15 and Thomas Kail ‘99 will serve as honorary chairs of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity judging committee. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

At left, Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ‘99 will serve as honorary chairs of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity judging committee. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

On June 15, Wesleyan announced the establishment of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, a four-year full-tuition scholarship that honors Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ‘99, who created and directed the hit Broadway musical for which the prize is named.

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize will be awarded to the incoming student (beginning in the class of 2021) who has submitted a creative written work—whether fiction, poetry, lyrics, play, script, nonfiction or other expression—judged to best reflect originality, artistry and dynamism. Miranda and Kail will serve as honorary chairs of the judging committee, which will be composed of other Wesleyan alumni and faculty.

The Broadway musical Hamilton, written by and starring Miranda and directed by Kail, has taken the country by storm and on June 12 won 11 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, and many others. It had received a record-breaking 16 nominations. Steeped in history and uncannily responsive to contemporary culture, it is an extraordinary artistic achievement at once traditional and experimental.

“I’m truly honored and excited that Wesleyan has created this prize,” Miranda said. “Wesleyan nurtures creativity and encourages students to make connections across disciplines. I got my shot at Broadway thanks to the start I had as an artist in this environment, and I hope this prize will help other young writers to get their start.”

Kail added: “Learning to tell a compelling story that will engage an audience is the hardest task for any writer, and I’m delighted that Wesleyan is recognizing and encouraging young people to persevere as writers.”

The winner of the prize will be selected by a panel of distinguished faculty and alumni, including Miranda and Kail. Interested students will be able to submit their creative work along with their application for admission. More information is available on The Hamilton Prize website.

Hamilton’s source is a historical biography by Ron Chernow, which Miranda transformed into a hip-hop opera that draws on Broadway traditions in profoundly original ways.

Hamilton is a major event, and this is a major prize,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “Wesleyan has had a strong history of great writing. From poet laureate Richard Wilbur back in the days when I was a student to novelist Amy Bloom and playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes today, dynamic writers have made our campus their home.

“The tension between the traditional and experimental,” he added, “continues to energize students here – from the graphic novelist getting work out to new audiences to the slam poet or songwriter wowing fellow students to the screenwriter eager to follow in the footsteps of Wesleyan alumni like Matthew Weiner or Joss Whedon, to name just two.

“The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity signals our pride in creative endeavors of all kinds.”

Read Roth’s Huffington Post essay on the Hamilton Prize.

NYT: Carter ’88 Opens High-End Coffee Shop in South Bronx

Majora Carter ’88, center, marks a coffee cup, as she takes an order at the Birch coffee shop she and her husband recently opened in the South Bronx. Photo credit: Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times See the photo series>

Majora Carter ’88, center, marks a coffee cup, as she takes an order at Birch Coffee. She and her husband recently opened the coffee shop in the South Bronx. (Photo by Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times)

“Is gentrification next?” asks the New York Times in a May 31, 2016 article by Jeff Gordinier. Majora Carter ’88, who is from the South Bronx, and her husband and business partner, James Chase, teamed up with Jeremy Lyman and Paul Schlader, entrepreneurs who created Birch Coffee. The result: they have brought “exposed brick, reclaimed wood and $2.75 macchiatos” to “a stretch of Hunts Point Avenue dominated by dime stores, bodegas and auto shops.”

To those who say they feel as though they are in Manhattan by the vibe in the shop, Carter responds, “’You know what? You are in the Bronx, and we can have this here as well.’”

Additionally, Gordinier notes that the fact of Carter’s longtime advocacy for the community does alleviate neighborhood concerns that the shop signals a trend toward pricey gentrification. Beginning with Sustainable South Bronx, which she founded in 2001, Carter has used her entrepreneurial skills to provide services, employment, and programs for the community in which she was raised. She and her husband put up the funds to begin this venture, since an upscale cafe in the Bronx was not an attractive risk to financial institutions they’d approached.

“And why should Manhattan have a monopoly on macchiato?” Gordinier concludes rhetorically. “’We like to see the work that we do as self-gentrification,’ Carter said. ‘People in low-status communities like nice things, too.’”


Fernandez Goodman ’04 Named an Outstanding Young Omahan

Mosah Fernandez Goodman ’04, counsel with Gavilon, was named an outstanding young Omahan by the Jaycees.

Mosah Fernandez Goodman ’04, of counsel with Gavilon, was named an outstanding young Omahan by the Jaycees.

Mosah Fernandez Goodman ’04 was named one of 10 in the TOYO! group—Ten Outstanding Young Omahans—by the Omaha Jaycees. The honor goes to those “who have exemplified the ideals of their communiites and exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities,” improving their community through both acts of selflessness and professional excellence.

Fernandez Goodman, who earned his Wesleyan bachelor’s degree in theater and his MALS with a concentration in the social sciences, received his JD/MBA at the University of Iowa, where he served as vice president of the graduate student body. Upon graduating from Iowa, he joined Gavilon, a commodity management firm, where he currently serves as counsel. While at Gavilon, he has managed the construction of Gavilon’s downtown headquarters, supported various business development efforts and has worked on a variety of legal and compliance issues. He is a founding member of is 24hoursofimpact.com and continues his involvement in that initiative.

Feldstein ’15 Dubbed ‘Breakout’ for Neighbors 2

With Yahoo's Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2 versus her real-life college experience.

With Yahoo’s Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2, versus her real-life college experience.

“There is an entire neighborhood full of funny people in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” wrote Kevin Polowy, senior editor at Yahoo! Movies. “But some of the film’s biggest laughs belong to newcomer Beanie Feldstein, who makes her major-studio movie debut as the party-hearty sorority pledge Nora.”

Feldstein ’15, a Los Angeles, Calif. native and sociology major at Wesleyan has been acting on stage since she was 5, with “three to six musicals a year every singer year from 5 to 22,” ending last year with graduation.

She tells Yahoo that Neighbors 2 was not a typecasting situation: “My college experience was nothing like Nora’s. I was such a lame person. I had never done drugs. They had to teach me how to use a lighter, and how to inhale. That scene where I smoke weed in the movie was actually my first time smoking anything.”

Also invited to appear on the Conan O’Brien Show, Feldstein recalls more of her college career: four years as a tour guide. “My friends like to call me TGB—Tour Guide Beanie—and it’s an entirely different person than me. I’m already pretty peppy, but she’s on a whole other level. I could sell anything at that point—I mean Wesleyan’s really easy to sell; it’s a great place.”

Sprinkles Founder Nelson ’96 Highlights Frosting Demos at New Store

Candace Nelson ’96 has opened the 20th Sprinkles Cupcakes Store in Disney Springs.

Candace Nelson ’96 has opened the 20th Sprinkles Cupcakes Store at Disney Springs, in Orlando, Fla.

In a video interview with central Florida’s WESH to celebrate the opening of the newest location of Sprinkles Cupcakes at Disney Springs, the store’s founder Candace Nelson ’96 offered a brief frosting tutorial.

“All of our cupcakes at Sprinkles are hand-frosted,” she noted. “You can actually come to our store at Disney Springs and see those cupcakes being frosted in our frosting theater. All of our frosters are in a cute little window so you can see them do their magic at Sprinkles.”

Additionally, she said that cupcakes ATMs are open until 2 a.m. for those on the late-night prowl: “It’s technology and pleasure coming together in the form of a cupcake.”

“We had a line of 100 people deep when we opened on Sunday and it has been going strong ever since, and we are so grateful,” she said. The popularity of the store, she said, is based on the company’s “commitment to quality, freshness, wonderful flavors, with someone for everyone.” Sprinkles now offers gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free treats in addition to the original signature cupcakes.

Nelson opened her first store in Beverly Hills with her husband Charles in 2005, a story that appeared in the Wesleyan magazine in 2010. It was one of the first cupcake-only bakeries, although has expanded its line to include cookies and ice cream, as well. The Disney Springs location is store No. 20.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Roach ’81 Excerpted in NYT

Grunt_Cover-crop-animate2Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, the new book by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton & Company; June 2016), was excerpted in the New York Times’ Science section on May 30. Describing her visit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (“a spread of high-security acreage set aside for testing weapons and the vehicles meant to withstand them”), Roach’s first-person account offers her characteristic lively narrative and wry humor. She allows her guide, Mark Roman, to be ours as well.

“’By and large, an army shows up to a war with the gear it has on hand from the last one. In 2003, the Marines arrived in Iraq with Humvees. ‘Some of the older ones had canvas doors,’ says Mr. Roman, who was one of those Marines. They were no match for the R.P.G.s trained upon them. So the Army tried plating vehicles with armor panels, which work well against heavy machine-gun fire. You might as well have armored your vehicle with road signs.

“’We were like, ‘Crap, this does not stop an R.P.G.,’ Mr. Roman told me.”

Following the successful creation of a device to stop an RPG—with what Roach describes as “a hoopskirt [for the armored combat vehicles] of heavy-duty steel grating called slat armor” in which they “would lumber back to base like up-armored hedgehogs…” —Roman notes that the insurgents then switched to making bombs.

It is through this process of the escalation of danger and that resultant need for greater protection that Roach proves a friendly guide, rendering jargon accessible and never losing sight of what is truly at stake: that while the WIAMan — the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin—may answer questions posed in the proving grounds, a human will bear the cost of any false or incomplete answers. “The long-term quality of a soldier or Marine’s life is a relatively new consideration/ In the past, military decision makers concerned themselves more with go/no-go: Do the injuries keep a soldier from completing the mission?…The answers may or may not affect the decisions that are made in the preparations for war, but at least they’ll be part of the equation for those inclined to do the math.”

In an interview with John Bonazzo for the Observer, Roach highlighted her respect for those working behind the scenes on saving lives and lowering the risks of combat: “There’s a tremendous amount of dedication and work that doesn’t get covered very much,” she said. “I want people to come away with respect for and recognition of that work.”



Junger ’84 Discusses Tribe on NPR

Photo © Tim Hetherington

Sebastian Junger. (Photo by Tim Hetherington)

On his website, Sebastian Junger ’84 writes that his latest book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Twelve, May 24, 2016), is “about why tribal sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. … Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary.”

On May 21, Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, invited Junger to discuss the origin and thesis behind Tribe.The two journalists had both spent time in Sarajevo in 1993–94 during the siege and shared recollections of a young woman, who had been a teen then and is a journalist in Bosnia now.

Simon asked Junger to recall a recent conversation with that journalist in Bosnia, which illustrated an unexpected emotional response to the current peace in the region. “[S]he said, we were better people during the siege. We helped each other. We lived more closely. We would have died for each other. And now.., we’re a wealthy society. And everyone just lives for themselves. And everyone’s depressed….”

Simon also noted the discomfort Junger feels with the term PTSD.

“Well, it has its use,” Junger acknowledged. “It describes a long-term reactions to trauma that some people get.” However, he noted the discrepancy between the relatively low numbers of soldiers who see combat, versus the high percentage who seek help under that tag.

That fact prompted Junger to use his Wesleyan anthropology major—with fieldwork on the Navajo Reservation—as a lens. “I bet the Navajo, the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne, the Sioux, the Kiowa—very, very warlike societies…weren’t getting PTSD,” he hypothesized. Perhaps the society to which the warrior returns is a key factor in the ease of transition from battlefield to home. “And if you come home to a cohesive tribal society, maybe you recover quite quickly from trauma.”

“I think psychological counseling is very important for people who have been traumatized,” he told Simon. “But what do you do with the people who weren’t traumatized, who don’t feel like they should be home? They no longer feel like they belong to the society they fought for.”

10 Receive Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service, and McConaughy Writing Awards

The Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting was held in the Memorial Chapel on May 20. The presentation of this year's Distinguished Alumni, McConaughy, and Outstanding Service Awards included: Luke Wood ’91 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Essel Bailey ’66 Michael Greenberg ’76, P’14 Meredith Sirmans, Jr. ’91 Jed Hoyer Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96 McConaughy Award Recipients Ethan Bronner '76, P'10 Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17 Outstanding Service Award Recipients Robert “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96 David Hill ’86

The Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting was held in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. This year’s gathering of Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service and James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial awardees were: (bottom row, left to right) Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans, Jr. ’91; David Anthony Hill ’86; Alumni Association Chair Daphne Kwok ’84; Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17; Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96, Jed D. Hoyer ’96; (top row, left to right) Luke F. Wood ’91; Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14, Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10; Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66; and Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96, with President Michael Roth. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

At the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association held during Reunion, alumni celebrate members of the community with a number of awards. This year, six were named Distinguished Alumni in recognition of their achievement in their professions; two alumni received the McConaughy Award for writing that conveyed “unusual insights and understanding of current and past events,” and two alumni were celebrated for Outstanding Service. Chair of the Alumni Association Daphne Kwok ’84 presented the awards at a ceremony in Memorial Chapel, which featured newly proclaimed Distinguished Alumnus Luke Wood ’91, president of Beats By Dr. Dre, offering thoughts on his Wesleyan education in “Come As You Are: A Liberal Arts Education Revisited.”

Those receiving awards at this ceremony were Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66; Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14; Luke Wood ’91; Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans, Jr. ’91; Jed D. Hoyer ’96; and Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96; James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award Recipients Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10 and Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17; and Outstanding Service Award Recipients; Robert “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96 and David A. Hill ’86. Please see further information on each awardee below:

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Essel Bailey is a lawyer, corporate executive, and private investor. Along with his wife, Menakka, Mr. Bailey has been a steadfast supporter of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment (COE), endowing the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fund to bring outstanding outside scholars into the COE community.

A history major at Wesleyan who earned his JD from the University of Michigan Law School, Mr. Bailey spent several years in Michigan state government before serving 15 years with the Detroit law firm Dykema, Gossett, where he was a partner specializing in corporate and real estate finance. Over the course of his career, Mr. Bailey founded and ran two public companies and served as a director or chair of the board of three NYSE-listed companies. For the past 30 years he has been engaged in the capital markets, dealing with rating agencies, investment banks, and other global financial organizations. He has invested in, organized, and managed businesses in real estate and real estate finance, healthcare, and manufacturing in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In recent years he has served as a director of several NGOs.

Mr. Bailey currently serves as a director or officer of several private companies related to healthcare and healthcare finance, where he is also a principal; of nonprofit organizations related to mental health, hospice, and elderly care services; and of the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Born on a farm in Tennessee, he has in recent years acquired a farm in California that produces grapes used to make premium wines under the Knights Bridge label.

At Wesleyan, Mr. Bailey was a member of the Eclectic Society and the Student Judiciary Committee. He also ran hurdles for the track team. The Baileys reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ethan Bronner ’76, P’10

Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10

Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10
McConaughy Award
Ethan Bronner is a senior editor at Bloomberg News, where he focuses on political features and analyses, mostly from overseas, and mentors young reporters. He joined Bloomberg after 17 years at the New York Times, where he was Jerusalem bureau chief, national legal affairs correspondent, national education correspondent, deputy foreign editor, deputy national editor, and education editor. Mr. Bronner also served as assistant editorial page editor. Right after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he worked in the paper’s investigative unit focusing on Al Qaeda. He has been a frequent book reviewer for the paper and contributed to its Sunday Review.
A graduate of the College of Letters at Wesleyan and of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Mr. Bronner began his career at Reuters in 1980, reporting from London, Madrid, Brussels, and Jerusalem. He worked at the Boston Globe for a dozen years, including as its Washington-based legal and Supreme Court correspondent and as Middle East bureau chief.
He is the author of Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America, which was named one of the best 25 books of 1989 by the New York Public Library and awarded a Silver Gavel by the American Bar Association. Mr. Bronner is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former trustee of Wesleyan.
Mr. Bronner lives in New York with his wife, Naomi Kehati-Bronner, a psychologist. They have two sons.

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96
Outstanding Service Award
Dr. Rick Crootof has chaired every reunion of the Class of 1966 since 1981, when he says he “fell into” the role. In this capacity, Dr. Crootof has maintained lifelong friendships with countless members of his class, keeping them connected to Wesleyan over the decades. For his 50th Reunion this year, in deference to the vagaries of age, Dr. Crootof has enlisted as a co-chair of the half-century celebration.

Dr. Crootof graduated from Wesleyan with a degree in chemistry. He continued his education with an MD from New York Medical College, followed by an internship in internal medicine at George Washington University and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Yale–New Haven Hospital.

After two years in the Navy spent at its teaching hospital in Oakland, California, in 1977 Dr. Crootof joined two friends in private practice in Norwich, Connecticut. Over the next 30 years that practice, which grew to include eight physicians, withstood picketing and bomb and death threats to provide a complete range of obstetrical and gynecological services to women of all income levels from across eastern Connecticut.

Until his retirement, Dr. Crootof and his wife, Linda, lived in a historic home in Norwich, where they both served on the board and as officers of the Norwich Heritage Trust and the Downtown Revitalization Committee. More recently, Dr. Crootof has been on the board and served five years as president of the Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Tennis Club. Each winter, Dr. Crootof plays tennis and takes advantage of the cultural offerings in Sarasota, Florida. He also is an active amateur photographer.

The Crootofs enjoy visiting their children, Matthew ’96 (in Bozeman, Montana), Sarah (in Manhattan), and Martha (in Los Angeles). They eagerly await the imminent arrival of their first grandchild, a boy, in late August, in Los Angeles.

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Michael Greenberg has spent the past 30 years investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of sensory experience on the brain, helping us better understand how nature and nurture are intertwined during brain maturation. Most recently his research has explored the ways that neural activity controls the wiring of the brain, and how disruption of this process can lead to neurological disorders such as autism.

As a chemistry major at Wesleyan, Greenberg conducted honors research with Dr. Peter Jacobi. He received his PhD in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1982 and did postdoctoral research at New York University Medical Center. In 1986 he joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where he is currently chair of the Department of Neurobiology and the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology.

In recognition of his contributions to neuroscience, Dr. Greenberg has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the Gruber Prize in Neuroscience in 2015 (with Dr. Carla Shatz). He is also widely regarded as a leading mentor and advisor for a generation of neuroscientists, and for this he has been honored with the A. Clifford Barger Award for Excellence in Mentoring and the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award.

Dr. Greenberg and his wife, Dr. Rosalind Segal, live in Brookline, Massachusetts, and have two children, Rachel and Daniel ’14.

David Hill '86

David Anthony Hill ’86

David Anthony Hill ’86
Outstanding Service Award
A College of Social Studies major and member of the Cardinal football team, David Hill has given back to Wesleyan in many ways over the last 30 years, including as a member of the President’s Council and as the inaugural chair of the Alumni of Color Council. He also has been an alumni-elected trustee, a class agent for the Class of 1986, and a member of the organizing committees for his 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th class reunions.

Mr. Hill is a partner in the national law firm of Wong Fleming, P.C., the largest woman-owned law firm and one of the largest minority-owned law firms in the United States. An accomplished lawyer and executive, Mr. Hill counsels clients, manages teams, and advances strategic objectives for businesses ranging from a Fortune 20 company to smaller for-profit companies and nonprofit entities.

Prior to joining Wong Fleming, Mr. Hill spent 17 years in the legal department of Bell Atlantic/Verizon, where he served as the general counsel of the Delaware, District of Columbia, and Maryland operating companies and as a liaison between Verizon and the Obama administration. Earlier he was associated with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). While there, he was the lead counsel in Wilkins v. Maryland State Police, a landmark case that led to the end of the use of race-based drug courier profiles in Maryland.

Mr. Hill resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Lynn, and their two children, David and Gabrielle. His civic involvement includes service as the chair of the Commission on Social Action at the Reid Temple AME Church in Silver Spring and on the Executive Committee of the board of Leadership Montgomery (Montgomery County, Maryland).

Jed D. Hoyer ’96
Distinguished Alumni Award

Jed Hoyer is executive vice president and general manager of the Chicago Cubs. Throughout his career in professional baseball he has been lauded for outstanding analytic skills as well as scouting and recruiting acumen and thorough preparation. The Cubs in 2015 advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003. Currently, they lead the Central Division of the National League with the best record in baseball.

Jed D. Hoyer ’96 stands on stage and president Roth shakes his hand while Daphne Kwok ’84 looks on.

Jed D. Hoyer ’96

Mr. Hoyer spent 2009–11 with the San Diego Padres. In 2010 the Padres posted only the fourth 90-win campaign in the franchise’s 42-year history and finished just two games behind in the National League West race, despite having the lowest payroll in baseball. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hoyer helped guide the Boston Red Sox to their first world championship since 1918 during the 2004 season and then to a second championship in 2007.

A history major at Wesleyan, Mr. Hoyer played on the baseball team as a shortstop, outfielder, and starting and relieving pitcher, with a .400 hitting average. He still holds the school record for saves. At Wesleyan he once started both ends of a doubleheader and got the win in each one. In 1994 he played on the Cardinal team that advanced to the Division III College World Series. Following graduation, Mr. Hoyer worked at Wesleyan in Admission and University Relations while also serving as an assistant baseball coach before taking his first job in professional baseball as an intern for the Red Sox.

Mr. Hoyer has remained an active Wesleyan alumnus, including as a member of the Athletics Advisory Council since its founding in 2007. In 2012 he gave the John W. Baird ’38 Lecture at Wrigley Field. He also spends time with the Cardinal baseball team each year during spring training in Arizona. He and his wife, Merrill, live in Chicago with their two sons, Beckett and Gray.

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96
Distinguished Alumna Award
Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye is chair and chief executive officer of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is the largest public housing authority in the nation, providing affordable housing to more than 620,000 low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

Before her appointment to NYCHA in 2014, Ms. Olatoye was vice president and New York market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit real estate investment company dedicated to furthering affordable housing and community development. In addition to other professional positions, Ms. Olatoye has served on the board of the Council for Large Public Housing Authorities and is founding board chair of the Fund for Public Housing.

Ms. Olatoye has won recognition from the Institute for Public Architecture, Urban Upbound, and Green City Force, as well as from Crain’s, which named Ms. Olatoye to its “40 under 40” list of New York’s “most talented, driven, and dynamic” young professionals in 2014.

A history and African American studies major at Wesleyan, Ms. Olatoye earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. She lives in Harlem, New York, with her husband, Matthew Strozier ’96, and their three children.

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Franklin Sirmans is the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Prior to his recent appointment, he was the department head and curator of contemporary art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 2010 until fall 2015. At LACMA Mr. Sirmans organized Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada; Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting; Fútbol: The Beautiful Game; and Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation, and co-organized the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection. He is the curator of the forthcoming LACMA exhibition Toba Khedoori.

From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Sirmans was curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, where he organized exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith; Steve Wolfe on Paper; Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966; and Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death? In 2007 Mr. Sirmans won the David C. Driskell Prize, awarded for original and important contributions to the study of art of the African diaspora. He served as the artistic director for the arts festival Prospect.3 New Orleans from 2012 to 2014.

An English and art history major at Wesleyan, Mr. Sirmans was profoundly influenced by the dual interests in African and African American art of his faculty mentor, Peter Mark. He was also greatly influenced by professors John Paoletti and Robert O’Meally. With Professor Mark as his advisor, Mr. Sirmans wrote an honors thesis on Jean-Michel Basquiat. Shortly after graduating, Mr. Sirmans used that senior thesis to create the chronology for the 1992 Whitney Museum show and catalogue on the artist.

Mr. Sirmans lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Jessica, and daughter.

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17
McConaughy Award
Bestselling author Ayelet Waldman tackles her subjects—which range from motherhood and women’s issues to mental illness and the Holocaust—with honesty and verve. Her latest novel, Love and Treasure (2014), weaves a powerful story of love and loss around the history of the Hungarian Gold Train in World War II. Ms. Waldman’s next project, an edited collection of essays by prominent international authors about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, will be published by HarperCollins in 2017. The book will be co-edited by her husband, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Michael Chabon.

Born in Israel, Ms. Waldman spent her first years in Canada before her family settled in the United States. After receiving a degree in psychology from Wesleyan, Ms. Waldman lived abroad in a kibbutz in Israel before returning to the United States and receiving her JD from Harvard Law School.

Ms. Waldman practiced law for several years before reimagining her career and becoming a writer. In addition to Love and Treasure, she is the author of Red Hook Road; the New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace; Daughter’s Keeper; the Mommy-Track Mystery series; and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, which was adapted into the film The Other Woman, starring Natalie Portman. She has also contributed to several nonfiction anthologies.

Ms. Waldman’s personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have been featured on All Things Considered and This American Life. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and their children.


Luke Wood '91.

Luke F. Wood ’91

Luke F. Wood ’91
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Luke Wood is president of Beats by Dr. Dre, a premium brand of headphones and speakers that was acquired by Apple in 2014. A producer, guitarist, and music industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, he has been involved with Beats since its early days, officially joining the company in 2011.

Prior to working at Beats, Mr. Wood served as chief strategy officer of Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA) and president of the imprint DGC Records, where he worked with many artists including Weezer, All American Rejects, Rise Against, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Mr. Wood began his career with Geffen Records in 1991 as a director of publicity, representing such bands as Nirvana and Sonic Youth.

A lifelong songwriter and musician, Mr. Wood signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Group in 1996, and during that year his band, Sammy, released its third album, Tales of Great Neck Glory, on Geffen/DGC Records. In August 2014, he joined the board of directors of Fender Musical Instruments, alongside U2’s Bono and The Edge.

Mr. Wood graduated from Wesleyan with a major in American studies. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Sophia W. Nardin ’91, and two daughters.