Tag Archive for alumni

Daniel Family Commons Dedicated

Ron Daniel '52, Hon '88, P'77, P'82 speaks during the Daniel Family Commons dedication Feb. 27 in the Usdan University Center.

Ron Daniel '52, Hon '88, P'77, P'82 speaks during the Daniel Family Commons dedication Feb. 27 in the Usdan University Center. Several members of the Daniel family attended. Noah Daniel is pictured at right.

Alumni Share "Legacies of Success"

Randall Pinkston

Randall Pinkston '72 was a guest speaker during an "Unconventional Wisdom: Legacies of Success" seminar, organized by the Career Resource Center.

Randall Pinkston ’72, P’05, a national correspondent for CBS News in New York City, credits Wesleyan’s WESU 88.1 FM radio for launching his life-long career.

“When I was a student, I heard about WESU installing a new transmitter and I wondered, how can I be on a radio station,” Pinkston says. “I took the training required by the FCC at the time, passed a test, and was given a one-hour show, five days a week. I called it ‘Soul Session.'”

Pinkston recruited four other students, and replicated shows broadcasted in their hometowns including R&B and jazz. On the 55th minute of every hour, they would transmit Metromedia news and read the weather over the airwaves.

“This was my first introduction to broadcasting,” he says.

On Feb. 24, Pinkston shared his Wesleyan memories and career path with 20 students during an “Unconventional Wisdom: Legacies of Success” seminar, organized by the Career Resource Center (CRC).

The series is designed

Student Leaders Learn from Prominent Alumni

Anand Satchidanandan '08, assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund, and Jeff XX speak with Jody Hill '78 during the third Student Leadership Lunch Feb. 28 in Usdan University Center. The lunches are hosted by the Alumni Association to recognize student leaders and to provide them with an opportunity to meet and learn from prominent alumni leaders.

Anand Satchidanandan '08, assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund, and Jeff Bizinkaukas '10 speak with Jody Hill '78 during the third Student Leadership Lunch Feb. 28 in Usdan University Center. The lunches are hosted by the Alumni Association to recognize student leaders and to provide them with an opportunity to meet and learn from prominent alumni leaders.


Kail ’99 to Direct “The Wiz” in New York City

Thomas Kail '99

Thomas Kail '99

Thomas Kail ’99 who received a Tony Award nomination for his direction for the musical hit “In the Heights” (2008 Tony Award for best musical) on Broadway will stage the Encores! Summer Stars production of “The Wiz” this summer at City Center in New York City for a three-week run, June 12 to July 3. Kail will re-team with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler who won a Tony for his work on “In the Heights.”

“The Wiz,” a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz with an African-American cast, won seven Tony Awards, including best musical, in 1975. The show has not been revived on Broadway recently, though sometimes productions at Encores! transfer to a Broadway theater (the long-running Broadway revival of “Chicago” began at Encores! as did the recent Broadway revival of “Gypsy”).

Kail directed the play “Broke-ology” last summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival which was well-reviewed.

Temple ’88, Yankelevich ’95 Discuss the E-Book Revolution

In his recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Shaer talked to two graduates working at small presses, Johnny Temple ’88, publisher of Akashic Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Matvei Yankelvich ’95, a founding editor at Ugly Duckling Presse. Shaer reported that while conventional books sales are sinking in the current economy, e-book sales have been soaring. He pointed out, however, that it’s not the larger publishing houses who are moving quickly toward mass digitization but the small presses of the independent publishing world.

Temple plans to have e-book content from his company available soon and recognizes both its economic and environmental benefits. Yankelvich says that “many followers of independent publishers have an emotional attachment to the printed word” and isn’t certain poetry readers would buy poetry collections in e-book form. Still, Ugly Duckling Presse has already issued several popular online projects.

McKnight Nichols ’00 Edits Essay Collection on Prophesies of Godlessness

Christopher McKnight Nichols ’00 is co-author and co-editor of Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present.

Christopher McKnight Nichols ’00 has co-edited and co-authored (with Charles Mathewes) a challenging essay collection, Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America’s Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2008). The book considers the similar expectations of religious and moral change voiced by major American thinkers from the time of the Puritans to today. Generations of Americans, from colonial times to the post-modern present, have witnessed or predicted the coming of “godlessness” of American society.

The essay collection examines the history of these prophesies, and each chapter explores a certain era, a particular individual, a community of thought, and changing conceptions of secularization. Among the subjects addressed are: Thomas Jefferson’s philosophy of history and the future of American Christianity; Abraham Lincoln, William T. Sherman, and evangelical Protestantism during the Civil War; World War 1 and after—godlessness and the Scopes Trial; and secularization and prophesies of freedom during the Sixties.

Nichols is currently a postdoctoral fellow in U.S. history at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

Hoffman’s ’89 Biography Illuminates the Life of Palestinian Poet


Adina Hoffman '89 is the author of My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness.

In her new biography, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century (Yale University Press, 2009) Adina Hoffman ’89 tells the story of an exceptional man, Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, and the culture from which he emerged. Born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya, he had to flee his homeland during the war in 1948. He traveled on foot to Lebanon and returned a year later to find his village destroyed. An autodidact, he has since run a souvenir shop in Nazareth, but his written work is highly respected by many of the world’s best writers.

Hoffman situates Muhammad Ali’s life in the context of the lives of his predecessors and peers, and provides an expansive perspective on an era full of dramatic events. As she reconstructs carefully the world of the poet’s lost childhood village, she provides a rich, empathetic view of the people and culture of the Middle East.

Hoffman had to piece together different pieces of the story she was telling from various accounts in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. She connected what she found in archives with the memories of people she interviewed, including peasants, poets, and military commanders. She offers fascinating portraits of a whole range of poets and novelists, many of whom who are unknown to much of the world.

Adina Hoffman also is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood. Her essays and criticism have appeared in The Nation, The Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement and on the BBC. One of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions, she lives in Jerusalem.

Alumni Compete, Win at Crossword Tournament

Three Wesleyan alumni took trophies at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament hosted by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz in February. A total of 684 competitors from all over the world vied for victory in several categories. Along with the Wesleyan award-winners, three additional alums participated in the tournament.

Brian Cimmet ’95 placed first in Division E, and 278th overall. Brian is also half of a team writing the blog Brian and Ryan do Crosswords. Brian also participated in a panel on blogging crosswords.

Jesse Lansner ’96 placed second in the Rookies category (first time competitors), 90th overall, 4th in Division C, and 18th for New York City.

Erhard Konerding MALS ’82 placed third in Rookies, 94th overall, 6th in Division C, 5th in Connecticut, and 13th among competitors aged 60 to 69 years of age.

Donald Spencer ’77 ranked 138th overall, and 10th in Connecticut.

Emy (Johnson) Zener ’97 finished at 325 overall, and 50th among rookies.


Ed Stein ’60 was 521st overall. He has produced a “mockumentary” about the tournament, entitled Wordploy, and has given multiple WeSeminars on how to do the New York Times crossword puzzles.

Complete results available here.

Farrell ’87 Named to National Economic Council

Dianna Farrell '87. (Photo courtesy of the the Milken Institute)

Dianna Farrell '87. (Photo courtesy of the the Milken Institute)

President Barack Obama has appointed Diana Farrell ’87 as deputy director of the National Economic Council. She most recently served as director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), McKinsey & Company’s economics research arm.

In announcing the appointment, President Obama said Farrell “will work day and night with me to advance an American Recovery and Reinvestment plan that not only aims to jumpstart economic growth, but also promotes the long-term investments in our economy necessary to save and create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure energy independence.”

Farrell’s work has appeared in academic journals, books, and on the op–ed pages of leading international publications, and she is a frequent speaker at major US and global conferences. She is the editor of an anthology series based on MGI research, published by Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Together with Lowell Bryan, she is the co-author of Market Unbound, published by Wiley & Sons, 1996.
She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She is a member of Council on Foreign Relations, the Bretton Woods Committee, and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Bassin ’98 Named Deputy Associate Counsel

Ian bassin

Ian Bassin '98.

President Barack Obama has named Ian Bassin ’98 to be a deputy associate counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President. Bassin recently served as a member of the Education Policy Working Group for the Presidential Transition Team, and had earlier served as the Florida Policy Director on the Obama Campaign for Change.

Previously, he served as a law clerk to Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Witkin ’00, Weiner ’87, Berman ’84 Involved in Arts and Culture

Andrew Witkin '00.

Andrew Witkin '00

Artist Andrew Witkin ’00 Wins Foster Prize
Andrew Witkin ’00 was recently awarded the prestigious Institute of Contemporary Art’s 2008 James and Audrey Foster Prize of $25,000. He was one of four finalists whose work went on show at the ICA in Boston in November (the exhibition ends March 1). His art work on display, Untitled, 1990, is an installation of carefully arranged personal effects and impersonal furniture.

According to the Boston Globe, the “arrangement reflects aspects of the artist’s own life, which is both fervently social (he works at the Barbara Krakow Gallery on Newbury Street and has a wide circle of friends) and highly controlled. The overall effect is strangely haunting, at once crowded with memory and desire and devastatingly empty.”

A resident of Jamaica Plain, Witkin also has another installation, Others Among Others, on exhibit at LaMontagne Gallery in South Boston (through Feb. 14). The show, which includes three racks of 144 cotton T-shirts, each stamped with text, was favorably reviewed in the Boston Globe.

Matthew Weiner '87

Matthew Weiner '87

Matthew Weiner ’87 Seals a Two-Year Deal with Lionsgate TV; Wins Producers Guild Award for Mad Men
Matthew Weiner, the creator, co-producer, and writer of the award-winning AMC series, Mad Men, received a two-year deal in January with Lionsgate TV, which will have him overseeing the series for two more seasons. The agreement also covers TV development and the prospect of developing a feature film for Lionsgate.
In January Weiner won the Producers Guild of America award for his work on Mad Men. The same month, the series also received the Best Ensemble in a Television Drama from the Screen Actors Guild of America. More here.

Pianist Donald Berman ’84 Has Two New CDs

Donald Berman
Donald Berman ’84 (Photo by Iannis Delatolas)

Pianist Donald Berman plays on two new recordings, Americans in Rome: Music by Fellows of the American Academy in Rome (Bridge Records), for which he served as artistic director, and The Light That Is Felt: Songs of Charles Ives (New World Records). These two recordings were chosen separately as “North American Disc of the Month” in the January and February issues of BBC Music Magazine.

Americans in Rome consists of four CDs featuring music by Rome Prize-winning composers from 1920 to 2000 and provides a compelling glimpse of the history of American music, with American masters side by side with younger innovators. In its review of the recording, BBC Music Magazine commented that Berman “shows great stylistic flexibility, both between pieces and within Tamar Diesendruck’s multifarious Sound Reasoning in the Tower of Babel.”

On The Light That Is Felt: Songs of Charles Ives, Berman collaborates with soprano Susan Narucki. The CD contains 27 songs by Charles Ives, offering a wide range of his compositions. Each song evokes memory through stories and characters drawn from Ives’ life.

In a January review of the Ives recording, Vivien Schweitzer in The New York Times said: “The painterly details of Ives’s songs are vividly conveyed by the bright-voiced Susan Narucki and the pianist Donald Berman on a new disc whose 27 diverse selections … highlight Ives’s multiple influences. Those included European Romanticism and religious and secular American tunes, which he meshed with his own inventive, radical harmonies. Like Bartok, Ives used both simple folk melodies and dissonance, sometimes blending them.”