Tag Archive for employee news
by Olivia Drake •
On May 1, Wesleyan launched a new massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera titled “Career Decisions: From Insight to Impact.” Free to Wesleyan alumni, the course aims to help learners understand their motivations, strengths, and goals, and appreciate how personal identity affects career decision making. A second version of the class for current Wesleyan students will go live in July, and entering students will be encouraged to complete it before they arrive on campus in the fall. The course is taught by Gordon Career Center Director Sharon Belden Castonguay, who also recently gave a talk at TEDxWesleyanU titled, “The Psychology of Career Decisions.”
“The idea behind this course is that it will provide a ‘flipped classroom’ for career advising,” Castonguay said. “We hope to encourage students to think about their motivations, interests, and goals as early as possible in their Wesleyan career, as well as guide their conversations with both their career and academic advisors. For alumni, we see this course as a way to frame thinking about possible course corrections as they navigate a dynamic employment market.”
In this course, Castonguay draws from her decades of experience as well as research from the fields of psychology, organizational behavior, and sociology to help students understand best practices for making career decisions. She designed the content to help students develop the tools they need to make the right choices—from deciding an area of study to exploring potential lines of work to pursue.
The course is catered to those facing transition in their lives.
“Perhaps you are thinking about switching jobs or changing careers. Maybe you’re starting college and are trying to get a handle on what you want to study. Or you just graduated and are trying to figure out what to do next. If you’re interested in making good career decisions, this course is for you,” Castonguay said.
Through a four-week program, students will watch 20 videos and participate in multiple practice quizzes and three graded reflection papers. Students will explore how cultural norms affect how they think about academic and career choices; take stock of what they devote time to and what that reveals about their motivations; use a design-thinking framework to learn how to broaden their exploration for possible working identities; and much more.
The Career Decisions class joins 12 other courses and specializations created by Wesleyan University scholar-teachers and offered by Coursera. The University seeks 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.
Alumni can register free online here. Alumni need to log-in or sign-up for a Coursera account using their Wesleyan.edu email address in order to enroll in the course. Once you log-in with your wesleyan.edu email address, Coursera will send you an email verification.
by Olivia Drake •
In this issue, we speak to Noah Baerman, director of the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble. Baerman is a teacher, jazz pianist, composer, and author. He is also founder and artistic director of the nonprofit Resonant Motion, Inc. (RMI).
Q: You’ve directed the Jazz Ensemble at Wesleyan for 11 years. Was there an ensemble before you?
A: Wesleyan’s history of jazz is intense, and perhaps its most significant architect was the great Bill Barron, which I’ve always found kind of cosmic given that his “little” brother Kenny (now 74 and an NEA Jazz Master) was my own mentor. The group I direct runs parallel to the Jazz Orchestra, directed for years by my colleague Jay Hoggard. The Jazz Ensemble was previously directed by several different musicians, including current faculty Pheeroan akLaff and Tony Lombardozzi, as well as the legendary Ed Blackwell.
Q: Do students need to audition for the class? What are the requirements? How many musicians do you accept?
A: It is an audition-based group—there is some diversity of skills and experience, but it is not the setting for those with no prior jazz training. We generally have 6–7 musicians (occasionally more), and in true Wesleyan fashion the instrumentation varies widely from each semester to the next, which is fine since a) I write my own arrangements and b) I want to work with the most serious and motivated students, not necessarily those who just happen to play certain instruments.
Q: What is unique about performing jazz as opposed to classical music? What about it appeals to you? When did you realize that you wanted to be a jazz musician?
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Dean of the Social Sciences Marc Eisner was selected to participate in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC), a program hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Defense. It is the oldest and most prestigious public liaison program in the Department of Defense, and has been held since the 1940s.
On April 22–25, Eisner joined other college and university deans, provosts, and presidents at military installations in Virginia, where he engaged with senior military officers and U.S. service members. He participated in a variety of tactical training exercises and, through conversations and experiences, gained a better understanding of the roles and mission of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as their skills, capabilities, and equipment.
According to Eisner, the goal of the program is to help bridge the civilian-military divide. Leaders in the fields of education, business, and religion are invited to gain a better understanding of the military in order to help them better serve veterans.
“Unlike past periods in our country’s history, we have an all-volunteer Armed Forces now. The vast majority of students at Wesleyan would likely never know anyone who has served in the Armed Forces or been deployed to one of our recent wars,” said Eisner. “There’s a lack of understanding as to the nature of the wars and the people fighting in them.”
Bringing veterans to campus—as students, such as through the Posse Veteran Scholars program, or as faculty, such as through the Retired Officer Teaching Fellowship (ROTF)—is an important way to introduce students to new and different viewpoints. According to Eisner, Wesleyan’s first retired officer teaching fellow, Col. Bob Cassidy, just signed on for a second year at Wesleyan. His course on “Policy and Strategy in War and Peace” has been extremely popular, with students being wait-listed, and he has also guest lectured in other courses and given presentations on campus.
At the same time, said Eisner, many people in the military lack understanding of college campuses. It was interesting for him to speak to service members and learn why they decided not to pursue college, or left college early to join the military. He also observed that many service members were now taking classes online or at nearby institutions.
Eisner also is the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair in Public Policy, professor of government, professor of environmental studies.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
In this Q&A, we speak to Clifton Watson, who joined Wesleyan as director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) in February. A New Haven, Conn., native, Watson holds a BA from the University of Connecticut in African American studies, an MA from North Carolina Central in history, and a doctorate from Fordham in history. His dissertation explores the northern migration of African Americans who settled in the Newhallville area of New Haven—which is where he grew up.
Q: Please tell us a bit about your background . . . what drew you to Wesleyan? How did you know this was the place for you?
A: I credit my career to an experience I had during the summer before my freshman year in college. I responded to an ad to be a summer camp counselor in New Haven (which is where I grew up). My primary interest was in earning some money to offset some of my college expenses. I envisioned facilitating recreational activities and leading field trips. However—unbeknownst to me—I had applied to become a staff member of LEAP (Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership). The organization, which was in its inaugural year—was committed to supporting the academic and leadership development of young people from some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. This was not your typical summer camp—in fact it was a program, with a summer component. The organizers had been very thoughtful and strategic in the development of its program design and the stakeholders recruited to support their work.
The program was the brainchild of a Yale undergrad and law student—and supported by Dwight Hall (the JCCP’s institutional counterpart at Yale). This program created a “community” of diverse stakeholders united by their interest in improving outcomes for youth and city residents. This jumpstarted my interest in leadership development and civic engagement and remains a shining example of a university-led—but cocreated with the community and mutually beneficial—project.
I was drawn to Wesleyan’s Jewett Center for Community Partnerships because each one of its projects has the same transformative potential I saw in the LEAP experience.
Q: What are you most excited about?
A: I am most excited about further harnessing student enthusiasm and willingness to engage with the greater Middletown community—while ensuring that the center continues to be supportive of student leaders (in both their professional and leadership development) and that the JCCP projects are effectively responsive to community needs. As I have recently moved to the area (Meriden), I am super excited about contributing to the civic fauna of my own community.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your time with Wesleyan?
A: Wesleyan students have a reputation (which stretches far) for being enthusiastically committed to civic engagement. This was on full display as soon as I arrived on campus. I was struck by the number of students who emailed, called, and dropped by to greet me and ask questions about my plans for the Jewett Center or discuss an idea for a program or event. In fact, the week before I officially started, I came to campus to briefly meet with Marc Eisner [Dean of Social Sciences and Henry Merritt Wriston Chair of Public Policy]. When Marc walked me over to Allbritton Hall to show me my office space, I was met by a student reporter from the Argus, who somehow learned I was on campus! She wanted to interview me and discuss my vision for the JCCP. Overall, I’ve been surprised by the pure number of projects being led by Wesleyan students and thoughtfulness with which they approach their work.
Q: And what are your hobbies? What do you do in your time off?
A: Over the past three years, I’ve really gotten into gardening. I can’t say that I have a green thumb—but I’ve had a ball learning through trial and error. I’m committed to having a solid sweet potato crop! Gardening is one of those things my grandparents and parents were into and encouraged me to learn about, but I just couldn’t get into when I was younger. Years later, I’m begging for advice! In some ways, I am “late to the party,” but glad I finally decided to take an interest.
Q.: What is your favorite book?
A: My favorite book is All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw, by Theodore Rosengarten. All God’s Dangers is the autobiography of a black tenant farmer from east-central Alabama, who came of age in a society of former slaves and slaveholders. This is the narrative of a common man moved to confront the injustices that limited his economic and political freedoms. Through the book, he recounts dealings with landlords, bankers, fertilizer agents, mule traders, gin operators, sheriffs, and judges—detailing stories of the social relations of the cotton system, while offering his rationale for joining a tenant farmers union in the early 1930s. I’ve found this to be a compelling narrative about an “everyday person” who first developed an analysis of a pretty complicated economic and political system, then moved into action to confront it—despite the certainty that his efforts would be met with brutal violence. This has always been a favorite of mine because it recognizes the enduring and complex—though infrequently highlighted—resistance culture and organizing tradition which undergirds the black experience in America.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Doris Zhao, an investment associate with Wesleyan’s Investments Office, joined Chief Investment Officer Anne Martin’s team in 2013, after graduating from Yale. Since then, she has completed all three levels of the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst credential. “My role here at Wesleyan is to help manage the portfolio through monitoring our current managers and selecting new managers,” she says. When we approached her for this Q&A, we discovered that scheduling was an issue: Zhao’s position sends her on frequent travel across the country and internationally, but on a sunny December afternoon she was on campus and spoke with us about her career, her background, and her interests beyond financial matters.
Q: How much time do you spend traveling?
A: When I first started, not as much, because it’s important to build foundational understanding before you go out. Now I travel almost every week, often for multiple days. In the extreme case, like November, I was only at home for one full workday in the month. And I just came back from Toronto yesterday—so you caught me in the office on my one day this week.
Q: With that schedule, It would be hard to have pets.
A: Yes. I don’t even have houseplants.
Q: What brought you to Wesleyan?
A: I was an Ethics, Politics, and Economics major (a multidisciplinary program similar to Wesleyan’s College of Social Studies) at Yale. I concentrated on international development, and my research focused on cash transfer programs as a method of alleviating long-term poverty in developing countries.
In my junior year I did an internship in investment banking and thought that would be my path, but in my senior year, I ended up working as a research assistant for a vice president of China’s sovereign wealth fund. We researched how to build and manage a good private equity program. That served as my gateway to portfolio management, and I started looking for opportunities in that field. Anne was recruiting for an analyst at the time. We connected and the rest was history.
East Asian Studies’ Aalgaard Aims to Amplify Voices That Challenge, Reshape Our Own Stances upon the World
by Cynthia Rockwell •
In this Q&A, we speak with Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies Scott Aalgaard. Originally a native of British Columbia, he joined Wesleyan after completing his doctorate at the University of Chicago. Affiliated with Wesleyan’s College of East Asian Studies, his courses this year included Pop Music Revolutionaries, Japanese Women’s Writing, and The Everyday in Modern Japan.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
A: I’ve been on the move for most of my life. I grew up in a small resource town on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada; we had a sister city in northern Japan, and it was through that relationship that I got to visit Japan for the first time when I was 12. I was just a kid at the time, and in all honesty, it was more my mother’s idea that I should go to Japan and see the world beyond our little town than it was mine. But being able to see and experience a different part of the world and different ways of life had a real impact on me, and made me ask different questions, both of myself, and of what I was experiencing. I guess now I’d call that a thirst for knowledge, but I didn’t understand it in those terms at the time—I just felt that I needed to keep going back, keep talking to people, listening, learning.
I went back to Japan when I was 15, again when I graduated from high school, and that set the pattern—I’ve been living somewhere in between Canada, Japan, and now the United States for more than 30 years now. I’ve been fortunate to have a wide range of experiences in Japan—I’ve been a student, a farm worker, a local government employee; I’ve even worked in the music industry in Tokyo. I can’t say that any of this has brought me closer to any answers, but I hope that I’ve been able to refine the questions. How do individuals in Japan and elsewhere make sense of their lives? Why? How does this get expressed in things like literature and music? What are some of the consequences of that? These are some of the questions that drive me, and Wesleyan is an ideal place to pursue them.
Q: What drew you to Wesleyan?
A: Wes is renowned for attracting sharp, inquisitive, critically-minded students, and being able to think through these questions with them is a real treat for me. Rather than trying to offer up some stock answer to the question of what “Japan” is all about, in other words, I see my role as helping students to formulate and articulate different sorts of questions, in a way that not only addresses Japan and its cultures and contexts, but students’ own circumstances, contexts, and historical moments, as well.
Q: In your faculty bio, you say that your scholarship “aims to hear and amplify voices that can challenge and reshape our own stances upon the world.” Can you talk about how/where/if you’ve seen that happening today? How do you emphasize that in your work?
A: I’m really interested in questions of collectivity, and in how different social actors and cultural producers deal with those questions. Collectivity is something that we all need, but when that gets reduced to exclusionary, reactionary forms of nationalism, or questions of nation-state power and prestige, then we’ve got a problem. People grapple with this question of collectivity in different ways.
by Himeka Curiel •
The Office of Human Resources announces the following hires, transitions, and departures for January–April 2018.
John Lundell, athletic facility maintenance, on Jan. 2
Johanna DeBari, director of survivor advocacy and community education, on Jan. 3
Lee Walsh, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on Jan. 17
Kara Murphy, development research analyst in University Relations, on Jan. 22
Clifton Watson, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, on Feb. 5
Dennis Hohne, video producer in University Communications, on Feb. 12
Nafeza Kingston, facility and events manager in Usdan Campus Center, on Feb. 12
Matthew Magenheim, senior investment associate in the Investments Office, on Feb. 12
Suzanne Rivera, public safety dispatcher, on Feb. 12
Wengang Zhang, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on Feb. 12
Jacob Nite, postdoctoral research associate in chemistry, on Feb. 15
Megan Lenzzo, assistant director of Annual Giving, on Feb. 19
Rani Arbo, campus & community engagement manager in Center for the Arts, on Feb. 26
Richard Contrastano, curatorial, archival and programming assistant in Cinema Archives, on Feb. 26
Daniel McGloin, CPE program coordinator, on Feb. 26
Durga Nyame, project coordinator, Upward Bound Math-Science Program, on Feb. 26
Nathan Mealey, associate university librarian for technical and digital services, on March 1
Ashley Alvarado, public safety officer, on April 2
Benjamin Chaffee, associate director of visual arts in Zilkha Gallery, on April 2
Glenn Knight, assistant director, Graduate Liberal Studies, on April 2
Erin Strauts, associate director of institutional research, on April 16
Alexander Vazquez, academic tech training specialist in Information Technology Services, on Jan. 2
Claudia Wolf, library assistant/accounting specialist in Olin Library, on Feb. 5
Nancy Putnam, assessment and research services librarian in Olin Library, on March 1
Paul Turenne, systems analyst in Information Technology Services, on March 22
Zehra Abbas, study abroad advisor
Joan Adams, administrative assistant in Athletics
Allen Alonzo, director of auxiliary services in ITS
Kimberley Alonzo, administrative assistant in Center for Pedagogical Innovation
Gaylord Brown, analyst programmer in ITS
Colin Desjardins, HVAC/utility mechanic in Physical Plant
Jennifer Enxuto, administrative assistant in FGSS/SiSP
Alecia Goldfarb, business manager in Center for the Arts
Holly King, administrative assistant in chemistry
Emily Lai, web developer in University Communications
Jean Lawrence, administrative assistant in University Relations
Juan Liu, research associate in molecular biology & biochemistry
Jay Mantie, public safety supervisor
Emily Moss, senior assistant dean of admission
Sarah-Jane Ripa, associate director for student services and outreach, Continuing Studies
Kimberly Spachman, research analyst in University Relations
Roney Thomas, postdoctoral research associate in physics
by Olivia Drake •
This year Wesleyan will reward administrative offices that go green.
The new Green Office Certification Program, overseen by the Sustainability Office, is designed to recognize, support, and promote offices that engage in environmentally sustainable practices. All administrative and academic offices are eligible to become certified.
To get started, a department needs to elect an office coordinator who will fill out the Green Office Certification form, coordinate office participation, and review completed checklists with the Sustainability Office.
The coordinator will distribute individual checklists to all employees in the office or within a defined space.
If at least 75 percent of the office has completed the checklist, the office may receive an award. Certificates will be issued and offices are encouraged to hang their plaque in a location visible to office visitors. Certifications are valid for three years from the date awarded and come in bronze, silver, and gold levels.
“The Green Office Certification Program encourages employees to be environmentally conscious while at work,” explained Jen Kleindienst, sustainability director. “To be certified, departments may need to make small changes in their work environment, for example, share a communal garbage bin, forgo individual refrigerators, or be willing to turn down the thermostat while away from the office. There’s little things that can make a huge difference.”
To date, the third floor of North College (consisting of the Offices of Academic Affairs; Institutional Research; Corporate, Foundation and Government Grants; and Equity and Inclusion) is the only academic space to be Green Office Certified. Although they are proud to boast their silver-level award, they’re not stopping until they reach the gold.
“We are now trying to work up from our silver certification to gold certification,” explained third-floor office resident Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “As part of our additional efforts to improve our certification level, we’ve replaced most fluorescent lights with energy-efficient LED lights; replaced disposable coffee stirrers with reusable metal stirrers; encouraged everyone to use mugs off of our mug tree instead of disposable cups; and switched to a sugar shaker instead of using individual sugar packets. We’ve also replaced our powered shredder with hand-cranked shredders and use a recycling shredder service for big jobs.”
For these extra efforts, the Sustainability Office will offer bonus points toward their certification.
The Sustainability Office and Wesleyan’s Green Team offer many tips for creating a more eco-friendly office environment. For additional information, contact the Sustainability Office.
by Olivia Drake •
by Himeka Curiel •
If you’ve logged into WesPortal recently you may have noticed a banner advertising “Project Refresh.” The link leads to a survey asking for feedback on programs, projects, or processes that “may no longer be necessary, or perhaps could be done more effectively” with the end goal of making working at Wesleyan “more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.”
The survey is just the first phase of Project Refresh, with plans for additional rounds of idea generation and collaboration (at all levels both within and across departments) as well as possible focus groups to further refine ideas in the fall. For now, the committee is working on gathering as much information as possible from the campus community and encourages everyone to fill out the survey. It will remain accessible through WesPortal until May 31, after which employees should contact Paul Turenne if they have additional questions or ideas they’d like to share.
The campuswide initiative is being led by a cross-departmental committee, whose members include:
Gemma Fontanella Ebstein, associate vice president for university relations
Rachael Barlow, associate director for assessment; visiting assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures
Jen Carlstrom, manager of design services
Mike Conte, director of physical plant operations
Rick Culliton, assistant vice president; dean of students
Lisa Sacks, assistant director for curricular initiatives
Lori Stethers, systems/emerging technologies librarian
Meghan Sullivan, associate director of alumni and parent relations
Paul Turenne, systems analyst
Karen Whalen, director of athletic fundraising
Other members and sub-committees may be added as the initiative progresses.
by Olivia Drake •
Paul Turenne, systems analyst for Information Technology Services, received a Coordinator of the Year Award during the Middlesex United Way Campaign Awards Breakfast on May 8.
Turenne served as Wesleyan’s 2017–18 United Way Employee Campaign campus coordinator. He helped the University post the highest numbers—both in participation and in amount pledged—since 2012. More than 400 Wesleyan employees, retired faculty, and authorized vendors (including 38 “Leadership Givers” pledging $1,000 or more) participated. Together they donated a total of $122,150 in support of United Way programs in Middlesex County and throughout the state.
To date, the employee campaign has raised approximately $1.9 million for the United Way.