Tag Archive for faculty

Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on 8 Faculty

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees promoted eight faculty. Their promotions will be effective July 1, 2018.

The Board conferred tenure to Kathleen Birney, associate professor of classical studies; Greg Goldberg, associate professor of sociology; Ruth Johnson, associate professor of biology; Melanie Khamis, associate professor of economics; Marguerite Nguyen, associate professor of English; Sasha Rudensky, associate professor of art; Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history; and Ao Wang, associate professor of East Asian studies.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below:

Kathleen Birney
Professor Birney is a Mediterranean archaeologist whose research focuses on understanding interactions and exchange between the cultures of ancient Greece and the ancient Near East through material remains and archaeological science. She has completed a book manuscript that will be published by Eisenbrauns as Volume 10 of the “Reports of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon” under the title, Ashkelon to Ascalon: The Archaeological History of the Hellenistic Period. In 2015 she was appointed Head of Persian and Hellenistic Research at the Tel Shimron Project excavation in Israel and she is also Co-PI of the archaeological excavations in Kastrouli-Desfina, Greece. She offers courses on Art and Archaeology of the Bronze Age Mediterranean; Greek Archaeology; Pyramids and Pyres: Death and the Afterlife in Egypt and Greece; and Greek language.

A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience Premiered at Zilkha

A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience was a creative collaboration of Wesleyan students, artist Ernesto Cuevas Jr., and Associate Professor of Science in Society, Sociology, and African American Studies Anthony Hatch (center right). It opened in the south gallery at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Feb. 22.


This exhibition was co-sponsored by the Center for African American Studies, the Center for the Humanities and the Center for the Arts’ Creative Campus Initiative, made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The projects began in Hatch’s fall 2017 seminar, Black Phoenix Rising, during his fellowship semester at the Center for the Humanities. Working with the Center’s theme of Rethinking Necropolitics, the class explored—through a collaborative process—the methods that African Americans used in order to resist material and symbolic death in American life and culture.

Grounded in the black radical tradition, each of the works in this multimedia exhibit was collaboratively conceived and produced through the power of collective memory and the medium of storytelling.

In the Shadows of Tomorrow brochure that accompanied the exhibit, the artists explain, “Our goal for this work is to embody the Black Phoenix by envisioning life cycles that do not end with . . . death. Instead, we utilize vignettes . . . to tell a story of religion, healing, and spirituality as sites of communal resistance.”

The opening provided a reunion for the class, as well as an invitation to have conversations with friends and community members about the issues raised in the artwork and displays.

The exhibition was on display Feb. 22-25.

Panel Addresses “Islamophobia in the Age of Trump”

The Wesleyan Refugee Project hosted a faculty panel on "Islamophobia in the Age of Trump" Dec. 7.

The Wesleyan Refugee Project hosted a panel discussion on “Islamophobia in the Age of Trump” on Dec. 7 in Usdan Univesity Center. Speakers included Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, professor of science in society, director of the Office of Faculty Career Development; Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; and Muslim Chaplain Sami Aziz.

American Political Development Expert Justin Peck Joins Government Department

Justin Peck

Justin Peck, assistant professor of government, joined the faculty in 2017.

In this Q&A, Assistant Professor of Government Justin Peck speaks about his research interests, teaching at Wesleyan and road-tripping across the United States. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)

Q: Professor Peck, what are your primary areas of research?

A: My dissertation attempts to explain when and why post-WWII Congresses enacted legal constraints on executive authority. And that’s now my primary area of research; the second area of my research concerns when and how the Republican Party’s position on civil rights issues has changed since the Civil War.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: I’m working on a book manuscript with a co-author, Jeff Jenkins, who’s at the University of Southern California, and who was my dissertation chair. Right now, we’re looking at every single legislative proposal—succeeded or failed—addressing black civil rights, and how members of the Republican Party in Congress positioned themselves around these bills. What we see after the Civil War is lots of hope, some successes, more failures, but a progressive narrowing of the ambitions and goals of the Republican Party. Eventually—right around the end of the 19th century—they decided to just ignore civil rights. The idea of the research is to tell the political history of black civil rights from the end of the Civil War to present day. We have two books in progress: one stretches from 1861 to 1918, which we call the first Civil Rights era. The other one goes from 1919 to 2016, and that’s the second Civil Rights era.

Col. Cassidy Is Wesleyan’s First Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow

As Wesleyan's inaugural Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow Robert "Bob" Cassidy is actively building relationships and understanding between the U.S. Armed Services and Wesleyan students.

As Wesleyan’s inaugural Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow, Robert “Bob” Cassidy is actively building relationships and understanding between the U.S. Armed Services and Wesleyan students. Cassidy, who joined the U.S. Army in 1981, focuses his teaching, research and scholarship on international security, strategy, irregular war and military culture. His office is located in the Public Affairs Center.

In this Q&A, and in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow Robert “Bob” Cassidy speaks about his military career, thoughts on the Iraq invasion and teaching at Wesleyan. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)

Q: How did you acquire your teaching fellowship at Wesleyan?

A: I received a Retired Officer Teaching Fellowship (ROTF) through the Chamberlain Project, which supports fellowships at some of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions. Fellows are required to work on building relationships and understanding between the U.S. Armed Services and civilian institutions and to contribute to the richness and diversity of students’ educational experiences. We also teach two full-credit courses. This fall and next spring, I am teaching a seminar on Policy and Strategy in War and Peace at the Center for the Study of Public Life.

Q: What material is covered in this course?

A: We explore the meaning of civilian-military relations and how those relations interact with our ability to align policy and strategy. We start with the Vietnam War and cover eight wars through the present. So far this semester, we’ve studied the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the peace operations and combat operations in Somalia, the initial war in Afghanistan, and this week, we cover the bad decisions behind the invasion of Iraq. We will end with a look at where we are now with policy and strategy, and the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere against the likes of the Islamic State.

Rankine Hon. ’17 Addresses First-Year Students on ‘Citizen’

Claudia Rankine Hon. ’17 addressed the Wesleyan Class of 2021 in Memorial Chapel on Sept. 1, discussing her book, Citizen: An American Lyric, as part of Wesleyan’s First Year Matters program.

For this year’s First Year Matters program, incoming new students read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric during the summer before their arrival on campus.

Rankine, a noted poet and author, had been on campus for Commencement 2017, when she received an honorary degree and addressed the graduating class.

On Sept. 1, Rankine was back at Wesleyan to address the Class of 2021, offering insights into the development of the book. She also entered into a discussion with first-year students, taking questions from the audience, who gave her snaps of approval throughout her talk and a standing ovation at the end.

Kevin Butler, assistant dean of students, who spearheaded this year’s program, noted that the selection committee had chosen Citizen for a number of reasons.

“It is extremely powerful and has thought-provoking passages,” he said. “We thought we could engage both the first-year students and the community at large in some really in-depth conversations on microaggressions, equality and fairness.

“There are very few speakers I’ve seen who have the certain style, voice quality and tone that is engaging and comfortable—even when the questions and answers are difficult,” he added.

As Theater Department Chair, Conlin Says Students Leave Strengthened to Generate New Work

Kathleen Conlin, the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater—here, behind the scenes with stage lights—values a rich mix of visiting professionals and continuing faculty, which results in a stimulating “creative collision.”

The Theater Department has begun fall semester with a new chair who combines an impressive list of creative accomplishments with deep and varied experience as an academic administrator.

Kathleen Conlin, Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater, has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. While juggling the varied demands of an academic career, she also served for 22 seasons as associate artistic director and stage director at the Utah Shakespeare Theater.

“I love being around young people who are not narrowly defined and are actively working to discover who they are and who they are in society,” she says. “To be able to do that through an arts lens is spectacular.”

Wesleyan Welcomes 57 New Faculty in 2017-18

Pictured, back row, from left: Saray Shai, Yaniv Feller, Samir Bandaogo, Colin Smith and Tyshawn Sorey. Pictured, front row, from left: Justin Peck, Carlos Jiménez-Hoyos, Valeria López Fadul, Daniel Smyth and Scott Aalgaard.

This year, Wesleyan welcomes 11 new tenure-track faculty, one professor of the practice, and 45 visiting faculty and fellows.

The new junior faculty who start this year include:

Scott W. Aalgaard, assistant professor of East Asian studies
Aalgaard holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Victoria, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, titled “‘Homesick Blues’: Crisis, Critique, and Collectivity in Modern Japanese Cultural Production,” traces critical voices in literature, music, and everyday life in modern and contemporary Japan. His areas of research include critical practice in Japan, contemporary Japanese culture, modern and contemporary Japanese literature and popular music, and theories and histories of fascism.

GLS Professor Belanger P’02 Produces Photographic Study, ‘Rift/Fault’

Photographer and author Marion Belanger P’02 explores geologic boundaries in Rift/Fault.  (Photo by Ann Burke Daly)

Graduate Liberal Studies visiting professor Marion Belanger P’02, is the author of Rift/Fault, a photographic study of the land-based edges of the North American Continental Plate. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 supported a project in the Everglades, where Belanger turned her lens on both the landscape within the national park as well as the suburban development of the swamplands outside the protected area. Now, Rift/Fault continues her interest in natural land formations and boundaries—this one along the San Andreas Fault in California and the Mid-Atlantic Rift in Iceland—and the influence of human society on the earth

Published by Radius Books, and with an essay by art critic and activist Lucy R. Lippard, Rift/Fault is designed to be interactive: Open the cover and two collections of images face each other, each one bound at the top. The photographs labeled “Fault” are on the left; the right side holds “Rift,” with the reader turning each page upwards to view the image that follows. While Belanger paired the photographs on each side to be complementary, she encourages the readers to make their own pairings. The structure of the book conceptually mimics the ever-shifting tectonic plate edges, and “it gives the viewer some agency to figure out how they want to view the book and, by default, how they want to see the landscape. The work itself is a cultural study,” she says.

5 Faculty Appointed to Endowed Professorships

In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1:

Joe Knee, professor of chemistry and dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, is receiving the Beach Professorship of Chemistry, established in 1880.

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, is receiving the Alan M. Dachs Professorship of Science, established in 2011.

Stewart Novick, professor of chemistry, is receiving the Joshua Boger University Professorship of the Sciences and Mathematics, established in 2010.

Christopher Parslow, professor of classical studies, is receiving the Robert Rich Professorship of Latin, established in 1863.

Irina Russu, professor of chemistry, is receiving the E. B. Nye Professorship of Chemistry, established in 1908.

Brief biographies appear below:

Wesleyan Musicians “Come Together” in All-Star Beatles Tribute Band for Third Annual Benefit Concert

An 18-piece all-star band, including five members of the Wesleyan community, will perform the Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety during a benefit concert at Middlesex Community College (MCC) on Saturday, June 24, at 6 p.m. Pictured (l to r): Nancy Brown, Andy Chatfield, Sarah McNamara, Shona Kerr and Peter Standaart.

An 18-piece all-star band, including five members of the Wesleyan community, will perform the Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety during a benefit concert at Middlesex Community College (MCC) on Saturday, June 24, at 6 p.m. The concert is the third annual event held in memory of former Wesleyan Center for the Arts (CFA) intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away in early 2015 at the age of 25.

The first two benefit concerts, held in 2015 and 2016, raised more than $6,400 to establish and fund the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at MCC, Nelson’s alma mater. Each May, the scholarship is awarded to an MCC student with a desire to work as an intern at Wesleyan University in the field of broadcast communications or multimedia.

McAlear Visits Former Students Odede ’09, ’12, and Perel-Slater ’11 at Non-Profits in Africa

Professor Michael McAlear gathers with students at Shining Hope for Community, the nonprofit begun by Jessica ’09 and Kennedy ’12 Odede in Kibera, Africa. 

In 2010 Professor Michael McAlear first gathered with students at Shining Hope for Community, the nonprofit begun by Jessica ’09 and Kennedy ’12 Odede in Kibera, Kenya, offering a lecture on clean water. This year on his visit during spring break, he again gave a lecture to these students, now pre-teens and young teenagers, who filled his Q&A session with their concerns, interest, ideas, and a deep desire to learn.

In March, during Wesleyan’s spring break, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Michael McAlear took a trip to visit and catch up with three alumni whom he’d known when they were undergraduates, just beginning the nonprofits for which they are now known. McAlear doesn’t see them often: they live and work in Africa. All three had received Wesleyan’s Christopher Brodigan Award in their senior year, for research or work in Africa.

Kennedy Odede '12, Mike McAlear and Jessica ’09 Odede.

Pictured from left are Kennedy Odede ’12, Mike McAlear and Jessica Posner Odede ’09.

McAlear’s first stop was in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, and home of SHOFCO, Shining Hope for Community, the nonprofit begun by Jessica ’09 and Kennedy ’12 Odede. Linking education for girls with community services, the organization has grown since McAlear had last visited in 2010 to help set up the school, when it held only two classes of girls ages 6 and 7, and the group was building a clinic was built to honor Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10, the student slain in the spring of 2009. At that time, McAlear offered the young students a lecture on clean water and also became a sponsor for one little girl, a responsibility and relationship that is ongoing,

“I was overwhelmed by the need in Kibera— and the optimism and fearlessness of Kennedy and Jessica; you couldn’t help being swept up by that,” McAlear recalls. “They were so young and naïve that they didn’t know what they couldn’t do—so they just kept on doing things.”