Tag Archive for Michael Roth

Wesleyan in the News

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 participated in a Newsweek podcast debate titled “Is Higher Education Broken?” “I think the idea that only rich people should be able to experience the benefits of learning—whether that’s about math and science, or whether it’s about literature and philosophy—that’s a huge mistake. (Aug. 31)

President Roth also wrote a book review of Allan V. Horowitz’s A History of Psychiatry’s Bible for The Washington Post. “In this history … Horwitz emphasizes the social construction of scientific concepts. This account underscores the economic incentives in play as psychiatrists tried to reach consensus on how to describe specific disorders so that they could treat them—and be paid well to do so.” (Sept. 3)

In The Washington Post, Kyungmi Kim, a cognitive psychologist and assistant professor of psychology, explains why people tend to hold onto material possessions. “Mostly, when people think about the self, the self is residing within the physical boundary of our body,” she said. “However, we also have an ‘extended self’ which includes important people in our lives, plus certain objects that help us ‘define ourselves because they belong to our personal history.'” (Sept. 2)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the much anticipated directorial debut tick, tick…BOOM! by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 is timed to detonate Nov. 10 as the Netflix film opens the 35th edition of AFI Fest at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. Bradley Whitford ’81, Hon. 20, will play the role of Stephen Sondheim. The Emmy-winning actor tells The Hollywood Reporter that he found the obligation of playing a legend like Sondheim “scary” but he found a soft place to land on Miranda’s set. “We had the same wonderful, crazy acting teacher in college,” Whitford said of the late William “Bill” Francisco, professor of theater, emeritus. “Whitford says while there’s a relatively small percentage of the audience that has ever seen Sondheim, those who do know him love and adore him. ‘It’s scary to have that obligation but Lin was there to pull the blood out of me.'” (Sept. 9)

In Wicked Local, Jasmine Fridman ’25 shares her thoughts about working for the Mystic Mural project this summer. Fridman wants to major in environmental science as a result of working on the mural. “We learned a lot about the current effects of climate change on a global level, but also on a local level and on our home,” she said. “Not only did we paint nature, but we also took field trips to learn about the environment — it was very enriching.” (Sept. 2)

Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, was mentioned in The Conversation for writing an article about an eighth-century female Sufi saint, known popularly as Rabia al-Adawiyya. “[She] is said to have walked through her hometown of Basra, in modern-day Iraq, with a lit torch in one hand and a bucket of water in another. When asked why, she replied that she hoped to burn down heaven and douse hell’s fire so people would—without concern for reward or punishment—love God.” (Aug. 30)

In The Connecticut Patch, William Wasch, Sr., ’52, is remembered for his long career with Wesleyan. “In 1964, Bill returned to Wesleyan and began a long career with the university, initially running the annual fund and then becoming Director of Development and Alumni Relations in 1967. While at Wesleyan, he oversaw several large capital campaigns and successfully kept more traditional alumni connected to the university during the very difficult years of campus unrest in the late 60s and early 70s. He retired from Wesleyan in 1985.” (Sept. 1)

 

In Commencement Address, President Roth Expresses Pride in “Courageous” Class of 2021

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Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 made remarks during the 189th Commencement Ceremony on May 26. (Photo by Tom Dzimian)


From an excitement-filled Arrival Day to the unpredictable final three semesters of campus life that unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic, “so much has changed in your lives since you were first introduced to Wesleyan,” President Michael Roth ’78 said in his remarks to the graduating Class of 2021, who sat in front of him on Andrus Field in a socially distanced 189th Commencement.

Besides the obvious impacts of the pandemic, Roth was referring to social and political divisiveness in the country, which has increased in recent years, “exacerbated by” irresponsible media platforms. “Attacks on those considered ‘outsiders’ are a sick symptom of this addiction to outrage,” he said, “but so are the insidious tendencies of many to stop listening to people they deem to be failing some sort of political litmus test.”

Yet, Roth said, “we should take heart from the efforts made by so many across the country, and right here on campus, to rebuild trust, to create caring communities.” Reminding the graduates that “we are counting on you” to take on “new challenges beyond the university,” Roth expressed pride in—and awe for—the Class of 2021.

President Roth, Kolcio Speak at International U.N. Ukraine Roundtable

donbasAssociate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 recently participated in an international virtual roundtable discussion hosted by the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme. The roundtable, titled “Implementing a Somatic Methodology in the Ukrainian Rehabilitation System: Developing Stress Resistance in Ex-combatants, IDPs, and Residents of Eastern Ukraine” was held virtually on April 28.

The purpose of the roundtable was to develop a resolution of joint coordination between the various ministries in Ukraine responsible for the psychological health of veterans.

Kolcio and Roth spoke about the importance of the Vitality Project Donbas, a collaboration between Wesleyan and the NGO Development Foundation which uses innovative, somatic, integrating practices to help people overcome the psychological effects of exhaustion, depression, and social isolation in communities in eastern Ukraine and help military veterans transition to civilian life. Kolcio is the principal U.S. researcher for the project.

Kolcio spoke about civic engagement through somatics, a practice that highlights the connection between the mind and the body.

“Although trauma affects a large number of people around the world, mental health care is inhibited by barriers, including stigma, cost, and education,” Kolcio said. “Somatic methods, which work with the physical manifestations of trauma, address each of these barriers.”

Kolcio explained that somatics combine physiological and physical aspects of health and can be used to treat stress and trauma.

“Supporting and building the psychosocial resilience and integration of those impacted by the current conflict in Ukraine is the most important step towards social and economic stability and security in our future,” Kolcio said. “Investing in people is the number one priority in ensuring our future, which depends on the vitality, engagement, sense of belonging, sense of personal value, and creative energies of each person in public life.”

Roth emphasized the importance of civic engagement in building a better society at the University level and beyond, building context for the work done at Wesleyan and through Vitality Project Donbas.

“Universities can only prosper, inquiry and education can only thrive, when the civic environment around the university is healthy,” Roth said. “And so we, at Wesleyan University … are dedicated to creating strong relationships with civic organizations to foster engagement with public life to improve the community in which we live, and thereby improving our own University’s practices.”

Roth also stressed the importance of somatics in civic engagement and overall well-being.

“Somatics is an approach that fosters resilience, engagement, critical thinking, and creativity by focusing on the integration of mind and body,” Roth said.

Kolcio led the virtual audience in a breathing exercise to release stress and build feelings of security, demonstrating the efficacy of somatic practices, explaining how the analysis of somatic methods will advance the project.

The work carried out in Vitality Project Donbas will contribute to worldwide advances in mental health and to the Donbas community in Ukraine.

To watch the full roundtable, click here.

Roth to Speak During Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Luncheon

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 will be the featured speaker during the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business and Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Luncheon.

President Roth will speak from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27 via Zoom. The talk, which will focus on Wesleyan’s pandemic response, is open to the public.

To join the meeting, log into:

https://zoom.us/j/99052690757
(Webinar ID: 990 5269 0757)

Roth Talk

Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have been featured in national media outlets recently. They include:

The New York TimesChristina Crosby, 67, Dies; Feminist Scholar Wrote of Becoming Disabled

NBC News—Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel [’93] as Acting FCC Chief

NBC Think—Trump’s ‘1776 Commission’ Tried to Rewrite U.S. History. Biden Had Other Ideas.; by Robyn Autry

Inside Higher Ed—Everything Won’t Be Different; by Michael Roth ’78

NPR’s Short Wave—Let’s Go Back to Venus!; features Martha Gilmore

MyRecordJournal.com—WRESTLING: Paint It, Black! Wesleyan Coach Drew Black of Cheshire Tabbed for National Hall of Fame

The New York Times Magazine—Poem: Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop; poem by John Murillo (PDF attached)

Thrive Global—What We Learned From Teaching a “Living a Good Life” Course During the Pandemic; by Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani

The Washington Post—Germany Looks Ahead to Life Without Merkel. But the Leadership Race is Leaving Voters Cold.; quotes Sarah Wiliarty

Forbes—Meet Joe Biden’s Science Team; Narda Jones ’91 will serve as Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy legislative affairs director

EXBulletin—Starting From the First Take, She’s Leading New Developments for ESPN Podcasts in 2021; Kimberley Martin ’03

The Bitter SouthernerMarion Brown’s [MA ’76] Musical Portrait of Georgia

Patch—America’s Coach Declares Distance Running is About to Boom; features Jeff Galloway ’67

The Atlantic—What the Chaos in Hospitals is Doing to Doctors; features Joseph Fins ’82, MD

The Wall Street Journal—Covid is Reshaping Death. And Maybe Life.; by Katy Butler ’71

Washingtonian—Meet Our 2020 Washingtonians of the Year; includes Alan Miller ’76

The Middletown Press—Have You Heard ‘Little Dark Age’ on TikTok? Did You Know the Band Behind It Has Ties to Connecticut?; features MGMT (Ben Goldwasser ’05 and Andrew VanWyngarden ’05)

President Roth on the New Year, New Semester

keep wes safeWesleyan’s 2021 spring semester is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 9, with university housing opening Friday, Feb. 5. All incoming students will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and be tested for COVID-19 on campus.

Classes will take place online only for the first two weeks.

“Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a Jan. 20 post. “Of course, we will have to be vigilant about contagion throughout the semester. The vaccine rollout is making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Wesleyan Joins Amicus Brief in Support of International Students with F-1 Visas

Wesleyan University recently joined with 58 of our peer colleges and universities in filing an amicus brief to halt the implementation of the July 6 directive by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding international student enrollment for the fall of 2020. The brief is in support of the petition filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week that seeks to enjoin DHS/ICE from implementing a rule that would deny visas and deport international students whose campuses are unable to resume in-person courses in the fall due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

“While colleges and universities are working tirelessly to make plans to ensure our students can continue their educations, we are now being asked to contend with this illogical and draconian regulation,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “Rather than focusing on being productive partners in helping to ensure the safety of our communities and the country, the administration has resorted to cruel actions that continue the Trump Administration’s three years of open demonization of immigrants that undermines the security of many who are temporarily in the United States to work or study. From threats of deportation to the “Muslim Ban” and fulminations on the “Chinese virus,” the Trump administration has stoked hostility to foreigners—or at least to foreigners it paints as undesirable.

“The latest proposal does nothing with regards to stemming the seemingly unchecked spread of COVID-19 throughout our country; in fact it just adds yet another unnecessary hurdle to making decisions and plans that will allow colleges and universities to identify the safest ways of returning and providing instruction this fall,” added Roth.

The amicus brief filed in United States District Court in Massachusetts included such diverse colleges and universities as Yale University, Stanford, Amherst College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Smith College.

For more information contact Deborah (Deb) Katz at Dkatz02@wesleyan.edu or 860-919-7261.

Wesleyan Releases Detailed Plans for Campus Reactivation

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Following a March move to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesleyan has released a detailed set of plans and launched a new Reactivating Campus website, which will serve as a key information hub for the campus community, as the University prepares to reopen to in-person instruction for the 2020 fall semester.

Wesleyan announced in mid-June that it intended to resume in-person classes on Aug. 31, pending the ongoing recommendations of University, state, and federal health and safety experts. With a promising current public health trajectory in Connecticut and in Middletown, the University’s pandemic planning group is continuing to refine plans for the coming semester and guiding Wesleyan through a series of gating checkpoints in accordance with state guidelines.

Building an Antiracist Community

President Michael S. Roth and Vice President for Equity & Inclusion Alison Williams sent the following messages to the campus community on June 24, 2020:

To the Wesleyan community:

The virulent and deeply entrenched racism in American society is antithetical to the mission of Wesleyan University, and we pledge to redouble our efforts to combat that racism – on campus and beyond.

In thinking about how best to do this, we recently conducted a public conversation that included a panel of distinguished alumni with important experience in this area. The panel challenged the University to examine the barriers that prevent people of color on our campus from truly thriving and to think more critically about how we empower our students to become change agents – with respect to themselves as well as others. Many of us, especially if we belong to the cultural majority, have never had to think hard about race and are uncomfortable even talking about it, especially with people whose racial identities are different from our own. This can change. We can and must educate ourselves.

Human Resources (HR) is conducting interviews of departing faculty and staff to find out where we are falling short in creating an inclusive community. We are also interviewing African-American students to follow up on survey results that show that they feel less included as members of the Wesleyan community.

In order to create space for open and honest dialogue, the Office for Equity and Inclusion (OEI) and HR will be sponsoring workshops for supervisors on how to talk about race and racism.  Many on campus have already taken advantage of OEI resources to examine their own roles and positionality, and a number have explored their own implicit biases by taking the Implicit Bias Test.  Later this summer we will implement reading groups on antiracism for all who are interested.  The goal is to help participants understand how to combat racist behaviors – be they their own or those of colleagues.

Academic Affairs, in partnership with the OEI, is implementing new procedures for faculty searches to increase the diversity of both the applicant pool and finalists for positions – and to minimize bias in the vetting of candidates.  Departments, programs and offices across campus are working towards being more inclusive and antiracist; Cabinet members have already committed themselves to a process of self-reflection, study and action. Scores of STEM faculty, staff and students met recently to discuss the impact of race in their fields and how to better support one another in ways that are meaningful and sustaining. The Student-Athletes of Color Leadership Council has been in conversation with the coaches and administrators of the Athletic Department and has proposed a number of actions to make that department more inclusive. Students are planning several events including student forums in June and an action to support Black Lives Matter during the first week of classes in the fall.  Finally, the OEI will soon revitalize its Advisory board, offer intensive workshops to those who would like to become equity advocates, and launch a new web page with resources for those who want to do more to help Wesleyan become as inclusive as possible.

We have much work to do and the energy and will to do it. More announcements are forthcoming about further steps we’ll be taking to truly build, in the words of our mission statement, “a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit.”

Michael S. Roth
President

Alison Williams
Vice President for Equity & Inclusion/Title IX Officer

Wesleyan Announces Initial Plans to Reactivate Campus in the Fall

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Wesleyan President Michael Roth announced that in-person classes will resume for the fall 2020 semester.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 announced in an all-campus message on Monday, June 15, that the University plans to resume in-person classes in the fall, pending the ongoing recommendations of University, state, and federal health and safety experts.

“Given the current public health trajectory for Connecticut, we are hoping to welcome most students, faculty, and staff back to Middletown in safe conditions in late August,” President Roth wrote. “One thing we are certain about: it will be good to be together again—safely—on campus.”

Roth noted that the coming semester will look different than those of the past because of the additional safety measures and adjustments to campus and curricular offerings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University has convened a contingency planning workgroup, which has proposed that 2020 fall semester classes begin on campus August 31 (one week earlier than initially scheduled), with the possibility of finishing online after Thanksgiving, allowing for more time on campus during the warmer months of the year. Food services and residence halls will be organized with safety in mind, as will classrooms and co-curricular activities, and the University does expect to offer athletes on-campus programs; it will, however, limit visitors to and excursions from campus to reduce the possible spread of any illness. Distance- and hybrid-learning options will be made available to those students unable to return to campus.

Alumni of Color Help Wesleyan Plot a Path ‘Toward an Anti-Racist Community’

The recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed while being forcibly detained by police, has ignited the United States and brought issues of inequality and violence against black people to the forefront of the national consciousness.

Alison Williams ’81, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer, and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, June 11, titled “Toward an Anti-Racist Community,” featuring six alumni of color who discussed how to move beyond the pain and trauma of the current cultural moment toward constructive action.

“What I hope is that this will be the beginning of many conversations that lead to transformation both at Wesleyan and beyond,” Williams said. “This requires that we first take a look at our own attitudes and biases and do some personal work. . . . Until we do the personal work, any structural or institutional changes that we implement will be meaningless.”

“We feel confused, angry,” President Roth said during his panel introduction. “Sometimes energized, sometimes full of despair. When I have that mixture of feelings, I turn to friends and colleagues . . . I want to listen.”