Tag Archive for Michael Roth

Wesleyan in the News

NewsIn this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. The New York Times Magazine: I’m 20. I Have 32 Half Siblings. This Is My Family Portrait.

Eli Baden-Lasar ’22 always knew he was conceived using a sperm donor, but he didn’t discover he had half siblings until he was 19. He went out searching for them and found more than 30 young men and women around the country. In this photo essay, he writes about the experience of meeting his half siblings. Photo portraits he took of each of them are featured along with their quotes about meeting blood relatives they hadn’t previously known existed.

2. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): Geologist Embarks on 60-Day Voyage to Study Past Climates

Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Suzanne O’Connell is featured in this blog post. She has studied paleoceanography for more than 30 years and recently sailed to the Subantarctic Ocean just north of the Antarctic Circle to drill for and study ocean sediment samples on the JOIDES Resolution research vessel. She talks about dodging icebergs, and how she hopes the data she helped collect will be useful for climate modelers working to figure out how fast the ice will melt in the future.

Roth Speaks on Panel about Campus Speech

President Michael Roth '78 participated in a panel discussion titled, “Protesting the Podium: Campus Disinvitations” at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

President Michael Roth ’78 participated in a panel discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

On June 18, President Michael Roth ’78 participated in a panel discussion titled, “Protesting the Podium: Campus Disinvitations” at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He spoke alongside three individuals who were involved in higher education disinvitation incidents—former U.S. senator Bob Kerrey, Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield, and Middlebury professor Matthew J. Dickinson—in a wide-ranging discussion that covered such high-profile disinvitations, as well as broader questions of free speech, inclusion, and safe spaces on campuses. Roth’s latest book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, due out from Yale University Press in August, focuses on these issues facing colleges today.

In his remarks, Roth pointed out that despite the dominant narrative in the media, college students today have a higher devotion to the concept of free speech than older generations, according to some measures. However, he said, “Our students are very suspicious of the use of free speech to advance particular political agendas. And when they hear that there’s a ‘wrong’ kind of free speech and a ‘right’ kind of free speech, and the right kind of free speech sounds a lot like civility as practiced by a certain kind of person with a certain social class and standing, they’re even more suspicious.”

President Roth Makes Remarks at 2019 Commencement

President's Remarks

President Michael Roth ’78 delivered remarks during Wesleyan’s 187th Commencement ceremony on May 26.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 made the following remarks (as prepared) during the 187th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 26:

Members of the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty Class of 2019, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this Commencement.

I’d like to ask those graduating today to remember the months before you left for college. Do you recall the excitement, nervousness, and anticipation you felt when you first arrived on campus? Meeting your roommates for the first time, getting your first pail from WesWings, discovering that watching volleyball can be terrifically exciting? As your Wesleyan adventure was beginning and your life was changing, the political life of this nation was also changing, though not for the better. Would-be leaders were abandoning the debate of issues in favor of nastiness and name calling, as they tried to figure out how to energize the base of their respective constituencies. The search for coherent policies, for value-driven strategies, or for pragmatic solutions took a back seat to intemperate appeals to racism, class resentment, divisiveness, and greed. Now, in 2019, the goal of mobilizing supporters with rage has been cemented into our national political culture. That’s the culture you now graduate into; that’s the culture we need your help fixing. The post-fascists tell us inquiry and persuasion no longer matter; we need your help in proving them wrong; we need your help in overcoming their corrosive, corrupt, and cynical point of view.

And with what you have learned here and skills you have gained, you CAN help. Some of you have studied government, others economics, while still others have taken a humanistic approach to comprehending how power, justice, and opportunity might be distributed more fairly, even more compassionately. Data analysts, like those who have worked with the Wesleyan Media Project, have illuminated the ways political communication is influenced by funding and by diverse technological platforms. Ethnographers, like those who have worked with our activist Anthropology faculty, have learned how to listen to and tell the stories of those most affected by policies otherwise made without their input. There is also a more general frame of mind cultivated at Wesleyan that is crucial to political life: and that is the openness to being persuaded to change one’s mind—to seek out those from whom you can gain new perspectives and ideas precisely because they don’t share your point of view. A campus is the place to have one’s ways of thinking tested—not just protected. If we are to repair our public life, we must develop habits of mind and spirit that allow us not just to celebrate diversity, but to learn from difference.

One of the reasons I love being president of our school is that I learn so much from the enthusiasms, the convictions, and the reasoned arguments of our students. Over the last four years, I have been energized by the hard work of activists aiming to eradicate the persistent poison of sexual violence, and I have been schooled by students who have faced up to the immense challenges of combating climate change, or who struggle against economic inequality. Students of faith have shown me how religious practice and rigorous inquiry can be combined, and conservative students have taught me to be mindful that even well-intentioned policies can undermine our freedoms. There have been many times when our campus community seems to come together in recognition of unjust situations that need fixing, but it has also been clear that there can be plenty of disagreement about what would constitute effective solutions that don’t themselves create even graver injustices. On our best days, we are able to explore our differences without fear; on our best days, we are able to work toward positive change with courage.

Now, as you take on new challenges beyond the University, we are counting on you. We are counting on you to reject the dismissal of norms for telling the truth and the labeling of anything one doesn’t like as “Fake” or as “Inappropriate.” We are counting on you to protect the freedom to think for oneself and to speak one’s mind, especially in situations where people disagree. We are counting on you to show others the power of listening to those with whom you have conflicts. We are counting on you to move beyond accumulating online followers to earning the respect of strangers—turning them into neighbors, teammates, friends who can work together.

Over these four years, I have gotten to know many of you in my classes, in student government, and even in demonstrations. In your courageous company I feel we may well be able to reject the cynical status quo that mobilizes rage, that we may be able to build a politics and a culture of compassionate solidarity rather than of fear and divisiveness.

Generations of Wesleyan alumni have benefited from this campus culture characterized by brave, practical idealism. As I say each year, we Wesleyans have used our education for the ‘good of the world,’ lest the future be shaped by those for whom justice and change, generosity and equality, diversity and tolerance, are much too threatening. Now we alumni are counting on you, Class of 2019, to join us in helping to shape our culture, so that it will not be shaped by the forces of violence, conformity, and elitism.

We are counting on you because we have already seen what you are capable of when you have the freedom and the tools, the mentors and the friendships, the insight and the affection to go beyond what others have defined as your limits. We know that in the years ahead you will explore unfamiliar realms and see possibilities that others might not. We know that you will find new ways to make connections across cultural borders—new ways to build community. When this happens, you will feel the power and promise of your education. And we, your Wesleyan family, we will be proud of how you keep your education alive by making it effective in the world.

It’s been nearly four years since we unloaded cars together at the base of Foss Hill, four years since parents shed (or maybe hid) a tear as they left you here “on your own.” It seems like such a short time ago. Now it’s you who are leaving us, but do remember that no matter how “on your own” you feel yourselves to be “out there,” you will always be members of the Wesleyan family. Wherever your exciting pursuits take you, please come home to alma mater often to share your news, your memories, and your dreams. Thank you and good luck!

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. Inside Higher Ed: “The Need for a Recovery of the Humanities”

In this essay, President Michael S. Roth responds to the “flood of negativity” in public discourse about higher education, in general, and the humanities, in particular. He suggests that “in order to recover the trust of students and their families, we must overcome our cultivated insularity.”

2. NBC News: “Carbon Dioxide Hits a Level Not Seen for 3 Million Years. Here’s What That Means for Climate Change — And Humanity.”

Dana Royer, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, comments on new evidence that the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has climbed to a level last seen more than 3 million years ago. According to the article, shorter term impacts include loss of vegetation and sea-ice coverage, while other things, like the melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, will occur more slowly. “But these impacts are going to persist for a very long time,” said Royer. “Once that happens, we can’t really reverse it.”

Consul General of India Donates “India Corner” Collection to Wesleyan

India

Pictured from left, Joyce Jacobsen, Ishita Mukerji, Andrew White, Consul Sandeep Chakravorty, Michael S. Roth, Swapnil Rai, Balu Balasubrahmaniyan, Steve Angle, and Consul Vipulkumar Mesariya gather at the new “India Corner” in the Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room.

Wesleyan’s Olin Library is now home to a collection of 33 titles donated by the Consulate General of India, New York.

On May 1, Consul Sandeep Chakravorty visited campus and participated in a formal dedication of the “India Corner.”

Housed in the Smith Reading Room, these volumes, representing India’s rich history and culture, and covering the country’s linguistic and geographical diversity, join the library’s other robust holdings in Indian history, culture, and politics as well as Wesleyan’s rich heritage in Indian music, dance, and theater.

Among the donations are Introduction to the Constitution of India by Durga Das Basu; Sufi Lyrics by Bulleh Shah, India: The Emerging Giant by Arvind Panagariya, Contemporary Dogri Short Stories by Ved Rahi, and Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore. All are cataloged and available for checking out at Olin.

Wesleyan is the fifth U.S. university to be gifted such a book collection; the University of Buffalo, the University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Rutgers each have their own “India Corner” at their libraries.

Several Wesleyan faculty and staff attended the "India Corner" dedication ceremony on May 1.

Several Wesleyan faculty and staff attended the “India Corner” dedication ceremony on May 1.

“We’re looking at colleges and universities like [Wesleyan] that are blossoming in their connection to India,” Consul Chakravorty said. “The collection is interesting and represented the diversity of India, from the north, south, east, and west, and some are in Hindi, and other languages.”

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

1. The Middletown Press“Wesleyan Students Helping Former Prisoners to Gain Job Skills”

Wesleyan Students for Ending Mass Incarceration (SEMI) is a group of students working to help formerly incarcerated individuals acclimate back into society by providing them with job skills. The goal, according to member Asiyah Herrero ’22, is “making re-entry into the workforce a little bit easier. There are usually a lack of resources when people get out of prison, and starting to look for work, especially because there are a lot of jobs that do discriminate or have discriminatory ideas about people who have been in prison.”

“You Just Have to Read This…” 3 Books By Wesleyan Authors

In the first of a continuing series, Sara McCrea ’21, a College of Letters major from Boulder, Colo., reviews alumni books and offers this selection for those in search of insight and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

In 2004, Susan Lanzoni ’85 read an O Magazine interview of then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, in which he said that, more than America’s budget or trade deficit, he was concerned about an “empathy deficit” in our country. The use of the word “empathy” has only increased over the past 15 years, and many would say for good reason. In Empathy: A History (Yale University Press, 2018), Lanzoni explores empathy as a tool, a technique, a practice, and an aspiration, involving the body, the mind, and the imagination. She tracks the word from its early conception as a translation of the German word Einfühlung (“in-feeling”)—a psychological term used to describe how spectators projected their own feelings into objects of art and nature—to its current usage, which more closely resembles the opposite of projection. In addition to her discussion of the etymology of empathy, Lanzoni investigates the limits and possibilities of empathy in art, science, psychology, popular culture, and politics to present an all-encompassing look at the evolution of how we understand what it means to place ourselves in the world around us.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Forbes: “Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the Beginning of Your Career”

Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon Career Center, offers career advice for young people just starting out.

2. The Times Literary Supplement: “Multiple Lives”

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian studies, explores the “complicated existence” of Mahatma Gandhi.

3. The Washington Post: “The Delight of Being Inconspicuous in a World That’s Always Watching Us”

President Michael Roth reviews a new book, How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, by Akiko Busch.

President Roth Hosts Brunch in Conjunction with Art Miami

As part of Art Miami‘s 29th annual art week held Dec. 4-9 in Miami, Fla., several alumni, parents, and friends attended a brunch with Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. The brunch included a general day pass to view three fairs at Art Miami, CONTEXT Art Miami, and AQUA Art Miami.

Former Wesleyan Trustee Alberto Ibarguen ’66, P’97, Hon.’11 introduced President Roth at the brunch. Ibarguen is president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami.

View photos of the event below and in this Wesleyan Flickr album. (Photos by Leo Photographer, Miami)

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

1. Inside Higher Ed: “Voting Is Good, but Higher Ed Must Do More”

In this op-ed, President Michael S. Roth writes: “In a year when inducements to political violence have become normalized at the highest level, colleges and universities must do more than just encourage our students to vote.” It is crucial that colleges actively work to protect free expression, free inquiry, and fact-based discussion, Roth argues.

President Roth, Renowned Indian Education Counselor Discuss Value of Liberal Education in Mumbai

Michael Roth and Viral Doshi spoke about the value of liberal arts education at an event in Mumbai, Oct. 22.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Viral Doshi spoke about the value of liberal arts education at an event in Mumbai, Oct. 22.

On Oct. 22, President Michael Roth held a public discussion in Mumbai, India, with leading education and career counselor Viral Doshi on the value of pursuing a liberal arts education. Nearly 90 people, including many alumni, parents, prospective students, and high school counselors, were in attendance.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of students from India are choosing to pursue higher education in the United States. Wesleyan has seen applications from India increase by 70 percent over the past 5 years.

At the event, Roth spoke about the educational experience offered by Wesleyan, while Doshi shared his perspective on and insights into current trends in higher education. He is the founder of Viral Doshi Associates, which provides students and young adults with services ranging from psychometric testing and mentoring to career and college planning.

“I am delighted to return to India to discuss the importance of liberal arts education in today’s culture and economy,” Roth said. “Wesleyan University has long had deep connections with India, and today our students who come from this country are contributing greatly to our dynamic campus. Now more than ever, a creative, bold, and rigorous liberal education equips our graduates for lifelong learning and productive careers.”

Inaugural Liberal Arts + Forum in Shanghai Focused on Film Education, Collaborations

President Michael Roth moderated a discussion with alumni in the entertainment field, from left, Jon Turteltaub '85, Julia Zhu '91, and Jon Hoeber '93, on "practical idealism in action" at the inaugural Liberal Arts + forum in Shanghai on Oct. 20.

President Michael Roth moderated a discussion with alumni in the entertainment field—from left, Jon Turteltaub ’85, Julia Zhu ’91, and Jon Hoeber ’93—on “practical idealism in action” at the inaugural Liberal Arts + forum in Shanghai on Oct. 20.

On Oct. 20, Wesleyan held its inaugural Liberal Arts + forum in Shanghai, China. This year, the forum focused on film education and U.S.-China film collaborations, and featured discussions between three alumni in the entertainment industry; President Michael Roth; and Scott Higgins, director of the College of Film and the Moving Image. Each year, the forum will highlight a different area of liberal arts education for an audience of prospective families, alumni, and the general public in China.

The centerpiece of this public event, which was attended by approximately 80 people, was a panel discussion featuring Jon Hoeber ’93 and Jon Turteltaub ’85, screenwriter and director of the summer blockbuster, The Meg, as well as Julia Zhu ’91, a media and entertainment expert and entrepreneur and CEO of Phoenix TV Culture and Live Entertainment Company. Roth moderated the discussion, titled, “Practical Idealism in Action,” in which the three alumni described how their liberal arts educations prepared them for successful careers in the entertainment industry.

The three later shared insights into the future of film collaborations between the U.S. and China, in a conversation moderated by Higgins, who is also the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, chair of Film Studies, and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives.

Higgins also offered a simulated film studies class for prospective students and others in the audience—bringing the Wesleyan liberal arts film education experience to Shanghai.

Higgins said of the Forum: “I learned a lot about how the Chinese and American media industries are interacting, and renewed my long-time interest in Chinese cinema. I also met with a few recent graduates who are now making commercials and short films in the country, and was introduced to a whole new generation who are just now applying to Wesleyan. It was touching to be so far away from Middletown and yet feel connected to our ever-growing community.”

Watch a video (created by Chengjun Huang) of the forum highlights below:


Additional photos (taken by Weiji Sun) of the forum are below:

Front row, from left, Julia Zhu, Scott Higgins, and Michael Roth.

Front row, from left, Julia Zhu ’91, Scott Higgins, and President Michael Roth.