Tag Archive for Michael Roth

Veritas Forum to Explore Religious Liberty Issues in American Society

On March 1, Wesleyan will host the Veritas Forum featuring a discussion between Michael Wear, previously Faith Outreach Director of the Obama Administration, and President Michael Roth. Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad will moderate. The event, titled, “The Trouble with Freedom: A Dialogue on Freedom in 21st Century America from a Religious and Secular Perspective,” will take place at 7–8:30 p.m. in Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center. It is free and open to the public.

The forum will explore the political, social, cultural, and religious implications of religious liberty. The presenters will share their past experiences and worldviews on religious liberty on college campuses and beyond.

“Having rich, deep, and meaningful dialogue is increasingly difficult in this polarized world, and I am looking forward to this event that brings together thoughtful, committed individuals who are willing to respectfully engage with one another publicly on topics that are complex and personal,” said University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska. “I am proud of my students for the phenomenal effort they have put into this program and their continued commitment to learning and dialogue.”

Wear is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert and strategist at the intersection of faith, politics, and American public life. He directed faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and was one of the youngest White House staffers in American history, leading evangelical outreach and helping manage the White House’s engagement on religious and values issues. Today, Public Square Strategies LLC is a firm that helps religious and political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape. Wear is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, and frequently writes articles for The Atlantic, USA Today, Christianity Today, and other publications.

Alumni, Friends Gather with President Roth in Honolulu, Denver

More than 30 alumni, students and friends gathered in Honolulu, Hawaii for a presidential reception with Wesleyan President Michael Roth. After being welcomed with a Hawaiian lei, President Roth gave a spirited update about Wesleyan and answered questions about the intensity of being a student and how Wesleyan is nurturing diversity through the Posse Scholars and by inviting other professors of the practice to campus.

More than 30 alumni, students and friends recently gathered in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Jan. 17 for a presidential reception with Wesleyan President Michael Roth. After being welcomed with a Hawaiian lei, President Roth gave a spirited update about Wesleyan and answered questions about the intensity of being a student and how Wesleyan is nurturing diversity through the Posse Veteran Scholars Program and by inviting professors of the practice to campus. The event took place at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.

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. President Michael Roth publishes op-eds in The Washington Post titled, “We can’t let cynics ruin college,” and “What is college for? (Hint: It’s not just about getting in.).” He also sat for an “On Leadership” interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. The Conversation: “The dangerous belief that white people are under attack”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins writes about her research on perceptions of reverse discrimination in light of recent societal trends.

3. Marketplace: “Here comes the tax bill marketing”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, is interviewed about the proliferation of advertising campaigns focused on the federal tax reform law after its passage.

4. Hartford Courant: “President Trump Takes Page from P.T. Barnum’s Book”

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, writes about the legacy of circus creator Phineas T. Barnum in connection with the recent release of the film about his life. Tucker is also associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of science in society.

5. Association for Psychological Science: “Playing to Chronotype”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Royette Tavernier is interviewed about her research on the topic of sleep.

Recent Alumni News
1. TheNetworkJournal.com: Majora Carter [’88, Hon. ’13]: Social Entrepreneur

This profile of the founder of Sustainable South Bronx details her newest venture, StartUp Box #SouthBronx, “a tech social enterprise designed to help residents of low-income communities participate in the tech economy.”

2. SFGate.com: 5 Lessons You Can Learn from Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John [’99] [Also: Entrepreneur.com, RealwiseRealestate.com, Uncova]

Saint John offers common sense and inspirational keys that she says have helped her in business and in her personal life.

3. BroadwayWorld.com: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Will Honor Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02] with Monte Cristo Award! [Also:TheHollywoodTimes.net, CTNow.com]

4. Jewish Journal: Hello, Beanie: Feldstein [’15] Having a Moment With ‘Dolly’ and ‘Lady Bird’

In this profile, Feldstein discusses her roles in two award-winning productions, one on Broadway, one on screen and now in theaters. She tells writer Ryan Torok, “I loved Lady Bird so much because it [drew on] a much more vulnerable side of me than I was asked to bring forward [previously]. I was so nervous and excited to tap into that side of myself, after doing things more strictly comedic.”

5. TalkingBizNews.com: Reuters Names Five Global Industry Editors; including Jonathan Weber ’82

Weber, now based in Singapore, was previously West Coast bureau chief and later named technology editor. Reuters credits him for their “strong coverage of cybersecurity,” which “helped build the U.S. tech team into a competitive force.”

6. BostonGlobe.com: Lisa Chedekel [’82], 57, an Esteemed, Intrepid Journalist [Also: Courant.com]

After Chedekel’s death on Jan. 12, 2018, Vinny Vella of the Hartford Courant wrote of her career: “Chedekel had been a member of a team of Courant reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the deadly shooting rampage at the Connecticut Lottery Corp. . . . ‘Lisa was a fearless reporter and elegant writer,’ said John Ferraro, a Courant editor who worked closely with Chedekel. ‘She searched for truth wherever it led. She was an advocate for the powerless and a thorn in the side of the powerful.’”

 

Roth Sees Growing Appreciation for Liberal Education in China

President Michael Roth recently returned from a trip to China and South Korea for a round of receptions, lectures, media interviews and visits with alumni. The trip provided an opportunity to both enhance Wesleyan’s visibility in these countries and to discuss the value of liberal learning, Wesleyan style.

In Shanghai, Roth met with business leaders to discuss liberal education’s role in preparing students for productive careers, and then spoke at a reception and book launch for the new Chinese edition of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. The reception was attended by more than 130 current parents, prospective students and press, and demand for the book outpaced supply.

Roth lectured at Shanghai International Studies University, an event attended by about 200 students, and at Peking University, where he also met with officials to discuss partnership activities such as faculty exchanges and summer student exchanges. He completed his stay in Beijing with a presidential reception, where he spoke to alumni, parents and prospective students about what students should get out of college.

“In China, I’ve found a deep and growing appreciation for liberal education,” Roth said. “Students posed many thoughtful questions that led to interesting exchanges. I’ve come away more convinced than ever that Wesleyan has much to offer Chinese students and that there are opportunities to develop some very beneficial partnerships.”

The trip concluded in Seoul with a reception and remarks, including the opportunity to meet with several South Korean alumni who have encouraged interest in Wesleyan among prospective students and college counselors.

Roth Argues Colleges Must Not Turn Back the Clock on Efforts to Combat Sexual Assault

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael S. Roth

In response to recent signals from the Trump administration that it plans to re-visit enforcement of Title IX on college campuses, President Michael S. Roth writes in The Washington Post to reaffirm Wesleyan’s commitment to support and protect the rights of survivors of sexual violence while also protecting the presumption of innocence and due process of the accused.

Roth writes: “At my university, we regularly review procedures to ensure that adjudication is supportive of those who come forward with reports of being attacked, and that the process is fair in assigning any responsibility to a particular individual. We will pay close attention to the reports filed with the Department of Education in the coming weeks, and we hope to learn from them.”

President Roth Writes a Strong Defense of Affirmative Action

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael S. Roth

In light of news that the Justice Department will investigate college affirmative action, President Michael S. Roth writes in Inside Higher Ed to urge resistance to efforts to restrict affirmative action.

“Ever since the founding of this country, we have recognized that education is indispensable to our vision of a democratic society. All men may be created equal in the abstract, but education provides people concrete opportunities to overcome real circumstances of poverty or oppression,” he writes. “Promoting access to a high-quality education has been key to turning American rhetoric of equality into genuine opportunity. And throughout our history, elites threatened by equality, or just by social mobility, have joined together to block access for groups striving to improve their prospects in life.”

President Roth Examines Campus Intellectual Diversity in an Age of Polarization

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael S. Roth

Writing in Inside Higher EdPresident Michael S. Roth responds to a recent Pew Research Center survey showing a sharp partisan divide in how Americans view higher education. While 58 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents say colleges are having a negative impact on “the way things are going in the country,” 72 percent of Democrats and left-leaning independents see colleges as positive.

President Roth Makes Remarks at 2017 Commencement


Wesleyan President Michael Roth '78. (Photo by Will Barr '18)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. (Photo by Will Barr ’18)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 made the following remarks during the 185th commencement ceremony on May 28:

Members of the board of trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty class of 2017, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.

In the fall of 2013, the political situation in this country was frustrating as you began your Wesleyan careers. Washington politics were not plagued by the scandal, impetuousness and sleaze we see today, but instead presented a spectacle of stasis—with threats of government shutdowns and cynical declarations of pride in the agenda of doing nothing. Stasis and inertia, these are surely the enemies of liberal education. I trust you have found at Wesleyan opportunities for journey and discovery, even if it hasn’t always been clear where you were headed. I hope that over the course of your time here you have felt empowered, your capacity to make a positive contribution to the world around you has increased. This is in line with the oft quoted statement of the founding president of our university, Willbur Fisk. Your education should be for your own good as individuals and for the good of the world.

This notion of the “good of the world,” is, I think, what many students at Wesleyan mean when they call for social justice. Over the last four years, this call has reverberated around campus in demands to eliminate institutional racism and in calls to eradicate the persistent poison of sexual violence. But as we have struggled with the subtler aspects of discrimination and power dynamics, it has often become clear that not everyone has the same view as to what constitutes justice, social or otherwise. This should lead us to recognize that political engagement and community participation must include discussions in which we can explore our differences without fear. A university is the place to have one’s ideas and one’s ways of thinking tested—and not just protected.

But political and social engagement are not just about testing ideas, they are constituted by actions in concert with others. The student culture you have created here at Wesleyan has fostered responsible and generous contributions to making the world around us more equitable and less oppressive. The plight of refugees has been one of the defining issues of our time, and a number of you gave your time and labor to ease their suffering—helping those in camps in the Middle East and smoothing the way for refugee families settling here in the United States. Many of you have worked in the community—tutoring at Traverse Square or the McDonough Elementary School, reaching out to the incarcerated through the Center for Prison Education, seeking to improve health care and food security for Middletown’s most vulnerable. Your efforts inspire others to do more to create opportunity and reduce suffering.

At a time when nihilism is cloaked in intellectual sophistication, and when many are tempted to retreat from the corruption of the public sphere, your cohort at Wesleyan has made a point to stay engaged. You reject retreat by working with environmental groups, from Long Lane Farm to international organizations combating climate change. You reject retreat by standing together to end mass incarceration, or by building solidarity with those marginalized by the dominant culture. You reject retreat by standing by your principles and standing with those desperate for allies.

At Wesleyan, your commitment to see those around you fulfill their potential has been inspirational. This commitment can be found all around the campus: in concert halls, in science labs, on stages or on the playing field. Your commitment to one another has strengthened our campus community; it is a promise that the work we do at this university will be relevant beyond its borders.

I am proud to be here on the podium with our honorary doctorate recipients: a scientist, an activist, a poet. All have found what they love to do, gotten very, very good at it, and found powerful ways to share what they do with others. Some of you may recognize in these phrases the three things that I like to talk about as essential to liberal education. All the same, as Wesleyan’s President Victor Butterfield put it in his final Commencement Address 50 years ago, “whatever the President might say about liberal education in community discussion, or in the college catalog, or in his speeches, he could not really define that education or affect it where it counts; that is, in hearts and minds of students. {Liberal Education} is defined and takes effect from what and how teachers teach, how both they and their students think, how they both listen and read, what they both ask, and by how vitally and imaginatively they respond to each other.” As in Butterfield’s day, this university takes enormous pride in the vital and imaginative responsiveness of its teachers and its students. We celebrate that responsiveness today.

Generations of Wesleyan alumni have benefited from this responsiveness. As I say each year, we Wesleyans have used our education to mold the course of culture ourselves 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, new graduates, to join us in helping to shape our culture, so 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 friendship, 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, to join personal authenticity with compassionate solidarity. 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 family members shed (or maybe hid) a tear as they left you here “on your own.” To me, 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 “out there,” you will always be members of the Wesleyan family, you will always be able to come home to Wesleyan. 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!

President Roth Calls on Universities to Promote Intellectual Diversity

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael Roth

On May 11, Wesleyan President Michael Roth writes in The Wall Street Journal about the need for colleges and universities to proactively cultivate intellectual diversity on campus. While student protests over controversial speakers have dominated headlines of late, he writes:

The issue, however, isn’t whether the occasional conservative, libertarian or religious speaker gets a chance to speak. That is tolerance, an appeal to civility and fairness, but it doesn’t take us far enough. To create deeper intellectual and political diversity, we need an affirmative-action program for the full range of conservative ideas and traditions, because on too many of our campuses they seldom get the sustained, scholarly attention that they deserve.

Roth discusses initiatives at Wesleyan, including the Posse Veteran Scholars program, which brings cohorts of military veterans to campus on full scholarships.

These students with military backgrounds are older than our other undergraduates and have very different life experiences; more of them also hold conservative political views.

Now, Wesleyan plans to deepen its engagement with the military by working with the U.S. Army to bring senior military officers to campus. Starting next year, the first of them will arrive to teach classes on the relationship between military institutions and civil society.

Roth goes on:

Another new initiative for intellectual diversity, launched with the support of one our trustees, has created an endowment of more than $3 million for exposing students at Wesleyan to ideas outside the liberal consensus. This fall, our own academic departments and centers will begin offering courses and programs to cover topics such as “the philosophical and economic foundations of private property, free enterprise and market economies” and “the relationship of tolerance to individual rights, freedom and voluntary association.”

We are not interested in bringing in ideologues or shallow provocateurs intent on outraging students and winning the spotlight. We want to welcome scholars with a deep understanding of traditions currently underrepresented on our campus (and on many others) and look forward to the vigorous conversations they will inspire.

Students are also recognizing the value of the free exchange of ideas. This spring, the Wesleyan Democrats and Wesleyan Republicans joined forces to host a Bipartisan Political Series to encourage open political dialogue on campus.

WSJ subscription is required to access the full article. The Wesleyan community can access the article through the Olin Library website.

Roth Calls on Government Leaders to Enact a Carbon Price as Climate Change Solution

In a letter released May 8, President Michael Roth joined 29 other college and university presidents from across the country in endorsing carbon pricing for its economy-wide approach to reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change. The letter calls on state and federal lawmakers to proactively work to enact a carbon price at the state and federal level. Roth was one of three leaders, together with the presidents of Swarthmore and Dickinson colleges, to first sign the letter back in February.

“As leaders of higher education institutions, we call upon our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of current and future generations by putting a price on carbon,” the letter reads. “We work to prepare our students for thriving futures, over which climate change casts a dark shadow of uncertainty. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an indispensable step we can take to effectively combat climate change.”

The complete letter can be found here.

The Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative is led by Our Climate, a youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of climate leaders. Our Climate co-leads the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign with the National Geographic documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, and partners with Citizens’ Climate Education to recruit, train, and support student leaders across the country to advocate for carbon pricing.

“At Wesleyan, we place a high priority on reducing our own carbon footprint to do our part to address climate change,” said Roth. “A national price on carbon can be an effective tool to address climate change on a broad scale.  Wesleyan is will develop an internal price on carbon to better address the environmental impact of our own energy intensive projects.”

This summer, Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst and Facilities Business Manager Jeff Murphy will be developing an internal method of accounting for the carbon footprint of high-energy-consuming Facilities projects.  This internal mechanism will set up a “shadow” price on carbon emissions from projects as a line item in projects’ lifecycle cost analyses, essentially proceeding internally as if national carbon pricing exists.  For example, if a project results in a 50-ton carbon emissions increase, and an internal price was set at $40/ton (price is yet to be determined), the shadow cost on carbon for that project would be $2,000.  This follows the strategy established in Wesleyan’s 2016 Sustainability Action Plan to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by providing the economic case for higher carbon footprint initiatives, and will prepare Wesleyan for the possibility of future national carbon pricing.

Roth Writes About Teaching Iconic Film ‘Casablanca’ to Today’s College Students

President Michael Roth

On the 75th anniversary of Casablanca, President Michael Roth writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education about teaching the iconic film to modern college students. He writes, “…I have to encourage students to open themselves to the pace, the acting styles, and the conventions of classical Hollywood cinema. I push my smart, hip, and often progressive students to give up their condescending attitude toward the past.”

He writes:

This year, the immigrant story at the heart of Casablanca is more powerful than ever. Many of my students are sympathetic to refugees escaping brutal conditions, and in our current political atmosphere this is no small thing. But Casablanca’s themes go deeper than that, depicting a world in which people are willing to work together across differences for shared political goals. There can be no litmus test of political or moral purity when the threat is real and the task is to find common ground from which to take effective action.

On college campuses it is easy to stay locked in the bubble of one’s own friends and allies. A campus may, like Rick’s cafe, pride itself on diversity, but student groups (and faculty allies) often self-segregate, so they rarely put aside their differences to join forces, or increase mutual understanding through conversation and debate.

While administrators talk a lot about helping the world, colleges often seem content to prepare students to maximize personal gain after graduating, encouraging a retreat into a private life in which other people’s problems and political struggles don’t inspire concern — let alone commitment and action.

Despite the lofty rhetoric, colleges are reluctant to stick their necks out for anybody, except their own students, alumni, and faculty. Casablanca forces us consider what it takes for good people to act in a corrupt world, not just turn their noses up at the corruption. What does it take to say “no” to abuses of power? How does one come to risk one’s life by publicly affirming basic human values?”

These are questions that Casablanca raised when it was released 75 years ago. Today’s undergrads may resist its earnestness and romanticism, and they can easily point out deficiencies in its portrayal of race and gender. But Casablanca’s story of how diversity and solidarity can be combined to fight tyranny still resonates, even if that combination remains more aspiration than reality on campuses. I suppose that’s one reason I continue to teach the film: When neutrality is no longer an option, aspiration counts for a lot.