Tag Archive for President Roth

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 Commencement Ceremony

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks during the Wesleyan Commencement Ceremony May 26.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth speaks during the Wesleyan Commencement Ceremony May 26.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 made the following remarks during the Wesleyan Commencement Ceremony:

“Members of the board of trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty class of 2013, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.

During your four years here, Wesleyan has been largely isolated from many of the troubles of this world. While you have been students, the United States has been engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on this Memorial Day Weekend, I begin by asking us all to take a moment to remember that these wars have cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians in those countries.

Economic times have been difficult as well. When you first arrived, in the fall of 2009, the global economy was reeling from the most massive disruption since the Great Depression. Unemployment in this country quickly skyrocketed and is now only slowly receding, while the distance between the very wealthy and the average American has increased enormously. 2009-2013 has been a good time to be in a bubble—even a pretty leaky bubble like our own here on campus. You have spent four years taking advantage of an education devoted to boldness, rigor, and practical idealism, and now as I speak to you for your last time as students, I’d like to underscore three ideals that I hope you will take with you and make practical in your lives going forward: non-violence; diversity; and equality.

Mad Men Creator Weiner ’87 Hosts Wesleyan Fundraiser in NYC

At left, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Matt Weiner '87 speak at the recent fundraising event in NYC.

At left, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Matt Weiner ’87 speak at the recent fundraising event in NYC.

On April 25, Matt Weiner ’87, creator and writer of Mad Men, regaled an engaged Wesleyan crowd of 280 with insights into the TV business and comments on connections between the COL syllabus and Don Draper’s reading. The fundraising event, “An Evening with Mad Men” was held at the Director’s Guild of America Theater in New York, N.Y.

During an engaging and unscripted conversation with President Michael Roth, Weiner presented clips from his popular and award-winning AMC series and spoke about Wesleyan experiences that helped to shape his career in the entertainment industry. He talked about being a College of Letters major, and told a story of how a professor’s brutal critique of his senior poetry thesis set him on the path of writing for film and television.

“My Wesleyan education is on the screen,” Weiner said.

In addition to a special anonymous gift of $600,000, the evening brought in almost $37,000 in ticket receipts – all for scholarships.

The “Mad Men” fundraiser was the first in a series of events to kick off the $400 million THIS IS WHY campaign to support the university’s endowment. All proceeds from ticket sales— 100 percent — will go directly to financial aid for Wesleyan students.

More information about the campaign and upcoming events can be found at http://thisiswhy.wesleyan.edu.

View a photo gallery of the “Evening with Mad Men” in this Wesleyan Flickr gallery.



Faculty to Teach Coursera Classes Starting Feb. 4

Wesleyan President Michael Roth will teach a 14-week-long course on "The Modern and the Postmodern," through Coursera starting on Feb. 4. Coursera offers the public access to free online courses taught by professors from top colleges and universities.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth will teach a 14-week-long course on “The Modern and the Postmodern,” through Coursera starting on Feb. 4. Coursera offers the public access to free online courses taught by professors from top colleges and universities. (Video still by Ben Travers)

For alumni seeking to relive their days in the classroom, parents interested to see first-hand what their Wesleyan students are learning, and prospective students—or anyone else—curious about the Wesleyan experience, here’s your chance. Beginning Feb. 4, two Wesleyan professors—President Michael Roth and Associate Professor of Film Studies Scott Higgins—will open their virtual classrooms on Coursera.

In September 2012, Wesleyan announced a new partnership with Coursera, a company offering the public access to free MOOCs (massive open online courses) taught by professors from top colleges and universities. Wesleyan is the first liberal arts institution focused on the undergraduate experience to offer classes through Coursera. Since September, more than 130,000 people have enrolled in the six online classes that will be offered this year by Wesleyan professors.

Roth’s 14-week-long course, “The Modern and the Postmodern,” examines “how the idea of ‘the modern’ developed at the end of the 18th Century and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change during the last 200 years. Are we still in modernity,” Roth asks on the course website, “or have we moved beyond the modern to the postmodern?” The class will consist of short video lectures, readings, quizzes, peer-graded writing assignments, and a final exam. Readings for the course include writing by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf, among others.

“Preparing the Coursera version of the course while teaching ‘The Modern and the Postmodern’ on campus has helped me to think anew about material I’ve been teaching for many years,” Roth said.

President Roth Speaks with Graduate Students on Job Market, Technology

Wesleyan President Michael Roth spoke with graduate students during a conversation and reception Jan. 22 in Daniel Family Commons.

Graduate Student Services hosted “Graduate Student Conversation with President Roth” on Jan. 22 in Daniel Family Commons. President Roth answered graduate student questions and talked about the value of a Wesleyan graduate education, especially in the challenging job market, how technology is changing the role of the professoriate, and how the graduate community can be involved in the Making Excellence Inclusive project.

President Roth’s Book Reviews Published in Washington Post, L.A. Times

Michael Roth

Two book reviews by President Michael Roth recently were published in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

For the Post on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, a “graceful and informative” study of hallucinations caused by “neurological misfirings that can be traced to disease, drugs or various changes in neurochemistry.” Drawing upon descriptions of hallucinations experienced with Parkinsonian disorders, epilepsy, migraines, and narcolepsy, “Sacks explores the surprising ways in which our brains call up simulated realities that are almost indistinguishable from normal perceptions,” Roth writes. He adds: “As is usually the case with the good doctor Sacks, we are prescribed no overarching theory or even a central argument to unite his various observations. Instead, we are the beneficiaries of his keen observational sense, deep clinical practice and wide-ranging reading in the history of neurology. This doctor cares deeply about his patients’ experiences—about their lives, not just their diseases. Through his accounts we can imagine what it is like to find that our perceptions don’t hook on to reality—that our brains are constructing a world  that nobody else can see, hear or touch.”

In the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars by Camille Paglia. The book, which contains brief discussions of 29 works of visual art, seeks to help readers “find focus” amid the “torrential stream of flickering images.” Roth writes: “Paglia’s goal is straightforward: By offering images of great artworks and helping us to give them sustained attention, she hopes that readers will ‘relearn how to see’ with sustained pleasure and insight. Protesting against the intense animosity toward the arts she sees in American popular culture, Paglia wants her readers to recognize the deep feeling, craft and originality that went into the works she has chosen.”

President Roth Presents Wesleyan 2020 Update

In May 2010, the Board of Trustees adopted “Wesleyan 2020” as a fundamental tool for strategic decision making at Wesleyan. Designed to be flexible, this framework for planning will assist the university in making decisions about the allocation of resources in the next five to 10 years. It reflects the input of faculty, trustees, staff, alumni and students and begins with an introduction that gives a sense of some of the recent achievements that have shaped the Wesleyan of today.

Each fall, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth sends an update on the university’s progress in meeting the goals set out in the Wesleyan 2020 framework. The updated report is online here. The update is organized under the rubric of Wesleyan’s three overarching goals: Energize Wesleyan’s distinctive educational experience; Enhance recognition of Wesleyan as an extraordinary institution; Work within a sustainable economic model while retaining core values.

In an all-campus e-mail on Dec. 6, President Roth wrote:

“Over the last 12 months we undertook a major self-study as part of the regional Accreditation process. I don’t explicitly discuss that process in the update, but I can say we were very pleased with the first response of the Accreditation Committee that came to campus. We will be releasing the official Accreditation materials when they are available in 2013.

Over the last year we have been involved in extensive (and sometimes intense) discussions with faculty, students, alumni and staff about our present operations and our plans for the future. This is as it should be. Receiving the most attention so far is the change in how we will budget for financial aid (leaving us about 90 percent need blind), and in this update I review the rationale for the change. Affordability, accessibility, and financial aid are key challenges for Wesleyan, and in the fundraising campaign we are launching, financial aid endowment (complemented by gifts to current scholarships through the Wesleyan Fund) is our highest priority.”

President Roth invites the campus community to comment on the 2020 plan on his blog.

Hartford Magazine Names President Roth to “Most Influential” List

Michael Roth

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth is featured in Hartford Magazine’s50 Most Influential People” list for 2012. His biography, published in the magazine’s cover story, reads:

Michael S. Roth, historian, curator, author and president of Wesleyan University in Middletown, remembers the flexibility the school showed him when he wanted to explore “how people make sense of the past.” He designed his own cross-discipline major at Wesleyan, earning a degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978. He received a Ph.D. in history from Princeton in 1984. Roth curated a celebrated exhibit on Freud at the Library of Congress. He was president of the California College of the Arts, associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and director of European studies at Claremont Graduate University. He also founded and directed the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, Calif. Aside from teaching every semester at Wesleyan, Roth has expanded financial aid to students, fostered civic engagement by tying it to curriculum and establishing a center for social entrepreneurship, and launched the Shapiro Creative Writing Center and a College of the Environment. His own writing has appeared in a campus blog, various journals and in The New York Times , L.A. Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post. A native of Brooklyn, Roth was in the first generation in his family to attend college.

The Hartford Magazine staff solicited nominations from their readers and an editorial committee developed the list.  “We were looking for those whose influence comes as a result of their words and actions, not as part of their jobs,” the magazine reported.


President Roth and Professor Weil Give to Financial Aid

President Michael S. Roth and Professor Kari Weil have made a $100,000 gift to Wesleyan in support of endowment for financial aid.

In announcing the gift, Joshua Boger ’73, chair of Wesleyan’s board of trustees, said:  “I can’t thank Michael and Kari enough for their generosity. Their gift represents the kind of ‘stretch gift’ that we are frequently soliciting from other alumni and their families, and I hope that all members of the Wesleyan community will follow their lead in making Wesleyan a philanthropic priority. Their support of financial aid underscores Michael’s and Kari’s superb leadership and dedication to Wesleyan’s success.”

Scholarship endowment is Wesleyan’s highest fundraising priority. Wesleyan has long sought to provide access to students regardless of their financial means.  In 2011–12, Wesleyan will spend $47 million on financial aid.

Soon after he came to Wesleyan in 2007, President Roth established a policy of eliminating loans in favor of outright grants for most students with a family income below $40,000. The policy also reduced the amount of loans required in all final aid packages by about 35 percent. This effort and all of Wesleyan’s financial aid grants, including a special scholarship program for veterans, are supported by gifts from alumni, parents and friends.

“Wesleyan’s deep and long-standing commitment to supporting financial aid reflects our belief that we should seek out the best students regardless of what their families can afford,” says President Roth. “The result is a campus community based on equality and freedom, where differences emerge from talent, ambition and creativity.”

Wesleyan and China: the Beijing Conference

Wesleyan faculty in China.

In China, rapid economic growth and social transformation have stimulated interest there in how societies have dealt with dramatic change. Some of China’s foremost scholars reached out to colleagues at Wesleyan, seeking to discuss the meaning of “tradition” in historical and philosophical perspectives.

“Wesleyan publishes History and Theory, the leading journal on the philosophy and theory of history in the Western world,” says Brian Fay, professor of philosophy, and the journal’s executive editor. “This subject area is intellectually and politically very important in China, and hence the journal was well known to them.”

It was in part because of History and Theory that a delegation from the Social Sciences in China Press, the publishing arm of the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences, visited Wesleyan in 2010. Fay, his co-editors of History and Theory, and President Roth spent much of a day with the delegation discussing opportunities for scholarly interaction. The result was a commitment to two conferences, one in China and a second in 2013 at Wesleyan.

Five weeks ago the first conference was convened in Beijing, with five Wesleyan scholars traveling to the city to discuss the concept of tradition: Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian Studies; Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history, professor of letters; Philip Pomper, William Armstrong Professor of History, Emeritus; Wesleyan President Michael Roth, university professor, who specializes in intellectual history; and Joseph Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science, chair and professor, science in society, professor of philosophy. Five other western scholars also traveled to the conference to make presentations.

The event’s host, Professor Gao Xiang,

President Roth: Rejection of Conformity Can be a Pursuit of Happiness

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth delivers the President's Remarks.

Address by Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’77 on the 178th Commencement at Wesleyan University, May 23, 2010:

Members of the board of trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty class of 2010, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.

It is thrilling for me to stand here before you in such distinguished company. I am joined today by the very honorable Mayor John Hickenlooper, who has an undergraduate and a graduate degree from Wes. This gives me an occasion to remind all of us how lucky we are to have graduate programs on campus to enrich the educational experience for everyone. John’s administration in Denver has demonstrated idealistic passion and practical effectiveness, whether in public education, health care or on environmental issues. His team has attacked intransigent social problems like homelessness and unemployment, while also stimulating the growth of major cultural organizations and the civic pride that goes along with them. At a time when many politicians have retreated from the very idea of the public sphere, John Hickenlooper has reminded the citizens of Denver, and of Colorado more generally, that one of the joys of the modern polity is a robust and creative common life. His demonstration of authentic political engagement on behalf of the common good reminds me of the extraordinary work done by members of this class of 2010 in promoting opportunity through education from Middletown to Kenya.

Promoting opportunity through education has been a significant part of the life of my colleague and honoree Ruth Simmons. As president of Smith College and now of Brown University,