Tag Archive for reunion and commencement
by Olivia Drake •
The Wesleyan community has established a tradition of celebrating Reunion and Commencement together, ensuring a large and convivial gathering of alumni, students, families, faculty, staff and friends of the university.
Beginning with the arrival of alumni, family, and friends on May 21 and culminating with the 183rd Commencement ceremony at 11 a.m. May 24, Wesleyan will offer a wide array of educational and recreational programs, including many opportunities to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2015.
This year’s schedule includes class reunions, WESeminars, academic department open houses, the 100th anniversary of the parade of classes, campus tours, an all-college picnic and festival, historian David Potts speaking on the history of Wesleyan, the traditional all-college sing, an all-campus party featuring DJ Smokey (Smokey Fontaine ’93) and a fundraising benefit performance by FreeStyle Love Supreme (tickets are still available by calling 860-685-3870).
Award-winning composer, lyricist, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 will deliver the Commencement address on May 24. Miranda ’02, Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, P’04, and Michael Price will receive honorary doctorates during the event.
Registration is located in the Usdan University Center.
For additional information on R&C Weekend visit WesConnect.
The R&C photo gallery, hosted on Wesleyan Flickr, will be updated frequently throughout the weekend. Check back frequently.
by Olivia Drake •
On May 25, Wesleyan conferred 733 bachelor of arts degrees; 26 master of arts degrees; 44 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; 3 master of philosophy in liberal arts degrees; and 14 doctor of philosophy degrees. The entire Reunion & Commencement photo gallery is online here. Read the story here.
by Olivia Drake •
All Wesleyan alumni, students, parents, faculty, families and friends of the university are welcome to attend Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 22-25 on campus.
The weekend is chocked-full of events including class reunions, WESeminars, academic department open houses, campus tours, an all-college picnic and festival, an All-Campus Party featuring mamarazzi and Illegalize, and the 182nd Commencement Ceremony led by commencement speaker Theodore Shaw ’76. The full schedule is online here.
Highlights of this year’s R&C Weekend include a financial aid benefit concert featuring musician Randy Newman P’14 (sold out), stargazing at the Van Vleck Observatory, a Cardinal Loop Fun Run, a gathering for graduating seniors and their grandparents, a strolling magician and magic show and the traditional Parade of Classes. Classes ending in “4” and “9” will celebrate their reunions.
Wesleyan’s renowned WESeminar program will feature alumni, parents, students and faculty. WESeminar topics are 75 Years of Community Radio; Ocean Science and Storytelling; Reflecting on a Hollywood Icon: Clint Eastwood; An Inside Look Into the Legalization of Marijuana; The Senior Thesis: A Showcase of Academic Excellence; Celebration of Wesleyan Writing, Multiverse Cosmologies at the Limits of Modern Science; Advocacy after Incarceration; The Changing Face of Sports; Celebrating 10 Years of Long Lane Farm: Alumni in Agriculture and many more.
The 182nd Commencement Ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Andrus Field. Tickets are not required. About 5,000 chairs will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
All campus visitors may check in for a final weekend schedule with updates and event locations, meal tickets, a welcome packet, campus maps, and more inside Usdan University Center.
View this link for frequently asked questions and additional information.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Embrace the contradictions and tensions within yourself and between yourself and others, and accept that they will never go away.
This was the advice Joss Whedon ’87 shared with the Class of 2013 at the 181st Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 26.
“The best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing the debate, because it means that you learn something and you changed your position. The only way really to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite. That doesn’t mean the crazy guy on the radio who is spewing hate; it means the decent human truths of all the people who feel the need to listen to that guy. You are connected to those people. They’re connected to him. You can’t get away from it.”
Wesleyan conferred an honorary doctor of letters upon Whedon at the ceremony, which was held on Andrus Field, with temperatures that felt more like October than late May. Also honored were Majora Carter ’88, an urban revitalization specialist, and Jim Dresser ’63, who has dedicated himself to serving Wesleyan in numerous capacities since graduating. Both were awarded honorary doctor of human letters degrees. This year, Wesleyan awarded 785 bachelor degrees; 30 master of arts degrees; 30 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; and 21 doctor of philosophy degrees.
An award-winning film and television writer, director and producer, Whedon was behind the 2012 superhero blockbuster The Avengers, as well as cult favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. His latest film, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, premiers June 7. An early screening was held at Wesleyan on Friday, May 24.
by Bill Holder •
During Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony on May 26, Wesleyan President Michael Roth awarded Joss Whedon ’87, Majora Carter ’88 and Jim Dresser ’63 with honorary degrees.
Joss Whedon ’87
Joss Whedon is an award-winning writer, director and producer and delivered the commencement address on May 26. He is the force behind such popular television shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and the 2012 superhero blockbuster film, The Avengers.
The son and grandson of successful television writers, Whedon was raised in New York and studied film at Wesleyan. After graduating, he landed his first TV writing job on the show Roseanne. He developed a script for the 1992 film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which in 1996 he adapted as the cult hit television show by the same name. Buffy ran for seven seasons; Whedon was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 2000. The spin-off from Buffy, titled Angel, ran for five seasons. He subsequently created the space-western TV show, Firefly, and a film of the same premise, Serenity, which won a 2006 Hugo Award.
Whedon also wrote and co-wrote on numerous films, including Toy Story (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award). In 2008, he produced a short web-exclusive musical comedy, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which won an Emmy Award and a Hugo Award, among other honors.
In April 2012, The Avengers, a live-action adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero team, directed and co-written by Whedon, had the biggest opening weekend of all time, and became the third highest-grossing film ever. He is currently writing and will direct the sequel. Most recently Whedon directed a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
In 2009, Whedon delivered the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns keynote address at Wesleyan. In 2010, he was honored by the Producers Guild of America with its Vanguard Award, which recognizes achievements in new media and technology.
Majora Carter ’88
Majora Carter is an urban revitalization strategist who works to make communities more livable, healthy and green through infrastructure projects, policies, and job-training and placement systems. She is a MacArthur “genius” Fellow and has received numerous other accolades from organizations as wide ranging as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the Center for American Progress, and Goldman Sachs. Fast Companynamed her one of the 100 most creative people in business.
Today, Carter is president of the Majora Carter Group, an economic development consulting and planning firm that works across the United States and internationally. But she got her start as a force for change in the neighborhood where she grew up: the South Bronx.
In 2001, Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit organization dedicated to resolving environmental inequality issues—ensuring that no one community has to bear a higher environmental burden with fewer environmental benefits than any other—through innovative, economically sustainable projects informed by community needs. As executive director (until 2008), she oversaw the construction of the award winning Hunt’s Point Riverside Park, the South Bronx’s first new waterfront park in 60 years; the design of the South Bronx Greenway, for which she obtained federal funding; and development of the Green-Roof project and policy initiatives that led to tax-abatements for property owners who adopt this sustainable building practice. In 2003, Carter pioneered one of the country’s first urban “green collar” job training and placement programs, influencing how economic and environmental issues across the country are addressed.
Carter’s TED talk was one of the first six to launch TED’s groundbreaking website. She has been widely featured in the media, including in The New York Times, Marketplace, and NBC Nightly News and has produced her own shows for Sundance Channel as well as her nationally broadcast, Peabody Award-winning public radio series, The Promised Land.
Jim Dresser ’63
The family history of Jim Dresser ’63 is deeply intertwined with that of Wesleyan. His great-grandfather taught classics at Wesleyan for almost 40 years in the 19th century; his grandfather, grandmother, great-aunt, father, sister and son all graduated from Wesleyan. And his commitment to the school is unparalleled. Dresser headed the annual fund, led the alumni association, and served on the Board of Trustees for 15 years, including a four-year term as chair of the Board. He also stepped in temporarily to fill critical positions at Wesleyan, serving as Interim Vice President of University Relations and Vice President of Finance and Treasurer. In recognition of his remarkable service to Wesleyan, the baseball diamond on Andrus Field was named the “Dresser Diamond” in May 2010. It was a fitting honor; Dresser is an avid baseball fan and softball player, and his grandfather (class of 1908) was captain of Wesleyan’s baseball team.
As chair of the Board of Trustees, Dresser led the search process that resulted in the arrival of Michael Roth ’78 as Wesleyan’s 16th president. He also worked with the Board to raise gifts to the University’s endowment. Dresser led the Board in dealing with the financial crisis of 2008, helping the University to streamline its expenditures and explore possibilities for additional revenue. On the Board, he was known for his inclusive leadership style and his dedication to involving students and faculty.
For many years Dresser was a senior vice president and chief administrative officer at The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm and a leading advisor on business strategy.
by Bill Holder •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
Anna Swartz ’13 delivered the following remarks during the Senior Class Welcome on May 26:
Right before I left for Wesleyan for the first time, Ruth, my ninety-year-old neighbor warned me “Make the most of it, college is the best time of your life.” I took her advice to heart, it seemed smart to trust a woman who had done so much living, and I arrived at Wesleyan filled with the loftiest dreams, the highest expectations, ready for my life to be changed.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that college isn’t just about what Wesleyan could give to me, it wasn’t just about showing up and getting the full, packaged collegiate experience, I had to do the changing too. So I opened myself up, along with my classmates, and Wesleyan delivered.
This school took us to the sepia-soaked worlds of Hollywood classics, to the energetic drum circles of West Africa, the desolate moors of the Brontës and the cinderblock hallways of Cheshire Correctional Institute, where the students there looked at us and said “We are Wesleyan too.” We read the Romantics and the Modernists, we saw Judith Butler and Antonin Scalia, we woke up early to hike Mount Higby, and stayed late after class to talk to our professors.
by Bill Fisher •
Wesleyan alumni reunited with classmates, attended WESeminars, toured campus, visited with former professors, and congratulated the Class of 2013 during Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 23-26. On May 26,Wesleyan awarded 785 bachelor degrees; 30 master of arts degrees; 30 master of arts in liberal studies degrees; and 21 doctor of philosophy degrees:
Award-winning writer, director, and producer Joss Whedon ’87 delivered the Commencement Address during the 181st Commencement Ceremony:
by Hannah Norman '16 •
Students, faculty, alumni, families and campus guests gathered for the traditional All-College Sing in Memorial Chapel on May 25. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16):
by Olivia Drake •
Reunite with classmates, attend WESeminars, tour campus, visit with former professors, and congratulate the Class of 2013 during Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 23-26.
“Reunion & Commencement is such a fun and celebratory time for the entire Wesleyan community,” said Deana Hutson, director of events for University Relations. “There really is something for everyone. We have more than 150 events planned over the course of three days.”
In addition to another incredible array of WESeminars, Hutson recommends attending the traditional Friday and Saturday night parties, reunion class gatherings, academic department open houses and the Festival on Foss Hill.
On Friday night, alt-rock icon Amanda Palmer ’98 will perform a benefit concert for financial aid (buy tickets here). The weekend culminates with the 181st Commencement Ceremony where campus guests will hear from award-winning writer, director, and producer Joss Whedon ’87.
Other highlights will include several reunion class receptions and dinners, a Red, Black and Green All-College Dinner, stargazing at the Van Vleck Observatory, a volunteer breakfast, a tour of the Freeman Family Garden, a SteveSongs Concert, Thesis Art 2013 Exhibition, a gathering for graduating seniors and their grandparents, Senior Voices, the traditional All-College Sing, the Phi Beta Kappa initiation, Anugerah: Student Performance Showcase, and much more.
WESeminar topics include Approaches to Social Innovation, Wesleyan’s Partnership with Coursera, Mountaintop Removal Mining, the Grateful Dead at Wesleyan, Getting Published, the Art and Science of Mediating Complex Matters, Marriage Equality, the Art of Collaboration, Travel, Protest Posters Today, Hometown Security, Super Frog Saves Tokyo and more.
View the full schedule, by day, at this website.
This year, Wesleyan is expanding its bottled water elimination efforts through a Feet to the Fire: Earth and Justice for All campus initiative. Two student-designed water stations will deliver filtered and chilled water to Reunion & Commencement guests at the All-College Picnic and Commencement Ceremony. Learn more about this and other R&C sustainable efforts online here.
FAQs about R&C Weekend are online here.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Note: Links to Reunion & Commencement speeches, photos and videos are below this article. Keep reading!
The world is changing at a dizzying pace and uncertainty is rising, but luckily, “Wesleyan has prepared you to live and thrive in this unpredictable world,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87 told the Class of 2012 in his Commencement Address. “This is a school that rewards curiosity. It challenges you to test [your] assumptions. It encourages flexibility—of mind, of approach, even of body, if you took that class in acrobatic yoga. Wesleyan has taught you that having a plan counts for less—a lot less—than having your bearings when that plan falls apart.”
An honorary doctor of laws was conferred upon Bennet at the 180th Commencement Ceremony at Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 27. The ceremony took place on Andrus Field under sunny skies. This year, Wesleyan awarded 713 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 22 Master of Arts degrees; 44 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees; three Master of Philosophy degrees; and 13 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
Bennet—son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94—was elected to his first full term in the U.S. Senate in November 2010. Formerly as the Denver Schools Superintendent, and now as a member of the Senate Education Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for bold, locally driven changes to public education that would ensure every child is prepared to compete in a rapidly changing economy. Senator Bennet also previously served as chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor, now Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper ’74, where he helped balance a historic budget deficit and make city government more responsive to Denver residents. After graduating from Wesleyan, Bennet earned a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.
In his Commencement Address, Bennet described his experiences with two critical institutions—the U.S. education system and political system—that are overdue for “disruptive, transformative change, and reinvention.”
“You generation has so many more opportunities to lead, to make change, than the Class of 1987 ever did. So many more means to uproot entrenched interests… to discard worn-out assumptions… to overcome obstacles to progress,” he told the graduates. He urged them to channel their “Wesleyan impatience […] with the silliness and downright cruelties of the status quo” to address such pressing issues as energy, education, poverty and inequality in America.
“…some period of public service—teaching might be a good idea—is the debt you owe our country for the privilege of attending this remarkable university,” Bennet said.
Honorary degrees also were conferred upon Glenn Ligon ’82—an artist known for his series of text-based paintings, which draw on the writings and speech of individuals such as Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Richard Pryor—and Cecile Richards P’13, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
At the ceremony, two individuals were presented with the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal: Bruce C. Corwin ’62, chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, and William “Bill” Wasch ’52, P ’84, formerly Wesleyan’s director of development and director of alumni programs, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in customized housing options and personalized services for older adults. The Baldwin Medal, named for the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to the school, or for careers and other activities which have contributed significantly to the public good.
In addition, the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics Richard Adelstein, Professor of History Nathanael Greene, and Professor of Art Tula Telfair. Also recognized at the ceremony were retiring faculty members John Biddiscombe, director of athletics; Joseph Bruno, professor of chemistry; Howard Needler, professor of letters; and Wallace “Pete” Pringle, professor of chemistry.
In his remarks, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth pointed to a number of remarkable accomplishments by Wesleyan students—both in the classroom and out in the world. “We want you to remember the pleasure of the camaraderie and openness that have characterized the Wesleyan community to which you will always belong. We want you to remember these pleasures, the feelings of freedom and accomplishment, because we believe that these will stimulate you to continue to be bold, to be rigorous, and to nurture your practical idealism,” he said. “This may not be as easy as you imagine. From all around you will come calls for a practicality that is not so idealistic—calls to be more serious, more attentive to ‘the real world.’ Make no mistake: these are really calls for conformity, demands for conventional thinking that, if heeded, will impoverish your, and our, economic, cultural and personal lives.”
Yet Roth said he has faith that the graduates will “gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect your freedoms. I trust you will act to reduce violence in the world around us, especially those forms of violence that target the most vulnerable. I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege. I trust you will resist the temptations of conformity even as you reject puerile and narcissistic displays of separateness. I have this trust because I have seen what you can do.”
In his Senior Class Welcome, Kennedy Odede ’12 described his journey from growing up very poor in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, to Wesleyan. He recalled his puzzlement early on over things other students take for granted: how to work a printer or use a shower, how money could be stored on a little piece of plastic known as a “Wes Card.” He used to sprint from class to the dining hall to ensure he would get something to eat before the food ran out. One day, a classmate explained to him that his concern was unfounded; food would be available until the lunch period was over.
“What struck me most about the class of 2012 was the kindness exhibited in explanations like this. Never before in my life had I felt valued. I always felt that growing up poor was something to be ashamed of, and at first I was scared to talk about my past. But then the class of 2012 showed me this kindness on many occasions,” Odede reflected. “I had arrived at an incredible place.”
Since his start at Wesleyan, Odede founded the nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities with Jessica Posner ’09, and built the tuition-free Kibera School for Girls.
“I believe we will only live in a better world if we are willing to take risks to make it a reality, only if we are willing to say, ‘Yes.’ My fellow graduates, I hope that we continue to say ‘Yes’ today, tomorrow and throughout our lives.”
The text of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2012 graduates can be found here.
The text of the senior class welcome by Kennedy Odede ’12 can be found here.
The text of Senator Michael Bennet’s address can be found here.
Information on the Binswanger recipients can be found here.
Information on the Honorary Degree Recipients can be found here.
Information on the Baldwin recipients can be found here.
The weekend also saw more than a thousand alumni converge on campus for Reunion. They were kept busy with more than 150 events, including such highlights as an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; the traditional All-College Sing; and an Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders. A number of WESeminars also provided alumni with opportunities to revisit Wesleyan’s excellent academic experience with presentations by scholars, pundits and other experts. Topics included mindfulness-based stress reduction; a sampling of Wesleyan alumnae performance artists; music and literature of the ‘60s; the Beman Triangle Archaeology Project; money, marketing and the media; the environment; highlights of the Israeli Film Festival, and much more.
Seth Davis ’72 of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who is secretary of his class, attended his 40th reunion this year.
“One of my best friends from my college days was attending his first reunion,” Davis said. “ ‘Are they always this good?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘they are.’”
The entire Reunion 2012 photo gallery is online here.