Tag Archive for rob rosenthal

Rosenthal to Receive Baldwin Medal

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal

At the University’s 188th Commencement on May 24, Wesleyan will present the Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Alumni Association, to Rob Rosenthal, John Andrus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus.

The Baldwin Medal pays tribute to the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, the only man to have held the offices of Connecticut governor, U.S. senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. First awarded Sept. 20, 1981, during the opening convocation of Wesleyan’s Sesquicentennial, the Baldwin Medal is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for careers and other activities that have contributed significantly to the public good.

Rosenthal served as Wesleyan’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs from 2010 to 2013, and as director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life from 2014 to 2017. He returned to serve as interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs again from July 2019 through May 2020.

“Freedom Summer” Commemoration to Feature Concert, Speakers

BxGx8blCMAAKaUmThe summer of 1964 saw thousands of young people — many from colleges and universities in the North – mobilize to register voters, educate citizens, and support other civil rights work in the Jim Crow South. What came to be known as “Freedom Summer” is credited with ending the isolation of states where racial repression and discrimination was largely ignored by news media and politicians, despite the  the landmark Civil Rights Act passed that July.

Wesleyan students joined the struggle. “Five Wesmen to Fight Voter Discrimination in Mississippi,” said a front-page headline in the Argus. That May, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had given the baccalaureate sermon, and other civil rights leaders had visited campus.

A commemoration Sept. 12 and 13 celebrated not only Wesleyan’s participation, but the unique moment Freedom Summer occupies in American history. (See photos here.)

“Wesleyan’s tradition of engagement and activism goes back over half a century,” said Rob Rosenthal, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. “This will be a tremendously exciting chance for students and the community to hear from Wesleyan alums who traveled South to participate in this extremely important period of history, and from activists who were at the forefront of the struggle to gain voting rights for all Americans.”Argus May 12 1964 Freedom Summer (1)

Of particular interest to Rosenthal and to Lois Brown, director of the Center for African American Studies, is the connection between organizers of the 1960s and today’s student activists. Brown is also chair and professor of African American studies, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

In a recent op-ed for the Huffington Post, Rosenthal and Brown said: “… The task of our activists is not to tell their young successors how to carry on their struggle, but to convey the joy that deliberate engagement, unapologetic persistence, and luminous integrity brings.”  

Rosenthal Shares his Pete Seeger Expertise with the Press

Sam Rosenthal, Rob Rosenthal & Pete Seeger.

Sam Rosenthal, Rob Rosenthal & Pete Seeger.

Wesleyan Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs and John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology Rob Rosenthal got to know Pete Seeger rather well while interviewing and spending time with him for two books he authored: Playing for Change: Music and Musicians in the Service of Social Movements and Pete Seeger: In His Own Words. The latter is a large collection of letters, drafts, poetry, notes and such that had been stored en masse in Seeger’s barn. Seeger allowed Rosenthal and his son Sam to sift through and publish selections — over the course of a year — provided he didn’t try to make him look like “a saint.”

Seeger passed away on Jan. 24 at the age of 94, and since then Rosenthal has been a popular source of knowledge on the folk icon. He’s recently been interviewed or mentioned in The New Yorker, The Nation and Huffington Post, to name a few. He also appeared on WNPR’s Where We Live program.

In The New Yorker, Rosenthal said:  “[Pete Seeger] was never pessimistic. He always thought that humans would get it together. When you look at the grand movements of the 20th century, he was involved in them all (the women’s movement most peripherally). We may think now, ‘Wow, we’re so messed up.’ But he travelled through the South in the 30s, he saw the Hudson cleaned up—a huge, huge thing. He was realistic about how difficult all this was.”

Pete Seeger: In His Own Words was published in 2012 by Paradigm Publishers.