Editorial Staff

4 Faculty Receive Tenure, Promotions

The following faculty were conferred tenure, effective July 1, 2021 by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting:

David Kuenzel, associate professor of economics; Michelle Personick, associate professor of chemistry; and Olga Sendra Ferrer, associate professor of Spanish.

In addition, one faculty member was promoted, effective July 1, 2020: Valerie Nazzaro, associate professor of the practice in quantitative analysis.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below:

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel’s scholarship focuses on international trade and economic growth. In his research, he analyzes nations’ trade policies, trade flows, and economic growth in connection with the policies of institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) or with national political arrangements. He has published peer-reviewed papers in such prestigious journals as European Economic Review, Canadian Journal of Economics, Review of International Economics, Journal of Macroeconomics, and International Journal of Forecasting, and has co-authored International Monetary Fund (IMF) working and policy papers. Professor Kuenzel has been a visiting scholar at the IMF and the WTO. He offers courses on economic growth, macroeconomics, international trade, and economic theory.

Wesleyan Announces Its 2021 Honorary Degree Recipients

Wesleyan has announced the speaker and honorary degree recipients for its 189th Commencement.

The date of Commencement was previously announced as May 30th; however, given current pandemic conditions, the University is reviewing other options for the last week of May. The University is currently planning to hold the ceremony in-person on Wesleyan’s Middletown campus, though off-campus guests will be restricted to virtual attendance given the ongoing threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. More details about the ceremony and a definitive date for Commencement will be announced by the end of March.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, an award-winning poet, memoirist, and teacher, is this year’s commencement speaker. MacArthur-winning researcher, writer, and activist Catherine Coleman Flowers and Scott Gottlieb ’94, a physician and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, also will be honored. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their significant contributions to the social, environmental, and public health of the United States.

“Be it through teaching, art, advocacy, medicine, or policy-making, these three individuals offer us shining examples of how we can work to forge better futures,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “Despite difficult circumstances, like the current public health situation, Reginald, Catherine, and Scott represent our ability to make progress on seemingly intractable problems, and, through their efforts, inspire us to direct our talents toward meaningful action.”

Coach Russell Remembered for Shepherding the Advancement of Title IX for Women’s Athletics

 

don russell

Donald Russell, professor of physical education, emeritus, and former director of athletics and head football coach, passed away on Feb. 2 at the age of 93.

Russell earned his BA from Bates College, where he played offensive and defensive tackle for the football team. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1960, he served as an assistant football coach under Norm Daniels, then became head football coach from 1964 through 1970, after which point he stepped down from that position, though he remained as the head of athletics until his retirement in 1991.

Russell led the Cardinals to three Little Three championships (’66, ’69, ’70) and to a stunning undefeated 8-0 record in 1969. All of this took place during tumultuous years on campus with demonstrations, bomb threats, and sit-ins. In fact, the year the football team was undefeated, Wesleyan had to get a restraining order to prevent a demonstration from interfering with the homecoming game with Williams.

“Throughout this difficult time, Don’s steadfast leadership and strong relationship with the players was instrumental in the team’s focus on football and accomplishing what no Wesleyan football team has done since,” said John Biddiscombe, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus.

Student-Athletes of Color Bring Awareness to Their Work Through New Video

This month, the Wesleyan Student-Athlete of Color Leadership Council (SACLC) released its “The Battle is Worth It” video with the Wesleyan community. The video, which was produced by Wesleyan’s Video Services team, features athletes from SACLC who aim to bring awareness to their work and support other athletes of color.

SACLC aims to build a safe, more diverse environment, which will enhance the athletic experiences of student-athletes of color throughout all Wesleyan sports teams. Programs and services are developed with the intention of implementing a system that establishes a social network amongst athletes of color, promotes solidarity, and encourages discourse in an attempt to alleviate the disadvantages associated with being an athlete of color.


Intercollegiate Athletic Competition Postponed for Spring Semester

Given the current public health situation, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is made up of 11 institutions including Wesleyan, is postponing intercollegiate competition for the 2021 spring semester.

After much discussion, the presidents of NESCAC schools released an announcement on Jan. 27 stating: “As member institutions prepare for the spring semester, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and communities remain our foremost concerns. Although COVID case numbers have started to decline, nationally and in our region, the numbers remain far higher than they were at the start of the fall semester. After a careful review, the NESCAC presidents have agreed that conditions will need to improve significantly in order to conduct conference competition this spring.”

As a result of adjustments to the NESCAC schools’ 2020–21 academic calendars, students are returning to campuses at different times, ranging from late January to late February. If the situation improves and conference competition proves feasible, regular-season conference play would likely not start until late March or early April, and would necessarily be limited in scope and duration.

As in the fall, all member institutions plan to limit travel off-campus, restrict visitors, maintain strict protocols on physical distancing, and implement a robust COVID-19 testing program. NESCAC school presidents will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, as well as changes in federal, state, and local guidelines on public health and athletic competition.

“The NESCAC decision will come as a disappointment to many who have worked long and hard for the chance to compete, and I understand their frustration,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 wrote in a campus-wide email. “Like so many Wesleyans, I would love to watch our athletes compete, as I would be delighted to see our musicians play and our actors perform. We all will have to wait until it is safe enough to do so.”

The presidents will make a final decision in late February or early March.

President Roth on the New Year, New Semester

keep wes safeWesleyan’s 2021 spring semester is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 9, with university housing opening Friday, Feb. 5. All incoming students will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and be tested for COVID-19 on campus.

Classes will take place online only for the first two weeks.

“Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a Jan. 20 post. “Of course, we will have to be vigilant about contagion throughout the semester. The vaccine rollout is making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Crosby Remembered for Being a Brilliant Scholar-Teacher

Crosby

Christina Crosby (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Christina Crosby, professor of English, passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 67. She also was professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.

Crosby arrived at Wesleyan in 1982 after receiving her AB from Swarthmore College and PhD from Brown University. She was a respected Victorianist, feminist, and theorist who was widely published, including two books, The Ends of History: Victorians and “The Woman Question” (Routledge, 1990) and A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain (NYU Press, 2016). She received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1994.

“Christina was a brilliant scholar-teacher,” recalled Natasha Korda, professor of English, “and an uncommonly generous colleague and mentor. Suddenly bereft of her presence, many of us are reeling, and at a loss for words, wishing that we could channel her eloquence to convey fully the contours of her extraordinary life and achievements. Our only solace is that Christina is now beyond the ‘great pain’ through which she lived on after her bicycling accident, and about which she wrote so beautifully in her recent book, A Body Undone. She was, as one colleague put it, the ‘heart and soul’ of the FGSS program over many years.”

Adjunct Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, Emerita, Sheng Dies at 95

Frances Sheng, adjunct associate professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, passed away on Jan. 3 at the age of 95.

Sheng completed her undergraduate degree at Fu Jen Catholic University in Beijing, and her MA at the University of Connecticut. In 1972 she arrived at Wesleyan, where she founded Wesleyan’s Chinese language program and inspired generations of students by teaching Chinese faithfully until her retirement in 1994. During her 22 years at Wesleyan, Sheng was involved in the establishment of the East Asian Studies program as well as study abroad in China, and she founded the Frances M. Sheng Prize, which is still awarded today for excellence in Chinese language and excellence in Japanese language.

“Frances’ students loved and admired her for being a demanding but caring teacher,” said longtime colleague and John E. Andrus Professor of History William Johnston. “Frances created a foundation for our program in Chinese language instruction, whose continued success is itself a tribute to her earlier efforts. CEAS and Wesleyan owe a debt of gratitude to Frances.”

Ellen Widmer, professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, remembers Sheng as being “full of dignity but also humor. She cared about people’s qualities as a person.” Widmer also noted that although Sheng ran a “tight ship,” her classes were also always full of laughter.

“How well I remember Frances’ kindness in my first years at Wesleyan,” said Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, Emerita, Vera Schwarcz. “Her great sense of humor. How she pushed her students to do their best. May her soul rest in peace.”

Sheng is survived by her sister, Rita Mao Hechler; her brother, Mao Yuan; her daughter, Diane Sheng; her niece, Lucille Sheng-French; and four grandchildren: Stacy Tarver Patterson, Andrew Herzer, Aaron Tarver, and Alexandra Herzer. If desired and in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the CAF/Suzanne Sheng Fund, a scholarship fund for Connecticut architectural students, c/o Connecticut Architecture Foundation, AIA Connecticut, 370 James St, Suite 402, New Haven, CT 06513.

Wesleyan University Press Authors Longlisted for PEN Awards

Wesleyan University Press authors Hafizah Geter, Rae Armantrout, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers were recently longlisted for awards from PEN America.

Un-American book

Un-American, published by Wesleyan University Press, is longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award.

Hafizah Geter’s debut poetry collection, Un-American, is longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. The PEN Open Book Award honors a work of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, or poetry written by an author of color. The award was created by PEN America’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.

Geter’s collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes—linguistic, cultural, racial, familial—of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist Black man, Geter charts the history of a Black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you.

Rae Armantrout’s Conjure and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis are both longlisted for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. The PEN/Voelcker Award honors a distinguished collection of poetry that represents a notable and accomplished literary presence.

Armantrout takes pleasure in uncertainties and conundrums, the tricky nuances of language and feeling. In Conjure that pleasure is matched by dread; fascination meets fear as the poet considers an increasingly toxic world.

The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Phillis Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are poems about Wheatley’s “age”—the era that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade.

According to PEN America’s press release, the 2021 Literary Awards Longlists span 11 book awards and encompass more than 125 writers and translators, representing the year’s most extraordinary literary talents. Over 80 judges have selected the longlists, which are made up of categories including the novel, short story collection, translation, poetry, science writing, essay, biography, and more. (Read the full release here.)

Finalists for PEN America Literary Awards will be announced in February 2021.

Wesleyan University Press publishes books of poetry, and scholarly books in dance, music, and literary studies. The Press has garnered national and international accolades for its work, including six Pulitzer Prizes, three National Book Awards, three Griffin Poetry Prizes, and an Anisfield-Wolf Award, among many others.

Docter-Loeb ’22 Serves as Panelist on D.C. Statehood, Racial Justice Discussion

Hannah Docter-Loeb ’22, a features editor at The Wesleyan Argus, participated in a public discussion about the intersection of D.C. statehood and racial justice Sept. 18.

The “Panel on D.C. Statehood and Racial Justice” was hosted by Georgetown Students for D.C. Statehood and featured Docter-Loeb; Anthony Cook, professor of law at Georgetown University; Jamil Scott, assistant professor of government at Georgetown University; and Cosby Hunt, adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia and senior manager of social studies education at the Center for Inspired Learning.

Docter-Loeb, a D.C. native, was invited to be a panelist after writing an article for Study Breaks on the same topic. She believes one reason D.C. statehood is meeting resistance is that the area is rooted in white supremacy and racism.

“D.C. residents have advocated for D.C. statehood since the 1980s, with no luck,” she wrote. “However, on June 26, the House approved the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51). This bill, if approved by the Senate and the president, would establish D.C. as a state and provide us with adequate representation in proportion to the city’s size, as well as other features that accompany statehood. . . . [Representatives’] comments reflect the racist belief that Black people are unfit to govern or play a role in our democracy by voting. These beliefs are still apparent in the current debate for D.C. statehood.”

Wesleyan Joins Amicus Brief in Support of International Students with F-1 Visas

Wesleyan University recently joined with 58 of our peer colleges and universities in filing an amicus brief to halt the implementation of the July 6 directive by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding international student enrollment for the fall of 2020. The brief is in support of the petition filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week that seeks to enjoin DHS/ICE from implementing a rule that would deny visas and deport international students whose campuses are unable to resume in-person courses in the fall due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

“While colleges and universities are working tirelessly to make plans to ensure our students can continue their educations, we are now being asked to contend with this illogical and draconian regulation,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “Rather than focusing on being productive partners in helping to ensure the safety of our communities and the country, the administration has resorted to cruel actions that continue the Trump Administration’s three years of open demonization of immigrants that undermines the security of many who are temporarily in the United States to work or study. From threats of deportation to the “Muslim Ban” and fulminations on the “Chinese virus,” the Trump administration has stoked hostility to foreigners—or at least to foreigners it paints as undesirable.

“The latest proposal does nothing with regards to stemming the seemingly unchecked spread of COVID-19 throughout our country; in fact it just adds yet another unnecessary hurdle to making decisions and plans that will allow colleges and universities to identify the safest ways of returning and providing instruction this fall,” added Roth.

The amicus brief filed in United States District Court in Massachusetts included such diverse colleges and universities as Yale University, Stanford, Amherst College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Smith College.

For more information contact Deborah (Deb) Katz at Dkatz02@wesleyan.edu or 860-919-7261.

Gershberg ’95 Plays Key Role in Reuters’s Pandemic Coverage

Michele Gershberg '95

Michele Gershberg ’95

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in February, and as doctors and scientists intensified their search for ways to stymie the virus, it quickly became clear to Michele Gershberg ’95 that her already challenging job was about to get even more complicated.

As the U.S. health editor for the Reuters news agency, Gershberg leads a team of eight reporters covering health and scientific innovation, as well as the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. “It runs the whole gamut,” Gershberg said. “We are part of a larger global team of health and pharma industry reporters, with reporters in London, Paris, Zurich, and Beijing, so we really work together very closely to try to tell the global story.”