Editorial Staff

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.

Wesleyan to Hold Virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 24

monogramWesleyan’s 188th Commencement Ceremony, honoring the graduating Class of 2020, will be held through a virtual setting at noon on May 24.

(View the Commencement website here.)

The commencement address, honorary degree recipients, and the senior class address will be pre-recorded and offered for viewing on Commencement Sunday. The conferral of degrees and remarks made by Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 will be presented live. The Binswanger Awards for Teaching will be presented on a future occasion.

The Class of 2020 will be invited back to campus next year for an in-person ceremony.

“We will miss the marching, the music, and the mortarboards in the air,” President Roth wrote in a campus-wide email on May 6. “Nonetheless, there will be much to celebrate: primarily, the resiliency of our seniors and our graduate students who managed to hold the course in the face of unforeseen difficulties and disappointments.”

A formal e-invitation to graduating students and their families and the Wes community is forthcoming.

“Normally at Commencement, celebrants sit close together on Andrus Field, or up behind the podium on Denison Terrace or over on Foss Hill,” Roth said. “May 24 will be different, but even if we sit far apart from one another, the power of togetherness will be strong.”

Wesleyan Announces 2020 Honorary Degree Recipients

At the University’s 188th Commencement on May 24, Wesleyan will present honorary degrees to three recipients whose work exemplifies inclusive engagement.

Jacqueline Woodson, an award-winning and best-selling author, is this year’s speaker. Actor and political activist Bradley Whitford ’81 and William Joseph Barber II, a social justice advocate and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, will also be honored. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their significant contributions to civic life in the United States, including the example they set in bringing new voices into the public sphere and spurring others to productive dialogue and action.

“I am honored to celebrate at Commencement three remarkable individuals whose work has educated people across the country,” President Michael Roth ’78 said. “Through their creative and inspiring contributions, they empower and encourage us to work toward creating a better world.”

2020 Commencement Ceremony, Class Reunions Postponed

commencement

Wesleyan’s 188th Commencement Ceremony will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 announced that Wesleyan will delay its 188th Commencement Ceremony, originally scheduled for May 24, 2020. Wesleyan’s reunion gatherings, typically held during the same weekend, will be celebrated in alternate formats.

“Although I’d been delaying this decision in hopes that we might still have an opportunity to gather together in late May, I’m writing now to let you know that we will have to find another time and place to celebrate the 2020 graduation. There is so much uncertainty about what the next few months will hold, and we don’t think it is responsible to plan to bring a large group together on Andrus Field in May,” Roth wrote in an all-campus email on April 2.

“I know this will be greatly disappointing for many, particularly for graduate students, seniors and their families, who were looking forward to the Commencement ceremony this spring. I do expect the Board of Trustees to vote (remotely) to award degrees at its May meeting. For official purposes, the University will graduate all those who qualify, and we will find a way to mark that event in some festive (if still virtual) way at that time. We will be writing again soon with our plans in that regard. Please know that we have every intention to bring people together in-person at some point in the future to celebrate this year’s graduates. We are reaching out to seniors to ask for their input in designing meaningful alternatives. Similarly, our colleagues in Advancement will work with the reunion committees to seek input regarding reunion celebrations. When this pandemic recedes, there will be plenty to celebrate together. Please stay safe, and take care of one another. I look forward to celebrating these important milestones with you in the future.”

Like President Roth, Frantz Williams ’99, vice president for advancement, hoped that the trajectory of the pandemic might be such that reunions could happen. But under current conditions, the University decided that gathering a large group of alumni, guests, students, faculty and staff in May would pose too large a risk to the health and safety of the community and beyond.

“We are keenly aware that many classes have been actively preparing for and anticipating their reunions and can assure you that we are working on alternate plans for in-person celebrations at a later date,” Williams wrote. “In the meantime, some classes have already been taking advantage of technology to gather remotely, and this spring Wesleyan will encourage and support more of these gatherings. In addition, we will find other new ways to come together at a time when we are physically separated but eager for connection.”

Wesleyan staff are currently reviewing a variety of options for the postponed ceremonies, and actively seeking input from both students and alumni on their preferences and recommendations for both. The University expects to finalize these plans in the coming weeks and in accordance with official local, state, federal and health officials’ guidance about the pandemic’s trajectory, and will be in touch with the Wesleyan community as soon as possible with updates.

NESCAC Announces Winter All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship Honorees

Andrew Schwartz

Andrew Schwartz ’20, of the men’s swimming and diving team, was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship Team. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin)

Coleen Castro,

Women’s hockey player Coleen Castro ’20 was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.

Wesleyan’s winter athletic teams put a total of 80 student-athletes on the 2019–20 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Winter All-Academic Team, while eight earned a spot on the 2019–20 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of study at the institution.

Wesleyan ranked seventh out of 11 schools with its 80 honorees.

Wesleyan Transitions to Online Classes for the Safety of the Campus Community


For the safety of the campus community, amid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting thousands of known cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide, Wesleyan is transitioning all classes to distance-learning models for the remainder of the spring semester.

“As hard as we work to make the on-campus Wesleyan experience the best it can be, we must apply that same diligence and care to protecting our community’s well-being in light of this growing threat,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campuswide email.

While there are no confirmed cases at Wesleyan, there are five confirmed cases in the State of Connecticut, and Governor Ned Lamont declared a public health emergency.

After consulting with a variety of public health experts and other higher education institutions around the country, Wesleyan announced the following preventive measures:

  • In-person classes are suspended for the remainder of the spring semester; all courses will transition to distance learning models.
  • Effective immediately, all University-sponsored, connected, or funded domestic and international travel for students, faculty, and staff is prohibited. The University also strongly discourages all personal domestic and international travel by students, faculty, and staff, except for the purposes of students returning home.

Hockey Wins First-Ever NESCAC Championship

hockeyOn March 8, the men’s hockey team celebrated its first-ever NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Trinity College. Although the win secured the league’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors decided to cancel all remaining winter championships as well as the spring sports season across all divisions (I, II, and III). Wesleyan had several winter sports scheduled to compete in their respective NCAA Championships, including men’s hockey, which are affected by this news.

The Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to thunder past No. 8 Trinity at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.

hockeyThe victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in a span of just 10:25 between the second and third periods to take a commanding 4–1 lead that proved enough in the end. Six different goal scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris ’20 finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship game record for the highest point total by a single skater. One night removed from making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak ’20 was tremendous once again, posting 38 saves on 40 shots-on-goal from Trinity as he continues to deliver in the postseason for Wesleyan throughout his career.

Wesleyan Vows to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments by the End of the Decade

At its most recent meeting on Feb. 29, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees discussed how to better align endowment investment practices with the University’s broad sustainability efforts.

In a recent campus-wide email, President Michael Roth ’78 and Board of Trustees Chair Donna Morea ’76, P’06 shared the following message:

Given the climate emergency, the investment and ecological risks associated with fossil fuels and the Investment Committee’s own environmental, social and governance guidelines, there was broad agreement among trustees not to make new fossil fuel investments and to wind down current investments in this sector as quickly as possible while minimizing the negative impact to the value of the endowment. The University will be divested from direct fossil fuel investments by the end of the decade.

Wesleyan has already made a climate commitment aiming at carbon neutrality and will now be accelerating work in this direction. This weekend, the Board authorized the first phase of converting our energy infrastructure from steam to hot water. When complete, this project will reduce Wesleyan’s carbon footprint by thousands of metric tons per year.

Wesleyan Student Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 Dies in Fatal Car Accident

Daniel "Danni" Jewell-Tyrcha

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha was a member of the Class of 2022. Jewell-Tyrcha died on Jan. 26 following a motor vehicle accident in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of wayup.com)

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 of Scituate, Mass., succumbed to injuries following a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Middletown on Jan. 25. Jewell-Tyrcha was 20 years old.

They were double majoring in American studies and African American studies.

In an all-campus email on Jan. 26, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you of the death of Wesleyan student Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22. … We offer our condolences to Dani’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

According to Jewell-Tyrcha’s wayup profile, Jewell-Tyrcha’s interests were “creating progress and social change, traveling the world and learning about new cultures, helping end human rights abuses, and writing.”

Students struggling with this tragic event can contact the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), or a class dean. Faculty and staff who need support may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-854-1446.

“Wesleyan is a caring community. We are all here to help one another,” Roth wrote.

Expressions of condolence may be sent to Mike Whaley, who will collect and forward them to Jewell-Tyrcha’s family.

Tezén ’97 Appointed President, CEO of A Better Chance

Francisco Tezén

Francisco Tezén ’97 (Photo courtesy of A Better Chance)

On Feb. 1, Francisco Tezén II ’97 became the next president and chief executive officer of A Better Chance, a national nonprofit that places talented young people of color into the leadership pipeline through increased access to academically rigorous secondary schools.

Tezén, a first-generation Peruvian-American, will lead the nonprofit when racial equity, educational opportunity, diversity, access and inclusion are at the forefront of our nation’s collective conscience. He was formerly the chief development officer at the Food Bank For New York City.

“My parents, an immigrant father and a black mother from rural North Carolina, stressed the importance of education to climb out of poverty and realize our American dream,” Tezén said. “As an alumnus of a college preparatory program, I have experienced firsthand the transformative effect of efforts that open pathways of opportunity for people like me. I am honored to lead A Better Chance in writing the next chapter in its venerable legacy.”

Wesleyan Connection Celebrates 15 Years of News Distribution

Wesleyan Connection

The Wesleyan Connection newsletter is celebrating its 15th anniversary in January 2020.

This January, The Wesleyan Connection newsletter celebrates 15 years of providing news about our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and campus happenings.

The Connection, spearheaded by the Office of University Communications, debuted in January 2005 as the University’s first electronic newsletter. It replaced the former Campus Report, a printed newsletter for faculty and staff.

“By going electronic, we were able to share institutional messages and stories with all students, alumni, and parents as well,” said Campus News Editor Olivia Drake MALS ’08, who has served as the publication’s editor since its founding. “The Connection continues to be a popular vessel for communicating highlights about and achievements of the Wesleyan community, and we’re very thankful for our loyal readership.”

To date, the Connection has published more than 7,590 articles.

In honor of the newsletter’s 15th anniversary this January, we looked back on 15 highlights from the past 15 years (in no particular order):

They are:
1. Wesleyan Establishes Hamilton Prize for Creativity (2016)
On June 15, 2016, Wesleyan announced the establishment of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, a four-year full-tuition scholarship that honors Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, who created and directed the hit Broadway musical for which the prize is named. The prize is awarded to an incoming student who has submitted a creative written work—whether fiction, poetry, lyrics, play, script, nonfiction, or another expression—judged to best reflect originality, artistry, and dynamism. Miranda and Kail serve as honorary chairs of the judging committee, which is composed of other Wesleyan alumni and faculty.

obama

Senator Barack Obama delivered the Commencement Address in May 2008.

2. Prominent Speakers, Alumni Deliver Commencement Addresses

President (then-Senator) Barack Obama Hon. ’08 delivered the 176th Commencement Address in May 2008.

Award-winning writer, director, and producer Joss Whedon ’87 delivered the 181st Commencement Address in May 2013.

Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 delivered the 183rd Commencement Address in May 2015.

And Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered a profound Senior Class Welcome during the 180th Commencement Ceremony in May 2012. Odede created and co-directs the Kibera, Kenya–based organization Shining Hope for Communities with his wife, Jessica Posner ’09.

2. Wesleyan Selects Michael Roth as 16th President (2007)
Michael Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007. Roth is known as a historian, curator, author, and public advocate for liberal education. Roth’s call for a “pragmatic liberal education” is the cornerstone of both his scholarship and his administrative work at Wesleyan.

black lives matter

On Dec. 8, approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March on campus and in downtown Middletown.

3. Students Lead Black Lives Matter March Through Campus, Middletown (2014)
Activism seems to run through the blood of many Wesleyan students, over many generations. One of the largest demonstrations in the past 15 years occurred on Dec. 8, 2014, when approximately 1,000 students, faculty, and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March. The participants marched in a show of solidarity with national protests against discriminatory treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system and incidents of police brutality. The group started at Exley Science Center, marched across campus, and proceeded down Washington Street to the Main Street intersection, chanting “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “we can’t breathe.”

4. Wesleyan Raises $482 Million in THIS IS WHY Campaign (2016)
Wesleyan closed out its most successful fundraising campaign ever on June 30, 2016, with $482 million raised, far surpassing the original goal of $400 million. The biggest share, $274 million, went to financial aid, making a Wesleyan education possible for motivated and talented students who could not otherwise afford to attend. More than 36,000 donors gave to the THIS IS WHY campaign.