Himeka Curiel

Imee is a copy editor/writer in the Office of University Communications.

Wesleyan’s Inaugural Ombuds Celebrates Her First Year

Israela Adah Brill-Cass

A trained mediator, communications studies professor, licensed lawyer, and workshop leader, Israela Adah Brill-Cass has more than 20 years of experience with negotiation and conflict resolution.

Right at the edge of campus, tucked away via a nondescript parking lot side entrance in the basement of Russell House, you’ll find the on-campus home of Israela Adah Brill-Cass, Wesleyan’s first ombudsperson.

Walking through the unmarked screen door can feel a bit unnerving, like trespassing unannounced or entering through a secret back entrance, but Brill-Cass soon welcomes you into the comfort of her office. It’s a small and simply decorated space with bright textile prints on the wall and soft music offsetting the quiet that comes with being the only inhabitant on the entire floor.

The remote location and private access are by design, to help ensure the promise of confidentiality that is a crucial component of Brill-Cass’s work. “Visitors” (as Brill-Cass calls those who come to see her) schedule appointments ahead of time through her website and are staggered so that there is less chance of others seeing who stops by.

As Wesleyan’s inaugural ombuds, Brill-Cass serves as an objective, independent resource for faculty and staff, providing a safe space where individuals can talk through any workplace issues they may be experiencing without automatically triggering an investigation or required next steps.

“It’s like triage. I’m the first step where people can say, ‘Am I really perceiving it this way? Or is this something I might be feeling because _____?’” Brill-Cass explains. “I talk to them about their options. ‘If you want to address it directly, here’s how you can proceed from here. If you don’t want to address it directly, here are ways that you can manage the issue.’ People can then use the information to decide whether or not they want to take the next step. It’s completely voluntary.”

Meyer Remembered for Shaping Curriculum in History Department

Professor Emeritus of History Donald Meyer passed away on May 27 at the age of 94.

Meyer received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1947 after taking a three-year hiatus to serve in the United States Army (1943–1946), and then went on to complete his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard for two years and UCLA for twelve years before arriving at Wesleyan in 1967.

Meyer was a social and intellectual historian who published three books and numerous articles over a long and productive career. According to colleague Nat Greene, “He was an expert in offering a vigorous challenge to prevailing views, especially about sectors of our society that figured much too little in our history.” He also made some lasting impressions on Wesleyan. His colleague Dick Buel said, “He was one of the founding organizers of Wesleyan’s American studies program and took a leading role in shaping the curriculum and personnel of the history department between the mid-1960s and his retirement in 1991.” The Meyer Prize was established in 1991 in his honor and has been awarded annually by the Department of History to deserving history majors for honors theses in American history.

Meyer is survived by his wife, Jean; his sister, Barbara Backstrom; and by his children and their spouses and partners—Rebecca Berwick; Sarah Berwick and Claude Dohrn; Jeffrey Berwick and Viv Kwok; Rachel Berwick and Warren Johnsen; and William and Kate Meyer—and his five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Professor Meyer’s name to the Meyer Prize and sent to the care of Marcy Herlihy, University Relations, 318 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.

Employees on the Move

The Office of Human Resources announces the following hires, transitions, and departures for January–April 2018.

HIRES
John Lundell, athletic facility maintenance, on Jan. 2
Johanna DeBari, director of survivor advocacy and community education, on Jan. 3
Lee Walsh, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on Jan. 17
Kara Murphy, development research analyst in University Relations, on Jan. 22
Clifton Watson, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, on Feb. 5
Dennis Hohne, video producer in University Communications, on Feb. 12
Nafeza Kingston, facility and events manager in Usdan Campus Center, on Feb. 12
Matthew Magenheim, senior investment associate in the Investments Office, on Feb. 12
Suzanne Rivera, public safety dispatcher, on Feb. 12
Wengang Zhang, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on Feb. 12
Jacob Nite, postdoctoral research associate in chemistry, on Feb. 15
Megan Lenzzo, assistant director of Annual Giving, on Feb. 19
Rani Arbo, campus & community engagement manager in Center for the Arts, on Feb. 26
Richard Contrastano, curatorial, archival and programming assistant in Cinema Archives, on Feb. 26
Daniel McGloin, CPE program coordinator, on Feb. 26
Durga Nyame, project coordinator, Upward Bound Math-Science Program, on Feb. 26
Nathan Mealey, associate university librarian for technical and digital services, on March 1
Ashley Alvarado, public safety officer, on April 2
Benjamin Chaffee, associate director of visual arts in Zilkha Gallery, on April 2
Glenn Knight, assistant director, Graduate Liberal Studies, on April 2
Erin Strauts, associate director of institutional research, on April 16

TRANSITIONS               
Alexander Vazquez, academic tech training specialist in Information Technology Services, on Jan. 2
Claudia Wolf, library assistant/accounting specialist in Olin Library, on Feb. 5
Nancy Putnam, assessment and research services librarian in Olin Library, on March 1
Paul Turenne, systems analyst in Information Technology Services, on March 22

DEPARTURES
Zehra Abbas, study abroad advisor
Joan Adams, administrative assistant in Athletics
Allen Alonzo, director of auxiliary services in ITS
Kimberley Alonzo, administrative assistant in Center for Pedagogical Innovation
Gaylord Brown, analyst programmer in ITS
Colin Desjardins, HVAC/utility mechanic in Physical Plant
Jennifer Enxuto, administrative assistant in FGSS/SiSP
Alecia Goldfarb, business manager in Center for the Arts
Holly King, administrative assistant in chemistry
Emily Lai, web developer in University Communications
Jean Lawrence, administrative assistant in University Relations
Juan Liu, research associate in molecular biology & biochemistry
Jay Mantie, public safety supervisor
Emily Moss, senior assistant dean of admission
Sarah-Jane Ripa, associate director for student services and outreach, Continuing Studies
Kimberly Spachman, research analyst in University Relations
Roney Thomas, postdoctoral research associate in physics

Project Refresh Initiative Launches with Employee Survey

If you’ve logged into WesPortal recently you may have noticed a banner advertising “Project Refresh.” The link leads to a survey asking for feedback on programs, projects, or processes that “may no longer be necessary, or perhaps could be done more effectively” with the end goal of making working at Wesleyan “more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.”

The survey is just the first phase of Project Refresh, with plans for additional rounds of idea generation and collaboration (at all levels both within and across departments) as well as possible focus groups to further refine ideas in the fall. For now, the committee is working on gathering as much information as possible from the campus community and encourages everyone to fill out the survey. It will remain accessible through WesPortal until May 31, after which employees should contact Paul Turenne if they have additional questions or ideas they’d like to share.

The campuswide initiative is being led by a cross-departmental committee, whose members include:

Gemma Fontanella Ebstein, associate vice president for university relations
Rachael Barlow, associate director for assessment; visiting assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures
Jen Carlstrom, manager of design services
Mike Conte, director of physical plant operations
Rick Culliton, assistant vice president; dean of students
Lisa Sacks, assistant director for curricular initiatives
Lori Stethers, systems/emerging technologies librarian
Meghan Sullivan, associate director of alumni and parent relations
Paul Turenne, systems analyst
Karen Whalen, director of athletic fundraising

Other members and sub-committees may be added as the initiative progresses.

Employee Cardinal Achievement Awards Announced

Three outstanding employees were honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards during the past few months.

Smith Kidkarndee, psychotherapist, Counseling and Psychological Services; Cathy-Lee Rizza, assistant director of student accounts, Student Accounts Office; and Gladys Rodriguez, administrative assistant, Registrar’s Office were recognized for demonstrating extraordinary initiative in performing a specific task associated with their work at Wesleyan.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the University’s gratitude for their extra efforts.

Olson Lab Explores How Cholera Infection Spreads

Rich Olson

Rich Olson

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson and members of his lab have uncovered the structural basis for how the bacterial pathogen responsible for cholera targets carbohydrate receptors on host cells—an important finding for the future development of treatment strategies against infectious bacteria.

In their paper “Structural basis of mammalian glycan targeting by Vibrio cholerae cytolysin and biofilm proteins,” published in the Feb. 12 issue of PLoS Pathogens, Olson and his team—Swastik De PhD ’16; graduate students Katherine Kaus and Brandon Case; and Shada Sinclair ’16—looked at Vibrio cholerae, an aquatic microbe responsible for cholera, a potentially life-threatening disease for populations with limited access to health care.

The team studied two of the virulence factors that this particular bacterial pathogen uses to help spread infection: a toxin that creates pores in the membranes of target cells (such as immune cells) and a protein that helps form a protective sheath around the bacterial colonies as they grow.

Study results showed that both of these factors use similar carbohydrate receptors to recognize and target cell surfaces, suggesting that strategically disrupting carbohydrate interactions could affect how V. cholerae and other organisms like it are able to infect human hosts and spread disease.

“Understanding how pathogens specifically recognize targets on human cells is essential for the development of effective drugs and vaccines to fight pathogenic bacteria and prevent outbreaks,” Olson explained.

Read the full paper here.

Fusso Honored with AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Post-Secondary Teaching

Susanne Fusso received the 2017 AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Post-Secondary Teaching.

Professor Susanne Fusso received the 2017 AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Post-Secondary Teaching.

Susanne Fusso, professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, has been awarded the 2017 AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Post-Secondary Teaching from the American Association for Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

Fusso, who teaches 19th- and 20th-century Russian prose and poetry as well as Russian language, was nominated for the award by her former students.

The honor was presented as part of the President’s Awards Ceremony at the AATSEEL conference held on Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C. The annual conference focuses on “the aesthetic, creative and communicative aspects of Slavic cultures” and features workshops and panel discussions with experts from around the globe.

In addition, three Wesleyan alumnae — Elizabeth Papazian ’91, Lindsay Ceballos ’07 and Emily Wang ’08 — presented scholarly papers at the conference.

AATSEEL is a major professional organization for Slavic studies in the United States. The association’s mission is “to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures, and cultures on all educational levels, elementary through graduate school.”

Nominate Faculty for the 2018 Binswanger Prize

John Finn, Mary-Jane Rubenstein and Andrea Roberts and are the recipients of the 2017 Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Last year Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored (from left) John Finn, professor of government; Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion; and Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 185th Commencement Ceremony on May 28, 2017.
Nominations are now open for 2018 recipients.

 

Recognize the Wesleyan faculty who have had a lasting impact on your academic and personal development by nominating them for the 2018 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching!

Juniors, seniors, graduate students and Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) are invited to nominate up to three professors for 2018 Binswanger Prizes, which will be awarded during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony on May 27.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 12, 2018. NOMINATE NOW.

The Binswanger Prize is made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85 and underscores Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Current faculty who have taught at Wesleyan for at least 10 years are eligible. Previous recipients are excluded for a period of 12 years after which they become eligible once again. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

The criteria for selecting the recipients is excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity and passion. Recommendations may be based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the university including, but not limited to, teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.

 

Kauanui Presents “Politics of Occupy Wall Street” Research in Qatar

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui in Qatar.

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American studies and anthropology, chair of American studies and director of the Center of the Americas, spent part of winter break in Qatar. She was there to present her research on “Settler Colonialism and the Politics of Occupy Wall Street: Indigeneity and the ‘Other’ 1%” for a panel on “Against Exceptionalism.”

Kauanui joined a global roster of leading scholars in American studies, Middle Eastern studies and other closely related fields who were invited to speak as part of a conference held Jan. 8–11 at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies with support from the Qatar National Research Fund.

The conference, titled “From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park: The Arab Spring and the De-Centering of American Studies,” was co-organized by Eid Mohamed, assistant professor of American studies and comparative literature at the Doha Institute, and Melani McAlister, associate professor of American studies and international affairs at George Washington University. Its aim was to “internationalize the study of America to enable critical consideration of where and what is America—particularly in relation to the Arab uprisings and developments in the global map of power.”

Presentations from the conference are slated to be included in an edited volume available in late 2018.

For more information on the conference program and participants, visit https://de-centeringamericanstudies.weebly.com.

 

Bello Balances CAAS Support and Mayoral Responsibilities

In this Q&A, we speak with Amy Bello, administrative assistant for the Center for African American Studies and newly elected mayor of the Town of Wethersfield.

Q: How long have you been at Wesleyan?

A: Five years. I started in November 2012 as a temp at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.

Q: What do you do here now?

A: I work as an administrative assistant for the Center for African American Studies (CAAS), the African American Studies Program (AFAM) and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF). I have a beautiful office on High Street and am lucky to be working with vibrant, engaging faculty, staff and students.

Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan? 

A: I love the energetic, intelligent people I work with—both students and faculty. Their breadth and depth of knowledge is amazing. I also enjoy seeing the world from another perspective, which only enhances my vision.

Khamis Co-Authors Article on Effects of Historical Labor Policies on Women

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics and assistant professor of Latin American studies, has co-authored a new paper published in the December 2017 issue of Labour Economics. The paper, titled “Women make houses, women make homes,” examines the effects of historical labor market institutions and policies on women’s labor market outcomes.

To conduct the research, Khamis and her colleagues studied the “rubble women” of post–World War II Germany, who were subject to a 1946 Allied Control Council command that required women between the ages of 15 and 50 to register with a labor office and to participate in postwar cleanup and reconstruction.

The study showed that this mandatory employment had persistent longstanding adverse effects on German women’s overall participation in the labor market. Possible reasons for this include physical and mental exhaustion associated with the demanding manual labor involved in removing war debris; an increase in postwar marriage and fertility rates; and a reversion to traditional gender roles as men returned from war.

The findings highlight how important it is for countries—especially those recovering from conflict—to develop labor market institutions and policies that support women’s participation in the workforce. In addition, the paper concludes, “Our results also provide suggestive evidence that work-contingent income support programs may have limited positive effects on female future labor market outcomes and welfare dependency unless such policies are further backed up by the provision of quality child care and labor market institutions at large.”

Thayer, Galganov ’17, Stein ’17 Publish Article on Allosteric Signaling

A new article by Visiting Assistant Professor in Computer Science Kelly Thayer and students in her Spring 2017 Scientific Computing class is challenging conventional metrics used in allosteric signaling—the regulation of an enzyme by a binding molecule at a site other than the enzyme’s active site.

“What’s special about allostery is that a molecule called an allosteric effector binds at one location, and the change happens somewhere else,” Thayer explained. “What we were trying to understand was: How does that signal get across?”