Kate Carlisle

New Digital Design Studio to Bridge Divide between Arts, Technology

Contractors are working to restore and transform the Davison Art Center's carriage house section into a Digital Design Studio. The space formerly housed the Art Library

Contractors are working to restore and transform the Davison Art Center’s carriage house section into a Digital Design Studio. The space formerly housed the Art Library.

Imagine a place where Wesleyan students with a panoply of interests – art, photography, architecture, graphic design, and theatrical design, to name but a few – can work together in a dedicated digital space. Where faculty and students can bridge the divide between traditional arts and humanities courses and the tremendous shifts taking place in the technological world.

The new lab will feature new computers, scanners and 3-D printers.

The new lab will feature new computers, scanners and 3-D printers. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

That place is no longer imaginary. A $150,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust will support a Digital Design Studio in the repurposed carriage house section of the Davison Art Center. Beginning with about eight classes taught by three or four faculty members, the digital design program, slated to open in January 2015, will ultimately include intensive summer programming, reaching dozens more students by its second year.

“More than a simple grouping of high-end computers and software for arts classes, this will become a crossroads for faculty and students,” said Dean of Arts and Humanities Andrew Curran. “Together they will work across a variety of disciplines that are part of the massive digitization of design and humanities.”

The carriage house housed the Art Library until 2013, when the library’s holdings were consolidated at Olin. The grant will be used to repurpose and renovate the space and to purchase technology including scanners, 3-D printers and special software.

Wesleyan’s proposal for the Digital Design Studio envisions that eventually students will be able to solicit and accept projects from outside the university, gaining valuable career experience through non-academic digital design work.


‘At Home in Exile’ Examines Jewish Diaspora

A new book by Alan Wolfe makes the argument that the Jewish Diaspora, a form of “exile” is actually a shared blessing. In a New York Times review, Michael Roth examines Wolfe’s thesis that the diaspora and Israel should thrive in productive tension with one another.

“The longing for the Promised Land may be an important theme in the Torah, but fundamental religious practice and cultural identity have mostly been formed far from Jerusalem,” Roth writes. “For millenniums Jews have lived in exile; “next year in Jerusalem” is an acknowledgment of loss and hope — not a travel plan.”

“While Israel’s existence is now part of the experience of Jews wherever they live, it shows no signs of bringing the Diaspora to an end.”


“Citizenfour” Draws Praise

The new documentary about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, “Citizenfour,” can be seen as both advocacy journalism and an elegant movie, says New York Times reviewer (and Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism) A.O. Scott.

In a review published Oct. 23, Scott praises the film by Laura Poitras as a “tense and frightening thriller,” while it also seeks to offer Snowden’s side of the controversy over his allegations of widespread government surveillance.

“… it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state,” Scott writes.  “It’s hard to tell the difference, and thinking about the issues Ms. Poitras raises can induce a kind of epistemological vertigo. What do we know about what is known about us? Who knows it? Can we trust them? These questions are terrifying, and so is “Citizenfour.””

Hughes Finds Magnetic Fields in Stardust; Study Published in Nature

Assistant professor of Astronomy Meredith Hughes and eight colleagues have found evidence of magnetic fields in stardust – an indication that magnetic fields are important in the process of planetary system formation, according to a new paper in the journal Nature.

The discovery is another step in work by Hughes and other astronomers to understand how celestial bodies are formed. It is known that magnetic fields in the “accretion disks” of stars play a dominant role in the star formation process.

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes

Using data from an observatory near Bishop, Calf., Hughes and her colleagues were able to spot signs of magnetic fields in the dust of the disk of a star about 300 light years away. While magnetic fields have been detected in regions that represent the very earliest stages of star formation (the so-called Class 0 and Class I stages), this is the first time they have been seen around a star with an older age closer to when we believe planetary systems form.

“This is an important result,” Hughes said. “It’s the first time that we’ve seen magnetic fields this late in the process of star and planet formation. And like any good scientific result, when you find something new it opens up whole new sets of questions we can ask.”

In fact, Hughes said the astronomers did not expect the results they got. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to work – we had been trying so long with Class II sources and hadn’t found anything,” she said. “But I thought, we might as well try this last source that is just a little younger than most Class II sources. You want to try everything you can – but it was really a surprise when it worked.”

The paper, “Spatially resolved magnetic field structure in the disk of a T Tauri star,” was published Oct. 22. Nature is the world’s most highly-cited interdisciplinary science publication. The 145-year-old journal is published weekly.

Senator Blumenthal Speaks With Students on Assaults; Wesleyan Releases Report

n Oct. 6, at U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) met with campus leaders, advocates, students, law enforcement leaders and public officials to solicit feedback on bipartisan legislation co-authored by Blumenthal and introduced in July to combat campus sexual assault by protecting and empowering students and strengthening campus accountability and transparency. Wesleyan will share the programs, practices and policies they have implemented for the new school year to prevent campus sexual assault. The event took place in Beckham Hall. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

On Oct. 6, at U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), pictured at right, met with campus leaders, advocates, students, law enforcement leaders and public officials to solicit feedback on bipartisan legislation he co-authored to prevent campus sexual assault. Pictured at left is Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Ruth Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., came to Wesleyan Oct. 6 to hear students’ concerns about sexual violence, survivor support and penalties for perpetrators.

This was one of a series of listening sessions the senator is conducting around the state. In his discussions with students he shared details of legislation he has proposed to provide better frameworks on campuses for handling sexual assault cases. Under the bill, colleges and universities would be required to identify confidential advisors and implement minimum training standards. Financial penalties would be imposed on schools that do not comply.

The listening session was held just days after the release of Wesleyan’s annual report on the university’s response to sexual violence, and release of federally mandated “Clery data” on campus crime. Wesleyan has seen a marked increase in the number of reported sexual assaults during the past two years, which was expected given the university’s improved reporting protocols, according to Title IX coordinator and Vice President of Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias.

“We all wish for a campus free of sexual assault, but to the extent that assaults do occur, we want them to be reported,” Farias said. “We’ve made progress in this area, improving our reporting mechanisms and enhancing the structures in place for survivor support.”

Farias joined Wesleyan’s staff in 2013 and has since reorganized the Office of Equity and Inclusion, recently hiring Debbie Colucci as Equity Compliance Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator to further buttress Wesleyan’s efforts to address issues such as sexual violence and develop education and prevention programs.

Wes Welcomes Neighbors to Middletown Day Oct. 18

Middletown Day

Middletown Day coincides with Homecoming on Oct. 18.

For the second year in a row, Wesleyan will welcome its neighbors to campus for fun, food and football during Middletown Day, Oct. 18.

Starting at 11 a.m., the public can enjoy family entertainment (face painting, balloon art, a bounce house for little visitors, and a DJ), along with free popcorn and food for sale from Wesleyan athletic teams.

Plenty of Wes alumni also are expected at Andrus Field for the Homecoming football game versus Little Three rival Amherst College. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. and Middletown residents will be admitted to the game for free with ID.

The mighty Middletown High School Marching Band is scheduled to perform a half-time show, and several Middletown and area players are featured on the Cardinals’ roster this year.

Middletown Day festivities will take place on the College Row side of Corwin Stadium, with access from Wyllys Avenue. Free parking is available around campus.

For more information, see the event poster.


Davison Art Center’s 19th Century Goya Print Exhibited in Boston

Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan Universi

Francisco Goya’s portrait of the French printer Cyprien Gaulon will be on exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The print is owned by Wesleyan’s Davison Art Center.

One of Davison Art Center’s most important works – an early 19th century Francisco Goya lithograph – will be shown in a major art exhibit in Boston this fall.

The print, a portrait of the printer Cyprien-Charles-Marie Nicolas Gaulon, was made at the end of Goya’s life, between 1825 and 1826, and is one of only two known “first state” copies of the work (the other is in France’s Bibliotheque Nationale).  Gaulon taught Goya lithography during the artist’s senescent exile in Bordeaux.

“It’s a portrait of a friend, the man who taught him this technique, towards the end of his life,”  said Clare Rogan, curator of the DAC. “It’s a view onto Goya’s life at the time.”

The print was lent last month to the Museum of Fine Arts, where it will be exhibited in “Goya: Order and Disorder” Oct. 12-Jan. 19. The largest Goya exhibit in North America in 25 years, the show will include everything from the portraits of aristocrats that established his reputation to the prints and drawings that carried the Spanish artist’s fame beyond his country.

New Public Safety Director Looks Forward to Campus Partnerships

Scott Rohde became director of Public Safety on Oct. 1.

Scott Rohde became director of Public Safety on Oct. 1. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Scott Rohde became Wesleyan’s new Public Safety director the first week of October. The long-term police chief at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse says he’s looking forward to new partnerships between the campus community and Public Safety, and pursuing other initiatives as head of the university’s 30-plus member safety team.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Scott. What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: I was attracted to Wesleyan by its reputation as well as its strong commitment to a solid liberal arts education. During the interview process and my visit here I felt very welcome and comfortable both on campus and in the community.

Q: What are the first challenges you hope to tackle as director of Public Safety? 

A: I want to expand partnerships between the department and members of the campus community, in an effort to increase awareness about preventing crime and how to respond in problem situations. I would like to see Public Safety more integrated into the campus community.

Q: Have you had specific experiences that will help you in your Wesleyan job?

A: Having worked with students, faculty and staff extensively, I feel my experience will offer some new perspectives in the areas of both prevention and response to safety issues. I also have had good success in implementing a problem-solving methodology of service delivery.

Q: Since 1998, you’ve served as director of Police Services at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Are you from Wisconsin? Tell us more about yourself.

A: I am a native of Wisconsin, and until last week it was the only state I have been a resident of, although I have traveled pretty extensively throughout the U.S. I grew up in the Milwaukee area and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee majoring in Criminal Justice. I started working in law enforcement in 1987 and served in a number of capacities, most recently as police chief for U.W.-La Crosse. My wife Michelle and I have been married for almost 30 years and have two children and two grandchildren.

Q: Any first impressions of Wesleyan you’d care to share?

A: My first week here has been superb. Everyone on campus and in Middletown has been extremely helpful and has made us feel at home. I look forward to the future!

Read more about Scott Rohde in this News@Wesleyan article.


Royer’s Study Suggests that the Meteorite That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Changed Forests

Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of a study that suggests fast-growing deciduous plants replaced slower-growing evergreen plants after an impact of a meteorite 60 million years ago. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Sixty-six million years ago, a meteorite struck the Earth with enough force that the ensuing environmental changes, including floods, earthquakes, variable temperatures and light-obscuring dust clouds, possibly wiped out dinosaurs and other pre-historic life. Scientists believe this opened a path for mammals, and ultimately humans, to evolve.

A new study by Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and colleagues from the University of Arizona and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science suggests that the chaos in the wake of the space rock’s impact changed the Earth’s plant life as well. Deciduous plants survived and flourished to a much greater extent than flowering evergreens, the scientists believe, probably because their properties made them much better able to respond to climate conditions post-impact. The deciduous plants, not needing to maintain their leaves year round, essentially needed less energy for survival.

Mukerji Represents Wesleyan at National STEM Meeting

Ishita Mukerji

Ishita Mukerji

Ishita Mukerji, dean of natural sciences and mathematics and director of technology initiatives, represented Wesleyan at a White House-sponsored conference of STEM educators Sept. 16.

Mukerji said she was intrigued by other universities’ approaches to increase access to science, technology, engineering and math – and happy to share Wesleyan’s STEM initiatives with her counterparts.

“It was a great opportunity to learn about what works and compare with what we are doing,” said Mukerji, who also is professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.”I was happy to see that in many instances, we were on the right track and have some of the key elements in place.”

The conference was a followup to a January meeting at the White House, attended by President Michael Roth and about 100 other leaders in higher education. That gathering, part of the White House College Opportunity initiative, asked the leaders how their institutions were increasing access. Wesleyan’s commitment to opening access in STEM fields

Federal Grant Supports DAC Digital Initiative

Davison Art Center.

Many works at the Davison Art Center will be digitally photographed starting with a collection of Dutch and German prints.

A significant federal grant will support efforts to make works in Wesleyan’s Davison Art Center more accessible to students, faculty and the wider world.

The $111,173 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, announced this week, will fund digital photography of some of the DAC’s permanent collection, beginning in 2015 with Dutch and German “old master” prints.

The funds, awarded in the Museums for America program, will allow the DAC to execute high quality, rapid photography of key parts of its holdings; these images can then be used for collection management or in classes.

Roth Discusses “The Future of Education” at Social Good Summit

Logo_SGS2014President Michael Roth discussed “The Future of Education” at the 92nd Street Y’s Social Good Summit on Sept. 21.

The event is the focus of his popular MOOC on the Coursera platform, which will be offered again starting in Nov., 2014.

In his second appearance at the annual two-day festival of ideas, Roth discussed why education is still the best vehicle for social change, even while it has become more controversial then ever.

Watch the video of his talk.

Michael Roth

Michael Roth

“Education remains the most potent tool for changing the world, ” he said. “And training teachers who can help students acquire the skills to keep learning, the skills to think for oneself, is one of the most pressing demands of social justice.”

Last year, Roth’s inspirational talk at the 92Y event focused on “how to change the world,” which later became the topic of his popular MOOC on the Coursera platform. This year, his speech was informed by his recently published book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale Press).

This year’s summit, with the theme “Connecting for Good, Connecting for All,” brought together world leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists, and voices from around the world to explore how technology and new media can be leveraged to benefit people everywhere and create a better world by the year 2030.