Lauren Rubenstein

Associate Manager of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Smolkin in The Conversation: Why a Centuries-Old Religious Dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Matters Today

Victoria Smolkin

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin explains the historical context and significance today of a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. Smolkin is also associate professor, Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, and a tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Why a centuries-old religious dispute over Ukraine’s Orthodox Church matters today

A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine.

Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and transferred its jurisdiction from the church of Moscow to the church of Constantinople, located in Istanbul.

This competition between the churches of Constantinople and Moscow for dominance in the Orthodox Christian world is not new – it goes back more than 500 years. But the birth of the new Orthodox Church in Ukraine opens a new chapter in this history.

So what is Ukraine’s new church, and how will it change the global political and religious landscape?

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Wall Street International Magazine: “Tula Telfair: Reverie”

Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s new exhibition of landscape paintings, “Reverie,” is presented Feb. 7 through March 30 at the Forum Gallery in New York. According to the article, “In the fourteen paintings that comprise ‘Reverie,’ she explores the inner reaches of her dreams and memories, taking us to places she has been or believes in so fully that she is able to portray and take the viewer to the essential, emotional center of every location as she recalls not only the place, but the sense of discovery, of wonder she felt as she found it.”

2. Hartford Courant: “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: Wesleyan University Expands Hamilton Prize for Creativity Scholarship”

The Courant reports on news that beginning this year, three incoming students will have an opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding creative work under Wesleyan’s prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity. In addition to the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan—the University will also award two honorable mentions, along with $5,000 grants to support creative work. The announcement was also covered in Playbill and The Middletown Press.

3. NBC Connecticut: “National Girls and Women in Sports Day Encourages Girls to Get Out and Play”

Jacobsen Named President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen

On Feb. 8, President Michael Roth announced in a campus-wide email that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen will become the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., beginning July 1.

In announcing Jacobsen’s appointment as president, Hobart and William Smith’s Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Bozzuto said, “President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith. In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values, and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”

Jacobsen joined Wesleyan’s Economics Department in 1993 and has contributed to the University in myriad ways—as a scholar, teacher, and administrator—since that time.

In the all-campus email, Roth wrote, “As a leader of the University, Joyce has touched nearly every aspect of university operations—overseeing the entire academic enterprise at Wesleyan, including Athletics, Institutional Research, and Community Partnerships. She has also been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, and has helped create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborated on admission and enrollment strategies.”

Wesleyan to Expand Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Wesleyan has announced that it will expand opportunities for incoming students under its Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which was established in the 2016–17 academic year in honor of Wesleyan alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (writer/creator/original star) and Thomas Kail ’99 (director) of the international phenomenon, Hamilton: An American Musical.

Over the past two years, more than a thousand students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration. A distinguished selection committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, headed by honorary chairs Miranda and Kail, reviewed submissions and chose one winner each year to receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan. Read about past winners here and here.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The New York Times: “Anthony Braxton Composes Together Past, Present and Future”

Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, is profiled. Among other ongoing projects, Braxton has spent much of the past four years working on his newest opera, “Trillium L,” which, he says, “is a five-day opera”—if it is ever performed.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: “That Bit of Philosophy in All of Us”

Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, is interviewed about his book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus.

3. The Guardian“The Blake-Wadsworth Gallery of Reborn Dolls”

This original short story by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and professor of the practice, English, follows a woman coping with her elderly mother’s memory loss.

Meislahn to Retire as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

 Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Meislahn is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history.

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, recently announced that she will retire. Meislahn will leave the University in September after the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she will admit to Wesleyan.

Meislahn came to Wesleyan from her previous role at Cornell University in January 2000 and is the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan history. Over the past two decades, she has overseen a period of enormous growth and progress in Wesleyan admissions. For the Class of 2004, the first class admitted under Meislahn, Wesleyan received fewer than 7,000 applications and had a 27 percent acceptance rate. In contrast, nearly 13,000 applicants sought a spot in the Class of 2022, which enrolled this fall, and the acceptance rate was only 17 percent. Applications from students around the world increased dramatically during this period, and the international student population on campus has doubled.

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have,” Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In an email to the campus community, President Michael Roth ’78 wrote, “Nancy has led an admission and financial aid operation that embodies core Wesleyan values. She spearheaded several important initiatives to make Wesleyan more affordable for families in need of financial assistance, and expanded access to students from underrepresented backgrounds who may not have even considered applying here in the past.” Examples include building on long-standing relationships with organizations like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance and creating new partnerships with QuestBridge and the Posse Veteran Scholars Program.

Under Meislahn’s leadership, the Office of Admission also transitioned to an entirely paperless operation, introduced a test-optional policy, made Wesleyan’s admission process friendlier to undocumented and DACA-status students, and implemented two different database systems.

Roth added, “Nancy’s passion for her work and for Wesleyan shines through to all who meet her, whether it’s in cheering on our lacrosse and rowing teams, celebrating the creative work of our faculty and students, or in declaring ‘Say Yes to Wes!’ every spring.”

“I’ve often said this is simply the best job,” said Meislahn. “I’ve been so fortunate to work with some of the smartest, best educated, and most committed staff in admission and financial aid. As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have.”

Roth said that he intends to conduct a national search to find a successor, and will share more information in the coming months.

Meislahn staffs the desk inside the newly-remodeled Office of Admission.

Sawhney Speaks at Tata Mumbai LitFest

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian Studies, spoke on a panel about the way in which outsiders write about India at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. Other panelists included, from left, memoirist Carlo Pizzati, Sawhney, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, second from left, spoke on a panel at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest about the way in which outsiders write about India. Pictured, from left, are fellow panelists: memoirist Carlo Pizzati, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, recently participated in Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. The ninth annual event was held Nov. 15–18 in Mumbai and was attended by more than 100 participants from around the world.

At the festival, Sawhney participated in a panel discussion about the way in which outsiders write about India, and how outside perspectives have shaped both Euro-American and South Asian perspectives on India.

“A lot of this conversation focused on the undying legacy of empire, and we had a nuanced conversation about issues of representation and authenticity, a discussion that seemed very relevant to parallel conversations occurring here at Wes,” he said. “The conversations were obviously focused on books and writers, and there were some big writers there, such as Allan Hollinghurst. But there were also provocative conversations about contemporary political issues, such as the rise of right-wing extremist policy and rhetoric in both Indian and North American politics.”

Alumni, Family Members Gather for Hamilton Performance in Hartford

On Dec. 18, approximately 100 Wesleyan alumni and family members as well as staff gathered at The Bushnell in Hartford to celebrate the Connecticut debut of Hamilton: An American Musical, the Tony Award-winning musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99. Hamilton is currently touring the U.S., with a run at the Bushnell Dec. 11-30, 2018.

Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Rich Marinelli)

Attendees also enjoyed a reception before the performance at the Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theater.

Attendees also enjoyed a reception before the performance at the Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theater.

Jack Mitchell '61 gave a toast to Barbara-Jan Wilson, special advisor to the president, who in December retired as long-time vice president for University Relations.

Jack Mitchell ’61, GP’16, gave a toast to Barbara-Jan Wilson, special advisor to the president, who in December retired as long-time vice president for University Relations.

Wesleyan Receives $250,000 Mellon Foundation Grant to Support Artist Residency, Commission Program

Wesleyan has considerable experience hosting artist residencies of varying length and complexity. Pictured is artist-in-residence Eiko Otake with Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance students in 2017. (Photo by Brendan Plake, courtesy of Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.)

Wesleyan has considerable experience hosting artist residencies of varying length and complexity. Pictured is visiting artist-in-residence Eiko Otake with Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance students in 2017. (Photo by Brendan Plake, courtesy of Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.)

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Wesleyan a $250,000 grant to implement an innovative artist residency model to deepen engagement with the arts on campus and expand their impact in the community. The grant will be spent over three-and-a-half years, in a period ending in June 2022.

Wesleyan has a long history of hosting artist residencies, in which visiting artists offer master classes and give talks based around a single performance or art installation. Most residencies have been relatively short-term, with a few notable exceptions. Under the Mellon grant, the University will establish an expanded version of the artist residency model with a focus on commissioning original, innovative work. Resident artists will teach a semester-long course, and will become embedded in a particular department but also work across departmental and community borders. They will also conceive and develop a piece of art or performance with student interns/apprentices who are integrally engaged in the generative process over a 12-month period, and premiere that commissioned piece as part of Wesleyan’s presenting or exhibition season or, depending on the work, in a venue off campus.

“Historically, universities have been crucial for artistic experimentation, and Wesleyan has long been a home for adventurous, creative work. With support from the Mellon Foundation, we will nurture, support, and promote innovative artistic work,” said President Michael S. Roth. “Our goal is to give artists the resources and stimuli to help them be cultural catalysts, while also infusing the arts more deeply into campus life at Wesleyan.”

Tucker in The Conversation: In ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ an Ode to the Gas Lamp

Jennifer Tucker

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker explores our ongoing romance with the gas lamp in connection with the new Mary Poppins film. Tucker is also associate professor and chair, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; associate professor, science in society; and associate professor, environmental studies.

In ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ an ode to the gas lamp

Mary Poppins Returns” transports audiences back to 1930s London.

The beloved nanny at the center of the original 1964 hit film will return, this time played by Emily Blunt.

But Mary’s original companion, Bert, a chimney sweep played by Dick Van Dyke, has been replaced by Jack, a lamplighter played by Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02].

Some fans of the original might be disappointed to see Bert cede screen time to Jack. But as a historian of Victorian science, I was delighted to see a bygone industrial technology – the gas lamp – take center stage.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

1. Los Angeles Times“As the World Warms, Deadly and Disfiguring Tropical Diseases Are Inching Their Way Toward the U.S.”

In this op-ed, Professor of Biology Frederick Cohan and Isaac Klimasmith ’20, both in the College of the Environment, write that infectious disease is a growing threat, resulting from climate change, that humans may find hard to ignore. Cohan is also professor, environmental studies and professor, integrative sciences.

2. Hartford Courant: “Trump’s Immoral Response to Climate Report”

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, writes in this op-ed that it is “irresponsible” and “immoral” to ignore the findings of a major new report on climate change. Delaying action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will be increasingly damaging and expensive, he writes. Yohe is also professor of economics and professor, environmental studies, and was a reviewer on the new National Climate Assessment. He also recently co-authored an op-ed in HuffPost titled “People Are Already Dying by the Thousands Because We Ignored Earlier Climate Change Warnings.” 

3. National Geographic: “Both of NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft Are Now Interstellar. Where to Next?”

With both of NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft now having crossed the threshold into interstellar space, Seth Redfield, associate professor and chair of astronomy, comments on what the spacecraft are likely to encounter on their journey. Redfield is also associate professor, integrative sciences, and co-coordinator of Planetary Science.

4. Inside Higher Ed: “Ordinary Education in Extraordinary Times”

President Michael Roth writes in this op-ed that in uncommon times, “traditional educational practices of valuing learning from people different from ourselves have never been more important.”

Recent Alumni News

  1. The Takeaway; WNYC Studios: “Politics with Amy Walter: Pentagon’s First-Ever Audit Exposes Massive Accounting Fraud”

David Lindorff ’71, the investigative journalist who wrote an exclusive on the topic for The Nation, joins Walter’s guests—including Staff Sergeant Patricia King, Ambassador Eric Edelman, and Dr. Isaiah Wilson III, a retired Army colonel and senior lecturer with Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs—to discuss military spending and its alignment with the military’s strategic goals.

Yohe Attends Nobel Week in Stockholm

Gary Yohe, left, with Nobel Prize winner Bill Nordhaus, right, and his wife, Barbara, center, at Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gary Yohe, left, with Nobel Prize–winner Bill Nordhaus, right, and his wife, Barbara, center, at Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, attended the 2018 Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden, Dec. 7–11, as a guest of William Nordhaus, the Yale University professor of economics who received this year’s Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Nordhaus was recognized for his work “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis.” Nordhaus was Yohe’s dissertation advisor at Yale and inspired Yohe’s own decades-long career studying the economics of climate change. Yohe himself received a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Yohe joined Nordhaus’s family and other invited colleagues at Nobel Week. The group, which called themselves the “Stockholm 2018 Climate Club,” enjoyed the Nobel Lectures, the Nobel Concert, the Nobel Prize Ceremony, and the Nobel Banquet.

“That the Nobel Committee chose to recognize Bill for the Economics Prize ‘for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis’ is a big deal,” said Yohe. “It means that young scholars who want to apply their growing knowledge of economics to improve the abilities of communities, cities, states, nations, civil society, and even global institutions to respond to the existential threat of climate risk should be met by a welcoming audience. These responses and the need to explore fully long-term issues across enormous and challenging plains of uncertainty clearly lie within purview of legitimate economic science.”

Put another way, said Yohe, “It means that the economics profession has a new branch of applied and theoretical inquiry. Nearly the entire gathering in Stockholm seemed to say ‘It’s about time.’”