Olivia Drake

Fall Harvest Celebrated with Middletown Community at Pumpkin Fest

During Long Lane Farm’s annual Pumpkin Festival, members of the Wesleyan and Middletown communities learned about local organic farming and food politics while enjoying free veggie burgers, hot cider, vendors, live music, and various crafts, including pumpkin painting.

“Pumpkin Fest is just the kind of event that provides a moment for residents and students to meet for food, music, and laughter,” said farmer Elle Bixby ’23. “Long Lane Farm’s mission of providing a place for growing sustainable food in a community spirit is a perfect backdrop for reminding students that there is more to the Wesleyan campus than just classrooms and books, and for connecting our greater Middletown community to some of the experiences provided by the school.”

The organic, student-run farm has celebrated its fall harvest at the festival since 2004. Long Lane Farm supplies high-quality organic food to local residents of the Middletown area as well as to food pantries and soup kitchens.

“Pumpkin Fest is a wonderful opportunity to bring together the Wesleyan and Middletown communities through an afternoon of farm festivities, while also providing Long Lane Farm with a platform to share more about the work we do on the farm,” said farmer Debbra Goh ’24.

As part of the farm’s mission, proceeds generated by Pumpkin Fest bake sales go to a selected Middletown charity or organization. This year, proceeds went to the Middletown Mutual Aid Collective.

“It was wonderful to see the community show up to support such an important cause, and it was amazing to be able to have Middletown residents back on the farm with us,” Goh said.

This year’s event featured music by Dachelle, Clay Rodgers Band, Miranda Finn, Audrey Mills, Bella Amenta, Lilly Gitlitz, Skye Hawthorne, and Emily Bloom. This year’s vendors included the Green Fund, Wesleyan Natural History Museum, Botany Club, Bread Salvage, Cardinal Kids, Wesleyan Sustainability, WesCoven, Wesleyan Jewish Community, WILD Wes, WesVo, and Eco-facilitators. Sponsors included the College of the Environment and Bon Appetit.

Pumpkin Fest co-organizer Cambria Tsai Weaver ’22 says Pumpkin Fest is her favorite event of the year.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the College of the Environment for supporting us, to the Long Lane collective members for working their butts off to make it happen in two weeks, and to the Middletown community for showing up in a big way,” she said. “I’ll leave Wes with the fond memory that we were able to pull this one off one last time before I graduated!”

Said Bixby, “Pumpkin Fest wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful without everyone coming together with an eye towards social harmony between campus and town.”

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Willow Saxon ’25 and Milly Hopkins ’25)

pumpkin fest

pumpkin fest

pumpkin fest

pumpkin fest

Consul General of Japan Visits with Wesleyan Students, Faculty

Consul General of Japan

Gregory Boyko, honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut; Hideshige Sakurai, assistant to the Consul General of Japan in Boston; Ann Zhang ’22; Setsuo Ohmori, Consul General of Japan in Boston; and Felice Li ’25 gathered in front of Olin Library during a student-led campus tour (in Japanese) on Oct. 14.

Felice Li ’25 met, mingled, and offered a campus tour to one of Japan’s sōryōji—or consuls general—during a recent visit to Wesleyan.

“As a new student here, I felt very excited to show the consul general our campus and what I had explored here so far,” Li said. “I lived in Tokyo before coming here, so I was excited to present the tour in Japanese.”

Li was among several students and faculty who spent the day with Consul General Setsuo Ohmori, who is the highest-ranking Japanese consul in Boston. The CG supports the safety and stability of the Japanese people, and works to build upon the friendship between Japan and the United States.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Variations on the Body, written by María Ospina, is reviewed in The New York Times. “Ospina’s debut collection opens not with a bang but a scratch: The protagonist of the first story faces the irritation of a shirt tag. The body troubles, you see. Welts appear. The heart becomes a defiant pump. Pregnancy happens, whether or not it is a vocational disqualification. Then, of course, there’s the dying thing.” (Oct. 15)

In a release made by the Associated Press, Mary Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion, comments on an article about actor William Shatner going to space. “American dominance in space, nobody cares about it. It’s Bezos who says, ‘We can’t go on living like this. We have to save the planet,'” Rubenstein says. What results, she says, is “a kinder, gentler colonialism” in which humans take to orbit under premises that seem justifiable but require closer scrutiny. (Oct. 12)

In Federal News Network, Mark Masselli Hon. ’09, P’15, ’16 interviews former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb ’94 whose new book outlines America’s epic failure in our response to the pandemic, leading to more than 700,000 deaths. Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic examines the inherent flaws at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public agencies that left us vulnerable to the raging pandemic. (Oct. 11)

Bery ’21, Haddad Share Climate Action Plan Study with United Nations

bery haddad

Sanya Bery ’21 and Professor Mary Alice Haddad spoke at the United Nations Innovate 4 Cities Conference Oct. 14.

In a new study linked to her 2021 high honors thesis, Sanya Bery ’21 discovered that cities that house universities have a significant likelihood of adopting ambitious climate action plans.

“It is clear that as plans become more ambitious, there is a higher concentration of university cities, and as plans become less ambitious there is a lower concentration of university cities,” she said. “[These cities] efforts will be critical to the world’s effort to combat climate change.”

Bery, who majored in government and environmental studies, is currently collaborating with Mary Alice Haddad, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, on a peer-reviewed article that includes Wesleyan and Middletown climate topics, and on Oct. 14, the duo presented Bery’s findings at the United Nations Innovate 4 Cities Conference.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that CO2 emissions must reach net zero by 2050 to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of global climate change. Cities alone, according to the IPCC, emit more than 70% of the world’s emissions.

In order to study climate action plans, Bery took a tangible, qualitative approach to measure the “ambitiousness” of the action by creating a scorecard. She explored a dataset of 169 cities, nationwide, that are signatories in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. This was in addition to her thesis, where she looked at 66 cities with fewer than 100,00 residents.

Posse Veteran Scholars Program Bring Diverse Backgrounds to Campus

Malik Booker '25

Malik Booker ’25 served with the U.S. Navy.

Malik Booker ’25 isn’t the average first-year student.

At age 26, the potential computer science and College of East Asian Studies major has already served four years with the U.S. Navy as a petty officer third class officer in San Diego, Calif. and the island of Guam. As a former hull technician, he’s a trained welder, pipefitter, and carpenter, and has experience firefighting, repairing boats, maintaining marine plumbing, operating ballast control systems, and inspecting nuclear-level materials.

But honing these skills wasn’t enough for an ideal post-military career.

“I didn’t want to be trapped into [working in the] trades forever,” Booker said. “I wanted to attend college … I wanted to study languages and have time to travel the world.”

Booker, who hails from Racine, Wis., is now among nine first-year students enrolled at Wesleyan through the Posse Veterans Scholars Program. The program identifies, trains, and supports veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees at top colleges and universities. In addition, Wesleyan provides its Posse vets with supplemental funding to cover the cost of tuition.

The eighth cohort of veteran scholars—including Booker, Carlos Ordonez; Desaree Edwards; Lamonte Lyons; Trace Forsyth; Aleck Gao; Nick Jarrett; Terrion Thirsty; and Spencer Turner—bring extensive and unique experiences to the university.

Wesleyan’s Japanese Garden Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Exhibit

japanese garden

Paul Theriault, Center for the Arts art preparator; Stephen Morrell, Japanese garden architect; Ben Chaffee, associate director of visual arts; and Rosemary Lennox, exhibitions manager, gather outside the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Japanese Garden during its 25th-year celebration.

Since 1995, the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Japanese Garden—or Shôyôan Teien—has provided a serene space for meditation, tea ceremonies, and art classes.

Designed, built, and continuously cared for by Stephen Morrell, a landscape architect specializing in Japanese-style gardens, Wesleyan’s Shôyôan Teien is being celebrated through a new exhibit that contemplates the garden’s rich history.

“One’s experience of the garden is meant to be personal,” Morrell said. “By design, it encourages a peaceful intimate relationship where subjective and objective experience merges into present moment being. When that happens you become part of the garden.”

The exhibit, titled 25th Anniversary of the College of East Asian Studies Japanese Garden (Shôyôan Teien), held inside the Freeman Center’s Gallery, showcases sketches, photographs, models, poetry, video, and historical records of the garden.

The exhibition will run through Dec. 10. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

japanese garden

The Japanese garden can be viewed through the Freeman Center’s tatami room (shôyôan). The tatami room was built in 1987 through the generosity of Mansfield Freeman from the Class of 1916. Planned as an educational resource, the ensemble of the tatami room and garden provides a tangible means of experiencing Japanese aesthetics and culture.


Shôyôan was built in September 1987 by master carpenter Takagaki Hiroshi and his apprentice Kaneko Ryosei, using traditional Japanese tools and techniques. In a traditional Japanese house, a similar room would function as a multi-purpose space, serving alternately as a living room, dining room, bedroom, or study.

japanese garden

The garden is host to several plants and trees including Japanese box leaf holly, crimson pygmy barberry, Korean and Japanese boxwood, iris, Yakushima rhododendron, lilyturf, Japanese garden juniper, sedum, Japanese shield fern, and weeping hemlock.

japanese garden

Japanese garden architect Stephen Morrell also designed the meditation gardens for Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, New York, and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, as well as a tea garden exhibition for the New York Japan Society. Since 1981, he has been Curator of the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in Mill Neck, New York.

Photos of the gallery exhibit are below: (Photos by Milly Hopkins ’25)

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden

japanese garden
japanese garden

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Forbes ranks Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John ’99 as the world’s most influential CMO. Saint John, who also is a member of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, took the helm of Netflix’s marketing department last year following her leadership roles at powerhouse brands including Endeavor, Apple and Uber. More than half of the honorees on this year’s list are women and around 20 percent of the list are CMOs who come from diverse backgrounds. (Sept. 29)

The Los Angeles Review of Books interviews New York Times best-selling author Maggie Nelson ’94 about her books The Argonauts and On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint. “My books tend to be very different from each other, so each requires new skills. That keeps me at the edge of what I feel able to do, as a writer,” she said. (Sept. 20)

Also, The New York Times reviews Nelson‘s new book On Freedom. “It’s fitting that On Freedom is dedicated to her son, Iggy, whose presence reminds us, as it has before in her writing (including, memorably, in the candid account of his birth in The Argonauts), that care both enables and constrains our freedom.” (Sept. 5)

In Lit Hub, Poet John Murillo, assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan, is mentioned for being nominated for the $10,000 Maya Angelou Book Award. “Throughout my writing life, I write from and about and to the lives of primarily people in urban situations, so there’s always an aspect of social justice in that sense,” Murillo said. (Sept. 29)

Robyn Autry, associate professor of sociology, speaks to The 19th News about the history of abduction in the United States. “The discrepancy between how women are treated is not surprising and doesn’t feel isolated or random,” Autry said. “It suggests something structural and systemic, and this racism is harder for the mainstream to wrap its mind around. You can get caught up in how these longer histories implicate our criminal justice system — more complicated and harder truths to face.” (Sept. 29)

The dedication of the Jeanine Basinger Center for Film Studies is featured in The Hartford Courant. The center has been in development since 2000. It was completed in three phases, one finished in 2004, one in 2007, and the final phase in 2020. “She is that rare scholar who speaks to diverse audiences through a combination of meticulous research, clear thinking, and elegant writing,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Jeanine has inspired loyalty and love from her students, and she has remained a mentor to many.” (Sept. 27)

On a new podcast hosted by PlayerFM, Ying Jia Tan, assistant professor of history, discusses his new book, In Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882–1955 (Cornell University Press, 2021). Tan explores the fascinating politics of Chinese power consumption as electrical industries developed during seven decades of revolution and warfare. (Oct. 1)

Photographer Alana Perino ’11 is mentioned in V Magazine for being one of 20 finalists for the Creator Labs Photo Fund—a visual art platform which financially help artists who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “From New York City and after having studied European Intellectual History and Photography at Wesleyan University, Alana Perino worked as a photojournalist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts territories. Returning to the United States, Alana continually have been completing several road trips across the country to photograph American landscapes as she seeks for land identity.” (Sept. 30)

In Times Reporter, Amy Swartelé ’93 is mentioned for showcasing her latest works in an exhibit titled “Supernormal” at the Massillon Museum in Ohio. “Supernormal” is a selection from Swartelé s “Carnival-Sideshow” series, where she envisions a group of characters as carnival sideshow performers. The characters combine species, genders, the animate and inanimate, and the paintings are mixed media, including graphite, charcoal, inks, acrylics and oils, on various surfaces. The works range in size from 15- to 64-inches. (Sept. 29)

News 8 WTNH reports that Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, is a finalist for the 17th annual Women of Innovation awards presented by the Connecticut Technology Council and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology. (Sept. 28)

Wesleyan’s 16th annual Eat Local Challenge is featured in The Middletown Press. Themed “limited miles, unlimited flavors,” Wesleyan’s food service provider Bon Appétit was charged with crafting a meal from products and ingredients harvested within a 150-mile radius of the campus — without sacrificing flavor. (Sept. 27)

In The New York Post, Chris Erikson ’87 shares his memories of Willie Garson ’86. Erikson recalls meeting Garson “39 years ago this month, on our first night of Wesleyan University, when I was paired up with an 18-year-old sparkplug from New Jersey on a freshman-hall ice-breaking exercise.” (Sept. 25)

Garson also is featured in The Connecticut Post and The Middletown Press. John Carr, professor emeritus of theater at Wesleyan, recalls going bowling with Garson and now-director Jon Turtletaub. And members of the Theater Department communicated with Garson in 2020 for the college’s first digital alumni reunion. “He showed so much fondness for his Wesleyan background. It was a joy to hear him talk about his work in the TV/film industry. He is a bright star for us that will be missed,” said Assistant Professor of Theater Maria-Christina Oliveras. (Sept. 22)

In Hartford Business Journal and the CT Mirror, Balazs Zelity, assistant professor of economics, discusses why higher-income communities are doing better now because their residents recovered faster from the recession and resumed spending, “A large fraction of the money a person spends ends up in the local economy,” Zelity said. “If a number of local residents re-start their spending, a virtuous cycle of spending will ensue, triggering a recovery. The more residents are in a position to participate in this process, the stronger and quicker the recovery will be.”

The Connecticut Post reports that a team of researchers led by Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment Fred Cohan and PhD candidate Fatai Olabemiwo has discovered new strains of bacteria located on campus that may have the ability to break down microplastics, and aid in the world’s ongoing plastic waste crisis. (Oct. 3)


Student Researchers Discover Potential “Plastic-Eating” Bacteria on Campus

Chloe De Palo '22

Chloe De Palo ’22 explains how potential plastic-degrading bacteria were collected from a soil sample at Long Lane Farm.

A team of researchers at Wesleyan has discovered new strains of bacteria—located on the University’s campus—that may have the ability to break down microplastics and aid in the world’s ongoing plastic waste crisis.

Microplastics, which measure less than .20 of an inch, enter the ecosystem— and our bodies— largely through the abrasion of larger plastic pieces dumped into the environment. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, the average person consumes at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and inhales a similar quantity.

“Plastic is typically classified as a non-biodegradable substance. However, some bacteria have proven themselves to be capable of metabolizing plastics,” said Chloe De Palo ’22. “Ultimately, through our research and experiments, we hope to find an effective method of removing plastic pollutants from the environment.”

Fatai Olabemiwo

Fatai Olabemiwo

De Palo ’22, along with Rachel Hsu ’23; Claudia Kunney ’24; and biology PhD candidate Fatai Olabemiwo are members of the Cohan Laboratory in Microbiology, led by Fred Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology. The team has spent almost two years working on a project titled “Isolating Potential Plastic Degraders from a Winogradsky Column.” They presented their most recent findings at Wesleyan’s Summer Research Poster Session.

On March 7, 2020 the research team gathered soil samples from Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm. They placed samples of the agricultural soil, along with plastic strips, inside a modified Winogradsky column, a microbiological tool for culturing broad microbial diversity. The device—invented by Russian scientist Sergei Winogradsky in the 1880s—is still commonly used today to culture bacteria from natural soil and sediments.


Pictured is a Winogradsky column on day 1 (March 7, 2020) and day 496 (June 28, 2021)

“We modified this wonderful device to yield a range of plastic degrades by placing plastic strips at four different zones inside the column,” Olabemiwo explained. “Then we added a medium called Bushnell-Haas Broth, which contains all the requirements for the growth of the microbes except for carbon, to the modified device.”

Now that the columns are sealed, it’s time to wait—for 16 months.

“During this time, we expected the bacteria to ‘tickle’ the strips and eventually adhere to the strips,” Olabemiwo said.

The experiment worked surprisingly well. After 496 days in the soil-broth mixture, Cohan Lab members removed the plastic strips aseptically. Not only did they weigh less, proving that bacteria were effectively decomposing the plastic, but the strips also hosted a diverse community of bacteria from which the lab members isolated 146 strains.

While the majority of the bacteria cultures could be identified through the National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI) taxonomy browser, the researchers learned that 24 were discovered species but not characterized and classified, and 28 were novel, undiscovered species.

“We’ll actually be naming them, genomically sequencing them, and adding them to the NCBI taxonomy browser, ” Cohan said.

Now that each bacterium is isolated, the Cohan Lab is working this fall to confirm their potential plastic-degrading abilities by feeding them minute plastic discs in a petri dish. If confirmed, the “plastic-eaters” could help biotechnological companies create a product that could remove microplastics from the environment.

Rachel Hsu '23, Kunney, Chloe De Palo '22

Rachel Hsu ’23, Chloe De Palo ’22, and Claudia Kunney ’24 are the undergraduate researchers working on the project.


Rachel Hsu, a biology and psychology double major, holds samples of the isolated bacteria in a petri dish.

Betts Hon. ’21 Named a 2021 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow

Reginald Dwayne Betts Hon. '21 (Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Reginald Dwayne Betts Hon. ’21, who delivered Wesleyan’s Commencement Address for the Class of 2021, received a MacArthur Fellowship this month. (Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

At the age of 16, Reginald Dwayne Betts was arrested for armed carjacking. He was sentenced to prison—where an unknown person slid a copy of Dudley Randall’s The Black Poets under his cell door.

It was this book that sparked a love for poetry and led to his lifelong interest in literature.

“I spent nine years, writing every day, reading every day, imagining that words would give me the freedom to sort of understand what got me in prison,” Betts said. “And when you’re trapped in the cell—literally— words are your only lifeline. And I committed myself to using them to find some semblance of hope.”

Now an award-winning author, poet, and lawyer, Betts—a 2021 Wesleyan Honorary Doctorate of Letters recipient—is the latest Wes alumnus to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Colloquially referred to as a “genius” grant, the fellowship is awarded annually to 25 talented individuals “who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The honor comes with a $625,000 unrestricted award.

Cho to Join Washington Research Consortium on Korea

Joan Cho

Joan Cho

As a newly-selected non-resident adjunct fellow for the Washington Research Consortium on KoreaJoan Cho hopes to showcase South Korea’s democratization through a new scholarly book tentatively titled, Dictator’s Modernity Dilemma: Development and Democracy in South Korea, 1961-1987.

Cho, assistant professor of East Asian Studies, will participate in the multi-year laboratory research project until 2024 through the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The project, titled “The South Korean Pathway: Understanding the Theoretical and Policy Significance of Korean Democracy and Foreign Policy,” will conduct an in-depth analysis of South Korea’s democracy and foreign policy to fill an important gap in the U.S. and European political science literature.

“Current literature overlooks the importance of Asian cases and to the extent that the political science literature uses Asian cases, these are overwhelmingly focused on using the China case to explain why Asia does not fit into mainstream theorizing,” Cho explained.

Collections Celebrated during Constitution Day


During Wesleyan’s celebration of Consitution Day, Richard Dietrich III ’92 Dietrich showed George Washington’s personal copy of the Acts of Congress. Washington not only signed the book, but he also included handwritten words “”President,” “Powers,” and “Required” in the margins. Washington only made such notes in two books. “This is what’s so interesting about these original documents—is that you can see how somebody owned this and what they did with it. So this you know is something that you can interpret was a very important book to him,” Dietrich III said.

In 1789, Congress ordered the printing and distribution of 600 bound copies of the Acts of Congress that contained the founding documents of the Constitution and the establishment of the Union. Of those books, only three remain today, and one is George Washington’s personal copy.

This rare volume, which was bequeathed to Washington’s nephews in 1799, was exchanged and sold to several collectors for 165 years until it was acquired by former Wesleyan Trustee Richard Dietrich, Jr. ’60, P’92— who established the Dietrich American Foundation in 1963.

“This is the most important book that my father ever had,” said Dietrich’s son Richard Dietrich III ’92. “It immediately put him on the map as a big-time collector at a very, very early age— the age of 24.”

Dietrich III, who is now a director of the Dietrich American Foundation, shared the history of the book and his father’s legacy in collecting during Wesleyan’s annual celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on Sept. 17. Through a talk open to the entire Wesleyan community, Dietrich III and Suzy Taraba ’77, MALS ’10, director of Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives, offered a virtual viewing of documents that helped shaped our nation’s founding.

Although the items were presented virtually, both Taraba and Dietrich III noted that all items owned by the collections are available for in-person viewing. Special Collections and Archives houses more than 10,000 linear feet of university archives, local history, manuscripts, and 45,000 rare books including The Dietrich Foundation’s books and manuscript collection.

“We have a rich collection, and it’s meant to be a teaching collection,” Taraba said. “In a typical pre-pandemic academic year we were doing 80 to 120 class sessions a year across a very broad range of disciplines— from dance to earth and environmental sciences, history, English, many foreign language classes, to languages and literatures. Here, we can offer a very interactive class, rather than a lecture, where students can really have a hands-on opportunity to study and learn about these materials.”

Similarly, the Dietrich American Foundation offers its collection of 18th century American decorative and fine arts, books, and manuscripts to be loaned to museums for public consumption.

“My dad started collecting at Wesleyan. Wesleyan was a place that he loved … it’s a place that instilled in him a love of history and that’s really the sort of the touchstone of what this foundation is— it’s a collection of Americana furniture, paintings, other fine and decorative arts, and books and manuscripts,” Dietrich III said. “Those printed works, maps, atlases, letters, original documents—those to my father were really the raw materials of history and history was the thing that really drove him as a collector.”

hamilton letter

Dietrich III showed this signed letter from Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) to Connecticut elector Jeremiah Wadsworth (1743-1804) about the presidential election of 1796. In it, Hamilton explains why New York should support either John Adams or Thomas Pinckney for the president, and not Thomas Jefferson.  Hamilton was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the Federalist Party.

confederation paper

Dietrich shared a first edition 1777 printing of the Articles of Confederation. “This is a really rare, interesting piece that has real relevance to Constitution Day today. It took four years for states to ratify this … and it really set the stage until a real constitution is written.”


The Federalist: A Collection of Essays Written in Favor of the New Constitution, as Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, are a rare first-collection printing 85 seminal essays by Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), James Madison (1750-1836), and John Jay (1745-1836). These volumes, which were gifted to the Dietrich American Foundation in 2007, remain in the original uncut publisher’s boards. The Federalist papers were published in 1788 and were written as part of an effort to ratify the Constitution.


Taraba also shared a copy of The Federalist papers from Wesleyan’s Special Collections. She noted the pages’ raggedy edge, known as a deckle edge, and how the pages were not cut at the top. “So one thing we can tell for sure about this copy, is that no one actually read from start to finish. This is a copy that was prized from the beginning, kept in it as close as possible to its original state, meant to be saved for posterity, not meant to be devoured by a reader. It’s really fascinating to be able to see something like this and handle something like this in as close as possible to the original state.”

washington paper

In this handwritten letter, owned by the Dietrich American Foundation, George Washington congratulates Benjamin Franklin for successfully negotiating a Treaty of Alliance between France and the United States in 1778. The peace treaty helped secure the independence of the United States.

Dietrich book

Richard Dietrich IIII spoke about the book, In Pursuit of History A Lifetime Collecting Colonial American Art and Artifacts (Yale University Press, 2020), which showcases 18th century American fine and decorative arts owned by the Dietrich American Foundation collection. Dietrich is a co-editor of the volume.


Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, authors a commentary titled “How to read your dog’s mind” in Salon. “For the early 20th-century biologist/ethologist Jacob von Uexküll, the fact that all animals (humans included) have the capacity to be affected by things in their particular environment or world and to respond to them, is evidence that they (like humans) are subjects of their worlds and not merely objects in them. In other words, they are not simply machines reacting to stimuli in the way that Descartes suggested in the 17th century.” (Sept. 4)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb ’94, Hon. ’21 is mentioned in The Washington Post for leading a Washington Post Live talk on Sept. 23. Gottlieb served as the 23rd FDA Commissioner from 2017-2019. In his new book, Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic, Gottlieb shares why the United States was so vulnerable against the coronavirus and how we can stop it from happening again. (Sept. 17)

In The Nation, Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, associate professor in the College of Social Studies, leads a conversation with Samuel Moyn about his new book Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. “Humane warfare is a paradoxical idea with a long history. Essentially, the notion speaks of the attempt to make war less lethal and more ethical for the purpose of minimizing the suffering of soldiers and civilians, a concern that, by the 19th century, had grown on account of the carnage of industrialized and mechanized warfare,” he writes. (Sept. 16)

Theater major Willie Garson ’86, the actor best known for his role as Carrie Bradshaw’s best male friend, Stanford Blatch, in “Sex and the City,” has died at 57. He’s remembered in The New York Times.

Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, co-authored an op-ed in The Hartford Courant titled “As the years since 9/11 have passed, we have forgotten why the attacks took place.” To form a fuller picture of 9/11, Rutland writes, “students must understand at least something about the conditions in the Middle East prior to the attack—frustrated Arab expectations, and a long history of U.S. backing oppressive regimes in the region.” (Sept. 11)

Justin Lacob ’02 shares his memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on MSN.com. “I was in my senior year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and was just about to get ready for class when my housemates burst into my room to tell me that a plane just hit the World Trade Center. As a New Yorker, it was surreal, a punch to the gut moment of heartbreak, grief, outrage, anxiety, and sheer terror. This was a moment before widespread cell phones, before social media, and with telephone networks down across the world, our inability to get in touch with each other provided a whole other level of fear. At that moment, in those hours, before we knew what happened, my friends and housemates and I just had each other.” (Sept. 10)

In American Towns, Kaneza Schaal ’06 is mentioned for “exorcis[ing] the ghost of King Leopold II through a mytho-biographical performance” during the Crossing the Line arts festival in New York City Nov. 4-6. Building off Mark Twain’s King Leopold’s Soliloquy published in 1905, a fictional monologue written after Twain’s visit to Congo Free State, and Patrice Lumumba’s 1960 independence speech in Congo, Schaal “considers the residue of colonialism in our everyday lives.” (Sept. 15)

Yahoo! Finance explores the net worth of Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15. “By far, Miranda’s largest paycheck has come from ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ As one of the original cast members, not to mention the writer, composer and lyricist for the show, Miranda earned $6.4 million annually while starring as Alexander Hamilton on Broadway.” (Sept. 14)

In an op-ed published in Portside, Julia Boland ’20 discusses gerrymandering which carves up communities based only on the partisan inclinations of each household. “The public has an important role to play in pushing back against the practice, but it’s important to understand that recognizing unfair maps means considering more than just the shapes of their districts,” she writes.  (Sept. 19)

Wesleyan University is mentioned in The Hartford Courant for being ranked No. 17 for Best National Liberal Arts College by U.S. News and World Report. Wesleyan also was cited for being No. 14 for Best Value Schools; No. 1 for Best Colleges for Veterans; No. 48 Best Undergraduate Teaching; and No. 122 Top Performers on Social Mobility. (Sept. 13)

Wesleyan’s Creative Writing Specialization offered on Coursera is featured in The Herald as one of the “10 Best Writing Help Online Resources Every Student Must Know.” “If you aim to polish your creative writing and want to apply your skills professionally, Coursera has gathered a series of free courses from Wesleyan University. It is aimed at beginners with no prior experience, takes about 6 months to complete, and offers subtitles in 10 languages for overseas learners.” (Sept. 15)