Olivia Drake

Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon. ’94 Remembered for Accomplishments as Wesleyan’s President

President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon.’94 passed away on June 10 at the age of 79.

“He believed that Wesleyan gave him so much, and he gave back unstintingly with deep affection,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campus email.

Bennet served 12 years as president, retiring in 2007. He oversaw the rejuvenation of the heart of the campus—from Memorial Chapel to Usdan University Center and Fayerweather—as well as the addition of the Freeman Athletic Center and the Film Studies Center.

Bennet set an ambitious strategic direction for Wesleyan with two planning initiatives, the first of which became the basis for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign—at that time the most successful campaign by far in the University’s history. Under his leadership, Wesleyan saw a 25 percent growth in applications for admission, a doubling of the endowment, and an invigorated relationship with Middletown.

Bennet’s presidency was the culmination of a distinguished career that included service as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under President Clinton, chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio, and head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

When Bennet announced his intention to retire as president, he spoke about the “Bennet family love affair with Wesleyan since 1929,” the year that his father enrolled as a first-year student.

“Doug never stopped showing his love for Wesleyan, and he, in turn, was a beloved member of the Wesleyan community. He will live on in our cherished memories and in Wesleyan history,” Roth wrote. “Please join me in expressing our sympathy to (his wife) Midge, (children) Michael ’87, Holly ’94, James, and the entire Bennet family.”

Read more on NPR, in the Hartford Courant, Politico, and The Denver Post.

Grant Supports 240 Hours of Folk Song Digitization for the World Music Archives

For 30 years, musicians such as Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Alice Gerrard, Tom Paley, and Hedy West performed at a small café in upstate New York. The business’s owner, Phil Ciganer, recorded the multiple musical acts on reel-to-reel tape and cassettes, and in 2004, he donated thousands of hours of material to Wesleyan’s World Music Archives in hopes of the University making them available for education and research.

For more than a decade, WMA was able to release small segments of the collection, but now, thanks to a $48,573 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), more than 240 hours of these recordings will be digitized and available for in-house listening at the World Music Archives.

The targeted content contains 123 audio cassettes and 47 tape reels, recorded by Ciganer during the Great Hudson River Revival Festival and the Bear Mountain Festival of World Music and Dance between 1978 and 1982.

Frenzel Remembered for Scholarship on Medieval Music, German Culture

Peter Frenzel

Peter Frenzel, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Studies, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, May 20, 2018, at the age of 82.

Frenzel arrived at Wesleyan in 1966 after receiving his BA from Yale, MA from Middlebury, and PhD from the University of Michigan. He retired in 2003. During his 37 years at Wesleyan, Frenzel served on virtually every major committee, including advisory and educational policy, and he served in a number of administrative roles, including associate provost, dean of arts and humanities, chair of German studies, director of the Wesleyan Program in Germany, and as the Commencement Marshal. In his retirement, Frenzel served on the Advisory Board for the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty and was editor of the center’s newsletter. He was a carillonneur who oversaw Wesleyan’s carillon bells, and he played the glockenspiel with the pep band during football games.

Ulysse Commissioned to Create Work for British Museum

Gina Athena Ulysse.(Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

Gina Athena Ulysse. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

In response to an exhibit focusing on the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology, presented a commissioned work on March 16 at the British Museum.

The exhibit, titled “A revolutionary legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture,” featured a selection of objects, artworks, and poetry from the 18th century to the present. Objects explored the legacy of the Haitian Revolution and its leader Toussaint Louverture. Louverture was one of the leading figures in the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 as an uprising of enslaved men and women in what was then a French sugar colony. It culminated with the outlawing of slavery there and the establishment of the Republic of Haiti.

Ulysse, a Haitian-born artist-anthropologist, presented a multivocal remix of words (archival and oral history, poetry, personal narrative) titled “Remixed ode to rebel’s spirit: lyrical meditations on Haiti and Toussaint Louverture.” Her response is online here.

Ulysse’s audio accompaniment also includes a contemporary juxtaposition of Vodou chant with words of anti-imperial protest. While the U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, a religion practiced by people in the African diaspora was suppressed. During the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Vodou helped unite communities and helped enslaved people to organize themselves against injustice.

2017–18 Athletic Season Concludes with 2 National Championships

The Cardinals played in front of almost 21,200 fans May 27at the NCAA National Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.

The 2018 spring season will go down as the greatest in Wesleyan University Athletics history.

At left, Victoria Yu ’19 and Eudice Chong ’18 played each other at the NCAA Division III Individual Championships.

On May 26, Eudice Chong ’18 of the No. 5-ranked Wesleyan University women’s tennis team made history at the NCAA Division III Individual Championships in Claremont, Calif., as she became the first person to win four NCAA Singles Championships in any division of college tennis. She competed against her teammate, Victoria Yu ’19, in the finals while the duo also finished as runner-up in the doubles bracket. As a team, Wesleyan women’s tennis reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships for the first-time ever. Read a Q&A with Chong and Coach Mike Fried here.

And on May 27, the men’s lacrosse team won the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship with an 8–6 victory over No. 3 Salisbury University at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Senior Harry Stanton, the program’s all-time leader in goals, was named the Most Outstanding Player as he scored two more, including an assist on another. Read a Q&A with Coach John Raba here

Thomas’s Science Paper Examines Earth’s Oxygen Levels over Geological Time

Ellen Thomas

Throughout time, rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels have been crucial to the habitability of environments at the surface of the Earth.

“The Earth had no free oxygen gas in its atmosphere early on,” said Ellen Thomas, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences. “The oxygen has been provided over time by photosynthesis of algae followed by storage of organic matter in rocks.”

Thomas, who also is research professor of earth and environmental sciences, examines the timing of oxygen formation in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans over geological time in a study published in the May 2018 issue of Science.

The paper, titled “Late Inception of a Resiliently Oxygenated Upper Ocean,” stems from a multiyear, multinational, multiauthor research effort that explores the time trend and causes of increased oxygenation during the current Phanerozoic Eon, which began more than 542 million years ago. Thomas and her colleagues used iodine geochemistry to determine that the upper section of the ocean became rich in oxygen much later than previously predicted, linked to evolution of oceanic phytoplankton.

The research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant at Wesleyan and coauthored by scientists at Syracuse University and the University of California, Riverside.

The study also is featured in the May 2018 issue of Science Daily and Phys.org.

Robinson Lab Coauthors Study on Compulsive, Drug Addiction Behaviors

Mike Robinson studies how individuals react differently when presented with a junk food diet.

Mike Robinson

Drug and behavioral addictions like gambling are characterized by an intense and focused pursuit of a single reward above other healthier endeavors. Pursuit of the addictive reward is often compulsively sought despite adverse consequences.

In a newly published study, Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and integrative sciences explored how our decisions can become narrowly focused onto one particular choice. He and his research team used laser light (optogenetics) to activate the central portion of the brain’s amygdala (CeA), an area normally known for its role in generating responses to drug-related and fearful stimuli.

The study, titled “Optogenetic Activation of the Central Amygdala Generates Addiction-like Preference for Reward,” appears in the May 2018 issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience. Robinson Lab members Rebecca Tom ’16, MA ’17, Aarit Ahuja ’16, Hannah Maniates ’16, and current graduate student Charlotte Freeland coauthored the article and participated in the study.

11 Faculty Promoted, 3 Receive Tenure

Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology. and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of dance received tenure, effective July 1.

Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology; and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of dance, recently received tenure.

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure to three faculty members, effective July 1: Roger Grant, associate professor of music; Clara Wilkins, associate professor of psychology; and Marcela Oteíza, associate professor of dance. They join eight other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, eight faculty members are being promoted: Kim Diver, associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences; Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history; Katherine Kuenzli, professor of art history; Joyce Ann Powzyk, associate professor of the practice in biology; Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, professor of psychology; Charles Sanislow, professor of psychology; Patrick Tynan, adjunct professor of physical education; and Tiphanie Yanique, professor of English.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Kim Diver
Diver is an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) whose research focuses on island biogeography. She promotes the use of GIS and other geospatial data analysis and visualization across the curriculum by providing GIS consulting to faculty, as well as a WesGIS workshop series. She has partnered with many local community groups to offer a GIS Service-Learning Laboratory course that allows students to apply GIS concepts and skills to solve tangible problems in the surrounding community. In addition to this service-learning lab, she offers courses on Introduction to (Geo)Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization; Introduction to GIS; and Advanced GIS and Spatial Analysis.

Baerman, Stanton Receive Artist Fellowship Awards

Noah Baerman

Nicole Stanton

Two Wesleyan faculty were honored for their artistic excellence by the 2018 Artist Fellowship Program.

Nicole Stanton, associate professor of dance, African American studies, and environmental studies, and Noah Baerman, director of the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, each received a $3,000 grant in the program’s Performing Arts category.

The Artist Fellowship Program recognizes individual Connecticut artists in a variety of disciplines and allows these artists the opportunity to pursue new works of art and to achieve specific creative and career goals. The program is highly competitive: for the 2018 round, more than 235 applications were received and reviewed by 48 professional panelists representing a wide array of artistic disciplines.

Baerman and Stanton are among 39 artists in the state of Connecticut awarded Artist Fellowship Grants.

Stanton will use her Artist Fellowship to work on a movement-based performance tentatively called “The Welcome Table.”

“I’m interested in using the lens of food—its preparation, its cultivation, and the ways in which people, families, and communities consume and dispose of it—as a way of telling black women’s stories,” she explained. “I want to explore the ways questions of food justice, social justice, and environmental justice all interweave in women’s lives.”

Stanton already presented a version of the piece at the We Create Festival: Celebrating Women in the Arts in Boston in April (pictured), and she’s working towards a campus showing for the fall semester.

Baerman will use his award to seed the development and recording of a recent body of work in response to the loss of Claire Randall ’12, who was murdered in December 2016. Randall was Baerman’s student and subsequently became a collaborator both in music and in the work of Resonant Motion, Inc. (RMI), a nonprofit Baerman directs that addresses the intersection of music and positive change.

“After Claire was murdered, I began composing to process both my own grief and that of others bereaved by the loss, many of them also former students of mine at Wesleyan,” Baerman said. “The music was diverse enough stylistically that I couldn’t initially see how it might eventually come together, nor was that a short-term priority. Now I intend to take space to develop this music and eventually compile it into an album that embraces this eclecticism and the emotional rawness of the subject matter.”

The album will, in turn, serve as a benefit for Claire’s Continuum, an initiative that RMI is developing to commission new collaborations on music and interdisciplinary work that addresses social causes.

Hüwel’s Book Examines the Physics, Technology of Timekeeping

Lutz Hüwel, professor of physics, is the author of the book Of Clocks and Time, published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers in April 2018.

According to Hüwel, Of Clocks and Time takes readers on a five-stop journey through the physics and technology—and occasional bits of applications and history—of timekeeping. He offers conceptual vistas and qualitative images, along with equations, quantitative relations, and rigorous definitions.

The book includes discussion of the rhythms produced by the motion of sun, moon, planets, and stars, a summary of historical theoretical insights that are still influential today, examination of the tools that allow us to measure time, as well as explanations of radioactive dating and Einstein’s theories of relativity.

The book is available for downloading and for Kindle.

Krishnan Debuts Choreography at UC Davis, Jacob’s Pillow

"16 Shades of Red,

Hari Krishnan performs in “16 Shades of Red.”

“16 Shades of Red,” a full-length choreography created by Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance, premiered at the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis, on May 12 and 13. Krishnan is a member of inDANCE, one of Canada’s most progressive dance companies. “16 Shades of Red,” presented in two chapters, integrates original courtesan dance from South India, complex choreography, and live music.

At Wesleyan, Krishnan teaches Bharata Natyam, or South Indian classical dance.

“BN1 and BN3 students had performed material this semester at Wesleyan so incredibly well, and it was a crucial layer to building this new work,” Krishnan said. “I truly appreciate my job at Wesleyan where pedagogy and choreography are inextricably intertwined.”

In addition, Krishnan will be a Pillow Scholar-in-Residence June 20–24 at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass. On June 22, he will debut his solo choreography “Black Box 3,” which showcases virtuosic Bharatanatyam technique. The work features complex footwork, intricate gestures, architectural design, and a pulsating sound design of Indian, global percussion, and vocalized drum syllables.

Krishnan will offer a talkback following the performance.

Students Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Seventy-eight members of the Class of 2018 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society.

On May 26, 78 members of the Class of 2018 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society. The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded in December 1776 by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi-Beta-Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes. This essentially means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The spring 2018 inductees are:

Ryan Adler-Levine, Rachel Alpert, Dakota An, Vera Benkoil, Nicole Boyd, Kerry Brew, Chloe Briskin, Hailey Broughton-Jones, Maxwell Burke Cembalest, Steven Le Chen, Taylor Chin, So Young Chung, Danielle Cohen, Darci Collins, Theresa Counts, Isabelle Csete, Emmet Daly, Joshua Davidoff, Rocco Davino, Nicole DelGaudio, Max Distler, Luisa Donovan, Rhea Drozdenko, Dasha Dubinsky, Rebecca Eder, Sara Eismont, and Julia Gordon.

Also Chris Gortmaker*, Jack Guenther, Kenneth Sabin Hecht, Brandon Ho, Mariel Hohmann, Josephine Jenks, Melissa Joskow, Joanna Korpanty, Gretchen LaMotte, Julia Lejeune, Ariana Lewis, Aryeh Lieber, Anran Liu, Caroline Qingyuan Liu, Maya Lopez-Ichikawa, Christine Mathew, Maile McCann, Louis Medina, Joel Michaels, Eva Moskowitz, Emily Murphy, Andrew Olivieri, Paul Partridge, and Joanna Paul.