Olivia Drake

Wesleyan in the News

Several Wesleyan faculty and alumni have appeared in national media outlets recently. They include:

March 23
The Island Now – Earth Matters – A Brief History of Long Island Sound. Mentions that in 1892, 23 students at Wesleyan came down with typhoid, with four deaths, from eating contaminated oysters.

Morning Star via PR Newswire – College Consensus Publishes Aggregate Ranking of the 100 Best Colleges & Universities for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

Sugarcane Magazine – Incarcerated Poets Laureate: Recognizing Unseen Creators in Florida. Mentions that through his nonprofit, O, Miami, P. Scott Cunningham ’00 builds community through literature.

March 24
Market Screener – Lyndsey Layton ’86, a longtime editor and reporter at The Washington Post, will be the new deputy editor for policy for The New York Times Climate desk.

Patch – Reads Together: All Black Kids’ Author. Mentions that president emerita of Spelman College Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, Hon’15, P’04 led a conversation on “Race and Racism.”

Associated Press – Fulcrum Therapeutics Appoints Dunn as President of Research and Development. Features Judith A. Dunn PhD ’98.

Hamlet Hub – Conversations: “Truth, Myth and Democracy” at Ridgefield (CT) Library. Mentions that Western Connecticut State University psychology professor Daniel Barrett ’86 will moderate the discussion.

PR Web – The Top 100 Stanford MBA Alumni In Finance & Investing. Mentions Wesleyan’s Chief Investment Officer Anne Martin.

The Middletown Press – Wesleyan student named Middletown Newman Civic Fellow. Features Emily McEvoy ’22.

March 25
90.5 WCBE via NPR – The Chauvin Trial Isn’t Technically About Race – But Jury Selection For It Has Been. Quotes Sonali Chakravarti, associate professor of government, “who has studied the role of race in jury selection.”

Profit Quotes – Lacuna Technologies Adds New Board of Directors. Mentions Rashida Richardson ’08, who “brings over a decade of experience as a lawyer, researcher, and advocate specializing in race, emerging technologies and the law to the Lacuna Board of Directors.”

Street Insider – Gran Tierra news. Mentions Sondra Scott ’88, COO of Verisk Financial, who “has more than 25 years of experience as an energy and risk analytics business leader.”

Street Insider – Vertiv Holdings Co. news. Mentions Jacob Kotzubei ’91, who was selected to serve on the Vertiv Holdings Board “due to his experience in executive management oversight, private equity, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactional matters.”

DNYUZ – Poem: Note to Black Women in America. Features a poem by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers whose latest collection, “The Age of Phillis,” was published by Wesleyan University Press.

Market Screener – IMV Inc. Appoints Kuvalanka to Board of Directors. Mentions that Kyle Kuvalanka ’90 serves as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Goldfinch Bio, a kidney precision medicines company.

March 26
The Middletown Press – Middlesex United Way: Workplace campaigns create a lasting impact on communities. Mentions that Wesleyan “increased its overall campaign by $4,000 compared to last year.”

March 27
Washington Post – What Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd means for America. Quotes Sonali Chakravarti, associate professor of government.

Variety – NAACP Image Awards 2021: The Complete Televised Winners List. Mentions “The Age of Phillis” by Honorée Jeffers (Wesleyan University Press) is the winner of the Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry category.

March 28
Cornell Sun – S.A. Debates Ethics of University Partnership With Chinese Universities and ICE. Mentions that Wesleyan has established itself as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students.

Reality Times – Can’t Sleep? Why Your House Might Be To Blame And What You Can Do About It. Mentions a study at Wesleyan “found that subjects who sniffed lavender oil for two minutes at three, 10-minute intervals before bedtime increased their amount of deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning.”

CPTV – Diana Martinez ’07, assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, was featured on the CUTLINE series as a facilitator for “Democracy and Community with UConn Democracy & Dialogues Initiative.” (Martinez begins speaking at 24:14.)

March 29
Associated Press – McDonald’s Names Desiree Ralls-Morrison as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Features Desiree Ralls-Morrison ’88, P’21, who earned a “bachelor of arts in economics and political science from Wesleyan.”

News Times – Middletown’s two first – and only – female mayors broke much ground. Quotes Former Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton: “We have a wonderful, vibrant downtown community, especially with [Wesleyan University] and the (Connecticut) river. You have cultural diversity in theater, the hearts, and a central location. This is a hidden gem.”

Independent Mail – Catherine Coleman Flowers is always in ‘good trouble.’ It’s a blessing for rural America. Features Catherine Coleman Flowers, who will receive an honorary degree from Wesleyan during the 2021 Commencement.

Shoot – Director Haymon Joins O Positive For Commercials. Features Miranda Haymon ’16, visiting instructor of theater.

Business Insider – One of America’s Richest Black People is Hiding in Plain Sight. Features Herriot Tabuteau ’89 (subscription needed).

March 30
Celebrity Mirror – 5 Facts About Producer Grillo, She Was David O. Russell’s Wife And Baby Mama. Features Janet Grillo ’80 who “graduated with a magna cum laude and special honors in theater from Wesleyan.”

Street Insider – Western New England Bancorp news. Mentions executive director John Bonini ’90, “who assumed the position of General Counsel on January 1, 2021.”

Street Insider – INX Limited news. Mentions David Weild ’78, the founder, chairman and CEO of Weild & Co., Inc.

View other recent Wesleyan in the News stories here.

Stamford Advocate – Middletown’s Community Health Center to receive $16.2 million in COVID relief. Mentions the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at Wesleyan.

Talking Biz News – Politico reporter Maldonado set to depart. Features Samantha Maldonado ’13, energy and environment reporter at Politico, who Maldonado has a “BA in sociology and creative writing from Wesleyan University.”

March 31
The Day – History Matters: The day the music died. Mentions Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, “who is an American music scholar and one of the founders of the New England Sacred Harp Convention.”

Journal Now – Wake Forest football notebook: Mentions Ben Thaw ’20, who was promoted to graduate assistant after spending the fall of 2020 as a recruiting intern for the Deacons.

Street Insider – Helix Acquisition Corp news. Mentions John Schmid ’85, who “currently serves as a member of the board of directors of AnaptysBio, Inc., Neos Therapeutics, Inc., Poseida Therapeutics, Inc., Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Forge Therapeutics, Inc., all pharmaceutical companies, and as the chairman of the board of directors of Speak, Inc., a speakers bureau, which he helped found in 1989.”

Insider – 56 celebrities you probably forgot guest-starred on ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ Mentions Wesleyan.

Rochester Business Journal – Clark Patterson Lee news. Mentions that Susannah Betts ’15 has been hired as a marketing coordinator and has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Wesleyan.

Street Insider – Oaktree Acquisition Corp. Mentions John Frank ’78, P’12, who “holds a BA degree with honors in history from Wesleyan” and “is a Trustee of Wesleyan University.”

Tumblehome – Upcoming Tumbleocity Programs. Mentions that Ellen Prager ’84 will speak to children on April 7 about adventures in Ilulissat, Greenland.

April 1
Artforum – A History of Violence. Mentions “Little Poems in Prose” translated by Keith Waldrop and published by Wesleyan University Press.

Eyewitness News 3 WFSB New Britain – Colleges preparing to offer vaccines to students. Mentions that the Community Health Center Inc. will be hosting a two-day walk-up clinic for Wesleyan University students later this month.

Fox 61 – Wesleyan University planning to offer COVID-19 vaccines on all-campus students. Mentions the Wesleyan Argus and Dean Rick Culliton.

Darien Times – Wesleyan University students enjoy spring break safely on Middletown campus. Mentions that Wesleyan University students welcomed a two-day study hiatus during spring break, March 23-24. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students remained in Middletown during the recess.

PR Newsire – College Consensus Publishes Aggregate Consensus Ranking of the 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

April 2
Stamford Advocate – Wesleyan University Professor Talks Ocean Exploration in Vox Podcast. Features Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Patch – Fishers in Connecticut: A Zoom Talk at Canton Library. Features Wildlife Conservationist Paul Colburn ’79, who will lead a discussion on April 28.

Street Insider – Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. news. Mentions Michael Kishbauch ’71, P’07 who has a “BA in biology from Wesleyan University.”

April 3
The San Diego Union-Tribune – Arthur Kopit, three-time Tony-nominated playwright, dies. Features Arthur Kopit P’05, who taught at Wesleyan.

San Mateo Daily Journal – San Mateo announces new city attorney. Features Prasanna Rasiah ’94, who “graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from Wesleyan University.”

April 5
The Middletown Press – Chamber On the Move. Mentions that Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 will deliver the keynote address for the Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Luncheon on April 27.

The Nation – Among the Rank and File: Nikolai Gogol in the twilight of empire. Mentions that “in a new collection of Gogol’s short stories, translated by Susanne Fusso, a professor of Russian studies at Wesleyan University, readers are reintroduced to the familiar cast of characters-identified by their rank, of course-that populate many of the Ukrainian author’s most celebrated works, including The Nose and The Overcoat.”

MSN – See What Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Sons Look Like All Grown Up. Features Julia Louis-Dreyfus Hall P’14 and Henry Hall ’14, whose band, “Grand Cousin, got their start when Henry was still a student at Wesleyan University.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer – New film office prize goes to a screenwriter who rediscovered herself in Philly. Mentions Matthew Frishkoff ’21, “a Wesleyan University senior,” who won a $500 prize for best student script.

Raw Story – How the media got hoodwinked by Republican talking points. Features an op-ed by John Stoehr, a former visiting assistant professor of public policy.

The Middletown Press – Danbury vaccination clinic reaches 1,000 shots per day as area COVID cases continue to climb. Mentions that Middletown’s Community Health Center plans to hold clinics with Wesleyan University before students return home at the end of the semester.

April 6
Street Insider – Invitation Homes Inc. news. Mentions John Rhea ’87.

Street Insider – CSG Systems International news. Mentions Frank V. Sica ’73.

Herald Chronicle – Chegg hires Sony Executive Lauren Glotzer as new Chief Strategy Officer. Features Lauren Glotzer ’94.

Hartford Courant – Hartford coffee shop Story and Soil expanding into Middletown. Story and Soil is expanding to a second location inside Wesleyan RJ Julia Booksellers in Middletown.

Press Telegram – Ontario-raised poet John Murillo receives Claremont’s $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award. Features John Murillo, assistant professor of English, who was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.

View all recent Wesleyan in the News stories here.

McEvoy ’22 Named 2021 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

Emily McEvoy

As Newman Civic Fellow, Emily McEvoy will join 211 other community-committed students from the U.S. and Mexico for access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2021–2022 academic year. McEvoy has a deep-rooted interest in town-gown relations with the City of Middletown. (Photo by Willow Saxon ’24)

When Emily McEvoy ’22 began her college career at Wesleyan in 2018, she felt a deep sense of detachment from the local environment. At a campus in the middle of her home state, how could this be? The insularity, she says, was jarring, and she decided to dedicate her time to combat this issue.

McEvoy immediately became involved with several local organizations, including Middletown’s North End Action Team, and the student cohort of volunteers who helped staff their office. Most recently, McEvoy has been an organizer with the Middletown Mutual Aid Collective, which has raised close to $70,000 to support Middletown residents in need.

“I developed a love for canvassing the neighborhood,” McEvoy said. “I like personal conversations with people, and I like deeply understanding the histories and issues at the table . . . before I do anything else.”

McEvoy’s leadership efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed, and in March, she was named a Campus Compact 2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

Wesleyan in the News

Several Wesleyan faculty and alumni have appeared in national media outlets recently. They include:

March 10
EIN Presswire – AcademicInfluence.com Announces the Top-Ranked Private Graduate Schools in the U.S. for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

March 11
The Middletown Press – Wesleyan University: COVID tests essential for return to in-person learning. Focuses on Wesleyan employees’ efforts in creating the COVID-19 testing site.

Market Screener – Safari Energy Reaches 500th Commercial Solar Project. Mentions that Safari Energy’s first project was a small, three-kilowatt (kW) solar system installed at Wesleyan and how “that project was quickly expanded with the addition of a 92 kW rooftop solar system and a 111 kW solar parking canopy system at the university.”

Market Screener – Langham Hospitality Investments: Re-election of Retiring Directors. Mentions that economics major Ceajer Keung Chan ’79 has been an independent non-executive director of the company since August 2018.

The New London Day, via Yahoo News – Students adapt as pandemic continues to affect higher learning. Mentions Yalissa Rodriguez ’23, “a 19-year-old sophomore at Wesleyan University studying neuroscience.”

March 12
American Theatre – Old Globe Names 2021 Classical Directing Fellows. Mentions Edward Torres, assistant professor of the practice in theater.

American Theatre – Where the Year Went: A Look Back, and Forward. Features Katie Pearl, assistant professor of theater.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education – Three Black Scholars Appointed to Endowed Chairs at Yale University. Mentions Tavia Nyong’o ’95.

Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo – Watching the incarnations go by: “Being Ram Dass.” Mentions James Lytton ’69 (Rameshwar Das) and Wesleyan.

AZ Central/USA Today – 30 years of designing award-winning images, this former Creative Director launches her 2nd career as a fine art painter. Features artist, art director, and graphic designer Amy Feil Phillips ’81.

Stamford Advocate – Intelligent.com Announces Best Colleges In Connecticut for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

March 13
The New York Times – Enjoy a Book Tour in Your Living Room. Mentions author Kaitlyn Greenidge ’04.

Middletown Press – Acclaimed Poet and Memoirist Chosen as Wesleyan’s Graduation Speaker. Features Wesleyan.

CT Post – Vaccinated students still need to be tested. Mentions that Wesleyan reported three new cases of COVID-19 this past week.

All Events In – Art History from Home: Stories from the Collection. Mentions Josh Lubin-Levy ’06, visiting instructor in curatorial practice in performance.

March 14
The List – Net Worth: The Hamilton Star Makes More Than You Think. Features Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15.

Daily Republic – Mystery author virtual guest of Solano County Library. Features Edwin Hill ’93.

March 15
Newsfeeds Media – In the Heights Drops Two Trailers Plus New Photos. Mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and Wesleyan.

Worcester Business Journal – Movers & Shakers. Mentions retired investment professional Cynthia Strauss ’76 and Wesleyan.

March 16
Boston Review – Derek Chauvin and the Myth of the Impartial Juror. Op-ed by Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti.

PressFrom – Bill Belichick opened up the wallet, but will it work? Mentions Bill Belichick ’75, P’07, Hon.’15 and Wesleyan.

Middletown Police Department via Facebook – Thanks Wesleyan’s Office of Public Safety for raising over $430 for a local family displaced by a fire.

March 17
Middletown Press – Middletown Pride fest to kick off Pride Month with a virtual parade. Wesleyan is a sponsor.

Market Screener – Flywire Launches eStore. Wesleyan uses Flywire to improve process efficiencies and reduce financial risk. Quotes Controller Valerie Nye.

Vox – How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth. Features geologist Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Digital Music News – Audiomack Hires “Heems” Suri To Oversee South Asian Expansion. Mentions that Audiomack appointed Himanshu Suri ’07 to the newly created position of director of marketing and South Asian music strategy.

Roswell Park — Subspecialists Take On New Leadership Roles with Roswell Park Pathology Team. Mentions Dr. Gregory Freund ’83 and Wesleyan.

PBS NewsHour – In ‘Grief and Grievance,’ Black artists explore aspects of loss in contemporary life. Quotes Glenn Ligon ’82.

Vanity Fair – The Angelification of Girls: Winx Club as a neo-liberal-catholic project. Mentions Ellen Nerenberg, Hollis Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, professor of Italian (article appears in Italian)

March 18
Street Insider – Form 10-K SQZ Biotechnologies. Features bio on Amy Schulman ’82, P’11.

Connecticut Patch — Obituary for Ann M. Wightman, 70, of Middletown. Mentions the Ann Wightman Scholarship Fund, Wesleyan University. Whitman was a professor of history, emerita.

Screen Rant – How I Met Your Mother: 5 Times The Show Was Sex Positive (& 5 It Wasn’t). Mentions the characters attended Wesleyan.

Smithsonian Magazine – How Film Helps Preserve the World’s Diversity. Mentions filmmaker Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus.

The Good Men Project – We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Valuing Nature: Healthy Ecosystems Essential to Meeting Paris Agreement. Mentions Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Emeritus.

Street Insider – Form 424B4 Olo Inc. Mentions Warren Smith Jr. ’78, who “is a Trustee Emeritus of Wesleyan University and is a former member of Wesleyan’s Investment Committee.”

March 19
Baltimore Sun – Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to present Patriots coach Bill Belichick ’75, P’07, Hon.’15 with keys to the city next month.

The New York Times – Excellence Runs in the Family. Her Novel’s Heroine Wants Something Else. Features Kaitlyn Greenidge ’04 and Kirsten Greenidge ’96.

March 21
Yahoo! news via The Los Angeles Times – Op-Ed: Forgiveness in an Age of Cancel Culture by Michael Roth ’78.

The New York Times – Greg Steltenpohl, Pioneer in Plant-Based Drinks, Dies at 66. Quotes Chris “Kiff” Gallagher ’91, a longtime friend who also worked with Mr. Steltenpohl.

Street Insider – Design Therapeutics news. Mentions John Schmid ’85.

Street Insider – Oaktree Acquisition Corp. news. Mentions Trustee John Frank ’78, P’12.

March 22
The List – What You Don’t Know about Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02, Hon.’15].

The Hollywood Reporter – NAACP Image Awards. Mentions the winner of  Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry The Age of Phillis – Honorée Jeffers published by Wesleyan University Press.

March 23
Street Insider – Frontier Group Holdings news. Mentions Howard Diamond ’89.

Haymon ’16, Morreale ’19 Discuss Theatermaking

miranda

Katherine Brewer Ball, assistant professor of theater, joined her former students Sam Morreale ’19 and Miranda Haymon ’16 over Zoom for a conversation about Haymon’s work and aspirations.

On March 18, the Center for the Arts presented “A Conversation with Theater Artist Miranda Haymon ’16.” Haymon, visiting instructor of theater, is Wesleyan’s inaugural Breaking New Ground Theater Artist-in-Residence, a new residency that brings early-career Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) theater artists to campus.

The discussion was led by Sam Morreale ’19. During the conversation, Haymon discussed artistic processes, Blackness, queerness, Brechtian analysis, the impacts of the pandemic on artmaking, and ideas for the future.

Haymon compared a theater performance to a “living document” in which the performance, audience, and actors are constantly changing.

“The work changes, and I change; we’re all changing. It’s that kind of symbiosis that I find really comforting actually. So I think a lot of my work is focused on the pure theatricality of the thing I love—when my actors are sweating, and they’re breathing hard, and they’re crying,  . . .  they’re laughing or they’re dancing. I’m obsessed with the human body; I’m obsessed with what it can do. I’m obsessed with what it can’t do. How can we make meaning from the human body?”

Haymon’s residency at Wesleyan is co-sponsored by the Theater Department, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Center for the Humanities, the African American Studies Department and the Center for African American Studies, and the Center for the Arts.

Haymon also has two related upcoming events:

  • A virtual Lunchtime Career Talk at noon, April 6, for Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. Haymon will discuss their career post-Wesleyan as a freelance artist working in theater, television, film, and commercials, and how COVID-19 has shaped and changed that journey. RSVP is required.
  • Haymon’s upcoming radio play version of Pedro Pietri’s The Masses Are Asses (1974), on WESU Middletown 88.1FM at 10 p.m. on May 13 and May 20, 2021. The Masses Are Asses is an absurdist satire that exposes issues of social class, parodies the notion of the American Dream, and plays with political parody.
Miranda Haymon ’16

Haymon is a Princess Grace Award/Honoraria-winning director, writer, and curator. Recent projects include A Cakewalk (Garage Magazine & Gucci), Really, Really Gorgeous (The Tank), Everybody (Sarah Lawrence College), In the Penal Colony (Next Door @ New York Theatre Workshop, The Tank), and Mondo Tragic (National Black Theater). Haymon has held directing fellowships at Women’s Project (WP) Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, and Arena Stage.

sam

Sam Morreale ’19 is an advocate and facilitator for QTBIPOC+ (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color) storytellers and makers. Most of their work takes form through producing, directing, and consulting, particularly with a practice rooted in anti-racism and anti-oppression, transformative justice, healing, and harm reduction. Morreale’s recent work includes being a facilitator/curator for Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater Community Conversations, and a consultant for ART/NY, Center Theatre Group, and Boston Court Pasadena.

Miranda Haymon ’16

“You really have a great eye for taking up topics for conversation that are on our minds now, and also the existential crises of our generation, like climate change and technology and culture,” Morreale said to Haymon.

penal colony

Haymon began writing and directing In the Penal Colony at Wesleyan in 2014, and it premiered at The Tank in 2018. Adapted from Franz Kafka’s short story of the same name, Haymon’s play investigates the performance of power, patriarchy, and punishment. “Penal Colony felt incredibly generative, incredibly time-consuming,” Haymon said. “The notion of the penal colony is all about punishment. It’s about how we punish each other. If we should be done with it. If it should continue just because it’s part of history.”

haymon

Haymon shared a performance of their self as BB Brecht, a social media influencer named in honor of German theater playwright Berthold Brecht. BB Brecht uses he/him pronouns and focuses on the ideas of suffering, alienation, and desperation and what it means to be human. “I think that for me as an artist, BB Brecht [gives me an opportunity for] all of my interests to converge,” Haymon said. “I’m really eager to use every single tool I have, which is directing music theory, culture, social media, Instagram, my time in Berlin, my German studies major—converge under this roof of an opportunity for me as an artist to really express every single facet of my identity as an artist and frankly as a person.”

Lin ’22 Wins Biophysical Society Poster Award

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

During the 65th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting held virtually Feb. 22–26, Shawn H. Lin ’22 was honored with an Undergraduate Poster Award for his work on “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin, a Wesleyan Freeman Scholar, is among only six undergraduate students internationally to receive the award.

Lin’s advisors are Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin’s poster is below (click to enlarge):

Shawn Linn poster

Wesleyan Experts Explore Benefits of Vaccination

vaccinations

On March 15, a panel of Wesleyan faculty and staff experts discussed the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine during a campus-wide webinar titled “Why Get Vaccinated?”

Speakers included Dr. Thomas McLarney, medical director of Davison Health Center; Donald Oliver, Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; William Johnston, John E. Andrus Professor of History; and Frederick Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology. Janice Naegele, Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, and Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division moderated the discussion and welcomed questions from the audience.

Campus Community Explores “Truth (and Lies) in Our Time” During Shasha Seminar

shasha seminar 2021

During the 2021 Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, held March 11–13, participants explored the topic of “Truth (and Lies) in Our Time.”

The Shasha Seminar is an annual educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.

David McCraw, vice president and deputy general counsel for The New York Times, presented the Shasha Seminar’s keynote address titled “Lies and Liberty: The Future of Free Speech in a Divided America.”

“Think about the information ecosystem as a spring-fed lake,” McCraw said. “You need that spring, with its fresh water, to flow and replenish the lake. Think of that as vital public information. And you need to stop people who are polluting the lake. Think of that as disinformation and misinformation.”

Torres Named 2021 Classical Directing Fellow for Old Globe

Edward Torres

Edward Torres

Edward Torres, assistant professor of the practice in theater, was named an Old Globe 2021 Classical Directing Fellow.

Torres has directed multiple productions at the San Diego, Calif.-based Old Globe, including Familiar, Native Gardens, and Water by the Spoonful, as well as two readings for the Powers New Voices Festivals. He recently directed a podcast version of Macbeth for NEXT Podcast and Play On Shakespeare. Torres directed the premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Victory Gardens Theater and Teatro Vista, which won two Jeff Awards. He’s also the artistic director emeritus at Teatro Vista.

Led by artistic director Barry Edelstein, the Old Globe 2021 cohort includes Torres, Meg DeBoard, Yolanda Marie Franklin, and Awoye Timpo.

“COVID-19 forced us to postpone our Classical Directing Fellowship last year, and I am truly delighted that we’ve found a way to gather these four talented directors virtually and resume this exciting work,” Edelstein said in a statement. “Meg, Yolanda, Awoye, and Eddie are deeply gifted, and I know our week together will be full of discovery, growth, and great art.”

The fellowship focuses on Shakespeare’s text, how it is put together, and how it works in the imaginations and voices of American actors.

At Wesleyan, Torres is teaching THEA 183: The Actor’s Experience; THEA 381: Directing II; THEA 427: Performance Practice A; THEA 431: Performance Practice B; and THEA 433: Performance Practice C this spring semester.

Theater Director Kail ’99 Leads Alumni Career Conversation

On March 11, Tony-winning director Thomas Kail '99, presented a fireside chat-style career conversation with the Wesleyan community. Kail's Broadway directing credits include Hamilton, In the Heights, Freestyle Love Supreme, Lombardi, and Magic/Bird. Off-Broadway selected directing credits include Hamilton, Dry Powder, Tiny Beautiful Things, The Wrong Man, In the Heights, Broke-ology, When I Come to Die, and Daphne’s Dive. Broadway producing credits include Derren Brown: Secret and Freestyle Love Supreme. He's also produced shows for television including Fosse/Verdon on FX and Grease: Live on Fox.

On March 11, Tony-winning director Thomas Kail ’99, presented a fireside chat-style career conversation with the Wesleyan community. Kail’s Broadway directing credits include Hamilton, In the Heights, Freestyle Love Supreme, Lombardi, and Magic/Bird. He has also produced shows for television, including Fosse/Verdon on FX and Grease: Live on Fox.

Wesleyan theater majors Milton Espinoza Jr. '22 and Vianca Pérez '22 moderated the event. Nicole Stanton, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs introduced Kail to the audience.

Wesleyan theater majors Milton Espinoza Jr. ’22 and Vianca Pérez ’22 moderated the event. Nicole Stanton, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, introduced Kail to the audience. The event was coordinated by the Gordon Career Center.

Milton

Milton Espinoza Jr. ’22, of Newark, N.J., is studying theater and film. On campus he is known for his activism and artwork for the People of Color (POC) community. He’s directed the Second Stage and Shades’ production of In the Heights and has acted in and produced a variety of different shows and films on campus.

Vianca

Vianca Pérez ’22, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, is double-majoring in theater and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. She has performed in multiple theater, dance, and film productions and co-leads WesInterpreters, a group that provides legal translation and interpretation services to local schools and organizations.

kail

After a 45-minute conversation, Kail welcomed questions from the audience.

Below are comments made by Kail during the conversation:

On working with others: “I work with my best friends. What’s better than that? So I get to go and spend time—10 to 12 hours a day—with the people I respect the most, admire the most. . . . I like to keep a core of people that I have a relationship with in a shorthand and then add 10 new people to the fold to keep on growing. I love meeting new designers, working with new writers, and I’ve done primarily new stuff. I like being in rehearsal. I like being around people that are looking hard at what they do.”

On getting started after college: “There was a friend of mine from Wesleyan who told me about this little theater in New Jersey called the American Stage Company, and I applied to be an ASM (assistant stage manager). . . . I applied to this job and . . . he said, ‘Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re going to drive the van and go pick up the actors. You’re going to sweep the stage. You’re going to help us write the program. You’re going to be backstage running props. You’re going to do anything that needs to be done. How does that sound?’ I said, ‘It sounds like what I need.’ And so I took this job. I got paid $84 a week after taxes. I was living in a basement apartment. I worked six days a week, 18 hours a day. Soup and tuna fish. I can’t get either of them now. . . . I just sort of soaked it all up.”

On theater being economically viable: “Especially early on your career . . . [there’s] no one hiring you but yourself. Can I see myself spending years working on this? Does it give me energy? Does it give me joy? Can I balance that with practicality? You just have to talk to yourself honestly. What are your weekly operating costs as a human wherever you live? You [might have] to wait tables or have some other kind of gig, but it allows you to do the thing that fills you up. Then it’s how long can you sustain that balance, and that’s the question every artist has to ask himself constantly. So it’s really an essential question and one that keeps on coming back. And I think it needs to keep coming back. . . . I had two jobs: I worked as a personal assistant for five years until I felt like I was ready to make the leap and I was able to support myself as a director. But that really didn’t happen until my late 20s—I was almost 30 years old. So it’s also just being aware of what’s necessary to get you to each of those next places. Making a living in the theater is absolutely possible but usually has to be supplemented for some period of time, years and years of your life.”

On meeting Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15: “My friends [and I] worked on shows—a series of shorts—that we did in the Fayerweather Gymnasium, which exists in a different form now, and that’s actually when I first heard about Lin because Lin was doing the show as a freshman. I don’t know about everybody else, but I was not talking to freshmen. I heard about some kid who was borrowing our lights. So we had to share lights with some kid? I was like, who is this? It probably was the first time I heard his name and I cursed his name. Little did I know that [he’d be part of] the next two decades of my life. . . . [Now], if I see Lin digging, and I’m walking by, I don’t ask what he’s doing, I just jump down there and grab the shovel. We’ve never led each other astray. We’ve always been so in sync, and being with him is joyful and we get to make things together.”

On non-directing theater jobs: “I came up a stage manager. I know how hard that job is. I know how hard it is to run the props department or to be backstage. I have an appreciation for my collaborators, and you know, there’s always more to learn, and the best way that I learn is from people. How do you continue to evolve? Put yourself in situations where you don’t go in knowing all of the answers. If you know all the answers then it’s probably time do something else. And so I think if you look at some of the patterns of my career, even though thematically, I think there’s some things that make up [patterns], I tend to not do the same thing twice and occasionally. . . . [W]hat happens often is if you do something pretty well, people say ‘Great, now do it again.’ And I would try to take those opportunities to do something quite different. And I thought that allowed me to continue to expand.”

On bringing diversity and inclusion into the theater industry: “I think it’s the fundamental question of the day, and I think it’s one that we just have to keep way more in the foreground . . . and that includes anybody in any position, whether to a leadership position or not. So the conversations now, as we make new versions of Hamilton with new companies, we’ll talk more directly about what it means to be Black and Brown and telling the story. Embracing the fact that it doesn’t have to be comfortable, but it needs to be respectful and open and truthful, and those are the things that I think matter within the room. . . . So what’s the next evolution of thought for this next generation of storytellers? . . . Stories that have been reaching as diverse an audience as possible.”

On working in theater: “The hard thing is, in theaters, you’ve got to do it every day. No one cares on a Wednesday matinee how good the Tuesday night show was. All they have now is expectations. So you’ve got to deliver. I always think theater is like running a restaurant. You’ve gotta make the meal every time because, ‘I hear the soup’s good,’ so you better make good soup.”

On what he’s watching now: “The thing that is giving me life is on Amazon and it’s Steve McQueen’s Small Axe. It’s five movies about the immigrant experience in London, basically in the late ’60s to 1980s. You can watch one of them, or you can watch them in a row. It’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen in the last year.”

Norris ’83, P’17, Becker ’85 Elected First Woman Chairs at Law Firms

Megan Norris ’83, P’17

Megan Norris ’83, P’17

Barbara Becker '85

Barbara Becker ’85

Two Wesleyan alumnae were elected chairs of prestigious law firms in 2021.

Megan Norris ’83, P’17 was named the first woman CEO of Miller Canfield. And Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher elected Barbara Becker ’85 as chair and managing partner.

Norris, an accomplished litigator, is a nationally recognized expert and frequent public speaker on the topics of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Within the Miller Candield, she has served as the leader of the Employment and Labor Group, overseeing the firm’s large and active team of dedicated employment and labor attorneys and staff. She served for eight years on the firm’s Board of Managing Directors, the last six years as chair.

“In many ways, for nearly 170 years, the firm’s focus has never changed: Our primary purpose is always to serve our clients. And we can’t do so without the best attorneys in the business,” Norris said in a press release. “What is always changing is what our clients need. Clients face budgetary restrictions, so we must adapt to provide high-quality legal services in more efficient ways while remaining profitable.”

Norris graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. At Wesleyan, she was chair of the Alumni Association and is an emerita member of the Board of Trustees.

Becker, a corporate partner in Gibson Dunn’s New York office, will start her new role on May 1. She succeeds Ken Doran, who has led the firm since 2002. (View Becker’s Gibson Dunn profile online here.)

“As the first woman to lead the firm, Barbara’s election is a momentous point in our firm’s history,” Doran said in a statement to Bloomberg Law. “She is absolutely the right person to succeed me.”

For more than a decade, Becker has served as co-chair of the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions Practice Group, which includes 400 lawyers around the world. She has represented Accenture, Kraft Heinz, Merck, News Corp, PepsiCo, and VMware, among others.

Becker received her law degree from New York University School of Law. At Wesleyan, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and also has served on her 25th and 35th class reunion committees and as an active volunteer at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.