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Wesleyan Student Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 Dies in Fatal Car Accident

Daniel "Danni" Jewell-Tyrcha

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha was a member of the Class of 2022. Jewell-Tyrcha died on Jan. 26 following a motor vehicle accident in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of wayup.com)

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 of Scituate, Mass., succumbed to injuries following a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Middletown on Jan. 25. Jewell-Tyrcha was 20 years old.

They were double majoring in American studies and African American studies.

In an all-campus email on Jan. 26, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you of the death of Wesleyan student Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22. … We offer our condolences to Dani’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

According to Jewell-Tyrcha’s wayup profile, Jewell-Tyrcha’s interests were “creating progress and social change, traveling the world and learning about new cultures, helping end human rights abuses, and writing.”

Students struggling with this tragic event can contact the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), or a class dean. Faculty and staff who need support may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-854-1446.

“Wesleyan is a caring community. We are all here to help one another,” Roth wrote.

Expressions of condolence may be sent to Mike Whaley, who will collect and forward them to Jewell-Tyrcha’s family.

Men’s Basketball Scrimmages, Learns from Local Wheelchair Team

Spokebenders

The men’s basketball team recently met, mingled, and scrimmaged with members of the Connecticut Spokebenders Wheelchair Basketball Team.

Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team recently learned what it’s like to dribble, pass, guard, and shoot baskets without ever setting foot on the court.

On Jan. 21, the team traveled to New Britain, Conn., to meet members of the Connecticut Spokebenders Wheelchair Basketball Team. The Spokebenders are one of the longest-running competitive wheelchair basketball teams registered with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).

After watching the team practice, the Spokebenders welcomed the Cardinals to participate in a few drills via wheelchair, and eventually challenged the Wesleyan athletes to a scrimmage.

“Thankfully they took it easy on us,” said Wesleyan Assistant Coach Tyler Gaffaney. “Afterwards, we mingled and got to know each other and called it a day. It was a great experience all around.”

Former Virginia Governor Baliles ’63, Hon. ’88, Remembered

Gerald Baliles ’63, Hon. ’88, who had served as the 65th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, died Oct. 29, 2019. He was 79.

A government major at Wesleyan, he earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. After a stint in the Virginia attorney general’s office, he practiced law in Richmond, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1976, he became the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1981, and was, during his term, selected by his peers as Outstanding Attorney General of the United States.

Elected governor in 1985, he served in that capacity from 1986 through 1991. An obituary in the Richmond Times Post noted that as governor, “[h]e delivered on his promise to make transportation an economic building block, with new roads and improvements to the port and airports in Virginia. He saw education as the key to economic development, raising teachers’ salaries and fully funding school budgets. . . . His continuing leadership was recognized by the National Governors Association when he was elected as its chairman during his term.”

Students Volunteer with Civic Organizations Over Winter Break

Perri Easley '23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., to educate students about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the U.S. Census, the Electoral College, and voter suppression. Easley worked with Rock the Vote, a non-partisan group dedicated to building the political power of young people. (Photo by Steve Patchett).

Perri Easley ’23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., to educate students about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the US Census, the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. (Photo by Steve Patchett)

The first cohort of students participating in the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative dedicated their winter breaks to working for voter registration and issues advocacy groups, as well as for a range of candidates for presidential, congressional, and local offices.

The 18 students participating over winter break were stationed in states as far-flung as Georgia and Alaska, New York and Arizona. Wesleyan awarded over $20,000 to assist with participants’ living and travel expenses while they conducted this work.

Many students chose to work with organizations advocating for particular issues, including criminal justice reform, housing justice, reproductive rights, and immigration.

Others focused their efforts on voter engagement and registration. Perri Easley ’23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., and at the Morris County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America to educate young people about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the US Census, the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. Voter registration drives were held at both events for high school students who are of eligible age to register to vote.

Wesleyan Connection Celebrates 15 Years of News Distribution

Wesleyan Connection

The Wesleyan Connection newsletter is celebrating its 15th anniversary in January 2020.

This January, The Wesleyan Connection newsletter celebrates 15 years of providing news about our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and campus happenings.

The Connection, spearheaded by the Office of University Communications, debuted in January 2005 as the University’s first electronic newsletter. It replaced the former Campus Report, a printed newsletter for faculty and staff.

“By going electronic, we were able to share institutional messages and stories with all students, alumni, and parents as well,” said Campus News Editor Olivia Drake MALS ’08, who has served as the publication’s editor since its founding. “The Connection continues to be a popular vessel for communicating highlights about and achievements of the Wesleyan community, and we’re very thankful for our loyal readership.”

To date, the Connection has published more than 7,590 articles.

In honor of the newsletter’s 15th anniversary this January, we looked back on 15 highlights from the past 15 years (in no particular order):

They are:
1. Wesleyan Establishes Hamilton Prize for Creativity (2016)
On June 15, 2016, Wesleyan announced the establishment of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, a four-year full-tuition scholarship that honors Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, who created and directed the hit Broadway musical for which the prize is named. The prize is awarded to an incoming student who has submitted a creative written work—whether fiction, poetry, lyrics, play, script, nonfiction, or another expression—judged to best reflect originality, artistry, and dynamism. Miranda and Kail serve as honorary chairs of the judging committee, which is composed of other Wesleyan alumni and faculty.

obama

Senator Barack Obama delivered the Commencement Address in May 2008.

2. Prominent Speakers, Alumni Deliver Commencement Addresses

President (then-Senator) Barack Obama Hon. ’08 delivered the 176th Commencement Address in May 2008.

Award-winning writer, director, and producer Joss Whedon ’87 delivered the 181st Commencement Address in May 2013.

Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 delivered the 183rd Commencement Address in May 2015.

And Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered a profound Senior Class Welcome during the 180th Commencement Ceremony in May 2012. Odede created and co-directs the Kibera, Kenya–based organization Shining Hope for Communities with his wife, Jessica Posner ’09.

2. Wesleyan Selects Michael Roth as 16th President (2007)
Michael Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007. Roth is known as a historian, curator, author, and public advocate for liberal education. Roth’s call for a “pragmatic liberal education” is the cornerstone of both his scholarship and his administrative work at Wesleyan.

black lives matter

On Dec. 8, approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March on campus and in downtown Middletown.

3. Students Lead Black Lives Matter March Through Campus, Middletown (2014)
Activism seems to run through the blood of many Wesleyan students, over many generations. One of the largest demonstrations in the past 15 years occurred on Dec. 8, 2014, when approximately 1,000 students, faculty, and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March. The participants marched in a show of solidarity with national protests against discriminatory treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system and incidents of police brutality. The group started at Exley Science Center, marched across campus, and proceeded down Washington Street to the Main Street intersection, chanting “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “we can’t breathe.”

4. Wesleyan Raises $482 Million in THIS IS WHY Campaign (2016)
Wesleyan closed out its most successful fundraising campaign ever on June 30, 2016, with $482 million raised, far surpassing the original goal of $400 million. The biggest share, $274 million, went to financial aid, making a Wesleyan education possible for motivated and talented students who could not otherwise afford to attend. More than 36,000 donors gave to the THIS IS WHY campaign.

2020 JCCP Student Innovation Fund Grantees Announced

This month, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships announced the grantees of the JCCP Student Innovation Fund.

Students from a range of majors and backgrounds—all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community—applied to this fund. The Student Innovation Fund provides up to $750 for spring or summer projects that prioritize:

  • Collaboration between student groups, faculty/staff, and/or community partners;
  • Investigation of the impact of our civic engagement efforts; and
  • Sharing of ideas and learnings in civic engagement on campus and beyond.

All student efforts are representative of the JCCP’s continued commitment to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

This year’s Innovation Fund grantees are:

farmingMiddletown Urban Farming Symposium
by Syed Hussain ’21

The 2019 Middletown Urban Farming Symposium is a bold project that looks to build on the current local and national momentum around food justice. This symposium seeks to bring together disconnected but passionate forces in the local food justice movement: farmers (and prospective farmers/gardeners), municipal government officials, environmental and social justice activists, and Wesleyan students.

Musical Mentoring
by Mariel Baitenmann-Middlebrook ’20

A partnership between Oddfellows Playhouse and Cardinal Kids, this program provides individual music mentoring from a Wesleyan University student. These lessons are tailored to fit the individual needs of different learners, and the mentors work closely with their students to develop their musical skill and interest.

Coach Black Inducted Into New England Wrestling Hall of Fame

Drew Black

Drew Black

Wesleyan wrestling head coach Drew Black was inducted into the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Hall of Fame Jan. 19 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I. The induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the NEWA Dual Meet Championships.

Black is the only coach in the 2020 NEWA Hall of Fame Induction Class. He’ll was joined by former wrestlers Joseph Adam of Trinity, Brian Glatz of WPI, and John Marsh of Bridgewater State, as well as contributor Dwayne Dawson of Western New England.

“To be called a coach is an honor. Coaching at Wesleyan is an honor and it has been a tremendous and impactful life experience for me. I want to thank John Biddiscombe for believing in me and hiring me 22 years ago,” Black said. “It is great to work for and work with people at Wesleyan who care about the sport of wrestling. Someone once said, ‘A coach impacts more lives in one year than most people do in their lifetime.’ I hope I have been able to make a positive impact on our Wesleyan wrestlers’ lives and I look forward to continuing to do so for many more years ahead.”

Black is in his 22nd year at the helm of the Wesleyan wrestling program and 26th year coaching overall. He is the winningest coach in Wesleyan wrestling history (which began in 1934), and entered the year with a 209-178-2 overall record at Wesleyan. Black also spent three years coaching at Phoenix College (junior college) and one year at Stow-Monroe Falls High School in Ohio.

Wesleyan in the News

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

Wesleyan in the News

1. The Washington Post: “How One College Is Helping Students Get Engaged in Elections—and, No, It’s Not Political”

President Michael Roth writes about Wesleyan’s initiative to engage students meaningfully in work in the public sphere ahead of the 2020 elections, and calls on other colleges and universities to do the same. He writes: “Now is the time for higher education leaders to commit their institutions to find their own paths for promoting student involvement in the 2020 elections. This kind of direct participation in civic life provides an educational benefit that will help students develop skills for lifelong active citizenship; participants will gain organizational skills, learn to engage productively with others with whom they disagree and learn about themselves.”

2. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: “Nicole Stanton Will Be the Next Provost at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut”

Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton will begin her new role as Wesleyan’s 12th provost and vice president for academic affairs on May 15. She joined Wesleyan in 2007 as associate professor of dance, and currently serves as dean of the Arts and Humanities.

Alumni Gather at Liberal Arts + Film and Storytelling Forum in Mumbai

Liberal Arts Forum Mumbai

Indian director Navdeep Singh, Wesleyan Professor Scott Higgins, and director and Wesleyan alumnus Matthew Weiner ’87, P ’18 spoke at the Liberal Arts + Film and Storytelling forum in Mumbai, India, on Jan. 12.

On Jan. 12, several creatives gathered in Mumbai, India, to share valuable insights on liberal arts and the impact of Indian cinema on global entertainment.

The event, Liberal Arts + Film and Storytelling: A Wesleyan University Forum, brought together Wesleyan faculty, distinguished alumni, aspiring students and their parents, and the wider Wesleyan community across the globe.

Speakers included Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78; Scott Higgins, Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies and director of Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image; and acclaimed global film- and entertainment-industry personalities Matthew Weiner ’87, P ’18, and Navdeep Singh. Weiner is known as the creator of the hit television series Mad Men and The Romanoffs, and Singh is an Indian director best known for his Bollywood film NH10.

“I have always admired Wesleyan University and its focus on liberal arts education,” said event host Manisha Ajay Vaghani P’18. “They provide unique cross-cultural learning experiences and offer graduates the opportunity to explore different professional paths around the world. By hosting this event, we hope to give audiences a sense of Wesleyan’s distinct culture and its strong interdisciplinary educational approach, and thus spread the word to more suitable students.”

Roth and Higgins discussed the experience of studying film in a liberal arts context, and how Wesleyan’s distinctive education prepares students to be leaders in the film and entertainment industry.

Pearl Creates MILTON, a Performance, Community Engagement Experience

miltonFrom Wisconsin to Massachusetts, Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl has visited five small American towns named Milton and developed a series of performances, each focused on (and performed in) a particular Milton.

Since 2012, Pearl and Lisa D’Amour—known collectively as PearlDamour—have led the performance and community engagement experiment.

In November 2019, PearlDamour released MILTON, a book that includes the full text of PearlDamour’s North Carolina performance, along with photos and excerpts from performances in Oregon and Massachusetts, and essay reflections on the process and practice of community-based art-making.

For more than 20 years, Obie-Award winning PearlDamour has pushed the boundaries of theatrical experience both inside and outside traditional theater spaces. PearlDamour’s work also includes the 8-hour performance installation How to Build a Forestinspired by Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill and devised for traditional theatre stages; and Lost in the Meadow, created for a 40-acre hillside at Longwood Botanical Gardens outside Philadelphia, exploring the short-sightedness of humans. They were honored with the Lee Reynolds Award in 2011 for How to Build a Forest, and with an Obie Award in 2003 for Nita and Zita.

This spring, Pearl is teaching the THEA 381 course Directing II.

MacQueen, Coolon, Mukerji Receive NIH Academic Research Enhancement Awards

Three Wesleyan faculty recently received Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

R15 grants stimulate research at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. Awards provide funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing health-related meritorious research projects, enhancing the research environment at eligible institutions and exposing students to research opportunities.

Amy MacQueen

Amy MacQueen

Amy MacQueen, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a $492,900 award on Aug. 7 for her research titled “How do Synaptonemal Complex Proteins Mediate the Coordinated?”

MacQueen investigates the molecular mechanisms that underlie how reproductive cells (sperm and eggs in humans and spores in yeast) form. In particular, she focuses on how the genetic material (DNA)—which is packaged into chromosomes—is evenly distributed during the cell division cycle (meiosis) that gives rise to reproductive cells.

Watanabe Explores Japanese Historical Tale in New Book

flowering talesTakeshi Watanabe, assistant professor of East Asian studies, is the author of Flowering Tales: Women Exorcising History in Heian Japan, published by Harvard University Press in January 2020.

The book is the first extensive literary study of A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (Eiga monogatari), a historical tale that covers about 150 years of births, deaths, and happenings in late Heian society, a golden age of court literature in women’s hands.

According to the publisher:

Takeshi Watanabe contends that the blossoming of tales, marked by The Tale of Genji, inspired Eiga’s new affective history: an exorcism of embittered spirits whose stories needed to be retold to ensure peace.

Tracing the narrative arcs of politically marginalized figures, Watanabe shows how Eiga’s female authors adapted the discourse and strategies of The Tale of Genji to rechannel wayward ghosts into the community through genealogies that relied not on blood but on literary resonances. These reverberations, highlighted through comparisons to contemporaneous accounts in courtiers’ journals, echo through shared details of funerary practices, political life, and characterization. Flowering Tales reanimates these eleventh-century voices to trouble conceptions of history: how it ought to be recounted, who got to record it, and why remembering mattered.