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Professors, Alumni Perform and Direct in Tuba Ensemble in New York


Pictured at left, Stewart Gillmor, professor of history and science and professor of science in society, performs during “The Bang on a Can Marathon” June 4 in New York City. Below, Anthony Braxton, professor of music, directs the band. Braxton wrote the band’s composition.

Posted 06/16/06
Strutting outside the World Financial Center in New York City, Stewart Gillmor bellowed his five valve double-belled euphonium for thousands of spectators. He was one of 75 tuba players to march in the annual “The Bang on a Can Marathon” June 4 in New York City.

Gillmor, professor of history and science and professor of science in society, is a member of the Tuba Marching Band, directed by Wesleyan Professor of Music Anthony Braxton. Braxton’s band performed his own opus, “Composition No. 19,” a marching piece for tubas.

“It was quite a show, and quite a good, avant-garde thing to do in New York,” Gillmor says.
The “Bang on a Can Marathon” is a 10-hour eclectic super-mix of boundary-smashing genre-defying music by pioneering artists from around the world. It featured newly commissioned works by classical, electronica, jazz and rock artists. The New York Times heralded “Composition No. 19” as the “biggest spectacle at this year’s … marathon.”

With a baton in hand, Braxton led the tuba band with co-conductors and Wesleyan alumni Taylor Bynum ’98, James Fei ’99 and Matthew Welch ’01. Each conductor led a quarter of the band, with players horning with old European instruments called helicons, and sousaphones, tubas, mini-baritones and euphoniums.

Gillmor’s euphonium was rare. Most have three or four valves, but his 1940 Holton-brand has five, which allowed him to switch between two horn “bells” with the fifth key. It is one octave higher than that of a tuba.

“There were several real musicians there, some were symphony musicians, but most of us were not professionals,” Gillmor says. “Most of us were aspiring artists. It was a very geeky group.”

The uncomplicated melody of “Composition No. 19,” included fluttering notes, growls, 10-second solos, whispery sounds and several “blab, blab, blab,” sounds, Gilmore explains.

In addition to Braxton’s tuba band, performers included Julia Wolfe’s piece for six pianos; Yat Kha, a Tuvan-throat-singing Siberian punk band; Amiina, the all-female Icelandic ambient quartet; Bang on a Can drummer David Cossin with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche; Björk collaborators Matmos with So Percussion; Evan Ziporyn’s Gamelan Galak Tika; cellist Maya Beiser; the group Alarm Will Sound; and Aphex Twin, among others.

The show finished inside the Winter Garden. Braxton’s group, which is made up of tuba and low brass players from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, had only two rehearsals prior to the performance, one the day before, and then again on the day of.

“We sounded pretty good and the audience seemed to really like us,” Gillmor says.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos by Stewart Gillmor III.

Seniors Start Web Site to Spur Balanced Political Dialogue


President Doug Bennet congratulates five Wesleyan seniors on their new endeavor, beyondpartisan.org. The students, who graduated in May, are, from left, Adam Jack Gomolin, Bill Ferrell, David Tutor, Robert Weinstock and Nathaniel Byer.
Posted 06/16/06
Last August, four Wesleyan seniors got together for a friendly chat on political issues, each disenchanted with the nature of Internet politics and the few venues available for American citizens to express their viewpoints in a neutral environment. True, there are hundreds of political-action Web sites, such as MoveOn.org and CitizenJoe.com, online periodicals, and single-view blogs, but the students felt the World Wide Web lacked a site that encouraged balanced and consensus-oriented dialogue.

That’s when the College of Social Studies majors Adam Jack Gomolin, Nathaniel Byer, Robert Weinstock and David Tutor entertained the idea of starting their own Web site.

The group of four asked their political and Web-savvy friend Bill Ferrell, from the Departments of Philosophy and Physics to join. After months of planning and five design renovations, the students registered the domain, beyondpartisan.org, on Jan. 26.

“BeyondPartisan.org is a response, on one hand, to bipartisan political incompetence, and, on the other, the hyper-speed, unilateralism and overwhelming partisanship of the blogosphere,” Gomolin says. “We believe that it represents a new wave of youth-oriented and Web-based politics, the ‘anti-blog’, or at least ‘multi-blog’.”

The site, co-engineered with the design firm Dreampod.com and software architects of Pacific Northwest Software, currently gets more than 500 visitors a day and has close to 1,000 registered users.

“On TV, you have all these talking heads yelling their viewpoints, and it becomes a contest of who can shout the loudest,” Tutor says. “Our goal with Beyond Partisan is to get viewpoints out there and constructively challenge each other. You may think you are red or blue, but read others’ viewpoints, engage with those you don’t necessarily agree with.”

Beyond that, Weinstock and the others see100 U.S. senators and 435 congressmen preaching partisanship and screaming sound bytes.

“The result is a vain discord that impedes honest legislation capable of helping Americans of all creeds and classes,” Weinstock says. “What are we? We’re honest solutions, or at least, honest starting points.”

The Beyond Partisan process begins with an issue-article, a brief and accessible piece focusing on a single policy area, meant to prompt dialogue with and between users. They offer article-specific commentary, independent forums and personal messaging. Ferrell says the site offers a level of administrator-user parity offered in few other venues, certainly none political.

“Simple, short and open dialogue,” Byer explains. “It is a conversation to which each American is invited. We must, as citizens, reflect upon our discussion and draw from it the shared values upon which we may move forward.”

The editors have posted articles on gay marriage, stem cell research, educational vouchers, abortion and ports-management, among other topics.

BeyondPartisan.org, they explain, is partly about going “beyond the beltway” mentality and myopia. For instance, in the cleverly punned “Our Civil Union”, co-written with another Wesleyan student, they offer a simple solution to the hotly-debated topic of gay marriage: limit the government to ‘civil unions’, while devolving the ‘religious bond’ to independent bodies. “If the Catholic church does not want to marry two gay Americans, that is their choice,” they note, “but no tax-paying American should be denied the secular privileges consistent with marriage because of their sexual orientation.”

This is not a new solution, they point out, just one roundly ignored by elected officials.

Charles Lemert, the John C. Andrus Professor of Sociology, is a BeyondPartisan.org reader and contributor.

“I’ve followed this project for most of the year and can honestly say that it is one of the most brilliant student projects I’ve seen in a long while,” he says. “The student leaders are themselves very smart of course, but the brilliance is in their ability to pull together BeyondPartisan.org. I’m pleased but not surprised that the site has attracted so much notice. The essays are very compelling and the political theme quite obviously needed.”

The students used their own out-of-pocket money to start the site and also received additional financial help and enthusiastic encouragement from President Doug Bennet.

Although the students graduated in May and are now in various locations across the country, they will continue to co-manage the site via the Web. Weinstock says the site will become self-sustaining by allowing other writers and patrons themselves to make lead story contributions: “The more patron-produced the site is, the more successful we have been.”

“This is a perfect opportunity for people our age who want to be engaged in politics to log on and discuss today’s issues,” Byer says. “It’s a place to bring and share ideas.”

Beyond Partisan is located online at http://www.beyondpartisan.org. Users can log on and sign up at http://www.beyondpartisan.org/login/register.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Busy with Summer Projects


Installation of fire protection systems in student housing and wiring are ongoing projects this summer.
Posted 06/16/06
Wesleyan’s summer to-do list is 98 lines long. And each must get checked off before the students return for fall semester.

Judd Hall’s fifth floor needs a renovation, student housing needs life safety improvements and the Center for the Arts needs its lighting replaced with energy-efficient bulbs. High Rise needs a security card access system installed, campus roofs need a maintenance plan and the Butterfields need two fire escape landings rebuilt.

“We have close to 100 projects we plan to complete this summer. Our priority continues to be the maintenance and restoration of our existing buildings,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for Facilities. “It’s a never ending process.”

The summer’s tasks range from small maintenance projects like painting houses campus wide, to major construction projects like overseeing the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.

Wesleyan’s renovation, construction and maintenance bill averages approximately $30 million a year. Included in the spending is a list of major maintenance projects, which total approximately $7 million according to Cliff Ashton, director of physical plant. Major maintenance projects are performed on campus to extend the life of buildings and their functions, Ashton explains. This can be anything from code and safety issues, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, exterior and structural shortcomings, cosmetics and immediate landscape issues.

For example, Olin Library needs a carpet stretched this summer to extend its life another couple of years. Davison Health Center’s infirmary needs stairwell handrails because they are below code requirements. Student wood-framed homes need carbon monoxide detectors in place.

“Our focus during the summer is generally on student housing and academic spaces while they are vacant,” Topshe explains. “However, major maintenance work will continue throughout the year on the remainder of campus. We have more than 100 major maintenance projects a year, and much of this work occurs during the summer when our buildings are less occupied.”

While projects like these will be ongoing throughout the summer, Wesleyan will pay special attention to safety requests such as installing several new blue light phones on campus, additional lighting in dark places near the Center for the Arts and installation of lighting behind Foss Hill.

With so many projects to handle, Wesleyan needs a capable team to make sure the work gets done. The Wesleyan facilities team employs almost 150 workers year round, about two thirds of which are Wesleyan employees. The remaining staff is contract workers in grounds maintenance, custodial, and project management. The facilities team includes 38 professional trade staff in physical plant. These plumbers, electricians, heating/ventilating/air conditioning technicians, carpenters and locksmiths assist with projects when they’re not busy maintaining existing campus buildings, while yet another group manages the power plant and energy management systems.

“We are fortunate to have a very talented facilities and physical plant staff that have been instrumental in supporting our projects,” Topshe says. “This adds tremendous value for Wesleyan since these are the people who know our buildings the best and are responsible for maintaining our buildings into the future.”

The summer work begins this month, with a major renovation on Foss Hill to install fire sprinklers, upgrade fire alarms, construct four new undergraduate program apartments, plus some general renovations. Work has begun to construct new compact storage in the Science Library basement and construction of a new 15 bed senior house on Fountain will be completed in August. Building renovations will take place in the English and Physics departments’ faculty offices, High Rise’s kitchens and bathrooms and the Athletic Fields.

Wesleyan is approximately three years into a $300 million strategic facility masterplan and several hundred projects have already been completed throughout the 2.7 million square foot campus.

The most notable projects include the renovations to Downey House for classrooms and academic offices, a new Center for Film Studies, an addition to the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, an addition to the Freeman Athletic Center, renovations to more than 80 classrooms throughout campus, renovations to the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater, construction of the new Bessie Schoenberg Dance Studio, renovations to create the Green Street Art Center, construction of new undergraduate student housing for 270 students on Fauver Field and 24 new beds for seniors on Fountain and Warren Streets, and the construction of a new synthetic turf playing field.

To view other major maintenance projects for the summer and the 2006-07 academic year, visit
http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/other.html.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Adjunct Continues Film Editing Career while Teaching


Jacob Bricca will be appointed to adjunct assistant professor of film in July.
 
Posted 06/16/06
Jacob Bricca ’93, formerly a visiting assistant professor of Film Studies, will become an adjunct assistant professor in July. His appointment is for four years.

Bricca spent several years as a full-time film editor in Los Angeles, but left to come to Wesleyan to teach four years ago.

“I found Wesleyan a very empowering place as a student,” Bricca says. “The years I spent here were really important in helping me define who I was and what I thought about the world. I probably wouldn’t have considered it if it hadn’t been Wesleyan, but coming back here was a really attractive idea. I’ve found that I really love teaching, and still have enough time to keep active as a filmmaker.”

Bricca is the editor of Lost in La Mancha (2002), the feature documentary about Terry Gilliam that played in theatres worldwide, and Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew (2002), which won the Audience Award on PBS’s Independent Lens series in 2004. Other recent editing credits include Tell Me Do You Miss Me (2006), a music documentary about the rock band Luna, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2006, and What A Girl Wants, a short about the media’s impact on girls’ self-image that is currently used in media education programs throughout the country. He’s also had credits in Sink Or Swim (1998); Max, 13 (1999); Never Land (2000) and Dreamer (2000).

As director, Bricca recently finished his first feature Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore, the first documentary to look in-depth at the issues surrounding the growth of “super-chain” bookstores.

He’s taken editing and directing awards at the Berlin Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Chicago International Film and Video Festival and Trimmer’s Rock Film and Video Festival in Pennsylvania.

Bricca’s presented a paper titled “Found Footage and the Media Criticism Documentary,” at the 2004 University Film and Video Association Conference and “Teaching Documentary as an Extension of Fundamental Filmmaking Techniques,” at the 2003 University Film and Video Association Conference.

At Wesleyan, Bricca has taught Sight and Sound, Advanced Filmmaking and Senior Thesis Tutorial. In addition, he co-authored the Snowdon-funded “Celebrating the Liberal Arts Tradition in Film” series and co-directed and co-produced the 2004 “”Freeman Asian Scholars Program,” a series of 15-minute videos used by the Wesleyan’s Admissions Office in their recruitment efforts for the Freeman Asian Scholars Program.

Bricca received his bachelor’s of arts in film studies and sociology from Wesleyan and his master’s of fine arts in film editing from the American Film Institute.

Aside from film, Bricca loves music. This interest, he says, impelled him to go into video editing.

“When I was a kid, I made my mom listen to me play DJ as I cycled the LPs on and off the record player. I spend at least as much time listening to and learning about new music as I do watching new films,” he says. “At its best, a well edited film is very musical and rhythmic even when the subject matter has nothing to do with music.”

Bricca lives in New Haven and enjoys spending his free time with his wife and 2-year-old-son, Rory.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Crew Coach Celebrates 20 Years at Wesleyan


Phil Carney, head men’s crew coach, stands near the Connecticut River where the team practices and races.
 
Posted 06/16/06
Q: Phil, when did you first pick up an oar?

A: I started rowing in the spring of 1978, at St John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Mass. I was introduced to the sport by my friends from the school soccer team that I played on in the fall.

Q: You’ve been at Wesleyan for quite sometime. What keeps it interesting?

A: The upcoming year will be my 20th at Wesleyan, and it has gone by very quickly! The job is different every year as we strive to continually improve the program, but the main factor that keeps it interesting is the wide variety of bright, energetic, talented students that keep coming to Wesleyan.

Q: The men’s crew season ended in early May. Briefly recap the 2006 season.

A: We had a great season, and the record of our varsity eight was 9-3. The overall strength and depth of the squad can best be seen by looking at their outstanding day of races at the New England Championships. There, our first eight was 4th, our second eight took 3rd, our third eight placed 2nd, and our novice four also placed 2nd. A bit confusing, but overall this was a terrific day for the squad, placing us among the best programs in the region, and really good performances from all the crews.

Q: Who were your leading student-athletes and how does the roster look for next year?

A: Our only senior was Nathan Boon, who was a co-captain and a four-year member of our varsity eight. He had a great year, and we will miss him a great deal next year. Our additional returnees from last year’s crew are co-captain Matt Carey, Chris Cody and Jeremy Brown, who all had strong years. Kim Davies, Tom Volgenau and Alpay Koralturk moved up from our 2nd and 3rd varsity crews last year to make the first boat. Doug Cody, and Brian Studwell were two outstanding freshmen members of the first varsity as well.

Q: When does the men’s crew season begin and how do the athletes work to keep in shape year-round? Any lessons that you stress off-season?

A: We are on the water from Sept ­ November and again from Feb ­ May. In the off season, the guys follow a training program without coaches through the winter. The new erg room and addition to the freeman center have been a huge help to our team. The most important things through the winter that make us competitive in the spring are consistency in your training, and a strong commitment to your team. Doing the work without the coaching staff present can be difficult for some, but when the guys take ownership of the program in the winter time, we are a better squad in the end.

Q: Over your time here, what have been some of your or your team’s most memorable accomplishments?

A: We have had some really great crews here over the years, and it is hard to pick, but some of the most fun races we have had include winning the New Englands in 2004, some outstanding races over the years at the ECAC Championships including this years qualifying race where we made it into the top levels by less than 0.1 second in front of Orange Coast College, some great races at the Royal Henley Regatta in England. We have earned medals at all the Head Races in the fall over the years as well.

Q: Where did you attend college? When did you decide to become a coach?

A: I went to Trinity College and majored in religion. I started coaching immediately after graduation, and thought I would teach in a prep school and coach as well. I enjoyed coaching a great deal, got a great job here, and stuck with it.

Q: I understand that you’ve won several medals at the USRA Nationals as a member of the Pioneer Valley Rowing Association and have been a U.S. Rowing lightweight development coach in both 1988 and 1992. Aside from Wesleyan, where else have you coached?

A: I have coached at Trinity, Pioneer Valley, Thames River Sculls, Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont, Riverfront Recapture in Hartford, and for the Middletown Park and Recreation Department.

Q: Tell me more about the Riverfront Recapture Rowing Club, of which you found in 1993.

A: The Riverfront Recapture is a community rowing program serving the Hartford area. The program has grown tremendously. They now have a terrific boathouse in the North Meadows area of Hartford, and they serve the greater Hartford area. All of the public high schools in the city have rowing teams now through RRI as well. It has been a huge success there. I have been involved only periodically lately, but I will be coaching at a youth camp there later this month.

Q: Middletown has its own Parks and Recreation Department Crew Program. What is your role with this and where does the team compete?

A: I coached there for about three years, but ran out of time when my kids arrived! It was a blast, and we had about 100 people in the program by the end. It continues to exist in the summertime, and they compete in the Head of the Connecticut in the fall. We went to the Head of the Charles a couple of times as well, along with some local summer races.

Q: Your assistant coach, Kevin MacDermott ’02, was captain of the men’s crew during his senior year here at Wes. What influence does he have on the student athletes?

A: Kevin has been with the team for the past nine years, as an undergraduate and coach, and has been an instrumental part of our recent successes. This year especially, we have worked well as a team, co-coaching all the athletes on the squad. With his more recent undergraduate experience, he has had a real personal connection with a lot of the guys. He is bright, hard working and committed to the athletes and our success. I think he is on the road to an outstanding career as a coach.

Q: What classes have you taught as an adjunct professor of physical education?

A: I now teach sculling on the water in the fall, and Rowing for Fitness indoors in the wintertime. I have previously been a squash instructor as well.

Q: Where are you from originally? Do you have family in the area?

A: I grew up in Worcester, Mass. and presently I live in Deep River with my wife Sarah and our twins Jack and Isabel who are 3 years old. Sarah will be a visiting professor in the Psychology Department next year. Some of my family is still in Worcester, and my in-laws now live about five miles away from us in Essex.

Q: What are your hobbies and interests? Any plans for the summer?

A: The summer time is here, and finally there is some time to consider this question! I spend as much time as I can with Sarah, Jack and Isabel. The children are growing fast and time passing quickly. We do a lot of work on the house and yard, go for the occasional run, head for the beaches or a hike. I enjoy golfing a great deal, as well, but haven’t played much lately. This summer, we will likely head off for a weekend or two, to Cape Cod or even Sesame Place, but no big plans.

Q: What are your thoughts on working at Wesleyan?

A: It has been a great experience and opportunity for me to work at Wesleyan with the outstanding student-athletes and coaches. I think that coaching really exposes one to many people on campus, and in each interaction, be it Admissions, Development, Public Safety or an academic department. I am constantly reminded what an amazing collection of people live and work here. I am proud to be a part of this center for excellence, and I’m working hard to keep our program at the high standard of the university.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Service-Learning Director Expands Program Across Several Departments


Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and director of the Service Learning Center will celebrate his 20th year at Wesleyan in 2007.
 
Posted 06/16/06
Six years ago, Rob Rosenthal’s community research seminar became so popular students were knocking on President Bennet’s door requesting more classes like it.

“What we discovered was that there was a great need for classes that emphasized service-learning,” says Rosenthal, who would become the director of the new Service-Learning Center. “It’s a great way for students to be of service for the community and learn at the same time.”

Service-learning classes mesh regular classroom study and lectures with experiences in the real world. Rosenthal meets with outside agency directors to discuss ways Wesleyan students can be of assistance and works with professors to develop classes. In the classes, students are partnered with an outside organization or agency.

In 2003, there were only a few SL classes available in a limited number of departments, but Rosenthal pushed for more courses across all disciplines and upped the number five courses a year. During the 2005-06 academic year, students were take service-learning classes in biology, music, psychology, earth and environmental sciences and dance.

“Just like when you’re taking a science class and you have textbooks, lectures and labs, in these classes, your lab is the real world,” Rosenthal explains. “It really adds a whole new dimension to learning and to teaching. It’s a fantastic pedagogical approach which encourages students to take control of their own education.”

Rosenthal cites two recent course examples. Last year, Katja Kolcio, assistant professor of dance, taught a service-learning course called Dance Teaching Workshop: Theory and Practice. In this theoretical and practical course, she taught Wesleyan students how to teach dance and movement to children and adults. Practical teaching and service outside of Wesleyan campus was required for the class.

Likewise, Timothy Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, taught Environmental Geochemistry as a service-learning course. Students studied the quantitative treatment of chemical equilibrium in natural systems such as lakes, rivers, and the oceans in the classroom, and then constructed a study of the North End landfill for the City of Middletown to see if methane and other gases could be economically harvested.

Next year, students will be teaching community theater in a juvenile training center, conducting research at a local community health center, and mentoring Spanish-speaking students at an area elementary school.

“It’s just wonderful that students can study theories in class and then go out and test these theories and argue about them with each other, based on their actual experiences,” Rosenthal says.

Serving as director of the Service-Learning Center is only one hat Rosenthal wears on campus. He spends half his time teaching classes in the Department of Sociology. Each, he says, are equally rewarding positions.

As a professor of sociology, Rosenthal is an expert on housing, homelessness, social movements and the culture of social movements. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his master’s of arts and Ph.D from the University of California Santa Barbara. He studied sociology at both institutions.

Rosenthal is the author of 18 published articles, seven of which cover the topic of homelessness. His book, Homeless in Paradise received the Association for Humanist Sociology Book Award in 1995. He’s currently working on two books, The Persistence of Homelessness, and Playing for Change: Music in Social Movements, each to be published in 2007.

He teaches Introductory Sociology, Urban Sociology, Housing and Public Policy, and Music in Social Movements to undergrads, and recently taught Music in Social Movements to students enrolled in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. In this class, Rosenthal questions how the actual use of music can create movement cultures. Students listen to musicians such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Rage Against the Machine, and Public Enemy and discuss how their music relates to movements in the United States including the labor, civil rights, new left, women’s, and current inner city movements.

Knowing that their professor has a deep affection for all music, Rosenthal’s students stock his music collection with home-made compilation disks.

“The great thing about being the ‘music guy’ is that students like to bring me all kinds of music to listen to,” Rosenthal says. “I’m interested in all music genres. Even the best of death-metal will be good.”

When Rosenthal is not teaching, he enjoys listening to music on his own times, playing basketball, and spending time with his wife, Sunny, and children Sam, 18, and Annie, 15, at their home in Middletown.

After 19 years at Wesleyan, Rosenthal hopes his future at Wesleyan is “more of the same.”

“Wesleyan has become so much of a positive force, I hope to see more of that and be part of it,” he says.

 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Bennet Attends Forum on Education, Democracy


Posted 06/16/06
The Association of American Colleges and Universities invited Wesleyan President Doug Bennet to attend a forum June 22-23 in Strasbourg, France.

The forum, titled “The Responsibility of Higher Education for a Democratic Culture: Citizenship, Human Rights, and Civic Responsibility,” was held at the Council of Europe headquarters. The council co-sponsored the forum.

Bennet was one of 300 higher education leaders, policy makers and public authorities from North America and Europe to attend.

“For this select group, we chose President Bennet because we thought he would be especially effective representing United States higher education and he would likely use his influence to help underscore the importance of educating students to be informed, empowered and responsible local and global citizens after they graduate,” says Carol Geary Schneider, president of the AAC&U.

In addition to 12 years as Wesleyan’s president, Bennet has served as U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organizational affairs, as president of National Public Radio, and as head of the Agency for International Development and as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations..

The forum addressed a number of key issues including fostering democratic cultures; social cohesion and intercultural dialog; promoting human rights and democratic citizenship; teaching, research and engagement; building sustainable democratic communities; and knowledge, actions and civic responsibility.

“These issues are essential in terms of how we approach liberal education now and in the future,” said Bennet. “Our goal must be to enable students to become thoughtful innovators and conscientious global citizens who can engage the world around them and make it better.”

The forum explored the responsibility of higher education for advancing sustainable democratic culture and invited participants to discuss a declaration and practical follow-up activities.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor and David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Ph.D Candidate Documents Animal Rescue Work from Hurricane Katrina


Laure Dykas, chemistry Ph.D candidate, is filming a documentary titled “Animal Rescue Katrina.”  Pictured below are rescued animals living in shoreline shelters, photographed by Dykas during her interviews with animal shelter managers.
 
Posted 05/28/06
It was the smell that let chemistry Ph.D candidate Laure Dykas know the Waveland, Miss. animal shelter was going to be horrific before she even stepped inside.

The potent odors emanating from the shelter were seeping through the small cement-brick structure. It was 88 degrees inside, only an oscillating fan kept the 40-some animals cool.

“You could tell these animals were miserable. Their little faces told you that much,” Dykas says. “There was also the cutest puppy, blind from one eye. He got up, clutching the cage, whimpering. These animals all had food and water but they were barely surviving. I took it all in and I felt the strongest overwhelming feeling of despair go through me.”

Dykas, co-owner of Studio Mythopoetika, filmed the shelter May 7 as part of a documentary titled “Animal Rescue Katrina.” She and her husband, Joe, started the film company in 2004 as an outlet for their artistic interests. The couple spent one week in Hurricane Katrina-affected areas filming several overcrowded animal shelters and interviews with animal rescue personnel.

At least 100,000 animals died as result of Katrina. Many people who were evacuated after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf states were not allowed to take their animals with them, and thousands of animals were left behind. Several of the animals left behind starved to death waiting for their families to return. Others died of disease and some were shot to death.

To date about 12,000 have been rescued. The shelter in Waveland was the worst scenario they encountered. The shelter’s owner ran the facility with two volunteers. They survived off a few donations and no city support. The shelter and the animals were all the owner had. She lost her own home to the hurricane. She was doing all she could do.

Dykas also shot footage of an investigation involving poor New Orleans residents who were told to leave their dogs and cats during the city’s evacuation in three schools in New Orleans. Local officials told the residents the animals would be cared for there until the families returned. The animals, however, were left to die, either of starvation or were shot to death.

“I saw the photographs of the conditions and it just eats me alive that I didn’t go down there in 2005 when I heard about this,” Dykas says. “It’s just unbelievable in this day in age that things like this can happen.”

In their documentary journeys, Laure and Joe Dykas visited the St. Francis sanctuary in Tylertown, Miss.; the Concordia Animal Welfare Shelter in Ferriday, La.; the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi in Gulfport, Miss.; PAWS, Plaquemine’s Animal Welfare in Belle Chasse, La.;Lamar Dixon, Miss., a temporary shelter used for four weeks after Katrina struck. She accompanied a volunteer from the Animal Rescue of New Orleans, trapping feral cats in New Orleans Historical District and New Orleans East. She also interviewed Chris McLaughlin, founder of Animal Rescue Front of Massachusetts, who has organized transports of animals from Mississippi to the North East.

The Dykas’s interviewed Louisiana State Senator Heulette “Clo” Fontenot in Baton Rouge. The senator has proposed a bill titled Pet Evacuation Bill in Louisiana that will ensure that pets will be evacuated with their families in the event of another disaster. They also interviewed long-time animal rescuer Jane Garrison, co-founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans.

Dykas says her documentary will be about 60 minutes long. She and her husband are going through more than 12 hours of tape to create the film, which she describes as “objective reality.” She hopes to have it completed by Katrina’s one year anniversary in late August.

“We’re dedicating the documentary to all the animal rescuers and the families who lost their animal best friends, and in memory of all the animals that died during and after Katrina,” Dykas says. “The volunteers who are working with these animals are amazing, self-sacrificing people and they inspire me to want to be like that.”

She has relied on her savings and donations to pay for all expenses incurred. Dykas hopes to show the documentary in film festivals and eventually on television stations. A percentage of the revenue from the film will be donated to all the shelters featured in the film.

Dykas hopes to graduate with her Ph.D in chemistry in 2007 and teach at the high school or collegiate level. Her husband, who is working two jobs to support the family, will devote more time to art. Both will continue to run Studio Mythopoetika.

Meanwhile, Dykas is going to finish her FEMA certification in the event of another natural disaster.

“Every town needs to have an evacuation plan, and animals need to be included in it,” she says. I hope that the government will reconsider the fact that pets are part of the family and you cannot sever that bond between people and their animals.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Gallery Coordinator Interested in the Arts


Camille Parente is the financial analyst / gallery coordinator for the Center for the Arts.
 
Posted 05/28/06
Q: Camille, what year did you come to Wesleyan?

A: Originally, I came to Wesleyan in 1999, and I was as an administrative assistant for the Office of University Communications. One of my key responsibilities was to oversee the production of the Wesleyan Weekly, when there still was a printed version of the events on campus. I later transferred to the Center for the Arts office.

Q: You were recently promoted to be the CFA’s financial analyst and gallery coordinator. What is involved in your new position?

A: My position had evolved over the last several years in both its responsibilities and complexity. It involves much more budget management, forecasting and financial analysis. I will also act as the financial consultant to the financial coordinator of the Green Street Arts Center.

Q: What gallery do you coordinate? And how does this overlap with Nina Felshin’s role, if any?

A: I’ll be working with the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery exhibits. Nina is the curator of exhibitions. She works directly with the artists and plans the exhibitions. I am in charge of managing the operations of the gallery which involves overseeing all activities in the gallery, including staffing, scheduling and general oversight. I work with Nina on the gallery budget management as well.

Q: What are your personal interests in the arts?

A: I have always enjoyed both the visual arts and the performing arts. I admire the traditional masters as well as more contemporary artists. There is so much inspiration in their work. I love going to galleries and museums and being overwhelmed by the art.
I am a big fan of photography. I also enjoy watching dancers, musicians and actors perform. Anyone who has talent that I don’t, I admire.

Q: I understand you are a GLSP student. What have been some of your favorite classes, and are you taking any this summer?

A: I have to say that I’ve enjoyed all of the GLSP classes that I’ve taken. I especially enjoyed the portrait photography course with Marion Belanger. I was able to take chances with my work and explore new techniques. This summer, I plan to take The Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar and Black and White Photography: Art and Technique. I chose the ARTS as my focus in GLSP since the possibilities are endless.

Q: Who are the key people you work with at the CFA, and do you feel it is beneficial to be immersed in the arts all day?

A: I have the opportunity to work with really wonderful hard-working people. Much of our work requires a collaborative effort and we work well as a team. I think that certain environments are more productive than others. Being immersed in the arts is both very rewarding and interesting as well. It is so culturally rich. A creative environment seems to suit my personality.

Q: What goes on during the day?

A: There is a lot of paperwork and financial reporting that is involved in the job. I often have to meet with Pam Tatge for our budget reviews as well as our financial planning. I am on the Financial Managers’ Committee as well. The heaviest concentration of my work done is on the computer. I think that Wesleyan is a great place to work.

Q: How is your job challenging or rewarding?

A: I really enjoy working in such a creative environment. There is talent all around me, both in visual and performing arts. We at the CFA have a very busy schedule year round. Multi-tasking is key. Making sure everything gets done well and on time is sometimes challenging. If I could have a just a few more hours in the day, I’d be all set.

Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? When will you finish your master’s of arts in liberal studies?

A: I went to the University of Connecticut and I majored in occupational and environmental health and safety. I will complete my master’s of arts in liberal studies in spring 2007.

Q: What are your hobbies and interests?

A: I really love photography and I am still in the process of learning. There are so many options available and I continuing to explore new techniques to really try to expand my own work.

Q: What is something unique about you?

A: It’s hard to narrow it down. I prefer to think of my idiosyncrasies as what make me unique. I’ll say that my uncanny ability to memorize song lyrics is unique. I know all lyrics to all types of music, from the time I was growing up to now as an adult I am generally a private person, but I will say that I am engaged and we have three cats, or as I usually refer to them, three furry children. Since I am taking two GLSP courses this summer, I will most likely be enjoying weekend day trips to the beach to allow myself enough time to study.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

BOLD BANNERS: Two, 30-foot-long banners hang from Olin Memorial Library. The banners are part of the “Wesleyan Through the Years” timeline project developed by the Office of University Communications and University Relations as part of Wesleyan’s 175th anniversary celebration. They were on display during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

A banner hangs across high street during R&C Weekend welcoming campus visitors.
Banners hang from North College. (Photos by Ryan Lee)

Wesleyan Celebrates 174th Commencement


Wesleyan held its 174th commencement ceremonies May 28.
Posted 05/28/06
Wesleyan University commemorated its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 28. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.

Undergraduate degrees were conferred on 742 students. In addition, nine students received Ph.Ds, 29 students were awarded master’s degrees, and 64 Graduate of Liberate Studies degrees were conferred.

Video clips of Wesleyan’s 174th Commencement can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/0506commencementvideo.html.

In his commencement address Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet reflected on the long and storied history of the institution and said this class had made its mark as undergraduates and will continue to do so in the future.

“You have shown that you will be part of the solutions,” Bennet said. “I know this because of your responses to Katrina, to the Indian Ocean tsunami, to the genocide in Darfur, and to your Middletown neighbors. Where existing institutions seem not to be getting the job done, you have created new not-for-profit organizations to foster everything from micro-credit in Nepal to nonpartisan debate on global issues in America.”

John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University gave the principal address. An internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist, Franklin has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President’s Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin’s numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.

Franklin exhorted students to put action behind words that were spoken during the last presidential election, especially in the area of education.

“Not long ago, a victorious presidential candidate said during his victory speech that for the next four years his agenda would be ‘putting people first.’ I am not persuaded that this was his watchword for the ensuing four years, but I sincerely hope that ‘putting people first’ will be your resolution for a much, much longer period of time,” Hope-Franklin said. “It is difficult to imagine, for example, a situation where our schools could be worse than they are at present. It has been a source of great embarrassment for our schools at all levels to rank far below the standards that a great nation can reasonably expect to maintain. And it is equally embarrassing to discover that most of the nation’s educational system could well be designated a disaster area…This need not be. What better way for you who graduate today to make a proper beginning than to make a solemn resolve to rescue our schools from their present degraded status, and thus assist in providing our students with the opportunity for a better start in life.”

Wesleyan also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to Mary O. McWilliams ’71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.

McWilliams ’71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan.

Wesleyan awarded the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P‘79 and Biff Shaw ‘51, P’79. It is the highest honor given by Wesleyan’s Alumni Association. The medal is named for Raymond E. Baldwin, a 1916 Wesleyan alumnus who served as a Connecticut Senator, Governor and Chief of the State Supreme Court.

As an alumni leader, Biff Shaw’s diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown, played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.

To view President Bennet’s full speech, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/0506commencementbennet.html

To view John Hope Franklin’s full speech visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/0506commencementfranklin.html

To view additional images of R&C weekend, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/snapshot/0506commencement.html

John Hope Franklin Receives Honorary Doctor of Letters


Posted 05/28/06
The following iare John Hope Franklin’s commencement remarks presented during Wesleyan 174th Commencement Ceremonies on May 28. Franklin is professor of history, emeritus at Duke University.

A video clip of Franklin’s speech can be found at: http://condor.wesleyan.edu/openmedia/ur-media/video/comm_06/FranklinSansIntro.mov.

Mr. President, Members of the Board of Trustees, the administration and faculty, members of the graduating classes, parents, friends, members of the Middletown community, ladies and gentleman. Mr. President, I will be brief.

This is a glorious, memorable, exciting occasion and each time that I have the opportunity to participate in this ritual, even after my 50th anniversary of receiving my own bachelor’s degree, my excitement has not abated. I am greatly honored, therefore, Mr. President, that you and your colleagues have invited me here, not only to say a few words to those particularly, but to join them in becoming an honorary classmate as they leave this hallowed institution. I join with them in appreciating once more the benefits, as well as the challenges, of higher education.

Although I could envy you who graduate today for your academic achievement, I will not do so. That would be both selfish and unseemly. Instead, I will add my congratulations and best wishes for what you have done and hope that what you have learned here will bring credit to you and to those whom you will serve, so that your efforts will redound to the benefit of society in general.

You have had a remarkable opportunity here to receive an education comparable to that of any place that you could have obtained anywhere. That is because Wesleyan University and its benefactors have assembled here a faculty and facility of which we can all be proud and of which you have every reason to be grateful. Higher education in the United States is a modern miracle. A century ago only a very tiny fraction of America’s men and women had access to higher education. Most were compelled to be content with secondary school education, and in some rare instances, ad hoc training to prepare for a career in industry or business.

Today, those who have little idea of what they wish to do with their lives postpone the decision until after college or later, a luxury that some would regard as frivolous. Some say as casually as they remark about the weather, that they will take a year off to rest and to play and to think. Congratulations. Be my guest!

As you pursue your own careers and pause to contemplate the future, I very much hope that you will find time — take time — to work for the improvement of our society. Not long ago, a victorious presidential candidate said during his victory speech that for the next four years his agenda would be “putting people first.” I am not persuaded that this was his watchword for the ensuing four years, but I sincerely hope that “putting people first” will be your resolution for a much longer period of four years.

It is difficult to imagine, for example, a situation where our schools could be worse than they are at present. It has been a source of great embarrassment for our schools at all levels to rank far below the standards that a great nation can reasonably expect to maintain. And it is equally embarrassing to discover that most of the nation’s educational system could well be designated a disaster area.

You know the scenario as well as anyone: ungovernable students, rampant gangs, drug and alcohol abuse extending down into the middle schools, an over-emphasis on athletics and an under-emphasis on serious study and academic achievement. And the best our government in Washington can do is to pay a private publisher a quarter of a million dollars to write a column praising “No Child Left Behind.” And others similar in attitude, are using the resources of the government to develop a viable, workable program to improve education and its accessibility to all of our children.

We wring our hands and wonder how and why the Asians surpass us in some things and the Europeans have the edge in other things. This need not be. What better way for you who graduate today to make a proper beginning than to make a solemn resolve to rescue our schools from their present degraded status, and thus assist in providing our students with the opportunity to start a better life.

One of the most rewarding experiences you can possibly have is to guide some child or some adult in education, even the ability to learn to read and write. I had that experience when I was 20 years old, during my first year as a graduate student at Harvard University. One evening, during my first month in Cambridge, a man twice my age, who lived a floor above me in the rooming house that I lived in, rapped softly on my door and I invited him in. He said that he needed help in making out the words in the poorly written letter that he had received that day and he wondered if I could help him in reading it. When I looked at the letter, I saw that it was well-written, and I wondered, to myself of course, who had been reading his letters to him.

When I completed the task of reading the letter to my visitor, I suggested to him that it would be a good idea if he and I could work together and brush up on his reading. He protested that I did not have time, but it was obvious that he welcomed the invitation. I told him that I would take the time. If he would come to my room at five o’clock each evening, I could work with him for about 45 minutes, just before I would leave to wash dishes at a club where I earned my evening meal. For the next eight months he and I worked together six days a week, and by the end of the term, I who knew nothing about the teaching of English had transformed a person from illiteracy to one who could read and write simple sentences. Two days before I received my Master of Arts degree, my student for the first time in his life wrote a letter to his family in Virginia. During the week that I graduated from Harvard, I can tell you that the most exciting thing that happened to me that week was not receiving my own degree but to read a letter that this older man had written to his family. It was this experience, more than any other that inspired me to dedicate myself to the educational enterprise.

Thus, I did not need to leave my rooming house to step down from the “ivory tower” and engage in a modern time for improving the community. You may not have the privilege of teaching an illiterate person to read, but you can certainly be a voice for your concern about the school system in your community, about the need to make it organized in order to give evidence of your strength as you make representation about the needs of your community.

Those of us who are not physical scientists can do little more than stand on the sidelines, wringing our hands knowing and caring that this world of ours can go and what a bright place, or to go slowly from strangulation or suffocation. If you are a social scientist, you know that our institutions at home seem unable to preserve their own integrity, while the crises in the larger world seems susceptible to greater disruption than they have ever witnessed in the last four years.

Whatever your fields are and whatever the specifics subjects you have received you have pursued, you are infinitely better prepared for a career than any preceding generation. Not only is there more to know, but you in fact know more than your own predecessors. And if the ivory tower ever existed, it existed in the minds of those who never understood the nature and mission of Wesleyan University.

For those of you who graduate today, act as if the ivory tower will never exist. So in the days ahead, if some selfish heckler or demigod implores you to get down from the ivory tower, I hope that you will them that you were never there and you don’t even know what it is. You can tell him what the task of the educated man and woman are and where they do their work. Tell him that your role will be to walk among your people, as philosopher kings would want to do, to work with them and to share the great storehouse of the world’s knowledge that you’ve helped to open.

Something has brought about the recrudescence of racism in this country. What triggered this bizarre demonstration of a trait that has too long been a portion of America’s life? I do not know. Perhaps it was the competition for the limited employment opportunities between recent immigrants and long-time citizens, such as African Americans who have been mistakenly regarded, and treated, as recent immigrants. Perhaps it was the view held by some that the civil rights movement had ended, and thus no longer holding all of us accountable for this incipient racism. Perhaps it was the mistaken view that the best way to preserve American values is for each American to take the law into her or his own hands. Perhaps there were other forces at work: the sense of insecurity in the workplace on the part of some, the palpable re-segregation of the public schools in many of our cities, the resistance to racial equality that has ever been present at all levels of American life and in every period of American history, and the mistaken belief by some that African-Americans should be made to understand that their rightful place in American society is one of subordination. But what better way for you to take on your role as responsible, mature citizens than to insist that the American ideal of equality of race, sex, religion and ethnic groups be adhered to because the ideal was bought for and paid for, was fought for and died for by all Americans, regardless of race.

And so, congratulations to those of you who graduate today. It has been a high honor and a great privilege to participate in this ritual, and especially to become an honorary member of this graduating class. May your days and years ahead be filled with the light by which truth is revealed. May you become activists in the promotion of the highest ideals of learning and service that are central to what you have experienced here at Wesleyan University. And may you take with you those ideals as you assume your respective roles in life as you go down from this place.

Congratulations, best wishes and God speed!