Campus News & Events

Anthropology Professor’s Exhibit on Display in International Museum


This photograph of a West Bengal wedding altar by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and film studies, and Lina Fruzzetti of Brown University, is on display in The Museum of Cultures in Helsinki, Finland. It is part of an exhibit titled “Divine Gifts: Marriage and ritual in rural West Bengal.”
 
Posted 06/15/05

In India, marriage carries great social and cultural meanings. It ensures the continuity of the male line and it is vital to the maintenance of caste status.

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and professor of film studies, has spent the past three years traveling to Bishnupur, West Bengal researching marriage rituals. His results – documented with photographs and objects – is currently featured in The Museum of Cultures in Helsinki, Finland.

It’s titled “Divine Gifts: Marriage and Ritual in Rural West Bengal.”

“Divine Gifts” is funded by a three-year grant from the Finnish Academy of Social Sciences and is supported by the University of Helsinki.

“I first went to Bishnupur in 1967, and I wanted to go back to see the changes that took place over this 40-year period,” Östör says. “I’m interested in how the festivals, temples and rituals are changing, and the bazaar’s economic system.”

Östör was part of a three-member research team. His wife, Lina Fruzzetti, professor of anthropology at Brown University and Sirpa Tenhunen, research fellow of social and cultural anthropology at University of Helsinki, also contributed to the show.

The exhibition features several pieces from Östör and Fruzzetti’s personal collections of more than 40 years. It includes a crown of the bridegroom, a conch-shell ritual trumpet, a golden cotton shawl used by the priest in weddings, a wedding ceremony bell, pitcher and oil lamp and a kerosene lantern manufactured from recycled materials.

These are all common parts of a Bengali marriage, known as a biye. The biye also consists of two major elements: the payment of the dowry and the gift of a virgin.

“The gift of a virgin is a ritual of sacred connotation, when the father gives his daughter to another kin group as a divine gift,” Östör says.

In addition, the exhibition represents kitchen and household utensils relating to women’s every-day life; home altars, deities and ritual objects used in daily worship; and Bankura terracotta horses and elephants given as votive gifts to the snake goddess Manasha.

On Sundays, four documentary films by Fruzzetti and Östör are open as part of the showing. Each film reveals the everyday life in rural West Bengal and of devotion to the goddess Manasha and the gods Krishna and Shiva.

Östör has also put his research into two books, each published by DC Publishers in 2004. He’s the author of “Calcutta Conversations” and “The Play of the Gods: Locality, Ideology, Structure, and Time in the Festivals of a Bengali Town,” an expanded edition of his older work.

“Divine Gifts” will close in October.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

South College Renovation, Bell Addition Begins in July


In July, South College will receive eight new bells. Scaffolding will surround parts of the building, as crews install the bells and remodel the belfry. Sections of the white panels will be removed, however the copper-top will stay in tact. 
 
Posted 06/15/05

The South College belfry will receive eight new bells and a facelift during the next several months.

This renovation will add eight new bells to the current 16-bell array. This will upgrade the status of the Wesleyan bells from a chime (10-22 bells) to that of a carillon (23 or more).

“Now we’ll have more notes, so we can play more songs, and more complicated songs,” said six-year chimemaster Peter Frenzel, professor emeritus of German studies. “We’re moving out of the minor league of bell playing and into the major league.”

Staff from Physical Plant will replace the roof within the bell tower prior to the bell addition. Staff will paint and restore the exterior railings, louvers and wood portions of the tower. Painting of the interior stairwell will also occur.

Construction will begin in mid-July and conclude in September. The bell’s keyboard has already been temporarily dismantled.

The actual work to the bells is expected to take six weeks. The new bells will be cast by Petit & Fritsen, the Royal Dutch Bell Foundry in The Netherlands, and then shipped to Cincinnati via New Orleans and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. They’ll later be completed and fine-tuned and installed by the Verdin Bell Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Peter Staye, associate director of Physical Plant’s Academic and Administrative is coordinating the exterior renovation. The new bells, he says, will be hoisted up by crane and installed through back panels in the belfry.

The copper-top dome of South College will not be removed or altered.

Eagle Rivet Roofing Services of West Hartford will erect all scaffolding around all four sides of the bell tower. The scaffolding will remain in place until the carillon is complete.

Acquiring a carillon for the university has been in the planning stages since 1999. The new bells, which will greatly expand the music being played, were all donated by Wesleyan friends, alumni and parents.

During construction, all entrances, exits and stairways in South College will be open.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Hughes Fellows Test-Drive the Life of a Research Scientist


 
Summer Hughes Fellows Maiko Kondo ’07 (top) and Brandon Stein ’07 (left) work on their research projects in Wesleyan labs. Hughes Fellows have 10 weeks to finish a research project of their choice. Faculty members provide guidance and instruction.
Posted 06/15/05

In Wesleyan’s Mukerji Lab, Maiko Kondo ’07 studies peptides modeled after those found in Alzheimer’s plaques. Nearby in the Flory Lab, Brandon Stein ’07 examines nuclear functions of telomere-associated proteins.

As Wesleyan University Summer Hughes Fellows, Kondo and Stein have 10 weeks to complete their research, work one-on-one with a faculty advisor and participate in a variety of Hughes activities. They’re among 49 students who received grants from the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Michael Weir, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department is the director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. Laurel Appel, visiting associate professor of biology and senior research associate is the program coordinator.

Weir says the Hughes Fellows can test-drive being a research scientist in one of the Wesleyan research groups. This experience, however, comes with the successes and disappointments of exploring a new field of science.

“When you come in to the lab in the morning, you don’t really know what you are going to find out by the end of the day or week — that’s the excitement, and sometimes frustration, of doing full-time research,” Weir says.

The annual summer program is in its 17th year at Wesleyan and immerses undergraduates in a research topic that fascinates them without the time constraints and workload inherent to a full load of classes normally taken during the academic semesters.

Thirty-three faculty members are on hand to help guide the students’ research. This year, students are studying topics as diverse as “Serotonin and its Effect on Dentate Gyrus Neurogenesis,” “Patterns in hiring practices for tenure-track positions in the geosciences,” and “Investigating the Beginnings of Chimpanzee Research in the United States,” among several others.

“Research training during the Hughes Summer Program allows undergraduates a valuable opportunity to make serious strides of progress on a project, to have a positive experience doing full-time research, and to possibly solidify a desire to pursue a career in the experimental sciences,” says Stein’s summer advisor and Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Mark Flory.

Kondo decided to pursue a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry after suffering from allergies her entire life. Ultimately, she wants to know why this is, and how people can be cured.

“As I studied further in this field, I started to hope that I would be able to conduct research, exploring the relations between allergy and the immune system in my future,” she says. “The summer research program gives me a good opportunity to learn about research techniques, which are needed to approach my goal.”

In addition to research, the Hughes Summer Program includes a special day-long workshop for all interested students, faculty, and staff on an emerging topic in the Life Sciences. This year, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange presents, “Breaking Boundaries: Scientists and Dancers, Investigations and Choreograph.”

The summer program also includes a seminar series given by outside speakers who design their talks for the undergraduate audience of varying scientific backgrounds and fields. This year’s speakers include Margaret Livingstone of Harvard Medical School; Anna Martini of Amherst College; Mikhail Levin of the University of Connecticut Health Center; Katrina Catron of Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; Remus Th. Dame of Vrije Universiteit; and Monica Carson of the University of California.

Although the research is intense, the program allows ample socialization time. Two picnics, a student-run movie series, softball league, field trips, access to the Freeman Athletic Center and drop-in lunches are offered for participants.

Students applying for the 2006 Hughes Program must do so by March 3, 2006. The grant budget allows for 18 stipends, but with generous contributions from participating departments and faculty, as well as Financial Aid funds, the program can accept between 40 and 50 students each year. Students are responsible for their own housing.

The program concludes August 5 with a poster session.

For more information contact Maureen Snow, administrative assistant for the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, at msnow@wesleyan.edu.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Construction Begins on University Center; Parking, Walkways Altered


A new, 18-foot-wide, gravel access road will run along the Usdan University Center construction zone. An 8-foot chain fence will go up this week. A new gravel access road will be put in for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.
 
Posted 06/07/05

It’s hammer time.

Starting this month, construction for the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center begins.

Alan Rubacha, project manager, is setting up an 8-foot chain-link fence that will surround the old Alumni Athletic Building and Fayerweather Gymnasium. The driveway and cement walkway that currently provide access from Wyllys Avenue to the lot behind South and North College will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians as of Monday, June 13. The lot itself will be closed except for handicap access and service. Parking has been reassigned to the lot adjacent to the Office of Admission and to the lot behind the Center for Film Studies.

Foot traffic will be diverted around the “L” shaped construction site. The pathway along College Row, between Wyllys Avenue and Judd Hall will not be affected.

Foot traffic west of Fayerweather will be diverted onto a temporary gravel access road. The road, 18-feet wide, will cut from Wyllys Avenue across Andrus Field behind Fayerweather and end in the lot behind South and North College. This access road will be for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.

A portion of Fayerweather, the old Alumni Athletic Building and power plant will be demolished to make room for the Usdan University Center.

Between four and six construction trailers will be set up behind South College. Rubacha will mark this area with white stripes. He warns that, for employees of the Office of Admission, North and South College, the site will be “noisy and dusty.”

“It will be loud, there’s no question about it,” he says.

The Usdan University Center will consolidate dining facilities for students and faculty, and will provide seminar and meeting spaces. It will house the Wesleyan Student Assembly, the post office, and retail space. Facilities for formal and informal gatherings and events will complement those available in the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater. A south-facing plaza and second story terrace will overlook Andrus Field and will provide an outdoor venue.

David Hall, manager of Grounds and Special Events, says the construction zone will not affect athletic games or bleacher set-ups. 

The building is expected to be completed in August 2007.

For more information on plans for the University Center, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/univcenter.html.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

City-Wide Dance, Violinist, Liz Lerman on CFA Spring Slate


Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, announces the lineup for the ’05-06 CFA season during a presentation May 4.
 
Posted 05/23/05
An American brass quintet, ballet, African rhythms and Bulgarian bebop are all in the mix for the upcoming year at Wesleyan.

During the Center for the Arts season announcement on May 4, CFA Director Pamela Tatge introduced the 2005-06 season events.

The season opens with Middletown Dances! on September 10. In Collaboration with the City of Middletown and community groups, the CFA is planning a citywide dance festival. The event will culminate in a community dance on Wesleyan’s Andrus Field, with performances and workshops along Main Street.

“We want to take over College through Green Street,” says Tatge. “We want to have an explosion of dance here in Middletown.”

The Crowell Concert Series will offer seven performances next year, bringing a wide array of world-class musicians to the intimate setting of Crowell Concert Hall. On the list is FleytMuzik by the Klezmer Band, the American Brass Quintet, Bulgarian Bebop, Lionheart, Ernest Dawkins and the New Horizons Ensemble, SFSound and violinist Midori.

“The audience is going to love the a capella of Lionheart and the bebop with Bulgan influence,” Tatge says. “Once you enter into that type of music, you don’t want it to stop.”

The Breaking Ground Dance Series will include performances by David Dorfman Dance; Electric Haiku: Calm as Custard; DanceMasters Weekend and the world premiere by the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Choreographer Liz Lerman, who will join Wesleyan’s faculty next year as a visiting dance instructor, is a 2002 MacArthur Fellow and founded the company in 1976.

Through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor and a company of performers whose ages span six decades, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange stretches the expressive range of contemporary dance. She will participate in Middletown Dances! and premiere Ferocious Beauty: Genome at the Center for the Arts as the culmination of a year-long, interdisciplinary residency at Wesleyan.

Other activities will include workshops at the Green Street Arts Center and teaching week-long intensive programs, such as the Summer Dance Institute 2005.

“The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is really the anchor of our program for next year,” Tatge says.

The Outside the Box Theater Series kicks off with The Neo-Futurists: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Other theatre performances and discussions will be announced later in the year.

Additional events of note include The Disasters of War: From Goya to Golub in the Ezra & Cecile Zilkha Gallery, the Navaratri Festival, Celebrating Don Quixote, Eiko & Koma: Cambodian Stories and the Green Street Arts Festival.

During CFA Days on June 28 through July 26 the Center for the Arts will feature Selected Songs of Charles Ives; Music, Nature and Silence; Making Basquiat, Broadway’s Best with Frank Mastrone, Folk Songs of Ireland, India and America. La Timba Loca, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Wesleyan organist Ronald Ebrecht and the Jay Hoggard Quintet will be performing on campus, along with a reading from novelist and non-fiction writer Amy Bloom.

The Wesleyan-sponsored Green Street Arts Center will celebrate its one-year anniversary in 2006. Ricardo Morris, director of the Green Street Arts Center, said the center is already planning classes in radio broad casting, studio recording, videography comic strip arts and tap dance.

For more information on any CFA event call 860-685-3355.

  Non-Credit Dance Courses Offered

The Summer Dance Institute 2005 featuring Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will be offered June 13-17 and June 20-24 at Wesleyan.

Participants can learn the tools and techniques for cutting-edge dance making, public art building and experience personal growth.

Courses include “Dance is Big: Art-making and Community Building,” “Words and Movement,” “Dance Intensive for Senior Adults.” Another course, “Dance Deep: An Intensive for Dancers, Writers, and Theatre Artists,” is a three-credit graduate course offered through Wesleyan’s Division of Continuing Studies.

Participants must be 18 or older and register by June 10. The course is sponsored by Academic Institutes at Wesleyan.

For more information call 860-685-2900, e-mail csinquire@wesleyan.edu or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/ ccst/.

 
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Professors Lecture to Local High School Students


 
Above, Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and director of the Service-Learning Center, draws a troubadour to illustrate how the message of music is perceived differently during a lecture to high school students.

At right, high school students listen to Rosenthal’s lecture during the High School Humanities Program.

Posted 05/23/05

This semester, local high school students read “The Odyssey,” and watched “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” but it wasn’t with their high school English teachers.

As part of the High School Humanities Program, more than 80 high school students had the opportunity to participate in six discussions at Wesleyan. Wesleyan faculty members facilitate the lectures. Students were bussed in from Vinal Technical High School and Middletown, Killingworth, Mercy and Xavier high schools.

Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and director of the Service-Learning Center, lectured about social music and culture on May 6. He played music samples for the students including songs by Woody Guthrie and Aretha Franklin.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What kind of respect is Aretha asking for here,” Rosenthal asks the students. “If you study this stuff, you can’t simply listen to the lyrics. Think about the style, the voice, the year it came out.”

Rosenthal sketched a troubadour and other people on the chalkboard to illustrate how the music, or the message, is interpreted differently. One person may really favor the lyrics, another may like the beat and rhythm, and still another may not really be paying any attention, he explained.

“It’s difficult to pin-point the real connection between music and social movement, he says. “Individuals take this in and react, as well as reflect, differently,”

Other viewings this year included “Glory,” “Monsoon Wedding,” “Slam,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The High School Humanities Program is supported by Community and University Services for Education, most commonly known as CAUSE.  Established in 1967 by Marjorie Daltry Rosenbaum, CAUSE facilitates the implementation of cooperative programs and projects between Wesleyan, the Middletown community and the public and private schools in the Middletown area.

In addition to the High School Humanities Program, CAUSE also supports the following:

  • The Art Show, a unique exhibition of more than 1,200 artworks of Middletown students in grades K-12 at Wesleyan’s Zilkha Gallery. This annual event in April showcases the art curriculum in Middletown public schools and attracts hundreds of students and their families to the Wesleyan campus each spring.

  • Silent Sounds, a collection of selected literary works submitted by students in Middletown Public Schools grades 6-12. Categories include poetry, short stories, literary analyses and personal essays.

  • Mini-grants to local Middletown teachers to develop innovative and creative short-term projects to engage their students in learning.

    Rosenthal is one of six professors involved with the High School Humanities Program. Other lecturers this semester have included Andy Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies, and the director of the Center for Faculty Career Development; Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English and professor of American Studies; Indira Karamcheti, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies and associate professor of women’s studies; Kate Rushin, adjunct assistant professor and visiting writer of African American studies; and Sean McCann, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies and chair of the American Studies Program. Peter Frenzel, professor of German Studies Emeritus, served as faculty director of the program and Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations, offered administrative support for the program.

  • For more information, call 860-685-2245 or 860-638-1401.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Students Receive Awards, Prizes, Scholarships


    Pictured in center, Migdalia Pinkney, administrative assistant for the Center for Community Partnerships and Lisa Currie, director of Health Education, congratulate Gabrielle Tynes-Labonte ’06 (left) and Vladrose Petit-Frere ’05 during the Academic Awards, Prizes and Scholarships program May 3. The students both received the Mosaic Award, given to four students who have brought about cultural awareness and education on race, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.

     
    Posted 05/23/05
    More than 240 Wesleyan students received accolades and formal recognition during the 2005 Academic Awards, Prizes and Scholarships program May 3 in the Russell House.

    “These are honor students who represent the highest ideals of Wesleyan University: intellectual curiosity, academic excellence, creative expression, leadership and service,” says Peter Patton, interim dean of the college, vice president and secretary of the university and professor of earth and environmental sciences.

    Students were honored for excellence in astronomy, music composition, biology, chemistry,  earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, history, film, women studies and computer science, among other subjects. Others earned awards for demonstrating outstanding leadership, special aptitude in the history or art, debating and public-spirited citizenship.

    While celebrating these recipients of awards, prizes and scholarships, Patton also honored and thanked alumni and friends for their generous contributions and gifts. Several awards are the result of legacies of alumni, administrators, faculty and friends whose lives and work are honored through endowed gifts.

    For the complete list of students and their awards go to:

    http://www.wesleyan.edu/deans/awards2005.html.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Behind the Scenes: Reunion & Commencement Weekend Result of All Departments


    ]]>
    At top, hired students worked stuffed 3,000 packets and created nametags in preparation for Reunion & Commencement Weekend at University Relations.

    At left, Gemma Ebstein, director of Alumni and Parent Relations and Deana Hutson, director of Events, look over Reunion & Commencement Weekend schedules prior to the four-day event.

    Posted 05/23/05

    It all starts the day after.

    Deana Hutson, director of Events, began planning for the 2005 Reunion & Commencement Weekend the day after the 2004 Commencement Weekend ended. On the agenda: Hire 150 student workers. Print 20,000 brochures. Rent 10,000 chairs. Block 900 local hotel rooms. Contact 50 vendors. Plan events for 9,000 guests.

    “There is so much going on behind the scenes of Reunion & Commencement Weekend,” says Hutson, who has been critical to the success of six R&Cs so far. “It starts with a small team of staff meeting and program planning and culminates with a team of 1,000 making it happen. We want alumni, parents and seniors to walk away with wonderful memories of the weekend.”

    On May 16, just three days before the big weekend, Hutson and Gemma Ebstein, director of Alumni and Parent Relations, spend their day going through a pen-scribbled list and an 80-page flow document. The document details who is in charge of each event, the time of the event and a description.

    The duo coordinates more than 150 individual events including picnics, dinners, parties, academic department tours, senior projects, campus walking tours, 36 WESeminars, 15 class reunions, a parade, an annual meeting and assembly, a grandparents gathering, a children’s day camp, class photos and of course, the 173rd commencement ceremony.

    “We just go with the flow,” says Ebstein, who has co-coordinated 14 reunions and six reunion and commencement events. “These lists may look crazy, but it explains everything we need to do to run the weekend.”

    Ebstein says virtually all the university’s departments contribute to the weekend in one way or another. Physical Plant staff spends Saturday night setting up chairs for commencement. Campus Dining prepares more than 90 percent of all meals. The Office of University Communications writes, photographs and edits the brochures and award citations. The Wesleyan grounds crew grooms the campus lawns and flower beds. And all academic departments plan open houses for the weekend.

    Even students get involved. More than 500 students apply for R&C Weekend employment, but only 150 are hired. They often cover odd-hour shifts, some beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 2 a.m. the next morning.

    “Students want to be here working for commencement,” Hutson says. “They enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun. And we want them here. They’re representing Wesleyan, and they’re proud of their school. Alumni love talking to the students, and for the students, meeting Wesleyan alumni on this weekend puts it all into perspective for them.”

    When planning more than 150 events throughout the weekend challenges are sure to arise. The staff, however, is accustomed to expect the unexpected.

    About 670 alumni registered for 2005 reunion, however, an additional 350 can show up depending on the weather. The coordinators keep their eye on the numbers, which can affect last-minute food orders, rental orders, tables and table cloths, napkins, tables, chairs, silverware, plates, glasses and even the number of flower and balloon arrangements.

    And in recent years, challenges have run the gamut:

    Brochures and nametags were delivered incorrectly printed. the University Relations staff stayed up throughout the night to get them finished days before the event. 

  • A picnic ran low on turkey sandwiches forcing, students, staff and campus dining crew to scramble to locate lunchmeat and make sandwiches during the picnic.
  • When rain poured for seven days before commencement, the Wesleyan grounds crew laid a makeshift mulch road so vendors could get onto the flooded field.
  • A water main broke one year forcing the coordinators to reroute shuttles through campus at the busiest time of the weekend.
  • A tent fell over just before an all-campus picnic.
  • When the 2000 fireworks show went off with a bang, it left a blanket of soot on the commencement chairs and stage overnight. Physical Plant staff had to hand-wipe all 10,000 chairs clean before morning.
  • “We’re constantly problem solving,” Ebstein says. “Even with the best laid plans, things go awry. The key is to stay calm, be pleasant, assess options and take action.  We strive to do everything possible to make this weekend a positive experience for alumni and parents. Some alumni may not return to campus for another five years, so this experience really matters.”

    Members of University Relations and Physical Plant are assigned different tasks, but among the most important are to be the eyes and ears of the university. All problems and questions are communicated through cell phones and radios. Seventy-two of them to be exact.

    Crunch time for University Relations begins in March when brochures are mailed off, a Web site is developed and registration begins. In May, the staff begins working longer hours and weekends. During the R&C weekend, some of them sleep an average of two hours a night. The staff includes Makaela Steinberg, associate director of Alumni Relations; Linda Kavan, associate director of Events, Suzanne Kampen, administrative assistant with Alumni and Parent Relations; Gail Briggs, associate director of Alumni Education, Meg Zocco, director of Parent Programs and Camille Dolansky, assistant director of Parent Programs. Jean Shaw, now coordinator of University Lectures, was the overall coordinator from 2000-2003, helping to combine the once separate reunion and commencement celebrations into one event.

    The hectic schedule affects their personal life, and Hutson and Ebstein say it takes an understanding family to get through it.

    “My husband knows I’ll be coming home late every night, and my sons know I can’t make it to their basketball and soccer games this time of year,” Ebstein says. “But when they come and see what the weekend is all about, then they get it.”

    Hutson compares planning for R&C Weekend like a running up a hill.

    “It can be agonizing trying to get up and over that hill, but once you’re on top you’re so proud of what you’ve accomplished, you forget how hard it was to get there.”

    After R&C Weekend, the University Relations staff sends evaluation assessments to alumni. Feedback lets Wesleyan know they’re efforts pay off in the end.

    “Although we offer many ways for alumni to stay connected, reunion weekend is one of the more traditional programs and has a unique appeal, ”Ebstein says. “Sometimes alumni won’t have much contact with Wesleyan for many years, then return for reunion and gradually become re-engaged. There’s really something special about the reunion experience; it has a lasting impact.”

    And then on Monday, the planning starts for 2006.

    By the Numbers:

    562
    The number of steps in parade route

    2
    The average hour of sleep per night by events staff

    48
    The hours to clean and prep dorm rooms

    300
    The number of student workers

    10,000
    The number of chairs used/rented

    300
    The number of hours to plan, cook and set up post-commencement reception

    3,000
    The number of hours student staff works during the weekend

    20,000
    The number of brochures printed

    72
    The number of two-way radios used]]>

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Wesleyan’s 173rd Commencement Features Inspiring Speakers, 718 New Graduates


    More than 700 students graduated from Wesleyan May 22.
     
    Posted 05/23/05
    During the last four years, Wesleyan University students have generated responses to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the war in Iraq, the genocidal crisis in Darfur, the Tsunami of 2004 and several other events. In his commencement address on Wesleyan’s campus on Sunday, May 22, Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet `59 urged the 718 undergraduates from the Class of 2005 to continue their good work.

    “My commencement wish for each of you is that you never lose your instinct for challenging the society around you,” Bennet said.

    Bennet exhorted the students to take special interest in those around them who struggle economically

    “In our parents’ time, we had a patchwork of social legislation, tax policy, public programs, including some foreign aid, to provide help and hope so that families could move up,” Bennet said. “There does not seem to be a consensus in the public today about what we can or should do for the have-nots…I am counting on you, everyone here, not to ignore this issue. There is a moral imperative to address it so that the outcomes are not decided by default.”

    The commencement speaker, Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, echoed Bennet’s remarks but also asked students to adapt an attitude of mutual respect.

    “Mutual respect is not about walking on eggshells,” Gutmann said. “It is not about playing down differences. Rather, it is about giving serious consideration to our differences and disagreements and working through them. It is about pursuing common goals in a constructive spirit of engagement, even when many differences remain.”

    Gutmann added that mutual respect is “the life blood of democracy” and yet has become more scarce in a society that seems increasingly polarized and partisan.

    “Without mutual respect, democracy is dead, and so are your prospects for living in a just and peaceful world,” she said.

    Students also heard from New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick `75, P `07, who received an honorary doctorate from the university during the ceremony. Belichick urged the graduates to give heed to their passions rather than taking the easy way out.

    “Follow your dreams,” he said. “Resist the opportunity to take the job that might pay a little more in the short term but offer nothing in the long term. Pursue the thing you really love. Do that, and the rest will come.”

    Along with Belichick and Gutmann, Pulitzer prize winning author Edward P. Jones and William Barber, the Andrews Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wesleyan also received honorary degrees.

    Wesleyan bestowed the Baldwin Medal, the highest alumni honor presented by the University, to John F. Woodhouse, `53, P `79, a Wesleyan alumnus, former president and CEO of Sysco Corporation, and trustee emeritus, chairman and leader of the first-ever Wesleyan Capital Campaign that raised $287 million.

    The Baldwin Medal pays tribute to the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin of Wesleyan’s Class of 1916. Baldwin was the only man to have held the offices of Connecticut governor, U.S. senator, and chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

    Along with the 718 bachelor of arts degrees, Wesleyan also awarded 14 Ph.D. degrees, 40 master of arts degrees in individual fields, 65 master of arts in liberal studies degrees and two advanced certifications. Wesleyan also honored and recognized its alumni from the World War II era during the ceremony.

    For the full text of the speeches visit:

    Full text of Amy Gutmann’s speech

    Full text of Doug Bennet’s speech

    Belichick receives honorary degree at Wesleyan

    To see photos of the weekend visit:

    http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/snapshot/0505randc2005.html

     
    By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

    Students Discover Hunger Problem in Middletown Children


    Amelia Long ’06, Tiffany Lo ’05, Beth Coddington ’05 and Maria Nankova ’05, students in the Community Research Seminar, completed a study titled “Hungry Children in Middletown.”
     
    Posted 05/23/05
    Four Wesleyan students have discovered that one out of five local children lives in a household that suffers from food insecurity.

    Beth Coddington ’05, Tiffany Lo ’05, Amelia Long ’06 and Maria Nankova ’05 presented results of their study, “Hungry Children in Middletown” on May 12. The students were enrolled in the Community Research Seminar taught by Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology.

    The Middlesex Coalition for Children commissioned the survey. The project’s purpose was to assess the rate of food insecurity among Middletown households with children under 18.

    The USDA defines food insecurity as: “a limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways.”

    The students found that 20.1 percent of Middletown children (1,883 children) were living in food-insecure households during the past 12 months. Of those children, 15.5 percent (1,452 children) experienced food insecurity in their household but were shielded from actual hunger. However, the other 4.6 percent (431 children) experienced food insecurity with hunger within the past year. The rest of Middletown’s children, an estimated 79.9 percent (7,481 children) lived in houses that were food secure.

    “We tapped into a fantastic team of young researchers,” says Betsy Morgan, director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children. “Thanks to our research team, we know there is a serious problem.”

    They also found food insecurity is about as prevalent in Middletown as it is in the U.S. as a whole – nationally with 16.7 percent of households with children were food insecure — but food security with hunger among Middletown households with children exceeds the national average of 3.8 percent.

    The results are based on 329 telephone and paper surveys, administered by the students and local organizations. The survey was designed by the USDA and is currently used by the federal government to measure food insecurity at the state and national level. The students made calls between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. Sunday.

    Lo, an earth and environmental science major, chose to take part in the research project to integrate herself in the Middletown community.

    “The results were rather surprising as I didn’t expect to see so much hunger going on in Middletown,” she says. “But finding this out was definitely the first step towards ending hunger here.”

    The students also asked people about their coping strategies for when they were running low on food or money to buy food. The students found a trend of higher usage of food pantries than food stamps among Middletown’s more food-insecure and lower income households, something that differs from the national tendency.

    Long, a government major, said the food-secure families surveyed were surprised to hear so many households in their own community were having trouble affording food.

    “Also, a lot of people seem to think that individual factors like laziness and poor spending habits are the biggest factors contributing to hunger in families as opposed to bigger structural issues like outdated income qualifications for food stamps,” Long says.

    The research project grew out of the past year’s work by the Middletown Childhood Hunger Task Force. The Task Force was prompted by the discovery that some Middletown families with pre-schoolers didn’t have enough food. Composed of local anti-hunger agencies, the Task Force is co-sponsored by the the Middlesex Coalition for Children and Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton, who attended the student’s presentation.

    Now that the students have documented their findings, they are working on ways other Wesleyan students can further help the reduce or eliminate problem in the future.

    “We’re going to need everybody in Middletown to help these children,” Morgan says. “It’s going to be a long-term project to build up and strengthen our charitable food programs. We’ve got out work cut out for us.”

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    International Students Share Wesleyan Memories at Senior Reception


    From left to right, Ambika Ahuja ’05 of Thailand, Zaheed Essack ’05 of South Africa, Phudorji Sherpa ’05 of Nepal, and Lianne Morris-Smith ’05 of Jamaica converse at the International Student Senior Reception.
     
    Posted 05/02/05

    The Office of International Student Services held an International Student Senior Reception at the Russell House April 27.

    More than 25 international students and exchange students attended. Some gave brief remarks about their experiences at Wesleyan while others mentioned ways they plan to stay connected with Wesleyan after graduating.

    “Whether they stay in this country or travel back to their home country, these students can maintain a relationship with Wesleyan,” says Theresa Cann, coordinator of International Student Services.

    Wesleyan staff, administrators, and faculty attended, including the Senior Class Dean, Louise Brown.

     
    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Stereochemistry Topic of 33rd Leermakers Symposium


    Posted 05/02/05

    More than 150 guests, many from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, attended the 33rd Peter A. Leermakers Symposium May 5 at the Exley Science Center.

    The annual, one day meeting brings together internationally recognized chemists for a day of intensive examination of a particular subject in chemistry.

    This year’s symposium, titled “Chirality,” united scientists working in the general area of stereochemistry. The speakers have played a fundamental role in the control and understanding of stereochemistry.

    Stereochemistry is a property that certain molecules have that can make two molecules behave completely differently as drugs, even though the structures of the two molecules look very similar. Stereochemistry depends on the symmetry of a molecule and is very difficult to control when one is synthesizing the molecule.

    Speakers of the day-long event included Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; Michael Frisch, visiting scholar in chemistry; Professor Kendall Houk from the University of California, Los Angeles; Professor David Evans from Harvard University; Edward Grabowski from Merck Research Laboratories; Professor Eric Jacobsen from Harvard University; and Professor Geoffrey Coates from Cornell University.

    The speakers presented results related to asymmetric catalysis, the synthesis of stereoregular polymers, the computer modeling of stereoselective reactions and the use of spectroscopy.

    “These scientists are all at the very top of their fields and have been recognized by numerous awards,” says Michael Calter, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Leermakers Symposium.

    The first symposium was held in 1972 on the chemistry of vitamin B12 and featured the late Robert B. Woodward, who reported on the just-completed total synthesis of this complex molecule. Since then topics have included natural biology, theoretical chemistry, extraterrestrial chemistry and chemical reaction dynamics.

    The symposium was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Merck Research Labs and Pfizer Global Research Division.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    The Speakers Judith Brown, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, Wesleyan University

    Professor Geoffrey Coates, Cornell University spoke on “New Catalysts for Constructing Small Molecules and Polymers of Defined Stereochemistry.”

    Professor Eric Jacobsen of Harvard University spoke on “Seeking General Asymmetric Catalysts.”

    Michael Frisch, Visiting Scholar in Chemistry spoke on “Spectroscopy of Chiral Molecules.”

    Professor Edward Grabowski of Merck Research Laboratories spoke on “Novel, Asymmetric Hydrogenations.”

    Professor Kendall Houk, University of California, Los Angeles spoke on the “Theory and Modeling of Stereoselectivity”

    Professor David Evans spoke on “From Crystal Structures to Chiral Catalysts.”