| 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|
Campus News & Events
by Olivia Drake •
|Installation of fire protection systems in student housing and wiring are ongoing projects this summer.|
| Wesleyans summer to-do list is 98 lines long. And each must get checked off before the students return for fall semester.
Judd Halls 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. Its a never ending process.
The summers tasks range from small maintenance projects like painting houses campus wide, to major construction projects like overseeing the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.
Wesleyans 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 Centers 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 theyre 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 Rises 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
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
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.
| 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. Braxtons 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.
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.
Gillmors 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 Braxtons 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. Braxtons 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.|
by Olivia Drake •
Beth Redington, project coordinator, teaches Connecticut teachers how to implement Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into their classroom instruction during the Leadership Academy in Mathematics Program May 19 in Exley Science Center.
| Jennifer DaPonte, a mathematics teacher from Flood Middle School in Stratford, Conn. went back to college May 19 to learn advanced geometry and story problems.
Im here to learn more about specific topics that relate to my schools curriculum, DaPonte says. It would be helpful to learn how to better teach geometry, statistics, data analysis and general problem solving skills.DaPonte is one of 50 middle and high school teachers of mathematics participating in the Leadership Academy in Mathematics Program. This 18-month-long program was designed to create a cadre of leaders in each of the 13 partner school districts involved. Wesleyans Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics (PIMMS) and Science and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) are collaborating on the project.
The program is funded by two grants from the Mathematics and Science Partnership Program of the Connecticut State Department of Education.We want to train Connecticuts best teachers to be even better teachers, says Mike Zebarth, director of PIMMS and coordinator of the Leadership Academy in Mathematics Program. Not all teachers of mathematics are specialized in math. We want to provide them with a stronger background in math so they can go on to be great leaders.
Each participant will receive a $1,200 stipend, a laptop computer and six graduate credits through Wesleyans Graduate Liberal Studies Program. They will attend a two week summer program at Ansonia High School and three weekend workshops at Wesleyan and SCSU.
The initial workshop was held in Exley Science Center on May 19 and 20. Each participant in the workshop received software packages including Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel. Participants were trained how to use these programs as instructional tools.
I used PowerPoint in college for projects, and a little Excel, but I never used either one for teaching before, DaPonte said, during a lesson on Power Point. Id like to integrate the technologies into classroom instructions.
After completing the program, the teachers will train other teachers at their schools. The programs success will be measured by the participants student achievements. Academy leaders will see if students who are taught by trained teachers do better on the Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Advanced Placement tests.
Zebarth says Wesleyan sponsors outreach programs like this to improve Connecticuts teachers, which will provide more learning opportunities for the states students. He also hopes the states top high school students will apply to Wesleyan and enroll in a math or science program.
Wesleyan is community minded, and we take a vested interested in the citizens of the state, he says.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Glenn Adams 06, at top, is Wesleyan’s leading lacrosse player, scoring 90 goals and 117 assists for 207 points. Charlie Congleton 07, at bottom, is the teams goalie. Both were named All-Americans this year.
| A year ago, the Wesleyan University mens lacrosse team posted a 13-6 record and made its first trip to the NCAA Division III tournament, winning its first game before falling in the quarter-finals to eventual tournament runner-up Middlebury College. This years team went one step further, reaching the NCAA Division III semi-finals, and came within an overtime goal of a trip to the national championship game.
The semi-final game played in Cortland, N.Y. featured the 10th-ranked Cardinals against 5th-ranked State University of New York (SUNY), Cortland. SUNY-Cortland lead 2-0 in the first quarter, but Wesleyan battled back to earn a 4-3 halftime lead. Scoring the quick goals were Grayson Connors 08, Alex Kaufman 08, Jordan Funt 06 and Chris Jasinski 08 scored. Vitulano added another goal in the third quarter giving Wesleyan a 5-3 lead but Cortland rallied to tie the score before the quarters end. Mike Walsh 06 put Wesleyan up 6-5 in the fourth, but Cortland tied the match with 6:09 to go. The teams stayed even the rest of regulation, but Wesleyan entered sudden death overtime with down a man due to a penalty. Cortland wasted no time in taking advantage and in their first attack, just 42 seconds into the overtime period they scored, winning the match and qualifying for their first NCAA title game since 1981.
It was a heart-breaking end to a very successful season for the Wesleyan squad. The Cardinals spent the entire year ranked in the top 15. The team posted a 16-4 record, earned a second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and was a finalist in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament, losing 10-9 in the final game to Middlebury.
The 2006 squad returned 22 letter-winners returned from the 2005 team and added 15 freshmen to the roster. In addition to their NCAA and NESCAC success, the teams highlights include:
The teams spot in the national semi-finals, the first time any Wesleyan squad had advanced that far in an NCAA Division III single-elimination tournament (Wesleyan baseball was runner-up in the 1994 NCAA Division III World Series but the format was double-elimination).
Glenn Adams 06 led the team with 69 points on 25 goals and 44 assists, bringing his career totals to 90 goals and 117 assists for 207 points. He ranks fourth all-time at Wesleyan. Adams was first-team all-NESCAC for a third consecutive season, a first-team all-New England Division III pick and was invited to the USILA All-American luncheon on May 28. He also was one of 30 Division III players chosen for the annual USILA North-South Senior All-Star Game.
Charlie Congleton 07, the teams goalie, was named an All-American as well as first-team all-NESCAC and all-New England. He started all 20 games this season while logging a .678 save percentage and 6.73 goals-against average. His save percentage was ranked second nationally and his goals-against average ranked eleventh.
Pete Harris 07 earned second-team all-NESCAC while Mike Hines 07 and Grayson Connors 08 Connors made second-team all-New England.
Head Coach John Raba received his second NESCAC Coach of the Year award. He was also the 2001 recipient of the award.
|By Brian Katten, sports information director|
by Olivia Drake •
Dave Pompei, Central Power Plant foreperson, checks one of three chillers the university owns. Wesleyan is being aggressive in its energy conservation efforts.
Pictured at right is a view inside one of Wesleyan’s three boilers. Wesleyan will be installing a new cogeneration system that will replace the use of one boiler in the summer.
| Wesleyan is pulling the plug on high energy usage.
Something as simple as unplugging the office coffee machines for the weekend can save Wesleyan thousands of dollars a year, says Peter Staye, associate director of utilities management in Physical Plant. Although the burners are off, most coffee machines continue to heat the water left in the reservoir 24-hours a day.
Staye ran his own experiment with Physical Plants coffee maker and measured the amount of electricity used in a one-day period. What he discovered is that 1 percent of all energy consumption campus-wide is used by coffee machines.
Of course this is just a tiny component of Wesleyans $3.03 million dollar annual electric bill. The bulk of this usage is from heating and cooling the campus. Lighting is the second largest consumer of energy, and sadly, wasted energy is third.
If Wesleyan employees and students would remember to turn the lights out and their computer monitors off when theyre not using them, and turn down the AC over the weekend, Wesleyan could save 15 percent of its electricity use, Staye says.
Staye and the Physical Plant staff are already hard at work with preventive conservation measures. This summer, Physical Plant will replace the Center for the Arts offices incandescent spot lights with fluorescent lights, saving $7,085 a year. They will also replace the lighting in the Center for the Arts Theater, saving $44,380 a year, and the lighting in the Music Studios, saving $88,271 a year. The entire replacement will cost $120,000, and will pay for itself in savings the first year.
Over the last three years, the university has been able to keep its electrical consumption almost flat, even though new air-conditioned buildings have been brought on-line.
“This is a trend we work hard at continuing, though it is getting harder and harder each year to keep the peak from increasing,” Staye says.
Not only does all this save the university money, the State of Connecticut is counting on Wesleyan to continue with its efforts.
The state, which is already importing energy from New York and Maine, cannot support the summertime power demand needed by Connecticuts 3.5 million residents. The states power grid, which moves power around, is also old and undersized.
“Reducing electrical consumption during the summer is especially critical as should demand exceed supply, there is a real potential for regional brown outs this summer,” Staye says. “A lengthy heat wave could cause real problems, and until the grid can be updated in 2010, conservation is the only alternative to shortages state-wide.”
In fact, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility is offering Wesleyan a $1.3 million rebate to install a Cogeneration system, known as CoGen. GoGen is the use of a single fuel source, such as natural gas, to simultaneously generate both electricity and heat. Heat produced from generating electricity is captured and used to produce steam and hot water to be used as a heat source in dorms and other campus buildings. Conventional power plants emit the heat created as a by-product in to the environment.
The cogeneration system or would cost $1.7 million after rebates; however it will save about $500,000 a year in energy costs. The Central Power Plant currently uses large boilers and coolants to service the heating and cooling needs of the 90 largest buildings on campus, and the cogeneration system will work in parallel with that equipment.
“CoGen at Wesleyan will increase the reliability of our electrical delivery systems, benefit the environment, and save us substantial amounts of money,” says John Meerts, vice president for Finance and Administration, who proposed the CoGen’s installation. “Meanwhile we are helping to reduce the problematic Connecticut power delivery and generating situation, albeit in a small way. CoGen seems like a win win situation.”
If there is a good side to the deregulation of the electrical industry, Staye says, it is that cogeneration systems have become a lot more cost effective.
The CoGen equipment, which was approved in May, takes 18 months to install, and it will be active in January 2008.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Wesleyan held its 174th commencement ceremonies May 28.|
| Wesleyan University commemorated its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 28. Wesleyans 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 masters 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 P79 and Biff Shaw 51, P79. It is the highest honor given by Wesleyans 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 Shaws 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
by Olivia Drake •
| It begins with an image from 1831 and ends at 2007 with a look at the future.
Wesleyan Through the Years, an exhibit on display in Zelnick Pavilion, invites the campus community to stroll through Wesleyans history. The display consists of 24, 6-foot-by-4-foot transparencies that cling to the pavilions windows. Photographs, drawings and text depict key historical moments since Wesleyans inception 175 years ago. Sunlight illuminates the transparent graphics through the windows, making them glow.
The timeline includes images of famous people and events at Wesleyan, highlights research, teaching and scholarship, illustrates outstanding speakers and guests, and memorializes the creation of iconic campus structures.
This exhibit captures the vibrant history, the zeal for learning and the passion for excellence that fills the air here on campus,” says Mark Bailey, director of Development Communication. “No one can enter this glass-walled space, walk through 175 years at Wesleyan depicted in life size imagery, and not be moved.”
Wesleyan Through the Years was created by Bailey, Steven Jacaruso, art director; Jennifer Carlstrom, Web manager; Ryan Lee, Web designer; David Low, associate director of Publications; Shelley Burchsted, production manager; Bill Holder, director of Publications; Deana Hutson, director of Events; Heather Zavod, freelance editor; and Suzy Taraba, university archivist.
Jacaruso says the modern and airy feeling of the Zelnick Pavilion makes it a perfect venue to host the exhibit.
The exhibit is dynamic and will attract visitors and in the process, theyll learn a bit about Wesleyans history, Jacaruso says.
In addition to the Zelnick exhibit, five commemorative banners have been placed around campus: two on Olin Memorial Library, two on North College and one over High Street.
The exhibit will be removed after Reunion & Commencement Weekend and reinstalled during Homecoming & Family Weekend.
Wesleyan’s interactive timeline is online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/virtualtour.
At left, Steven Jacaruso, art director; Jen Carlstrom, Web manager; Mark Bailey, director of Development Communications; Ryan Lee, Web designer; and David Low, associate director of Publications helped develop “Wesleyan Through the Years, on exhibit in Zelnick Pavilion. Pictured at top are three of the 24 highlights on display.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| 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.
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 bachelors 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 Americas 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 dont 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 worlds knowledge that youve 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 Americas 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!
by Olivia Drake •
The following is President Douglas J. Bennet’s 174th Commencement Remarks presented during Commencement Ceremonies May 28.
Last weekend Midge and I attended a commencement at a different institution. The graduate in question was a niece who had chosen not to attend Wesleyan for obvious reasons. It was a glorious affair, as this commencement will be, but it reminded us of the value of brevity so I will be brief.
First, let me echo enthusiastically Jim Dresser and Pacho Carrenos welcome to you, and thanks to your families and the faculty. I really thought that Pacho captured all my hopes for Wesleyan in his powerful statement. This is Jims first commencement as chair of the Wesleyan board of trustees, and we particularly welcome him to this platform.
Second, let me point out that todays commencement coincides with the 175th anniversary of Wesleyans charter, which was granted on May 26, 1831, so this year we celebrate our septaquintaquinquecentennial.
In this anniversary year we will study Wesleyan history with renewed attention. It is a history that goes back to the early years of the Republic. It is a history of consistent educational purpose and of successful renewal to meet changing times. It is a history both of privilege and of commitment to social good.
In recent decades we have broadened our commitment to access and to racial equality, recognizing that these are still uphill battles in America. It is a great honor to be able, in just few minutes, to yield back the balance of my time to a person who has kept the reality of racism in America before us throughout his scholarly and personal life.
Let me just conclude with a word to the class of 2006. You represent over 700 individual scholarly and personal outcomesaccomplishments of imagination, inspiration, perspiration, obsession, focus, sportsmanship, passion and intellect. At the same time, your engagement with each others points of view and backgrounds, has allowed you to think and rethink who you are and who you want to be. Our small global university nurtures an environment in which encounters with each other, between disciplines and points of view, let us learn from each other.
You care a lot about other people, and you have shown that you will be part of the solutions. 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 form micro-credit in Nepal to nonpartisan debate on global issues in America.
Theres something special and powerful about a Wesleyan education. You have contributed mightily to it. I am confident that you embody Wesleyans strengths and its commitments. Keep up the great work. Stay in touch as we turn the corner toward our bicentennial. We will miss you very much.
Congratulations to you, the class of 2006.
by Olivia Drake •
|Edgar F. Beckham was Wesleyan’s first African-American dean of the college. In 1991 he received Wesleyan’s Raymond E. Baldwin Medal for service.|
| Edgar F. Beckham, one of the nation’s most influential and beloved leaders in higher education, died Wednesday in Middletown at the age of 72. He was a resident of North Haven.
As the first African-American dean of the college at Wesleyan University, Beckham led efforts to build understanding that diversity is integral to excellence in American education. While he served as dean, Wesleyan University became a national model for excellence in education for students of diverse backgrounds. Beckham also served as the chair of the Connecticut Board of Education, working to bring the lessons learned at Wesleyan to the public schools of Connecticut. In the 1990s, he headed one of the most far-reaching and effective change efforts ever launched in higher education: the Ford Foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative. Then in 1998, he joined the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) as a senior fellow, where he continued to guide colleges and universities throughout the United States on matters of educational quality.
Beckham’s civic contributions were many. In addition to his service to Connecticut education, he served as chair of the boards of Middlesex Hospital, the Donna Wood Foundation, and the Connecticut Humanities Council. He also served as a trustee to the Connecticut Housing Authority, Mount Holyoke College, Vermont Academy, Connecticut Public Broadcasting and the Association of International Educators.
Beckham was honored with numerous awards. In 1997 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. In 1991 he received Wesleyan’s Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, awarded for extraordinary service to Wesleyan and to the public good. In 1996, he was named Dean of the College Emeritus, and in 1998 the Wesleyan Alumni Association honored him with its Distinguished Service Award. Beckham received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1997 from Olivet College and in 2000 from Clark University.
“Edgar Beckham’s legacy is his message that diversity is about much more than adding people of color to white campuses,” said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider. “He led a movement to enlarge the content of the curriculum, create intercultural community on campus, add new dimensions to liberal education, and build new civic capacity for democracy. He enriched us all with his life, his work, and his love.”
Edgar Beckham was born August 5, 1933 in Hartford, Conn., the son of Willabelle Hollinshed and Walter Henry Beckham. He grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Hartford and attended Weaver High School.
In 1951, Beckham enrolled at Wesleyan University, the recipient of the Lewis Fox Scholarship for his outstanding academic record at Weaver High School, and of several other named scholarships. He pursued a pre-med course of study, and was editor-in-chief of the Argus, Wesleyan’s student newspaper, a member of the choir, and a fraternity member of Delta Sigma. Between his junior and senior years at Wesleyan, he served for three years in the U.S. Army in Germany where he trained as a neuropsychiatric technician. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in German. That same year, he married Ria Haertl of Stuttgart, Germany.
He earned his master’s and completed his doctoral course work in Germanic languages and literatures at Yale University. He began his academic career at Wesleyan in 1961 as an instructor of German. He spent 28 of the next 29 years at Wesleyan, serving in various posts including lecturer in German, director of the language laboratory, associate provost, and, from 1973-1990, dean of the college. “Edgar Beckham guided Wesleyan through the very difficult and utterly transformational period when we learned the hardest lessons about what it meant to be a diverse community,” said Wesleyan President Doug Bennet. “He succeeded by keeping us focused on what we could accomplish for ourselves and the larger society as we succeeded.”
Beckham also taught Freshman Humanities and courses in African-American studies at Wesleyan. While at Wesleyan, Beckham was the coordinator of Explorations in the Black Experience, an experimental high school course in black history designed and taught by Wesleyan undergraduates. He was also coordinator of studies for Wesleyan Upward Bound, an anti-poverty program for high school students.
Beckham spent the 1966-1967 academic year abroad in Germany where he taught English language and African-American history and literature at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He also lectured extensively at America Houses throughout the Federal Republic of Germany on the state of civil rights and racial consciousness in the United States.
In the fall of 1990, Beckham accepted a position as program officer for the Ford Foundation’s Education and Culture Program. In this capacity, he affected the curriculum and co-curricular activities at hundreds of American college campuses. He organized international seminars on campus diversity in India, South Africa, and the United States, and he wrote and edited materials for the three volumes of essays based on the seminars. Beckham’s singular contributions to the Foundation’s work on access, diversity as an educational asset, and multicultural education earned him the unprecedented title of Senior Program Officer. “Edgar was the philosopher-king and the moral conscience of the Education and Culture Program,” said Alison R. Bernstein, a current vice president of the Foundation who worked closely with him.
Beckham is survived by his wife, Ria; son Frederick and daughter-in-law Julie; a sister, Ruth Beckham Holloman; a brother, William Beckham; a niece, Merle Holloman; and a nephew, Wendell Holloman.
A service was held May 30 at Wesleyan University’s Memorial Chapel.
by Olivia Drake •
|Wesleyan students received 145 awards during the Academic Awards and Prizes Reception at the Russell House May 9. The event was organized by the Dean’s Office. (Photos by Olivia Drake)|