Campus News & Events

3 Works of Poetry Nominated for NAACP Images Awards

NAACP

Three titles affiliated with Wesleyan were nominated for the 2021 NAACP Images Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry category.

According to the NAACP, Image Awards celebrate “the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts and those who promote social justice through their creative work.”

Among the five nominees is Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020) written by John Murillo, assistant professor of English; The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan University Press, 2020) by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers; and Un-American (Wesleyan University Press, 2020) by Hafizah Geter.

The collections by Murillo, Jeffers, and Geter also are longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. The PEN Open Book Award honors a work of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, or poetry written by an author of color. The award was created by PEN America’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.

The 52nd NAACP Image Awards will air at 8 p.m. March 27 on BET. Non-televised award categories will livestream over five nights March 22–26.

The virtual ceremonies will recognize winners in more than 60 non-televised award categories in the fields of television and streaming, music, literature, film, and activism.

Single-Tusked Walrus Skull Settles into Olin Library

walrus

On Jan. 20, crews installed a walrus exhibit in Olin Library. Pictured, from left back row, are Katherine Brunson, assistant professor of archaeology and East Asian studies; Wendi Field Murray, Archaeology Collections manager and adjunct assistant professor of East Asian studies; Andrew White, Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian; Ann Burke, professor of biology; Bruce Strickland, instrument maker specialist; Jim Zareski, research assistant/lab manager for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department; David Strickland, instrument maker; and Vivian Gu ’23. Pictured, kneeling, from left, are Yu Kai Tan ’20 and Andy (Dick Yee) Tan ’21.

Olin Library’s newest resident is looking for a good book to sink his tusk into.

The skull of a one-toothed walrus, which was installed in the Campbell Reading Room on Jan. 20, is the University’s latest exhibit on display from the former Museum of Wesleyan University (1871–1957). The piece was donated to Wesleyan 145 years ago by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History but has spent about half of its university life in storage.

The 26-pound skull, which is missing its right tusk, belonged to a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) living along the Ugashik River in Alaska in 1876. The aquatic mammal would use its tusks to climb onto ice flows, attract mates, establish social structure, or for combat.

“We’re not exactly sure what happened to its other tusk,” said Professor of Biology Ann Campbell Burke. “In the wild, they don’t naturally shed their tusks, but they do get broken. This one was removed after death.”

Wesleyan Prepares for Students’ Return to Campus This Spring

Between Feb. 5–8, Wesleyan will welcome the majority of students back to Middletown for the spring semester.

Students must follow a series of steps to prepare for a safe return to campus, which includes testing and quarantine before and upon arrival, and wearing masks at all times in shared spaces.

Faculty and staff are expected to follow the guidance of the Community Agreement and act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for the health and safety of others.

keep wes safe“After a successful reactivation of campus last fall, we are confident that we’ll be able to offer a vital Wesleyan experience to students this spring while limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “We recognize that there is real anxiety about the pandemic, and we will continue to promote safety, care, and community. Those things will all go together in the service of education.”

Speaking at a Virtual All-Staff and Faculty Forum on Jan. 28, Roth and Dean of Students and Associate Vice President Rick Culliton, who chairs Wesleyan’s Pandemic Planning Committee, acknowledged that the current public health situation looks quite different compared to the start of the fall 2020 semester. COVID positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are all at much higher levels now, and new variants of the virus create much uncertainty, while the rollout of several highly effective vaccines are providing glimmers of hope.

Culliton described minor differences between the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. As in the fall, anyone on campus must wear a face covering and practice social distancing. Visitors will continue to be restricted from campus, and students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week, and faculty and staff once or twice per week, depending on the nature of their jobs. Due to the critical role of testing in preventing the spread of COVID, this semester students who miss more than three tests will be immediately required to leave campus and study remotely for the rest of the semester. Quarantine of close contacts is reduced from 14 to 10 days per CDC guidelines, and Wesleyan may further restrict off-campus travel.

Classes will begin virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 9, while students are in the initial quarantine. Classes scheduled to be delivered in-person or through a hybrid approach are expected to switch to that modality on Feb. 22, after the quarantine lifts.

President Roth, who is teaching COL 228: Virtue and Vice in History, Literature, and Philosophy this spring, is choosing to hold classes in person.

“We’ll be in a huge room, spread out, and be wearing masks. It’s hard to teach that way because I can’t gauge student reactions very easily, but there’s a very strong desire to hold classes in person,” Roth said. “Our goal should be to offer our students the best experience given our current conditions so students can thrive.”

Additional information on returning to campus and health and safety protocols is posted on the University’s Keep Wes Safe website.

Hepford Honored with 2021 Applied Linguistics Research Article Award

Beth Hepford

Beth Hepford

A paper co-written by Elizabeth (Beth) Hepford, assistant professor of the practice in TESOL (teaching English as a second language), is the recipient of the 2021 Research Article Award presented by the American Association For Applied Linguistics (AAAL).

According to the AAAL, “the award is bestowed annually upon the author of a published refereed journal article which is recognized by leaders in the field to be of outstanding quality and to hold the broadest potential impact on the advancement of applied linguistic knowledge.”

Titled “An illusion of understanding: How native and non-native speakers of English understand (and misunderstand) their Miranda rights,” the paper was originally published by the International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol. 26, No. 2 in 2019.

The Miranda rights, which state the legal rights of an arrested person under the law, are often misunderstood by suspects. The purpose of the study was to compare the understanding of the Miranda rights among native and advanced speakers of English to determine whether standardized assessments of second language (L2) speakers of English proficiency can predict comprehension of the Miranda rights. Their results show that most L2 participants failed to understand their Miranda rights and “displayed significant disadvantages in basic level processing in comparison to native speakers. Furthermore, they were unaware of the failure: using linguistic resources at their disposal these advanced L2 speakers constructed alternative meanings that created an illusion of understanding.”

At Wesleyan, Hepford also is assistant professor of the practice, education studies, and assistant professor of the practice, English. This spring semester, she is teaching WRCT 110: Academic Writing in the U.S. for International Students and WRCT 135: Writing about Research: U.S. Style.

She’s an applied linguist whose research includes second language development, civics education for English learners (ELs), and how multilingualism is used as a marketing tool. Her research in second language development centers on longitudinal case studies with statistical analyses of the development of language complexity, grammatical accuracy, vocabulary, and fluency under the theoretical framework of complex dynamic systems theory.

Student-Athletes of Color Bring Awareness to Their Work Through New Video

This month, the Wesleyan Student-Athlete of Color Leadership Council (SACLC) released its “The Battle is Worth It” video with the Wesleyan community. The video, which was produced by Wesleyan’s Video Services team, features athletes from SACLC who aim to bring awareness to their work and support other athletes of color.

SACLC aims to build a safe, more diverse environment, which will enhance the athletic experiences of student-athletes of color throughout all Wesleyan sports teams. Programs and services are developed with the intention of implementing a system that establishes a social network amongst athletes of color, promotes solidarity, and encourages discourse in an attempt to alleviate the disadvantages associated with being an athlete of color.


Intercollegiate Athletic Competition Postponed for Spring Semester

Given the current public health situation, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is made up of 11 institutions including Wesleyan, is postponing intercollegiate competition for the 2021 spring semester.

After much discussion, the presidents of NESCAC schools released an announcement on Jan. 27 stating: “As member institutions prepare for the spring semester, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and communities remain our foremost concerns. Although COVID case numbers have started to decline, nationally and in our region, the numbers remain far higher than they were at the start of the fall semester. After a careful review, the NESCAC presidents have agreed that conditions will need to improve significantly in order to conduct conference competition this spring.”

As a result of adjustments to the NESCAC schools’ 2020–21 academic calendars, students are returning to campuses at different times, ranging from late January to late February. If the situation improves and conference competition proves feasible, regular-season conference play would likely not start until late March or early April, and would necessarily be limited in scope and duration.

As in the fall, all member institutions plan to limit travel off-campus, restrict visitors, maintain strict protocols on physical distancing, and implement a robust COVID-19 testing program. NESCAC school presidents will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, as well as changes in federal, state, and local guidelines on public health and athletic competition.

“The NESCAC decision will come as a disappointment to many who have worked long and hard for the chance to compete, and I understand their frustration,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 wrote in a campus-wide email. “Like so many Wesleyans, I would love to watch our athletes compete, as I would be delighted to see our musicians play and our actors perform. We all will have to wait until it is safe enough to do so.”

The presidents will make a final decision in late February or early March.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have been featured in national media outlets recently. They include:

The New York TimesChristina Crosby, 67, Dies; Feminist Scholar Wrote of Becoming Disabled

NBC News—Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel [’93] as Acting FCC Chief

NBC Think—Trump’s ‘1776 Commission’ Tried to Rewrite U.S. History. Biden Had Other Ideas.; by Robyn Autry

Inside Higher Ed—Everything Won’t Be Different; by Michael Roth ’78

NPR’s Short Wave—Let’s Go Back to Venus!; features Martha Gilmore

MyRecordJournal.com—WRESTLING: Paint It, Black! Wesleyan Coach Drew Black of Cheshire Tabbed for National Hall of Fame

The New York Times Magazine—Poem: Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop; poem by John Murillo (PDF attached)

Thrive Global—What We Learned From Teaching a “Living a Good Life” Course During the Pandemic; by Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani

The Washington Post—Germany Looks Ahead to Life Without Merkel. But the Leadership Race is Leaving Voters Cold.; quotes Sarah Wiliarty

Forbes—Meet Joe Biden’s Science Team; Narda Jones ’91 will serve as Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy legislative affairs director

EXBulletin—Starting From the First Take, She’s Leading New Developments for ESPN Podcasts in 2021; Kimberley Martin ’03

The Bitter SouthernerMarion Brown’s [MA ’76] Musical Portrait of Georgia

Patch—America’s Coach Declares Distance Running is About to Boom; features Jeff Galloway ’67

The Atlantic—What the Chaos in Hospitals is Doing to Doctors; features Joseph Fins ’82, MD

The Wall Street Journal—Covid is Reshaping Death. And Maybe Life.; by Katy Butler ’71

Washingtonian—Meet Our 2020 Washingtonians of the Year; includes Alan Miller ’76

The Middletown Press—Have You Heard ‘Little Dark Age’ on TikTok? Did You Know the Band Behind It Has Ties to Connecticut?; features MGMT (Ben Goldwasser ’05 and Andrew VanWyngarden ’05)

President Roth on the New Year, New Semester

keep wes safeWesleyan’s 2021 spring semester is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 9, with university housing opening Friday, Feb. 5. All incoming students will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and be tested for COVID-19 on campus.

Classes will take place online only for the first two weeks.

“Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a Jan. 20 post. “Of course, we will have to be vigilant about contagion throughout the semester. The vaccine rollout is making progress, but we still have a long way to go.”

Nominate Faculty for 2021 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Each year, three faculty members are presented the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching during the Commencement Ceremony. The Binswanger Prize recognizes outstanding faculty members as exemplified by a commitment to the classroom, student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion.

Juniors, seniors, graduate students, and GOLD alumni (Graduates Of The Last Decade) are eligible to nominate up to three professors who had the most enduring impact on students’ Wesleyan experience.

An invitation to nominate will be sent on Jan. 30 by Vanessa Guida ’04, chair of the Binswanger Committee. For questions, contact Gina Driscoll (gdriscoll@wesleyan.edu), associate director, alumni and parent relations.

View past Binswanger recipients online here.

Murillo’s Poetry Longlisted for PEN/Voelcker, Believer Book Awards

Murillo

John Murillo

A poetry collection authored by John Murillo, assistant professor of English, is longlisted for both the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection and the Believer Book Awards.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020) explores the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation. The collection includes a sonnet triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended reflection on the history of racial injustice.

The PEN/Voelcker Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, is awarded to a poet whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence. Rae Armantrout’s Conjure and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis, which are both published by Wesleyan University Press, also are longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry (read more). Winners will be announced in February.

The Believer Book Awards honor works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that are the best written and most underappreciated. The shortlists and winners will be announced online in the spring.

Murillo also is the author of Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher, 2010; Four Way Books, 2020), which was a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award (2011) and the PEN Open Book Award (2011). His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. Most recently, Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of New York Times Magazine.

At Wesleyan, Murillo also is director of creative writing and assistant professor, African American studies. This spring, he’s teaching ENGL 337A: Advanced Poetry Workshop, Radical Revision.

Wesleyan Offers 2 New Coursera Courses Focused on Creating Social Change

This month, Wesleyan is launching two new MOOCs (massive open online courses) on the Coursera platform. Enrollment for both classes is free of charge.

Take Action: From Protest to Policy launches on Jan. 17 and is taught by Mary Alice Haddad, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, and Sarah Ryan, attorney and associate professor of the practice in oral communication. Jeffrey Goetz, associate director, Center for Pedagogical Innovation, also assisted with creating the course.

From Global Pandemic to Anti-Racism: Wesleyan’s Year in Review

The year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable of the modern era. From the threat and real-life toll of a global pandemic to domestic clashes over social, racial, and political injustice, 2020 was full of challenges—and the Wesleyan community met each one head-on. We banded together to keep our students and staff safe and pushed each other to show our resilience, to step up and speak out, and to use our trademark creativity to adapt and lead the way in addressing our new socially distanced and politically charged reality.

In this timeline, we look back and explore some of the University’s accomplishments and happenings amid an evolving pandemic.

Jan. 21: The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships announces the grantees of the JCCP Student Innovation Fund. Students from a range of majors and backgrounds—all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community—applied to this fund. Read the story.

Feb. 2: In response to the World Health Organization announcing an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, Wesleyan’s Chinese community (particularly students and parents) bands together to help their fellow citizens. The student-initiated group WesInAction raises more than $23,000, which is used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals in the pandemic’s epicenter in Hubei province, China. Read the story.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.