Campus News & Events

Alumni Discuss Black Entrepreneurship at 29th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium

dwight greene

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow ’89, Shawn Dove ’84, Oladoyin Oladapo ’14, Lucas Turner-Owens ’12, Kenny Green ’98, and Sadasia McCutchen ’17 were the panelists for the virtual 29th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium.

Like many alumni entrepreneurs, Kenny Green’s career launched from a “dorm room business” during his junior year at Wesleyan. Green ’98, an economics major, teamed up with his classmate Paul Freeman ’98 and started selling keychains with ‘Wesleyan’ stitched in black thread.

“[At the time] these big long keychains came in style—the dog tag keychain. So I said, ‘Hey, how can we put Wesleyan on this?'” Green asked.

Green, who is the founder of Green Passion Projects, an organization that consults with professional athletes and entrepreneurs to create effective business strategies, joined five other Wesleyan alumni panelists to lead the 29th Dwight L. Greene Symposium on Oct. 27. Moderated by Melinda Weekes-Laidlow ’89, the group discussed the topic of Black entrepreneurship and specific strategies these alumni leaders use to build entrepreneurial ventures and ecosystems. Green and Weekes-Laidlow were joined by Sadasia McCutchen ’17, Lucas Turner-Owens ’12, Shawn Dove ’84, and Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 for the virtual event.

“I think my entrepreneurial roots started right at Wesleyan,” said Green, who worked in public accounting after graduation. “I became a CPA .. but the calling to entrepreneurship came along.”

Since then, he’s worked with NBA star Charlie Ward on a community fundraiser; he’s consulted with Grammy-winning songwriter Steven Battey on a social impact music video featuring Snoop Dogg and partnered with the Jackie Robinson Park of Fame on a holiday party for underserved families. “I’m just happy with everything that I’m doing every single day,” Green said.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 reviews Richard Rorty’s Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism in The Los Angles Review of Books. “Rorty was at once an iconoclast and an adherent of progress — the odd radical who believed deeply in this country’s potential. His Pragmatism as AntiAuthoritarianism, a set of 10 lectures he delivered in Spain in 1996, has just been published. While many of the arguments are by now familiar, the verve with which they are made and their relevance to our current context make for a bracing read.” (Oct. 27)

According to the New York Times and The White House, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel ’93 as the Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. Rosenworcel “is a leader in spectrum policy, developing new ways to support wireless services from Wi-Fi to video and the Internet of Things. She has fought to combat illegal robocalls and enhance consumer protections in our telecommunications policies.” (Oct. 26)

AARP announces that Alan Miller ’76 is a 2022 AARP Purpose Prize award recipient. The award celebrates people 50-plus who use their knowledge and life experience to solve challenging social problems. Miller was honored for his role leading the News Literacy Project, which teaches people of all ages and backgrounds know how to identify credible news and other information, empowering them to have an equal opportunity to participate in the civic life of their communities and the country. Miller received a $50,000 award for his organization. (Oct. 5)

On CNN, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, shares an opinion piece titled “Now that guns can kill hundreds in minutes, Supreme Court should rethink the rights question.” “What is needed is a common vocabulary and a shared metric for quantifying the lethality of firearms in historical terms when approaching Second Amendment policy and doctrine,” she says. “Without it, the Supreme Court will not have a clear-eyed assessment of this upcoming case and the repercussions it will have on people’s lives.” (Oct. 20)

In The Connecticut Post, planetary geologist Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, is named among 17 people chosen for a Women of Innovation award, presented by the Connecticut Technology Council and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Oct. 14. Gilmore was noted for her research innovation and leadership. (Oct. 20)

In Finger Lakes Daily News, Joyce Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics, Emerita, and President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, is cited for being the recipient of the 2021 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award. Named after the first chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award is awarded to an individual who has “furthered the status of women in the economics profession through example, achievements, increasing our understanding of how women can advance in the economics profession or mentoring others. Jacobsen has excelled on all of these criteria.” (Oct. 25)

Eyewitness News 3 WFSB interviews Diana Martinez, assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, Elam Grekin ’22 and Grey Simon ’24 as part of a “20 Towns in 20 Days” feature, which was spotlighting the City of Middletown. Martinez spoke about community service and Grekin and Simon spoke about their efforts with Long Lane Farm. (Oct. 25)

Wesleyan Trustee Emeritus David Jones ’70, MA ’83, Hon. ’81 is mentioned in Harlem World Magazine for being a New York Landmarks Conservancy honoree.” We inaugurated the Living Landmarks Celebration to recognize extraordinary New Yorkers who give back so much to the city we love,” said Peg Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. Jones is president and chief executive officer of the Community Service Society of New York, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic advancement and full civic participation for low-income New Yorkers. (Oct. 20)

A book review by Marguerite Nguyen, associate professor of English, is published in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History. “In Eric Nguyen’s 2021 debut novel, Things We Lost to the Water, a bayou in New Orleans East acts as a record of the local Vietnamese refugee community. It holds the objects and organisms of everyday life, including soda cans, plastic bags, even a pet frog named Toto, and harbors the stress, despair, and desires of life in the city that the community shares only with this space. In this novel, the first published by a Vietnamese American from New Orleans, the bayou serves as an archive of one of the densest Vietnamese American communities in the country.” (Oct. 21)

In ASBMBTODAY, the member magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Alyssa Cortes ’22 is mentioned for receiving the Marion B. Sewer Distinguished Scholarship for Undergraduates, which supports students who excel academically and are dedicated to enhancing diversity in science. “Cortes plans to attend medical school after graduating with a BA in molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan University. Following residency, and possibly a fellowship, Cortes plans to work in a hospital setting. She also plans to take multiple trips throughout her training and career to underserved countries to share her medical knowledge in village clinics. She particularly wants to go to South America and Caribbean islands to connect to her Hispanic roots.” (Oct. 27)

In The Baltimore Sun, astronomy graduate student Katie Bennett shares why she’s running The New York Marathon to honor her late brother-in-law Dwane Osgood, who recently died of brain cancer. “For me, his death has taught me that nobody in this life is guaranteed any length of time, and I’ve really tried to live that every day.” Bennett also is raising funds for the National Brain Tumor Society as part of the run. (Oct. 21)

Mark Slobin, Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, is cited in the Arizona Jewish Post where he discusses klezmer music. “Klezmer bands originally were made up of a violin or two, a flute, a hammered dulcimer, and a bass instrument, often a cello. The age of sound recording enabled a bolder sound, and clarinet, percussion, brass and other instrumentation were added.” (Oct. 20)

Wicked Local mentions that Kevin Brisco, Jr. ’13, is a Fine Arts Work Center 2021-2022 Visual Arts Fellow. Raised in Memphis, Tenn. his work “is concerned with issues of place and representation, more specifically how the two inform one another—the slippage between background and figure in painting, pop culture, and daily life; as well as the dubious nature of ‘home’ for African Americans living in the southern U.S. His work takes the form of painting, sculpture, and performance.” (Oct. 19)

According to The List, Peter Cambor ’01 got a career boost from his appearance as “Barry” in Grace and Frankie. He had a few roles on acclaimed TV shows such as Suits, NCIS: Los Angeles, and the original NCIS. Cambor explained that he believes acting requires two things: creativity and business know-how. As he put it, “Just like in any other business you have to know how to work on a team, how to work with other people, what’s realistic under great constraints and how you can find freedom within those constraints.” (Oct. 25)

In The Middletown Press, City of Middletown Acting Health Director Kevin Elak said the COVID-19 positivity rate is relatively low in the city because a lot of testing is done in Middletown, “between pharmacies and the new testing site at Cross Street (AME Zion Church), as well as Wesleyan University regularly testing its staff and students.” (Oct. 22)

Students Learn to Carve Pumpkins with Stone Tools (with Photos, Video)

pumpkin carving

Beth Cooper ’24 demonstrates the craft of flintknapping during a “Pumpkin Carving with Stone Tools” outreach program. The self-taught knapper developed an interest in the craft their senior year of high school to “try something new.” Cooper had already had dabbled in blacksmithing, metal casting, and woodworking. “While I enjoy doing all of those, they can be difficult skills to maintain without a workshop or money for supplies and tools, so I started teaching myself to knap. It’s cheaper and less seasonal than my other hobbies,” they said. Pictured, Cooper is using a “copper bopper” to knap a piece of Keokuk chert from a flintknapping supplier and quarry in Oklahoma.


An art form discovered more than a million years ago by hominids is being kept alive today by a Wesleyan sophomore.

Elizabeth “Beth” Cooper ’24, a modern-day “knapper,” uses moose antlers, cobble hammerstones, and homemade copper contraptions to shape and “chip” stone into tools. This technique was historically used to craft arrowheads, knives, blades, spears, gun flints, and more.

“I’ve always been interested in historical replicas and recreating ancient production techniques,” they said.

On Oct. 27, Cooper shared their handiwork and knowledge with fellow students during a practical—and traditionally seasonal—activity: pumpkin carving. Sponsored by the Archaeology Department and Archaeology & Anthropology Collections, Cooper and Archaeology Collections Manager Wendi Field Murray led the inaugural “Pumpkin Carving with Stone Tools” outreach program at the Hogwarts Tent. Participants not only carved a pumpkin using Cooper’s stone tools, they also learned about the history and function of different stone tools through time.

Researchers Create New Collaborative to Guide Effective Health Communications

Erika Franklin Fowler is professor of government and the director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

News media, advertising, and other messaging can be important tools in promoting a healthy and equitable society. The COVID-19 pandemic shows just how catastrophic the consequences can be when a communication crisis is added to a health crisis.

Wesleyan’s Erika Franklin Fowler, Steven Moore and Laura Baum are launching the Collaborative on Media & Messaging for Health and Social Policy (COMM) to help. In summarizing their research—including more than a decade’s worth of health-related advertising and news coverage on childhood vaccinations, the Affordable Care Act, education, paid leave, and health equity—they find some broad takeaways.

For example, according to COMM, the federal government’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a textbook example of what not to do when talking about complex health issues. The early missteps in communication and politicization of messaging created an environment where the safety and efficacy of life-saving vaccines was called into question.

Wesleyan Food Rescue Looking for Volunteers

food rescue Like many other activities on campus, Wesleyan Food Rescue went into a kind of hibernation during the height of the global pandemic last year.

When Food Rescue distributed food daily, over 40 students were involved. Last year the number dwindled to seven participants. Now, student coordinators were looking to rebuild the ranks of their almost 10-year-old organization.

Student coordinators Gina Gwiazda ‘22, Ari Hart ‘24, and Lucia Voges ’24 are looking for at least three or four drivers to help them bring more food to the Eddy Shelter, located on Labella Circle in Middletown. Expanding the number of available drivers would allow them to increase the number of days they can serve the shelter. The students also receive some help from staff members who will drop food off at the shelter at the end of their shift.

“We are the Eddy Shelter’s only reliable food source,” Gwiazda said. “Last year we got money from the Innovation Fund to buy the shelter a few things, like a microwave and an air fryer.”

Food Rescue’s work is elegant in its simplicity. Wesleyan routinely has more food available at Usdan, Summerfields and other campus dining haunts than can be eaten. Food Rescue collects the food and delivers it to the shelter, assuring that people who are food insecure receive help and the university has a positive way to distribute unused food.

Jacobsen Honored for Furthering the Status of Women in Economics

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics, Emerita, is the recipient of the 2021 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award presented by the American Economic Association.

For her efforts furthering the status of women in the economics profession through example, achievements, and mentoring, the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP) is honoring Joyce Jacobsen with the 2021 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award.

Jacobsen, who retired from Wesleyan in 2019, is the Andrews Professor of Economics, Emerita. She’s the current president—and the first woman to serve as president—of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“When I think of Joyce’s presence and impact at Wesleyan, the words ‘energetic,’ ‘disciplined,’ ‘innovative,’ and ‘supportive’ come immediately to mind,” said Gil Skillman, professor and chair of economics. “She was astonishingly productive and effective here as a teacher, scholar, and colleague, and later, as an administrator. She also was consistently supportive of both colleagues and students, acting as an ombudsperson for students (especially female economics majors) and investing considerable time and effort in encouraging and assisting the research endeavors of colleagues.”

Jacobsen completed an A.B. degree in economics at Harvard University, an M.Sc. degree in economics at the London School of Economics, and a PhD in economics at Stanford University. She spent most of her career at Wesleyan, joining the faculty in 1993 after five years at Rhodes College.

Consul General of Japan Visits with Wesleyan Students, Faculty

Consul General of Japan

Gregory Boyko, honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut; Hideshige Sakurai, assistant to the Consul General of Japan in Boston; Ann Zhang ’22; Setsuo Ohmori, Consul General of Japan in Boston; and Felice Li ’25 gathered in front of Olin Library during a student-led campus tour (in Japanese) on Oct. 14.

Felice Li ’25 met, mingled, and offered a campus tour to one of Japan’s sōryōji—or consuls general—during a recent visit to Wesleyan.

“As a new student here, I felt very excited to show the consul general our campus and what I had explored here so far,” Li said. “I lived in Tokyo before coming here, so I was excited to present the tour in Japanese.”

Li was among several students and faculty who spent the day with Consul General Setsuo Ohmori, who is the highest-ranking Japanese consul in Boston. The CG supports the safety and stability of the Japanese people, and works to build upon the friendship between Japan and the United States.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Variations on the Body, written by María Ospina, is reviewed in The New York Times. “Ospina’s debut collection opens not with a bang but a scratch: The protagonist of the first story faces the irritation of a shirt tag. The body troubles, you see. Welts appear. The heart becomes a defiant pump. Pregnancy happens, whether or not it is a vocational disqualification. Then, of course, there’s the dying thing.” (Oct. 15)

In a release made by the Associated Press, Mary Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion, comments on an article about actor William Shatner going to space. “American dominance in space, nobody cares about it. It’s Bezos who says, ‘We can’t go on living like this. We have to save the planet,'” Rubenstein says. What results, she says, is “a kinder, gentler colonialism” in which humans take to orbit under premises that seem justifiable but require closer scrutiny. (Oct. 12)

In Federal News Network, Mark Masselli Hon. ’09, P’15, ’16 interviews former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb ’94 whose new book outlines America’s epic failure in our response to the pandemic, leading to more than 700,000 deaths. Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic examines the inherent flaws at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public agencies that left us vulnerable to the raging pandemic. (Oct. 11)

Wesleyan’s Scholar Rescue Fund is mentioned in The Hartford Courant. “After a years-long wait, Cameroonian scientist Henry Meriki arrived at Wesleyan University in Middletown this fall through a fellowship program that helps accomplished scholars facing life-threatening danger in their homelands to temporarily relocate to schools in safer countries.” (Oct. 11)

Ella Carr ’24 and Ethan Barrett ’24 share their thoughts regarding the Indian Hill Cemetery in Middletown being tagged with vulgar graffiti with WSFB Eyewitness News 3. “There is progress being made and maybe part of that process has to do with little acts of protest like this, even if they might come off as destructive a little bit. Some people that can’t get their voice heard so this is how they speak out,” Carr said. (Oct. 11)

As reported in The Middletown Press, Bob Cassidy, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired), and the Andersen Fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy at Wesleyan, will be the keynote speaker at the 20th annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Chamber of Commerce member breakfast meeting which will be held virtually on Nov. 1. (Oct. 11)

Bill Belichick ’75, Hon. ’05, P’07, ’15, ’15 and Amanda Belichick ’07 are mentioned in LAX All-Stars. All three of the Belichick children played collegiate lacrosse, with Amanda playing at Wesleyan. Amanda has been the head women’s lacrosse coach at Holy Cross University since 2018. (Oct. 5)

Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts latest show, WesWorks, is featured in The Middletown Press. “[Wesleyan] will host a unique show that highlights often underappreciated staff who keep the college running.” (Oct. 15)

Wesleyans new minor in human rights advocacy is mentioned in Inside Higher Ed. (Oct. 12)

SHAPE Office Recognizes Violence Awareness Month with Activities

Wesleyan's SHAPE office: (from left) eft to right it is Charissa Lee ’23, Johanna DeBari, and Asiyah Herrero ’22.

At left, Charissa Lee ’23, Johanna DeBari, and Asiyah Herrero ’22 are from Wesleyan’s SHAPE office.

One in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual violence in college, according to recent studies. The percentages are even higher amongst women of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

The frightening thing about those already disturbing numbers is that they are almost certainly not the whole story. “We know that this is one of the most underreported experiences of harm,” said Johanna DeBari, director of the Office of Support, Healing, Activism, and Prevention Education (SHAPE).

DeBari and her team at SHAPE are hoping that their work during Dating Violence Awareness Month this October will help draw attention to the problem. There will be a series of lectures and opportunities for students to reflect and connect with one another in a safe environment. The schedule of events can be found here.

“The problem is certainly not unique to Wesleyan. It is something that every campus navigates,” DeBari said. “My hope is that everyone can walk away feeling like they have a role to play in the conversation.”

Ohmann Remembered For Transforming University Life and Culture

ohmann

Richard Ohmann. (Photos courtesy of Special Collections & Archives)

Richard Ohmann, Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language, Emeritus, died Oct. 8 at the age of 90.

Ohmann received his BA from Oberlin College and his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1961 and, until his retirement in 1996, served in many roles and helped to shape the future of Wesleyan.

Joel Pfister, Olin Professor of English, sketched Ohmann’s trajectory: “He was promoted rapidly to full professor; was appointed vice president and provost; protested on national TV against the Vietnam War; was elected vice president of the Modern Language Association (MLA) on an antiwar platform; founded with some other lefty luminaries the fabulous journal Radical Teacher; completely freaked out English departments everywhere with his powerful and hugely influential Marxist critique of the reigning constructions of the field in English in America (1976); and went on to write several more field-changing books (one with his friend Noam Chomsky), including Politics of Letters (1987) and Selling Culture (1996).”

Henry Abelove, Willbur Fisk Osborne Professor of English, Emeritus, commented: “No one did more than he to guide Wesleyan in absorbing the best of the lessons of the social movements of the 1960s.”

Posse Veteran Scholars Program Bring Diverse Backgrounds to Campus

Malik Booker '25

Malik Booker ’25 served with the U.S. Navy.

Malik Booker ’25 isn’t the average first-year student.

At age 26, the potential computer science and College of East Asian Studies major has already served four years with the U.S. Navy as a petty officer third class officer in San Diego, Calif. and the island of Guam. As a former hull technician, he’s a trained welder, pipefitter, and carpenter, and has experience firefighting, repairing boats, maintaining marine plumbing, operating ballast control systems, and inspecting nuclear-level materials.

But honing these skills wasn’t enough for an ideal post-military career.

“I didn’t want to be trapped into [working in the] trades forever,” Booker said. “I wanted to attend college … I wanted to study languages and have time to travel the world.”

Booker, who hails from Racine, Wis., is now among nine first-year students enrolled at Wesleyan through the Posse Veterans Scholars Program. The program identifies, trains, and supports veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees at top colleges and universities. In addition, Wesleyan provides its Posse vets with supplemental funding to cover the cost of tuition.

The eighth cohort of veteran scholars—including Booker, Carlos Ordonez; Desaree Edwards; Lamonte Lyons; Trace Forsyth; Aleck Gao; Nick Jarrett; Terrion Thirsty; and Spencer Turner—bring extensive and unique experiences to the university.

Basinger Celebrated at Center for Film Studies (with Photos)

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Corwin-Fuller Emerita Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger, center, watches in awe during a firework show that occurred after the dedication of the Jeanine Basinger Center for Film Studies on Sept. 25. About 300 people attended the event. (Photo by Nick Caito)

The grand finale of Jeanine Basinger’s storied career at Wesleyan took place in late September with the naming ceremony in her honor of the new Center for Film Studies.

The event, held Sept. 25, celebrated the completion of the third and final phase of the center. The 16,000 square-foot addition includes a state-of-the-art production studio, a cyclorama and green screen, a 50-seat screening room, additional indoor and outdoor classroom spaces, a three-story house dedicated to on-site film shooting, and increased archival research space.

Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Emerita Professor of Film Studies and founder of The Ogden and Mary Louise Reid Cinema Archives has been the lynchpin in securing funding for the $27 million project over the past 20 years. The center has been in development since 2000.