Campus News & Events

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore to Partner with Story and Soil Coffee Co.

story and soil

Hartford, Conn.-based Story and Soil Coffee Co. will open its second location inside Wesleyan R.J. Julia on May 1.

Patrons of Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore can soon sip while they shop.

This month, the bookstore partnered with Hartford-based Story and Soil Coffee Co., which will open its second location inside Wesleyan R.J. Julia on May 1.

Story and Soil Coffee Co., a multi-roaster specialty coffee shop, opened for business in July of 2017 “with a vision to create a supportive and positive culture, celebrate our vibrant community, and build relationships through coffee,” according to the company’s website.

The company’s founder, Michael Acosta, became interested in coffee while running Trinity College’s Underground Coffeehouse as a student. He later launched his first startup venture, N2 Coffee, the first mobile nitro cold brew in Connecticut.

Story and Soil will offer hot, cold, and iced coffee, espresso, teas, specialty, and seasonal drinks. Starting in June, the business will add hot food and baked goods to its menu.

Rj Julia

The Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore opened in 2017.

Wesleyan partnered with the Madison-based RJ Julia Booksellers in 2017 to open the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Main Street in Middletown. The two-story 13,000-square-foot business houses approximately 18,000 books, with a special section highlighting authors from the Wesleyan community. The store also sells a wide range of both Wesleyan-themed and general apparel and merchandise.

The Middlesex Chamber of Commerce will host a grand opening ceremony for Story and Soil in mid-June.

Read more in this Hartford Courant article.

Tan ’21 Presents Mussel Collection at Northeast Geobiology Symposium

Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21 presented his recent 3D scanning models during the 2021 Northeast Geobiology Symposium, which took place virtually on April 9-10.

Tan’s presentation was titled “Orphaned Freshwater Mussel Collection Reveals Biogeography of Sculptured Sciences.” During the event, Tan showcased several 3D-scanned models of the mussel collection he is currently studying for his master’s degree.

The symposium, which is organized by students and postdocs, provides an inclusive environment for researchers at various stages of their development to learn from their peers and develop collaborative relationships for future work.

Admitted Students Explore Wesleyan during Virtual WesFest

As part of Wesleyan’s Admitted Student Events, the Office of Admission hosted its 2021 WesFest in a virtual platform April 7-9.

Class of 2025 admitted students and their families were able to log into 121 events and informational sessions on topics such as financial aid, academic resources, student activities, studying abroad, student technology, residential life, and religious life.

Of the 13,145 applications received for a spot in the Class of 2025, 2,544 were admitted. View the full Class of 2025 profile online here. During WesFest, more than 890 of the admitted students attended at least one session.

In addition to virtual tours and academic open houses, admitted students attended a student-to-student panel discussion to meet current students and learn about campus life, academics, and extracurricular academic activities at Wesleyan in an informal conversation.

On April 8, Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, welcomed guests to WesFest and spoke to admitted students and their families about the reason he decided to say “Yes to Wes!”

“I found myself attracted to Wes because of its size, because of the dynamic diversity, because of the balance, and all the ways that matter to me—not being too big or too small, not being urban but neither rural…” Gonzalez said. “I came here as an undergrad back in the early ’90s, spent my four years here, and had a transformative experience.”

Some of WesFest’s highlighted sessions are featured below:

activities fair

Student Activities & Leadership Development (SALD) student staff presented a guide to student organizations during a virtual Student Activities Fair. In addition to highlighting various student organizations at Wesleyan, the student staff offered an introduction to WesNest, the main platform of information for and about student groups.

Jonesy Moore '21

During a student-to-student panel discussion, Jonesy Moore ’21 spoke about changing academic directions after exploring the open curriculum. “I was completely clueless [about] what I was doing, so I came in as a neuro major [and] did not end up being a neuro major,” Moore said. Moore added that in addition to academics, students have the opportunity to try new extracurricular activities, regardless of prior experience. When first on campus, Moore became involved with Second Stage theatre company and Cardinal Pictures, a student-run film production group. “The first day we filmed, I had to learn how to focus the camera, like I was completely in the dark for that,” he recalled.

At the discussion, Tashfia Jilu ’22 offered advice to prospective students. “If you're feeling intimidated, it's okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel for people saying I'm involved in this, I'm involved in [that], I'm double majoring, triple majoring…. it just sounded so intimidating. Jilu, who is pre-med and majoring in Science and Society, emphasized that the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You'll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it's the nature of Wes,” Jilu added. “You'll end up doing it even if you think you can't or you're intimidated right now. I just want to throw that out there.”

Tashfia Jilu ’22, who is pre-med and majoring in science in society, also offered advice to prospective students. “If you’re feeling intimidated, it’s okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel of people saying I’m involved in this, I’m involved in [that], I’m double majoring, triple majoring…. It just sounded so intimidating, but the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You’ll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it’s the nature of Wes,” Jilu added.

6-7pm All-Star Alumni Panel Mark your calendars and cancel your plans! You're definitely going to want to join us for this all-star alumni panel moderated by Bradley Whitford '81 with Santigold '96, Angela Yee '97, and Beanie Feldstein '15! Come learn about their journeys to, through and post-Wesleyan! https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/92233082126

WesFest’s All-Star Alumni Panel featured (clockwise from top left) Beanie Feldstein ’15, Bradley Whitford ’81, Angela Yee ’97, and Santigold ’96.

beanie

“I feel like my brain [was] cracked open. I think I said that 50 times during my first two years at Wesleyan,” Feldstein said. “Knowing that to be your best at whatever you want to do you have to use the people around you and learn from the people around you versus trying to push people out of the way to get where you want to go. That Wesleyan spirit is something that really sticks with me.”

“I just realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn't have this broad exposure in education. I was an African American studies major and a music double major, but I had never learned anything about African American studies until I got Wesleyan.

After graduating from Wesleyan with a double major in African American studies and music, Santigold “realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn’t have this broad exposure in education.”

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez '96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a "Chat with your Admission Dean." "Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether their self-imposed or imposed on them by others," he said. "That's the thing about Wes—you can't reduce us to a single adjective."

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a “Chat with your Admission Dean.” “Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether they’re self-imposed or imposed on them by others,” he said. “That’s the thing about Wes—you can’t reduce us to a single adjective.”

Emily Moon '21 "My experience at Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level—to really in-depth research and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted," Moon said. "I think there's something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth."

During the WesFest welcome on April 9, Emily Moon ’21 spoke about her Wesleyan experience. “Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level to really in-depth research—and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted,” Moon said. “I think there’s something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth.”

long lane farm tour

Charlotte George ’24 offered a virtual tour of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm and answered questions from admitted students.

During a "Hot Topics for Parents" panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. "We hype up college as like this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it's also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won't be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is," said panelist Becca Baron '23. "It's a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just to like take it one day at a time, and it'll all be okay."

During a “Hot Topics for Parents” panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. “We hype up college as this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it’s also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won’t be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is,” said panelist Becca Baron ’23. “It’s a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just like to take it one day at a time, and it’ll all be okay.”

wesfest film

Logan Ludwig, assistant director of events and programs for the College of Film and the Moving Image, and Scott Higgins, Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, offered a live informational session about the College and the film studies major.

12-1pm Virtual Tour: College of Film and the Moving Image Join CFILM staff for a live tour

Higgins also provided a pre-recorded virtual tour of the College of Film and the Moving Image.

ResLife Q&A Join ResLife staff and students for a discussion about living on campus! Bring your questions about roommate selection, picking your dorm, what you can and can't have in your room and more!

Residential Life staff hosted a discussion about living on campus and answered questions about housing options, roommate selection, and more.

Physics Drop-In Meet a Physics Professor, see them do a cool Physics demo, or both! Each day will feature different hosts.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, led a “Meet a Physics Professor” event during WesFest.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon. ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.

Murillo Honored with $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry

Poet John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection “Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.” (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry. (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

On April 7, poet John Murillo, assistant professor of English, was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

Murillo’s collection offers “a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation.”

The Kingsley Tufts Award is awarded to a mid-career poet and comes with a $100,000 prize.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry also was nominated for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award and the 2021 NAACP Images Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry category.

This spring, Murillo is teaching ENGL 337: Advanced Poetry Workshop: Radical Revision.

Students Awarded $5,000 Seed Grants for Socially-Good Ventures

seed grant pitch

On April 2, six Patricelli Center Seed Grant finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges.

Wesleyan’s organic farm, an eco-friendly clothing store, and a clean water supplier in New Jersey are the recipients of the 2021 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grants. These student-led social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On April 2, a pool of finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities, and potential for social or environmental impact.

Seasoned Seed Grant judge and Patricelli Center Advisory Board member Syed Ali ’13 said the PCSE’s Seed Grant competition demonstrates “the best of Wesleyan. These students brought both creativity and critical thinking to their proposals. They see clearly that every person deserves clean water, good food, and a healthy planet and recognize we are going to have to think differently to achieve that.”

On April 5, the Patricelli Center announced the Seed Grant winners:

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23.

Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23 are the co-creators of Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here. With Infinitely, Karamat and Cardenas are offering products that are made in an eco-friendly fashion.

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23

Karamat and Cardenas are working to launch a sustainable, affordable line of clothing that combats the fast fashion industry and all the environmental and humanitarian concerns it raises. Their first collection will launch later this spring.

“We pride ourselves in doing good while we’re here, for when we’re no longer here,” Cardenas explained. “Fast fashion companies don’t offer quality in sustainable products. They create a high demand production for cheap materials to keep up with the latest trends.”

Infinitely is partnering with other sustainable businesses—small and large—to increase the demand and access to sustainable clothing.

“Unlike other sustainable businesses that overprice their clothing materials, Infinitely is dedicated to remaining accessible for everyone in advocating for social issues through our clothing materials,” she said.

Elam Grekin '22 and Franny Lin '21

Elam Grekin ’22 (pictured) and Franny Lin ’21 are members of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm community.

Long Lane Farm, Summer Farming by Elam Grekin ’22 and Franny Lin ’21

Since its founding in 2003, Long Lane Farm has worked towards a model of food sovereignty, in which all people not only have access to affordable, healthy meals, but also have a say in how their food is produced.

“Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to both the farm and our communities, we will look ahead, strengthen and expand our role in the community, and shore up our strategies for the future,” Lin said.

Lin and Grekin have both spent ample time growing food at Long Lane Farm, and they hope to use the farm as a means of helping fight food insecurity in Middletown. They seek to create a farm stand, launch educational initiatives, and host community events to bring people together while working towards their goal.

“As the pandemic eases, this is the time for us to rebuild our relationships with the Middletown community,” Lin explained. “This grant would allow us to hire more farmers, giving us the freedom to focus on community building and food insecurity without having to sacrifice our ecological growing practices or vegetable yields. It will also allow someone to focus on the longevity of these relationships.”

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich '24.

Vincent Henrich ’24 created Newark Water Association by

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich ’24

Henrich launched the Newark Water Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 2020 to provide the community of Newark, N.J. with access to clean, safe, and free water.

“Newark residents are still drinking lead-contaminated water,” Henrich said. “The immediate need is not being met. This is where Newark Water Association stepped in. We supported the immediate need by supplying those who needed the water the most with our bottled water project.”

He focuses on giving bottled water to groups who could not otherwise access uncontaminated water.

Runners up included: B4 ~ Bold, Brave, Beautiful, Bald by Kara Hodge ’24 and Alexis Papavasiliou ’24; Hearth Creative Co. LLC by Nélida Zepeda ’23; and Olive Branch Pictures Inc. by Andrew Hirsh ’20, Kevin DeLoughry ’21, and Liam Trampota ’18. The Seed Grant and other Patricelli Center programs are made possible by numerous donors and volunteers, including Propel Capital, Newman’s Own Foundation, and the Norman Ernst Priebatsch Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurship.

Ali, who works as an analyst for HR&A Advisors, an urban planning / public policy / economic development consulting firm, admired the diversity of projects pitched by the students. 

“For every single venture, even the ones who were not crowned winners, the judges saw tremendous potential in what these students could achieve with the passion and leadership they demonstrated,” Ali said. “These students and teams exemplify the spirit of innovation and impact shared by so many members of the Wesleyan community.”

 

American Oz by MacLowry, Strain to Premiere April 19

ozA film written, directed, and produced by College of Film and the Moving Image faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of the beloved classic American narrative, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

MacLowry is assistant professor of the practice in film studies and Strain is associate professor of film studies. Together they direct the Wesleyan Documentary Project.

Titled American Oz, the documentary depicts how Baum continued to reinvent himself—working as a chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman, and traveling salesman—while reinterpreting his observations through films, books, and musicals.

Featuring interviews with Wesleyan’s Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita; Wicked author Gregory Maguire, and historian Philip Deloria, and others, American Oz shows how Baum wove together scraps and shards of his own experiences into an enduring work of the imagination. As a young husband and father, Baum was continually struggling to support his growing family. His quest to find his true calling led him through a dozen enterprises; some were abandoned for the next big thing and others failed. But each provided Baum with fodder that could be transformed in his writing.

The documentary premieres from 9 to 11 p.m. EST on Monday, April 19 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.

This spring at Wesleyan, MacLowry is teaching FILM 457: Advanced Filmmaking, and Strain is teaching FILM 384: Documentary Storytelling and FILM 430: Documentary Production.

Kostacopoulos Remembered for Being Wesleyan’s Winningest Coach

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, and former head baseball coach and assistant football coach, passed away on March 25 at the age of 86.

Kosty earned his BS from the University of Maine, where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and made the All-Maine Conference in football and basketball. After coaching at Bowdoin for nine years, he arrived at Wesleyan in 1968. He served as head baseball coach for 28 years and assistant football coach for 19 years. He also served as a head squash coach during this time.

Kosty led the Cardinals to 11 Little Three titles. Twice named NCAA Coach of the Year, he won over 400 games and had 24 winning seasons in his time at Wesleyan. In 1994 Kosty led the team to the NCAA College World Series and was chosen as a coach for the Division III All-Star game at Fenway Park in Boston. “Coach Kosty had the ability to challenge his players and get them to perform at their best in the most important games,” recalled Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair, Physical Education. “For many, he was a great coach, mentor, and friend, and he will be missed.”

In addition to being Wesleyan’s winningest coach, Kosty was also known as an active recruiter. “From the honor of being recruited by him, to playing under his guidance, he gave us the transformational experience of our lives,” said Mark Woodworth ’94, head baseball coach. “Coach Kosty was larger than life and the embodiment of what a coach should be. His legacy lives on and is firmly embedded in the Wesleyan Baseball program, but is found even more in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate enough to have been able to call him Coach.”

Known as a mentor and an enduring friend to his students, Kosty was inducted into the Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. John Raba, Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse, said: “Peter Kostacopoulos was one of the finest individuals to ever have coached at Wesleyan. His championship record, innovation, teaching, and influence in the lives and careers of players and coaches are unsurpassed. Peter will be deeply missed by many of us in the athletic community at Wesleyan.”

Kosty, who retired from Wesleyan in 2001, is survived by his wife Joann Hanson Kostacopoulos and his sons John Kostacopoulos, Peter Kostacopoulos, Jr., and Paul Kostacopoulos. The family is planning a celebration of Kosty’s life this summer, to be announced at a later time.

Tucker Lectures on Victorian Aeronauts and the History of Ballooning

Photo of Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, gave a virtual talk titled “Adventures of Victorian Aeronauts” on March 28. The lecture focused on the way balloon travel changed the landscape of Victorian aviation.

The talk was hosted by Profs & Pints, an online platform for professors to give lectures that reach a wide virtual audience.

Tucker began with a historical panorama of ballooning from its origins in Enlightenment science and Romanticism, to its uses for various purposes in the 19th century. She also explored balloon fashion and follies, accidents and mishaps, deaths and discoveries, personalities and scientific uses, as well as the technologies involved.

Tucker first wrote about aeronauts after the 2019 release of the Tom Harper-directed film “The Aeronauts.”

She also was featured in a radio podcast with comedian and regular NPR host Helen Hong and history teacher Matt Beat for iHeartRadio’s new podcast series, “Jobsolete.”

At Wesleyan, Tucker’s work focuses on the varied visual worlds of photographic and cinematic evidence in the fields of science, law, forensic medicine, news reporting, public trials, history, environment, as well as scientific discovery.

This spring, she’s teaching a sophomore history tutorial, CSS 240: The Emergence of Modern Europe.

baloon

Tuckers’ talk relates to the 2019 film “The Aeronauts,” directed by Tom Harper.

Students Gather to Honor Atlanta Victims, Combat Anti-Asian Violence

vigil

Students organized a vigil on March 30 to reflect on a recent attack against Asians and Asian Americans. (Photo by Nathaniel Pugh ’21)

On March 30, more than 150 students gathered outside Usdan University Center for a community vigil to mourn the victims of the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings and to create a safe space for Asian and Asian-American students to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence and be heard by the community.

The vigil was organized by Emily Chen ’23, Kevin Le ’22, and graduate student Emily Moon, in conjunction with members of the Asian American Student Collective.

Students read poems, played music, and shared their reflections during the event. Towards the end, the organizers gave anyone moved to speak the opportunity to do so.

Smolkin Speaks about the History of Soviet Atheism on Moscow Radio Station

Victoria Smolkin

Victoria Smolkin

On March 28, Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history and chair, Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, was featured on the radio station Echo of Moscow.

Smolkin spoke on Soviet atheism on Irina Prokhorova’s program “Culture of Everyday Life.” The podcast is available in Russian online here.

Smolkin is the author of A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, which was recently translated into Russian.

Atheism prevailed in Soviet ideology, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. However, religion never fully disappeared from the life of Russia and the Soviet republics. In the broadcast, Smolkin and fellow panelists discussed why the Soviet government fought so hard against the church and religion, how Soviet atheism differs from the atheism of Western intellectuals, and how the history of Soviet atheism influenced the craving for mysticism and esotericism in Russia in the 1990s, among other topics.