Staff

Commute to Work with New Vanpooling Option

This year, the Sustainability Office is partnering with Commute with Enterprise to offer vanpooling opportunities to employees.

A vanpool is a group of 7–15 people traveling to work together in a minivan or a 12–15 passenger van. Vanpool groups usually meet each day at a prearranged location, such as a park-and-ride lot. Commuters pay a monthly fee that covers the van, insurance, and fuel costs.

In addition, users enjoy:

  • Reduced personal vehicle maintenance expenses
  • Emergency ride home service
  • Roadside assistance
  • Eligibility for commuter rewards
  • Reduced stress (a recent study indicates that vanpoolers experience a 21 percent lower rate of self-reported stress than those driving alone)
  • A reduced carbon footprint

Fries Center for Global Studies Creates Language Proficiency Database

Parlez vous français?
Hablas español?
Bạn có nói được tiếng Việt không?

According to Wesleyan’s Language Proficiency Database, more than 80 languages, other than English, are spoken, read, or written on campus.

The database, which was created in November 2018, is free and available to the entire Wesleyan campus. Speakers of a language other than English (at any level) are encouraged to go to WesPortal / My Information / Language Proficiency, to add one or more languages and levels of proficiency.

This year, the Fries Center for Global Studies (FCGS) is promoting the use of languages other than English in classes, formal events, and informal events, explained Stephen Angle, Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies; professor of philosophy; professor, East Asian studies; and director of the Fries Center for Global Studies.

“This is a three-part process,” Angle explained. “First we need to encourage all staff, faculty, and students to register their language competencies. Secondly, the Office of Language and Intercultural Learning will support the organization interested in hosting an event by sharing email lists of everyone on campus who speaks a given language; and third, we will gather data about what events have taken place and how successful they are.”

Steps (2) and (3) involve contacting Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning in FCGS.

For more information on the Language Proficiency Database, visit Wesleyan’s Language and Intercultural Learning website. To set up a class or event in a language other than English, contact Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning at the Fries Center for Global Studies.

Thornton Leaving Legacy of Student of Color Recruitment at Wesleyan

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Thornton has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. As he wraps up his final fall semester, Thornton took time to sit down in his office across Foss Hill and reflect on his accomplishments, Wesleyan’s future, and some of his fondest memories.

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Cliff Thornton, associate dean of admission at Wesleyan has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. Having served Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, Thornton recently announced that he will retire at the end of the Spring 2019 semester. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

To listen to Cliff Thornton speak with prospective students and parents is to feel included, even if you’re eavesdropping.

Thornton is associate dean of admission at Wesleyan, covering a wide geographic and socioeconomic range: the South Central U.S. from Kentucky to Louisiana, Manhattan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean. Having served these communities—and Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, it makes sense that he would demonstrate an ease and fluency in his relations with so many different people from such different backgrounds. He’s had a lot of practice.

But something unique about Thornton, which by many accounts has been true from the beginning of his time at Wesleyan, is how his holistic approach impacts students. To hear him tell it:

“Alumni will often start out by saying to me, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but I graduated from Wesleyan in 1995….’ And I always remember them. That’s why I’ve continued to do this work. I’ve had the privilege to witness their growth and success,” Thornton said.

“Working in admission is good in two ways. First, it’s great to be in an educational environment and to believe in the mission. Second, if practiced correctly, it’s a lot like teaching. It might surprise some to hear this, but at the end of the day I don’t consider it my job to make sure a student comes to Wesleyan. My job is to help them make an informed decision. Particularly with underrepresented populations, this is a big challenge. As Dr. Cornel West has said of the African American community: What we often suffer from is a poverty of information. That’s a driving force for me—making sure students have the right information to make such a crucial decision.”

This approach bears itself out in Thornton’s work on a daily basis. In a recent information session with a large group of prospective students and parents, he was clear that the session should be a conversation. Hearing and helping the group talk through their questions and concerns was as important as presenting to them. Fifteen minutes in, students and parents alike were openly talking about their college search experiences (good and bad), and were responding to and assisting one another. Thornton and senior interviewer Shana Laski ’19 served more as facilitators than lecturers. By the session’s end, the prospective group left informed and enthused—well-educated on what Wesleyan had to offer, and clearer about what they wanted and had to offer in turn.

Thornton’s unique understanding and approach at least partially derives from his own educational background. Prior to joining Wesleyan in 1985, he was an adjunct professor and actively considering a PhD. While dating someone who was already enrolled in a doctorate program, he was exposed to the “torturous path” of attaining that terminal degree, and was bumped from his adjunct role by another professor with a PhD.

“I lost my taste for wanting to be a professor,” he said.

Public Safety, Greek Life Stuff a Cruiser to Benefit Local Children in Need

Wesleyan Public Safety Sgt. Kathy Burdick and dispatcher Val Walker collect toy donations from the Wesleyan community during the office’s inaugural Stuff a Cruiser event Dec. 4.

Wesleyan Public Safety and Greek Life hosted a Stuff a Cruiser event Dec. 3–7 at Usdan’s Huss Courtyard and Dec. 8 at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore. The University partnered with the Middletown Fire Department by collecting donations to benefit local children in need during the holidays and throughout the year.

Several members of Psi Upsilon also helped staff the event and Bon Appétit Management Co. provided free coffee vouchers for anyone who made a donation.

“The Wesleyan community has been so generous during our Stuff a Cruiser event,” said Sgt. Kathy Burdick. “We ‘ve collected many toys and cash donations, and we look forward to doing this again next year.”

As a result of the donations, which filled five Public Safety cruisers, Wesleyan helped 16 local families provide gifts for their children on Christmas.

Public Safety also is collecting donations (including wrapping paper) at the office located at 208 High Street. (Photos by Alexa Jablonski ’22)

Bloom ’75 Speaks on the Importance of Research in Storytelling, Character Development

Amy Bloom '75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, spoke on "Lies, Facts, and Research" during a Staff Luncheon Series talk Nov. 27 in Daniel Family Commons. Bloom, a New York Times best-seller, has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom explained how she weaves historical events and research into her stories. "The story leads me to research, or research leads me to the story," Bloom said. "Research is behind the whole umbrella behind the story. It offers me so many opportunities to see, develop, and illuminate characters."

Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, spoke on “Lies, Facts, and Research” during a Staff Luncheon Series talk Nov. 27 in Daniel Family Commons. Bloom, a New York Times best-selling author, has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom explained how she weaves historical events and research into her stories. “The story leads me to research, or research leads me to the story,” Bloom said. “Research offers me so many opportunities to see, develop, and illuminate characters.”

Amy Bloom

For her most recent novel, White Houses (Penguin Random House 2018), Bloom studied approximately 3,000 letters written over a 30-year-period between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library to develop her new take on the secretive relationship between Eleanor and “Hick.” Bloom also is professor of the practice in creative writing and professor of the practice, English. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Neighborhood Preschoolers Trick-or-Treat on Campus

Donning their Halloween costumes, children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool parade down College Row on Oct. 31.

Children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool (NPS) trick-or-treated on Wesleyan’s campus Oct. 31. The children, accompanied by their families and teachers, stopped at Exley Science Center, Olin Library, South College, and North College to trick-or-treat, sing songs, and show off their Halloween costumes. Many trick-or-treaters are the children of Wesleyan faculty and staff.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and staff from University Communications offered candy to the children during the campus parade.

Photos of the NPS parade are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Mentor a New Student through the Connections Mentoring Program

Wesleyan faculty and staff volunteers are needed for the 2018–2019 Connections Mentoring Program.

This is an informal program that connects first-year students (Class of 2022) with Wesleyan staff and faculty to form casual networks of support. Although most mentors meet infrequently with their student mentees throughout the year, some mentoring pairs establish friendships and meet more frequently over coffee or lunch. Many mentors and students have characterized their experiences with the program as fun and inspirational.

In addition, anyone interested in mentoring students who are the first in their families to attend college can indicate that preference on the registration form. Thirty-five first-generation students have been selected for the First-Things-First Pre-Orientation Program and 35 potential mentors are needed who can commit to participating in a luncheon from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 28.

“After the start of classes, there will be many other students, who may or may not be first-generation college, who will request mentors for their first year,” said Renée Johnson Thornton, dean for the Class of 2022. “We will need a lot of mentors, so I look forward to hearing from you.”

If you would like to participate in the 2018–2019 Connections Mentoring Program, register by Friday, Aug. 16.

Employees on the Move

The Office of Human Resources announces the following hires, transitions, and departures for May through July 2018:

HIRES

Nicole Potestivo, administrative assistant in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, on May 7
Lucas Fernandez, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on May 22
Alex Kavvos, postdoctoral research associate in mathematics, on May 29
Miya Tokumitsu, curator at Davison Art Center, on June 14
Lilibeth Soto, public safety dispatcher, on June 18
Edward Morehouse, postdoctoral research associate in mathematics, on July 1
Zeyad Abdulkareem, desktop support specialist in ITS User Services, on July 2
Andrew White, Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian, on July 2
Andrea Giuntoli, postdoctoral research associate in physics, on July 16
Fiona Coffey, associate director for programming and performing arts in Center for the Arts, on July 16
Jenna Waters, administrative assistant in physical education, on July 17
Janet Ortiz, assistant dean of admission, on July 23
Jane Ngoc Tran, assistant dean of admission, on July 23
Aidan Winn, assistant dean of admission, on July 23
Robyn Ewig, assistant director of financial aid, on July 23
Isabel Bartholomew, Center for Prison Education Fellow in the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, on July 23
Stephanie Lewis, area coordinator in Office of Residential Life, on July 30
Sarah Pietryka, assistant director of financial aid, on July 30
Monique Reichenstein, investment analyst in the Investments Office, on July 30
Matt Glasz, director for annual giving in University Relations, on August 1
Emily Voss, outreach and academic engagement librarian, on August 1

TRANSITIONS
Kindra Graham, public safety supervisor, on May 7
Jennifer Duncan, senior assistant director of financial aid/student employment coordinator in Office of Financial Aid, on July 1
Karri Van Blarcom, senior associate registrar, on July 1
Andrew Tanaka, senior vice president and chief administrative officer and treasurer, on July 1
Kristin McQueeney, administrative assistant in the Center for Pedagogical Innovations, on July 9
Scott Bushey, athletic operations and fitness coordinator, on August 1

DEPARTURES
Sami Aziz, University Muslim chaplain
Sarah Anne Benson, director of research and prospect management in University Relations
Steven Bertolino, academic technologist in ITS
Paula Blue, instructional technologist in ITS
Lauren Borghard, associate director of annual giving in University Relations
Kathleen Cataldi, access services coordinator in Olin Library
Wesley Close, assistant dean of admission
Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion
Kevin Flaherty, research associate in astronomy
Jacquelyn Fought, department assistant in the Gordon Career Center
Patrick Graham, public safety patrol person
Sandra Guze, education and program coordinator at Green Street Teaching and Learning Center
William Holder, director of University Communications
Leith Johnson, University archivist
Jim Kamm, desktop support specialist in ITS
Sona Kumar, research coordinator in psychology
Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center and Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science
Jill Moraski, assistant dean of admission
Krystal-Gayle O’Neill, area coordinator in Office of Residential Life
Nathan Peters, vice president for finance and administration
Brendan Plake, desktop support specialist in ITS
Maritza Quinones, after school supervisor at Green Street Teaching and Learning Center
Edgardo Quinones, technical and maintenance coordinator at Green Street Teaching and Learning Center
Kate Smith, associate director of fellowships, internships, and exchanges
Luigi Solla, associate dean of admission
Erin Strauts, associate director of institutional research
Sitar Terrass-Shah, Center for Prison Education Fellow

Staff Spotlight: Andrew White Takes on Library’s Top Job

Andrew White, pictured here in the Olin Library stacks, became Wesleyan’s new Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian on July 2. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

(By Christine Foster)

Imagine being chosen to oversee a vast treasure trove, including more than a million items ranging from art and music to government documents and—oh, yes, books. Such is the job set before Andrew White, who was chosen in April to be the University’s next Caleb T. Winchester Librarian.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen wrote in a campus-wide email announcing White’s appointment that the search committee was drawn to his experience working collaboratively with different groups of people. The previous librarian, Dan Cherubin, died suddenly last September, after having made an outsized impact in just a year in the post.

White is being asked to be the “cheerleader in chief” for the library, but also to mind the budget, to consider how best to use the physical spaces, and to invite different constituencies in to effectively access the rich resources Wesleyan has amassed over the years. White took some time from his busy first few weeks to share his history and vision in a Q&A for the Connection.

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan’s libraries? What makes us special?

A: Wesleyan is an amazing place and I immediately felt at home when I stepped onto campus and into Olin Library. Wesleyan is a significant name in American higher education and that significance is reflected in both the scope and breadth of the collections, not only in the libraries, but across campus. We are one of the largest libraries among national liberal arts colleges and I could not pass up the opportunity to help make our resources more visible and relevant.

5 Employees Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

The following employees received Cardinal Achievement Awards during the past few months for demonstrating extraordinary initiative in performing a specific task associated with their work at Wesleyan University. This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for their extra efforts.

The awardees include:

Benjamin Michael, WESU general manager, WESU Radio

Geralyn Russo, administrative assistant IV, University Relations

Kathleen Logsdon, library assistant V/binding supervisor, Olin Library

Kate Lynch, assistant director, the Wesleyan Fund, University Relations

Miroslaw Koziol, senior electronics technician, Scientific Support Services

View all Cardinal Achievement Award winners here.

Employees Serve as Panelists at Sustainability Conference

Three Wesleyan employees participated in the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium’s Annual Meeting June 4-5. The meeting focused on effective collaborations within campus, between campuses, and between campus and community.

Three Wesleyan employees participated in the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium’s Annual Meeting, June 4–5 in Beckham Hall. The meeting focused on effective collaborations within a campus, between campuses, and between campus and community.

Valerie Nye, director of financial services; Jeff Murphy, facilities business manager; and Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated on a panel focused on the theme "How to effect meaningful change by working with senior leaders."

Valerie Nye, director of financial services; Jeff Murphy, facilities business manager; and Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated on a panel focused on the theme “How to effect meaningful change by working with senior leaders.”