Each year, Wesleyan’s Alumni Association recognizes an extraordinary group of alumni and members of the Wesleyan community with Alumni Association Awards. These awards recognize individuals who have made remarkable contributions or achievements in their professions, their communities, or the creative arts. Traditionally presented at the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting during Reunion & Commencement Weekend, the awards this year were presented virtually by President Michael Roth ’78 as part of Virtual Reunion 2021.
Tag Archive for class of 1981
by Olivia Drake •
The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) is honoring Wesleyan alumnus Gordon Cooney ’81 by establishing the J. Gordon Cooney, Jr. Fellowship in Criminal Justice.
Cooney, a government major at Wesleyan, works as a senior partner for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he oversees the firm’s litigation operations across the globe and has a long history of fighting for social justice. He served as regional board chair for UWGPSNJ from 2017–2020, and the fellowship was made in recognition of his significant leadership to United Way.
The J. Gordon Cooney, Jr. Fellowship in Criminal Justice is a six-month fellowship presented to people who have lived experience with the criminal justice system in Philadelphia, aspire to a career in criminal justice or community organizing, and who have shown a commitment to social equity. The Cooney Fellowship is coordinated with Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), a UWGPSNJ-supported nonprofit agency that, since its founding in 2011, helps low-income Philadelphians clean up their criminal records.
by Christian Camerota •
The recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed while being forcibly detained by police, has ignited the United States and brought issues of inequality and violence against black people to the forefront of the national consciousness.
Alison Williams ’81, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer, and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, June 11, titled “Toward an Anti-Racist Community,” featuring six alumni of color who discussed how to move beyond the pain and trauma of the current cultural moment toward constructive action.
“What I hope is that this will be the beginning of many conversations that lead to transformation both at Wesleyan and beyond,” Williams said. “This requires that we first take a look at our own attitudes and biases and do some personal work. . . . Until we do the personal work, any structural or institutional changes that we implement will be meaningless.”
“We feel confused, angry,” President Roth said during his panel introduction. “Sometimes energized, sometimes full of despair. When I have that mixture of feelings, I turn to friends and colleagues . . . I want to listen.”
by Editorial Staff •
At the University’s 188th Commencement on May 24, Wesleyan will present honorary degrees to three recipients whose work exemplifies inclusive engagement.
Jacqueline Woodson, an award-winning and best-selling author, is this year’s speaker. Actor and political activist Bradley Whitford ’81 and William Joseph Barber II, a social justice advocate and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, will also be honored. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their significant contributions to civic life in the United States, including the example they set in bringing new voices into the public sphere and spurring others to productive dialogue and action.
“I am honored to celebrate at Commencement three remarkable individuals whose work has educated people across the country,” President Michael Roth ’78 said. “Through their creative and inspiring contributions, they empower and encourage us to work toward creating a better world.”
by Laurie Kenney •
The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album on Jan. 28. The album was produced by Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich.
“What a great weekend for Wes!” said Ganbarg. “I was so thrilled to be surrounded by so many amazingly talented alums. Got to finally meet Grammy winner Gail Marowitz ’81, be in the room where it happens when Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 won his latest Grammy for Moana and also had a lovely conversation with Beanie Feldstein ’15. She is awesome. And as an added bonus this year, so excited to have my boss Atlantic Records Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald P’21, join the Wes family. Julie’s leadership helped Atlantic win an industry-best 13 Grammys this year! Go Wes!!”
“The win gives Ganbarg his second Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Ganbarg won in the same category for Hamilton, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and directed by Thomas Kail ’99.
Lin-Manuel Miranda received the Grammy award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana. The win marked Miranda’s third Grammy. He previously won the award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2015 for Hamilton and in 2008 for In The Heights.
In addition, Gail Marowitz ’81 received a Grammy nomination Best Recording Package for singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State. The nomination marked Marowitz’s third nomination. She won a Grammy in the same category in 2006.
For more on Pete Ganbarg ’88 and his career in the music industry, read “Ganbarg’s Greatest Hits” in Wesleyan magazine.
For more on Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, read “A Musical Revolution on Broadway” in Wesleyan magazine.