Tag Archive for szegedy-maszak

Wesleyan Student Assembly Commends Faculty on Distance Learning Efforts

wes fest andy

After the Wesleyan Student Assembly commended Wesleyan faculty for their efforts transitioning to distance learning, Andy Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, penned a responding resolution, expressing gratitude to the students.

When President Michael Roth announced in mid-March that Wesleyan would suspend in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester because of the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty had less than two weeks to prepare their courses for distance learning before classes resumed after spring break. Trying to recreate the immersive Wesleyan classroom experience in a digital format presented a variety of challenges, particularly for faculty who had never taught online previously.

It’s become clear over the last month that faculty have been able to rise to those challenges, and the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) formally recognized their efforts on April 19 with the unanimous passage of a resolution “Commending the Wesleyan Faculty for their Efforts in the Transition Towards Distance Learning.” Chair Jake Kwon ’21 and vice-chair Ben Garfield ’22 of the WSA’s Academic Affairs Committee sponsored the resolution in order to recognize the faculty’s hard work and advocacy for students.

“Faculty are going through a lot of similar extenuating circumstances as students are” in transitioning to distance learning, said Kwon. “This has definitely proven difficult, and I wanted to make sure that the faculty knew how appreciative the students were of their efforts, and that in fact they are not unnoticed.”

The resolution recognizes “the faculty’s efforts to maintain the integrity of Wesleyan’s liberal arts education.” It expresses appreciation for “the empathetic faculty who have provided accommodations for students encountering various challenges surrounding the transition to distance learning and the determined professors who aim to continue providing learning opportunities while being conscious of the various potential stressors that could befall the student body and seek to alleviate additional stress from academic work.”

Kwon noted that while the WSA has passed resolutions in solidarity with many groups on campus, “I do not think we have addressed the entire faculty before in a resolution.”

“Many of my professors have been very understanding about deadlines, and many prioritize student health over academia, which I am so thankful for,” Kwon said of his personal experience with the transition to distance learning. “Some have changed testing formats to accommodate online learning, and many professors had to change their entire course design to allow students to learn at home. For me, I have been fortunate to remain healthy amid the crisis, so I have been able to focus on academia, but it is nice to know that I have a safety net to fall onto if I ever get sick as we finish off the semester.”

Faculty have responded to the resolution with deep gratitude. Sean McCann, chair of the faculty, said that at their next meeting on May 20, faculty leadership plans to ask the faculty to endorse a responding resolution written by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, Professor of Classical Studies. It states: “We, the Wesleyan faculty, collectively express our gratitude to you, our students. During the immense upheaval in all our lives and our difficult transition to online teaching and learning, you have been patient, thoughtful, good-humored, and responsive. We deeply appreciate your good will and engagement, and we will do our best to ensure that you continue to get the excellent education you deserve.”

“Personally, I was deeply touched by the WSA resolution, and I know many other Wes faculty were as well,” said McCann. “It was such a very kind and thoughtful thing to do.

“In general, I think many of us have found teaching-by-Zoom a trying experience, and a pale substitute for in-person learning. But I’ve also just been very grateful for the opportunity to work with students, even if virtually. Seeing them pop up on the computer screen is one of the best parts of my day and always a mood lifter—very welcome indeed in a time that can seem so bleak and isolating.”

Bill Johnston, John E. Andrus Professor of History and academic secretary, echoed this sentiment. “I tell my students that my meetings with them are the highlights of my week, and I really mean that. Many write to say that they do find the virtual classes challenging, but I very much appreciate the efforts they are making to learn through Zoom meetings, emailed papers, and Moodle posts. Not perfect, but it is working.”

McCann noted that the faculty will also be expressing their gratitude to staff, administrators, and librarians through a tandem resolution.

Miniature Artworks Displayed at Into the Image Exhibit

The exhibit titled Into the Image is on display at the Davison Art Center (DAC) through Nov. 24. This exhibition of miniature artworks—drawn entirely from the Davison Art Center collection—features objects made across several centuries and includes examples by Rembrandt van Rijn and Henri Matisse.

On Oct. 10, Miya Tokumitsu, DAC curator, and Andy Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek and Professor of Classical Studies, led a gallery talk during the opening reception.

Into the Image will be the final exhibition in the Davison Art Center’s current gallery at 301 High Street. A new gallery will be constructed between Olin Library and the Public Affairs Center over the next few years.

Photos of the opening reception are below: (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)


Szegedy-Maszak Receives Onassis Fellowship to Teach Greek History to Incarcerated Students

Andy Szegedy-Maszak

Andy Szegedy-Maszak. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As an inaugural Onassis Foundation Teaching Fellow in Culture and Humanities, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, will have the opportunity to teach Greek history to incarcerated students through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education (CPE).

Starting during the spring 2019 semester, Szegedy-Maszak will teach an adapted version of his Wesleyan course CCIV 231: Greek History to men at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

“I was surprised and very honored when I heard that I was awarded the fellowship,” said Szegedy-Maszak. “This class will be a survey of ancient Greek civilization over about 1,000 years, from the Bronze Age to the death of Alexander the Great. It’s less about the memorization of facts than how to use sources—literary, archaeological, and artistic—to put together a narrative, and also how to think about a culture that had some similarities to, but many more differences from, our own.”

The Onassis Foundation established the fellowship with the aim of promoting Greek culture through expanded college course offerings in Greek philosophy, humanities, art, and politics. Through a partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative, Onassis invited partners from across the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to apply for the titled, distinguished fellowship. Szegedy-Maszak was selected as one of two inaugural fellows.

Center for Prison Education Hosts First Graduation for Incarcerated Students

Clyde Meikle shares a hug with Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, co-chair of the College of Social Studies, following Meikle’s graduation Aug. 1 at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. Gallarotti is one of several Wesleyan faculty who teach classes through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

It was a typical graduation on Aug. 1, 2018: tasseled mortarboards and academic gowns, faculty in academic regalia, proud family members, the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” speeches—some recalling challenges; others looking toward further success—diplomas, handshakes, smiles for the cameras, and bear hugs of congratulations.

It was a graduation like none other: held in Cheshire Correctional Institution, it was the first time 18 incarcerated students in the maximum security prison received associate’s degrees through an innovative collaboration between Wesleyan University’s Center for Prison Education and Middlesex Community College.

A week earlier, a similar graduation had taken place in York Correctional Institution, with six women donning caps and gowns to receive their associate’s degree diplomas.

Since 2009, CPE has offered accredited Wesleyan courses to students at Cheshire Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison for men. Wesleyan faculty teach courses ranging from English to biology to philosophy, which have the same rigor and expectations as courses on Wesleyan’s Middletown campus. About 50 Wesleyan students volunteer in the program each semester, working in study halls at the prison or on campus filling research requests and serving as project assistants. The program was expanded to serve incarcerated students at York Correctional Institution in spring 2013.

Students Learn to Translate Academic Knowledge for Public in Calderwood Seminars

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

When President Michael Roth speaks about the purpose of college, he frequently boils it down to three key things: students should find what they love to do, get better at it, and learn to share what they love with others. This semester, Wesleyan is adding to its curriculum to help students develop this third critical skill.

Wesleyan recently received a 3-1/2 year grant for over $600,000 to pilot on campus the Calderwood Seminars, which train students in translating complex arguments and professional jargon from their academic disciplines into writing that can be understood and appreciated by the general public. The seminars, developed by Professor David Lindauer at Wellesley College in 2013, have proven valuable for students in life beyond college. The program’s pedagogical approach has been successfully adapted across many different disciplines.

Record Number of Students Enroll in Winter Session 2017

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class is one of seven being taught this January during Wesleyan's fourth Winter Session.

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class was one of seven taught in January during Wesleyan’s fourth Winter Session. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

More than 100 Wesleyan students completed a full-semester course in two weeks as part of Winter Session 2017. Now in its fourth year, this was the highest enrollment to date.

Winter Session was held Jan. 9-24 and classes typically met for four hours a day for 10 days.

Courses this year included Introduction to Digital Arts, taught by Christopher Chenier; The Dark Side of the Universe, taught by Edward Moran; Homer and the Epic, taught by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak; Introduction to Programming, taught by James Lipton; U.S. Foreign Policy, taught by Douglas Foyle; Masculinity, taught by Jill Morawski; and Applied Data Analysis taught by Lisa Dierker.

The small class sizes allowed students to develop close relationships with one another and faculty. Students completed reading and writing assignments before arriving on campus.

“A quieter campus, and a singular focus on just one course,

Courant, Monitor Feature Wesleyan’s ‘Posse’ of Veterans

Dennis White '19 is one of 20 Posse Veteran Scholars at Wesleyan. (Photo by Mark Mirko/ The Hartford Courant).

Dennis White ’19 is one of 20 Posse Veteran Scholars at Wesleyan. (Photo by Mark Mirko/ The Hartford Courant).

Just ahead of Veteran’s Day, The Hartford Courant has published an in-depth feature on Wesleyan’s Posse veteran scholars. According to the story:

For more than two decades, Posse has run a program on the principle that high school students from diverse backgrounds will have a better chance of becoming successful students and leaders on campus if they come in a tight-knit group and with a network that helps to support them.

Two years ago, Posse expanded that concept to teams of veterans, starting at Vassar College. Wesleyan had its first posse of 10 veterans enter last year, and a second posse of 10 more this fall and will add 20 more over the next two years. Next year, Dartmouth College plans to become part of the program. As part of the arrangement, the schools agree to pick up whatever costs the federal veterans programs don’t cover.

In 2013, Wesleyan decided to partner with Posse because the university was having a hard time attracting veterans on its own.

“Wesleyan is known as a school pretty much on the left …” President Michael Roth told the Courant, “but a school that’s only on the left and seems hostile to anything that’s not stereotypically on the left is a school that would be weak, I think. It would be an echo chamber, rather than a place of real conversation and debate.

“I thought it would be good for Wesleyan because these young men and women — their life experience has been different from most of our students.”

The article leads with Army veteran Ryan “Doc” Polk ’19, who admits he was elated but “terrified” to start at Wesleyan.

But Polk, who is 32, says his experience in a “posse” of 10 veterans at Wesleyan has allayed his reservations. He has found the students open and easy to talk to, and he’s taking every class he can cram into his schedule. His career plan to drive a truck has given way to plans to become a writer.

Polk described his experience at Wesleyan:

When he got into Wesleyan, he said, beyond his questions about the cultural atmosphere on campus, his first thought was, “OK, I have a future. That was my reaction. I have a future now.”

Polk didn’t know how he would relate to younger students fresh out of high school, but he said he’s been pleasantly surprised. “They actually want to know what’s happening,” Polk said. “They don’t try and understand it, they just want to listen and they are like, ‘wow, that’s different.'”

Polk left the Army in 2014 after he was wounded in Afghanistan. He was in and out of the hospital for eight months with various medical issues. His marriage dissolved. “You’ll hear this story from a lot of vets. You’re just not the same afterward, so it’s kind of like learning who you are.”

It’s part of the reason “Doc” doesn’t go by his old name — Ryan — anymore. “I don’t even know that guy anymore,” he said.

From that point of view, Polk said he is very much like the freshmen around him. “They are trying to figure out who they are, so even though I’m 120 years older, I can still relate to where they are at.”

The article also describes the role of faculty mentors for the Posse veteran scholars.

As part of the Posse program, Wesleyan faculty mentors provide close advising to Posse students, meeting with them one-on-one and in groups. In addition, Posse Foundation staff visit the campus several times a year.

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, a professor of Greek and Classical Studies and a faculty mentor, said that one of the biggest issues veterans face is the “impostor syndrome,” which was discussed in the ’70s and ’80s.

Many of the veterans had unsuccessful high school careers or attended community colleges, where they were “racking up A’s,” Szegedy-Maszak said.

But the work at Wesleyan is much harder, and they may be finding it “a shock to the system.”

“There’s still this anxiety about whether they should really be here,” he said. “Whether they can really cut it here, and they absolutely can.”

While having a posse of older students with shared military experience is helpful, Antonio Farias, Wesleyan’s vice president for equity and inclusion, said the students are expected to get out of their “comfort zones,” become leaders on campus and participate in extracurricular activities.

The Christian Science Monitor also interviewed Polk for a story about the challenges veterans face when entering college after military service, and programs designed to help them.

Despite his anxiety about being at Wesleyan, he said, “Everyone I’ve talked to has been very open, not just asking questions because it’s fun, but because they just want the raw information of what happened.” In the process he’s found that the first time he’s been able to talk openly about his experiences in combat, “It’s been with 18-year-olds.”

President Michael Roth told the Monitor about why Wesleyan brought the Posse veterans program to campus.

“We’ve been engaged in a series of wars that haven’t even been labeled wars, and they demand an enormous sacrifice from a very small percentage of the population, and the rest of us depend on that sacrifice whether we like it or not, but never really have to talk to somebody who patrolled the streets of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan,” he said.

“I thought this was a great thing – we’d both help deserving student veterans with financial assistance, and it would also be good for the campus because they would have a very different life experience from most of our other students,” he adds. “They’re a little bit older, more mature, and they are intensely curious about the world and about themselves. I think they want to make the most of their education, and they don’t take it for granted. There’s a kind of intensity to that that’s just great.”

Distinguished Fellow Szegedy-Maszak Teaches Photography, Social Movements in 4 Cities

Andy Szegedy-Maszak

Andy Szegedy-Maszak

In his role as 2013 Distinguished Teaching Fellow, Andy Szegedy-Maszak, professor of classical studies and the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, brought a slice of Wesleyan to members of the Wesleyan community—alumni, parents, admitted students—living in select cities on the West Coast.

The Distinguished Teaching Fellowship—of which Szegedy-Maszak is the first recipient—offers the professor the opportunity to teach a course outside of his/her usual departmental offerings. Szegedy-Maszak is teaching a course through the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life on photography and its effect on social movements. It was this topic he explored in his WESeminar on the Road, which took him to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

His talk included a discussion of Jacob Riis’s photos of tenement dwellers in New York City during the late 1800s, published in the famous book How the Other Half Lives, along with images of Depression-era tenant farmers in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans. Additionally, Szegedy-Maszak analyzed one other photograph that helped focus his thoughts on the ability of photography to influence social change.