The Hartford Courant profiled former Wesleyan Dean of Admissions Jack Hoy ’55 in its Extraordinary Lives column. Under his leadership, Wesleyan began actively recruiting black students for the first time.
“Jack set Wesleyan on a course of leadership in equal access and racial diversity in American higher education,” said Steven Pfeiffer, former chairman of the university’s board of trustees. “Under Jack’s leadership, Wesleyan was the first of the top tier colleges and universities to give African American students of talent and potential a fair shot at what private institutions of higher education like Wesleyan had to offer young Americans.”
Hoy died July 9 at the age of 79.
The Hartford Courant has published a feature story on Wesleyan’s careful stewardship of its historic architectural jewels, dating back to the 19th century, including three buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The story highlights the work of Roseann Sillasen, associate director of construction services at Wesleyan and a registered nurse.
“Working with old buildings is a lot like nursing,” Sillasen tells the Courant. “Just as with patients, you have to assess the health of a structure, and based on that offer possible outcomes.”
During this busy summer construction season, Sillasen is overseeing a number of construction projects, including repairs to the veranda of the 1838 Alsop House (now the Davison Arts Center), built by Richard Alsop IV–scion of the Alsop shipping clan–for his widowed mother.
The Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Legends Run at Wesleyan brought legends Bill Rodgers ’70 and Amby Burfoot ’68 back to campus, along with some running stars of younger generations, according to The Hartford Courant. Rodgers is the former American record holder in the Marathon and an Olympian, and his old teammate, Burfoot, was the first collegian to win the Boston Marathon and serves as executive editor of Runner’s World Magazine. This is the first year the Legends Run, a four-mile course around the perimeter of Wesleyan’s campus, was held.
“Bill and I haven’t run on these roads since the late 60s. So it was a long time coming. It was like a Woodstock for running,” Burfoot said. “One of the things you see is the maturity of the trees; these trees are 40 years older than the last time I was here.”
Writing in The Hartford Courant, class secretary Lloyd Buzzell ’68 reflects on his recent 45th reunion at Wesleyan, and how his classmates’ perspectives have changed over the years. At each successive reunion, he writes, people take themselves less seriously, there has been more kindness and acceptance, and less posturing. “Reunions can focus you on what really matters,” he writes.
He concludes, “Many of us are barely recognizable from back in the day, but being at our reunion at all seems more important than what kind of shape we are in. Sobered by how many are no longer with us, reunions are less a frivolous festivity and more an opportunity to take stock of what kind of shape we are really in.”
Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of archaeology, is leading archaeology students and volunteers in excavating at the Beman Triangle, a historic African American community in the area of Cross St., Vine St. and Knowles Ave. The excavation, begun in spring 2012, thus far has uncovered artifacts suggesting that some residents in the 19th century were making their own medication, according to a story in The Hartford Courant.
The public is invited to come learn about the project or participate in the excavation on Saturday, June 15.
Croucher is also assistant professor of anthropology and feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
The Hartford Courant published a report on the current state and future of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Some colleges and universities remain skeptical of their potential, while others are dealing with tough questions about granting students credit, and how the sites will make money.
Wesleyan, which was the first small liberal arts college focused on the undergraduate experience to join Coursera, has offered six courses since February, which currently have total enrollment surpassing 250,000. President Michael Roth, the leader of one of these courses, told the Courant that he approached the class “with only curious skepticism about what folks could get out of an online class.”
But, Roth said, the class “has been a wonderful surprise. I have been so impressed by the level of discourse among the students and by their excellent questions back to me … I will offer the class again for Coursera, and my teaching at Wesleyan in the future will be informed by my online experience.”
As state and national leaders debate the merit and feasibility of expanding pre-kindergarten programs–widely considered instrumental in leveling the playing field for lower-income children starting school–Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman wrote an op-ed in The Hartford Courant about a summer pilot program launched last year in Middletown, which could be a model for the nation. This intensive, research-based program gave 13 children a measurable boost in kindergarten readiness in just five weeks on a shoestring budget.
The Hartford Courant featured the work being done by the Wesleyan-based group Brighter Dawns to improve sanitation in Bangladesh. Though the group’s core members graduated from Wesleyan last year, the group continues to thrive on campus and alumni and current students work together to raise funds and awareness. Its focus has shifted from installing wells and latrines to maintaining the existing facilities.
The Hartford Courant featured research being conducted by John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. Seamon is exploring how “memory cameras,” which are worn around a patient’s neck and automatically snap a photo about every 30 seconds, may help patients remember more of their lives.
During the Supreme Court’s recent hearings on same-sex marriage cases, some justices expressed concern that because same-sex marriage is so new, we don’t yet know its long-term impact on families and society. But in an op-ed in The Hartford Courant, Mariah Schug challenges these assertions, pointing out that the justices failed to look outside the U.S. Citing her own research and that of other academics, Schug points to examples in countries around the world, which demonstrate that gay marriage has not led to a devaluation of the institution of marriage, nor has it harmed children raised by same-sex couples.
Schug is a visiting assistant professor of psychology.
Professor Emeritus Richard Slotkin comments in a Hartford Courant story by Dan Haar ’81 on the immense popularity of the AR-15 rifle. Slotkin says the tradition of American gun ownership stems from the foundation of this country on individual freedom, and the expectation that violence will happen.
“In a sense it goes back to the handgun,” Slotkin said. “We lived in a violent society for a long time.”
Between the Civil War and the New Deal, Slotkin said, we saw the development of automatic weapons and vast production of firearms at a time when there was no gun control, amid the rise of goon squads against labor, urban gangs and other dangers. Upheaval in the ’60s and the drug wars of the ’80s only added to that, and the current movement of anti-government fervor feeds on it, blending extremist views with a rational desire for personal defense.
Slotkin is Richard S. Olin Professor of English and American Studies, emeritus.
The Hartford Courant covered a panel discussion on gun violence and gun control hosted by Wesleyan’s Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. The experts, from Fordham, Harvard and Duke universities, discussed the true meaning of the Second Amendment, U.S. gun deaths, and the growing movement for gun control.