Please Participate in the Annual Fund!

Even with the modest economic recovery, it has been a very challenging time to raise money. I have been reluctant to do any fundraising through this blog, but as these are the last days of our fiscal year, I will ask you to make a gift to our annual fund if you have not already done so. I know how tiresome it is to be asked for support again and again, and I have been so impressed with the generosity of the Wesleyan community. But nonetheless I now ask for your support because I believe that scholarships are a key component of our educational mission – and we need your help. Please give to financial aid through the Wesleyan Fund. Participation counts, as does every dollar we receive (check out the Trustee match!). Here’s the link to make a donation:

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Helping our Community Partners

Kari and I went to two fundraisers last week for great organizations in Middletown. That’s one of the “perks” of being Wesleyan’s president: one gets invited to serve on various committees, and one gets to know a variety of organizations doing good work in the region. This year I was an “honorary chair” for the celebration and fundraiser commemorating the 35th anniversary of Oddfellows Playhouse. Oddfellows was founded by a group of Wesleyan students in the 1970s to serve young people in Middletown by providing them with the opportunity to create first-rate theater. They have an educational, social and community mission, and they have remained true to the founders’ vision over a long period of time. The Gala and auction raised significant amounts of money that will have a direct impact on the lives of young people in this area.

The day after the Oddfellows event we were headed to a fundraising dinner for The Connection, a social services and community development organization. Wesleyan philosopher Steve Angle is on their board of directors, and he explained to me that the organization has always had a philosopher there since the 1970s when Phil Hallie served this role. The Connection addresses substance abuse, crime, and community disrepair across the state, and the fundraising event seemed like a great success. Lots of money was raised (and The Shiny Lapel Trio played some great dance music!).

Wesleyan is an important part of Middletown and Middlesex County, and for many years the university has been active in promoting community development. I am one of the Chairs of the upcoming United Way Campaign, which marks the organization’s 75th anniversary. Wes faculty and staff have been consistently generous supporters of United Way, and we will do our best to raise a record amount to mark the 75th! Thanks in advance for everyone who contributes to this effort!

Even our daughter Sophie has gotten into the act. She was just called for her bat mitzvah, and she suggested that people consider a donation to Wesleyan’s Green Street Arts Center in lieu of a gift. Green Street raised some money, and we have another reason to be proud of our not-so-little girl.

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Not-So-Quiet Campus

One can already begin to feel the summer rhythms on the Wesleyan campus. During the day the science labs are filled with Hughes Fellows as well as other undergraduates busy with research projects. Yesterday I met with Professor Scott Plous, whose Social Psychology Research Network is an extraordinarily active webportal for resources in this field. The website that Scott and his small team have built (with support from the National Science Foundation and other sources) now gets more than 100,000 hits each day! I also got together with Jay Hoggard, a superstar vibraphone player and Wes prof just back from a concert in the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Many faculty are on their way to archives, libraries or other data sources, using these precious summer months to gather information for their projects. I see other professors heading to their offices where manuscripts wait for further attention. At the end of the summer, books and articles emerge…

The summer months are also the time for some of our major facilities projects. We are making Crowell Concert Hall much more accessible for our handicapped students and visitors, which is a major undertaking. We are also renovating research and teaching labs in the chemistry and physics departments. And everyone will be able to see the newly painted dome of the Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill. Less visible will be the many energy conservation projects we’ll complete before September.

In the late afternoon frisbee and soccer players take over Andrus Field. With World Cup fever sweeping the land, there seem to be more and more folks gathering to kick the ball around. Last night on an evening stroll Kari and I came across a couple of poets here for the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference. Each year poets, prose writers, publishers and editors come to campus for readings, workshops and convivial information sharing. Now in its 54th year, the Writer’s Conference, led by Anne Greene, manages to combine the inspirational and the practical in just the right measure.

Earlier this week we saw Professor Jonathan Cutler with a group of students on the porch of my old stomping grounds, Alpha Delta Phi. They seemed to be having a great time.  Mathilde ran over to say hello. Little did we know we were interrupting a class in our new summer session! Jonathan and the students had their materials on the table, probably trying to concentrate on the social construction of reality (or something like that). The small summer classes offer plenty of opportunities like this for intense focused work in small groups.

Calm perhaps, but hardly lazy months of summer.

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New Chief Investment Officer

This morning I sent the following announcement to the Wesleyan community:

It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Anne Martin as Wesleyan’s Chief Investment Officer. Her appointment is the culmination of an intensive search that began in October and included many individual candidates as well as investment management firms. We explored a variety of models for the management of Wesleyan’s portfolio before concluding that we had found the outstanding candidate in Ms. Martin, of the Yale University Investments Office. We are confident that her experience, financial acumen, and disciplined approach to portfolio management will serve Wesleyan well.


Ms. Martin is one of six directors of Yale’s endowment, working with Chief Investment Officer David Swensen. She has had primary oversight of Yale’s venture capital, energy, and commodities investments, and has supervised 20 active managers responsible for more than $2 billion. Ms. Martin is a former general partner of Rosewood Capital in San Francisco, where she focused on Internet, software, and business service investments. She also has worked as a managing director of Deutsche Bank.


She is a graduate of Smith College and holds an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School. A former member of the U.S. National Rowing Team, she won a gold medal in the 1986 World Championships and participated in the 1988 Olympics.


Under her guidance Wesleyan will embark on a new era of portfolio management. She will work out of North College beginning August 1st. Please join me in welcoming her!

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New Leadership in Academic Affairs

Yesterday I sent the following email to the Wesleyan community:

I am pleased to announce that Rob Rosenthal, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, has agreed to serve as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the 2010/2011 academic year. Rob brings to this position experience gained as chair of the faculty, as director of the Service Learning Center, and as a celebrated scholar-teacher.


Rob’s appointment is effective July 1, 2010. Although he will be off campus for a good part of the summer, he will be available for consultation during that time.


Wesleyan is fortunate that Rob will serve in this position while the university undertakes a search for a chief academic officer. At the start of the fall 2010 semester, I will be able to update you on the status of that search.

I am particularly grateful to Rob for taking on this assignment because I know he is also eager to complete his work with the Pete Seeger papers. Rob’s mix of interests in politics, community development, service learning, music and social movements has long benefited Wesleyan students — most recently in his work as an advisor to undergraduates putting together a school and women’s health center in Kenya.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Joe Bruno, who served as Provost for four years. He generously aided me in my first years as President and helped to steer the university through the recent economic upheavals. Not surprisingly, he has already been very helpful in orienting Rob in his new role. The Wesleyan community is fortunate indeed to have the benefit of these scholar-teachers who are also great university citizens.

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