Stop the Deportation of Francisco Acosta!

Francisco Acosta has made many friend in his years working as a custodian on the Wesleyan campus. He is now facing the struggle of a lifetime, as the federal government has denied his appeals for political asylum and is trying to deport him to Colombia. Francisco left that country during a surge of violence there in 2001, and much of his family has lived in the United States for years. ICE has demanded that Francisco leave the country, and he is appealing this order.

You can read more about Francisco’s case here, and you can sign a petition expressing support for him here.

Wesleyan has tried to be helpful to Francisco, and we will continue to reach out to his union and attorney to see how we can be most useful. I am contacting key congressional members to enlist their support, and we will do our best to reverse what seems to be an unjust, mean-spirited effort to deport a valued member of our community.

A STARR in Physics

Earlier this semester Francis Starr was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society. This is a distinct honor — only about one half of one percent of American physicists are elected to the society on the basis of  “exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.” Prof. Starr’s research group focuses on soft matter physics and biophysics, combining computational and theoretical methods in their exploration of lipid membranes, glass formation, DNA nanotechnology, polymers and supercooled water.

You can read more about the Starr group.

Prof. Starr is the founding director of the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS) as well as a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. The CIS is dedicated to providing students with translational and interdisciplinary science education through original research. The CIS summer research program hosts around 180 students annually.

Congratulations Prof. Starr!!

Basketball: We have the PLAYERS!

The first half of the season has started off with a blast for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. This week, players from each squad were chosen as NESCAC Players-Of-The-Week.


Maddie Bledsoe ’18 has had a most impressive start to the season. This past week she led the Cardinals to victory in the Courtyard by Marriott tournament. She averaged a double-double with 14.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in two wins over the University of Maine-Presque Isle (98-22) and Westfield State (88-76). On Friday, she scored 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting while also pulling in seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in 17 minutes of action. The following day, in the tournament championship game, she recorded career-highs of 18 points and 21 rebounds in the win over a strong Westfield State team. Maddie was 12-of-13 from the charity stripe and also dished out three assists, blocked a shot and recorded a steal. Maddie leads the conference in rebounding and has helped lead the team to its 5-1 record.


Jordan Bonner ’19 has been a scoring machine from the guard position. He has had at least 20 points in two road wins against Emmanuel (88-68) and highly ranked Williams to help keep the perfect season intact as Wesleyan improved to 6-0 on the year. In the win over the Saints, he dropped 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting while grabbing six rebounds, dishing out two assists and recording two steals. He concluded the week with a 22-point, five-rebound performance at Williams in which he scored six points in OT and converted clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Basketball players have a short break after this week’s games, and then there will be plenty of opportunities to see both teams play in the new year. Congratulations to Maddie and Jordan. Go WES!!

Final Push to the End of the Semester

Although it seems like just a short time ago that I was writing about Arrival Day, we now suddenly find ourselves in the final week of the semester. Students are finishing class projects, professors are writing up exams and grading them, and the staff is working extra hard to support the entire community in this pressure-packed season. The weather is finally giving us signals that the season is indeed changing. No snow yet, but you can feel it won’t be long…

Soon I’ll be hosting the “December Completions” reception for students who are finishing up at Wesleyan mid-year. Some of these are students who took some time off, while others are undergraduates who are finishing a semester early. Each year a few more students are choosing the latter route, many through our three-year option. One can save a substantial amount of money on this program, while still getting the same array of academic offerings available to those who choose the eight-semester path.

There are lots of great events still to come as we get to the end of the semester. I’ll just mention the event at which Amanda Palmer ’98 and Michael Pope, along with the students from ‘The Art of Doing” course, will showcase their work. Amanda will perform on December 9th, and we’ll also get to see a music video students have made this term. You can find out more about the showcase here.

Good luck as the semester draws to a close!


#GivingTuesday: With You, More is Possible

Now that we have expressed thanks, and, in many cases, shopped until we dropped, it’s time again to focus on Giving!  This is Wesleyan’s fourth year participating in #GivingTuesday. Thousands of Wesleyan alumni, parents, students and friends have chosen to make their donations on Giving Tuesday – and together, we have unlocked millions of dollars in matching funds for financial aid.

This year’s challenge – When 3,500 members of the Wesleyan community make gifts by Giving Tuesday, November 28, trustee Marc Casper ’90 will donate $300K to financial aid to support our students.

Giving is easy! Just visit the homepage for #GivingTuesday:

Thanks in advance for making an impact by adding resources to financial aid!


A “Glad Position: Gratitude”

The poet John Berryman’s poem “Minnesota Thanksgiving,” which I heard recited this morning on the radio, contains this happy phrase: “we stand again in debt/and find ourselves in the glad position: Gratitude.”

Gratitude is a glad position, and on Thanksgiving many assume it with a mixture of mirth and reverence. At Wesleyan, I know we have much to be thankful for. Our faculty and staff tap reservoirs of ingenuity to ensure that the education we offer remains vital with the energies of practical idealism. Our alumni are bound together through alma mater to generously support a school that inspires innovative aspirations to bravely face challenges and create opportunities. And our Wesleyan students, they discover their capacities for courage and creativity while exuberantly building a foundation for lifelong learning and friendship.

So much for which to be thankful! It is a glad position. Happy Thanksgiving!


Offensive Football!

Hearty congratulations to Mike Breuler ’18 for being named both the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year and the winner of the Boston Gridiron Club‘s top offensive football player in New England! Mike broke several receiving records at Wesleyan and was a standout player on a very strong team. Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19 seemed always to be able find Mike with passes only he could catch — or at least that he made sure he did catch. Mike graduates in the spring with an economics major and a film minor.


Support WESU & Free Form Radio Saturday Night!

Today Professor Kehaulani Kauanui wrote to remind faculty about the fundraiser for WESU 88.1 FM — Wesleyan’s own free form radio station. I paste in her message here:

Join WESU for a dinner and show on Saturday, November 18 and help support community radio.  WESU’s Free Form Feast and Festival features a buffet meal plus a variety show. More than ten acts, featuring internationally acclaimed artists alongside student and community artists, will be donating their performances. Here is a link to purchase tickets.  The event will also feature a home-cooked Italian family style buffet generously donated by Zandri’s Stillwood Inn of Wallingford.

Tickets are $25 for the public and $10 for Students. Dinner, soft drinks, and a hot and cold beverage service are included along with the show.  All tickets sales directly support the station’s fall fundraising campaign. The event will be held on Wesleyan University’s campus at 55 Wyllys Ave, Middletown, CT 05457.

WESU has been providing creative, adventurous radio for more than 75 years. Please support the station!

Alums and Creative Writing

Delighted to see that a graduate from the class of 2017 has recently published her debut novel with St. Martin’s Press. Jenny Fran Davis’s ’17 Everything Must Go has recently come out — the first of her two book deals with the prestigious publisher. In a recent interview Jenny says that:

“Most of the literary analysis that Flora does in the book comes out of work that I’ve done in classes at Wesleyan and in high school. It’s a really neat thing to be a student while writing a book, because you can slip into these modes of double-thinking, thinking as both a literary analyst and a writer. Suddenly everything you read is applicable and pertinent. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) and Emily Dickinson are foundational and contribute to a particular canon of writing by and about women, but I found myself thinking about more contemporary novels as I wrote, as well as media texts like newspaper and magazine articles (I read a ton of Rookie) and e-mails and texts from friends. I loved studying Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), Jacqueline Susann (Valley of the Dolls), and Toni Morrison (Beloved and The Bluest Eye) with Sally Bachner in my Women’s Lib, Women’s Lit class, and reading Roxane Gay in a Writing through Trauma student forum was very exciting and momentum building.”

You can read the full interview here.

Jenny’s book is on the YA shelves, not far from that of another Wesleyan alum, Daniel Handler ’92. The creator of Lemony Snicket has a new novel out, All the Dirty Parts. Daniel’s “raunchy and original” novel is on my reading list for winter break, and it promises to be provocative and thoughtful.

Readers can also look forward to Shapiro-Silverberg Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Amy Bloom‘s new novel, White Houses, to be published in the spring by Random House. Amy ’75 re-imagines the lives of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok — friends, lovers and participants in a grand historical moment. The novel is steeped in that history, and shines with beautiful, deeply felt prose.

I’ll just note one more work in progress: Quiara Alegria Hudes, Wesleyan’s Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater, is away from campus working on a number of projects. Her plays, Water by the Spoonful and The Happiest Song Plays Last, are currently being staged in Portland. She wrote the book and lyrics for Miss You Like Hell, which will premiere at New York’s Public Theater in March.

There are PLENTY more alums doing great things in this sphere…. Add your favorites to the comments, if you’d like.

Volleyball Off to the NCAA Tournament!

The Wesleyan Volleyball team won its first ever NESCAC tournament last week, knocking off top-seeded Tufts.

I met the vans when the teams reached campus Sunday night, and there were lots of happy faces (and one hurt knee!).

Winning the conference championship earned the Cardinals a trip to the national tournament, and at the end of this week, they will face Wellesley College. Whoever wins gets to rename the other school!

Go Wes!!