It’s mid-August, and I’m preparing to return to campus after several weeks away. Every week I receive lists of media updates – articles where Wesleyan is mentioned. Here are some thoughts on some that I’ve found particularly striking.
I often tell students that my hope for them is that they will discover what they’re interested in, get better at it, and share what they’ve learned with others. This is definitely the story of Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, whose new musical Hamilton (he created it and is the star) is the toast of the town. Of course, Lin gave the Commencement address this past year, and is well known among alumni, faculty and students. We are taking over the Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 2 (already sold out, I’m afraid), for a financial aid Hamilton fundraiser, and I am delighted to see all the positive attention being showered on Lin, director Thomas Kail ‘99 and the crew.
An article from the BBC features the work of psychology professor Psyche Loui (yes it is a great name given her interest!) studying the goose bumps you can get when listening to a particularly powerful piece of music. She describes the feeling as “skin orgasms.” Her work on the erotic aspects of music is receiving a lot of attention, and it’s been speculated that these frissons can promote communal goodwill.
There’s also a comparison made here to the addictive pleasures of certain drugs, and this brings me to another of this week’s media hits from The Washington Post, one considerably less positive. It’s the tragic story of a UVA student, also a music lover, who took Molly at a concert, then collapsed and died. The article refers to Wesleyan, which became a national story when a number of students here were hospitalized last February after taking drugs. All survived, thank goodness, but the legal ramifications for the students involved in distributing the drugs continue to unfold. Wesleyan will continue to enforce our own rules as well as applicable laws. Most importantly, I ask all students to please, please make healthy, safe choices with respect to drugs and alcohol. And be helpful to those around you.
Wesleyan is a venerable institution with great traditions. In this article in the Hartford Courant, you can read about preparations for the centenary celebration of the Van Vleck Observatory. Designed by the same architect who designed the Lincoln Memorial, it crowns Foss Hill, a permanent invitation to use this university to explore the world beyond it.
Another article in The Washington Post refers to our new test-optional admissions policy, which is bringing more applicants first in their family to go college, more applicants of color, and more applicants from abroad. At Wesleyan we are serious about our commitment to access and inclusion.
Part of that commitment involves our partnership with the Posse Foundation, bringing veterans to study at Wes, and the updates include an article by one of the Posse vets on his experiences to date.
I enjoy reading about the achievements of our students, faculty and alumni – from theater to sports to research. But more, I love to be on campus to witness the exuberant process that goes into making it all possible. Very soon, we’ll all be back at it.