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Winter Sports Taking Off!

Walking Mathilde early this morning, it really did feel like winter was on its way. You could see a dusting of snow on the ground yesterday, as the sun was coming up.



This means that winter sports are here! Today, Sat., Nov. 15  nine of the 11 Cardinal squads are in action, six of them at home.  Men’s and women’s squash both take on NESCAC rivals Tufts (1 p.m.) and Middlebury (4 p.m.) as part of the Wesleyan Round Robin while men’s and women’s swimming & diving face Brandeis (1 p.m.).  Also at home against a NESCAC foe, and Little Three rival to boot, is women’s ice hockey vs. Williams (3 p.m.)  Men’s basketball gets underway in the Herb Kenny Tip-Off Tournament with a first-ever meeting against Sarah Lawrence (3 p.m.).  On the road are women’s basketball vs. Framingham St. in the ECSU Tip-Off Tournament (3 p.m.); men’s ice hockey at Tufts (7 p.m.) in the NESCAC opener; and wrestling in the Roger Williams Invitational (10 a.m.). See Athletics page for more info.

And let’s acknowledge a stand-out performance from the fall. Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 was awarded NESCAC Men’s Soccer Rookie of the Year!

And just a reminder of winter from last year:


In the Heights Will Soar

Tonight Wesleyan’s Theater and Music Departments present “In the Heights,” a fabulous musical that originated here on campus before taking New York by storm.

Here’s what the departments say:

“In the Heights” tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood—a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams, and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.

With book by Wesleyan’s Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater Quiara Alegría Hudes, In the Heights is the winner of the 2008 Tony Awards for “Best Musical,” “Best Original Score” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Theater ’02), “Best Choreography,” and “Best Orchestrations” (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, Music ’02). The Wesleyan production is a collaboration between the Theater Department and Music Department, directed by Associate Professor of Theater Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, with music direction by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Nadya Potemkina, and design by Assistant Professor of Theater Marcela Oteíza (set and videos), Jiyoun Chang (lighting), Artist in Residence Leslie Weinberg (costumes), and Mike Skinner (sound).


Still tickets left for tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday at 8 p.m.


Every year I attend the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast to honor military veterans. This morning we began the event with bagpipes from a Middletown group, and we ended with taps. There were hundreds in attendance, many wearing insignia for the branch of the armed forces in which they served, or the VFW post with which they are now affiliated. Some Wesleyan students were in attendance, including members of our Posse group.

Middletown Pipes and Drums

Middletown Pipes and Drums

Tuesday, November 11 is Veteran’s Day.  I ask you to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who’ve put on the uniform and of their families. The Middletown Council of Veterans and City of Middletown invite everyone to come together on the northern edge of campus, on Veteran’s Green just off Washington Street at 11:00am where a Veterans Day Ceremony will take place.

Veteran’s Day is celebrated in many countries in the West as Armistice Day, marking the end of the brutal fighting of World War I. So this is also a day to think about peace, how we achieve it, preserve it, and whose responsibility it is to defend it.

Veterans often think very seriously about peace, and also about healing. It’s the healing part that is at the core of Rev. Tracy Mehr-Muska’s efforts to bring a broad spectrum of the Wesleyan Interfaith student group to the Veteran’s Home retirement community in Rocky Hill. Here’s a photo of a recent visit, with two members of our Posse Group holding the flag.


Wes folks visit Veterans' Retirement Home

Wes folks visit Veterans’ Retirement Home

Honor Veterans. Think Peace.


Had the great pleasure today to hear Sam Friedman’s ’13 concert, “Just Breathe” at Russell House. Sam was joined by Howe Pearson ’12, Derek Frank ’15, Zack Rosen ’11 and vocalist Jackie Soro ’14 (Sam Wagner, who hung out here without picking up a diploma, joined on drums). From blues to more experimental polyrhythms, Sam led a magical hour of music.


Singer Jackie Soro '14

Singer Jackie Soro ’14

I first met Sam when he played piano at our holiday parties in the President’s House. His astonishing senior recital was a display of harmonica virtuosity and musical imagination. These were on display today. His teacher (and wonderful jazz musician) Noah Baerman wrote, “Wesleyan isn’t thought of as a place to get an undergraduate education that directly relates to a performance career in music. However, the resources are vast for someone with the right mix of discipline and broad-mindedness. The poster-boy for this in recent years is Sam Friedman, a multi-instrumentalist and multi-genre powerhouse.”

From now until the end of the semester there will be several opportunities to hear and watch amazing performances. I can’t write about most of them, but I am so glad they are happening.


Sam Friedman '13 breathes music

Sam Friedman ’13 breathes music

Sam Friedman '13 plays the blues

Sam Friedman ’13 plays the blues

It was a wonderful day for football at Corwin Stadium, for our last game of the season. By tradition, we play Trinity College to end the season, and for many years they have made us end on a somber note. Not today! In another exciting game, the Cardinals were victorious, besting their opponents by a point. I took photos with the intrepid cheer leaders, the volleyball team, and began dreaming of spring as the softball team sold raffles. But the fall season ended pretty well today. Here are a few pics (feel free to send me more!):

Wes seniors and families

Wes seniors before the game


After the game


Seniors and Final Score


Coach Mike Whalen


Team Sings Fight Song

Bruce Corwin, Wesleyan’s biggest fan, is in Los Angeles recovering from a transplant…. but glued to the game on his computer. His son tells me he took this photo just as Justin Sanchez saved the victory with a great tackle with time running down.






Olayinka Lawal ’15 and Ibironke Otusile ’15 are spreading the word about a conference they are hosting on Friday on the extraordinary development of economy and society in Africa.

NOVEMBER 7, 2014


Image: via http://innovation.itu.int/


Wesleyan’s African Students Association will host the first Africa Innovation Summit on November 7, 2014. With co-sponsorship from Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and other campus partners, this event will provide a platform for exposure and conversation about the growth of innovation on the African continent, and it will celebrate those who are paving a new path for progress in Africa.

Event details

Friday, November 7, 2014
2:30-8 p.m.
Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center
75 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, CT

$5 Wesleyan Students
$10 General Admission
Space is limited and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Free tickets are available to those who volunteer to help staff the event. Contact Olayinka Lawal ’15 to inquire.

Thank you to our sponsors: African Students Association, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, African Studies Cluster, Office of Academic Affairs, WesleyanWorldWednesdays, African American Studies Program, and the Center for African American Studies 


2:30 p.m. Check-in and Keynote
3 p.m. Panel #1
4 p.m. Panel #2
5 p.m. Panel #3
6 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Dessert Reception hosted by the African Students Association

This schedule is subject to change. More complete details will be posted prior to the event, and a final program will be available upon arrival.


Hirut M’cleod ’00, World Bank

Children & Youth panel
Steve Kallaugher ’73, Young Heroes
Gabrielle Fondiller ’07, Hatua Likoni
Marina King ’16, Shining Hope for Communities
Moderated by Alice Hadler, Associate Dean for International Student Affairs

Healthcare panel
Tiffany Aquino, Unite for Sight
Shadrack Frimpong, Healthy Africa
Chelsea Tweneboah ’15, Cape Coast Regional Hospital, Ghana
Moderated by Laura Ann Twagira, Assistant Professor of History

Business & Development panel
Jim Brenner ’79, Broad Cove Partners
Mikako Tai ’11, Africa America Institute
Oladoyin Oladapo ’14, JooMah
Moderated by Anthony Keats, Assistant Professor of Economics

With video greetings from
Kathlyn Patillo ’12, African Leadership Academy

Others to be announced. Bios and photos coming soon.


Olayinka Lawal ’15 and Ibironke Otusile ’15


We’ve all heard about the supposed apathy of young voters, about the cynicism and the fatigue. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an important election in Connecticut today and crucial races all over the country. Please exercise your right to vote!

Here is some information on where you can vote, if you are registered in Middletown. Most students vote at the Senior Center just past the bookstore at 150 William Street. You can check on your polling place below.


6 a.m.-8 p.m.


Voter Registration Lookup

Polling (Voting) Locations


9 a.m.-8 p.m. (departures every ten minutes from Usdan University Center)


Drivers’ license, WesID, utility bill, paycheck or other ID needed (Identification Requirements)


Connecticut now offers Election Day Registration (EDR). You can register and vote in person on Election Day at your town’s Election Day Registration location. Election Day Registration only applies to regular elections; it does not apply to primaries, referenda or special elections. Contact your local Registrars of Voters for information about location, hours of operation, and the identification requirements.


Recently Jesse Galganov ’17 came to see me to tell me about his efforts to raise money to combat several major issues in men’s health: mental illness, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. It’s called the Movember effort. Jesse has already raised big bucks in previous years, and you may see tangible signs of his persuasive powers: lots of guys with moustaches.

Here’s the scoop:

The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health.

We achieve this by challenging men to grow moustaches during Movember (the month formerly known as November) to spark conversation and raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

The Movember community has raised over $550 million to date and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. This work is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

Meaningful strides have been taken toward achieving our goals, but there is more work to be done. We’re committed to raising vital funds and awareness to improve the lives of men and their families.

What can you do to help besides experimenting with facial hair? Join the Wesleyan Movember network, dontate to their charities and raise awareness about men’s health.



You can find out more about Movember projects here.



At the beginning of the week, Ruth Weissman and I hosted over 90 faculty members for a lunchtime conversation about how best to coordinate residential education with what we do in the classroom. There were great ideas about how to link formal studies with the educative experience we want to happen through residential liberal education. There was general agreement that Wesleyan would be most empowering if we improved the coordination between the academic and co-curricular dimensions of campus learning.

After teaching on Tuesday, I headed to Los Angeles for an alumni event titled “How to Destroy Higher Education.” That was the title The Daily Beast gave one of my op-eds, and in LA I was to address the topic with Matthew Weiner ’87 and Dana Delany ’78. Lots of alumni and parents came out to the new offices of UTA, where we were hosted by Jeremy Zimmer P’12.

Wes Los Angeles Event

Dana spoke about a class on Proust that continues to be important to her decades later, and Matt said that all his work comes out of the cultural immersion championed by the College of Letters. We had a great time.

Talking with Dana and Matt

Alumni and parents from across the decades had a great time reconnecting or meeting for the first time.

Los Angeles Wes Event


(All photos by Maiz Connolly.)

I left LAX before dawn yesterday to head for Toronto, where Dr. Satoshi Omura was being honored with Canada’s prestigious Gairdner Prize. Dr. Omura is a great friend of Wesleyan and one of the world’s leading bioorganic scientists. His dedication to the idea that nature contains the compounds to help us deal with our greatest challenges has led to extraordinary improvements in public health. He discovered and developed the drug ivermectin, which is on track to eradicate onchocerciasis, or River Blindness. Millions of people across the globe have been taking ivermectin, and the results have improved countless lives.

Satoshi Omura

In the program for this prestigious event, Professor Omura is wearing a Wesleyan cap, a wink back to the institution where he studied chemistry with Max Tischler in the early 1970s. I was so pleased to be part of the celebrations for this wonderful scientist!

Now, I’m off to Chicago for another discussion of why liberal education matters!

This is Why.

I’ve already posted about the great work of the Wesleyan Media Project, but I want to point everyone to their new website, AttackAds.org

Many of us are turned off by the negative political advertising that dominates the airwaves– so much of it from groups that don’t have to disclose where their money comes from. The new WMP website puts it this way:

“…a growing body of evidence suggests that ads work better if they are sponsored by unknown groups, which further encourages the growth of dark money. Not only is there no transparency that could help voters better filter the barrage of messages, but there is less accountability in elections. You cannot punish a group in the same way that you can a candidate or a party by not voting for them. This is a problem for democracy. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. This site is intended to help educate Americans on the problems of dark money, who the dark money organizations are, and what you can do about it.”

Negative advertising has become so pervasive and so detached from honesty, that the following may not even seem like a parody:

YouTube Preview Image

But here’s the key: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

Defend the possibility of democracy: VOTE NEXT WEEK!!


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