Honoring Veterans, Thinking Peace

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.

 

Please Vote! It’s Election Day!!

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.

POLLING HOURS:

6 a.m.-8 p.m.

POLLING PLACES:

Voter Registration Lookup

Polling (Voting) Locations

VAN TRANSPORTATION:

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

VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS:

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

ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION:

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.

 

Movember and Men’s Health

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.

 

WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

You can find out more about Movember projects here.

 

 

Please Support Middlesex United Way

This is the time when I ask the Wesleyan community to respond generously to requests to support the Middlesex United Way. Although all of us have many organizations we support, our gifts to United Way raise Wesleyan’s collective voice in support of programs that help our neighbors in need. Wesleyan faculty and staff have long been known as contributors to this community endeavor – a tradition meriting renewed effort. Our goal this year is $130,000 and 50% participation – an ambitious and worthy goal. Those of you who are out of town and want to support these efforts can look here.

When you give to Middlesex United Way, your dollars stay close to the campus community. United Way’s local volunteers distribute your dollars to help neighbors in need – neighbors such as 60 Middletown families at risk of homelessness who remained in their homes thanks to one-time assistance through the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Prevention Fund. Our dollars have helped the Women & Families Center’s Sexual Assault Crisis Services support more than 800 people, and have contributed to school readiness programs for young children in all 15 towns in Middlesex County. In addition to providing vital assistance locally, Middlesex United Way is an effective catalyst for change, bringing many organizations together to improve all our lives.

This year’s campus United Way campaign also will feature an online auction running from Nov. 1 – Nov. 15. If you can provide goods, gift cards or services, please contact Karen Warren (kwarren@wesleyan.edu).

Changing lives in this way depends upon our support, and your gift matters. Every gift, at any level, matters. If you are continuing your support, thank you. If you are considering a gift for the first time, I hope you will respond with a generous heart.

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Finding Wesleyan at Elementary School

Yesterday I went to Middletown’s Macdonough Elementary School to read to second graders. It’s anti-bullying month, and I was to share Margery Cuyler’s and Arthur Howard’s Bullies Never Win.

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When I arrived at the school in the North End, I immediately noticed the sign-in sheet for Wesleyan people in the principal’s office. It was a long list of volunteers. I already knew that Wes students devote hundreds of hours to working with the boys and girls at Macdonough, but it was still a fine surprise to see how many were there just that day. As I walked to my classroom, I saw football players and musicians, activists and scholars…all taking time away from campus to improve the experience of these local kids.

The class I read to was attentive and curious. Who was this old guy who had come to read to them? When I was introduced, a boy from the back of the room asked in an awestruck voice: “Are you president of the whole country?” Everybody giggled as I began to explain — he was just kidding around.

I read the story to them, and we had a great discussion about why bullying was wrong — and how you could ask for help without being a “tattle tale.” As I left, I saw those same Wes students still tutoring their kids…making a real difference right here in Middletown. How lucky I am to be part of their schooling.

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Welcoming Families!

Family Weekend comes early this year, and we anticipate a large crowd of visitors to campus. There will be lots of wonderful events, from art exhibitions featuring photographs and paintings to South Indian music, lectures and athletic contests. You can find plenty more information here.

Parents of new students are often surprised at how quickly their sons and daughters have formed intense friendships — they can sometimes feel like extended families. Whether it’s a cohort formed in sports, science labs, art studios or in a rock band… these new relationships can be profound. Some alumni remember their “Greek” experience as most important in this regard, and recently, we’ve again had searching discussions about the relationships created in these societies. We announced this week that the residential fraternities will have to work over the next three years to become fully co-educational, and we’ve already had lots of positive feedback concerning that decision. Of course, we’ve also had some strong pushback from folks who feel that fraternities represent important traditions that should be maintained. Along with the Board, I am hopeful that these traditions can find new forms as the societies welcome women members and women leaders. Sure, it will be different, as these societies are different in many ways from their incarnations in the 50s and 60s. Working together, I am confident that we can retain some of their best features while building new traditions for the future.

I think we may be creating a new tradition of launching Tony Award winning musicals. OK, we are trying. In the Heights author Quiara Alegria Hudes is now a distinguished professor of playwriting at Wes, and the creator and star of the show, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, was back on campus this week to meet the cast of the production that will be staged this fall. By all accounts, he gave a great talk/performance Tuesday evening. Provost Ruth Weissman, Lin and I documented the evening with a selfie:

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The vibrancy of the art scene at Wesleyan is legendary. In recent years, we’ve added another tradition to it with The Mash, our music festival on the first Friday of the semester. This year I played a little with some friends, and I was introduced to many Wes bands and individual performers. Here’s a twelve minute sampler:

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There will be plenty of music, friendships and even a little theater this weekend. It should be a great one!

Trustees and the Future of Wesleyan

This past weekend the Board of Trustees gathered for its annual fall retreat. At this meeting, Trustees and Representatives to the Board discuss a range of issues important for the future of the University. We began on Friday night with conversations about equity and inclusion. Over the last year a task force of Trustees has been discussing how we can better ensure that all people on campus feel they are full members of our community and engaged in our educational project. Everyone at the retreat had taken implicit bias tests in advance of the meeting to better understand how even when we have the best of intentions, prejudice can affect our thinking.

We resumed our meetings Saturday morning with a discussion of the role of residential fraternities on campus, based on recommendations that I had made to the Board after a summer of collecting input. During the course of the weekend, the Board and I agreed on some changes described in a message that went out from Joshua Boger and me this morning. The message reads, in part: “With equity and inclusion in mind, we have decided that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years. If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization….Our residential Greek organizations inspire loyalty, community and independence. That’s why all our students should be eligible to join them.”

Saturday’s discussion moved on to campus life generally and how we might make it as educationally potent as possible. As a residential liberal arts school, it is crucial that outside the classroom our students are being prepared for life after graduation. Trustees shared the ways in which their own experiences on campus have affected their lives beyond the university.

The retreat continued with discussions of how Wesleyan is perceived by prospective students, the campus community, alumni, parents and the academic marketplace. We had vigorous conversations about what Wes stands for today, and how we want our school to be perceived 25 years from now. What should we be doing now to ensure the brightest future for alma mater?

Over the weekend, I witnessed many ways in which loyal and hardworking trustees, students, faculty, staff and alumni are devoted to Wesleyan. It’s a devotion stemming from powerful experiences and strong memories joined with the aspiration to make our university even stronger and the experiences of students going forward even more powerful.

Arrival Day: Welcome Class of 2018

This morning Kari, Mathilde and I saw teammates on the fields behind the Freeman Athletic Center. It wasn’t quite 7 am, but practice was getting underway. Bleary-eyed student workers were headed in the direction of Usdan to prepare for a full day of welcomes, answering questions and helping to orient the families new to our campus. I start getting a little giddy with excitement as the new year is beginning….

Welcome to our new graduate students, transfers and the class of 2018! I look forward to meeting many of you when I make the rounds of the residence halls this morning, or when I speak with families in the chapel this afternoon.

Throughout the day we’ll post pictures and videos here. There may also be some tweeting from @mroth78…

WELCOME!

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Pres Roth welcomes Ashley Suan '18 to Wesleyan!

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Support WESU! 75 Years and Going Strong

Driving away from campus this week, I was surprised that my car radio was playing “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” With your mercury mouth in the missionary times And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes…. I was brought back to long ago, lots of emotions swirling. I thought, what radio station could possibly be playing a 11 and half minute Bob Dylan song? With your sheet-metal memories of Cannery-Row… I looked down at the radio….88.1 Good old WESU. Should I leave them by your gate Or sad-eyed Lady, should I wait?  The show was Acoustic Blender, and the DJ was playing an extra bonus Dylan birthday set.

WESU has been serving up surprises for 75 years. Whether it’s avant-garde or bluegrass, alternative news or Middletown events, WESU provides a wonderful contribution to cultural life in central Connecticut. And it’s so cool for our student and community DJs and listeners. Here’s what recent president of the station, Mary Barret ’14, has written for the spring fund drive:

We have been celebrating our landmark birthday, on air, since January with our oral history radio show “Welcome Back” as well as “75 Years Of…,” a program highlighting radio content that wouldn’t likely be heard without stations like WESU. And if you haven’t yet read it, check out the Wesleyan magazine Historical Row column, “WESLEYAN’S UNDERGROUND RADIO STATION,” chronicling the earliest days of radio at WESU.  You can a find links to that article and special 75th anniversary programming and events on our website.

Right now we need your support to keep our unique free form music and public affairs programming on the airwaves. This spring’s pledge drive is especially exciting because it is the first of our 75th anniversary year. As such, we are asking you to consider giving us an extra-special birthday present to help raise additional capital funds to install a backup power system and update our studio equipment. If we raise enough funds by the end of 2014, we hope to also be able to kick off a film documentary project about the history of WESU. Many thanks if you have already made your donation!

Your support for WESU will honor a landmark anniversary and legacy of one of the first student owned and operated college radio stations.  You can donate by e-check, debit, or credit card online here.  

Please support WESU. It’s college/community radio with a vital, progressive tradition.