A University in Revolution

Over the years, I have had several students from Iran in my online classes at Coursera. Lately, I’ve been reading about student political action at Sharif University in Tehran with a mixture of admiration and horror. Admiration, since the students there have shown such courage in their protests since the funeral of Mahsa Amini a few weeks ago. Horror because of the brutality of the regime’s response to these protests. Human rights groups put the death toll at well over 100, as students and their allies refuse to back down in the face of violent tyranny.

Mahsa Amini had been arrested for “unsuitable attire,” and she then died in police custody after falling into a coma. This is official brutality at its worst, and young women and men across Iran have protested against a regime that denies people their basic freedoms. Universities depend on these freedoms to do their work, and the violence with which they are currently being attacked is deplorable.

Raising our voices of solidarity with Iranian students fighting tyranny may not save them from the tear gas, batons and bullets of the Revolutionary Guard. But if it gives even one protestor a little more energy, we ought to join the chorus of those calling for an end to the oppressive violence in Iran.



It’s early days, but already some Wesleyan athletes have been recognized for extraordinary achievement. Let’s start with a great volleyball player on a tremendous team. Mariko Tanaka ’24 was named NESCAC Player-of-the-Week last week as she had games where she led the team in digs and then in kill percentage. She’s a force for good things and all of her teammates benefit from her strong play.

Speaking of strong play, Liam Devanny ’23 has been all but unbeatable in the goal for the men’s soccer team. He already has multiple shutouts under his belt, including great games against the nationally ranked teams from Tufts and Brandeis. Like volleyball, the men’s soccer team is off to an excellent start, and I’m so pleased to see Liam recognized as a Player-of-the-Week by NESCAC.

And speaking of excellent starts, the football team looked very impressive on Saturday. And most impressive was defensive tackle Nick Helbig ’23, and his strong play was acknowledged with the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet Award. This is a signal award for anyone, and especially rare for a defensive tackle. Nick was also named player-of-the-week by NESCAC.

Come out and cheer on Wesleyan’s wonderful student-athletes. Go Wes!

Frank G. Binswanger Jr. ’50, P’76, ’78, GP’13, ’15

I received word earlier this summer that a dear friend of Wesleyan’s, Frank G. Binswanger Jr., had passed away. Frank graduated more than 70 years ago, but he remained keenly interested in alma mater. He was a trustee during the 1970s when two of his children were undergrads (along with me). Over the years, I would receive questions, advice and encouragement from Frank, and, with his wife Suzanne, we had occasion to raise a glass or two together to toast our beloved university. There have been more than ten Binswanger family members who’ve attended Wesleyan over the years.

Many at Wesleyan know the Binswanger name because of the teaching prize that Frank and his brother John ’54, P’83, GP’ 06, ’10, ’16  in honor of their father. Each year at Commencement we celebrate Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers when members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee choose three faculty as recipients of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Frank took real pride in having helped establish this tradition.

Teaching, learning, philanthropy — Binswanger traditions. May Frank’s memory be a blessing.



More Violence, Less Freedom, Deep Sadness

On America’s birthday:

A toddler wanders around, lost. Kind strangers come to help. What happened? Aiden’s parents were killed, along with several others, by a sniper in Highland Park.

Wandering, lost…. The unspeakable is everywhere around us.

We don’t have to live this way.

May their memories be a blessing.


Happy 4th of July!!

On this July 4th I find it more difficult than usual to get into the celebratory spirit—and this has nothing to do with politics! I find myself navigating a challenging COVID infection and after some days am only this morning seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Seeing something hopeful in the distant future can be a distraction from current troubles, or it can empower one to keep working for the better days ahead. If you stop looking ahead with hope, the work can become impossible.

Over the years I’ve posted a variety of quotations on Independence Day. This Lucille Clifton poem, blake, is not about independence but it is about finding some glimmer of hope as we scan the world around us.

we need new words
for what this is, this hunger entering our
loneliness like birds, stunning our eyes into rays
of hope. we need the flutter that can save
us, something that will swirl across the face
of what we have become and bring us grace.

Happy 4th of July!

And why not “won’t you celebrate with me?”