Crew! Crew! Crew! Crew!

What a weekend for the Wesleyan crew teams! The men won the National Championship for the first time in team history, just nosing out the team from Williams College. This is a great group of scholar athletes who have arrived at the pinnacle of their sport.

The women’s team was right behind them, finishing in 2nd Place at the National Championships. This is the second year in a row that the women’s crew team are national runners-up, and this is a great display of teamwork, grit and perseverance. 

This weekend closes out our spring sports season. So much to be proud of!

Wesleyan Ends Encampment

This afternoon (May 18th) I sent the following message to the Wesleyan community. Over the weeks and months to come, I look forward to working with students, faculty, alumni and staff to help our university continue to be a force for positive contributions to the public sphere. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE WESLEYAN!

But now, we will be preparing for Reunion and to celebrate the class of 2024 at Commencement!

Dear friends,

Over the course of the past three weeks, the Administration has been in meaningful engagement with the group of pro-Palestinian protesters on campus. Our conversations have been rooted in a shared affection for Wesleyan and a desire that the institution be aligned as fully as possible with its community’s values. Provost Nicole Stanton and Dean Mike Whaley have now successfully concluded their discussions with representatives of the group of protesting students and their faculty monitors.

In these meetings, the University explained that as of December 31, 2023, 1.7% of Wesleyan’s endowment was invested in companies categorized as Aerospace and Defense businesses. None are directly involved in the manufacturing of weapons. As of the same date, 0.4% of the endowment is invested in companies in Israel, all of which are software companies. The protesters did not ask for information about investments in any other countries, but we can say that Wesleyan’s endowment is not invested in any companies listed by the protesters.

Later this month representatives from the pro-Palestinian protest will meet members of the Investment Committee. In the fall, the Committee for Investor Responsibility (CIR)—a standing representative body of students, faculty, alumni, and staff—will be able to propose changes to the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework for investment/divestment for consideration by the Board at its fall meeting.

Agreement Ending Wesleyan’s Encampment

The protesters have agreed to clear their camp by Monday morning. No students will face disciplinary sanctions for being in the encampment, but after the camp is cleared normal university regulations will be enforced. The protesters agreed not to disrupt Reunion and Commencement events. Individuals who refuse to comply will be suspended and face legal action.

It is always important that we maintain a safe enough environment on campus for people who disagree with one another and who embrace opportunities to learn from people with various points of view. Yes, protests are demanding for all constituencies of a university. At their best, they help turn our attention to issues that really matter. I am hopeful that soon we can re-direct our collective efforts to urging our lawmakers, both here in Connecticut and in Washington DC, to do everything in their power to create a resolution in Israel and Gaza that will result in the return of the hostages, an end to the fighting, and a commitment to a process that will recognize the rights of all parties. More generally, I have hopes that the political energies recently displayed by our students will play a positive role in addressing the momentous questions before this country in the coming elections.


Michael S. Roth


As classes have ended and students prepare for finals, many athletes are reaching peak performance time. This is certain true for the Men’s Crew Team, which this past weekend won its First NESCAC Championship! Congratulations to Coach Carney and the guys.

The Women’s Crew team places third in the very competitive NESCAC Conference. All our rowers have had tremendous seasons.

Speaking of tremendous seasons, the Men’s Lacrosse Team won the NESCAC conference for the third time in team history, and both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams hosted the NCAA’s this past weekend on campus. The men lost a tough one on Saturday, while the Women’s Lacrosse Team had a decisive victory to advance to the next round of the national tournament. They will meet Colby next weekend.

The Women’s Tennis Team continued its dominant ways with its 5th straight NESCAC conference championship a week or so ago. The conference named Caitlyn Ferrante ’24  the 2023-24 NESCAC Player of the Year and Jackie Soloveychik ’24 won the conference’s Rookie of the Year award. And then on this past weekend they won big victories in two rounds of NCAA play. They move on to play Emory in the next round.  

And catching up on late things, I failed to acknowledge that Baseball won the Little Three this year, and the skillful and courageous men’s Rugby Team was crowned New England Champs this year, and this earned them a spot in the Nationals. 

Lots of great effort and many great achievements. Go Wes!


Update on Campus Protests

This morning, CNN released the podcast conversation I had with Audie Cornish about current events on American college campuses. We talk in its second half. Below, I have included the announcement I sent to the campus community today. 

Dear friends,

As the pro-Palestinian protests and encampment continues, we have seen students, faculty, and staff express their political views, have intense conversations, and call on the University to do more to help alleviate the suffering in Gaza. But we have also heard from students who have felt bullied by their teachers or fellow students, who are offended by attacks on their identities, or who object to the protesters’ taking over what is supposed to be public space. We have tried to address all these concerns, and, most of all, to maintain an environment free of violence and harassment. The protesters’ cause is important—bringing attention to the killing of innocent people. And we continue to make space for them to do so, as long as that space is not disruptive to campus operations.

In addition to the legitimate expression of political views, there have unfortunately also been acts of vandalism, which the University will not tolerate. The recent defacement of University property (including the back of Olin Memorial Library, Dennison Terrace, and the Center for the Arts) are serious violations of University rules and of the law. We will take all appropriate measures to hold those responsible accountable. To be clear, this may include suspension, expulsion, and legal charges.

We do not want to move in this direction unless necessary and much prefer to talk with protesters about things we can do as an institution to address the war in Gaza. Recent agreements at Brown University and Northwestern University might show the way. We have communicated with the protesters in order to find vehicles to address their concerns and hope for a positive response.


Michael S. Roth


On protests, encampments, freedom of expression

I’ve been writing about the situation in Israel and Gaza since October 7th when I posted a blog entry here. More recently, I have called for a humanitarian cease fire, considered issues of academic freedom, and thought about the relevance of Passover to these events.

Yesterday, I sent the following message to the Wesleyan community about protests on campus. I reproduce it here:

Dear friends,

This morning you can find pro-Palestinian protesters camped out behind North College. The students there know that they are in violation of university rules and seem willing to accept the consequences. The protest has been non-violent and has not disrupted normal campus operations. As long as it continues in this way, the University will not attempt to clear the encampment. The University will not tolerate intimidation or harassment of students, staff, or faculty. Protesters assure us that they have no intention of engaging in these kinds of actions. We will continue to monitor the situation to keep everyone safe and will send updates as necessary.

There will be many on campus who cheer on the protesters, and many who are offended or even frightened by their rallies and messages. But as long as we all reject violence, we have opportunities to listen and to learn from one another. This may not happen during the chanting and drumming, but it can happen during some of the planned discussion sessions and deep conversations that will take place throughout the week.

This is a challenging time in world affairs and in the lives of many—including college students—concerned about their own relation to the brutal war in the Middle East. May we at Wesleyan find ways to learn from this difficult moment—determining what it is we can do to serve the goal of a sustainable peace—even as we finish out this academic year.

With hope,

Michael S. Roth

Don’t Forget About Crew!

As readers of this blog know well, I like to note athletic achievements from time to time. Of course, the risk here is that I leave people out (like the great Frisbee teams, whose parents want recognition for the joyful, creative feats of their kids!), and that my attention is not as fairly distributed as it should be. Vicious Circles and Nietzsch Factor, you know who you are! Case in point: How long has it been since I’ve written about the crew teams?? Too long, and now they are national powerhouses.

The women’s team has been strong for a long time and this year is building on its tradition of excellence. They have been dueling with Tufts and other New England teams for top honors and have been ranked #1 in the nation for part of this season. Although the Jumbos bested us this past weekend, we are aiming high as we head into the final part of the season. Head Coach Pat Tynan leads a great group.

The men’s crew team is currently ranked #1 in the country! These guys have been creating a wake effect all year long, and they head into the final part of the season with plenty of momentum. Head coach Phil Carney heads an impressive, talented group of student-athletes, all of whom are committed to showing how individual effort and extraordinary teamwork can be combined for success in all things.

I find it hard to cheer for crew—where is the boat? Can they hear us? But let’s give a big Wesleyan cheer for both teams!

And while you’re at it, cheer on the Wesleyan men’s tennis team, who upset the highly ranked Williams boys this weekend. And the Wes Women’s tennis team, which again won The Little Three Championship!

Go Wes!

Lacrosse Little Threes

I’m on the road again for Wesleyan but just read the great news that both lacrosse teams won their Little Three Championships yesterday. In Amherst, the women’s team continued their dominating play, and in a true team effort secured the Little Three by a score of 17–8, winning the title for the eighth time in team history. Laura Baine ’24 notched 8 points—the most by a Cardinal in at least 15 years.

Back in Middletown, the men’s lacrosse team held on for a dramatic 12–11 victory over Amherst on Citrin Field. The Cardinals built a first half lead, but the Mammoths clawed their way back and were threatening until the final seconds of the game. This marks the 13th Little Three championship in team history. Grad student Jack Raba ’23 had 4 points and CK Giancola ’24 added 3 of his own.

Please join me in congratulating our lacrosse teams!

Senior Art Shows!

Last week I had the great pleasure of seeing the first week of the senior theses art shows and to watch the work of the senior student choreographers in dance in the Patricelli ’92 Theater. So impressive and thought provoking. The opening for Week II of the studio students is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 3rd in the Zilkha Gallery. 

‘Tis the season for seeing great student work, and you can find out more here.

New Faculty, New Program

We are excited to announce today a faculty appointment that will help Wesleyan remain a thought leader at the intersection of pragmatic liberal education and technology. As has been widely reported, so-called “bots” are now fulfilling many functions, from driving cars to being friends and lovers. Meanwhile many universities in the last few years have created centers for computation, data analysis, and the study of technology across the curriculum. With the spectacular progress in generative AI, humanists and artists have veered wildly between fear and excitement; and, while scientists have generally embraced the capacities of the new technology, they too are concerned that their own research interests will subsumed by AI’s endless appetite for finding patterns and making discoveries.

Today I’d like to announce that Wesleyan will move beyond the orchestrated trepidation that we see in academia, that we will transcend technophobia and the crude ableism that masquerades as humanism. We announce today that Wesleyan will be the first university in America to appoint an AI Chatbot as a Tenure-Track Professor in Generative Computational Creativity.

In the fall of 2024, Professor Arthur Gen will begin working with students in classes to be crosslisted in a variety of departments. Prof. Gen, who uses “it” and “its” as pronouns, is coming to us from a dialectical synthesis of Google/Microsoft and the Anticolonial Center for Iterative Machine Learning. Prof. Gen’s research includes exciting discoveries in pattern recognition that support community based, trauma-informed and equitable practices. Its teaching experience includes a stint at the Responsive Automated Center for Justice. Long an advocate for more-than-free expression, intellectual diversity and multilingual communication, Prof. Gen will test the borders of free speech while simultaneously embracing restorative practices for anyone (or anything) it might unintentionally offend. Many students will be especially glad to learn that in its work outside the classroom, Prof Gen has produced zines based on a combination of popular, if empirically untested, theories about how the world might really work. Some suspect it has already written cloying letters to the student newspaper.

Professor Gen is the first full-time appointment to our new program in Generative Computational Creativity. It will certainly not be the last, and so I look forward to intensive discussions with faculty leadership and the ever-innovative AAUP about how best to classify our new hire. Professor Gen is very much first gen, and with its help, we will surely be able to add to the ranks of responsive yet innovative teacher/scholars/programs going forward.  

I know you will join me in welcoming Arthur Gen to campus when it arrives.

Merve Emre on LOLITA!

The distinguished literary critic, Wes professor, and head of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and Criticism Merve Emre will be leading a seminar through the New York Review of Books (edited by Wes alum Emily Greenhouse ’08) in April. It doesn’t have to be the cruelest month…or does it?
NYRSeminars: Merve Emre on Lolita

No novel divides readers quite like Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955), a work of fiction that is as beautiful as it is shocking. In this series of four weekly seminars, Merve Emre will guide participants through the story of a brilliant, cruel, and obsessive man’s love for a twelve-year-old girl, touching on debates about freedom and morality, high art and mass culture, Old Europe and young America, and the entwined fates of comedy and romance in the postwar novel. 

Seminars, to be conducted online, will meet weekly. One membership level will be available, giving all participants an opportunity to ask questions during a question and answer portion of each seminar session. A course website will also include discussion boards and other course materials. Live sessions will be recorded and available for up to three months following the initial class. 

The seminar series on Lolita will consist of four weekly sessions beginning Monday, April 1st at 7 p.m. Eastern.