Tag Archive for alumni awards

Chayes ’07 Wins Award for Women in Theater

Brooklyn-based director Jess Chayes ’07 has recently won the Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), which annually recognizes an aspiring woman in theatre who shows creative promise in the field. As a founding co-artistic director of The Assembly, a collective of multi-disciplinary performance artists, Chayes has co-created and directed eight original productions. These include I Will Look Forward To This Later and HOME/SICK, which is a NY Times Critics’ Pick.

Chayes founded The Assembly Theater Project with three other Wesleyan alumni: Stephen Aubrey ’06, Edward Bauer ’08, and Nick Benacerraf ’08. Together they created a collaborative and thriving community. Determined to show the effectiveness of solidarity and team effort, Chayes’ work is always risk-taking as well as thought provoking.

Weiss ’93, Kail ’99, Siegel ’00 Win Emmys

[Award winners for Grease: Live!Pictured above: Adam Siegel '00 (far left), Thomas Kail '99 (far right)

Grease: Live! was nominated for 10 awards at the 68th Emmy Awards on Sept. 18. Pictured at far left is Wesleyan alumnus Adam Siegel ’00 and at far right, Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo courtesy of the Denver Post)

Six Wesleyan alumni were nominated or received an Emmy Award on Sept. 18. Emmy Awards recognize excellence within various areas of television and emerging media.

Game of Thrones executive producer D.B. Weiss ’93 took home awards for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series, carrying on last year’s winning streak in these categories. With 38 wins since 2011, Game of Thrones has become the most decorated show in Emmy’s history.

Thomas Kail ’99 received an Emmy for Outstanding Directing of a Variety Special for Grease: Live! Also collecting an award for Grease: Live! was producer Adam Siegel ’00. The live production made TV history by earning a total of 10 Emmy nominations this year, the most nominations ever received for a live musical.

Other nominees from the night include former trustee Bradley Whitford ’81, who was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Transparent) and Sasha Alpert ’82, who received two nominations as a producer for Born This Way (Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program), and Project Runway (Outstanding Reality-Competition Program). In addition Matt Senreich ’96, an executive producer on Robot Chicken, was nominated for Outstanding Short Form Animated Program.

The Emmy Awards are administered by three sister organizations, which focus on various sectors of television and broadband programming including Television Academy (primetime); the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (daytime, sports, news and documentary); and International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (international).

(Keren Alshanetsky ’17 contributed to this article).

10 Receive Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service, and McConaughy Writing Awards

The Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting was held in the Memorial Chapel on May 20. The presentation of this year's Distinguished Alumni, McConaughy, and Outstanding Service Awards included: Luke Wood ’91 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Essel Bailey ’66 Michael Greenberg ’76, P’14 Meredith Sirmans, Jr. ’91 Jed Hoyer Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96 McConaughy Award Recipients Ethan Bronner '76, P'10 Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17 Outstanding Service Award Recipients Robert “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96 David Hill ’86

The Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting was held in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. This year’s gathering of Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Service and James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial awardees were: (bottom row, left to right) Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans, Jr. ’91; David Anthony Hill ’86; Alumni Association Chair Daphne Kwok ’84; Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17; Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96, Jed D. Hoyer ’96; (top row, left to right) Luke F. Wood ’91; Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14, Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10; Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66; and Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96, with President Michael Roth. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

At the Wesleyan Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association held during Reunion, alumni celebrate members of the community with a number of awards. This year, six were named Distinguished Alumni in recognition of their achievement in their professions; two alumni received the McConaughy Award for writing that conveyed “unusual insights and understanding of current and past events,” and two alumni were celebrated for Outstanding Service. Chair of the Alumni Association Daphne Kwok ’84 presented the awards at a ceremony in Memorial Chapel, which featured newly proclaimed Distinguished Alumnus Luke Wood ’91, president of Beats By Dr. Dre, offering thoughts on his Wesleyan education in “Come As You Are: A Liberal Arts Education Revisited.”

Those receiving awards at this ceremony were Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66; Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14; Luke Wood ’91; Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans, Jr. ’91; Jed D. Hoyer ’96; and Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96; James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award Recipients Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10 and Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17; and Outstanding Service Award Recipients; Robert “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96 and David A. Hill ’86. Please see further information on each awardee below:

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66

Essel W. Bailey Jr. ’66
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Essel Bailey is a lawyer, corporate executive, and private investor. Along with his wife, Menakka, Mr. Bailey has been a steadfast supporter of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment (COE), endowing the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fund to bring outstanding outside scholars into the COE community.

A history major at Wesleyan who earned his JD from the University of Michigan Law School, Mr. Bailey spent several years in Michigan state government before serving 15 years with the Detroit law firm Dykema, Gossett, where he was a partner specializing in corporate and real estate finance. Over the course of his career, Mr. Bailey founded and ran two public companies and served as a director or chair of the board of three NYSE-listed companies. For the past 30 years he has been engaged in the capital markets, dealing with rating agencies, investment banks, and other global financial organizations. He has invested in, organized, and managed businesses in real estate and real estate finance, healthcare, and manufacturing in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In recent years he has served as a director of several NGOs.

Mr. Bailey currently serves as a director or officer of several private companies related to healthcare and healthcare finance, where he is also a principal; of nonprofit organizations related to mental health, hospice, and elderly care services; and of the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Born on a farm in Tennessee, he has in recent years acquired a farm in California that produces grapes used to make premium wines under the Knights Bridge label.

At Wesleyan, Mr. Bailey was a member of the Eclectic Society and the Student Judiciary Committee. He also ran hurdles for the track team. The Baileys reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ethan Bronner ’76, P’10

Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10

Ethan S. Bronner ’76, P’10
McConaughy Award
Ethan Bronner is a senior editor at Bloomberg News, where he focuses on political features and analyses, mostly from overseas, and mentors young reporters. He joined Bloomberg after 17 years at the New York Times, where he was Jerusalem bureau chief, national legal affairs correspondent, national education correspondent, deputy foreign editor, deputy national editor, and education editor. Mr. Bronner also served as assistant editorial page editor. Right after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he worked in the paper’s investigative unit focusing on Al Qaeda. He has been a frequent book reviewer for the paper and contributed to its Sunday Review.
A graduate of the College of Letters at Wesleyan and of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Mr. Bronner began his career at Reuters in 1980, reporting from London, Madrid, Brussels, and Jerusalem. He worked at the Boston Globe for a dozen years, including as its Washington-based legal and Supreme Court correspondent and as Middle East bureau chief.
He is the author of Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America, which was named one of the best 25 books of 1989 by the New York Public Library and awarded a Silver Gavel by the American Bar Association. Mr. Bronner is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former trustee of Wesleyan.
Mr. Bronner lives in New York with his wife, Naomi Kehati-Bronner, a psychologist. They have two sons.

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96

Dr. Robert E. “Rick” Crootof ’66, P’96
Outstanding Service Award
Dr. Rick Crootof has chaired every reunion of the Class of 1966 since 1981, when he says he “fell into” the role. In this capacity, Dr. Crootof has maintained lifelong friendships with countless members of his class, keeping them connected to Wesleyan over the decades. For his 50th Reunion this year, in deference to the vagaries of age, Dr. Crootof has enlisted as a co-chair of the half-century celebration.

Dr. Crootof graduated from Wesleyan with a degree in chemistry. He continued his education with an MD from New York Medical College, followed by an internship in internal medicine at George Washington University and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Yale–New Haven Hospital.

After two years in the Navy spent at its teaching hospital in Oakland, California, in 1977 Dr. Crootof joined two friends in private practice in Norwich, Connecticut. Over the next 30 years that practice, which grew to include eight physicians, withstood picketing and bomb and death threats to provide a complete range of obstetrical and gynecological services to women of all income levels from across eastern Connecticut.

Until his retirement, Dr. Crootof and his wife, Linda, lived in a historic home in Norwich, where they both served on the board and as officers of the Norwich Heritage Trust and the Downtown Revitalization Committee. More recently, Dr. Crootof has been on the board and served five years as president of the Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Tennis Club. Each winter, Dr. Crootof plays tennis and takes advantage of the cultural offerings in Sarasota, Florida. He also is an active amateur photographer.

The Crootofs enjoy visiting their children, Matthew ’96 (in Bozeman, Montana), Sarah (in Manhattan), and Martha (in Los Angeles). They eagerly await the imminent arrival of their first grandchild, a boy, in late August, in Los Angeles.

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14

Michael E. Greenberg ’76, P’14
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Michael Greenberg has spent the past 30 years investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of sensory experience on the brain, helping us better understand how nature and nurture are intertwined during brain maturation. Most recently his research has explored the ways that neural activity controls the wiring of the brain, and how disruption of this process can lead to neurological disorders such as autism.

As a chemistry major at Wesleyan, Greenberg conducted honors research with Dr. Peter Jacobi. He received his PhD in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1982 and did postdoctoral research at New York University Medical Center. In 1986 he joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where he is currently chair of the Department of Neurobiology and the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology.

In recognition of his contributions to neuroscience, Dr. Greenberg has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the Gruber Prize in Neuroscience in 2015 (with Dr. Carla Shatz). He is also widely regarded as a leading mentor and advisor for a generation of neuroscientists, and for this he has been honored with the A. Clifford Barger Award for Excellence in Mentoring and the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award.

Dr. Greenberg and his wife, Dr. Rosalind Segal, live in Brookline, Massachusetts, and have two children, Rachel and Daniel ’14.

David Hill '86

David Anthony Hill ’86

David Anthony Hill ’86
Outstanding Service Award
A College of Social Studies major and member of the Cardinal football team, David Hill has given back to Wesleyan in many ways over the last 30 years, including as a member of the President’s Council and as the inaugural chair of the Alumni of Color Council. He also has been an alumni-elected trustee, a class agent for the Class of 1986, and a member of the organizing committees for his 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th class reunions.

Mr. Hill is a partner in the national law firm of Wong Fleming, P.C., the largest woman-owned law firm and one of the largest minority-owned law firms in the United States. An accomplished lawyer and executive, Mr. Hill counsels clients, manages teams, and advances strategic objectives for businesses ranging from a Fortune 20 company to smaller for-profit companies and nonprofit entities.

Prior to joining Wong Fleming, Mr. Hill spent 17 years in the legal department of Bell Atlantic/Verizon, where he served as the general counsel of the Delaware, District of Columbia, and Maryland operating companies and as a liaison between Verizon and the Obama administration. Earlier he was associated with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). While there, he was the lead counsel in Wilkins v. Maryland State Police, a landmark case that led to the end of the use of race-based drug courier profiles in Maryland.

Mr. Hill resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Lynn, and their two children, David and Gabrielle. His civic involvement includes service as the chair of the Commission on Social Action at the Reid Temple AME Church in Silver Spring and on the Executive Committee of the board of Leadership Montgomery (Montgomery County, Maryland).

Jed D. Hoyer ’96
Distinguished Alumni Award

Jed Hoyer is executive vice president and general manager of the Chicago Cubs. Throughout his career in professional baseball he has been lauded for outstanding analytic skills as well as scouting and recruiting acumen and thorough preparation. The Cubs in 2015 advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003. Currently, they lead the Central Division of the National League with the best record in baseball.

Jed D. Hoyer ’96 stands on stage and president Roth shakes his hand while Daphne Kwok ’84 looks on.

Jed D. Hoyer ’96

Mr. Hoyer spent 2009–11 with the San Diego Padres. In 2010 the Padres posted only the fourth 90-win campaign in the franchise’s 42-year history and finished just two games behind in the National League West race, despite having the lowest payroll in baseball. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hoyer helped guide the Boston Red Sox to their first world championship since 1918 during the 2004 season and then to a second championship in 2007.

A history major at Wesleyan, Mr. Hoyer played on the baseball team as a shortstop, outfielder, and starting and relieving pitcher, with a .400 hitting average. He still holds the school record for saves. At Wesleyan he once started both ends of a doubleheader and got the win in each one. In 1994 he played on the Cardinal team that advanced to the Division III College World Series. Following graduation, Mr. Hoyer worked at Wesleyan in Admission and University Relations while also serving as an assistant baseball coach before taking his first job in professional baseball as an intern for the Red Sox.

Mr. Hoyer has remained an active Wesleyan alumnus, including as a member of the Athletics Advisory Council since its founding in 2007. In 2012 he gave the John W. Baird ’38 Lecture at Wrigley Field. He also spends time with the Cardinal baseball team each year during spring training in Arizona. He and his wife, Merrill, live in Chicago with their two sons, Beckett and Gray.

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96

Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye ’96
Distinguished Alumna Award
Oyeshola “Shola” Olatoye is chair and chief executive officer of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is the largest public housing authority in the nation, providing affordable housing to more than 620,000 low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

Before her appointment to NYCHA in 2014, Ms. Olatoye was vice president and New York market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit real estate investment company dedicated to furthering affordable housing and community development. In addition to other professional positions, Ms. Olatoye has served on the board of the Council for Large Public Housing Authorities and is founding board chair of the Fund for Public Housing.

Ms. Olatoye has won recognition from the Institute for Public Architecture, Urban Upbound, and Green City Force, as well as from Crain’s, which named Ms. Olatoye to its “40 under 40” list of New York’s “most talented, driven, and dynamic” young professionals in 2014.

A history and African American studies major at Wesleyan, Ms. Olatoye earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. She lives in Harlem, New York, with her husband, Matthew Strozier ’96, and their three children.

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91

Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans Jr. ’91
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Franklin Sirmans is the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Prior to his recent appointment, he was the department head and curator of contemporary art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 2010 until fall 2015. At LACMA Mr. Sirmans organized Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada; Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting; Fútbol: The Beautiful Game; and Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation, and co-organized the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection. He is the curator of the forthcoming LACMA exhibition Toba Khedoori.

From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Sirmans was curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, where he organized exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith; Steve Wolfe on Paper; Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966; and Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death? In 2007 Mr. Sirmans won the David C. Driskell Prize, awarded for original and important contributions to the study of art of the African diaspora. He served as the artistic director for the arts festival Prospect.3 New Orleans from 2012 to 2014.

An English and art history major at Wesleyan, Mr. Sirmans was profoundly influenced by the dual interests in African and African American art of his faculty mentor, Peter Mark. He was also greatly influenced by professors John Paoletti and Robert O’Meally. With Professor Mark as his advisor, Mr. Sirmans wrote an honors thesis on Jean-Michel Basquiat. Shortly after graduating, Mr. Sirmans used that senior thesis to create the chronology for the 1992 Whitney Museum show and catalogue on the artist.

Mr. Sirmans lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Jessica, and daughter.

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17

Ayelet Waldman ’86, P’17
McConaughy Award
Bestselling author Ayelet Waldman tackles her subjects—which range from motherhood and women’s issues to mental illness and the Holocaust—with honesty and verve. Her latest novel, Love and Treasure (2014), weaves a powerful story of love and loss around the history of the Hungarian Gold Train in World War II. Ms. Waldman’s next project, an edited collection of essays by prominent international authors about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, will be published by HarperCollins in 2017. The book will be co-edited by her husband, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Michael Chabon.

Born in Israel, Ms. Waldman spent her first years in Canada before her family settled in the United States. After receiving a degree in psychology from Wesleyan, Ms. Waldman lived abroad in a kibbutz in Israel before returning to the United States and receiving her JD from Harvard Law School.

Ms. Waldman practiced law for several years before reimagining her career and becoming a writer. In addition to Love and Treasure, she is the author of Red Hook Road; the New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace; Daughter’s Keeper; the Mommy-Track Mystery series; and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, which was adapted into the film The Other Woman, starring Natalie Portman. She has also contributed to several nonfiction anthologies.

Ms. Waldman’s personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have been featured on All Things Considered and This American Life. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and their children.


Luke Wood '91.

Luke F. Wood ’91

Luke F. Wood ’91
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Luke Wood is president of Beats by Dr. Dre, a premium brand of headphones and speakers that was acquired by Apple in 2014. A producer, guitarist, and music industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, he has been involved with Beats since its early days, officially joining the company in 2011.

Prior to working at Beats, Mr. Wood served as chief strategy officer of Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA) and president of the imprint DGC Records, where he worked with many artists including Weezer, All American Rejects, Rise Against, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Mr. Wood began his career with Geffen Records in 1991 as a director of publicity, representing such bands as Nirvana and Sonic Youth.

A lifelong songwriter and musician, Mr. Wood signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Group in 1996, and during that year his band, Sammy, released its third album, Tales of Great Neck Glory, on Geffen/DGC Records. In August 2014, he joined the board of directors of Fender Musical Instruments, alongside U2’s Bono and The Edge.

Mr. Wood graduated from Wesleyan with a major in American studies. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Sophia W. Nardin ’91, and two daughters.

Nelson ’94 Receives National Book Critics Circle Award for Argonauts

Maggie Nelson ’94 won the National Book Critics Circle award for The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015).

Maggie Nelson ’94 won the National Book Critics Circle award for The Argonauts. (Photo by Harry Dodge)

Maggie Nelson ’94 received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in the criticism category for her book, The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015). Literary editor and book critic Michael Miller describes it on the National Book Critics Circle blog as “a potent blend of autobiography and critical inquiry…[which] combines the story of her own adventures in queer family-making with philosophical meditations on gender, art, literary history, sexual politics, and much more.”

Previous works include The Art of Cruelty, a 2011 Notable Book of the Year, and Jane: A Murder, a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Nelson was awarded an Arts Writers grant in 2007 from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2011, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. She currently teaches in the CalArts MFA writing program. Nelson also has taught at Wesleyan, where, as an undergraduate, she majored in English.

See, also, a review by David Low ’76: wesconnect.wesleyan.edu/news-20150609-maggie-nelson

Jeremy Serwer ’70 Inducted into Outlet Industry Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame.

Jeremy Serwer ’70 joined the Outlet Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2005, the Developers of Outlet Centers and Retailers started the Outlet Industry Hall of Fame to honor people in the outlet retail industry who help the industry grow and improve. Serwer is the president of a consulting firm he began in 1993.

At Wesleyan, Serwer majored in French, Russian, and music, so his decision to enter the retail industry shocked his family. As a 14-year-old boy working in a girls’ clothing store, Serwer thought that retail was the most exciting market. “The constant demand and constant energy and the measurement of your efforts every day through sales really turned me on,” he said.

With a client list that includes Michael Kors and Jockey, Serwer has worked on both developer and retail sides of the industry. As he accepted the award, Serwer said he had “never envisioned that the industry would become a primary channel of growth and innovation. We started with a cigar box for cash and 2-year-old inventory, and then one day a landlord offered to write a check to build a store.”

Ramezani Ph.D. ’13 Wins Biruni Graduate Student Research Award

Tsampikos Kottos and Hamidreza Ramezani Ph.D. ’13.

Tsampikos Kottos and Hamidreza Ramezani Ph.D. ’13.

Hamidreza (Hamid) Ramezani Ph.D. ’13, recently won the Biruni Graduate Student Research Award. The award aims to promote and recognize outstanding research by a physics graduate student of Iranian heritage who is currently studying in one of the institutions of higher education in the United States, seeking originality, thoroughness, a teamwork spirit and ownership among the candidates. The honor comes with a cash award.

Before graduating with his Ph.D. from Wesleyan in November, Ramezani studied cosmology and gravitational physics while earning his master’s degree at the University of Tehran. He completed his bachelor study in solid state physics at Sahed University.

At Wesleyan, his mentor was Tsampikos Kottos, Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics. Ramezani worked in the Wave Transport in Complex Systems lab and studied ways a macroscopic object is miniaturized. The lab’s objective is “to close the gap between the microscopic and macroscopic worlds and to develop models and theories that will help understand the interplay between quantum mechanics, interactions, and disorder, which dictate the dynamics on the mesoscopic scale.” More information on the lab and its research can be found on this website. Ramezani focused more specifically on the fundamental properties and application of complex optical systems with judicious balanced gain and loss.

Currently, Ramezani is a postdoctoral research assistant under Professor Xiang Zhang at the University of California – Berkeley. His interests are asymmetric transport phenomena in complex electronics, acoustics and photonics systems.

Fins ’82 Elected to Royal National Academy of Medicine of Spain

Joseph Fins ’82

Joseph Fins ’82

Joseph Fins ’82, MD, MACP, The E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College, was elected an Academico de Honor of the Real Academia National de Medicina de España or the Royal National Academy of Medicine of Spain. This is a significant honor, as the general membership appoints an Academico de Honor (honored or distinguished member) only when death vacates the one of fewer than 20 positions. Fins, the sole Academico de Honor elected in 2013, will be formally inducted in 2014, when he will give a talk in Madrid.

Fins, a physician and bioethicist in New York City, is professor of medicine, professor of public health and professor of medicine in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. A trustee emeritus of Wesleyan, he was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010, fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012, and served as president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics & The Struggle for Consciousness, under contract with The Cambridge University Press. Fins earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in the College of Letters and his medical degree from Cornell University.

From his home base in New York City, Fins has kept an international perspective. “I have been deeply interested in Spanish bioethics since the early ’90s and have been a visiting professor at the Complutense University of Madrid,” he notes. He has edited anthologies on Spanish bioethics in English translations and has also written in Spanish for that country’s medical literature.

The foundation for his relationship with Spain began at Wesleyan, he says, lauding Professor Antonio Gonzalez “for instilling a love of language and of Spain in me,” adding, “He will ever remain ‘mi profesor de Español’ and muse for Spanish culture.”

For his part, Gonzalez remembers Fins as a student with a true passion for learning and for dialogue with his professors. That their friendship has continued, said Gonzalez, “speaks to the small liberal arts college, which fosters the kinds of relationships that are forged around conversations between students and professors and a passion for inquiry.”

As for the award, Gonzalez calls it, “an extraordinary acknowledgement of Joe’s standing in the field and his commitment to interculturalism in academia.

“A university that is truly committed to global awareness must be preparing their students for international citizenship,” he adds. “Joe Fins is a living, breathing example of the global citizen we should all be nurturing in our classrooms.”

Tatum ’75 Receives Carnegie Award

Beverly Daniel Tatum '75

Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75

Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75 was presented with a national academic leadership award from the Carnegie Corp. of New York in December 2013. She was the first recipient from a historically black college and the first ever in the state of Georgia.

Tatum was selected because of her work supporting female students pursuing  science, technology, engineering and math at the university.  More African-American women earned doctorates at Spelman in those fields between 1997 and 2006 than at Georgia Tech, Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined. Tatum was a psychology major at Wesleyan who went on to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

With the award comes a $500,000 grant toward Tatum’s academic initiatives. She plans to use half to help establish an endowed computer science faculty position at the college and the other half to help create the President’s Safety Net Fund, to financially assist students in emergency situations who are nearing graduation.

Shmuger ’80, Junger ’84, Dosa ’05, Shane ’05 and Wilson ’05 Work on Documentaries Screened at Sundance

Five alumni have contributed to exceptional documentaries that were shown this January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Julien Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, in “We Steal Secrets.” Marc Shmuger ’80, producer. (Photo: Focus World)

Marc Shmuger ’80 is one of the producers of We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which had its premiere at Sundance. Directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, the film is an in-depth study of all things related to WikiLeaks and the larger global debate over access to information. It tells a compelling story of what happens when a small group of people decide to break open the intelligence vaults of the world’s most powerful nation. The director uncovers a tangled web of incredible bravery, high ideals, questionable ethics, and stunning hypocrisy.

In his Hollywood Reporter review, David Rooney writes: “Unfolding like an espionage thriller but with a methodical journalistic skill at organizing a mountain of facts, the film raises stimulating questions about transparency and freedom of information in a world in which governments and corporations have plenty to hide. It should be a magnet for op-ed coverage when it goes out mid-year theatrically and on digital platforms from Focus World.”

Tim Hetherington, center, subject of “Which Way Is The Front Line from Here?” Sebastian Junger ’84, director and cinematographer.

Sebastian Junger ‘84 is the director and co-cinematographer of Which Way Is the Front Line from Here?: The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington which also had its premiere at Sundance. The late photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington always searched for the humanity within wartime conflict, as seen in his award-winning body of work.

He and Junger spent a year filming a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in their Academy Award–nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film Restrepo. Hetherington died from a mortar blast in Libya in 2011.

Junger artfully combines footage of Hetherington at work and interviews with his family, friends and colleagues to capture his compatriot and friend’s unique perspective, compassion, and intense curiosity about the human spirit.

In his Hollywood Reporter review, David Rooney writes: “Junger’s facility for sharp journalistic prose is an ideal complement to Hetherington’s instinctual visual sense. The director points out that war provides a unique experience of male camaraderie not reproducible in society. Eloquent illustrations of that are seen in Hetherington’s tender images of the platoon in Afghanistan, notably the incongruously idyllic ‘Man Eden’ and the ‘Sleeping Soldiers’ series, which unmasked the heavily inked tough guys as vulnerable boys. …The film seems very much an extension of Hetherington’s own complex internal dialogue concerning war, seeing conflict as something hardwired into young men that gets co-opted to become part of the political process.”

The film will air on HBO on April 18.

Robert Reich on the set of “Inequality for All.” Sara Dosa ’05, associate producer. (Photo courtesy Sundance Institute)

Sara Dosa ’05 is associate producer for Inequality for All, directed by Jacob Kobluth, which was screened as part of the U.S. Documentary completion and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award in Filmmaking at Sundance.

The documentary is inspired by former labor secretary and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich’s book Aftershock. Reich has argued passionately that widening income inequality poses one of the most severe threats to our economy and democracy.

Kornbluth and Reich examine such complex issues as wage stagnation, consolidated wealth, manufacturing, financial instruments, capital markets, globalization, and election politics. The film contains interviews with economists, politicians, and experts and documents the struggles of regular working people.

The film has been acquired by the Weinstein Company’s Radius label and was funded partly by individuals who gave money to Kickstarter.com.

A moment from “After Tiller,” directed by Martha Shane ’05 and Lana Wilson ’05.

Martha Shane ’05 and Lana Wilson ’05 are the directors of After Tiller, which was shown as part of the U.S. Documentary competition. Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, only four doctors in the United States continue to perform third-trimester abortions; all colleagues of Dr. Tiller, they sacrifice their safety and personal lives in their unwavering conviction to help women. For some in the pro-life movement, these doctors are “murderers” who must be stopped.

After Tiller proovdes an upclose look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. The documentary includes wrenching scenes in the clinics, when they counsel distraught patients facing serious losses. Viewers are placed in the shoes of both practitioner and patient and are faced with the full complexity of each decision. Decades after Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion remains an extremely volatile issue in America.

At Sundance, Shane and Wilson received a $5,000 grant from Women in Film, as well as $1,000 worth of scheduling and budgeting software from Entertainment Partners. The two directors were recently interviewed about After Tiller at Democracy Now! and Indie Wire.


Fins ’82 Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

(Story contributed by Susannah Betts ’15)

Dr. Joseph Fins ’82

Dr. Joseph Fins ’82

Dr. Joseph Fins ’82 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in a ceremony on Oct. 6, 2012, along with 180 other influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders, according to a press release from Weill Cornell Medical College, where Fins is The E. William Davis Jr., M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics, and professor of medicine, public health and medicine in psychiatry.

Fins, a leading expert on medical ethics and health policy, is the author of more than 200 publications and several books, including the soon to be published Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics and The Struggle for Consciousness, under contract with The Cambridge University Press.

His research explores ethical and policy issues that involve those with brain injuries and disorders of consciousness, as well as palliative care, research ethics in neurology and psychiatry, medical education and methods of ethics case consultation. Fins is co-author of the 2007 Nature paper that describes the first use of deep brain stimulation in a minimally conscious state.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1780, has elected to its society some of the world’s most accomplished leaders and experts in their fields. The Academy’s independent research center conducts studies in science, technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy and education.
Fins graduated from Wesleyan with a B.A. with Honors from the College of Letters and from Cornell University Medical College with an M.D. in 1986.


Stern ’97 Honored by American Historical Association for British Book Project

Philip Stern ’97

Philip Stern ’97

Philip Stern ’97, assistant professor of history at Duke University, received the 2011 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in the field of British, British Imperial, or British Commonwealth history since 1485.

The prize, awarded by the American Historical Association, recognizes Stern’s The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India (Oxford University Press, 2011). The prize committee calls Stern’s book a “sophisticated study of the East India Company …[that] challenges a long-established account of the chartered company as a trading venture that only belatedly became a territorial power” and lauds him for developing “original and exciting arguments on empire not only in India but around the early modern world.”

A history major at Wesleyan, Stern was a fellow in the Mellon Undergraduate Program and graduated with high honors. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University.


Corwin ’62, Wasch ’52, P’84 Honored with Baldwin Medals for Service to Wesleyan

Baldwin Medal recipients Bruce Corwin ’62 and Bill Wasch ’52. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Two Baldwin Medals, which honor the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, were bestowed on Bruce Corwin ’62 and William Wasch ’52, P’84 on May 27. The Baldwin Medal is the highest honor that Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to Wesleyan or for significant contributions to the public good.

Bruce Corwin is chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, a motion picture theater circuit of 125 viewing screens in California and Colorado. He has served on the executive committee of the National Association of Theatre Owners, as well as with other professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Santa Barbara and Palm Springs International Film Festivals and has been a trustee of the American Film Institute.

Corwin has received numerous awards for his remarkable service to his community. He served on former Mayor Tom Bradley’s Blue Ribbon Commission of 40 in the City of Los Angeles, as president for the Los Angeles Fire Commission, and on the board of directors of Rebuild Los Angeles. He is past president and current chairman of the board of directors of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.