WESeminars provide opportunities to revisit the classroom and experience firsthand the academic excellence that is the essence of Wesleyan, with presentations by scholars, pundits, and other experts in their fields. Programs run approximately 60 minutes, including audience Q&A. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and because of the state fire code, the University is unable to offer standing room space on the floors or aisles of venues.

This is a chronological list of the WESeminars scheduled throughout the weekend. Please visit the Reunion & Commencement Schedule of Events for a complete listing of all of the activities during the weekend.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
WESEMINAR The War that Shaped Our Lives: Reflections on the Vietnam War and the Protests Against It
A presentation and panel discussion featuring clips from films made by members of Wesleyan’s Class of 1970.
Moderator: Dave Davis '70
Panelists: Jim Elston '70, MAT'72; Deidre English; Bill Jefferson '70; Steve Talbot '70; David White '70
Throughout our years at Wesleyan, the escalating Vietnam war shadowed our lives. College deferments protected us from the draft, but we knew eventually we’d have to face a decision to enlist or resist in some way. Along with civil rights, it was the great moral issue of the time. It was also the first televised war, and some of us began filming our own experience of what was happening.
On this 50th anniversary of our graduation during Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State, and the National Student Strike, we look back at the conflict in Southeast Asia and the impact it had upon us. PBS producers Dave Davis and Steve Talbot will show a portion of their documentary, “1968: The Year that Shaped a Generation,” as well as clips from their Vietnam era documentaries beginning with “March on Washington” filmed with classmates and friends in November 1969 during what was then the largest anti-war march and rally in the nation’s history. They will also screen clips from their film about Vietnam Veterans Against the War and their trip to North Vietnam in 1974 with Deirdre English, one of the first women to attend Wesleyan. Bill Jefferson, who served involuntarily in the Army infantry, will screen part of his film, "Second Time Around," about the emotional return of three veterans to Vietnam in 2001, a film he co-produced. Bruce Williams helped with the editing.
Dave Davis ‘70 is Vice President of TV Production at Oregon Public Broadcasting. A three time national Emmy winner, Dave is a long-time producer and executive producer of public television series and specials, including the long running PBS series “History Detectives”. Dave has co-produced several public television specials with longtime friend and Wesleyan classmate, Steve Talbot.
Jim Elston '70, MAT'72 continued his education with an MAT from Wesleyan in 1972, a year of graduate study at York University in Toronto, and a PhD in History from the University of Michigan specializing in American foreign policy in 1976. He was an Assistant Professor at Boston College and Boston University from 1976 to 1984. After leaving academia he has been in the fine wine business, since 2002 as an independent importer of French wines.
Bill Jefferson ‘70 was forcibly conscripted into the Army infantry in March 1968 in the wake of his departure from Wesleyan following just one semester with the class of ’70. Bill returned to graduate in 1976, before pursuing careers in outdoor education and journalism, academia and social science research, and federal law enforcement while “playing around the edges” of the film industry for some twenty-five years as a Maine Times critic, teacher, advocate, fund raiser and volunteer grip, among other avocations.“Second Time Around,” co-produced with John Grant, documents the 2001 odyssey of a fellow anti-war veteran, come back to work with orphans in Saigon, just as the 9/11 attacks were about to plunge the United States into yet another forever war. This excerpt chronicles a side-trip to the site of a firefight Bill survived in January, 1969.
Stephen Talbot ‘70 is a veteran journalist and public television producer who has made over 40 documentaries, mainly for the PBS series FRONTLINE, KQED in San Francisco, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. He senior produced the series FRONTLINE World: Stories from a Small Planet, and he was the co-creator and executive producer of the PBS music specials, SOUND TRACKS: Music Without Borders. His work has won Emmys, DuPonts, Peabodys, Webbys, an Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award, a George Polk, and an "Edgar" from the Mystery Writers of America. He started making documentaries at Wesleyan with David Davis and they have continued to work on films together, including 1968: The Year that Shaped a Generation.
Hansel Lecture Hall (001), Public Affairs Center (PAC)

Friday, May 22, 2020

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
WESEMINAR Climate Change and What an Ordinary Citizen Can Do
Details TBA.
Kerr Lecture Hall (Shanklin 107)
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
WESEMINAR Black Middletown Lives: The Beman Triangle and African American Digital History


Wesleyan's campus contains two centuries of African American history, concealed in modest wood houses, toppling gravestones, and former church sites. In the 1820s, as northern slavery ended and the political battle over southern slavery intensified, free African Americans formed a unique, property-owning community on what is now the western edge of Wesleyan’s campus. These men and women transformed Middletown, a slave trading river port during the 18th century, into a center of the antislavery movement. Join Visiting Assistant Professor Jesse Nasta and the students in his African American Studies/service learning course as they share their research on Middletown’s nationally-significant African American history. This semester, students in Black Middletown Lives (AFAM307) have used local archives to uncover, digitize, and share the remarkable history of the Beman Triangle through a website, featuring interactive timelines and digitized documents, photographs, and artifacts. They will tell how, in the process, they have learned to decipher and share the history hidden in Wesleyan’s campus landscape.

Presenters: Jesse Nasta, PhD (Visiting Assistant Professor of African American Studies) and student presenters (presenters TBD)

Fisk 208 

3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WESEMINAR Funders and Founders
What do angel investors, VCs, and philanthropists look for when deciding how to deploy capital? How does a founder, CEO, or Executive Director attract investors and stay afloat in the early days? Alumni will share their stories from the field, lessons learned, and words of wisdom in a series of lightening talks followed by a reception at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Time permitting, we will open the floor for funders and founders from the audience to share their stories.
Moderator: TBA
Presenters: TBA
Room 311, Allbritton Center (formerly Davenport Campus Center) (Show in Map)
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
WESeminar Coronavirus related topic (Confirmed but details TBD)

With Professor Bill Johnston and Martin Cetron, P22, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the CDC.

Location: TBD

5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
WESEMINAR College of Letters Presents: The Annual Philip Hallie Lecture Timothy Snyder, Land of the Free?
Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His eight chief books are Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (2008); Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Thinking the Twentieth Century (with Tony Judt, 2012); Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015); On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017); and The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018). He has also co-edited three further books: The Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001); Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013); and The Balkans as Europe (2018). His essays are collected in Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014), and The Politics of Life and Death (2015). Snyder's work has appeared in forty languages and has received a number of prizes, including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, the Literature Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Václav Havel Foundation prize, the Foundation for Polish Science prize in the social sciences, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee award, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought. Snyder was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, has received the Carnegie and Guggenheim fellowships, and holds state orders from Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland. He has appeared in documentaries, on network television, and in major films. His books have inspired poster campaigns and exhibitions, films, sculpture, a punk rock song, a rap song, a play, and an opera. His words are quoted in political demonstrations around the world, most recently in Hong Kong. He is researching a family history of nationalism and finishing a philosophical book about freedom.
Memorial Chapel
8:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WESEMINAR: Documentary Film Screening of Broken Pieces followed by Q&A with Roger Weisberg ’75, P’05

BROKEN PLACES explores why some children are severely damaged by early adversity while others are able to thrive. By revisiting some of the abused and neglected children he profiled decades ago, veteran documentary filmmaker Roger Weisberg was able to dramatically illustrate how early trauma shaped their lives as adults.  BROKEN PLACES interweaves these longitudinal narratives with commentary from a few nationally renowned experts to help viewers better understand the devastating impact of childhood adversity as well as the inspiring characteristics of resilience. BROKEN PLACES is the 33rd national public television documentary written, produced and directed by Roger Weisberg ’75, P’05.  His previous productions have won over a hundred and fifty awards including Emmy, duPont-Columbia, and Peabody awards, as well as two Academy Award nominations.
Following the screening, Paul Gionfriddo ’75, President and CEO of Mental Health America, will moderate a discussion with Roger.

Ring Performing Arts Hall, Center for the Arts (formerly CFA Cinema)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
WESEMINAR Celebration of Wesleyan Writing
The Ring Family Performing Arts Hall
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
WESEMINAR Is There a Wesleyan Way of Doing Business?
Wesleyan is known for its scholarly culture that encourages debate, for its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and its commitment to on-campus diversity. But how do these characteristics translate into the business world? In this panel discussion, Miriam Gottfried '05, who covers private equity for The Wall Street Journal, will talk to Wesleyan alumni serving in prominent roles in business and finance. She will explore how their Wesleyan experience has shaped their outlook. Some questions might be: How does having a liberal arts background change your perspective or priorities as a business person? What aspect of your Wesleyan experience best prepared you to succeed in finance? Do you play a different role within your firm than other colleagues because of your Wesleyan career?
Moderator: Miriam Gottfried '05, reporter for The Wall Street Journal
Room 116, Judd Hall
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
WESEMINAR Activism in the Archives & Special Collections
With the E2020 initiative on campus this year, come explore some of the ways that Wesleyan students have been activists over the years and see stunning artists’ books from the collection with a social justice focus. We will discuss some of archival collections documenting student activism collected over the years, how we grow the collection based on what’s happening now on campus, and artists’ books that cover major social justice initiatives of the 20th and 21st century. Presented by Suzy Taraba ’77, MALS ’10, Director of Special Collections & Archives and Amanda Nelson, University Archivist. Limited to 20.
Davison Rare Book Room, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Memorial Library (Show in Map)
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
WESEMINAR Wesleyan’s Millennials: Who are They Now?
As the years roll on, we change and grow, in experience, perspective and wisdom. Wesleyan grads begin this journey after four years of a unique liberal education, and evolve over a relatively short time. Come hear alumni from the classes of 2010 and 2015 share their journeys, the life-lessons they have learned, new perspectives they’ve adopted, and the advice they have for the class of 2020.
Moderator: Jim Kubat, Associate Director for Jobs and Internship, Gordon Career Center
Panelists: Michael Pernick ’10, Melanie Buford ’10, Haylle Reidy ’15
Olson Commons, Gordon Career Center (former squash court building)
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
WESEMINAR From Tel Aviv on Fire to Incitement: Studying Israeli Society through Films
Recent Israeli films and TV shows reflect on many controversial contemporary issues, some of them not dealt with up until now. The 13th Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival explores the status of Palestinians, the place of Orthodox Jews in a secular society, gender identity and ethical values among young Israelis and the radical interpretation of the far right of Talmudic texts. In this WESeminar video clips from selected movies will be screened and discussed with the audience.
Presenter: Dalit Katz, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor of Religion.
Room 208, Fisk Hal
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
WESEMINAR Who are They Now? The Unfolding Lives of Four Young Alumni
As the years roll on, we change and grow, launched by Wesleyan into the twists and turns of life. Wesleyan alumni begin this journey after a unique liberal education and evolve over time. Come hear alumni from the classes of 2010 and 2015 reflect on who they were at Wes, new experiences they’ve had, new perspectives gained, life-lessons learned, and who they are now. They may even have some advice for the class of 2020.
Melanie Buford '10 is an instructor in the leadership minor program at the University of Minnesota. She works with students across majors to promote self-discovery and the pursuit of authentic and meaningful social change work. Prior to her role at U of M, Buford was an assistant professor/educator in the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education at the University of Cincinnati, and prior to that, served as a career adviser for liberal arts students at Wesleyan University. Buford is the 2019 recipient of the Ralph W. Tyler Award for outstanding research and publication in the field of experiential learning and was named a YWCA Rising Star for social equity leadership in 2016. She is an AmeriCorps alumna of Public Allies San Francisco. Buford has a B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University and an Ed.M in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Michael Pernick '10 is an Associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP. He has an extensive pro bono voting rights practice and has worked on numerous cases (including cases before the United States Supreme Court) involving gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and a variety of other election law issues. Michael has also published legal scholarship and op-eds on campaign finance reform. Michael is a senior fellow at the Millennial Policy Initiative Commission on Democracy and Voting Rights, a member of the Nassau County Board of Ethics, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Adult Congenital Heart Association. Before becoming a lawyer, Michael managed political campaigns in New York and Connecticut. Michael is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he served as President of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, and New York University School of Law.
Danielle Pruitt '15
Haylle Reidy '15 was an Economics and French Studies double major and received a certificate in International Relations from Wesleyan. She worked for athenahealth, a health tech company in Boston, in product management for more than three years before leaving to get her MBA at Tuck School of Business (the business school of Dartmouth). She is currently completing her first year at Tuck.
Moderator: Jim Kubat, Associate Director for Job and Internship Development, Gordon Career Center
Panelists: Melanie Buford '10, Teaching Specialist/Field Experience Level Lead, Leadership Minor; Michael Pernick ’10, Associate, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Danielle Pruitt '15, Senior Associate Producer, MTV, Viacom; Haylle Reidy ’15, MBA Candidate, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.
Olson Commons, Gordon Career Center (former squash court building)
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
WESEMINAR The Liberal Arts Behind Prison Walls: Learning with the Center for Prison Education
Learn about the Center for Prison Education - an academic program where Wesleyan faculty teach credited courses at two CT correctional facilities. You will hear from a faculty member, an undergraduate student, and a released student about their experiences supporting, teaching and participating in the program.
Moderator: Allie Cislo, Program Manager, Wesleyan Center for Prison Education
Presenters: Lori Gruen, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy. She has taught 8 courses with the Center for Prison Education and served as the first chair of CPE’s Faculty Advisory Committee. Gabe Hurlock, '20 participated in CPE for a year as tutor and TA of Philosophy and is currently an on-campus activist and is focusing her intellectual endeavors on prison abolition. Marisol Garcia participated in CPE from 2017 until she was released in 2019. She is currently enrolled at Middlesex Community College pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and Business Administration, after which she plans to transfer to a four-year university before entering a PhD/JD program. She wants to continue her passion of helping others avoid the pitfalls of mass incarceration and successful re-entry.
Room 112, Boger Hall (formerly the Squash Court Building)
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WESEMINAR But What Will You Do With an English Degree?
David Biello '95, Science Curator for TED, science journalist, author; Amy Hundley '95 senior editor and subsidiary rights director at Grove Atlantic; Lara Tupper '95 fiction writer, performer, teacher reflect on their experiences as English majors and how Wesleyan shaped their careers.
David Biello '95 is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on the environment and energy since 1999. He is currently the Science Curator for TED and, prior to that, was the Environment & Energy Editor at Scientific American, where he had been a contributor since 2005. He has also written for publications ranging from Aeon and Foreign Policy to the Los Angeles Review of Books and The New Republic. Biello has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows. He hosts the ongoing duPont-Columbia award-wining documentary Beyond the Light Switch as well as The Ethanol Effect for PBS. @dbiello
Amy Hundley '95 is senior editor and subsidiary rights director at Grove Atlantic. As a fiction editor, she has worked with authors such as Jim Harrison, Roxane Gay, Anne Enright, Val McDermid, Barry Hannah, Malcolm Brooks, Porochista Khakpour, Chris Offutt, G. Willow Wilson, and Aminatta Forna. A forthcoming highlight is Lauren Francis-Sharma’s Book of the Little Axe, a historical novel about the intersection of Black and Native Americans in the early 19th century, published in May 2020. Her nonfiction list includes The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction, Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography/memoir, and The Black Cabinet, historian Jill Watts’s history of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s unofficial African-American “cabinet.” @amy_hundley
Lara Tupper '95 is the author of the novels Off Island and A Thousand and One Nights, and Amphibians, a linked short story collection forthcoming in 2021 (winner, Leapfrog Fiction Award). Lara taught creative writing at Rutgers University for many years and now teaches, writes, and sings in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. A jazz/pop vocalist who has performed around the world, her latest album is This Dance. laratupper.com
Lisa Weinert has worked with hundreds of award-winning and best-selling authors as an editor, literary coach, publicist and agent, including Dani Shapiro, Oliver Sacks, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Mary Gaitskill. She teaches a publishing course at Wesleyan University, is creator of the popular Authors Guild online course, Age of the Storyteller, and curates her Narrative Healing program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. lisaweinert.com
Room 116, Judd Hall
3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
WESEMINAR Senior Thesis Showcase and Reception
Zilkha Gallery showcases the work of the Class of 2020’s thesis students in the Department of Art and Art History’s Art Studio Program. The exhibition is curated by students in a tutorial with Assistant Professor of Art History Claire Grace and Associate Director of Visual Arts Benjamin Chaffee, presenting a work by each of the seniors from their Senior Thesis Exhibition. Works shown are in drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, mixed media, and architecture. Co-sponsored by the Office of Advancement.
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery (Show in Map)