Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
In the news

  • Wheaton IQ

    Ann Curry and Jimmy Fallon show off their Lyons’ knowledge

    The blogosphere and Twitterverse had some fun at Ann Curry's expense this week, mocking her for the mistake she made at Wheaton's 175th comencement.

    Ah, well, last night Ann joined Jimmy Fallon on Late Night to poke fun at herself and tell the world a little bit about what makes Wheaton College (in Norton, Mass.) special.

    The early reviews from Twitter give Curry an A-plus for her sense of humor and a much-improved score on her knowledge of Wheaton.

    Go Lyons!

  • Gone viral

    Ann Curry, Wheaton’s 175th commencement and social media

    College commencements yield a few big stories every year: the big-name speakers and their words of wisdom, student and faculty protests of aforementioned big-name speakers, the stories of amazing graduates and more.

    Wheaton found itself at the center of one such story this year, after welcoming NBC news anchor Ann Curry to campus for the 175th commencement. At the start of her speech, the Emmy Award-winning journalist expressed her admiration for the college's distinguished graduates ... the other Wheaton College's graduates. She moved on, her audience recovered and she ended her speech to a standing ovation.

    After she learned of her mistake, Curry apologized to the entire college community in an open letter. But that would not be the end of it.

    The Boston Globe took note of the gaffe on the following Monday and the floodgates opened. Mainstream media outlets such as the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune covered the story.  The standard bearers of the new media universe (Huffington Post, the Talking Points Memo blog, Gawker.com, the Daily Beast, etc.)

    U.S. News & World Report wrote about the remarkable way in which the news spread through the social media.

    Whew! All this attention doesn't even mention the 1.3 million times that the college's video of her speech has been loaded (as of May 27) or the hundreds of tweets on the subject.

    Our favorite comment, though, was posted by a member of the Class of 2010 on boston.com.

    At first, I just assumed Curry was making a joke... until she mentioned Lesley Stahl, who *did* graduate from our Wheaton. Then I thought to myself, "well, that's unfortunate..."

    Regardless, Curry's speech was really very good, besides that blunder, and she delivered it with a lot of emotion. The two other honorary degree recipients (Dr. Gillian M. Shepherd '70 and Diana Davis Spencer '60) gave excellent speeches, too. Ms. Curry's apology, as others have said, was heartfelt and didn't pin responsibility on someone else. My class was lucky to have her speak at our commencement.

  • Memory song

    World premiere of alum’s opera

    When Gardner McFall '74 was 14, her Navy pilot father's plane went down in the Pacific. Albert Dodge McFall's body was never found.

    The loss has had such a profound impact on her life that it inspired McFall to write a book of poetry about the experience called The Pilot's Daughter. Now that book is the inspiration for a libretto she has written for the Seattle Opera. The libretto (the text of an opera) is both based on her life and includes real elements taken directly from it.

    The opera company, under general director Speight Jenkins, commissioned her to write the libretto for the two-hour American opera Amelia, which has flight as a theme and is believed to be the first opera to deal with the Vietnam War experience.

    The opera, which premiered earlier this month, was highlighted by National Public Radio on its evening news program, All Things Considered.

    For Gardner McFall, the opera Amelia is the goodbye she never got to say to her father.

    "Although my book of poems was an elegy to him, it's still a book of poems," McFall says. "And this opera will potentially go out into the world. And anytime his name is sung, his name will be there on the air. And it will live."

    The Wheaton Quarterly profiled McFall in its Fall 2009 issue. Along with the NPR story, the public radio website features the Wheaton alumna reading her poem, Missing.

  • New readers

    Examining the intersection of children’s literature and technology

    Technology and communications experts heralded the arrival of the iPad with predictions that it would change Americans' mobile computing and media habits.

    One of the first things that senior Dana Payes noticed was its embrace of children's literature. (Every iPad comes pre-installed with a copy of A.A. Milne's kiddie classic, Winnie the Pooh.)

    The English major, who is currently working on a senior seminar research project concerning the intersection of technology and books for kids, sees Apple's embrace of children as a clever marketing ploy, but she also believes that no e-reader, whatever its strengths, can replace a paper book.

    Payes wrote a short essay on the subject with the help of her advisor, Professor of English Paula Krebs, and The Baltimore Sun published it on Friday, April 23. The pair lauded the iPad's promise as a means for encouraging reading activities between child and parent, but they wrote:

    We can share technology with our kids. But let's not mistake reading a book on an iPad for reading a book. Reading an electronic version of "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" on a train is not the same thing as reading an iPad bedtime story with your kids.

    Prior to the iPad's introduction, the senior from Rockville, Maryland, says that children's literature has been mostly unavailable in e-reader format.

    "In my paper I am exploring the reasons why this market went neglected for so long. I am focusing on three contributing factors: inability for technology to accommodate illustrations, inability for new media to reproduce parental nostalgia, and the fear that children will be more media literate than their parents."

    The research builds off Payes' lifetime fascination with the stories of childhood. "I have always been interested in children's literature and I wondered how or if e-readers would accommodate children's books," she said. "Even with iPad’s new, smart effort to reach out to parents, this paper aims to emphasize that new media experience is an exploration in new media that is unequivocally different than reading a physical book."

  • Matched set

    Professor and his best friend share the spotlight

    Meet Jay Goodman and Max Berson-Goodman.

    Jay is a professor of political science now celebrating his 45th year of teaching at the college. Enrollment in his courses fill one of the college's largest lecture halls; alums recall his classes with delight.

    Max has achieved his own measure of fame as a canine ambassador for Wheaton. (His name has been invoked by applicants for admission.)

    Now the pair are receiving some well-deserved attention in their home city. Providence Journal columnist Mark Patinkin penned a wry piece about the ... ah ... similarities between Max and Jay for the Sunday edition of the newspaper.

    Similarities, you ask? We'll let Mr. Patinkin explain:

    They shared the same slow gait, relaxed air, and then there was the similarity in styling. Each had great clouds of white hair. When the wind blew, their manes ruffled the same way.

    I have long felt that many dog owners look like their dogs, but I have seldom seen a better example than Jay and Max.

    In any case, while we enjoyed the Journal's article, we couldn't help but notice that it was missing something that seems rather essential to appreciating how well the pair go together: a picture of the two.

    We can fix that problem with a few images from the college's photo collection!

    Photographer Nicki Pardo snapped these shots of the pair as they patrolled the campus during Wheaton's 2005 commencement.

  • Eloquent Oaks

    New music recital features Wheaton grad

    The hard work of building a blacksmith's hut served as the inspiration for new music that will be aired at a Wheaton recital this month.

    Wheaton graduate Travis Worthley's new composition, Eloquent Oaks, will be one of a number of new pieces to be featured at a recital of new music on April 5th. The Boston Globe took note of the upcoming concert in the paper's April 1, edition.

    “In a sense, this piece is about having an inner dialogue with your building materials, be they musical or otherwise,’’ he writes in the program notes.

    In addition to Worthley's  work, the recital will feature several songs by Professor of Music Ann Sears; two pieces by well-known Cambridge composer Howard Frazin; and work by Kota Nakamura, Vanessa Wheeler, Joshua Hahn, and Erin Huelskamp.

    Eloquent Oaks will not be the first Worthley composition to be played at a Wheaton concert. The college's Great Woods Chamber Orchestra premiered his work Life in New England in 2007.

  • Video halo

    Professor discusses the potential benefits of video-game playing

    The idea that playing video games could actually be good for you excites people, particularly young men.

    As a result, the research conducted by Assistant Professor of Psychology Rolf Nelson about the impact that video game playing has on gamers continues to attract attention.

    Men's Health Today caught up with Professor Nelson recently to talk with him about the research. The result? A feature article on their web site, and on more than 150 news web sites across the United States, emphasizes the positive aspects of his studies. Here's how they introduced the subject:

    Could there be benefits to playing “Halo” for hours on end … besides getting really good at “Halo”?

    Over the past few years, research has shown that video games can give you an edge at some real-world skills. Actual, useful skills, stuff that will come in handy at times other than when you happen to come across an energy sword.

    Professor Nelson's research findings, which have been published in the journal Perception, indicate that playing different kinds of video games changes the way people think and approach their surroundings. For example, people who play fast-paced "shooter" games tend to react more quickly immediately after playing those games. They will sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed, Nelson says. Meanwhile, strategy games encourage greater reflection, encouraging slower response times but greater accuracy.

  • The sound of Anglo-Saxon

    Professor brings extinct language to life online

    Old English may be extinct, but it lives on  virtually, thanks to Professor of English Michael Drout, who regularly records passages of classic (and just plain interesting) Anglo-Saxon literature for the audio pleasure of web mavens, iPhone fanatics and the like.

    Anglo Saxon Aloud is the the place to find Professor Drout's recordings of everything from Beowulf to advice on charms to recover lost cattle. The web site, Ancient World in London, published by Heritage Key in collaboration with The Independent newspaper of London and the book publisher Thames and Hudson, are now featuring Professor Drout's recordings, which are available on the iTunes store as well.

    The feature article about the poetry and prose readings opines that Professor Drout's recordings are the perfect answer to the eternal question "what music will we play in the office." It continues:

    Thanks to Professor Drout's efforts to introduce the 'illiterate' to Old English, I've actually changed my opinion and am looking forward to the 'Old Norse' in Mel Gibson's movie, as I'm assuming  I'll be most likely to understand some of it without subtitles. Really, I got most of the 'lost cattle' one! Must be my Germanic (or Gaul, they're still debating that, as far as I know) inheritance.

    There's just one Anglo-Saxon language question these sound files do not answer. How do I pronounce 'Run! The Vikings!' in Old English? I'm pretty sure this might come handy - some day.

    The Anglo-Saxon Aloud web site is just one of Professor Drout's Internet outposts. Among other things, he also writes his own blog, Wormtalk and Slugspeak, about life in academia and on his scholarship; has created an online bibliography of scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien in collaboration with his students at Wheaton; and King Alfred's Grammar Book, an online guide to Old English.

  • War widows

    The domestic impact of war overseas

    The special burden borne by the families of U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan is the subject a deeply moving news article published in a chain of California newspapers today.

    The article, War widows struggle, often in isolation, with a special grief by John Simerman, quotes Wheaton College Professor of History Anni Baker, who writes about the experiences of U.S. service people and their families.

    "For wives it's completely different, because the spouse experiences the loss as a complete loss of your home, and of your community and of your place in the world. You're out of the military then," said Anni Baker, a Wheaton College history professor who writes about military personnel.

    The article was published by the San Jose Mercury News as well as a half-dozen other publications in California, including the Contra Costa Times and the Pasadena Star-News.

    Baker's most recent book is Life in the U.S. Armed Forces: (Not) Just Another Job, published by Praeger Security International. Her previous scholarship examined the interaction between the U.S. armed forces and a host city in Germany; the social, cultural and political impact of military bases in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East; and the role of family members in military society.

  • Viral dance

    Flag football team goes Bollywood

    Thanks to Slumdog Millionaire, American moviegoers now know that no Bollywood movie is complete without at least one big dance number.

    In fact, Slumdog's closing dance number on a Mumbai train platform has inspired many imitators, including talkshow host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has a well-known love for dancing. She ended an interview with the stars of the movie by staging her own dance number with the technical crew of her show.

    Enter Matthew Lucerto '04 and other members of the FLAG flag football league of Boston. (FLAG stands for Friends of Lesbians and Gays.)

    Every year, the group makes a video. This year, they decided to extend one of the scenes from their end-of-the-year film to re-create the Jai Ho dance scene from Slumdog in a series of Boston locales as a way to get attention from DeGeneres.

    And it worked, in a big way!

    Not only is the group's YouTube video posted on the Ellen web site, but it also has been written about by USA Today and covered by local television stations, including WBZ television.


    Lucerto in mid-shuffle

    Looking for Matt?

    "You can find me in the right center third row in most of the shots that we did.  (We changed our positions in each location, but for some reason for the most part I'm in that location.)  Just look for the curly hair and the glasses."

    The team is still hoping that Ellen will show their video on her show in addition to featuring it on the web site, but they're thrilled with the attention it's gotten already. "I think it's a great hoot that in three days of being on YouTube we already have 20,000+ hits," says Lucerto. "I've gone viral!!"