Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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  • Linda Eisenmann Women, science and the STEM of a problem

    Provost Linda Eisenmann sheds light on the history of science education among women during a recent Web chat hosted by the Google Cultural Institute/Google Art Project.

    Women today are vastly underrepresented in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and a national movement is underway to change that. Television shows such as PBS Kids’ “SciGirls” and educational projects like Black Girls CODE and Techbridge work to develop in young girls an inquiring mind, a passion for the sciences and the skills needed for successful STEM careers.

    But women weren’t always left out.

    Wheaton Provost Linda Eisenmann, a historian of women’s education, was one of three guest speakers on a recent Web chat hosted by the Google Cultural Institute/Google Art Project titled “Women and STEM Education: A Conduit to Opportunity.” During the chat, Eisenmann talked about how in the 19th century women played an important role in teaching science and advancing scientific knowledge at various higher learning institutions in the United States. Well before the rise of the research university, scientific learning was occurring in small colleges and academies that focused on advanced training, such as Wheaton Female Seminary, the precursor to Wheaton College.

    “It hasn’t always been this way,” Eisenmann said, referring to the low number of women involved in STEM fields. “… Girls and young women in the 1800s were very comfortable with science. It was very much hands on.”

    Science programs at that time helped students—boys and girls alike—develop an understanding of the natural world around them, with a particular focus on botany. Classes also helped girls gain practical knowledge that could help them as wives and mothers: understanding how to make a safe home, what to eat and how to prepare nutritious foods.

    As private women’s colleges such as Wellesley and Vassar began to open in the 1860s and 1870s, women gained the opportunity not only to study science but also to teach it, Eisenmann said.

    “Women did have academic careers in the sciences. They did study the sciences, all throughout the 19th century. But late in the 19th century and up until about the early 1900s the research universities began to grow … and those were the very places where women were least represented,” she said.

    The Web chat aired live on June 10 as a Google+ Hangout and was part of a Google Art Project series called Art Talks, which features art professionals from around the world discussing various topics and issues. This chat was co-sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum and featured Sydnee Winston, project coordinator for the museum, as well as guest speakers Eisenmann, Mimi Lufkin, CEO of the National Alliance for Partnership and Equity, and Wendy Hancock, manager of professional development services at the Association of Science Technology Centers.

    The “Women and STEM Education” Art Talk can be viewed in the Art Talk archives on YouTube.

  • jw_profile_pic Yes or no? How about maybe?

    Prof. Walsh traces a Facebook phenomenon to 18th-century French literature.

    Digital technology possesses the power to amplify quirks of human nature.

    Consider the R.S.V.P. In the age of Facebook and paperless invitations, it is easy for hosts to issue a call to attend a birthday party, a Friday night cocktail gathering or a weekend hike in the Appalachians. And for the intended guests, it is just as easy and quick to respond, regardless of the actual intention to attend.

    "Let’s call it the aspirational R.S.V.P.," writes journalist Henry Alford, who authors the Circa Now column for the New York Times, "when someone replies yes to an invitation, even though he knows, or is fairly certain, that he can’t or won’t attend."

    While social media has made the non-committal commitment ubiquitous, Alford says it's not a new dodge.

    But as it turns out, aspirational reservations-making is not a new phenomenon. Jonathan Walsh, a professor of French studies at Wheaton College, said he is translating “Les Malheurs de l’amour,” a novel written by Madame de Tencin in 1747 but set in the early 1600s.

    Professor Walsh explains that the book's heroine, a member of bourgeois class, is courted by an aristocrat who manages his discomfort about pursuing a woman below his station by adding his name to a list of the young woman's visitors and then not showing up.

    The example came readily to mind when Alford asked for pre-Facebook examples of the behavior. The 18th century novel is one of two books by Claudine de Tencin that Walsh is working on translating. He expects that they will be published, probably next winter, by the University of Toronto Press.

    "Although I don't teach the novels in my course on French Enlightenment literature (there are so many authors to cover!),  I do talk about Tencin's role as host of an important salon and one of the few female novelists of her time. So the translation project has been helpful for that course."

  • regional-gem-northeast A gem of a place

    Wheaton College has once again been named a “hidden gem” by a college search website—College Raptor labeled Wheaton among its top five hidden gems in the northeastern United States.

    For the second time in a month, Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” among colleges and universities—this time by CollegeRaptor.com.

    Wheaton is one of 44 colleges and universities nationwide to be recognized in this way and was ranked No. 5 out of 24 Hidden Gems in the Northeast.

    According to College Raptor, which provides online tools and resources to aid students in their college search: “Regional gems are defined as high-caliber colleges and universities in each geographic region which receive fewer than 5,000 applicants per year but have a total enrollment of greater than 1,000.” The rankings were based on enrollment and application data.

    The Hidden Gem announcement is designed to call attention to schools which may be overlooked by students but which "stand out in terms of academic rigor and student success," according to a press release from College Raptor.

    Grant Gosselin, Wheaton's vice president of enrollment and dean of admission and student aid, called the distinction "a wonderful recognition of the exceptional things happening at Wheaton."

    "From the national recognition students receive acknowledging their academic prowess to the fact that 98 percent of graduates were employed, in graduate school or in national service or fellowships, Wheaton is an exceptional value," Gosselin said. "It's a value that was recently enhanced when President Hanno announced the Wheaton Edgeour guarantee of funding for an internship, research experience or other experiential learning opportunity to every Wheaton student."

    Overall, College Raptor ranks Wheaton in the top 200 out of more than 1,600 institutions nationwide. Joining Wheaton in their list of the Northeast’s top 5 schools are Ursinus College, Stevens Institute of Technology, St. Lawrence College and Allegheny College.

    Earlier this spring, another college search site, CollegeRecruiter.com, listed Wheaton as its No. 1 Hidden Gem College for Employers Hiring Business Majors.

    Wheaton is no stranger to making lists. The college appears on the U.S. News and World Report's list of best liberal arts colleges and institutions recommended by top high school counselors and on The Princeton Review's lists of Best 379 Colleges in 2015 and best schools in the Northeast, among other accolades.

    For 10 consecutive years, Wheaton has been named one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges for preparing students to win U.S. Fulbright awards.


  • LaurenHendersonmug All that jazz

    Following the release of her second album, Lauren Henderson ’09 performed her first ever headlining show in the Boston area last week.

    Following the release of her second album, Lauren Henderson ’09 performed her first ever headlining show in the Boston area last week.

    Henderson, a Marblehead, Mass. native, graduated from Wheaton in 2009 with a double major in music and Hispanic studies, switching her major from psychology after discovering a passion for performing, according to an article published in The Patriot Ledger. While at Wheaton, she took master classes from Cuban jazz master Paquito D’Rivera and the vocal group Take 6.

    “The more performing I had done on campus, the more I realized music was what I really wanted to do with my life,” Henderson told the Ledger. “There had always been jazz and Latin jazz in my home growing up and my parents and grandparents were big music fans. When I was at Wheaton I ended up directing a singing group, singing with the jazz band, doing theater—every chance I got to perform.”

    After graduation, Henderson moved to New York City to pursue her singing career. She released her first album, a mix of classic jazz covers, in 2011. Her second album, “A La Madrugada”—Spanish for “the dawn”—was released March 20 and features seven original songs, plus five covers.

    “I wrote ‘A La Madrugada’ about unrequited love,” she told the Ledger. “I drew upon my own experiences and others and how it developed musically was very organic.”

    Henderson performed May 20 at The RegattaBar in Harvard Square.

  • IMG_2587 Decoding the emoji

    An article in Wired quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska on the subject of emojis.

    Have you been mixing up your smiley and frowny faces?

    A May 21 article in Wired magazine, which quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska, suggests that users may be misinterpreting the meaning of emoji characters—using a “sleepy face” to denote sadness or a “look of triumph” to signal anger, for example. And these mix-ups are leading the Unicode Consortium, which sets emoji standards, to rethink some of their designs.

    But, as author Megan Logan writes, the non-precise nature of emoji and emoticons is exactly what makes them such a fascinating means of communicating, a reflection of the times and of the different people who use them.

    “Through our misuse, misinterpretation, and subsequent re-imagining of these emoji, we subvert the apparently universal glyph system and push the development of this pictorial language forward, stretching its bounds and testing its limitations,” Logan writes.

    She includes in her article a quote from Lebduska’s essay, “Emoji, Emoji, What for Art Thou?,” published in the October 2014 issue of the digital magazine Harlot, in which Lebduska outlines the history of emojis and their use in modern conversation.

    While some scholars have suggested that emoticons and emojis pose a threat to the written language, Lebduska argues that they are a separate form of communication, a means of “creative graphic expression.”

    “Emojis expand expression and in doing so open themselves to re-appropriation, interpretation and even misinterpretation, along with the affirming possibilities of artistic creation,” Lebduska writes in the introduction to her essay.

    Lebduska is also director of college writing at Wheaton.

  • jimmie-lee-and-james-9781941393482_lg Tale of two heroes

    Adar Cohen ’04 co-authors book on civil rights movement

    A new book co-authored by Adar Cohen ’04 explores a pivotal event in American civil rights history.

    Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America, written by Cohen and Steve Fiffer and published by Regan Arts in New York City, looks at the killings of civil rights activists Jimmie Lee Jackson and the Rev. James Reeb and how they inspired the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Jimmie Lee and James is the first book to give readers a deeper understanding of the events that galvanized an already-strong civil rights movement to one of its greatest successes, along with the herculean efforts to bring the killers of these two men to justice—a quest that would last more than four decades,” according to a description of the book posted by Regan Arts.

    To research the book, Cohen and Fiffer traveled to Alabama to talk with many of the individuals who participated in the civil rights movement in the ’60s—conducting interviews with witnesses to the two murders as well as dozens of others and reviewing hundreds of pages of FBI documents, private papers and diaries, memoirs, oral histories and newspaper and magazine articles.

    The result is “a well-written, well-reported page-turner about our collective struggle for equality and justice . . . hopefully the last chapter in the American Revolution,” according to a review by Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    At Wheaton, Cohen designed an independent major in conflict resolution, drawing from courses in anthropology, political science, religion and history.

    In addition to receiving a George J. Mitchell Scholarship in 2006 to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Cohen won a 2004 Watson Fellowship, a 2003 Truman Scholarship in public service and several other fellowships and college honors. He was also known on campus for founding the Wheaton chapter of Backpack to Mexico, a group that collects school supplies for children in Mexican border communities.

    Cohen received both a master’s and a Ph.D. in international peace studies from Trinity College and currently works as director of programs at the Civic Leadership Foundation, an organization that aims to empower young people to be effective and responsible leaders. He also is an adjunct professor in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Department at DePaul University.

    In their author’s note, Cohen and Fiffer acknowledge the book’s relevance 50 years after the deaths of Jackson and Reeb, particularly in light of recent protests over police officers’ excessive use of force in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other black men.

    As the authors write in their introduction: “It is our hope that this book can help us remember the great promise of American democracy—that everyone has a voice, that everyone can participate—and in honoring two of its heroes, recommit us to its promise.”

    Read an excerpt from the book at reganarts.com.

  • Rayne McGlamery '15 received a Wheaton Fellowship last summer that supported her internship at Children's Law Center in Hartford, Conn. The right answer

    Wheaton’s guarantee of funding for an internship opportunity earns notice.

    Wheaton’s promise to provide funding for at least one experiential learning opportunity for every graduate got a mention this month in an article posted on GoLocalWorcester.com.

    In her piece on “5 Questions to Ask Career Services,” college admissions expert Cristiana Quinn recommends that prospective college students find out what percentage of a school’s students receives paid internships and how the school helps students make internship connections.

    “At Wheaton College in Massachusetts, a new program is being launched that will guarantee each student up to $3,000 in grants for an unpaid internship,” Quinn writes, referring to the Wheaton Edge. “This relieves the financial burden placed on families to support students during an unpaid internship, or the tendency of companies to shy away from taking on interns because of budget restrictions.”

    In addition to guaranteeing funding for each student before the start of their senior year, the Wheaton Edge promises personalized support in career pursuits from faculty and staff, including capable advisors at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.

    Other questions Quinn suggests students ask at colleges they’re pursuing include what year career advising starts (the first year, at Wheaton), the ratio of career advisers to students, how many organizations interview on campus and whether there is a formal alumni career network.

  • business Hidden gem

    Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” for employers looking to hire business majors, according to College Recruiter.

    Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” for employers looking to hire business majors, according to College Recruiter.

    The company, which helps connect recent graduates and current college students to jobs and internships, ranked Wheaton as No. 1 on its list of Top 12 Hidden Gem Colleges for Employers Hiring Business Majors.

    The Hidden Gem rankings acknowledge colleges and universities that offer a high quality education but that may get overlooked by traditional lists.

    “The modeling for this hidden gem school project was to identify the schools which featured high SAT/ACT scores for entering students, high average starting salaries for the regions in which the schools were located, a high percentage of graduates working in their chosen field of study and a majority of the graduating class available for recruitment by employers,” according to College Recruiter.

    The lists, created with the help of data scientists, are designed to help employers know which institutions to target when seeking high-qualified individuals.

    In addition to Wheaton, the top five institutions featured on the Hidden Gem for Business Majors list include Lehigh University, Brigham Young University-Provo, University of Miami and Bentley University.

  • Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, professor of religion Table talk

    Professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus on the history of salt and its roots in Jewish culture.

    Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus talks about the history of salt and its roots in Jewish culture in the May-June issue of Moment magazine.

    Not just an “essential and universal part of the human diet” used for pickling and preserving, as Rachel E. Gross writes in the article, salt is also symbolic in Judaism and prevalent in Israel, home to the Dead Sea—a sea that is 10 times as salty as any other sea on earth. The article tracks the mineral’s use from ancient times up through the modern age, noting how salty foods became associated with Jewish immigrants in the United States.

    Lox, bagels, pastrami, corned beef, whitefish and pickles were all salty dishes that were considered part of Jewish cuisine in America, dishes with tastes that, as Brumberg-Kraus says, “were very assertive and very pungent—garlicky, salty, pickled foods.”

    As he notes in the article: “Salty foods were a way of asserting Jewish identity.”

    The piece is part of Moment’s 40th anniversary issue. Check it out at momentmag.com.

  • Nick-Fradiani-800 Final Four

    Nick Fradiani cracks the top on American Idol

    Nick Fradiani ‘08 is headed home as one of American Idol’s final four, looking forward to a hero’s welcome.

    The Wheaton College history major will return to Guilford, Conn., on Friday for a parade and concert, following his triumphant performances last night on the national television show.

    The town has declared Friday, May 1, 2015, to be Nick Fradiani Day; local schools are scheduled to close early for the celebration.

    Fradiani’s Wheaton friends are making plans to join the party, and the campus is rooting for him. We hear that he may be getting together with his former Wheaton basketball teammates for a pick-up game, too.

    Last week, he gave an interview to the student newspaper, The Wheaton Wire, reflecting on his college career.

    About his experience here, he said, “Wheaton has you thinking a lot differently than other places.” A highlight of his college experience was the people he met. Seven years after graduation, some of his Wheaton classmates are still his best friends.

    Fradiani said to the Wheaton community, “Whoever’s at Wheaton, they made the right choice. If I could, I’d rewind and go back.” To those interested in music, he suggested, “Keep playing. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, keep doing it. If you think that this is what you’re supposed to do in life, you just have to keep pushing and working.”

    The local newspapers, both near the college, and in New Haven and Guilford are following his progress, too.

    The upcoming celebration in Guilford on Friday follows a pair of performances by Fradiani that the American Idol judges agreed won the evening.

    For his first song, he performed the Matchbox 20 song “Bright Lights,”after which Judge Jennifer Lopez called the performance “so perfect,” and told him: “it was you at your best.”

    In his second performance, Fradiani sang the Rascal Flatts’ hit “What Hurts the Most.” Judge Harry Connick, Jr., said that he could envision that song selling well on Fradiani’s first major label recording.

    “Tonight, you are the star of the night,” gushed Lopez.

    He will be the star on Friday, too.