NSF Funds Wesleyan Study of Social Exclusion

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— What causes some of us to be ignored or feel isolated, how do these feelings impact us and what can we do about them?  Gaining insights into these and other questions related to what psychologists call “social exclusion” will be the subject of a three-year National Science Foundation-funded study conducted by two Illinois Wesleyan psychology professors and their students.

“Persistent and chronic social exclusion has very powerful consequences and impacts,” says Illinois Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Psychology Jason Themanson, who will lead the study. “Profound feelings of depression, loneliness, anxiety and helplessness associated with exclusion can change one’s life, which is why it’s so important to deepen our understanding of the process and the triggers that lead people to feel excluded.”

Themanson’s investigation builds on his own past research and studies by others that have shown strong relationships between neural activity and the feelings of exclusion.  Along with co-investigator Professor Joe Williams and student researchers, Themanson will examine patterns of brain activity during simulated social interactions.


Grider Named Scholar of the Year

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Ronald Grider, an Illinois Wesleyan University senior from Peoria, Ill., has been named a 2012 Collegiate Scholar of the Year by the Illinois Heartland Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Recipients of the prestigious award are determined by their grade point average and contribution to research in the field. Grider will be honored at the annual ACS banquet in Peoria on April 10 and will receive a certificate and $200 award.

Grider has been a member of the ACS Scholar’s Program for the past three years, as well as participated in numerous research projects. On campus, he conducted a research project with Chair and Associate Professor of Chemistry Rebecca Roesner on synthesizing a macrocyclic “host” molecule for a polyoxometalate “guest.” Most recently, Grider worked in the research lab of Chair and Associate Professor of Biology David Bollivar in determining the biosynthetic pathway of bacteriochlorophyll.


Opera Singer Pfortmiller to Speak, Perform

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – From Wednesday, Feb. 22 to Friday, Feb. 24, the Illinois Wesleyan School of Music will host alumnus and acclaimed opera singer Kyle Pfortmiller, class of 1992, as he gives two master classes and a recital.

All events will take place in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall (1210 Park St., Bloomington) and are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday at 11 a.m., Pfortmiller will give a master class for IWU music students, hoping to challenge singers to engage with a text emotionally and technically. The following day at 4 p.m., Pfortmiller will give a presentation on his career and hold an open-forum for questions. He will end his visit with a recital on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

A highly esteemed vocalist by critics across the country, Pfortmiller has performed with a number of opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera (The Met), New York City Opera (NYCO), Florida Grand Opera and Tulsa Opera, in addition to others.


Campus Mourns Forrest J. Frank

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University mourns the death of Dr. Forrest J. Frank, who died on Thursday, Feb. 9 in Bloomington.  Dr. Frank was a member of the IWU faculty for 34 years.

“I am sorry to report the passing of our colleague Forrest Frank, associate professor of chemistry until his retirement in 1999,” said President Richard F. Wilson. “Even then, after 34 years of teaching, Dr. Frank continued to teach part-time for another five years. Dr. Frank was well known for his popular “Chemistry and Crime” forensic science course and was one of four IWU professors who wrote two textbooks for a new undergraduate chemistry curriculum in 1999. Our sincere sympathies go to Dottie and his family.”

A Chicago native, Dr. Frank studied chemistry at Grinnell College in Iowa, where he met his wife, Dottie, in a freshman general chemistry course.

Following his undergraduate studies, Dr. Frank pursued a doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University in Indiana. Prior to joining the Illinois Wesleyan faculty in 1965, he was employed as a research chemist at Rayonier, Inc., of Whippany, N.J.

Dr. Frank, who found working with students to be one of the great benefits to teaching, once estimated that he taught between 4,000 and 5,000 IWU students. He began teaching an innovative course, “Crime and Chemistry,” in 1985. In developing the course, Dr. Frank worked with the Illinois State Police Laboratory in Morton and other professional colleagues. The course provided non-science majors with an introduction to basic chemistry principles and techniques by studying scientific aspects of evidence.


Whalley ’09 Honored for Gypsy Performance

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – On Monday, Feb. 6, the winners of the 10th Annual Craig Noel Awards were announced and honored at a ceremony in the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, Calif. Among the honorees was Illinois Wesleyan alumna Katie Whalley, class of 2009.

Whalley, who graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater, was given a nod for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical for her portrayal of Louise, later Gypsy Rose Lee, in “Gypsy: A Musical Fable.”

During her time at Illinois Wesleyan, Whalley was in a number of productions, including The Glass Menagerie, Into the Woods, Scrooge!, Of Thee I Sing!and the Faculty Choreographed Dance Concert.

Awarded annually by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, the Craig Noel Award for Excellence in Theatre is given on behalf of professional print and online theatre critics in San Diego. The award is named in honor of Noel, the longtime artistic director at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre.


Kindred ’63 Awarded for Outstanding Journalism

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Dave Kindred, a 1963 Illinois Wesleyan graduate, has been chosen as the 2012 winner of The Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism.

Kindred joins a list of previous Schaap Award recipients that include Bob Costas, Frank Deford, Jim McKay and Mitch Albom.

The Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism was established in 2002 to honor the memory of one of Americas pre-eminent sports writers, Dick Schaap. The award is presented by the Nassau County Sports Commission and is given out to the journalist, in any medium, that best exemplifies the principles and talents of Dick Schaap during the past year. The award recipient is determined by confidential balloting of the Dick Schaap Selection Committee, which is composed of respected members of the media, and chaired by Dick’s son, ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap.

Although the recipient need not be a sports journalist, he/she must convey the passion and insight for the stories and people he/she covers as Schaap did.


Author and Activist Calls for Fire and Passion

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – “It’s all about catching on fire,” said activist and author Sister Helen Prejean during her address at Illinois Wesleyan University Founders’ Day Convocation on Wednesday. “Our life is flow, our life is a river. Different currents fit it – we’re going to the sea. Life is about fire, the passion.”

In 1982, when Prejean began visiting convicted murderer Patrick Sonnier in prison, she started to discover the fire within her for social justice. However, she noted, it took awhile for this awakening to occur.

The daughter of a successful lawyer, Prejean said she grew up in privilege, although she was not keenly aware of it at the time. It wasn’t until she immersed herself with the poor of New Orleans and moved into the St. Thomas housing projects that she was awakened to the need for social justice in her own city. She learned that there were more complaints to the justice department about police brutality in New Orleans than any other city. “I was living out in the lakefront by the suburbs and it could have been going on in India. I didn’t know anyone had been beaten by the police,” said Prejean, who recalls how her firsthand experiences in the housing projects ignited a fire in her heart.

It was this awareness of injustice, as well as an inside look at the death penalty in New Orleans that caused Prejean to take a stand. “You can’t see the suffering, the system in place that’s killing people and say, ‘Well, I’m neutral.’ Catching on fire for justice means somehow we have an experience where we see the suffering,” she said.


Spring Internships Hit All-Time High

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan’s Hart Career Center reports that students securing spring internships reached a record high of 136, up 30 percent from the most recent 5-year average of 105.

“The very competitive job market makes internships more important than ever for our students and they’ve received great interest from employers looking for talent,” said Laurie Diekhoff, assistant director and internship coordinator at the Hart Career Center. “These internships are with more than 60 corporations and organizations, including major companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Country Financial, Deloitte, Archer Daniels Midland and State Farm, plus a wide array of smaller companies, health care groups, governmental bodies and not-for-profits.”

Of the 136 internships, half are paid and 55 percent receive academic credit. While the majority of interns are juniors and seniors, Diekhoff said that the interest among freshmen and sophomores has increased with 14 of the spring internships belonging to first and second year students.

Students Awarded for Intercultural Leadership

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) recently announced recipients of the Intercultural Leadership Award (ILA). The awardees include junior art and biology double major Marlena Szewczyk of Columbia, Mo. and Chris Cicinelli of Elmhurst, Ill., who graduated in December of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Both studied in Copenhagen, Denmark during the fall of 2011.

The ILA is awarded to students who have received the most out of their study abroad experience and immersed themselves in the Danish culture. Recipients are chosen by way of a point system, based on courses taken that reflect global and local trends, living with Danes, involvement in cultural immersion activities during the semester and a personal essay reflecting on their experience.

“Showing that you have taken an active role in your own experience and have taken steps toward understanding the global landscape illustrates to graduate schools and future employers that you are an asset and will be an engaging and competent student or employee,” said Anders Uhrskov, director of DIS.