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.


School of Theatre Arts to Present Tartuffe

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Illinois Wesleyan University School of Theatre Arts will present Tartuffe, a play by renowned 17th century French playwright Molière, with translation by Richard Wilbur. Performances will take place at McPherson Theatre (2 Ames Plaza East, Bloomington) at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14 to Saturday, Feb. 18, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Tickets will be available for purchase Monday, Feb. 6. General admission ticket prices range from $10 for performances Tuesday through Thursday, and the matinee on Sunday, to $12 for performances Friday and Saturday. Senior citizens receive a $1 discount off the general admission price and students may purchase tickets for $2 with a valid Illinois Wesleyan ID.

First staged in Versailles in 1664 and composed of almost 2,000 rhyming couplets, the play follows the story of a man, Orgon, and his mother who take in the apparently pious Tartuffe. Orgon’s family, however, is not convinced by Tartuffe’s feigned righteousness. Determined to reveal Tartuffe for the fraud that he is, a plan is set to entrap him by exposing his lust for Orgon’s wife Elmire.


Artists Explore Motivation and Mystery of Inspiration

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Many consider inspiration to be the phenomenon that both motivates the artist and serves as the greatest intrigue of their work. Artist Ginia A. Davis explains, “The soul of art is inspiration.”

At Illinois Wesleyan University, two professors and two students were posed the question, “What inspires you?” The answers from School of Art Director Miles Bair, Professor of Art Kevin Strandberg, as well as art students Leeya Jackson class of ‘13 and Riley Blindt class of ‘13, revealed surprising similarities.

Bair has painted for more than 40 years and teaches painting, art foundations and art theory and criticism. “There have been multiple inspirations in my development as a painter,” said Bair. “During the past 15 to 20 years my artwork has focused on landscapes and nature.”

For Bair, the woods are a great source of inspiration. “Any time I run out of ideas in the studio I head for places like Wisconsin, the Appalachian mountains, anywhere that’s green.” He then takes photographs of these places to capture a mood to communicate in his work.

Bair prefers to make artwork based upon what he has seen and added to with his imagination, rather than painting exact replicas of his photographs. “My winter paintings are created entirely from imagination. I just imagine what places would look like with snow and work from there.”


Students Receive Study Abroad Scholarships

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Institute for International Education (IIE) recently announced the recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman study abroad scholarships. Among the recipients are four students from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Sophomore nursing majors Amanda Magallon of Round Lake Beach, Ill. and Cassie Mellen of Murris, Ill. received scholarships for study in Spain on the IWU Spain Program. Junior psychology and business administration major Max Polisky of Deerfield, Ill. received a scholarship for study in Morocco at Al Akhwayan University on the IWU-AUI Exchange program. Junior biology major Emily Wechter of Park Ridge, Ill. received a scholarship for study in Thailand at Mahidol University with AsiaLearn.

According to Director of the International Office Stacey Shimizu, these are the most awardees Illinois Wesleyan has had in one semester. Noting that international experience is both rewarding and a substantial financial investment, The Gilman Scholarship program aims to support undergraduate students in their study abroad endeavors and encourages them to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Activist Who Inspired “Dead Man Walking” to Speak

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and activist Sister Helen Prejean will address the Illinois Wesleyan University Founders’ Day Convocation at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall (1210 Park St., Bloomington). The event is free and open to the public. Founders’ Day honors the 30 founders who signed the charter for the University in 1850.

In celebration of the University’s 162nd anniversary, additional activities will include The Ames Library’s annual exhibit highlighting the documents from the University’s founding, including Illinois Wesleyan’s “birth certificate.” A screening of Dead Man Walking will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 Beecher St., Bloomington). On Wednesday, Feb. 8, free cake will also be available at all food service sites on campus in celebration.

Prior to the Founders’ Day Convocation, First Wednesday Chapel hour will feature “Voices of Nonviolence from King to Prejean,” on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. in Evelyn Chapel (1301 N. Park St., Bloomington). The event is free and open to the public. Excerpts from King and Prejean’s writings will be offered.  Film clips will be shown from Just Vision, an Israeli-Palestinian organization dedicated to nonviolence, and music spirituals will be performed by the new Evelyn Ensemble and Professor of Music Carren Moham.


Voters’ Views Will Shape Interactive Musical Event

Jan. 16, 2012

Bloomington, IL — Grassroots 2012, an interactive political poll that engages respondents as part of a live musical event, will provide a preview of how Illinois voters view the issues, primary races and potential presidential election matchups.  A town hall discussion of the issues follows the Grassroots 2012 electronic polling.  The event takes place at Illinois Wesleyan’s Westbrook Auditorium on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

bullet Watch the event in streaming video.

“Music has often been associated with political expression, but this is a totally new concept and one that brings people together to express and discuss their views in a very unique and entertaining way,” said co-composer David Brian Williams, a retired music and arts technology faculty member at Illinois State University.  Williams and University of South Carolina collaborator Tayloe Harding created the Grassroots event during the 2008 presidential campaign, polling audiences in George and Alabama.

This innovative approach to political polling engages the audience with an original music score, digital imagery, electronic polling and a town hall discussion.  During the live musical performance, audience members use digital clickers to respond anonymously to polling questions that probe primary and general election issues, with responses instantaneously totaled and displayed on screen. After each set of questions the music changes to reflect the intensity of opinions expressed by the audience. Following the performance and polling there will be a bipartisan town hall discussion and a second round of electronic polling intended to see if the discussion influenced any opinions.

“The importance of bipartisan political dialogue has never been more important than it is today, which is why we are so excited about the opportunities to gather opinions and engage citizens in discussion via Grassroots 2012,” says Illinois Wesleyan’s Professor of Political Science Tari Renner, an expert in political polling, who will lead the town hall discussion.


Teach-In to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University’s Action Research Center (ARC) and political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA) will host a “teach-in” comprising of three, one-hour panel discussions on Monday Jan. 16 from 1- 4 p.m. in Hansen Student Center (300 Beecher St., Bloomington).

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the teach-in will focus on three topics relating to food and social justice. While he is most known for his impact on the Civil Rights Movement, King’s teachings also addressed a wider scope of social justice.

The Teach-In schedule is as follows:

• 1 p.m. – National Efforts to Create Local Food: keynote speaker and alumnus Danny Burke ’09 will present, “Meaningfully Engaging Diversity,” along with community voice Lindsey Record of Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

• 2 p.m. – Sustainable Agriculture in Bloomington and IWU: keynote speaker Danny Kenny ’13 will present “Community Gardens in Higher Education,” along with community voice Elaine Sebald of Heartland Local Food Network.

• 3 p.m. – Insecurity: International, National, and Local Perspectives: keynote speaker Professor of Political Science William Munro will present “Food Aid, Philanthropy, and the Farm Bill: How Should We Tackle Hunger in the Global Food Economy?” along with community voice Emily Carroll of Food and Water Watch.

Chair of Political Science and Associate Professor of Political Science James Simeone notes that the teach-in is held in the spirit of King’s creation of the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM), which strove to constantly challenge societal norms. As an activist, King never wanted to become well-adjusted to society, explained Simeone, because there was always more work to be done. “He was the gadfly on the horse, like Socrates,” said the political science professor.


Students Collaborate in Circulo de Lectores

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – This semester, Professor of Hispanic Studies Carmela Ferradans and Byron S. Tucci Professor of Hispanic Studies Carolyn Nadeau will join to create a reading circle, or circulo de lectores, for students enrolled in two 300-level Spanish courses, Grammar and Composition and Introduction to Literature, as well as those in the Illinois Wesleyan Barcelona program. The goal of the activity is to have students collaborate outside of class, reading and discussing in Spanish the selected novel, Los mares del sur by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.

First published in 1979, the detective novel is set in Barcelona during the tumultuous years of the Spanish transition to democracy in the late ’70s. “The protagonist is also, and foremost, a gourmet, so the plot is intertwined with culinary commentaries and some of the best Catalan recipes I know,” said Ferradans. In relation to the novel’s culinary thread, the circulo de lectores will close with a literary dinner on Thursday, March 29 at World Gourmet in Bloomington, where students will sample rice recipes from the book, including paella, a traditional Spanish dish. Alumna Rachel Slough, class of 2007, will be the keynote speaker for the event. Slough, who received a bachelor of arts degree in Hispanic Studies and English Literature, wrote a research honors thesis on the novel.