All potential alumni-elected trustees were asked to submit answers to the following questions for the Nominating Committee to review when selecting the 2013 slate.
- How has your Wesleyan experience directly contributed to your personal and/or professional success since graduation?
- If you were to describe Wesleyan to a prospective student and his/her family, what three aspects would you choose to highlight?
- What makes you particularly qualified to serve as a Trustee?
Charles Wrubel '59 P'85 P'88
In retrospect, discipline of the core curriculum at Wesleyan education during the Butterfield years had a major impact in my ability to think critically. Requirements for humanities, a foreign language, science and English provided a much-enhanced idea processing experience at a higher level, of course, over secondary school education.
Two additional years in French as well as three in the secondary school expanded my ongoing interest in the French language and customs (which enables me to conduct conversations during our visits with our long time French friends who live in Bordeaux, Paris, and Toulouse).
As a government major and an English minor (the categories in those days), I was provided with a foundation for my careers (unknown at graduation) as, first, a newspaper owner for twenty-five years and then in a second career as a partner in a private mergers acquisitions firm.
My continuing interest in government and foreign affairs was initially kindled by both courses and a tutorial taught by the very distinguished Sigmund Neumann, Professor of Government, an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of foreign affairs. The tutorial evenings with him at the Russell House discussing the effects of the Castro takeover of Cuba and the Hungarian revolution are still memorable.
Additionally, E.E. Shattsneider, an equally well noted Professor of Government specializing in local politics, piqued my interest to become a non elected but involved civic board citizen in two New Jersey communities where I both live and work. For sure, following local elections covered by my newspapers was a grand expansion of learning about “Party Politics and Local Government,” the professor’s best known and attended course.
On a personal and social level, the fraternity system provided me the opportunity to hone leadership skills and develop friendships that endure today. During my term as President of Delta Kappa Epsilon, the house grade average increased dramatically which resulted in kudos from President Vic Butterfield and his wife, Kay, our neighbors and annual dinner guests.
Two of my three roommates and I have lunch every eight weeks, and continue conversations about society, the impact of government decisions in the political process, as well as serious and hilarious comments about our lives and families.
First—Understand who you are at your stage in life and be willing to accept new thinking. Wesleyan’s diverse mix of student population gives you the opportunity to learn about other students/people from diverse backgrounds and cultures in a small campus environment.
To get the most out of the Wesleyan experience, and depending on your interests, be willing to appreciate and become more involved in the new academic, social, organization and athletic opportunities available to you on campus.
Second—Use the Wesleyan experience to search for new ideas, some otherwise unthinkable in your previous environment. Regardless of your secondary school education and your family or support system culture, learn from and participate with the different course offerings, professors, teachers and other people you will encounter at Wesleyan. And you are able to create your own major (a question that comes up frequently in interviews).
Third—Enjoy both the natural beauty and outstanding physical facilities of the campus The variety of the buildings such as the brownstones on College Row, Fisk Hall, Usdan Student Center, Science buildings, and the Freeman Athletic Center are examples of both useful and architecturally interesting buildings. They all provide you with interesting environments for learning. The campus is easy to navigate from one end to the other. (These comments for those who have either not visited Wesleyan or who need reinforcement.)
The importance of education at any level has been one of my ongoing interests regardless of previous educational opportunities. At my newspapers, I provided off-site training for staff at all levels, had in-house trainers from specialty uses, sent key executives to both the American Press Institute and industry meetings, and encouraged them to take additional courses (paid for by my company) at a local community college if they did not already have a college or university degree.
My experience as President and Publisher of my newspaper company and as a partner in a mergers and acquisition firm taught me the importance of meeting dynamics as well as idea development. Additionally, involvement as a board member in both newspaper associations and community organizations has given me the appreciation of give and take, institutional oversight, and respect for idea development in a communal situation.
Finally, I have an inbred passion for Wesleyan and its future. I grew up five minutes from campus (on Home Avenue) and walked through Brownstone Row to William St’s Central School (now high-rise). My family has a tradition at Wesleyan: two sons, three uncles, three cousins, and two of my second cousins are all Wesleyan graduates. Four of my close friends were sons and daughters of Wesleyan professors and administrators. In honor of my grandparents, my father’s family established a Wesleyan Scholarship for the benefit of either a Middletown or Middlesex County student. Furthermore, my family was connected to many other Wesleyan people as the result of having a business in Middletown. Thus, one can see my passion.
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Daniel Prieto '91
Since graduating Wesleyan, I’ve been lucky, holding very interesting jobs at interesting moments in history: as an environmental consultant in the early years of work to address global warming; as an investment banker during the market consolidation among the largest defense companies; as a strategist at AOL during the first internet boom; as one of the founding staffers on the House Homeland Security Committee after 9/11; at IBM now, during the rise of big data and analytics and leading a project in Afghanistan to train entrepreneurs and bring private-equity investment to the country. In all of these roles, the skills inculcated by Wesleyan and the CSS—interdisciplinary thinking, flexibility, a quick learning curve, the ability to digest and synthesize volumes of information quickly, the ability to frame and present arguments—have been my professional bedrock.
In every job I’ve held, I’ve made my mark by thinking and innovating in an interdisciplinary way. Seeing and developing linkages that other people don’t see. Building bridges between groups that typically have trouble communicating with each other. At many points, I’ve been like a simultaneous translator—between business people and policymakers, finance professionals and technologists, strategists and operators, lawyers and communications professionals. To succeed and to lead, the most essential trait has been the ability to gain professional trust by demonstrating an understanding of and empathy for the distinct expert disciplines and analytical frameworks brought to bear by the diverse constituencies within any organization.
Having been a campus tour guide at Wes, there is no shortage of things to highlight: inspiring professors, interesting classmates, rigorous academics, interdisciplinary majors like COL and CSS, the music scene, great film classes, junior year abroad.
But, if pressed to choose, I would highlight the things that I focused on when I gave a campus tour in the midst of the campus-wide “unity day” in May of 1990. Classes had been cancelled and Wesleyan struggled for cohesion after two fire bombings and racially-charged graffiti at Malcolm X House. You could see the worry in parents’ eyes.
- Wesleyan is a crucible that teaches you about yourself and helps shape who you are. It is a diverse and lively community that challenges you to ask tough questions of yourself, to craft and hone your identity, and to exercise strong advocacy skills to stand up for what you believe in. Wesleyan is a wonderful laboratory of the individual.
- Wesleyan teaches you how to think and inspires you to create.
- Wesleyan teaches you how to “hear”. By promoting individual self-confidence, Wes gives its students the courage needed to listen to points of view that they may not agree with and to value, respect—and even embrace—difference.
The things that would enable me to be highly effective as a Trustee include a true passion for Wesleyan’s ideals, rekindled recently at my 20-year reunion. In addition, I possess a wide range of professional experiences and successes—in business, technology, finance, policy, innovation and entrepreneurship—that I would bring to bear to help Wesleyan meet the challenges and opportunities of the Wesleyan 2020 vision and agenda.
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Tracey Gardner '96
On a personal level, I met my husband and my best friend at Wesleyan. I credit Wes for attracting a stellar student body and for providing the environment and experiences that allow students to develop relationships that last a lifetime. Wesleyan exposed me to a range of different worlds and connected me to people from all walks of life. Being able to continually expand my perspective during my time at Wesleyan made me a much better person.
On a professional level, I got my first job teaching high school English in the Bronx (NYC) directly through my Wesleyan network. My professors and courses equipped me with skills I have used to navigate my way through many complex work situations and environments. Wesleyan’s reputation opened doors for me that may otherwise have remained shut. The network has also introduced me to other alums for whom I have been able to open doors.
My husband Randy Slaughter and I both promote Wesleyan actively. It’s difficult to select only three aspects to highlight but, given the parameters of this question, I would choose diversity, academic rigor, and engagement for the reasons outlined below.
Diversity—Although Wesleyan is a relatively small school, our students are diverse across multiple dimensions. Living in and engaging with a diverse and inclusive community are among the most enriching experiences students can have, and also prepare them for leadership roles in an increasingly global world.
Academic rigor—Wesleyan is a liberal arts institution with a science curriculum that is equally as strong as the humanities curriculum. Faculty encourage students to ask questions, to test their assumptions, and to think critically and creatively. Students teach, learn from, encourage, and challenge each other. The curriculum is broad, deep, and flexible enough that students can explore a range of possibilities before diving into any one (or two) specialty areas.
Engagement—Students, faculty, administrators, alumni (and sometimes even Middletown community members) engage with each other through courses, sports, clubs, student groups, and events. Participating in these activities fosters a collective sense of ownership and belonging.events, etc.
As an alumna of color who received financial aid, I think my perspective, experience, and passion would be valuable to Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. As a female student of color who received financial aid, I I also understand many of the challenges, opportunities, rewards, and responsibilities that come with being a member of the Wesleyan community.
As the Chief of Staff at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, I understand the challenges facing higher education—at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—and also the possibilities for strengthening the role and position of higher education within a global world. I understand the complex and nuanced world of academia, interact daily with faculty, administrators, alumni, and students at all stages of the pipeline (within Wagner, within NYU, and externally), and would bring to the table a unique and comparative point of view. I have remained informed about, connected to, and engaged with Wesleyan since I graduated in 1996, most recently in my current roles as co-chair of Wesleyan’s Alumni Volunteer Committee (AVC) and member of the Alumni Association Executive Committee. I absolutely love Wes and have come to see my relationship with the university as analogous to a marriage. We were connected through a mutual friend and I fell in love at first sight. During our time together, Wesleyan has delighted me, disappointed me, challenged me, and supported me. I have paid more attention to it at some times and less at others. Over time, I have learned that I must continue to give as much as I receive from the university and have actively increased my engagement over the years. I would be honored and delighted to continue to deepen this relationship by serving as an alumni-elected trustee.
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