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This article is about Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, USA. For a list of other colleges and universities with names including "Wesleyan," see Wesleyan University .

Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletownmarker, Connecticutmarker. Founded under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church and with the support of prominent residents of Middletown, the now secular university was the first institution of higher education to be named after John Wesley, the Protestant theologian who was the founder of Methodism. About twenty unrelated colleges and universities were subsequently named after Wesley.

Wesleyan is one of the nation's most highly ranked colleges, and occupies a position in American higher education between the large research universities and the smaller liberal arts institutions. The University emphasizes undergraduate instruction, but also supports and funds graduate research in many academic disciplines. Wesleyan, along with Amherstmarker and Williams Colleges, is a member of the historic Little Three colleges and has long been known as one of the Little Ivies.


was founded as an all-male Methodist college in 1831.

Two histories of Wesleyan have been published, Wesleyan's First Century by Carl F. Price and another in 1999, Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England, by David B. Potts.

Wesleyan was first started as an independent institution under the auspices of the Methodist conference, led by Willbur Fisk, its first President. Despite its name, Wesleyan was never a denominational seminary. It remained a leader in educational progress throughout its history, and erected the first building dedicated to the sciences on any American college campus, Judd Hall. It also has always maintained a much larger library collection than institutions comparable in size.

Wesleyan was a very small institution for the first 140 years of its existence, having a student body ranging from 400 to 800 students throughout the period. Although Wesleyan developed into a peer of Amherstmarker and Williams, Wesleyan was always decidedly the smallest of the Little Three institutions until the 1970s, when it grew significantly to become larger than the other two.

In 1872, the University became one of the first U.S. colleges to attempt coeducation by allowing a small number of female students to attend, a venture then known as the "Wesleyan Experiment". Because of the preponderance of female students preparing for college in that period, some of Wesleyan's alumni believed that opening the door to coeducation would eventually result in the student body becoming entirely female. Given that concern, Wesleyan ceased to admit women, and from 1912 to 1970 Wesleyan operated again as an all-male college.

Wesleyan severed its final ties with the Methodist Church in 1937, a final formal recognition of many decades of practice. The administration ceased to define the curriculum as Christian in the 1960s, and also eliminated compulsory chapel at the same time.

During WWII, as college-aged men volunteered or were drafted to fight overseas, Wesleyan's enrollment was supplemented by the Navy V-12 officer training program, which allowed the campus to remain open.

Beginning in the mid 1950s, Wesleyan, under the presidency of Victor Lloyd Butterfield, began an ambitious program to reorganize itself into a small college with many of the trappings of a modern university, including doctoral programs in mathematics, World Music and the natural sciences; a university press and, a Center for Advanced Studies (later re-named, The Center for the Humanities.) Perhaps, the most emblemmatic endeavor of the period was the "College Plan", a system originally consisting of three residential complexes built to the south of the campus, each with its own faculty (often on loan from other departments) and students who had to compete as sophomores for admission each year. Although they are no longer located in the "Butterfield Colleges" dormitories (named for the ex-president at a ceremony in 1971), two of the colleges still remain as academic programs: the College of Letters (COL) and the College of Social Studies (CSS) (see program descriptions below) and are considered exceptionally intensive study programs and excellent preparation for later graduate work.

Butterfield's successors, Edwin Deacon Etherington (Class of 1948), and Colin Goetze Campbell, completed many of the innovations begun during his administration including, the return of women in numbers equal to men; a quadrupling in the total square footage of building space devoted to laboratory, studio and performing arts instruction; and, a dramatic rise in the racial, ethnic and religious diversity of the student body.

Wesleyan's current ten year plan, which started in 2000, included the expansion of undergraduate housing, the renovation of classrooms and buildings, and a large investment in technology used for research and teaching. The Wesleyan Board of Trustees has also approved a $160 million project to build a new science building to replace Hall-Atwater Laboratory.

The University and several of its admissions deans were featured in Jacques Steinberg's 2002 book The Gatekeepers: Inside The Admissions Process of a Premier College.

In the Fall 2007 semester, Michael S. Roth, a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan and former president of the California College of the Artsmarker, was inaugurated as Wesleyan's 16th president.

On May 25, 2008, then U.S. Illinois senator and current U.S. President and Nobel Laureate Barack Obama, filling in for the ill senator Ted Kennedy, addressed the graduating Class of 2008, and urged Wesleyan graduates to enter into public service. Senator Obama also was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Wesleyan University at the 2008 Commencement.


Clark Hall, a freshman dormitory built in 1916 and renovated in 2002.
Wesleyan occupies a campus, with over 340 buildings, including: the five building College Row; Olin Memorial Library (see below); Harriman Hall (which houses the John E. Andrus Public Affairs center and the College of Social Studies); the Exley Science Center; Shanklin and Hall-Atwater Laboratories; the Van Vleck Observatory; Fayerweather (housing theatrical and dance rehearsal spaces and Beckham Hall—for large lectures), the Foss Hill dormitories; the Butterfield dormitories; the Fauver Field dormitories; and 11-building Center for the Arts complex. The campus also has the William Street apartment complex.

The original core buildings of the campus were North College and South College. North College was a Nassau Hallmarker-type building seen in most early American college campuses, it was replaced after a fire in 1909 with the current North College. South College is the sole building from the beginning of the college. The recently renovated Memorial Chapel was planned in commemoration of the bicentennial of Methodism. Judd Hall may be the first building dedicated to the sciences on any American college campus. Olin Library, Harriman Hall, Shanklin Hall, and the former Hall Chemistry Building were designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White as a set (with Clark Hall and a never built sixth building) to form a quadrangle.

The northern end of High Street contains several large buildings which were former private residences a few of which were exceptional architectural examples. These include Russell Housemarker, a National Historic Landmark, two Alsop family houses, (one is currently the African-American Studies center with student housing, the other is the Davidson Art Center), the Davidson infirmary, a second Russell family house that contains the University Development Office, and Downey House, (remembered fondly by alumni as the onetime main campus dining facility and pub, now classrooms and academic offices). There are other departmental offices in the neighborhood. High Street, which is the old center of campus, was once described by Charles Dickens as "the handsomest street in America."

Recent building initiatives include the Freeman Athletic Center (which includes a 50-meter swimming pool, the Spurrier-Snyder Rink for hockey, the 1,200-seat Silloway Gymnasium, the Andersen Fitness Center, and the Rosenbaum Squash Center with eight courts), the Center for Film Studies, and a multi-building renovation project creating a 'Humanities District' on the east side of High Street between Fisk Hall and Russell House, which includes facilities for the departments of English, Romance Languages, the College of Letters, Classical Studies, Philosophy, Art & Art History, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The Usdan University Center, opened in September 2007 at the center of the campus, has consolidated dining facilities for students and for faculty, and houses seminar and meeting spaces, the Wesleyan Student Assembly, Student Activities and Leadership Development offices, the post office, and retail space.

Undergraduate program

Wesleyan's 40 academic departments offer over 900 courses each semester and more than 900 individual tutorials. Wesleyan also offers thirteen interdisciplinary programs, five certificate programs, and seven Academic Centers, including the Service Learning Center. Undergraduates receive the Bachelor of Arts in one (or more) of 47 major concentrations. No minors are offered, but double majors are popular (approximately 30% of students select a double major). A small number of students triple major. Students can also pursue a custom-designed major, known as a University Major. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, "Wesleyan is noted for its undergraduate programs of tutorial instruction and independent study." Wesleyan offers 3-2 programs in engineering with the California Institute of Technologymarker and Columbia University's School of Engineering. These programs allow undergraduates to receive degrees in five years from both Wesleyan (B.A.) and Caltech or Columbia (B.Sc., Engineering). Additionally, Wesleyan offers a BA/MA Program in the sciences leading to a Bachelor's degree in the fourth year and a Master's degree in the fifth year. Tuition for the fifth year of the Master's degree is waived. Undergraduates can pursue studies in pre-medicine, pre-law, and pre-business through any major. Most classes at Wesleyan are small; the predominant class size for undergraduates is 10-19 students, and the student to faculty ratio is 9 to 1.

Wesleyan's approach to education is individualistic and academically rigorous. The University does not require undergraduates to take prescribed courses. Students develop their own programs of study that reflect each student's interests and are created with the help of Wesleyan faculty. The University has described a set of general principles that define its approach to education in the liberal arts and sciences. These principles are summed up in the ten capabilities that the faculty believe every student should possess when he or she graduates from Wesleyan. Freshmen are offered First Year Initiative seminars, which are designed to prepare them for upper level courses by emphasizing writing, analysis, discussion, and critical thinking. Though not required, undergraduates are encouraged in the first two years of study to take a minimum of two courses in each of three areas: natural sciences and mathematics, humanities and the arts, and social and behavioral sciences. In the second two years, undergraduates are expected to take one course in each of these three areas. University Honors, Honors or High Honors in General Scholarship, Phi Beta Kappa, departmental Honors, and some program Honors require completion of the general education expectations. Writing is emphasized throughout the curricula.

Wesleyan has been noted as one of the most productive colleges or universities in the United States in the undergraduate origins of PhDs in all fields of study, with exceptional productivity in undergraduates pursuing doctorates in the natural sciences. According to a study for the years 1999-2003, among all liberal arts colleges in the nation, Wesleyan undergraduates were second in receiving PhDs. For example, the University produces more history doctorates per undergraduate history major than any other college or university in the United States. Within five years after graduation, eighty percent of Wesleyan graduates attend graduate school, including top programs in the country and the world. The University also sends an unusually large number of female undergraduates to graduate programs in the sciences and PhDs generally. Wesleyan graduates are awarded external fellowships, including Fulbright, Goldwater, Rhodes, and Watson. In 2005 and 2006, Wesleyan was named a "Top Producer of Fulbright Awards for American Students" by the Institute for International Education. For the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, a total of 27 Wesleyan students and alumni received scholarships under the Fulbright program. The University is reputed to have produced more Watson Fellows than any other liberal arts college in the country. (See Directory)

Several of the University's undergraduate programs "have an unusually strong national representation," including American Studies, Astronomy/Astrophysics, Classical Studies, The College of Letters, The College of Social Studies, East Asian Studies, Economics (appraised as the "best small department of economics in the country"), English/Creative Writing, Film Studies, History, Music, and the Natural Sciences (including, but not limited to, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Psychology, ranked 5th nationally in research productivity and 3rd for the impact of journal citations). Current notable faculty include, among others, Richard Adelstein (Economics); William J. Barber (Economics); Richard S. Grossman (Economics-Department Chair); Richard A. Miller (Economics); Gary Yohe (Economics); Richard W. Boyd (Government); Martha Crenshaw (Government); Elvin Lim (Government); Judith C. Brown (History); Ethan Kleinberg (History and Letters); Nathan Brody (Psychology); Scott Plous (Psychology); Charles Lemert (Sociology); Annie Dillard (English - Pulitzer Prize-winning author); Dani Shapiro (Creative Writing); Anselm Berrigan (English - poet); Kit Reed (English); Deb Olin Unferth (English); Elizabeth Willis (English); Jeanine Basinger (Film Studies); Anthony Braxton (Music - awarded MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant" ); Neely Bruce (Music and American Studies); Angel Gil-Ordonez (Music); Alvin Lucier (Experimental Music); Mark Slobin (Music and American Studies); Eiko Otake (Dance - awarded MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant"); Eugene Marion Klaaren (Religion); Jan Willis (Religion); Vera Schwarcz (East Asian Studies); Joseph Siry (History of Architecture); Reinhold Blumel (Physics); David Bodznick (Biology, Neuroscience & Behavior); David L. Beveridge (Chemistry); Carol Wood (Mathematics); Mark Hovey (Mathematics); Karen L. Collins (Computer Science); William Herbst (Astronomy, Director of the Van Vleck Observatory); Richard Slotkin (American Studies and English).

Wesleyan's program in World Music employs leading teaching musicians and ethnomusicologists, representing a variety of musical traditions. Indonesian (including Javanese Gamelan), South Indian Classical, East Asian, West African, African-American, European (including Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic, Neo-Classical, 20th Century, and Opera), as well as Experimental musics have been permanent components of the Music Department since the 1960s. The Experimental music work at Wesleyan dates to the residency of John Cage at the University, and subsequently to Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, and Jon Barlow. Masters degrees in ethnomusicology, musicology, composition, and performance, and a Ph.D. degree in ethnomusicology are offered. "Among universities, Wesleyan has one of the the largest and most diverse collections of [world] musical instruments," which are depicted in the University's "Virtual Instrument Museum."

The University's Film Studies department is led by film historian Jeanine Basinger. In 2008, Vanity Fair noted: "This tiny Connecticut University, with a total enrollment of 2,700, has turned out a shockingly disproportionate number of Hollywood movers and shakers." Similarly, in 2008, Variety magazine noted Basinger's contribution to the film industry through her work in the Wesleyan Film Studies program, and the large number of alumni of the program now working in Hollywood. University students, biographers, media experts, and scholars from around the world have full access to The Wesleyan Cinema Archives, which document the film industry during the 20th Century and contain the personal papers and film related materials of Ingrid Bergman, Frank Capra, Clint Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Elia Kazan, Frank Perry, Roberto Rossellini, Robert Saudek, Martin Scorsese, Gene Tierney, Raoul Walsh, John Waters, and others.

Wesleyan's theater program is highly regarded. The University is home to Second Stage, which may be the country's first solely student-run volunteer theater organization. Second Stage produces at least one performance per weekend during the school year, either in the fully equipped black-box Patricelli '92 Theater or alternate spaces around campus. Second Stage produces dance as well as theater performances. The Patricelli '92 Theater became available for student run productions when the Center for the Arts opened in 1974, providing the Theater Department with a state-of-the-art facility.

According to National Science Foundation (NSF) research and data, the University ranks first nationally among liberal arts colleges in federal funding for research in the sciences and mathematics. Wesleyan is also the number one ranked liberal arts institution in publications by science and mathematics faculty as determined by a measure of research publication rate and impact of publication that factors in both the number of research papers and the number of times those papers are cited in the literature. The University's undergraduates co-author (with Wesleyan faculty) and publish more scientific papers than do students at any other liberal arts school. Additionally, the University is the only liberal arts college in the nation to receive research funding from the National Institutes of Healthmarker (NIH) to support a Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Research Training Program. Wesleyan is the sole undergraduate liberal arts college to receive this support among research universities such as Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Harvard University Medical School, Duke, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania.The University also may be the only liberal arts college to offer an undergraduate concentration in Molecular Biophysics. Medical school acceptances historically have averaged above 90% and in some years Wesleyan has recorded an acceptance rate of 100%. Many pre-med graduates are admitted to the most prestigious programs in the country.

Wesleyan was one of the first colleges to establish a separate Molecular Biology & Biochemistry department, and has extensive laboratory facilities. The University is reputed to have the most square footage of lab space per student of any college in the country. (See, Wesleyan University, Facilities.) All of the science departments, mathematics & computer science, psychology, and anthropology support original post-graduate research programs. An additional laboratory building is in the planning stages.

The University's Foreign Language Department offers American Sign Language, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. All language classes are held in Fisk Hall, which contains two Language Labs for student use.

The Astronomy department graduates more astronomy and astrophysics majors than any other liberal arts college in the country. The program is based at Van Vleck Observatory, built in 1914, which is on Foss Hill near the center of the Wesleyan campus. The telescopes are used for research-based observing programs and sky watching events open to Wesleyan students and the general public. The University owns three telescopes. A and a are both used for weekly public observing nights, open to the Wesleyan community and the general public. The third telescope, the Perkins telescope, is used primarily for research, including for senior and graduate student thesis projects, as well as for departmental research programs (which include Supernovae, Variable Stars—known as T Tauri stars, the KNPO International Spectroscopic Survey, dwarf galaxies, Observational Cosmology, X-ray Binary Populations, and Planetary Science). The Perkins scope is one of the largest telescopes in New England. Wesleyan also participates in a consortium of universities that operate the WIYN .9-meter telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatorymarker in Arizonamarker. Students (undergraduate and graduate) and faculty have the opportunity to spend time in Arizona doing research with the telescope. Astronomers at the University have made a number of discoveries, including KH15D, a "winking star" (a unique astronomical object) that promises to inform astronomers much about protoplanetary disks. Wesleyan also is a member of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium (KNAC).

Butterfield Colleges

College of Social Studies

The College of Social Studies (CSS) was founded in 1959, combining the fields of history, economics, government, and philosophy. It emphasizes intellectual independence and collaborative and social ties between faculty and students. Students take 7 of the program's 12 (thesis-writing students take 13) required credits during their sophomore year. Sophomore year focuses on the development of modern Western society from historical, economic, social and political perspectives, and culminates with comprehensive final exams. Junior year has a more global focus, while Seniors are required to write an Honors thesis (full year) or a Senior Essay. The program is known for its collegial spirit and academic rigor. In fact, "[t]he CSS major is often regarded as one of the more difficult majors at the University."

College of Letters

The College of Letters (COL) combines the study of history, literature, philosophy, and a foreign language of the student's choice. The program has a primary focus on the Western canon. Undertaking a chronological study that progresses from antiquities to modernity, COL students take one colloquium together each semester and study abroad for the second semester of their sophomore year; they are expected to be at an intermediate level of study in their language of choice at the time they enter the program as sophomores. During their junior year students prepare for intensive comprehensive examinations on the three colloquia taken up to this point. During their senior year students must write a thesis (full year paper) or an essay (half year paper).

Science in Society Program

Wesleyan's Science in Society Program is an interdisciplinary major that encourages integrated study of the sciences and medicine as practices, institutions, and intellectual achievements, among other areas of study. The program has three components: science courses, SISP courses, and an area of concentration (which may include a major in one of the sciences). The program is well suited for students interested in a variety of professional and academic pursuits, since it encourages students to integrate technical scientific understanding with a grasp of the multiple contexts in which scientific knowledge is applied, and the issues at stake in its application.

Certificate programs

Wesleyan's certificate programs are "designed to bring coherence to programs of study that include courses from many departments and programs." They are:
  • Certificate in Environmental Studies
  • Certificate in Informatics and Modeling
  • Certificate in International Relations
  • Certificate in Jewish and Israel Studies
  • Certificate in Molecular Biophysics

Study abroad

Wesleyan sponsors international programs in France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain; has special relationships with programs in Japan and China; and has 140 other approved programs. Nearly 45% of students study abroad for one academic year.

Twelve College Exchange

Many students participate in the Twelve College Exchange program, which allows for study for a semester or a year at another of the twelve college campuses. Typically, Wesleyan receives a larger number of Twelve College students, especially from Smithmarker, Mount Holyokemarker, Wheatonmarker and Vassarmarker. The program also includes Amherstmarker, Bowdoinmarker, Connecticutmarker, Dartmouthmarker, Trinitymarker, Wellesleymarker, and Williams.

Graduate programs

Graduate programs

Wesleyan features 11 graduate departmental programs in the sciences, mathematics, psychology, and music. Graduates receive the Master of Arts, Master of Science, and/or Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Generally, Wesleyan's graduate programs retain a small college atmosphere similar to the undergraduate program. For example, departments feature small administrative staffs, close student-faculty interaction, and open laboratory facilities. Administrators limit graduate course enrollment to 18 students or less.

Graduate Liberal Studies Program

In 1953, Wesleyan was one of three universities to begin a program leading to a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree, called the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. To date, hundreds of educational institutions have followed suit with similar programs. The academically rigorous program provides for interdisciplinary graduate study independent of the undergraduate academic departments. This replaced the Master of Arts in Teaching program previously offered, and expanded it so that students can pursue graduate study for any purpose.

A large proportion of G.L.S.P. students are public and private school teachers from the region, and the others are in different professions, or are otherwise augmenting their graduate studies.

The Graduate Liberal Studies Program offers both the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.) and the Certificate of Advanced Studies (C.A.S.). The former requires 36 credit hours of study and may culminate in a capstone project or thesis. The latter requires 30 credit hours of academic study and a thesis.

Rankings and admission

Admission to Wesleyan is among the most selective in the nation. For the class of 2013, 22% of applicants were admitted. The middle 50 percent of accepted students' SAT scores were 670-770 on the Critical Reading section, 670-760 on the Math section, and 670-770 on the Writing section. Additionally, the middle 50 percent of students scored between 30 and 34 (composite) on the ACT. The median SAT score was 2170, and the median ACT score was 32.

Historically, Wesleyan holds the Washington Monthly survey's #1 average liberal arts college ranking in the nation. Most recently, the University was ranked #4 in this survey, and has previously been ranked as high as #2. In the current U.S. News and World Report rankings, Wesleyan is the #13 liberal arts college overall in the United States and is tied for #5 in academic reputation with Middlebury Collegemarker and Pomona Collegemarker. In previous U.S. News rankings, the University has been ranked as high as #6 overall. In the Forbes Magazine ranking of American colleges, which combines liberal arts colleges and national research universities together in one list, the University is ranked #21. Among liberal arts colleges only, Wesleyan ranks #11 in the survey. On " - U.S. University Directory", which takes a statistical approach to rankings, Wesleyan is ranked #14 among both liberal arts colleges and national research universities, tied (with a score of 98.6 out of 100) with Swarthmore Collegemarker, Middlebury, Carleton Collegemarker, and the University of Notre Damemarker, and is tied for #4 among liberal arts colleges alone. According to a study entitled "Revealed Preference Ranking" published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which combines national research universities and liberal arts colleges, Wesleyan ranks #26, and #7 among liberal arts colleges alone.

In its 2009 edition, the Princeton Review gave the University both a selectivity rating and an academic rating of 97 out of 99, tied with Bowdoin College and Pomona in the latter category. Newsweek magazine has described Wesleyan as one of a small group of historically, academically "elite" colleges and universities in the nation. The University is classified as a most selective institution by the Carnegie Foundation.

Wesleyan is ranked very highly in the Washington Monthly's key academic output categories, currently holding second place in the proportion of undergraduates in liberal arts colleges obtaining PhDs and fourth in fostering scientific and humanistic research. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wesleyan is one of the top "feeder schools" to elite graduate medical, law, and business schools.

The University is notable for the success of its female and minority populations. Wesleyan is one of only nine universities with a black graduation rate above 90 percent, along with three members of the Ivy League and fellow members of the Little Three, as well as Wellesley Collegemarker, Northwestern Universitymarker, and Washington University in St. Louismarker. In this regard, Black Enterprise has ranked Wesleyan #14 overall among the magazine's top 50 universities and colleges for African Americans, and #5 among liberal arts colleges alone. Also noteworthy is the success of female students at the University: According to a recent summary, 55.3% of Wesleyan's doctorates were earned by women.

On the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, Wesleyan received an overall grade of "A-", the highest overall score awarded. Only 26 colleges and universities in the nation earned this grade. Additionally, the University was cited for being an "Overall College Sustainability Leader," a "Campus Sustainability Leader," and an "Endowment Sustainability Leader" (one of only twelve colleges and universities in the nation), among other awards. The University was one of only six colleges and universities to receive all three leadership awards. Wesleyan also earned grades of A- for "Community garden or farm" and "Renewable energy on campus."

Olin Memorial Library and other library holdings

Wesleyan University has an extensive library collection, most of which is housed in Olin Memorial Library, which has more than one million three hundred thousand volumes. Wesleyan's first library was Rich Hall (now '92 Theater), which was built just after the Civil War. In the early years of the University, there was a general collection housed on campus, and two society libraries, which were in the Observatory Hall dormitory. These three collections were combined to make up the basis of the Rich Hall collection, and the library was supervised by William North Rice, '65, the first University Librarian. Olin Library was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White and built in 1925. Olin originally was much smaller and also contained classroom space. It has since been enlarged twice, the last time in 1992. Olin also contains Special Collections & Archives, an extensive periodicals collection, microforms, scores and recordings, the World Music Archives, and is a U.S. Government Document Depository.

The second largest library on campus is the Science Library, which houses over two hundred fifty thousand volumes of science abstracts, books, journals, monographs, papers, periodicals, and surveys. The Science Library also has a large collection called the Cutter Collection, which is an older private collection of mostly nineteenth century English language books of European literature, art, and culture. The third library in size is the Davidson Art Library. There is also a Music library and several department libraries.

In addition to being used for its book collection, Olin is also used for its extensive arrangement of study carrels, study rooms, three large reading rooms, and student senior thesis carrels. There is also a large and widely used separate reserve readings section with books set aside for various classes. On any given weeknight of the academic year, Olin is the most populated building on the campus.

The Davison Art Center

Wesleyan University's Davison Art Center is housed in Alsop Housemarker, which also houses the Davison Art Library and is designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The Art Center has a large collection consisting primarily of works on paper, including 18,000 prints, 6,000 photographs, several hundred drawings, a small number of paintings, and three-dimensional objects (including artists' books, sculptures, and other objects). The print collection is considered to be one of the most important at an American University, with works by Durer, Goya, Rembrandt, Manet, and others. Parts of the collection are regularly exhibited to the public. Some objects have been made available for loan to selected museums in the United States and abroad. Students at Wesleyan in many departments make use of the DAC collection for class assignments, viewings, and individual research projects under the guidance of faculty. Wesleyan does not have a museum studies major, but assisting in curating and exhibiting the collection allows students some professional experience in the field.

The Art Center's publications program produces catalogs concerning DAC collections and gallery exhibitions. In general, one catalog is published annually. This program affords students the opportunity to take part in carefully mentored student authorship. Additionally, it is a critical component of the museum's educational program, which also includes student museum internships and solely student-curated exhibitions.

The Center for the Humanities

One of the University's seven academic centers, the Center for Humanities is one of the oldest humanities institutes in the nation. It developed from the Center for Advanced Studies, established at Wesleyan in 1959 as a place where visiting scholars, particularly in the humanities, could pursue research and writing projects. The Center assumed its present name in 1969, when it was reorganized and opened to the Wesleyan community. With the expansion of the community of Center Fellows to include Wesleyan faculty members and students, the Center added the promotion of innovative, interdisciplinary teaching to its initial goal of supporting research. The Center is also a place for ongoing communication between the humanities and the social sciences. Its program each semester is organized around a central theme, which in turn shapes a weekly series of public lectures and smaller seminars. As a meeting place for the humanities and social sciences, for Wesleyan faculty and visiting scholars, and for faculty and students, the Center is an important site of intellectual life at the University

Past Fellows at the Center have included Hannah Arendt, John Cage, Baron C.P. Snow, Pamela Hansford Johnson (Lady Snow), Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, Clarence Irving Lewis, Sir Leslie Munro, Willard Van Orman Quine, Edmund Wilson, William Manchester, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Richard N. Goodwin, U.S. Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur, George Boas, Lasker Award recipient Rene Dubos, C.H. Waddington and E. San Juan, among others.

The Center for Community Partnerships

The focus of community service at Wesleyan, the Center for Community Partnerships centralizes the offices of the Service Learning Center (SLC), the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism (OCS), and the Green Street Arts Center (GSAC). The SLC supports service-learning courses that use service to the community as an integral part of their course content. As of Spring 2007, 19 service-learning courses existed in nine different departments or programs. The OCS encourages community building within the University and with the City of Middletown and Middlesex County by offering opportunities for volunteer work and work-study placements in the community, and supporting student-sponsored social action initiatives. Volunteer opportunities include, among others, the Community Health Center, elderly services, housing and hunger issues, Middletown tutoring programs, and WesReads and WesMath (elementary school programs). Green Street uses the arts in an attempt to transform lives. It serves as a cultural and educational resource for community residents of all ages, and works to develop their talents and abilities. Green Street offers classes in literary and media arts, music, visual arts, dance, and theater. Under the leadership of the University, the GSAC is a collaboration among Wesleyan, the City of Middletown, and the North End Action Team. Students and faculty volunteer at Green Street in many capacities, including as homework helpers, teaching assistants, and leaders of workshops.

Wesleyan University Press

The Wesleyan University Press is an important educational asset to the school. When Wesleyan sold the school division, the University retained the scholarly division. During the early 1960s, T. S. Eliot served as an editorial consultant to the Press. All editing occurs at the editorial office building of the Press on the Wesleyan campus. Publishing (printing) now occurs through a consortium of New England college academic presses. The Press is well regarded for its books of poetry and books on music, dance and performance, American studies, and film. The Wesleyan University Press has released more than 250 titles in its poetry series and has garnered, in that series alone, among many other awards, four Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingenmarker, three National Book Awards, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and an American Book Award. The Press also has garnered Pulitzer Prizes, American Book Awards, and other awards in its other series.

The Press serves Wesleyan students through its work programs during the academic year and its summer publishing internships. The Press also connects the campus to the larger intellectual and cultural world through the presence of its authors on campus, whether they are faculty, visiting scholars, guest lecturers, or participants in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series or Writers Conference. Wesleyan is the smallest college or university to have its own press. Approximately 25 books are released each year.

Religious life

Memorial Chapel, a multi-denominational space built in 1871.

Wesleyan has four religious chaplains: A Protestant minister, a Roman Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim chaplain. In addition to student groups and services associated with these four religions, there are groups associated with Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism, and even a group which holds services that are simply "spiritual" and separate from any organized religion. Services are also available for Quakers, Christian Scientists, Hindus, and Baha'is, and there are many local religious groups in Middletown.

Because Wesleyan's student body is 25-30% Jewish, one of the largest student religious efforts is that of Jewish students: Current programs and groups include a Havurah, a student house called the Bayit with a kosher kitchen, a Hebrew conversation group, and a student-created adult B'nai Mitzvah program for fellow students, among other things. In the past, a Klezmer band and a Jewish a cappella group have also existed. From time to time, Wesleyan Jewish and Muslim students take a joint, interfaith Spring Break trip to Turkeymarker and Israelmarker.

Other religious groups are active as well: The Muslim Student Association and the Muslim student house, Turath, sponsor interfaith programming and Middle Eastern cultural events, while Christians at Wesleyan have founded the Wesleyan Christian Fellowship and share a student house called Light House. Also, students of many faiths live in the Interfaith House at Wesleyan.


Athletics logo
Wesleyan is a member of the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), fields intercollegiate varsity teams in 29 sports, and competes against traditional Little Three rivals Amherst and Williams. Approximately 700 students participate in intercollegiate sports each year.


The University's Freeman Athletic Center features the Bacon Fieldhouse, Spurrier-Snyder Rink, Rosenbaum Squash Center, a 1,200 seat gymnasium, a fitness center, and a beautiful pool. Football and baseball games are played on Andrus Field in the middle of campus, while tennis matches are held at the John Woods Memorial Courts.Wesleyan also recently dedicated Jackson Field, the site of soccer contests, and Smith Field, a newly constructed synthetic turf field and the site of lacrosse and field hockey games. The Wesleyan Crew rows out of Macomber Boathouse on the nearby Connecticut River.


The Wesleyan baseball team of 1994 is currently the only Wesleyan squad to play in an NCAA Division III national championship game. The team won the NCAA Division III New England regional tournament to earn a spot in the Division III World Series in Battle Creek, Mich. A prominent alumni of Wesleyan baseball is MLB general manager Jed Hoyer

Cross Country

In 1984, Wesleyan won the school's first NESCAC championship in women's cross country. The Men's Cross-Country team lays claim to a number of prominent American distance runners, including Ambrose Burfoot, Bill Rodgers, and Jeff Galloway. Further, Sebastian Junger holds the Men's Indoor 1500m record for the team.


Situated in the heart of the campus is Wesleyan's Andrus Field, the oldest continuously used football field in the United States. In the fall of 2006, Wesleyan celebrated the 125th anniversary of its first football game which was played against the Amherst Aggies (now UMass Minutemen) on October 31, 1881. During the brief period when Woodrow Wilson was a Professor of Political Economy at Wesleyan, he was an unofficial assistant coach and served as co-director of the Foot-Ball Association. Currently, Wesleyan has won the Little Three championship outright 12 times (compared to 30 for Amherst and 46 for Williams) with 8 three-way ties; the Cardinals have not outright won the championship since 1970. Two of the most prominent alumni of Wesleyan football are NFL coaches Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini.


Wesleyan won the NESCAC Championship in 1987.

Men's Lacrosse

Among the most successful Wesleyan sports in recent years, men's lacrosse made the NCAA Division III Final Four in both 2006 and 2007. Wesleyan won the school's first-ever men's lacrosse NESCAC Championship in 2009.


Wesleyan won its first Little Three softball title in 2008.

Men's Soccer

Wesleyan won the NESCAC Championship in 1991 and 2005. Amos Magee is Wesleyan's all time scoring leader for both goals and points.


The Wesleyan Varsity crew has a long tradition as well, going back to the early days of the sport in New England. Most recently, Wesleyan won the NESCAC championship in 2004, facing stiff competition from Trinity and Williams, who continue to challenge the division. A century ago, there were additional crews by college class year and fraternity, and the shells and equipment were passed down through the class years. Today the Head of the Connecticut Regatta is held in September, officially hosted by an independent organization. However, Wesleyan University and the City of Middletown are informally considered joint hosts, and the side by side Wesleyan and City boathouse facilities are used as the home of the regatta.

Non-varsity athletics

The University also has 9 intramural leagues and 11 club sports teams in a wide range of sports, and sponsors the annual Wesleyan Dorm Cup between the various dormitories and fraternities on campus.

The Wesleyan Fight Song

So then its fight for old Wesleyan,Never give in,Fight till the end when might and right shall win,So keep on fighting till victory,Crowns everyone,So then it's fight, fight, fight, fight,For Wesleyan,Go Wes

Student groups and organizations

There are more than two hundred student organizations, clubs, and departmental groups including a cappella groups, literary magazines, theater and dance troupes, political organizations, a vegetable farm, and groups devoted to outdoor activities, academic interests, ethnic interests, community tutoring and service, and the arts. In response to student interests, new groups are continually formed and registered with the Wesleyan Student Assembly, which represents the student body and appropriates funding for student groups. With around 260 current student groups and 2800 undergraduates (a student group to undergraduate ratio of about 1 to 11), extracurricular opportunities abound at Wesleyan. One of the goals of The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development is to enhance out-of-classroom experiences so as to promote personal development and leadership training.


The Debate Society was founded in 1903 and later named in honor of Woodrow Wilson, former Professor and Chair of History and Political Economy at Wesleyan from 1888-1890. It captured first place in past years at the annual Brownmarker, Columbia, Georgetownmarker, Harvardmarker, Princetonmarker, Tuftsmarker and Williams tournaments, among others, and has reached the semi-finals of all other major tournaments. The Debate Society also has competed internationally, and in 1990 the Society won the National Championships and ninth place in the World Student Debating Championships.


A prominent student group of recent years has been the Environmental Organizers' Network (EON), which has helped to bring discussions about climate change and environmental sustainability to the forefront of campus dialogue. Wesleyan also owns a tract of land that is used as Long Lane Farm, an organic vegetable farm mostly run by students.


Some of the oldest and most visible student groups are campus publications, including a bi-weekly newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, one of the oldest college newspapers in the country, and a periodical, Hermes. The student body also publishes the Olla Podrida, which was originally a quarterly newspaper in the late 1850s, but which has been the college yearbook since the Civil War and the permanent establishment of the Argus as the campus newspaper. Another long-running poetry and fiction publication was The Wesleyan Cardinal. The Argus has now been partially supplanted by Wesleying, a popular student-run weblog that documents undergraduate life at Wesleyan. Overall, at least seventeen student publications are published each semester or annually, including magazines of fiction, humor, activism, academic interests, women's issues, and poetry.

In addition to publications, the student body in conjunction with the administration has been responsible for the radio station WESU, 88.1 FM, which has broadcast locally since 1939, making it one of the oldest non-commercial radio stations in the country. Broadcast facilities are on top of the Science Center.

Singing groups

Singing groups have been "active at Wesleyan from the time of its founding." The Wesleyan Glee Club was organized by students in 1846, and was considered the best collegiate glee club in the late 1800s. It traveled widely giving concerts, including being received twice at the White House (in 1901 by President McKinley and again in 1928 by President Coolidge) and being recorded onto a phonograph record by Thomas Edison. The Glee Club twice won the National Intercollegiate Glee Club Competition at Carnegie Hall, leading Wesleyan to be known as the "Singing College of New England".

This tradition continues today in several a cappella groups on campus, including, among others, the Cardinal Sinners (all-female), Onomatopoeia (all-female), the Wesleyan Spirits (all-male), Quasimodal (co-ed), the New Group (co-ed), and Slavei (co-ed; Eastern European-themed). Additionally, a student-run ensemble called The Mixolydians sings contemporary choral works.

Several alumni have gone on to music careers, including Allie Wrubel (class of 1926), composer and songwriter, whose Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1947.

While not a student group, ten female faculty members have formed a much-loved a cappella group called The Roadside Girls which often performs Wesleyan-themed parodies of existing songs.

Bands and performers

Beginning with the success of The Highwaymen in 1961, Wesleyan students have maintained a very active musical life outside the concert halls of the Center for the Arts. There have been some successful bands, and many individuals have gone on from their Wesleyan University bands to careers in the music industry. Bands such as the Nowhere Mountain Band (bluegrass) and Mood Swing (rock) have had some success; Dar Williams went on to a solo career from her start in Wesleyan college bands. MGMT and the Mobius Band have begun successful careers after Wesleyan, as have Boy Crisis, Francis and the Lights, Santigold, and The Solids. Similarly, Mary Halvorson, Taylor Ho Bynam, Jay Hoggard, and Tierney Sutton have emerged as jazz artists after their graduation from the University.

One of the greatest music successes was the musical In the Heights, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (class of 2002) during his Sophomore year, and which, nine years later, was nominated for 13 Tony awards for the Broadwaymarker production. The musical won four Tony for Best Musical, Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics by Miranda), Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations, among other awards. In 2009, In the Heights won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and Miranda was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (Universal Pictures announced in November 2008 that it plans to adapt the musical as a feature film for release in 2010.)

Secret societies and fraternities

Secret societies on campus include two Mystical Sevens, Skull and Serpent and Theta Nu Epsilon. Skull & Serpent has a small building, called The Tomb, for meetings. The Mystical Seven senior society had a building from 1912 to 1997. The building burned in 1997 and was razed in 2007. Plans are currently being formulated to rebuild the structure.

Wesleyan is home to several fraternities. There are three fraternities that have houses on campus: Psi Upsilon (1843), Delta Kappa Epsilon (1868), and Beta Theta Pi (1890). However, Beta Theta Pi is considered to be off campus by the Office of Residential Life. In addition, there are two co-ed societies: the Alpha Delta Phi Society (1856) (formerly a fraternity) and the Eclectic Society (1838). Black fraternities include six of the NPHC or Divine Nine on campus. Wesleyan is included in the Nu Psi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and the home for chapters of Phi Beta Sigma, and Alpha Phi Alpha. Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta are Wesleyan's National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities. Latino fraternal life is represented by the Sigma Chapter of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. These latter groups all came to Wesleyan after the late 1980s.

Some of the older fraternities possess fine, very large houses adjacent to the campus while the newer ones do not own buildings. In the first half of the 20th century, when Wesleyan was a much smaller all-male college, up to 80% of the student body belonged to fraternities almost all of which were residential. For the past few decades the membership has been about 12% of the student body, with only 3% living in actual houses.

Student activism

Need-blind admissions

Wesleyan adheres to a need-blind admission policy. Financial circumstances are not considered when deciding whether to admit, wait list, or turn down an applicant. In 1982, trustees announced that, following federal cuts to student aid, Wesleyan would begin to consider financial circumstances when admitting wait-listed students. Students protested the decision, and though trustees did not back down from their recommendations, Wesleyan raised enough money for financial aid to avoid putting the new policy into effect. In 1992, the administration again considered a moratorium on need-blind admissions. A student group, Students for Financially Accessible Education (SFAE), organized a series of actions, including rallies, a silent vigil encircling a trustee meeting, a sit-in in an administration building, and a camp-out on its lawn. Wesleyan's need-blind admissions policy was preserved and remains today. For several years, SFAE continued to raise awareness about financial accessibility, offering interest-free loans to students with financial emergencies, and raising money for financial aid through energy conservation campaigns. The group appears to be dormant at this time.

On November 1, on the eve of his inauguration as Wesleyan's 16th president, Michael S. Roth announced that beginning with the class of 2012, all financial aid applicants whose family incomes was $40,000 or less would not have to take out loans. They would be given grants. For all other financial aid recipients, there would be a general reduction in loans by about 35 percent.

Staff labor unions

In 2001, students of the United Student Labor Action Coalition occupied the admissions building during the month of April to protest the University's use of sub-contracted janitors who were not being paid a living wage. As part of the nationwide Justice for Janitors campaign, USLAC demanded that the University amend its contract with the service contractor to provide for a living wage and to let the janitors form a union if so desired. As April is the peak of college admissions season for prospective students, USLAC had a considerable amount of leverage as the University found itself with a severe public relations problem. After about two days the University conceded to the student demands.

In December 2004, over 250 students occupied South College and trapped President Bennet in his office for several hours to protest the lack of student voices in administrative decision making. The building occupation was followed by a forum the next day, in which President Bennet promised to respond to student demands in January 2005. The motivations behind the occupation, in addition to its efficacy in transforming administrative policy, remain open questions.

WESU & National Public Radio

Another controversy in the same period was the status of the campus radio station, WESUmarker, founded in 1939 as the second college radio station in the United States. WESU broadcasts 24 hours a day. Until 2004, WESU's format had been entirely free-form, with DJs and student staff having complete freedom to program what they will. The University had, at that time, announced its intent to seek an affiliation with National Public Radio, and to drastically change the station's format. Douglas Bennett, then President of the University, was a former president of NPR. The station now broadcasts an NPR feed from WSHU, the college station of Sacred Heart University, for several hours a day. For the remainder of the broadcast day, WESU continues to operate as a free-form station.


Activism around the issue of free speech, especially as it relates to chalking on university property, bubbles up from time to time in response to the chalking moratorium issued by President Bennet in 2003, although this temporary ban was eventually made permanent. Heated discussion around these topics emerged and the administration hosted a forum to field questions. Students contended that they "chalked as a way of expressing dissent, of raising awareness on topics of sexuality, race, class, and gender, of bringing humor and fun into people's daily life, and of inviting students to parties and club events." Some faculty, students, and administrators found some examples of chalking to be distasteful or offensive and were especially disturbed by those directed against individual persons. The current legal status of chalking is unclear. Chalkings are often washed away within several days, but no student has been disciplined for chalking for several years.

Notable alumni and faculty

Wesleyan alumni have achieved prominence in many fields, including a U.S.marker Supreme Court Justicemarker; Presidential cabinet members and Presidential advisers; U.S. Senators, Congresspersons, and Governors; diplomats and other government figures; federal judges and state supreme court justices; U.S. Attorneys; scientists; physicians; academicians; CEOs; artists; musicians; journalists; members of the military and the clergy; inventors; winners of the American Book Award, Edgar Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, O. Henry Award, Orange Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Pushcart Prize, and Whiting Writers' Award; recipients of MacArthur Fellowships, Rhodes, DAAD Scholarship, Fulbrights, Goldwater, Guggenheim Fellowships, Luce Scholarship, Marshall, Truman, and Watson Fellowships; recipients of the Balzan Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal; members of the National Academy of Sciencesmarker; Academy, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Super Bowl winners.

Wesleyan alumni have founded or been the president of more than 50 universities and colleges in the nation and the world.

Former Wesleyan faculty and affiliates V. S. Naipaul, Woodrow Wilson, and T. S. Eliot have been awarded Nobel Prizes. Gary Yohe, current Professor of Economics, is a senior member and coordinating lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Other faculty have been recipients of the Lasker Award, MacArthur Fellowship, National Medal of Science, and Pulitzer Prize, among other awards. Two former faculty members, Richard Wilbur and Mark Strand, were United States Poet Laureates.


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  134. Notables
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  152. Hartford Advocate
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