Reflections: Circling Back and Giving Due

At the end of June I concluded my term as chair of your alumni association. I was privileged to serve Wesleyan and her many devoted alumni. It was an experience I will long cherish. But to be frank, the thought of decreasing my engagement with the university has induced something akin to physiological withdrawal. It will be hard to forgo the quarterly trek to Middletown. I will miss the camaraderie of so many dedicated volunteers who serve on the board and the alumni committees and councils.

This is how it should be. There is a cyclicity to college life: classes enter as others graduate, semesters follow the seasons, and volunteers come and go. Like our graduates, I am closing a chapter in my life at Wesleyan. I will be ably succeeded by former alumni–elected trustee Michael Klingher ’78, who will bring great skill and vitality to the role.

Such renewal is good and it continues for me, too. I am delighted to return to my Wesleyan roots and chair the Campaign for the College of Letters and help raise funds to move the COL from Butterfield College to newly renovated space in the old squash courts on historic College Row, just adjacent to the Usdan University Center.

To be honest, it has been a sentimental journey circling back to my old major. Visiting with COL faculty reminds me anew of the incredible erudition and devotion they bring to their work and the intellectual debt that is incurred by all Wesleyan students to their professors, regardless of one’s area of study.

It is for this reason that I am most proud of the Alumni Association’s efforts to erect a fitting tribute to Wesleyan faculty who have been awarded a Binswanger Prize for teaching excellence. Stop by the Daniel Family Commons and have a look.

The glass plaque looks out on Andrus Field, College Row, Olin, and beyond. When the light is just right you can see campus vistas reflected in its panes. Last time I visited, I saw the reflection of the large tent erected for Reunion and Commencement juxtaposed upon the etched names of our most beloved teacher–scholars. No single image could capture better the cycles of college life.

—Joseph J. Fins ’82
Immediate past chair, Alumni Association