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Did You Know?

WesFact #1

In the mid-1800's, High Street--which runs through the center of the Wesleyan campus and borders College Row--was called "the most beautiful street in America" by literary legend, Charles Dickens. The author of Oliver Twist (1839), The Christmas Carol (1843), and Great Expectations (1861), among many other literary works, had visited Middletown during Wesleyan's early years.

WesFact #2

Christopher Wink '83 transformed entertainment with his perspective on American culture. He co-founded Blue Man Group, which staged a mock "funeral for the '80's" in New York City's Central Park. The performance was recorded by an MTV video crew and, before long, Blue Man Group changed the way we see performance art ... as entertainment.

Today, Blue Man Group is a critically acclaimed entertainment company that presents award-winning multimedia theatrical shows on two continents and employs 500 people. The group has also recorded concerts, DVDs, movie soundtracks and commercials, and a Grammy-winning CD.

WesFact #3

Wesleyan professor of Chemistry, Wilbur Olin Atwater,class of 1856, obtained state funding for an experiment station in Judd Hall similar to those he had seen during his years of study at Leipzig and Berlin. He also persuaded the Smithsonian Institution to support his research on nutrition, and served from 1887 to 1891 as director of the national Office of Experimental Stations. A short, stout, tireless man, Atwater was "perhaps the most widely known American scientist of his day." (Century Magazine 36 (May, 1888))

The capstone of Atwater's career came with his use of the respiration calorimeter to study human metabolism from 1892-1896. The experimental subject would spend 4-5 days in the respiration calorimeter chamber. Atwater and his colleagues measured precise income and outgo of both matter and energy during the course of the experiment. Through these experiments, Atwater established the calorie as a unit of energy and went on to demonstrate that even alcohol has nutritional value. Needless to say, advocating the food value of gin during the heyday of the temperance movement caused a public sensation.

WesFact #4

Olin Library was designed by legendary American architect Henry Bacon, who also designed four other landmark buildings on campus: Eclectic, Skull & Serpent, Van Vleck Observatory, and Clark Hall. Some have observed the conceptual similarities of Eclectic to Bacon's final and most famous commission, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

WesFact #5

In 1831, when a dollar was worth, well, a dollar, the cost of tuition per term was $11.00 to $12.00.

In 2006, that 1831 dollar is worth $18.96. It might be tempting to calculate that today's cost of tuition per term should equal (12 x 18.96) = $227.52, but don't fall for it. Think of everything a student gets today for a dollar that Wesleyan's earliest students did not receive: electricity, hot and cold running water, heat, air conditioning, sidewalks, public safety, choice of professors, choice of courses, a dorm room, wireless connectivity, a football team, swimming pool, squash courts, Foss Hill...

WesFact #6

Although various campus baseball clubs formed and were active on the Wesleyan campus in the early 1860's, Wesleyan's first intercollegiate athletic event was a baseball game in 1865 against Yale in New Haven. It was also Yale's first intercollegiate game.

Wesleyan's players were distinguished by the club's color, as represented by a lavender ribbon each wore. The game went eight innings before a crowd of 1,500 spectators. Wesleyan lost to Yale by a score of 39-13.

WesFact #7

When he came to Wesleyan in 1837, Richard S. Rust (Class of 1841) was already an active abolitionist and preacher. As a student, he supported himself by giving anti-slavery lectures and publishing an anthology of verse and prose, called Freedom's Gift, or, Sentiments of the Free. Rust went on to become a leader in higher education for African Americans. Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss., is named for him.

WesFact #8

After Wesleyan trustees decided in 1909 to phase out coeducation, Elizabeth C. Wright (Class of 1897) organized an effort to establish a new women's college, Connecticut College, which was founded in 1911. She served as chairman of the Committee for Founding Connecticut College for Women, and, when the new college opened, successively as secretary, registrar, and bursar, until her retirement in 1943.

WesFact #9

During World War I, Wesleyan students in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps practiced for warfare by digging trenches in Andrus Field.

WesFact #10

Night and Silence, Who is Here?: An American Comedy (1963), by Pamela Hansford Johnson, or Lady Snow, is, in part, an unflattering roman a clef about Wesleyan. Along with her husband, noted author Sir C. P. Snow, Lady Snow was a fellow at Wesleyan's Center for Advanced Studies, the precursor to the Center for the Humanities, in 1961–62.

WesFact #11

In 1889, Woodrow Wilson founded the Wesleyan House of Commons, a debating society. Wilson taught history and political economy at Wesleyan from 1888–1890. He was also noted for his support of Wesleyan's fledgling football team.

WesFact #12

Wesleyan science professor William North Rice (Class of 1865) was an active participant in the early 20th-century debate over the relationship between science and religion. He earned the first Ph.D. in geology granted by Yale, with a dissertation entitled "The Darwinian Theory of the Origin of Species."

WesFact #13

In the spring of 1927, junior Earl Gaylor established a world record for holding his breath. The feat was part of an experiment conducted by biology professor Edward Schneider.

WesFact #14

From the turn of the 20th century through the 1950s, Wesleyan students expressed appreciation by snapping their fingers or "clicking" rather than clapping their hands. Applause was reserved for the highest form of praise.

WesFact #15

Judd Hall, built in 1870, was one of America's first buildings designed exclusively for teaching undergraduate science courses.

WesFact #16

In 1876, Wesleyan's first four women graduates were all elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

WesFact #17

Wesleyan was the first American college or university to own an Albert Einstein manuscript. Our first Einstein manuscripts were acquired in 1929 through the efforts of Albert W. Johnston, Class of 1893, and George W. Davison, Class of 1892.

WesFact #18

Walter Eli Clark, a member of the Class of 1895 and a journalist, served as the governor of Alaska from 1909 to 1913.

WesFact #19

Amby Burfoot, a member of the Class of 1968, was the only American to win the Boston Marathon in the 1960s. He won in 1968. Bill Rodgers, Class of 1970, who roomed with Burfoot at Wesleyan for one year, won the Boston Marathon four times in the 1970s.

WesFact #20

Annie Fisher, Class of 1904, was Hartford's first female school district superintendent (1923) and principal (1934). Fisher, a Jewish immigrant who came to the United States from the Ukraine at age 5, had a long and distinguished career in education and social service.