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Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis Shoots Music Video on Campus

Francis shoot8820 - Spezialetti Web450

Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis (center, kneeling behind camera) with members of the FILM309 course while filming a music video on campus in October. Photo courtesy of Associate Professor of Computer Science Madalene Spezialetti

More than 50 people gathered in Vernon Social on the evening of December 10 to watch music videos created by members of a Trinity College film production course.

The FILM309 students worked with music video director and Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis, who has directed videos for artists including Pharrell, Eminem, Carly Rae Jepson, Demi Lovato, and The Roots. Francis, who works primarily in Los Angeles, would Skype in to the class every Tuesday evening during the Fall 2015 semester. Associate Professor of Computer Science Madalene Spezialetti said, “Professor Francis illustrated the music video pitch process by screening a number of well-known videos for the class and showing the treatments and storyboards behind each pitch. He also shared the treatments and visual references from projects he directed and taught the class his own approach for generating ideas and communicating them to artists and record labels. Sharing his expertise enabled the students to understand the entire production process and use that knowledge when developing their own music videos.”

Francis came to the Trinity campus in October to lead a hands-on workshop. Students in the course got the opportunity to work with Francis and Spezialetti on creating their own music videos, and also participated in the production of a music video filmed by Francis on campus. “Watching his production process firsthand and having him coach them through the process of making their own music videos provided the students with a truly unique learning experience,” said Spezialetti. The filming was supplemented by written assignments.

​Anthony Flores ’16 said of his experience working with Francis, “Justin’s insight into the production of music videos helped me expand my idea of what a video could be. The class in general furthered my understanding of what it would be like to actually work in the field. It was one of the best classes I’ve taken at Trinity.”

The semester-capping Music Video Festival showcased a wide variety of approaches to film, featuring different types of shots set to various kinds of music. Maggie Millian ’18 said, “Making a music video with Justin Francis provided us with valuable experience and techniques that we used to make our own.”

Click here to see the music video made by class member Julia Conforti ’16 featuring a cover of Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River” performed by the Trinity College Quirks, one of the five a cappella groups on campus. The soloist is Noni Ghani ’16.

To learn more about Trinity College’s Interdisciplinary Program in Film Studies, contact or click here.

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Timothy Landry Explores Connections Between Science and Religion with Help from Paranormal Investigators

On a dark November night, students in Timothy Landry’s Anthropology of Religion course joined the Connecticut Paranormal Research Team (CTPRT) in Raether Library and Information Technology Center’s Level C periodical section to see if the area was haunted. The CTPRT set up a variety of scientific equipment that they say can help determine the presence of spirits. The students used devices that detected and responded to stimuli like movement, light, temperature, and electromagnetic fields.

2Web450The periodical section of Level C has long been rumored to be haunted; students alone in the stacks at night have reported hearing voices and seeing mysterious movement. Members of Landry’s class and the CTPRT tried to communicate with any spirits in the area using different devices on the evening of Thursday, November 5.

Landry, an assistant professor of anthropology and religion, invited these paranormal investigators to illustrate how religion and science construct different ideas of knowledge and truth. The students in the course have been studying how religion constructs knowledge and how it influences how we understand the world.

1Web450Landry said, “The paranormal investigators are ideal candidates for looking at these issues because they are looking for what we may think of as religious entities, like spirits and ghosts, and in this team’s case, demons. They are using science to find evidence for what we would normally think of as religious beings.”

The CTPRT’s efforts blur the boundary between religion and science, and their paranormal investigation perfectly encapsulates what Landry’s students are studying. Seth Bird ’16 said of his experience, “We explored the depths of Level C, the spookiest of environments, hunting for a paranormal presence. Did I become a believer? Probably not. However, I was fascinated by the commitment and optimism expressed by the CTPRT team.”

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Photos courtesy of Timothy Landry

Book by Samuel Kassow ’66 Being Turned Into Documentary Film


Samuel Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, with Lisa Kassow and Shana Penn ’77 at the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.​

A book written by Samuel S. Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, is being adapted for the screen by writer-director Roberta Grossman and executive producer Nancy Spielberg, sister to Steven Spielberg.

Production is already under way to turn Kassow’s 2007 book, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Indiana University Press), into a 90-minute documentary film that will be screened at film festivals and in select theaters. Who Will Write Our History? tells the gripping true story of Emanuel Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship to resist Nazi oppression in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Kassow’s book has been published in eight languages.

KassowbookAccording to the November 2015 West Hartford Life story, “Writing Holocaust history: Samuel Kassow’s book on the Warsaw Ghetto is being made into a movie,” by Lynn Woike, filming for the project began about a year ago with interviews and re-creations shot on set and on location in Poland and Israel. The majority of the production will be done in Warsaw in May or June 2016, and will be followed by about a year of editing. A 5-minute sample of the film is now available on the website Kassow plans to present another sneak peek of the film’s progress on April 10, 2016, at the closing night of the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival.

Judith and Henry M. Zachs ’56 have contributed greatly to the fundraising efforts to make the production possible, as have generous supporters of Jewish community causes both locally and nationally, according to West Hartford Life. The subject is seen as a historically important part of the Holocaust that deserves the broad attention a film can deliver.

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on April 19, 1943, when the German military entered the Ghetto with the intention of “liquidation” – the deportation of all residents, mostly Jews, to forced labor camps. The residents chose to resist rather than be deported to the camps, where death awaited them. The Jews continued to fight for 28 days, though greatly outnumbered and lacking weapons. By May 16, thousands of Ghetto fighters were captured or killed and the Germans proceeded to destroy the Ghetto.

Kassow is considered the leading expert on Ringelblum, who, in 1940, established a secret organization called Oyneg Shabes – Yiddish for “Sabbath delight” – in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to document Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve the events for posterity. Ringelblum was captured and killed in 1944, but before he died, he hid thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes, which were discovered in 1946 and 1950.

As a scholarly authority on the subject, Kassow served as lead historian for two of eight galleries of the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in October 2014 on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Most recently, Kassow edited and wrote an introduction for the book, In Those Nightmarish Days: The Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Josef Zelkowicz (Yale University Press). The translation of works by two lesser-known Ghetto journalists who died in World War II was released in October 2015. Kassow is currently translating the writings of Rachel Auerbach, one of three people from the Oyneg Shabes operation who survived. He is also co-editor of Volume Nine of The Posen Anthology of Jewish Culture, which is scheduled to be published by Yale University Press in 2017.

For more information about Who Will Write Our History? visit

Assistant Professor Anida Yoeu Ali Displays Her Thought-Provoking Performances as ‘The Red Chador’

Trinity College is hosting an exhibition by 2015-2016 McGill Visiting Assistant Professor in International Studies Anida Yoeu Ali called “The Red Chador: What Is It You Fear?” The exhibition, which runs from November 3 to December 14, 2015, at the Widener Gallery at the Austin Arts Center, features videos and photos of performances in both Paris and Hartford.


​The Red Chador on the Long Walk at Trinity College. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli

The purpose of Ali’s performance project is to pose the question, “What do you fear?” by using religious aesthetics to provoke ideas of otherness. Ali said she wants to make her audience aware about the perpetuated fear toward Islam, and she is committed to transforming those perceptions through her performance art. For this exhibition, the artist walked silently through public spaces in Paris and Hartford wearing a bright red sequin chador, or “Muslim” headdress, and documented reactions to her presence.

While earning her master’s of fine arts degree, Ali was fascinated by the concept of visibility and invisibility. As the concept has undergone change, so has Ali’s medium of art. She began as a spoken word artist, but moved into performance art. “Performance art is an intervention,” she said. “It has an element of surprise and shock that creates authentic reactions.”

To begin work on this piece, the artist went through a scouting process to select the spaces for her performances. Ali spoke to her colleagues, friends, and students to understand the local flavor of the environment. For instance, the exhibition includes a photograph of the Red Chador praying at an abandoned coal factory because she interprets the dome structure as a mosque. Ali said the image is rather absurd and humorous, but it touches on the concept of feminism within Islam.

The exhibition consists of photos and recordings of the Red Chador in public spaces, including Trinity College. Ali received a variety of reactions from the Trinity community as she walked in the chador around campus on October 21. Specifically, she said that she sensed a lot of tension on the Long Walk, and she heard a lot of profanity from students in the dorms of Jarvis Hall. Many wondered who she was and why she was dressed like that. These are the types of reactions that Ali seeks to provoke. Contrastingly, she was greeted by young women rapping on a bench, and she sat down to listen to them, nodding her head.

“The Red Chador: What Is It You Fear?” is on display at the Widener Gallery at the Austin Arts Center through December 14. The gallery hours are 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday through Friday. The gallery is closed on Saturdays, and November 25-29 for Thanksgiving. For directions and a map of the Trinity College campus, please click here.

Anida Yoeu Ali is an artist, scholar, and global agitator. Ali is the 2015 winner of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize and is currently the 2015-2016 McGill Visiting Assistant Professor in International Studies at Trinity College. Ali utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to artmaking, so her installation and performance works investigate the artistic, spiritual, and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity. Ali’s works have been exhibited at the Asia Pacific Triennial, Palais de Tokyo, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Musée d’art Contemporain in Lyon, Southeast Asia ArtsFest in London, Malay Heritage Centre, and Singapore International Photography Festival. She has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Illinois Arts Council. She earned her B.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.F.A. from School of the Art Institute Chicago. She is a collaborative partner with Studio Revolt, a trans-nomadic artist-run media lab whose controversial works on deportation have caused White House interns to be fired.

Written by Bhumika Choudhary ’18 and Andrew J. Concatelli

Meet Some of Trinity College’s Faculty and Staff Athletes

There is much more going on in the lives of Trinity College’s high-achieving scholars, teachers, and staff members than what students and colleagues see in the office or the classroom. These men and women are also athletes whose physical feats include everything from years of casual tennis to grueling 140.6-mile Ironman Triathlons.

Below, some of Trinity’s staff and faculty athletes – from a librarian who takes a two-hour bike ride in the cold pre-dawn hours to a history professor who once tackled an NFL legend – share their inspirational stories about striving for a perfect balance of mind and body.

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli

Henry DePhillips, Jr. P’82, ’83, ’88 – Tennis


Henry DePhillips (right) with a Trinity College women’s tennis team

Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Henry DePhillips, Jr. P’82, ’83, ’88 is so dedicated to tennis that he keeps his racquets behind his office door and will hit the court at Ferris Athletic Center whenever somebody invites him to play. “I’m never without a racquet, and I’m never without a pair of sneakers,” DePhillips said.

When he was young, DePhillips went to a summer camp in New Hampshire. “That was where I learned just about every skill that I have in any sport,” he said. After playing on his high school golf team, DePhillips played some tennis in college, but only casually. He continued to golf throughout graduate school, but after he got his job at Trinity in 1963, he found he had less time for golf as he became more involved with his work. “I thought, ‘I should play tennis, because I can play tennis at lunchtime,’ ” DePhillips said. He got a group of players together on campus a few times a week and also joined a tennis team in his hometown of Wethersfield.

By 1982, the coach of the women’s tennis team found out about his interest in tennis. “She asked if I would be her assistant,” DePhillips said. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to be an assistant coach, but I will be an assistant to the coach.’ I made that distinction so I didn’t have to have a formal relationship with the Physical Education Department.”

That arrangement continued for 23 years. “I went down and worked out with the women,” DePhillips said. “It was good for them, I hope, and it was good for me – it kept my game sharp.”

By 2005, sports were becoming more formalized at Trinity, and the teams needed more assistance to stay competitive, so assistant coaches and faculty liaisons became commonplace. “I was coming up to my late 60s and thought, ‘Can I really stay up with these kids?’ And the answer was, pretty much, no,” DePhillips said.

But that didn’t mark the end of DePhillips’s long relationship with the sport. “I started in a group in Wethersfield in the 1970s, and that group is still ongoing,” he said. “We play at least every Saturday.” He is also a member of a tennis club in Newington.

“Tennis has been a major part of my life. My kids play tennis, my wife plays tennis,” DePhillips said. He even takes on challenges from students. “Now that I’m getting on in years, as they say, there aren’t many students who can’t beat me. But I’m in it for the love of the game,” he said. “The competition is great, but for me, it’s just such a pleasure to be out there. I don’t care whether I win 6-love or lose 6-love. It’s all the same to me. All I want is to be able to say I tried my hardest and I did my best, and I had a really good time doing it.”

DePhillips said he is “mostly retired” from teaching now but still pursues his work and research as a conservation scientist, preserving works of art. Over the years, he has found that there is a relationship between art and tennis. “It’s the beauty of it,” he said. “What I find most satisfying in tennis is really the aesthetic aspects of it. To see a ball well struck is a thing of beauty in my mind. And when I’m working on a sample from a Monet or something like that, I just love to see the beauty that the artist has put together in order to manufacture the piece that I am privileged to work with.”

He has done research and taught courses in Rome, but DePhillips said he has not yet had the chance to play tennis in Italy, where they have red clay courts – like those on which he first learned to play at summer camp in New Hampshire. “I could look at it as a bookend,” he said, “but maybe I’m not ready to bookend my life just yet.”

Scott Gac – Ironman Triathlon

Gac3Scott Gac, associate professor of history and American studies, as well as undergraduate and graduate director of American studies, believes that being an athlete gives him more endurance to teach courses at Trinity College. And after completing more than a dozen 140.6-mile Ironman Triathlons, Gac knows a thing or two about endurance. The notoriously challenging Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.2-mile run, completed in that order without any breaks in between.

After putting himself through graduate school as a professional musician, Gac realized he didn’t have enough time to be both a professional musician and a professional historian. “When I gave up being a musician, I started to take up running, and I really liked it,” he said. He became a running coach but found himself injured often, and he began spending a lot of time in the pool or on a bike when recovering.

Gac competed in his first triathlon in the 2000 Pan American Championships, held in Cuba. “I fell in love with the sport and never turned back,” he said. As an amateur, he made the U.S. long-course national team in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

In 2008, feeling like he was running out of challenges, Gac completed his first Ironman race. “The run is always the hardest section,” he said. “By then it’s the hottest part of the day, you start to get tired. … You start grabbing ice every mile, running with ice in your left hand to cool the blood circulating closest to your heart.”

Now, Gac is considered an Ironman All-World Silver Athlete, ranked among the top 5 percent of Ironman competitors in the world in his age group. “I’ve been a USA Triathlon All-American many times over the years. I’m probably going up to Gold, which is the top 3 percent,” Gac said. He works with professional coaches in Massachusetts and has had a variety of sponsors over the years. His wife has completed many triathlons as well, but Gac said she refuses to do an Ironman race.

During his heaviest weeks of training, Gac can devote 25 hours or more to his sport. “I’ll get up early and get in the pool or go for a run,” Gac said. “I tend only to race Ironman distance in the summer, when my schedule is a little more flexible.” Gac competed in Canada just before the semester began, and he is already signed up for two more Ironman races next year, in Texas and New York.

“I think in the end it makes me a better colleague and teacher because I get out all my competitiveness in this realm. I can be more relaxed and just a nicer person because of it,” Gac said. “It does provide a structure that helps me orient myself in my day. Things can’t get away from me because there isn’t enough time for things to get away.”

Lucy Ferriss – Tennis

Ferriss3Trinity College writer-in-residence Lucy Ferriss never intended to become so skilled at tennis, but her family has helped shape her into a player with a mean spin and a Zen-like philosophy.

“I grew up playing tennis in the park with my sister and brother,” Ferriss said. “I had an aunt who played tennis quite fiercely. She was the only one who taught any of us.” She still plays the “old-fashioned” way her Aunt Ruth taught her, with a large swing that uses up a lot of energy.

Ferriss dabbled in tennis a bit during her school years, but, she said, “I was too skinny in high school and college to get onto any athletic team. I had no muscles.”

When her older son was 9 and her younger son was 7, the older boy wanted to learn how to play tennis. “I said, ‘Okay, but if you get frustrated and throw your racquet, then we’re going to stop,’ ” Ferriss said. Inevitably, he soon threw the racquet down on the court. “But then his younger brother, who had been shagging balls, said, ‘Mommy, I won’t throw the racquet.’ ” That son eventually became a nationally ranked United States Tennis Association (USTA) tennis player.

“We couldn’t really afford a coach, so he wanted me to be his coach,” Ferriss said. “I spent probably four or five years just hitting with my kid, then he got too good for me.” During that stretch of time, to her amazement, Ferriss’s skills had also greatly improved. “In trying to coach him, as he got better and better, I had to keep up with him and keep hitting cross court to a specific spot. I had actually become a decent player,” she said.

Ferriss now plays tennis about three times a week. “When I’m here in Hartford, I live a mile from the Hartford Tennis Club, in West Hartford,” she said. She also plays a lot in the Berkshires during the summer.

She also plays on three USTA teams out of Hartford, with skill ratings of 3.5. She plays doubles on a 55-and-over senior team and singles on an 18-and-over team, and she plays on a mixed doubles team. “Although my 18-and-over team, where I play first singles, did not prevail in districts this year, my senior team, where I play first doubles, made it to the finals,” Ferriss said.

For Ferriss, loving the competition does not mean obsessing over a record of wins and losses. “I play tennis totally to de-stress,” she said. “For me, it’s very Zen-like. Tennis is a very fast game, but if you actually stop to think what you want to do with this ball, you screw up.”

That awareness of the need to not think too much about her play has led Ferriss to a personal tennis mantra. “There are only two thoughts I should really have: See the ball; hit the ball.” She then trusts her body and her instincts to do the right thing. “For me, that’s very meditative. None of my thoughts, my worries about work, or anything can enter my head. The ball keeps coming back. I find that very relaxing. I think I’m pretty high-strung otherwise, but on the tennis court? Never.”

Ferriss has found that a similar focus helps with her creative writing process. “If I’m writing well, I’m not anxious about where this is taking the story,” she said. “All that’s happening is that I’m in whatever moment I’m creating. It’s absolutely the same sort of being present in the moment, not overthinking it or thinking too far ahead.”

Rob Walsh – Cycling

Walshathlete1Social sciences librarian Rob Walsh was not competitive as a kid and wasn’t very good at sports. Today, he’s a bicycle racer who competes in events held by USA Cycling across the region.

“When I first got into cycling, I never thought I’d be racing,” Walsh said. “It just evolved.” About five years ago Walsh wanted a lifestyle change – motivated in part by a desire to be more active with his children – and took up cycling. “I ended up losing 80 pounds,” he said.

Two years ago, when his weekly group rides were no longer enough to satisfy him, Walsh decided to take his athletic pursuits to the next level by competing in road races. “I had this level of fitness and this desire to compete, so I wanted to do something with it,” he said.

He now trains with a private coach and is on a racing team sponsored by Cycling Concepts in Glastonbury. “We identify our best chance to win and get that person to the front,” Walsh said. “Cycling is all about using energy at the right time. It’s not about using the most energy but about who puts it out at the right time.”

The road races in which Walsh competes feature courses that are generally between 60 and 100 miles long. He recently completed the Black Fly Challenge in Indian Lake, New York, which was his first mountain bike race. He won his age and experience category, beating the previous year’s winning time by 16 minutes.

His favorite moment of the season came back in April, when he finished the Tour of the Battenkill in New York. “It’s supposedly America’s hardest one-day race,” Walsh said. “It’s probably the biggest pro-am race in America. About 2,500 people register for a very challenging 67-mile course. I finished in the top 50 percent, which, for my first time, is good. It is a very demanding, punishing course.”

For Walsh, the challenge is a big part of the appeal. “It demands so much,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but there’s so much sacrifice. I have three kids, and the only time I can really train most of the year is about 5:30 in the morning, doing a two-hour session, sometimes in the pitch black, sometimes in the cold, in the rain. But by 7:30 you say, ‘I just did that, and I feel great.’ To take all that training and see how you do against other competitive athletes, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”

Walsh also hits the trail with his family. “We will go out on the Air Line Trail, or we’ll ride the Rails-to-Trails. … But the hardest thing is trying to enjoy it after training and competing all season.” Still, Walsh said that his love for the sport keeps him getting back on the bike day after day, and he knows there’s a lesson in that.

“Two or three years ago, I wasn’t able to do this,” Walsh said. “I hope some of the dedication wears off on my children and that they see the determination and the commitment, whether they apply it to school or to a sport.”

Borden Painter, Jr. ’58, H’95 – Football


Borden Painter, Jr. ’58, H’95 (bottom row, fifth from left) with Trinity College’s 1956-57 football team

Professor of History, Emeritus, Borden Painter, Jr. ’58, H’95 may no longer be an active athlete, but he still loves to regale people with the story of the day he tackled former Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown when they were both playing football at Manhasset High School in New York.

​“The Manhasset High School football team held a scrimmage late one afternoon in late October of 1951, my sophomore year,” Painter said. “At quarter of 6, it was dark, since we had turned the clocks back, and we didn’t have any artificial lighting.”

Painter held the position of second-string center. “I got away with it even though I weighed only 165 pounds,” he said, “but that was not unusual in those days when high school linemen rarely came in over 200 pounds.”

The second-stringers were playing defense against a formidable varsity squad led by fullback “Jimmy” Brown. “Brown had both speed and size, standing over 6 feet and even as a high school junior weighing in at about 195,” Painter said. “He already had a reputation as a top athlete in football, track, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse, which was considered by some to be his best sport.

“On this particular play, the quarterback handed the ball off to Brown, who charged up the middle directly at me,” Painter said. “Somehow first-string center Bruce Medd failed to get me out of the way, and I encountered Brown and brought him down! Coach Ed Walsh immediately demoted Medd to our side of the ball and put me with the varsity for the remainder of the scrimmage.”

Today, Painter gives as much credit to the darkness of the late hour as he does to his own athletic prowess. “I got credit for tackling Jimmy Brown, but it could have been he tripped over me and never saw me,” Painter said. “Medd had failed to move me over, so there I was just groveling on the ground. I could see Brown coming, but I think he didn’t see me.”

The next year, Medd was knocked out early for the season, so Painter played first-string with Brown on Manhasset’s undefeated 1952 team. “The next year we only lost one game, even with Brown gone off to Syracuse and fame as an All-American and then a record-setting career in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns,” Painter said. “We all knew how great he was, but who knew he was going to go on to become a national football figure?”

In 2002, Brown was named by Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.

Painter – who joked that he will be remembered by historians as the man who once tackled Jim Brown – went on to play third-string guard for Trinity College for a few years. He graduated in 1958, became a member of the Trinity faculty in 1964, taught English and European history, and later served as the dean of the faculty and interim president before retiring in 2004.

Barry Schaller – Running, Swimming

Schaller1After playing many different sports in neighborhood sandlots, recreation departments, high school, and college, the Honorable Barry Schaller – a visiting lecturer in public policy and law at Trinity College – took up running later in life as a way to stay in shape. The Connecticut Appellate Court judge said, “I realized as I began to have children, I wanted to be in shape so I could do things with them, so I got into running. It was the easiest way to get in shape.” Today, Schaller is turning to exercise to help him stay strong following a shocking diagnosis of leukemia.

Schaller said he has always enjoyed physical games and sports, and he has learned to love how it feels to run. “I did get attached to it and enjoyed the feel of it. I never mask my body’s response by listening to news or music when I do any sports. I like to feel and experience it,” he said. “But I wouldn’t say that I’m a natural runner by any means.”

He has competed in hundreds of races over the course of 50 years. “I probably did about four to five running races a year in my 30s, 40s, and 50s,” Schaller said. “I found that I developed joint pain in one knee, so I had to cut it back and be careful with that. But as I got over 60 and the competition dropped away, I began to win my age category.”

When he was in his mid-60s, Schaller was talked into trying a minisprint triathlon. “I got to enjoy it, so I probably did a dozen or a dozen and a half,” he said. A bike accident in 2009 that left him with a shoulder injury convinced Schaller to give up cycling and focus more on swimming instead. “My wife and I swim in Long Island Sound every day in the summer, and I join the Y for the winter,” he said. “I enjoy the swimming even more than the running now.” Most recently, Schaller has completed some obstacle races for charity organizations, and he hopes to do more this fall.

The leukemia diagnosis about five months ago came out of nowhere. “It was a routine blood test,” Schaller said. “I felt fine, maybe just a little tired.” Dealing with the rare form of leukemia and its ongoing treatment has been a big adjustment. “The doctors encourage me to stay active, so I swim every day for 40 or 45 minutes with my wife,” he said. “I can run for 25 minutes, but it’s not as much fun as before. My body doesn’t respond to that the way it did.”

Schaller now uses his exercise routines to boost his mood and build his strength. “It’s uplifting. I definitely think it’s a good element in getting better, but it’s not a solution,” he said. “I’m not going to give up vigorous exercise until I have to, if it comes to that. The better shape you’re in, the better you can withstand both disease and treatment.”

This summer, as he focused on his health, Schaller got a surprise from his Supreme Court and Appellate Court colleagues: the trophy for the annual softball game between the courts will now be called The Schaller Cup, in honor of his long history of supporting the game and participating in it as a member of both courts.

“The cup came as a big surprise to me,” Schaller said. “I was very impressed with that. I’ve been playing in that game and have helped organize it for 25 years.”

Athletics will always be part of Schaller’s personal regimen and something that brings him joy. “I’ve stopped playing tennis and stopped competitive sports,” he said. “Now I’m in a race wherein I’m just competing with my body to finish.”

Henry DePhillips and Undergraduate Students Use Cutting-Edge Chemistry to Analyze Art


L-R: Henry DePhillips, Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus; Sara Talcott ’17, and Jacqueline Busa ’17.

Henry DePhillips, Vernon K. Krieble Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, has been retired for almost three years, but his pace has hardly slowed. He still has a lab and office on campus and still works with students in the field of conservation science. Now, with the support of the Dreyfus Foundation’s Senior Scientist Mentor Program, DePhillips is training two undergraduate students in a cutting-edge method for analyzing paint samples without excessively disturbing historic works of art.

​The technique, called direct analysis at room temperature, is the most current method available for analyzing the varnishes and binders used in easel paintings. The practice involves taking an extremely small sample from the painting, which allows conservation scientists to avoid invasive research on potentially priceless artworks.

The Dreyfus Grant will go to support Sara Talcott ’17 and Jacqueline Busa ’17, both sophomore chemistry majors spending the next two summers on campus studying and perfecting this technique. Having learned the basics, Talcott and Busa have been testing paints they mixed themselves. Next, they will work with older paint samples that they already know the composition of before moving on to analyzing unknown samples and paintings.

Conservation science is a valuable tool for art dealers and collectors attempting to confirm the authenticity of paintings, but DePhillips is not in the business of identifying forgeries. Instead, he provides people with objective information about the materials used in a piece of art. It’s a field that DePhillips has spent half of his career working in and continues to teach in his Science & Art course at Trinity’s Rome campus, which he’s done since 2005.

DePhillips looks forward to working remotely with Busa and Talcott this summer, confident that they have the talent and experience to move forward while he teaches in Italy. In the end, they hope to compile information useful to conservationists and publish a library of their findings. Working at the nexus of science and art has been incredibly rewarding for DePhillips.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” he said. “The people in the art field have incredible personalities and they’re wonderful to work with, and the people in this [chemistry] department are just the best.”

In addition to his colleagues, DePhillips is proud of his collaboration with undergraduates at the intersection of two different fields.

“That’s what a liberal arts college is supposed to foster,” he said. “I always tell students ‘Do what you’re passionate about.’ That’s why I’ve been at this for 52 years.”

Davarian Baldwin’s Vast Scholarship on Display in Hartford, Around the World


Davarian Baldwin during a February panel discussion at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

When Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, joined Trinity’s faculty in 2009, he saw the tremendous value of the College’s Hartford location as a source of scholarship and as an ideal setting for a liberal arts education.

​“It’s about getting students out beyond the campus walls,” he said. “Doing work, talking to people, asking questions, and listening…and hopefully even acting.”

In the years since, Baldwin has made good on that goal, leaving his mark both on Hartford and on urban landscapes throughout the country. His scholarship is vast, including such subjects as the civil rights movement, the role of African Americans in shaping American culture, and urban institutions of higher education.

At Trinity, Baldwin is not only teaching at one such institution, but well positioned among the other cultural institutions that make urban America so distinctive. Recently, he participated in a panel at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum, “Race and Identity at Coney Island.” The interdisciplinary symposium was part of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s current exhibit, “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008.”

Baldwin’s scholarship is on display not just in Hartford, but around the country. Baldwin’s expertise was featured by USA Today in a recent story about the Harlem Renaissance. The Hartford Courant turned to Baldwin to address the role of social media following protests in Ferguson, Missouri. A recent podcast from the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture featured Baldwin and his theory of “UniverCities.” Also at the Schomburg Center, he was part of a discussion about the role of slavery in the development of institutions of higher education and how those institutions are transforming urban America today.

Among the institutions Baldwin has examined are the University of Chicago, New York University, Arizona State University, and – of course – Trinity. And his scholarship has not been restricted to American audiences; on April 9-10, Baldwin will be in Shanghai, China, to present on “University-Community Relations in the Urban U.S.” at the City and Society International Forum at Tongii University.

“There’s no question that being here and having the support of Trinity’s leadership has helped make this possible,” he said.

Minnesota Musical Group Draws on Scott Gac’s Work

In 2007, Scott Gac, undergraduate and graduate director of American studies and associate professor, published Singing For Freedom, a book about New Hampshire’s Hutchinson Family Singers, America’s most popular musical act in the years leading up to the Civil War. This year, he collaborated with Minnesota’s Rose Ensemble on a musical adaptation of their story and recreation of their performances.

The Hutchinson Family Singers were pioneers of the American protest song and transformed American popular culture. In April, Gac joined Minnesota Public Radio to talk about the Hutchinson family, their 19th century superstardom, and the Rose Ensemble’s performance.

Downton Abbey in Context: a Specialty of Regan-Lefebvre

Assistant Professor of History Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre

Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre is an assistant professor of history at Trinity and taught a new course, “Downton Abbey in Historical Context,” during January Term last month. She has published two books on the history of modern Britain and Ireland and is writing a new historical monograph entitled Imperial Wine: How the British Empire Made the New World. So it is not surprising that the popular wine website VinePair turned to Regan-Lefebvre for her expertise for its recent article, “Ask a Historian: How to Drink Like You Lived in Downton Abbey.”

Acknowledging the millions of viewers addicted to the PBS series Downton Abbey, now in its fifth season, VinePair quotes Regan-Lefebvre: “All of us could throw a Downton-themed dinner party if we wanted. You’ll just need a set of silver fish knives, a copy of the Larousse Gastronomique, a strong constitution, and a trust fund.” Read the entire article here.

Regan-Lefebvre’s January Term class grew out of a similar course she developed for Trinity’s Academy of Lifelong Learning, through which courses on a wide range of subjects, taught by distinguished current and former faculty members, are offered to adults in the community at large.

Trinity students visit the Watkinson Library to look at maps and posters and use a late-19th century stereoscope to view 3D images of the battlefields of World War I.

Regan-Lefebvre explains, “Downton Abbey is set in such an exciting period of political, social, and cultural change in Britain. It’s a fantastic way to draw students into big debates in British history, and also to take advantage of the Watkinson Library’s rich collections of early 20th-century material.” Students in the January Term class enjoyed playing the gramophone and pouring over World War I recruitment posters in the Watkinson Library. “Rick Ring and the Watkinson staff have been so enthusiastic about my projects,” Regan-Lefebvre continues, “that I now try to use the Watkinson’s material in all my classes. The ability to incorporate this special resource is one of the things I enjoy most about teaching at Trinity.”

Regan-Lefebvre, who joined the Trinity faculty in 2013, earned her B.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Queen’s University Belfast. She has taught at the University of Exeter, the American University of Paris, and Cambridge University, where she was a fellow, the director of studies in history, and the assistant tutor at King’s College. She was named one of University of Exeter’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Teachers” in 2010. She is a fellow of the British Royal Historical Society.

Sean Cocco Featured in First Trinity Faculty Profile Podcast

In the inaugural Faculty Profile Podcast, Sean Cocco, associate professor of history, discusses Trinity’s recent presidential search, his time in Italy, Galileo, and more. Hosted by Kevin MacDermott, head coach of Trinity’s men’s rowing team, the Faculty Profile Podcast highlights the scholarship, teaching, and personality of the members of Trinity College’s faculty.


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