After 36 years of teaching chemistry at Wesleyan and becoming an internationally recognized expert in photoelectron spectroscopy, beachside chemistry teacher Joseph Knee is ready to retire.
Knee, with fellow faculty members Anne Greene, a university English professor; Ann Campbell Burke, professor of biology, and Ronald Schatz, professor of history; received emeritus status at Wesleyan’s 190th launch ceremony on May 22.
Joe Knee has spent his career developing time-resolved laser spectroscopy techniques that help determine the structure and dynamics of gas-phase molecules, molecular clusters, and ions. These methods provide insight into molecular behavior and influence the strength and structure of intermolecular hydrogen bonding.
During his undergraduate studies at Binghamton University, Knee began research in electron spectroscopy with well-known spectroscopist Keith Innes, and as a graduate student at Stony Brook University he worked on pioneering studies in the rapidly developing field of multiphoton ionization spectroscopy.
At Wesleyan, Knee taught many courses, including quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, spectroscopy, and introductory chemistry. Along with his graduate and undergraduate research students, Professor Knee has published over 70 publications and has received numerous fellowships.
“I’ve also had the pleasure of working closely with many talented undergraduate students in research tutorials in my lab,” Knee said. “Of all the varied pursuits at Wesleyan, it was the hands-on lab work — designing, building, and performing experiments with my group — that was my greatest passion.”
While at Wesleyan, Professor Knee made significant contributions in service to his department, division, and the university. He served as chair of chemistry; director of graduate studies; Chair of the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities; and served four terms on the Advisory Board, including Vice President in 2014, and most recently Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2015 to 2020. As Dean, Knee was the head of the faculty of the planning effort for the new chemistry and life sciences building currently under development.
Outside of Wesleyan, Professor Knee has many interests and pursuits. Most notable in recent years has been his membership on the board of MARC Community Resources, a Middletown non-profit organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in many capacities. He has been Chairman of the Board of Directors for two years. In retirement, he plans to spend more time with his growing family, golfing, biking and travelling.
Anne Campbell-Burke, professor of biology, emeritus, spent 23 years at Wesleyan studying and lecturing on the morphological evolution of the musculoskeletal system in vertebrates and the role of developmental processes in this evolution. She has used both classical experimental embryology and modern molecular methods to explore developmental mechanisms that result in morphological novelties.
Burke earned degrees from New York University and Harvard University and worked as an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill before joining Wesleyan in 1999.
Professor Burke has been a member of the professional societies PanAmerican Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Euro-Evo-Devo, Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology and International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology. She has organized several symposia on topics such as “Biological challenges in morphogenesis”, “What should bioinformatics do for EvoDevo”, “Developmental perspectives on the evolution of the musculoskeletal system” and “EvoDevo: Exploring the mechanisms of macroevolution”.
She has authored or co-authored more than 40 publications, including “Shifting the black box: Approaches to the Development and Evolution of the Vertebrate Mesoderm”, which was published in Evolutionary Developmental Biology—A Reference Guide in 2020 and “Body wall development in the lamprey and a new perspective on the origin of vertebrate paired fins”, in PNAS in 2013.
Beginning in 2017, Burke served a three-year term as department chair and simultaneously taught evolutionary biology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, and a graduate-level EvoDevo seminar. She was also heavily involved in the resurrection and restoration of the scattered remains of the Wesleyan Natural History Museum.
“I will miss the fantastic students I had the pleasure of knowing,” she said. “I’m going to miss the occasional NSM lunch, Gamelan, Taiko drumming and especially singing for seniors with the RoadSideGirls!”
Ronald Schatz, professor of history, emeritus, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1979 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate. from the University of Pittsburgh. During his career at Wesleyan, he taught courses in United States history and also repeatedly served as a tutor at the College of Social Studies.
From his first book Electricians: A history of labor at General Electric and Westinghouse, 1923-60, he was an acknowledged pioneer in the careful use of extended oral interviews in the writing of working-class history and has published widely in the field. In addition to 20th-century work, Schatz’s primary teaching and research interests are the conservative movement, labor and religion, and American Jewish history. While advising student research in his seminar on the history of Middletown, Schatz wrote the essay “The Barons of Middletown and the Decline of the Northeast’s Anglo-Protestant Elite”, which was published in the international magazine Past present. Reflecting on his career, he said, “I was lucky to work with such bright and enthusiastic students. I will miss them.”
Ron Schatz’s latest book, The Labor Commission Team: Remaking Pearl Harbor Worker-Employer Relations in the Reagan Era (University of Illinois Press, 2021), tells the story of a team of young economists and lawyers who were recruited to resolve labor-management disputes during World War II and wielded wide social and industrial influence during the next half-century.
As he retired, Schatz began research for a book about the musicians union and its powerful and colorful former leader, Jimmy Petrillo.
“I was lucky to work with such good and enthusiastic students,” Schatz said. “I will miss them.”
Anne Green, emeritus university professor of English, is retiring after a 47-year stint at Wesleyan. She began teaching in 1975 after earning degrees in English from Harvard College, Brandeis University and Princeton University.
Greene has taught numerous undergraduate courses, including Narrative Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Short and Long Journalism, Explanatory and Critical Writing, Fiction Writing, and Creative Nonfiction. In addition to overseeing 126 creative writing thesis tutorials, Greene has also taught fiction, short fiction, mixed genre writing, oral history, and personal essays for graduate liberal studies students.
Greene was promoted to University Professor of English in 2016. She served as Director of Writing Programs from 1991 to 2016 and Director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center from 2011 to 2012. Green was best known for her work as Director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference since 1983 and as the Wesleyan Writers Certificate Program Coordinator since 2009.
While at Wesleyan, Professor Greene also established Writing Hall, a residence hall for freshmen; established Writing House, a residence for upperclass students; advisor to Writers Bloc, the current residence for student writers; and hosted a 2018 anniversary celebration for The Wesleyan Argus.
She received a Binswanger Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007.
Burke, Greene, Knee and Schatz were also honored at a reception honoring outgoing teachers on May 21 at the Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Teachers.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty who retired in 2020 and 2021 were welcomed to campus for a Retired Faculty Reception at the Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty on May 21 .
Among those retiring in 2020 are Richard Adelstein, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Emeritus; Irina Aleshkovsky, assistant professor of Russian language and literature, emeritus; Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emeritus; Patricia Klecha-Porter, assistant professor of physical education, emeritus; Leo Lensing, Professor of Film Studies, Emeritus; Bruce Masters, John E. Andrus Professor of History, Emeritus; Robert Steele, professor of psychology, emeritus; and Xiaomiao Zhu, assistant professor of Asian languages and literatures, emeritus.
Among those retiring in 2021 are William Herbst, John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus; Joyce Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics, Emeritus; J. Donald Moon, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, Emeritus, and Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professor in the College of Social Studies, Emeritus; Thomas Morgan, Foss Professor of Physics, Emeritus; Ellen Thomas, Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History and Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, emeritus; Khachig Tölölyan, professor of English and humanities, emeritus; and Johan Varekamp, Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology at the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History and Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Sciences, Emeritus.