Written by Kate Harner
Willimantic, Conn: -- Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University, will deliver the commencement address at Eastern Connecticut State University's 122nd Commencement Exercises on May 15, 2012 at the XL Center in Hartford.
Roth, widely respected as a historian, curator and author, is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan. He took office as Wesleyan's president in July 2007. Prior to his appointment at Wesleyan, Roth served as president of California College of the Arts, where he enhanced that institution's academic quality, national reputation and financial strength.
"I am delighted that Dr. Michael Roth has agreed to be our Commencement speaker this coming May," said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. "He is deeply committed to liberal arts education and speaks about it eloquently. His own scholarship in the field of psychology is widely recognized and respected. Dr. Roth is a wonderful role model for our students. I know our graduates and guests are going to enjoy what he has to say."
A professor in history and the humanities since 1983, Roth was the founding director of the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, CA, a center for intellectual exchange across disciplines. He developed a reputation as a leader in the arts community through his accomplishments as associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.
Roth has authored four books: "Psycho-Analysis as History: Negation and Freedom in Freud" (Cornell University Press, 1987, 1995); "Knowing and History: Appropriations of Hegel in Twentieth Century France" (Cornell, 1988); "The Ironist's Cage: Trauma, Memory and the Construction of History" (Columbia University Press, 1995); and "Irresistible Decay: Ruins Reclaimed, with Clare Lyons and Charles Merewether" (Getty Research Institute, 1997).
This last publication stemmed from the exhibition of the same name that Roth co-curated for the opening of the Getty Museum. He also curated the exhibition "Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture," which opened at the Library of Congress in 1998. Roth has edited and co-edited numerous journal issues and books, and in recent years, has published essays and book reviews in such publications as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, Book Forum, Rethinking History and Wesleyan's History and Theory.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, and a member of the first generation of his family to attend college, Roth designed his own major in "History of Psychological Theory" at Wesleyan and wrote a thesis titled "Freud and Revolution," which served as the foundation for his first book and the basis of the Library of Congress exhibition. He completed his undergraduate studies in three years, graduating with university honors, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to earn his doctorate in history at Princeton University in 1984.
Since becoming the president of Wesleyan, Roth has increased grant support for its students who receive financial aid, and undertaken a number of initiatives that have energized the curriculum. In 2009, the energy-efficient Allbritton Center opened as the home to two new programs: The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, which links intellectual work on campus to policy issues nationally and internationally, and the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, which brings together students and faculty seriously engaged in writing. Roth has also overseen the launch of a multidisciplinary College of the Environment and efforts to anchor civic engagement in the University's culture.