Summer 2023 News

Summer 2023 News

Judging at the Highest Level

Wilson’s Director of Equestrian Teams represented the United States as a judge at an international equestrian competition.

Thousands attended the 15th annual National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) European Futurity, held in Cremona, Italy, from May 23 to May 27. This year’s event was held in conjunction with The World Youth Reining Cup, which showcases the skills of international youth riders on horses assigned at random, and the Salone Del Cavallo de Americano, a fair that celebrates “Western” lifestyles and horsemanship.

Our Director of Equestrian Teams, Cathy Woosley Luse, a worldwide NRHA-carded judge since 1995, represented the United States on a five-member panel of judges for the reining competitions. Reining is a sport in which horses are put through a series of orchestrated actions, including slides, stops, spins, and speed changes. Woosley Luse compares it to the sorts of choreographed and technical actions figure skaters go through. She judges and scores the horses on their willingness, the pattern’s correctness, and the difficulty level. At $250,000, the prize purse for this year’s competition was the largest in its history, and the competition was fierce.

“I am proud to represent Wilson College on this international platform, much like our Wilson College equestrian program founder, Colonel Kitts, who was also an international equine judge and exhibitor,” Woosley Luse said. With over 30 years of experience in horse training, showing, and coaching, Woosley Luse has coached numerous world champion riders and champion teams at the professional and collegiate levels in Texas and Kentucky. An accomplished rider herself, she was a world champion at the National Reining Horse Association Intermediate Open Division level.

This year was Wilson’s first with varsity equestrian teams. The hunt seat and Western teams achieved 25+ top three places and more than five first places over the year. Woosley Luse believes we are at the beginning of what will become a very successful competitive equestrian program. “I feel strongly that continuing to be deeply involved in the Equestrian Industry and sharing this experience and connections with our students helps set Wilson apart from other institutions,” she said.

Hacking the Metaverse

Wilson professor talks about the American opioid epidemic to an international audience.

Adam DelMarcelle, assistant professor of fine arts, recently spoke at the Assocation Typographique Internationale (ATypL), an international conference on typography and typeface design held at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. DelMarcelle was invited to speak about “Mariah,” his augmented reality (AR) app that, in his words, “challenges societal power systems, including big tech and big pharma, by ‘hacking the metaverse’ as an act of protest.” AR is a technology that allows creators to make digital content appear as if it’s in the real world. One of the best-known examples of this technology is the game Pokémon Go. The game uses geolocation to make digital creatures appear in the real world when viewed through the screen of a smartphone or tablet. Players get points for “catching” these creatures.

Similarly, the “Mariah” app uses geolocation to make content appear in real settings. The first place the app “hacked” was the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). When users point their phones or tablets at exhibits, information about the American opioid crisis ap pears on their screens. Named after Mariah Lotti, who lost her life to opioids at 19, the app tells her story and the stories of others affected by opioids It also explains how cultural institutions like the Met have benefited from the crisis by accepting money from the Sackler family. The Sacklers, owners of Perdue Pharma, profited from the sale of Oxycontin. Many blame the overprescription of Oxycontin for jumpstarting the current opioid crisis, which costs the life of one American every five minutes on average.

The app now targets other galleries and museums that received Sackler family donations, including the Louvre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London. While in Paris for the ATypL conference, DelMarcelle got to see the Louvre addition to the app in person. When he pointed his phone at the giant glass pyramid outside the entrance to the Louvre, the app projected a counter above the pyramid – a live record of the current opioid death toll in America. DelMarcelle and his collaborators created “Mariah” to memorialize the victims of the opioid epidemic as well as draw attention to how the Sacklers and cultural institutions profit from the opioid epidemic.

Wilson Has New Board of Trustees Chair

Jen Nickle Banzhof ’94 assumed the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Wilson College on July 1, replacing retiring Chair Barbara Tenney ’67, M.D. “Jen Banzhof is an alumna, the mother of an alumna, and has served on the Board of Trustees for nine years,” said Tenney, who has served on the Board for 21 years in total, including two stints as Chair. “She has come back on the Board as Chair, and I know she will do an outstanding job.”

“Wilson is such a huge part of who I am, and the Board’s vote of confidence in electing me as Chair seems a testament to the value of my Wilson education,” Banzhof said. “I’m truly honored and very excited to be returning to the Board.”

Banzhof is the co-owner of BHA Consulting LLC — an employee benefits consulting and actuarial firm. There she specializes in self-funded health benefits provided through collective bargaining. She plans to leverage decades of organizational and negotiating experience in service to the College. “We are facing a pivotal time in higher education, particularly for small private colleges, and I want to do my part to help Wilson rise to the challenge,” Banzhof said.

For Banzhof, attending Wilson College was life-changing. She entered a shy and quiet woman who wanted to be a veterinarian. By the time she graduated, she had discovered a love of statistics and developed the interpersonal and public speaking skills and confidence to be a leader. Her daughter Delaney also attended Wilson and graduated in 2022. Delaney’s success at the College inspired Banzhof to make a large gift to help other students attend Wilson. “There are so many students out there that would thrive in Wilson’s supportive, close-knit community that would (otherwise) struggle or just get by in other environments,” Banzhof explained.

“I am excited to collaborate with Jen to help Wilson achieve our mission and reach for new heights,” said President Wes Fugate. “Uniquely, she shares the perspective of not only being an alumna of Wilson but a parent of a recent graduate. She has a keen intellect and valuable life experience that will be instrumental to the Board and the College as we seek to offer a transformative education to our students.”

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