Nov. 21, 2002
Vol. 22 No. 5

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    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site at: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Research led by Janellen Huttenlocher, the William S. Gray Professor in Psychology and the College, was the subject of a Thursday, Nov. 14 Chicago Tribune story. Huttenlocher and her team of researchers, who are studying children’s language acquisition, found that preschoolers who are exposed to complex language in their classrooms develop better comprehension of complicated sentence structure compared to children who are in less language-rich preschool classrooms. “A child’s brain grows in its complexity over the early years of life, especially in the language area, and the way it grows is affected by its environmental input,” said Huttenlocher.

    A tribute conference to Milton Friedman, the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics, which was organized by faculty members of the Economics Department, was reported in a front-page story in the Saturday, Nov. 9 Chicago Tribune and in that paper’s Sunday, Nov. 10 business section. The conference, which celebrated Friedman’s free-market economics that won him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1976, also celebrated his 90th birthday. Commenting on one of the conference’s academic sessions, which were each organized around a concept pioneered by Friedman, he stated: “No, I didn’t invent vouchers. Thomas Paine did in ‘Common Sense.’ I was merely its sponsor.”

    In an op-ed that appeared in the Saturday, Nov. 9 New York Times, Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, wrote that one important consequence of the new Republican majority in the Senate may be a more conservative federal judiciary, which will embark on a new program of judicial activism. “Conservative courts that embrace judicial activism will be just as likely to strike down legislation that has received bipartisan approval as legislation supported by liberals,” he wrote. He added that the new judicial activists are beginning to dominate. “Since 1995,” wrote Sunstein, “the Supreme Court has struck down at least 26 acts of Congress on constitutional grounds.”

    Tony Wilkinson, Associate Professor in the Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, was interviewed for a Wednesday, Nov. 6 Chicago Sun-Times story about a project he and scientists at Argonne National Laboratory as well as other professors at the University are conducting. The five-year project, which is being funded by the National Science Foundation, will involve the computer simulation of ancient Mesopotamian cities. “We’re really interested in tackling ‘Why did cities grow to their size? Why not bigger? Did they just collapse because of a climatic event, or because [they] got too big?”

    Michael Heaney, a graduate student in Public Policy Studies, who is living in Washington, D.C., while doing research, wrote an essay that appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 3 issue of The Washington Post. Heaney wrote about the experience of voting by absentee ballot, a punch-card ballot he received from the election board in Chicago. Recalling the 2000 presidential election dispute in Florida, Heaney wrote: “Why does the world’s most advanced democracy employ some of the world’s most obsolete election equipment? Punch-card ballots, and the chads they create, are still used by jurisdictions in 28 states.”

    The University’s newly renovated Bartlett Dining Hall and its upscale culinary offerings were the focus of stories about improved cafeteria dining at colleges throughout the country. Stories about Bartlett, which quoted University students who dine there, were published in the Tuesday, Nov. 12 Chicago Sun-Times and the Friday, Nov. 8 Wall Street Journal. The Associated Press Newswires also carried a story on fine dining for university students on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Steve Klass, Dean of Students in the University, was quoted as well.

    The University’s student housing system was featured in a full-page story in the Sunday, Nov. 10 Chicago Tribune. Photos and a story described the Chicago tradition of students living alongside faculty members who serve as Resident Masters, and how that system of living is spreading to other college campuses across the country. Resident Heads and Resident Assistants also are part of the arrangement to assist the Resident Masters. First-year Sanver Deren, a native of Turkey and a resident of the Max Palevsky Residential Commons, was interviewed for the story as were Palevsky’s Resident Masters Martin Stokes, Associate Professor in Music and the College, and his wife, Lucy Baxandall.

    The visit to campus by David Rockefeller, a Life Trustee of the University and grandson of John D. Rockefeller, who founded the University, was reported in the Monday, Nov. 11 Chicago Sun-Times and the Tuesday, Nov. 12 Chicago Tribune. Rockefeller visited International House, where he participated in an informal talk with President Randel and a book signing of his new autobiography Memoirs.

    Robert Topel, the Isidore Brown & Gladys J. Brown Professor of Urban & Labor Economics in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a front-page story reporting on unemployment in the Friday, Nov. 1 Los Angeles Times. “It used to be that people entered and left the labor force fairly easily. Now leaving the labor force is like death: You go and you never come back again.”

    Five Chicago alumni– Ricardo Estrada (A.M.,’93), Julius Few (M.D.,’92), Ron Huberman (M.B.A., ’00), Timothy Landon (M.B.A.,’93), and Sophia Siskel (A.M.,’94)–were among the “Forty Under 40” list, published each year by Crain’s Chicago Business. The paper announced its 2002 list of successful Chicago professionals in its Monday, Nov. 4 issue. Estrada, a graduate of the School of Social Service Administration, is associate executive director of Erie Neighborhood House; Few, a graduate of the Pritzker School of Medicine, is assistant professor of surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine; Huberman, who graduated from the Chicago GSB, is assistant deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; Landon, who earned both his A.B. and M.B.A. from Chicago, is president of Tribune Classified Services; and Siskel, who earned an Art History degree at Chicago, is director of exhibitions and education at the Field Museum of Natural History. The careers of all five were featured in Crain’s.