Jan. 9, 2003
Vol. 22 No. 7

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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: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    The research of Marianne Bertrand, Associate Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, was the topic for a story published by the New York Times in its Thursday, Dec. 12 issue. Bertrand and her colleague, Sendhil Mullainathan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted an experiment to determine whether employers discriminate against African-American applicants. Responding to job ads in Chicago and Boston newspapers, they submitted multiple resumes from phantom job seekers and randomly assigned first names on the resumes, choosing from one set that is particularly common among blacks and from another set common among whites. Apart from their names, the phantom applicants had the same experience, education and skills, so employers had no reason to distinguish among them. The results found that applicants with typically white-sounding names were 50 percent more likely to be called for interviews than were those with black-sounding names. Another finding is that the likelihood of being called for an interview rises sharply with an applicant’s credentials–like experience and honors–for those with white-sounding names, but much less for those with black-sounding names. National Public Radio’s Morning Edition interviewed Bertrand about her research for a segment that was broadcast Monday, Dec. 16, and the Chicago Tribune published a story about the research in its Sunday, Dec. 29 issue.

    Robert Daum, Professor in Pediatrics and Section Chief for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, was interviewed for a front-page Chicago Tribune story that appeared Tuesday, Dec. 10. The article reported on a state plan to distribute smallpox vaccinations to those public health workers who most likely would be the first to respond to a terrorist attack with the smallpox disease. “The best way to deal with infectious diseases is to prevent them,” said Daum, who serves as head of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. He also was a member of the smallpox advisory panel convened by the federal government whose recommendations were sent to the President.

    Sarah Vogel, a fourth-year in the College, was featured Wednesday, Dec. 11, in Chicago Sun-Times columnist Sandra Guy’s i-zine Scene column. Guy described Vogel’s art project Antidown, an absurdist zine she created this past summer with funding from the University’s new UChicago Arts Council. “Most of all, I’d like people to be amused, to get the weird jokes that are in the zine,” said Vogel.

    Faculty in the University’s Graduate School of Business and a graduate of the GSB made their economic predictions at the annual Business Forecast luncheon in downtown Chicago. Both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the event in their Thursday, Dec. 5 editions. Some contrasting opinions marked the event as Robert Aliber, Professor of International Economics and Finance in the GSB, Joel Stern (M.B.A., ’64) and Marvin Zonis, Professor of Business Administration in the GSB, presented their outlooks for the economy in 2003. Aliber argued that the economy would grow only 0.8 percent in real gross domestic product, while Stern predicted an economic “mini-boom.” Stern said stocks would rise by at least 15 percent, the economy would grow 4 percent and corporate profits would move toward double-digit figures. Zonis emphasized impending war with Iraq in his predictions. The Chicago Sun-Times article quoted Zonis, who stated: “The probability of major terrorist attack within the continental U.S. in 2003 is better than ever. Forget the planes and the airports. Car bombs and suicide bombers in crowded shopping malls are much more likely.”

    Mary Anne Case, Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a Sunday, Dec. 8 New York Times article that reported on what constitutes a private club or association that can legally exclude certain individuals from membership. Commentary and debate on this issue have come following Augusta National Golf Club’s refusal to admit a female. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that two kinds of associations–private or intimate, and expressive (formed to put forth a principle or idea)–are under the Constitution’s protection. The Court has considered a range of factors to determine which clubs are distinctly private, and it is this definition on which the legalities hang. “So if you are balancing the First Amendment rights of the club and the state’s interest in equal rights of women, you have to look at things like how big is the club, how committed is it to a certain ideology and how thoroughly exclusion matters to the purposes of the club. To be an expressive association, it would have to stand for something–like no women, or male bonding–which is something Augusta National has not been willing to say it is. And to be an intimate association, it would have to be smaller, more private and less willing to take money from and admit people who are not members,” Case explained.

    Neil Harris, the Preston & Sterling Morton Professor in History and the College, and Kimerly Rorschach, the Dana Feitler Director of the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, and Associate Professor in Art History and the College, were quoted in a Sunday, Dec. 15 Chicago Tribune story. The article reported on a rise in claims for the repatriation of antiquities by government authorities in such countries as Greece. For instance, Greek authorities want the British Museum to return a marble frieze from the Parthenon, known as the Elgin Marbles, which was acquired by the museum in 1816. “The Elgin Marbles legally were removed with the permission of the Ottoman government. To look at it with our own sense of justice today, the legality might be called into question, but I don’t think we can go back and change what happened 200 years ago,” said Rorschach.

    A story published in the Saturday, Dec. 21 issue of The Economist, which reported on scientific research being done on the cosmic microwave background, cited a study being led by University researchers at the South Pole. Using an array of telescopes called the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer, or DASI, University researchers determined that the CMB is polarized and measured its polarization. The results of that study were reported in the journal Nature by Erik Leitch, a Research Scientist in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and John Kovac, a graduate student in the department, who both were mentioned in the Economist article.

    An article in the Monday, Dec. 9 Chicago Sun-Times cited Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, as one of the most influential people in bringing Chicago into the Internet Age. Peter Prokopowicz, a former University computer science researcher, also was named among those who influenced Internet activity in the city by developing Internet-based projects in Chicago.

    Three students in the University’s Law School, who work in its MacArthur Justice Center, co-wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Saturday, Dec. 21 Chicago Sun-Times. The students–Alyse Bertenthal, Elizabeth Hess and Clare Pinkert–commended Gov. George Ryan for declaring a moratorium on Illinois executions of Death Row inmates and appointing his commission to review the death penalty system. They urged him in their commentary to commute the sentences of those whose clemency requests have recently been heard. Based on recommendations made by the Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment–such as videotaped interrogations of in-custody defendants–the students found serious flaws in many of the 161 submitted petitions they had reviewed.