Feb. 6, 2003
Vol. 22 No. 9

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    In the News

    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 work of archaeologists at the University’s Oriental Institute was discussed in a Tuesday, Jan. 28 New York Times story. The archaeologists examined the value of declassified photographs taken by American surveillance satellites in a region once known as Mesopotamia that is now modern-day Iraq and Syria. The photos show the remains of ancient roads that once connected settlements and cities. “These inter-site routes are more than connections between towns and their immediate satellites,” said Jason Ur, a researcher in the Oriental Institute. “When considered at a regional level, these routes emerge as segments of larger ‘highways’ that run from site to site on a general east-west axis.” The Chicago Sun-Times also reported on how these photographs are providing researchers with more information on earlier civilizations.

    In a study that covers 1977 to 2002, Owen Lamont, Associate Professor of Finance in the GSB, determined that when companies launch public battles against short sellers, the stock prices of those companies tend to fall behind the rest of the market. Lamont’s study was the subject of a report published in the Sunday, Jan. 26 New York Times. Lamont was quoted explaining that short sellers are not the enemy of investors, and are often right about their targets. “If there had been more short selling of tech stocks in 1999, the market wouldn’t have gone up so much. And it wouldn’t have gone down so much because short sellers would have provided a floor.”

    A story about “Team Yao,” a group of University professors and M.B.A. students who are developing a long-term plan to market Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets’ 7-foot-5-inch center, appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 19 Chicago Tribune and the Sunday, Jan. 26 Chicago Sun-Times. Yao first connected with the GSB when a relative referred him to John Huizinga, Deputy Dean of Faculty and the Walter David “Bud” Fackler Professor of Economics in the GSB, who helped Yao make the transition from his basketball career in China to a spot on the Texas NBA team. Huizinga, Yao’s registered agent, has recruited others at the GSB for the marketing plan, including Jonathan Frenzen, Clinical Professor of Marketing; Francis Bassolino, Lecturer in the GSB; and M.B.A. students Aaron Abraham and Karen Kirby, who all were photographed for the Tribune story. Huizinga, Frenzen, Kirby and Abraham were also quoted. “Sports marketing has not been looking at building brand images for players. We wanted to think of players as a brand rather than a commodity,” said Abraham. Kirby added: “With our approach we were able to stay true to who Yao is.”

    Merle Erickson, Associate Professor of Accounting in the GSB, was interviewed for a Dow Jones Newswires story that suggested ways that small businesses could benefit from President Bush’s economic stimulus plan. Erickson said business owners could reduce their payroll taxes if they restructured compensation packages so more income is paid out as dividends instead of salaries. The article was carried on this international newswire on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and Wednesday, Jan. 15. The story also was picked up by The Wall Street Journal, which published its report on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

    David Strauss, the Harry N. Wyatt Professor in the Law School, was interviewed for a front-page Chicago Tribune story that appeared Tuesday, Jan. 21. The story focused on the continuing disagreements between pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, with specific emphasis on the 30-year-old Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Although that ruling has upheld a woman’s right to an abortion, some legal restrictions have been placed on abortion rights over the past three decades. “A lot of legislatures are trying to restrict abortion as much as they can, by way of parental notification requirements and requirements that you be counseled before you get abortions. They’re really pushing and pulling to restrict the right,” said Strauss. “And the standard that the Supreme Court has given us is very vague: ‘Does this unduly burden the right to an abortion?’ That’s a big judgment call.”

    In an op-ed published in the Sunday, Jan. 26 New York Times, Saskia Sassen, the Ralph Lewis Professor in Sociology and the College, argued for density, reinvented verticality and horizontality to be incorporated in the aesthetics and function of the architecture that will be built in New York City, following the destruction of the World Trade Center. Sassen, author of Global Networks, Linked Cities, argued that, “strategic, creative activities–whether economic, cultural or political–thrive on density.” Despite the benefits of global telecommunications, Sassen wrote that concentrations of resources in dense environments, where information is produced and not just circulated, is vital to a global economy with uncertain markets and changing conditions. Sassen, who has viewed the architectural proposals for New York’s rebuilding, critiques some of them and encourages those who will decide the outcome to recreate the space as “a truly public sphere. This means that public space, housing and mixed street-level activities all need to be included in the final shape of the rebuilding.”

    The position held by John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science, regarding a war with Iraq, was cited in an opinion piece published Sunday, Jan. 19 in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times piece stated that Mearsheimer gives the anti-war movement something it badly needs–a credible argument from a respected and non-pacifist figure. Mearsheimer explained his position: “The United States and its regional allies are far stronger than Iraq. And it does not take a genius to figure out what would happen if Iraq tried to use WMD [weapons of mass destruction] to blackmail its neighbors, expand its territory or attack another state directly. It only takes a leader who wants to stay alive and who wants to remain in power. Throughout his lengthy and brutal career, Saddam Hussein has repeatedly shown that these two goals are absolutely paramount. That is why deterrence and containment would work.”

    Brigitte Madrian, Associate Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Wednesday, Jan. 22 Chicago Tribune article reporting on increasing health care costs. Companies are either directly passing on the additional costs to employees by increasing co-pays and health plan contributions, or, said Madrian, employers pass on costs indirectly by lowering wages or giving smaller wage increases. “Medical costs have been increasing faster than the rate of inflation for 40 years. In the 1950s, there wasn’t a lot that medical care could do for you,” she said. “Now, we can save babies at 26 weeks and extend people’s lives who have had heart attacks.”

    The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project and the curriculum it developed, Everyday Mathematics, was the subject of Wednesday, Jan. 22 news stories carried by the Associated Press Newswires and The New York Times. The stories announced New York City’s adoption of the curriculum for pupils through fifth grade who attend the city’s 1,200 public schools. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said he chose the curriculum for its emphasis on analytical reasoning and problem-solving methods. Andrew Isaacs, Director of UCSMP Elementary Center, was quoted in The New York Times.

    Robert Pape, Associate Professor in Political Science and the College, was quoted in a Christian Science Monitor story that appeared Tuesday, Jan. 28. The story covered the issue of U.S. casualties during wartime and reported on the Pentagon’s estimates of casualties. “The Pentagon rarely will discuss or even admit to doing casualty estimates,” said Pape. “That’s because serious assessments would necessarily consider a high and low range, which would tend to discourage public support for the war.”