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/.
Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, was featured in a story in the Sunday, Sept. 12 Chicago Tribune. Doniger was described as a scholar who reaches beyond the boundaries of her field to include culture in all its forms in her writing, research and teaching. Doniger explained how religious, language and cultural studies are evolving in a world where more and more people are gaining a global perspective. “The rest of the world isn’t ‘out there’ anymore. It’s here. It’s here in Chicago. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding about what the rest of the world is doing, about who ‘these people’ are.” She noted that although after 9/11 there was “ignorant hatred and antagonism of people in the Muslim world,” there was a bright side. “There’s more funding for my graduate students who want to study foreign languages than ever before. Anyone who wants to study Arabic at the University of Chicago can get funding. Whatever side you’re on, you know that we need to know what the rest of the world is thinking. That’s an idea whose time has come.”
Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a front-page Chicago Tribune story published Monday, Sept. 6. The story reported on miners and other union workers’ losses of guaranteed lifetime health benefits, as more and more companies declare bankruptcy and are granted their request to cancel health care benefits for active and retired employees. Baird said legislation that was put into place in the 1970s protected company pension plans but not health benefit plans. “By Congress saying you’ve got to make sure that pensions are fully funded, they opened the door for companies to offer benefits that don’t need to be funded, like health care. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.”
Candace Vogler, Associate Professor in Philosophy and the College, was interviewed for an article published in the Sunday, Sept. 12 Chicago Tribune. The article described how “the fundamental truths of parenting” include sometimes using lies or omitting information to avoid certain behaviors from children. Vogler spoke to the ethics of such parenting tactics. “Historically, a lot of ethicists have held that there is no such thing as lies of omission. Just being silent does not constitute a lie. The best rule is to always consider what is best for the child. For instance, if you are discussing the topic of abortion with your 13-year-old, it is not a lie to be silent about the fact that you may have had one. People think they owe their children a ton of information. They don’t. This is just a late contemporary 20th-century fixation. A lot of things we count as lies aren’t.”
Robert Fogel, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions in the Graduate School of Business, was interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article that appeared Friday, Sept. 3. Fogel attended a meeting in Lindau, Germany, as did other economists who are Nobel laureates, and offered observations for a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal. Based on their expertise in global economics, the Nobel laureates offered their perspectives on what countries they believe are the closest to getting economic policy correct and how countries’ economic choices might improve the lives of their citizens. Fogel commented that technology and medical advances will likely continue to improve the lives of humans, but that such advances must be spread farther into poor countries. “There are still hundreds of millions of people who are dying needlessly, because we have the technology and the food supplies to alleviate their suffering,” said Fogel.
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Assistant Professor in Political Science, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Thursday, Sept. 2 Chicago Tribune. Writing during the week of the Republican National Convention, Harris-Lacewell argued that the GOP is raising the visibility of a minority of African-American Republicans as a political strategy to reassure moderate white voters in a world of changing racial attitudes and not to attract more black votes. “The logic is cunning and simple,” wrote Harris-Lacewell. “Republicans argue: How can Democrats level a charge of racism when there are so many black people in our party?” She explained further: “The black faces at this week’s convention are an indication that a few African Americans are benefiting from their rare position within a party largely hostile to the policy preferences of the majority of African Americans. It is not indicative of growing support for the GOP among ordinary black folks.”
The Chicago Maroons Women’s Soccer team was featured in an article on CollegeSports.com Tuesday, Sept. 14. Though the team lost the national championship title to SUNY, Oneonta, the article described the team’s record-breaking season. Third-year Renee Neuner, who is highlighted in the story, scored a total of 41 goals in the 2003 season, which is the all-time Chicago goal-scoring record, and she was named NCAA Division III Player of the Year. Neuner, who will play soccer in her fourth year in the College, is one of four junior captains leading the Maroons, including Andrea Przybysz, Diana Connett and Ellen Fitzgerald. “We have a special relationship,” said Neuner of her fellow captains. “We respect each other on and off the field, and it shows during the games.” Neuner also was featured in the Thursday, Sept. 16 Chicago Tribune Red Eye edition.
Timothy Knowles, Executive Director of the Center for School Improvement, was quoted in a Friday, Sept. 3 Chicago Sun-Times article that announced the city of Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 plan to create 100 new schools in the next six years. Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan challenged the city’s universities to join the Renaissance 2010 project by operating charter or contract schools. In his challenge, Duncan lauded the University’s North Kenwood-Oakland Charter School, which the Center for School Improvement operates. Knowles called Duncan’s challenge to universities a “wonderful idea.” He added: “If higher ed is willing to step up, it’s exactly the right direction.”