November 4, 2004
Vol. 24 No. 4

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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/.

    Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Sunday, Oct. 17 Chicago Tribune. In his commentary, Stone argued that the rhetoric of the current presidential campaign has fallen to the level of fear mongering, and recalled other periods in America’s history in which national leaders “manipulated fear to serve narrowly partisan ends.” Stone pointed to the era of “McCarthyism,” when the fear of Soviet espionage was manipulated into an unreasoned fear of “un-Americanism,” and when President John Adams, with the support of his Federalist Party, placed America in a state of undeclared war against the French, setting off a wave of patriotic fervor while attempting to discredit Thomas Jefferson and his supporters. Stone concluded that such political tactics have always ended badly. “Joseph McCarthy was eventually censured by the Senate and repudiated by the American people. In the election of 1800, Americans removed John Adams from office, put an end to the Federalist Party and elevated [Thomas] Jefferson to the presidency.”

    Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Assistant Professor in Political Science and the College, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Friday, Oct. 15 Chicago Tribune. Harris-Lacewell wrote that America needs a new conversation on faith in politics and new representations of the religious and secular sides of society. She described what she calls a public discomfort that now exists and continues to grow regarding open debate and discussion about religion in the political world. She wrote that the media cover this subject matter with conservative evangelical Christian ministers speaking for the right and secular policy specialists speaking for the left. “This formula asserts that religion is necessarily conservative and Christian and that progressive politics are synonymous with scientific secularism. This dichotomy silences the vast secular right and the enormous religious left.”

    Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was an expert source quoted in a Monday, Oct. 25 Wall Street Journal article on corporate leadership. In this article about publicly traded conglomerates, Kaplan said: “It’s pretty well established in the academic literature that the market doesn’t like unrelated acquisitions.” The fact that fewer of them exist “suggests that it’s hard to do well,” said Kaplan.

    University students and the dance clubs they have organized on campus were featured in a story that appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 20 Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Swing Dance Society and the Ballroom and Latin Dance Association were both highlighted. Students Nick Johnson and Lindsey Butler were photographed at a Chicago Swing Dance Society event for the article, and Abby Crisostomo, a third-year pre-law student, was quoted. “We specialize in the East Coast version to an eight-count,” said Crisostomo about the Lindy Hop that is performed by members of the Chicago Swing Dance Society. “The moves are quicker, more downward than the West Coast. We offer lessons in other steps, too.” President of the Ballroom and Latin Dance Association Stephanie Wolfson, a fourth-year studying bioethics, also was interviewed.

    Andre Pluess (B.A.,’96) and Ben Sussman (B.S.,’94) were featured in a Monday, Oct. 25 Chicago Sun-Times article, describing their success as Chicago’s most sought-after sound designers for productions at many of the city’s premier theaters. They began their sound work in a University Theater production in 1995, when they adapted Dante’s Inferno to a rock opera. Encouraged by then-UT director Curt Columbus, Pluess and Sussman completed their well-received Inferno adaptation and began working with Dennis Zacek, artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater. “When we started out, we didn’t even know there was a field like sound design,” said Pluess. “We just knew we wanted to work in music and theater.” The two continue to work with many of the city’s theaters, including Court Theatre on the University campus. The pair will work on the Court Theatre’s upcoming production of Quartet.

    Bruce Lincoln, the Caroline Haskell Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, discussed on National Public Radio’s WBEZ station President Bush’s use of religious language, as well as a letter to the editor that Divinity School faculty members wrote denouncing it. The interview with Lincoln aired on the program All Things Considered on Friday, Oct. 22. Lincoln’s analyses on President Bush’s religious language also were cited in an article published in the Sunday, Oct. 17 New York Times.

    BusinessWeek magazine cited the research of Joshua Rauh, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Business, in its Monday, Oct. 25 issue. Rauh’s research results showed that nearly 5 percent of IBM’s pretax income in 2000 and 2001 resulted from an increase in the assumed rate of return on pension investments in 2000. IBM adjusted the rate, which is meant to be a long-term projection, four times between 1991 and 2002, the article reported. His study also offers support for speculation that some executives may deliberately tamper with pension assumptions for corporate and even personal gain.

    Ziyad Hijazi, Professor of Cardiology in Pediatrics and Medicine, was photographed and interviewed for an article that was published in the Monday, Oct. 25 Chicago Tribune. The story focused on an annual conference that Hijazi co-directs. The annual pediatric cardiology conference involves physician participants who offer real-time advice via video monitors to surgeons who are performing cardiac surgery on young patients in a remote location. The conference format, called interventional cardiology, allows physicians to learn about new techniques and tools. The physicians organize the conferences themselves without government financial support, and Hijazi has organized eight such conferences. “It takes a lot of organizational skills. You have a patient’s life on the table. Luckily, we never lost anybody on camera. But we could. This is real life,” he said.

    Team Yao, a group of professionals who manage a marketing plan developed for NBA star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, was highlighted in a BusinessWeek feature on this Chinese basketball player. Yao has quickly become a sports phenomenon, especially in his native China, and many company executives want him selling their products. Jonathan Frenzen, Clinical Professor of Marketing in the Graduate School of Business; John Huizinga, the Walter David “Bud” Fackler Professor of Economics in the GSB; M. Erik Zhang, former GSB student and a relative of Yao’s through marriage; and former students in Frenzen’s new-product workshop course have all been part of Team Yao. Aaron Abraham (M.B.A.,’03) , who was one of those students who helped develop the plan, was quoted in the article, as was Frenzen. “We discovered that the world of possibilities for Yao was vast,” said Frenzen. Abraham added: “We knew he had the potential to be a huge gateway to China, and we wanted him to be true to the country’s old values but also reflect the newer generations.”