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 Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine published a cover story on the University’s commitment to creating a more diverse student body and faculty, which has been the emphasis of the work of the Provost’s Initiative on Minority Issues committee during the past two years. The article highlighted not only the University’s current diversity initiatives but also noted that Chicago was the first University to award a doctorate degree to an African-American female student, Georgiana Simpson in 1921, and was the first to hire a female University president, Hanna Gray in 1978. “We don’t want a homogenous faculty or student body,” said Richard Saller, Provost. “The University is very focused on its mission of research and education. Diversity contributes to research, because the experiences that students and faculty come to us with influence the kinds of questions they ask and the way they make arguments. I know from my own experience in the classroom that students from different backgrounds raise different questions in class, leading to different kinds of discussion.” Saller, as well as Michael Behnke, Vice President for University Relations and Dean of College Enrollment; Stephen Klass, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University; and Kenneth Warren, the William J. Friedman & Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor in English Language & Literature, were quoted and photographed for the article that appeared in the Monday, May 23 issue.
Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology and the College, was a guest on CNN Live at Daybreak Friday, May 20. Waite discussed the results of a study conducted by the University’s Sloan Center on Working Families, which measured in dual-income families how much time men and women spend doing housework each week. The results showed that men do less than they claim to do, but more than their wives claim they do. While husbands estimate they do 42 percent of household chores, they actually do 39 percent of the housework. Their wives estimate that they do only 33 percent. “I think the big thing that makes for a sense of resentment is that the women think that they’re doing about 12 or 13 or 14 hours more housework a week than they think their husbands are doing. And the husbands think—they know their wives are doing more. They give them complete credit for doing more. But they think the gap is more like seven hours,” said Waite.
Richard Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature and the College, was featured in a Chicago Tribune article published Sunday, May 29. Stern talked about his new publication, Almonds to Zhoof, a collection of 49 stories that not only chronicles his life’s work as a writer, but also, he said, is “an examination of short fiction. This form I love so much, told from different places and different perspectives. This is the soul of someone who has put much of his intense thought and feeling into his work.” Though reluctant to name one person whose work he admires most, he noted his friendship with Saul Bellow as a connection that was both personally and professionally beneficial. “Saul Bellow, whom I knew well personally but also knew as an author, helped me open up my prose sensuously . . . I don’t have even a tenth of his sensual power, but he forced me to take note of the colors, smells and tastes of the world around me.”
Lewis Fortner, Associate Dean of Students in the College and Academic Director of Study Abroad Programs, was interviewed for an article published Monday, May 23, in the Chicago Tribune that reported on study abroad programs in Israel, which has been on the U.S. State Department’s travel warning list since 2000. Some American students who have studied there in recent years have had to give up tuition scholarship money and accept the possibility of credit for coursework completed in Israel not transferring to the institutions in which they are enrolled. Not all universities and colleges discourage visiting Israel, including Chicago. But, Fortner said, although the University would prefer to have its own program based in Jerusalem, that is not realistic at this time. “There are signs of optimism. But when it comes to the safety of our students and the exposure of our university we have to be very conservative.”
Ellen Rudnick, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Wall Street Journal online article that reported on the qualities start-up companies should look for when hiring new employees. Rudnick cautioned entrepreneurs who are hiring their first employees. “There is clearly a danger in moving too fast,” she said. Committing to employee salary and benefits prematurely can be costly, she noted, especially should firing, then severance pay or litigation follow. “If you’re a five-person company with one or two employees not working out well, you could destroy a company.”
Ron Huberman (M.B.A., A.M.,’00), an alumnus of the GSB and the School of Social Service Administration, was featured in the Tuesday, May 31 Chicago Tribune for his new appointment as Mayor Daley’s chief of staff. Huberman, who worked toward his dual master’s degree at the University during the day, was a Rogers Park police officer by night. Before being named chief of staff, Huberman was the head of Operation Disruption, which uses street-corner cameras to discourage drug dealing, and CLEAR, a computerized system used to reduce violent crime. He also directed the city’s Office of Emergency Management Communications before his new appointment at city hall.
Urologist Greg Bales, Assistant Professor in Surgery, was quoted in a front-page Saturday, May 28 Chicago Tribune story about the Food and Drug Administration’s current investigative review of erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra, causing vision loss as a side effect. After new health risks were reported regarding the use of such pain-reducing medications as Vioxx and Celebrex, patients have become more concerned about drug safety. However, FDA reports say the risk of blindness from using Viagra and other similar medications is fewer than 50 cases out of millions of prescriptions. “Obviously, it scares people,” said Bales. “It’s something we need to spell out a little more clearly, so patients recognize there’s a risk, albeit a very low one.”
James Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College, was quoted in a Science magazine article published in the Wednesday, May 27 edition. Heckman commented on the findings of a controversial study that suggests being exposed to gun violence makes adolescents more likely to become perpetrators of violent crimes involving guns. The study authors used a technique called “propensity score stratification,” which creates, through statistical means, a randomized experiment on propensity toward violence from observational data. Heckman and others find the study “potentially very misleading.” He added: “This is why this kind of statistics is not science. This is why you find out orange juice causes lung cancer one week and cures it the next.”