November 3, 2005
Vol. 25 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/. News clips may be sent to ldavis@uchicago.edu.

    Marshall Sahlins, the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Anthropology and the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, was featured in the October issue of Chicago magazine in an article that described his work as executive publisher of Prickly Paradigm Press. Prickly Paradigm publishes pamphlets of polemical essays, primarily written by scholars from a broad range of disciplines and distributed by the University Press. “Knowledge today has crossed the traditional disciplinary boundaries,” said Sahlins. “Pamphlets can better capture this intellectual turmoil and allow scholars to write across the academic disciplines and footnotes.” The article noted that Sahlins is pleased the pamphlets have created a buzz, though he remains modest. “So far, it’s been good, but, as my brother Bernie says, ‘We still haven’t achieved world peace.’”

    Haresh Sapra, Associate Professor of Accounting in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in the Monday, Oct. 17 issue of USA Today for an article that reported on the legal troubles surrounding top officials of the investment firm Refco. Sapra, who teaches courses that cover the accounting, tax and economic implications of mergers and acquisitions, as well as economic models and disclosure issues in accounting, said: “You would think in this environment—post-Enron, post-Arthur Andersen and post-WorldCom—that they would do their due diligence. But not surprisingly, possibly because there were huge fees involved, it looks like none of this was done.” According to the article, Refco’s initial public offering prospectus provided clues to deficiencies in the firm’s internal controls. “You play this game, and you think you can beat the system,” said Sapra. “Then you go public and think you’re going to make a boatload of money. You think you can fix the problem. But it’s too late when these financial documents become public.”

    Dexter Voisin, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, was interviewed on a California National Public Radio station to discuss his research on the positive impact teachers can have on troubled teen-age students, when they show their students a caring attitude and the students perceive it as such. Voisin was a guest of NPR station KCSN-FM in Northridge, Calif.

    Eric Oliver, Associate Professor in Political Science, discussed findings that are published in his new book, Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic, on WBEZ-FM radio’s 848 program. His book challenges the notion that obesity is an epidemic and a disease. Oliver appeared as a guest on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

    Robert Daum, Professor and Section Chief of Infectious Diseases in Pediatrics, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune story about the country’s lack of vaccine makers and how that would affect Americans should an outbreak of bird flu occur in the United States. The story reported that if a vaccine became available, the lack of U.S.-based production capacity for vaccines could mean Americans would likely be last to receive them. “If there is an epidemic of bird flu, and people start dying in the proportion people believe, I don’t think goodwill is going to be an issue,” said Daum. “It’s going to be every man for himself.”

    Anil Kashyap, Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Monday, Oct. 31 Chicago Sun-Times article that reported on President Bush’s choice of Ben Bernanke to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Kashyap pointed out in the article that Bernanke does not have Wall Street experience, “but that,” he said, “is relatively easy to learn if you respect the markets the way he does.” Kashyap, who knows the nominee, said Bernanke’s own education and his academic background as head of Princeton University’s economics department has provided him with the necessary knowledge for the job. “He is articulate and he gets along with people,” added Kashyap.

    Jerry Coyne, Professor in Ecology & Evolution and the College, was quoted in a Sunday, Oct. 30 front-page Chicago Tribune story that reported on a growing culture war over the teachings of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Coyne, an evolutionary biologist, described the strategy of the Discovery Institute, the organization leading the push to teach “intelligent design” in classrooms, as one being executed by well-educated individuals with “respectable academic positions and degrees. “It’s their media savvy, combined with their money. And they have learned from the old creationists, that is to be much less evangelical.”