February 2, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 9

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    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/. If you are aware of news articles that feature the University or its faculty, students and/or alumni, feel free to bring them to the attention of the Chronicle editor to be considered for In the News. News clips may be sent to ldavis@uchicago.edu.

    The research of Susan Levine, Professor in Psychology and the College, was cited in a Wall Street Journal article published Friday, Jan. 13, on the paper’s Science Journal page. The story described recent research on nurture versus nature with regard to child development and behavior, and noted that numerous studies have shown that boys have innately superior spatial ability. Levine and her team studied second- and third-graders in Chicago to see whether a gap exists between socioeconomic groups when measuring spatial ability. They found that only boys from high- and medium-income families did better than girls. She has written that interaction between socioeconomic status and spatial ability “poses a challenge for explanations that downplay the role of environmental effects.”

    Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Thursday, Jan. 19 Chicago Tribune story that reported on a United Airlines management stock plan that was challenged by union employees. Following the United Airlines bankruptcy and reorganization efforts, the stock incentive plan would benefit 400 salaried and management employees of the new company. The union’s objections focus on a common concern over rewarding executives for successfully reorganizing a company and when compensation for those efforts is excessive. Kaplan disagrees that the stock plan of UAL Corp., parent company of United Airlines, is excessive. “This is in the ballpark. For the size of the company and the risk that [United CEO Glenn] Tilton took on, it doesn’t strike me as crazy.”

    Christopher Hsee, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing in the Graduate School of Business, was interviewed about his research that measured the happiness of residents living in a variety of cities in China. Although people living in Shanghai make the most money and have better entertainment facilities, people living in Hangzhou and Chengdu are happier, even though Chengdu has the lowest income level of the 10 cities that Hsee studied. “The research results suggest people’s sense of happiness doesn’t necessarily increase as their incomes rise—higher income doesn’t mean a happier life,” said Hsee, who also has conducted similar surveys in the West. Shanghai ranked second to last in terms of its human environment. “That means respondents said people in Shanghai were less helpful, and more impersonal when others are facing difficulties,” he added. The story appeared in the Tuesday, Jan. 17 Shanghai Daily.

    John Lantos, Associate Director of the University’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, was quoted in a Wednesday, Jan. 18 Chicago Tribune story reporting on physician-assisted suicide, which is legal in the state of Oregon. The federal government tried to overturn Oregon’s groundbreaking legislation, threatening to prosecute doctors, under federal drug laws, who help patients end their lives. “Doctors are already afraid to prescribe narcotics appropriately,” said Lantos. If the U.S. Attorney general’s office “had beaten Oregon, it would have put the fear of the FDA into every doctor trying to provide palliative and hospice care in America today.”

    Jill Mateo, Assistant Professor in Comparative Human Development, and her research on ground squirrels was the subject of a New York Times Science Times-section article that appeared Tuesday, Jan. 17. Mateo’s research revealed that squirrels use five sources of body scent to identify one another. She had discovered earlier that the animals recognize kin, and has now found that these five scents allow squirrels to “tell the difference between Sue and Mary. Five different odors say, ‘Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue,’” she said.

    John Boyer, Dean of the College and the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History, was quoted in a Friday, Jan. 13 article published in the Chicago Tribune. The Tempo story reported on winter breaks at colleges and universities in Chicago and how different institutions view the amount of time students have off, which varies from one institution to another. The University’s winter break is three weeks, and Boyer said that should be the maximum time off for students. “In terms of advancing education, it is always better for students to be in the classroom more than not.”

    Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Assistant Professor in Political Science and the College, discussed on the WVON-AM Radio Cliff Kelly program a survey conducted through the University’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. The survey results are published in the 2005 Racial Attitudes and the Katrina Disaster Study, which was the first analysis of racial differences in reactions to the reporting of the tragedy and people’s attitudes toward the responsibilities of the victims to avoid the disaster. Harris-Lacewell’s interview aired Wednesday, Jan. 18. The study results also were reported in a Thursday, Jan. 19 story distributed by the United Press International news wire service.

    Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School and the College, commented on Judge Samuel Alito Jr.’s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings in articles published in the Friday, Jan. 13 New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sunstein, who has studied Alito’s dissenting opinions and who has taken no position on the nomination, said, in the New York Times: “Judge Alito sounded less amenable to constitutional evolution than Roberts. He is someone who is more likely to vote with Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas than Justice O’Connor.” The Chicago Tribune article addressed the Catholic majority on the court, should Alito be confirmed. “Catholicism is a wide tent in terms of political and legal positions,” said Sunstein. “We could have nine Catholics on the Supreme Court and a great deal of diversity toward the law.”

    Peter Dembowski, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Romance Languages & Literatures and the College, was interviewed about his new book, Christians in the Warsaw Ghetto: An Epitaph for the Unremembered, on a WFMT-FM Radio program that aired Monday, Jan. 16.

    The Chicago Tribune featured Doc Films’ revival of Sunday afternoon matinees for children in its Friday, Jan. 13 issue. Doc Films, the oldest continuously running student film society, screened films for matinees back in the 1980s. The films, shown in Max Palevsky Cinema, will include classic American films, such as the 1964 Mary Poppins as well as three full-length animated French films for children ages 4 to 7, 8 to 11, and 12 and older.