April 3, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 13

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    Chicago in the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column Chicago 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.

    Globe-trotting for M.B.A.s

    Kari Nysather, Director of International Programs for the Graduate School of Business, was quoted and pictured in an article published Monday, March 24 in Crain’s Chicago Business. The article reported that many Chicago-based business schools, including the GSB, are sending more of their M.B.A. students overseas for business education and training. The story noted that Chicago first sent its students to study at the London School of Economics in 1965, and that last summer, the school ran short courses in Germany, Austria, Brazil, China and France. “Four years ago, our students only wanted to study in places that were considered financial centers—either London or Hong Kong—and it was hard to get them to look at other schools,” said Nysather. “Now a lot of them are interested in emerging markets, so there’s more demand for schools in South Africa, Brazil, Chile and China.” The GSB’s M.B.A. program, taught at its campuses in Chicago, London and Singapore, also were highlighted in two supporting stories in Crain’s. Alumnus Jeffrey Sexton (M.B.A.,’07) was interviewed about his educational experiences in the program, and William Kooser, Associate Dean of the Executive M.B.A. Program for the GSB, was quoted in a story that reported the school’s interest in recruiting international students. “We thought it would expose our faculty to international issues through the students they were teaching, and they could bring that back to their classrooms in Chicago,” said Kooser.

    Navigating road to college

    A study published by the University’s Consortium on Chicago School Research was the focus of stories that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, and it was cited in other stories about Chicago Public Schools students touring Ivy League colleges. The consortium found that many high-school students choose two-year colleges or vocational schools over four-year institutions, often because of the puzzling application process. Many enroll in schools for which they are academically overqualified. The study suggests that schools do more to prepare students for the transition from high school to college. “Most of our CPS kids are going to colleges well below the colleges they are qualified to attend,” said Melissa Roderick, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and lead author of the study. “You go with what you know. This sends precisely the wrong message to students. If you are going to tell them they need to work hard to go to college, you have to have that work pay off.” An article published in the Christian Science Monitor quoted Vanessa Coca, a researcher for the consortium study.

    Made in Japan

    A nearly century-old relationship between Waseda University in Japan and the University of Chicago was recently revived, as the Maroons men’s baseball team headed on Friday, March 21 to compete against the top college team at Waseda. But Waseda University didn’t always have the top-rated team. In 1910, the Maroons, led by legendary coach Amos Alonso Stagg, traveled to Tokyo to teach the Japanese how to play the American sport—an international exchange that made a lasting impact on Japan. Now as Waseda University celebrates its 125th anniversary, it has invited and paid for the Maroons’ journey back to Tokyo for a new matchup. “I can’t tell you how many times they told me how important it was for them to have the University of Chicago participate in this and to do everything possible to make it work,” said head Maroons baseball coach Brian Baldea, in an article published Saturday, March 15 in the Chicago Tribune. Tsuneo Yoshizawa of Tokyo, who organized the competition, said, “They learned everything about baseball from the University of Chicago. The level of the team or the baseball is not the point this time. It is more important that we are building the relationship again.” A story about the historic, cultural exchange also appeared online at WhiteSox.com.

    Competing in the 21st century

    President Zimmer was featured in a Crain’s Chicago Business Monday, March 24 story, in which he shared some of his initiatives to preserve the University’s academic tradition while also preparing it to remain competitive among its peer institutions. One of those initiatives is a proposed molecular engineering program, which Zimmer acknowledged as “a big thing to bite off.” James Crown, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, also was quoted in the article. “The challenges we face at the university are quite substantial. The product is still terrific, but even at this high level the hill seems steeper from here,” said Crown.

    Price tag on war

    Stephen Davis, the William H. Abbott Professor of International Business & Economics in the Graduate School of Business, challenges a recent book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, in a paper he wrote with colleagues, after they analyzed the costs of the theoretical alternative to war: containment of Saddam Hussein. The paper was cited in a commentary that appeared in the Thursday, March 20 Chicago Tribune. The author noted Davis found that the costs of containment in Iraq would have been big. In certain situations, they even would have been “in the same ballpark as the likely costs of the Iraq intervention.”


    A Nudge toward happiness

    A new book by Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School and the College, and Richard Thaler, the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics in the GSB, called Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, was reviewed in the Monday, March 17 issue of Businessweek. Nudge is an argument for the gentle steer that neither forces people down one path nor ignores them as they blunder. The authors call it “libertarian paternalism,” a deliberate oxymoron. A piece in the Tuesday, March 25 New York Times also cited the Nudge authors and quoted Thaler. “Getting the prices right will not create the right behavior if people do not associate their behavior with the relevant costs,” he said.

    Scandal sparks erotophobia

    Lauren Berlant, the George M. Pullman Professor in English Language & Literature and the College, wrote an opinion piece that appeared online in The Nation on Wednesday, March 12. Berlant argued that what is tragic about the Eliot Spitzer scandal, like so many other sexual scandals involving people in power, is the erotophobia these scandals spark among the public. “Public sexual scandals revel in the hatred of sex. Disgust at the appetites. The strangeness of sex, the ordinary out-of-controlness of sex acts and the sex drives that we all experience. Actually, usually sex is not a threat to very much,” wrote Berlant. “Once again it has appeared in public, as it usually does, as a bad thing that people do to people. Sometimes, too often, it is. But realism about sexuality, about what it could be, deserves better.”

    Demographic influence on peace

    Raja Kamal, Associate Dean of Resource Development for the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the Monday, March 24 Chicago Tribune. Kamal argued that changing demographics in Israel’s population are playing a major role in thwarting the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. “Two noteworthy demographic factors are influencing Israel’s policies: the increase of the ultra-Orthodox segment of the population and the emigration of Israel’s scientists, scholars and researchers,” wrote Kamal. “These trends indicate that time may not be on the side of peacemakers. With religious extremists on the rise, new cadres of politicians are less likely to compromise.”

    Not a ‘magic wand’

    In an effort to reduce the number of MRSA (methicillin-resistant stapholoccocus aureus) cases from spreading throughout hospitals, the medical community is seeking ways to best combat this drug-resistant bacteria. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that isolating and treating people who prove positive for MRSA is inefficient and does not reduce the number of cases. Stephen Weber, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases in Medicine and Medical Director of the Infection Control Program, said screening patients can be valuable but that is not a “magic wand” solution, nor is it the best way for hospitals to use their resources