June 12, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 18

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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 University News Office Web site: http://news.uchicago.edu.

    ACT prep hurts, not helps
    Intensive preparation for the ACT exam has harmed, rather than boosted scores of Chicago Public School students, according to a recent study. “There’s no quick fix,” said Elaine Allensworth, Co-Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, and the report’s lead author. “Everyone wants a quick fix, but it’s not there.” In the Consortium study, researchers analyzed test results and surveyed and interviewed teachers and high school juniors in 2005 and 2007 and found that ACT scores were slightly lower in schools where teachers spent at least 40 percent of their time drilling students than in schools where teachers spent less than 20 percent on preparation. The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and United Press International news wire also reported on the research.

    Photo by Dan Dry

    Tom Weisflog, the University Organist, plays the newly refurbished E.M. Skinner pipe organ in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    Restored instruments play again
    The restoration of two jewels of the University at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel was the subject of a Friday, June 6 Chicago Tribune story. The article featured the E.M. Skinner pipe organ, which underwent a three-year, $2.1 million restoration, as well as the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Carillon. “It’s really one of the most thunderous sounds of any organ anywhere,” said Tom Weisflog, University Organist. The instruments were spotlighted in a Saturday, June 7 gala, which included Weisflog and the combined voices of the University choruses, as well as Wylie Crawford, University Carillonneur. USA Today and the Associated Press also detailed the restoration.

    Pretty face on archaeology
    Is Indiana Jones good or bad for archaeology? USA Today delved into the furor over the latest movie in the series in a Thursday, May 22 article. While the realities of archaeology—long hours in labs and the backbreaking, often-futile efforts of digs—are much less glamorous than in film, most people in the field believe Indiana Jones is a positive figure. The Archaeological Institute of America recently put the film’s star, Harrison Ford, on its board of directors. “He makes archaeology seem fun, and if he makes archaeologists seem sexy, we’re all grateful,” said Geoff Emberling, Director of the Oriental Institute Museum. “And yes, there’s an office or two around the institute where there’s a coiled-up bullwhip on the wall.” Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, was also quoted about the topic in the Miami Herald.

    Medical Center eyes downtown
    The University Medical Center plans to open this fall a physicians practice in downtown Chicago. Beginning in November, the location at 150 E. Huron St. will offer specialty services such as preventative heart care, an executive health program, women’s health care and the treatment of sleep disorders. “We have great expertise in preventative medicine,” said Joe Garcia, Chairman of Medicine and the Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor in Medicine. “This gives us a venue to share that with professionals who work downtown and want convenient access.” Up to 50 specialists will rotate through the new office and will see about 150 to 200 patients a day. The move was reported in Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.

    Donation to aid Fermilab
    The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory recently received an anonymous donation of $5 million toward the development of future programs in particle physics. “The fact that a family would give this gift is a great signal that people across this world do care about particle physics,” said Kurt Riesselmann, Head of Public Information at Fermilab. Fermilab is managed through Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, a partnership between the University of Chicago and Universities Research Association, Inc. The Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald reported the announcement.

    Father of Chicago comedy honored
    The New York Times remembered Chicago alumnus Paul Sills, considered the father of improvisational comedy in the city, in a Wednesday, June 4 obituary. While at the University, Sills established the student-led theater group, Tonight at 8:30. In 1955, he and friend David Shepherd founded the Compass Players, the first improv company in the country. Four years later, he created the Second City theater company, which featured many Compass actors. Said Mike Nichols, a Chicago alumnus and one of Sills’ collaborators: “He was the only theater person I have ever known who had no interest whatsoever in results. He was only interested in the continuing process.” The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times also wrote about Sills’ passing.

    Symbolism wrapped in confusion
    Dunkin’ Donuts’ move to pull an online advertisement after complaints that a scarf worn by a celebrity chef was a terror symbol underscores the misunderstandings of Arab culture in society, said a University professor in a Thursday, May 29 article in the Edmonton Sun. Television star Rachael Ray wore a fringed, black-and-white scarf which some critics said looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. Amahl Bishara, the Mellon Postdoctoral Instructor in Anthropology, said the confusion is “an example of how so much of the complexity of Arab culture has been reduced to a very narrow vision of the Arab world on the part of some people in the U.S.” Bishara added that many Middle Eastern people wear kaffiyehs daily to work and school or while taking care of their families.

    All things being equal …
    Christian Broda, Associate Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, wrote a commentary in the Wednesday, June 4 Financial Times on the inequality of income in the United States. Broda based his commentary on a paper co-authored by John Romalis, Associate Professor of Economics in the GSB, which refutes the public belief that inequality in high-income countries has risen as a result of globalization. Broda and Romalis claim wealth is related to how much money one has and the cost of goods one buys. That inequality has been roughly unchanged. “If your income doubles, but the prices of the goods you consume also double, you are no better off.” The authors pointed to increased production of low-quality goods from China and the expansion of superstores such as Wal-Mart as factors in that inequality.

    Historic meeting of man, machine
    An 86-year-old telescope historian’s long-awaited visit to the Yerkes Observatory’s telescope was the subject of a Thursday, May 29 story in the Chicago Tribune. In this year, the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope, Rolf Riekher toured the 90-foot domed observatory, which contains the world’s largest refracting telescope, with Kyle Cudworth, Director of Yerkes Observatory. Riekher, a former German optical engineer, who led teams that won the world’s first patents for no-line bifocals, among others, wrote the definitive book on the subject, titled Telescopes and Their Masters.