Jan. 18, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 8

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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/.

    Harry Davis

    All the business world’s a stage

    Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management in the Graduate School of Business, was featured in a Thursday, Jan. 11 article that appeared in The Times of London. He described how business leaders can call upon “personas” that Davis calls the playwright, the director and the actor. Each plays a role, either as visionary, shaper of the material or as the bridge between the original ideas and audience members. “One thing that gets in the way of people in their career is that when they get their first job they build up technical skills and may do well, but they are working to a very small script. Then they get promoted to a role with managerial responsibility and find that they can’t approach the role in the same way. Technical skills won’t help them; they need to bring a new set of characteristics to the stage.”

    Promise of the Internet

    Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, was interviewed for a Sunday, Dec. 31 Chicago Sun-Times story about his new book, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge. Sunstein, who has written before about the Internet in his book Republic.com, revisits the Web in Infotopia, but with a new perspective. “The Internet raised a lot of free speech questions. My original interest was just in teaching free speech courses in the context of this new technology, he said. “Republic.com was an effort to identify risk. This book [Infotopia] is much more of an effort to come to terms with the promise of the Internet.”


    Ian Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science and the College, and a pioneer in grid computing, was quoted and photographed for an article published in the Tuesday, Jan. 2 Chicago Tribune. Foster pointed out how grid computing and the Internet differ, even though during the Internet’s infancy some conceived of it as a massive grid of interconnected computers working together. “People use the Web to communicate with other people through e-mail or with remote data. The Web isn’t for computers to communicate with computers,” said Foster, who has developed software for academic grid computing between research institutions.

    W.J.T. Mitchell

    Modern-day ‘renaissance man’

    W.J.T. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor in English Language & Literature and Art History, was featured as a contemporary “renaissance man” in the Sunday Dec. 31 Chicago Tribune. The recent recipient of a book award from the Modern Language Association, Mitchell described how teaching is critical to his scholarly work. “I tackle topics that I want to know more about. I want the students to fall in love with each others' minds, not with me. So I make them learn from each other, and I try to create situations where I learn from them.”

    375-million-year-old celebrity

    Tiktaalik roseae, a creature that lived 375 million years ago, was noted as one of the biggest science stories of 2006, in the Wednesday Dec. 27 issue of USA Today. The creature made headlines across the country because the fossils—discovered by Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy—provide the missing evolutionary link between fish and the first animals that walked out of water onto land.

    An Olympic-sized opportunity

    Hank Webber, Vice President for Community & Government Affairs, was interviewed and photographed for an article published in the Friday, Jan. 5 Chicago Sun-Times. The article reported on how the construction of an Olympic stadium at the north end of Washington Park, just west of the University campus, would benefit the area and its residents should Chicago win the bid as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. Webber said an Olympic stadium in the neighborhood would create “enormous opportunity. There’s a widespread commitment on the South Side of Chicago toward balanced redevelopment. It’s a challenge in ensuring that existing residents benefit. For example, if there’s redevelopment sparked by an Olympic stadium, there will be a bunch of new jobs created.”

    Germany’s unprecedented risk

    Eric Posner, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a story published in the Palm Beach Daily Business Review. The story, published Tuesday, Jan. 2, reported on a complaint filed in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld, alleging that he authorized policies that led to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The complaint asks that a federal prosecutor in Germany begin an investigation into the allegations that Rumsfeld and other officials ordered, aided and abetted war crimes. “It’s quite risky for Germany to do this,” said Posner. “The danger of backlash is quite real. Congress, even a Democratic Congress, could very well retaliate if a serious prosecution went forward.” Should a German prosecutor take the case, it would be unprecedented, the article reported. “It’s never happened that one government has prosecuted the officials of a friendly government without the consent of that government. It could end up causing a lot of friction between otherwise friendly states,” he added.

    The cost of military might

    William Howell, Associate Professor in the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Monday, Jan. 8 Chicago Tribune. Howell wrote about how the shift of power in Congress might affect the Bush administration’s foreign policy decisions. Basing his argument on history, Howell noted that, “according to a number of political scientists, change in the makeup of Congress can shake the determination of presidents to deploy forces. Congress can substantially increase the political costs of military action—sometimes forcing presidents to withdraw sooner than they would like, other times preventing any kind of military action whatsoever,” wrote Howell.