April 26, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 15

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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/.

    On to the international stage

     University experts have been interviewed recently for stories reporting on Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. John MacAloon, Professor in Social Sciences, Associate Dean of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division and an expert on the Olympics, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article published Sunday, April 15. The story reported on Chicago’s first victory of being chosen as America’s representative in the international bid competition. “Chicago is the best city that gives us the best chance to compete internationally,” said MacAloon. “This really is an exciting day, because an announcement like this is something that just echoes and echoes throughout a city.” From an economic standpoint, Saskia Sassen, the Ralph Lewis Professor in Sociology and the College, who studies cities and their roles in a global economy, said in an accompanying story, “It’s not clear why cities want to do this”—noting that long-term debt from facilities construction can be incurred from hosting the games. MacAloon and Allen Sanderson, Lecturer in Economics and the College, also spoke about Chicago winning the U.S. opportunity to bid for the Olympics in interviews carried by WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WFLD-TV and WBBM-AM Radio on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15.

    For the sake of healing

    Thomas Kramer, Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Director of the Student Counseling Resource Center, was interviewed for an article published in the Thursday, April 19 Chicago Tribune in the wake of the tragic shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University on Monday, April 16. Kramer commented on the mental health services that colleges and universities are offering as more students across the country seek these services. He noted that universities are “shifting from having these sleepy little therapy centers to doing more general mental health and crisis work.”

      Salikoko Mufwene
    Salikoko Mufwene
    Photo by Jason Smith

    The power of words

    Salikoko Mufwene, the Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor in Linguistics, was interviewed for an article published in the Friday, April 13 Houston Chronicle that reported on the firing of radio host Don Imus. Imus was fired by CBS after using a derogatory phrase while on the air to describe members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. His remarks fueled protests against him led by prominent African-Americans, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The Houston Chronicle article focused on the words Imus used, which are common lyrics in rap and hip-hop music. Mufwene noted that Imus’ biggest mistake was “claiming membership in a linguistic community that he doesn’t belong to.” Mufwene further noted that any word or euphemism could potentially acquire a loaded meaning. “If everybody uses the euphemism, then the euphemism acquires the connotation that you were avoiding. The problem is not really in the word, but in the usage. How they’re interpreted.”

    Who’s the happiest of them all?

    Tom Smith, Director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center at the University, was interviewed about the results of a study on job satisfaction for an article that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor Tuesday, April 17. The study analyzed the data provided by a representative sample of Americans who answered questions in face-to-face interviews. The findings show that while the occupations that provide the highest levels of job satisfaction are not the highest paid positions, they are all occupations in which individuals help other people—the most satisfying being clergy. “We expected high-prestige jobs to have more satisfaction and better happiness,” said Smith, “but among the high-prestige jobs, it’s those that involve caring for and helping others that put them high.” Smith explained a striking difference between firefighters and police officers—80 percent of firefighters reported being very satisfied compared to 59 percent of police officers. “Firefighters get a much more positive response, and they’re not dealing with the kinds of problems that police officers deal with—the worst of society.” ABC News and United Press International also carried reports on the study results.

    High cost of diabetes

    Health economist Willard Manning, Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, was noted in a Tuesday, April 10 USA Today article for his role in analyzing data for the report, “The State of Diabetes Complications in America,’ released by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Manning told USA Today that health care costs for diabetics is three times the costs for non-diabetics, and that diabetics can expect to spend an average $1,600 per year for out-of-pocket expenses for care.

    Devoted to the Dalai Lama

    Matthew Kapstein, the Numata Visiting Professor in the Divinity School and a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, was quoted in a Sunday, April 15 Chicago Tribune story about a group of local craftsman who are building a throne for the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Chicago. Teaching from a throne, Kapstein noted, dates to early Tibetan cultural traditions. The building of the throne is an act of devotion to the teacher and his teachings, he explained. “Quite remarkably, for a person who spends so much time on a throne, one is immediately struck by how unpretentious and free from airs he is,” said Kapstein, who has met the Dalai Lama on several occasions.

      Mark Courtney
    Mark Courtney

     A farewell to child welfare

    Mark Courtney, the McCormick Tribune Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, and Matthew Stagner, Director of the Chapin Hall Center for Children, both commented on Catholic Charities’ move to drop its foster care program. “For them to be pulling out of the business in a major city like Chicago is a major challenge for the field,” said Courtney in a Tuesday, April 17 Chicago Tribune article. “It doesn’t bode well for the public-private partnership that has existed in child welfare for 100 years. That’s a big deal,” added Courtney. Stagner discussed Catholic Charities’ decision in an interview with WMAQ-TV that aired Tuesday, April 17.