Steve Sartori
Students tour the resource fair at Taste of Westcott Street, sponsored by the Office of Off-Campus Student Services.


At Home Off Campus

Mid-afternoon sunlight filters into the living room of 754 Ostrom Avenue—the Office of Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS)—casting a warm glow across an overstuffed couch, armchairs, and a small table neatly decorated with pamphlets. The smell of coffee wafts into the room from a bright kitchen, where a booth and cushioned benches are nestled into a cozy breakfast nook. “One of our goals is to retain the characteristics of a home—that warm feeling that makes people want to come in and talk,” says OCSS director Laura Madelone. “It’s also important that we are located here in the community, close to our students and our constituents.” Part of the Division of Student Affairs, OCSS opened in July 2002 to build a diverse, inclusive community of students by promoting off-campus safety, developing citizenship, and creating positive connections with the local community. The office offers a variety of programs, resources, and events to the thousands of students living off campus each year.

When students arrive at their apartments, they are greeted by the OCSS Welcoming Team, a volunteer group of faculty, staff, students, community members, police officers, and firefighters who travel door to door. The volunteers distribute an off-campus student handbook, An Insider’s Guide to Living Off Campus, and information on community living, city ordinances, recycling, and tenant’s rights. This fall, the Welcoming Team visited more than 1,300 rental units, says Madelone. In early September, a second welcoming event—Taste of Westcott Street—invited students and permanent residents to the Westcott Community Center in Syracuse to sample foods from local restaurants and tour the resource fair, where representatives of local organizations and University departments met students and encouraged them to get involved in the community. Last spring, students created an OCSS float for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, something Madelone hopes to repeat this year. “It was a lot of fun, and the community was excited to see SU in the parade,” she says.

For those considering the move off campus, OCSS offers a housing fair each October to provide helpful information and resources. “We invite more than 100 landlords to showcase their properties and meet with students,” Madelone says. “We make sure students know the questions to ask about rent, lease agreements, maintenance, and anything else they need to know before moving in.” Utility companies, the police department, the fire department, code enforcement, and student legal services are also represented at the housing fair.

According to Madelone, safety is a top concern for students living off campus. For example, Amy Peterson ’03 turned to OCSS after a maintenance worker hired by her landlord entered her apartment unannounced. “I called OCSS immediately, and they dispatched a police officer to my house, contacted my landlord, and called again to follow up,” Peterson says. “I couldn’t have asked for better help.”

Each year, Madelone and her staff distribute thousands of student safety brochures, urging students to take such precautions as locking their doors and windows and using the Shuttle U Home program. To find appropriate safety features for a residence, students need only to tour the Ostrom Avenue office. “We show students the opaque blinds, which prevent people from seeing in, and the windows and doors equipped with proper locking mechanisms,” Madelone says. “There are lights with motion sensors around the outside of the house, and the brush is kept low in front of windows. Our new office gives students a good idea of what to look for when choosing an apartment.”

—Kate Gaetano

Human Services & Health Professions

Steve Sartori

Sharon Zurlnick ’04, right, a student at the College of Human Services and Health Professions, serves a member of the Living Room, while classmates work in the kitchen.

More Than Bread Alone

Central New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are benefiting from a unique partnership between the College of Human Services and Health Professions and the Living Room, a nutrition-based social support program designed to serve the area’s HIV-positive community. The program pairs student interns from the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management with Living Room members, who are all infected or affected in some way by the AIDS virus. Plans are now under way to use the program as a model across the state. The Living Room is one of four HIV-related programs administered by Liberty Resources Inc.—a nonprofit organization that promotes independent living—and is funded by the New York State Department of Health/AIDS Institute. “The program is a two-way street,” says Gregg Heffner G’01, HIV services program supervisor for Liberty Resources. “The students provide specialized nutritional counseling for our members, while our members help them understand the realities and challenges of living with HIV/AIDS.”

When the program was launched last fall, 12 graduate student interns were each assigned a Living Room member who receives home-delivered meals. In the spring semester, eight undergraduate students in the college’s coordinated dietetics program participated in the partnership. During both semesters, interns assessed clients’ nutritional needs, taking into account complications caused by medications and the effects of the AIDS virus, and gained a broad picture of the members’ experiences. “The student counselors were faced with such issues as whether members can afford certain foods, whether they have working stoves, or if they’re able to swallow easily,” Heffner says.

Registered dietitian Debbie Connolly, the program’s internship director, says working with the Living Room benefits students by allowing them to function as consultants. The New York State Department of Health/AIDS Institute requires that certain criteria be met for the Living Room to receive state grants. Before the SU partnership was established, the Living Room contracted with a registered dietitian for professional services; the potential now exists for the interns, under Connolly’s supervision, to provide the service for free. “The interns address such issues as food management and menu analysis,” Connolly says. “It’s important, real experience.”

Heffner says that initially some of the center’s 230 members were concerned about the students’ participation, fearing the loss of the center’s nonjudgmental atmosphere and confidentiality. However, those fears have been allayed. “There has not been one negative comment,” he says. “The members describe the students as open, non-intimidating, and just wonderful.”

—Nicci Brown


Steve Sartori


Indigenous Perspective

Since Europeans first arrived in America hundreds of years ago, Indian nations have struggled to maintain their own government and legal systems, even as their lands came under the control of the United States. To control Indian affairs during the 19th and 20th centuries, federal and state governments established the Indian nations’ constitutions and enacted many laws that are outdated and dysfunctional. “Most federal laws dealing with Indians are premised upon the notion that Indians are an inferior people in need of protective regulation,” says Professor Robert Odawi Porter G’86, director of the College of Law’s new Center of Indigenous Citizenship, Law, and Governance and the Dean’s Research Scholar of Indigenous Nations Law. “That’s hard to reconcile with the sovereign status of Indian nations. And in New York, I’ve concluded that about 85 percent of the statutes are illegal and should be repealed.” Among its top goals, the center will work with the Indian nations and federal and state legislatures to study and revise outdated statutes.

College of Law Dean Hannah Arterian says the center’s creation and Porter’s appointment constitute “a remarkable moment” for the University. “It is an opportunity to build more interdisciplinary bridges on campus and make a lasting contribution to furthering academic work in this critically important arena,” she says. “It is just so natural for Syracuse to have a program like this.”

Syracuse is in traditional Onondaga Nation territory—the capital of the Haudenosaunee (Five Nations Iroquois) Confederacy—and approximately 45,000 Haudenosaunee people live in the area, says Porter, a citizen of the Seneca Nation who grew up on the Allegany Territory in Western New York. “Through the center, I intend to establish an ongoing education program to teach about the unique history, culture, and legal system of the Haudenosaunee,” he says. The center will also focus on educating attorneys, Indian communities, and the general public about land claim issues, gaming development, and overall interactions between the settlers’ descendants and Indigenous peoples.

Porter, who most recently was a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, came to Syracuse because of the University’s commitment to pursuing interdisciplinary research—a prominent feature of the Academic Plan. “We’re dealing with the remnants of Indian nations that have suffered from several hundred years of colonization,” Porter says. “We’ll really need to use a holistic approach to solve some of the problems. Because it draws on the resources and talents of the whole University, I believe this center can have not just national, but global significance as well.”

—Margaret Costello

Arts & Sciences

Family Matters

For years the popular press has focused public attention on divorce rates, the social acceptance of single parenting, and other issues that may indicate a “decline” in American family life. But psychology professor Barbara H. Fiese believes that despite a broadening of the definition of family in recent decades, the family as an institution remains sound and vital. She is encouraged by the creativity and flexibility that families have shown in nurturing the patterns of behavior necessary to accomplish everyday tasks (“routines”) and in providing contexts for the activities that imbue life with emotional substance and meaning (“rituals”).

Fiese led a team of SU faculty and graduate students in a research project whose results were published last March in the article, “A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?” for The Journal of Family Psychology. A specialist in clinical and developmental psychology, Fiese explains that routines, such as daily family meals, regular household chores, or bedtime storytelling, are structures formed around things that need to get done. They involve only brief commitments and are not designed to stimulate afterthought.

In the review of some 32 studies published on this subject over the last half century, she found much evidence that children are physically healthier, their behavior is better regulated, and they tend to be more successful academically when predictable routines order their lives. There was even some evidence that preschool children recovered more quickly from respiratory infections in routine-oriented households. Perhaps most surprising to traditionalists, the presence of routines seems to be equally effective in bringing these benefits to children in single-parent households as in two-parent households.

Rituals offer advantages that exist on a less tangible plane. “They involve symbolic communication and convey messages about ‘who we are’ as a group,” Fiese says. “They lend continuity to life and carry meaning across generations.” Typical examples include birthday celebrations, holiday get-togethers, funerals, or special Sunday dinners that may include grandparents or friends. If successful, a ritual can leave a positive emotional imprint, which the individual may replay in memory to recapture a sense of belonging during moments of distress or alienation.

While arguments concerning “traditional versus non-traditional” families get a great deal of media attention, Fiese and her colleagues found in their study that the work of professional psychologists points to different criteria for measuring the health of the family. “What seems to be most important, in any kind of family, is providing children with a sense of dependable regularity in their daily activity and with a sense of security and belonging in their emotional lives,” she says.

—David Marc


Courtesy of the Early Literacy Project


Creating a Community
for Literacy

A team of School of Education experts developed an interactive computer game as part of a multimedia project to help adults in one New York State community teach young children to read. The game features a cartoon image of a brain, onto which participants—using the computer’s mouse—drag symbols of things that support healthy brain development, including multisensory experiences and nurturing relationships. But if participants try to drag the dollar sign or an icon of a college graduate onto the picture of the brain, the game rejects those images. “We want to show people you don’t have to spend a lot of money or have an extensive formal education to teach a child to read,” says Jane Greiner, a School of Education Ph.D. student and senior program associate in the school’s Office of Professional Development (OPD). “What’s more important is making the most of the materials you have available and the time you have for interactions with a child.”

The Early Literacy Project is an initiative led by the Children’s Institute in Rochester, New York, and is subcontracted to the OPD for design and development by an interdisciplinary team of education faculty and technology and media experts. Team members drew on their combined knowledge of the kinds of experiences and relationships that contribute to reading success for children from birth to age 6 and gathered additional input from focus groups in the Rochester community. They then developed a program for helping adults at various levels of the community’s child care system—including parents, day care providers, and other primary caregivers—to create those positive learning environments for children. The project also addresses audiences who are less directly involved with children but play an important role in their education, such as staff development personnel and agency administrators. “We were challenged to find ways to teach different adult audiences how to help children become successful readers even before they actually learn to read,” Greiner says.

The four-year project resulted in a program of interactive multimedia workshops; a series of videos, posters, and brochures for community distribution; and literacy kits to be shared with parents and other child care providers. One video presents a “reading makeover” to illustrate the importance of creating a reading environment that is focused on the child’s interests and abilities. Literacy kits like the “Fun for You Petting Zoo”—which features toy animals, veterinary instruments, books, and activity sheets—are meant to be distributed to parents or made available at such places as doctors’ offices.

Greiner says feedback from Rochester community members has been positive. “I feel lucky to have worked on this project,” she says. “It’s a rare opportunity not only to see something like this get designed and developed, but also to be involved in the process of seeing it move into the community. Best of all, I know there are a lot of children out there who, as a result of this collaboration, are going to learn some great stuff!”

—Amy Speach Shires




University College


A Fitting Tribute

In 1998, University College Dean Charles K. Barletta noticed several people laying a wreath at University Avenue and Adams Street. They had gathered across the street from University College’s new home at 700 University Avenue to commemorate a tragic event that occurred April 9, 1978. When Barletta learned that, 20 years earlier, four firefighters had died at this site while trying to save Syracuse University students thought to be trapped inside, he decided to create a scholarship for local firefighters in their memory. “We’ve always encouraged our friends in the city to go to school part time,” Barletta says. “What better way to remember your fallen brethren than to help other firefighters continue their education?”

This year, in collaboration with the Syracuse Fire Department (SFD) and the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association, University College awarded the first Syracuse Firefighters’ Memorial Scholarship to Captain Kent Young of the SFD. Young earned an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy nearly 18 years ago, but always wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree. When the scholarship became available, he decided it was a good time to go back to school. Young was “humbled beyond words” when he learned he would receive the money. “I’m honored to have been chosen for the scholarship,” says Young, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in professional studies in leadership. “The University is doing a great thing by recognizing what those firefighters sacrificed.”

The scholarship pays for three credits—renewable each year if the student reapplies, says Rodger Smith, UC’s director of development and recruitment. “We felt it was appropriate for us to create a memorial to the firefighters,” he says. The scholarship also fits with University College’s goal of helping part-time professionals continue their education.

Twenty-five years after the fire, the scholarship honors a declaration made on a large white sign planted near the site: “Your sacrifice shall not be forgotten.”

—Lindsay Beller


Visual & Performing Arts

Steve Sartori

Lisa Brown ’04, left, gets feedback from ARISE Center member Darryl Storie on a prototype she developed for transporting paperwork.

Learning by Design

Humans are toolmakers. But, as anyone who has ever sat in an ergonomically incorrect chair for more than an hour can tell you, the tools they make aren’t always as humane as they could be. In the industrial design course Human Factors for Designers, Professor Glen Hougan teaches students to remember they are designing products for consumers. “The course is really about user-centered designing,” he says. “We look at physiological and psychological information to make sure that what we’re designing is safe and easy to use. You may be designing a chair, but are you designing a chair that people can sit in, or should sit in, or will sit in? These are the kinds of questions we ask.”

Last fall, Hougan contacted the ARISE Center for Independent Living, a community-based advocacy group in Syracuse that works to help people with physical challenges live independently. “Originally, I contacted ARISE because I wanted the class to see a ‘universal kitchen’ they have there, which demonstrates design solutions that have been applied to various everyday problems,” he says. However, during those initial conversations, Tina Romaine, an administrator at ARISE’s Universal Design Center and a wheelchair user, mentioned a problem that intrigued Hougan. “When you’re in a wheelchair, documents often fall to the ground, which is very disruptive,” Romaine says. “Some people stuff papers behind their backs or under their legs, but that can crush or even ruin important papers.”

Surprised to find no conventional product that addresses the problem, Hougan assigned class members to design one. “I liked this exercise because, to do it successfully, students were required to listen to the users’ concerns, rather than just proceed on their own assumptions,” he says. “Even the mistakes were instructive. One student designed a device that worked, but, as he later learned, only if the person in the wheelchair happened to be wearing pants, as opposed to a dress.” Functioning prototypes of the designs were made, allowing each student to follow the process from an original idea to its realization as a physical product.

“The project was a unique opportunity to get involved in solving a real design problem,” says class member Paul Conte ’03. “Feedback from the ARISE employees on our proposed models was invaluable in coming up with a solution, and we received such positive reactions from them. It helped me see my potential as an industrial designer.”

Romaine found two student designs particularly promising, but stresses that she would like to see further follow-up, including the long-term testing of prototypes by ARISE members. In recognition of their work, class members received a Chancellor’s Award for Public Service. “It was a very meaningful experience in terms of dealing with people,” Hougan says. “The students learned that the special needs of people with disabilities are often not considered.”

—David Marc



Three-Pack Lunch

For five consecutive Tuesdays last semester, public relations executive Philip A. Nardone Jr. ’82 flew to Syracuse to instruct a public relations class at the Newhouse School. Nardone, president and founder of one of New England’s largest public relations firms, PAN Communications, was one of eight public relations professionals (five of whom are alumni) teaching a three-part course that introduces seniors and graduate students to career options in public relations. “I find it gratifying to give something back to the school,” says Nardone, who worked with Newhouse public relations professor Maria Russell on developing the career course series. “I remember my own Newhouse experience and how I yearned for more professional experiences related to my degree. I know students today get a lot out of hearing about things going on in my firm.”

The idea for the innovative offering grew out of a desire to create more variety for public relations students, whose course load is heavily dictated by the major requirements. “Using the only elective available in public relations, these three one-credit courses enrich the curriculum and enable students to hear from experts on different topics,” Russell says. “These top-flight professionals help students understand how public relations careers differ from each other, so the students can make informed choices about their career paths.” This year, the department offered the following tracks of the “three-pack” series:

• corporate, featuring classes in employee communications (Gary Grates G’99), financial and investor relations (William Doescher G’61), and corporate social responsibility (Diana Jacobs);

• public affairs, covering such areas as crisis communications (Bill Smullen G’74), media relations (Smullen), and government relations (Marilyn Higgins); and

• sports/agency, focusing on sports information (Sue Cornelius Edson ’90), sports marketing (Michael Veley), and agency management (Nardone).

“The series was intense because you crammed a lot of learning into a short period of time,” says Mellissa Sweeney G’03, who enrolled in the government relations track, headed by Newhouse and Maxwell professor Smullen, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. “The course exposed us to different topics, teaching styles, and practical experiences. Each professor brought a unique history to the experience and shared it with students. It was practical and useful learning and a good networking opportunity for us.”

Nardone’s course has been so successful that it has served as a model, endorsed by the Council of Public Relations Firms, for similar courses at other universities, including Howard, Akron, and the University of Texas. “This course is a marvelous opportunity for the next wave of talent entering the public relations field to get a real feel for the environment they are about to enter,” says Kathy Cripps, council president. “Gaining insight into how a public relations firm works adds invaluable context to the experiences that await them after college.”

—Margaret Costello


Hendricks Chapel

Courtesy of the Reverend Thomas V. Wolfe

Interfaith group members gather in Cordoba, Spain, during an exploration of how three religions have coexisted there.


Interfaith Journey

Last spring break, a group of 18 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students, faith leaders, faculty, and staff toured Spain to gain a comprehensive appreciation of the three religions and study their history of coexistence there. From the first night, the group experienced the challenges and discoveries of understanding one another’s religious beliefs and traditions. “The restaurant had a large table laid out beautifully with bottles of water and wine,” says the Reverend Thomas V. Wolfe G’02, dean of Hendricks Chapel. When the Muslims in the group suggested they would have to dine at a separate table—because their religion doesn’t allow them to eat where wine is served—a decision was made that no one would have wine with any meal throughout the trip. “The issue was a relatively minor one,” Wolfe says. “But it illustrates our commitment to honoring the group’s mission of interfaith understanding.”

The trip fulfilled goals established by the Hendricks Chapel Vision Fund project during the 2001-02 academic year for a group of students to study and travel together, teaching each other about their faiths and visiting each religion’s holy sites. “The intent was to take everyday elements of the Hendricks Chapel environment, like collegiality and dialogue, to deeper levels by placing those values into a context of praxis,” Wolfe says. Originally planning to visit the Middle East, the group participated in an eight-week course that covered the history of the three faiths there, including an examination of the discord among the region’s many factions. But the events of September 11, 2001, and escalating conflict in the Middle East led to a delay and then to choosing a new location for the trip. “We decided on Spain because all three faith traditions have a history there that is based on a sense of collaboration, and we were looking to explore and discover the motivations that led to that spirit of tolerance and let it speak to us,” Wolfe says.

In preparation for the trip, the group met regularly for discussion and study. Coming together for an extended time in Spain—while coping with the challenges and sharing the novelty of traveling in another country—allowed those conversations to deepen. After spending the day learning how the country’s complex religious history influenced its architecture and touring such sites as the Alhambra in Granada and a museum in Cordoba that illustrated the importance of the three faiths, group members came together to share their impressions. “Our evening discussions were meaningful, because we touched on many issues and learned a lot about each other’s ideas and beliefs,” says group member Joan Burstyn, emerita professor of cultural foundations of education and of history. “They helped us discover ways to reach out across different religions to build bridges—not to merge with each other, but to understand each other and share the same space.”

Environmental engineering major Deirdre Brosnihan ’04 agrees that discussions over dinner were a highlight of the trip. “Group members shared their personal stories involving their faiths and experiences related to their beliefs,” she says. “The trip was an amazingly positive experience that gave me a great sense of religious perspective and a deep knowledge of other faiths.”

—Amy Speach Shires



Randall Korman

Renowned architect Richard Meier presents “The Tradition of Modernity” to SU and University of Florence students in the Salone dei Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio.


Historic Setting, Modern Design

Last spring, five students from the Syracuse University in Florence (SUF) Master of Architecture II program collaborated with architecture students from the University of Florence to redesign the Piazza Brunelleschi, a small square in Florence’s historic center that contains a building slated for replacement. The project required them to analyze the site and produce proposals for the redevelopment of the piazza, providing students with the practical experience of working on an actual site. “The project was not intended to produce proposals that might actually be built,” says Professor Randall Korman, coordinator of the SU architecture program in Florence. “Rather, it was meant to explore the boundaries of what is possible.”

For James Gantz G’03, the project began with integrating contemporary architecture into a traditional city. “Florence has a delicate process for new architecture and is often ultra-conservative in its allowances,” he says. Students met with representatives from the University of Florence, the city planning office, Consiglio di Quartiere Uno (a group of district residents), and the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, who introduced the site, its issues, and the needs of their institutions. “It’s important to recognize that urban architecture is not simply about the building as its own entity,” says John Ganley G’03. “There are people involved.”

The collaboration benefited both the SU and University of Florence students because it allowed them to observe each group’s educational processes and approaches to architectural and urban design problems. “It fostered a rich exchange of ideas, criticisms, and cultural perspectives,” says Korman, who opened SU’s studio space to the Florence students to promote further interaction. Teresa Davidson G’03 says participating in the Piazza Brunelleschi project was the highlight of her SUF experience because of what she learned from the bilingual meetings, presentations, and the differing cultural interpretations that emerged. “Working regularly with other professionals and students created greater expectations and raised our standards even further, which resulted in a better product overall,” she says.

Students from both SUF and the University of Florence met with renowned American architect Richard Meier, who critiqued their proposals during a three-hour workshop and lectured on projects he has completed within historic centers. “SUF has begun to shift its institutional identity away from a center limited to the study of Florence and Italy and toward a site for intellectual and cultural exchange between American, Italian, and other European students and scholars,” says SUF resident director Barbara Deimling, who was instrumental in bringing the groups together. The Piazza Brunelleschi project culminated with a joint review and public exhibition of the students’ designs in May. Korman says the students’ projects may influence the city’s approach to the actual project, scheduled to begin within the next two years.

—Kate Gaetano

Engineering & Computer Science

Recruiting Tomorrow’s Faculty

Few minority students in science, mathematics, or engineering (SME) programs go on to earn doctorates, which results in fewer minority professors in those fields. This is particularly true of African American, American Indian, and Hispanic scholars, who make up only 6.5 percent of the engineering faculty at American four-year colleges, according to the U.S. Department of Education. “We need to change the culture within academe, and we need to support the underrepresented groups so they don’t get lost on their way toward becoming tenured professors,” says Mark Glauser, a professor of mechanical, aerospace, and manufacturing engineering.

To help initiate that change, Syracuse spearheaded an effort with Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez that will help facilitate graduate study for underrepresented populations. The Central New York to Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Alliance is being funded by a 5-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. Howard Johnson, executive vice provost for academic affairs, serves as the principal investigator and is assisted by Glauser and Stacey L. Tice, assistant dean of the Graduate School.

After securing the grant last fall, the alliance organized a conference at Mayagüez earlier this year that brought together 150 exceptional Hispanic students interested in pursuing advanced degrees in SME fields. The students learned about the AGEP program and potential sources of support for graduate studies at the Central New York institutions. The grant also funded visits to Syracuse by Hispanic students from Mayagüez who hope to earn Ph.D. degrees at SU. Most of the grant money will be used for recruitment and retainment efforts that target underrepresented groups, such as networking with minority institutions to identify potential candidates, developing mentoring programs, and revising guidelines for graduate admission criteria, Glauser says.

Only a small amount from the initial grant is earmarked for graduate assistantships. “It’s not really a fellowship program,” Glauser says. “It’s a program to change the culture so that universities will commit to multiple-year assistance packages to support these students.” The alliance also wants to create a science and technology center at Mayagüez that will contain a regional climate simulator and will provide research assistantships to minority graduate students.

However, convincing the students of underrepresented groups to pursue graduate work can be a hard sell, especially since many can find well-paying jobs with only a bachelor’s degree. “A lot of these kids are first-generation students who could make $50,000 out of college and whose families want them to do that,” Glauser says. “They say, ‘Why should I go to graduate school?’ Part of our job as mentors is to get them to think beyond immediate returns. The whole purpose is to aid them in becoming the next generation of professors.”

—Margaret Costello


Information Studies

Connecting the Caribbean

It’s a wired world. Well, not exactly. While most people in the United States and other industrialized countries take Internet access for granted, in most parts of the world computers are scarce and online access even scarcer. One of those regions is the Caribbean basin, which includes such island nations as Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, where only about 5 percent of the population can connect to the Internet. “We currently do not have the infrastructure that enables a steady growth of Internet access in our country,” says Courtney Jackson, deputy director general of the Jamaican Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR). “This results in slower economic growth in many sectors, including education, health, agriculture, and business. Our goal is to do whatever is necessary to bring about a rapid increase in access.”

Jackson took a step toward getting more Jamaicans online by contacting School of Information Studies professor Lee McKnight, who, in the world of world-wiring, is particularly well connected. With an understanding of the types of expertise necessary to accomplish such an ambitious undertaking, McKnight organized the First Jamaican Internet Forum, Expanding Internet Access—Issues and Solutions, a two-day strategy session sponsored by OUR and SU that was held in Ocho Rios last winter. “The forum brought us together with key Jamaican policy makers and business leaders,” McKnight says.

Jon Gant, professor of information management and public administration, says conference organizers took several goals into account when planning the event. “We considered a range of factors involved in increasing Internet access, including human development issues, particularly literacy problems; a reliable electricity infrastructure; and a building up of the information technology capabilities of private firms and government agencies,” Gant says. Anu Mundkur, a doctoral candidate in information studies, served as a member of the team that drafted the report of the forum’s conclusions. “In developing countries, low access perpetuates social exclusion,” Mundkur says. “It prevents people from acquiring new skills, educational opportunities, and social mobility, and it prevents them from having a voice in determining their futures.”

Movement toward implementation of the ideas followed quickly at meetings in Washington, D.C., which brought McKnight, Gant, and Jackson to the table with U.S. officials from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Agency for International Development. Jackson and Emily Talaga, regional specialist for the Americas at the FCC’s International Bureau, agreed that bringing down telephone rates is among the most immediate obstacles to increasing general Internet usage in Jamaica and other Caribbean nations. Jackson said this and other problems identified at the forum would be tackled by a regional working group, supported by SU faculty and students.

SU will be joined by other institutions, including MIT and Oxford University, at a second Jamaican forum to be held next year. “I believe the plan we are creating will impact other developing countries, as well,” McKnight says.

—David Marc




Essential Ethics

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management held its first Ethics and Corporate Responsibility Week last spring to address the financial and accounting scandals of such corporations as Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco. “Ethics is a very hot area in business education right now,” says undergraduate dean Clint Tankersley, who organized the week with graduate dean Paul Bobrowski and professors Elet Callahan G’84 and Fran Zollers G’74. “We wanted Ethics and Corporate Responsibility Week to be a school-wide event because it is important to every student who graduates from this school.”

The week’s activities featured three lectures that were open to everyone in the school. Steven Barnes, managing director of Bain Capital, spoke on due diligence and proper accounting procedures; Paul Shubmehl, manager of ethics at National Grid USA, discussed the role of ethics within his company’s corporate culture; and Dana Radcliffe, who teaches a management ethics course in the school, talked on business ethics and corporate scandals. “It’s as simple as the golden rule: treat people in ways in which you would want to be treated,” Radcliffe says. “Business ethics is about keeping trust.”

For Shannon Astle ’03, who took Radcliffe’s course, Ethics and Corporate Responsibility Week reinforced her sense of duty to others. “Many of us will be in positions to make important business decisions in the future,” Astle says. “Our choices could affect people beyond ourselves and our companies.” Phil Turo ’81, a part-time M.B.A. student, says sound ethical choices reflect positively on a business. “Companies prosper when they are socially responsible and broadcast that fact to their customers, suppliers, and employees,” he says.

More than 200 students attended the lectures, and many carried the discussion of ethics into the classroom. Zollers says graduate students in her M.B.A. course, Legal, Ethical, and Natural Environment of Business, were eager to share their reactions to the speakers—both in class and online. “Some expressed their opinions, while others shared personal anecdotes about ethical dilemmas they had experienced in the business world,” says Zollers, who set up a private online discussion board for her students. Like Zollers, other management professors facilitated discussions on moral codes and corporate responsibility, with topics ranging from the role of ethics in information technology and “Netiquette” (online network etiquette) to executive pay policy and wage inequity.

The Whitman School will hold Ethics and Corporate Responsibility Week again in the spring. This time, the planning committee hopes to bring in more guest speakers and get other schools on campus involved. “By extending the event to the entire campus, we will continue to raise awareness by exposing even more students to some of the ethical issues that businesses have to face,” Tankersley says.

—Kate Gaetano



Group Dynamics

Steve Sartori


Stuart Bretschneider, a professor of public administration in Maxwell’s Department of Technology and Information Policy, knows one of the best ways to teach students is to motivate them. And what better way to do that than in the spirit of competition? The Time Series Forecasting Tournament, a hallmark of Bretschneider’s Quantitative Aides class, challenges graduate students to forecast data on topics they might encounter while working in the field of public administration. This year, students predicted sets of data for gross national product, daily cash receipts for the state of Kentucky, and monthly residential demand for natural gas. “Applying the skills we learned in class to real issues made the tournament one of the most useful—and fun—projects I worked on at Maxwell,” says Camille Woodland G’03.

During the two-week tournament, students working in assigned teams look at past statistics on their topics and build computer models to generate the data. “I form teams that are as heterogeneous as possible, considering gender, national origin, and prior forecasting experience,” says Bretschneider. The tournament raises issues of communication, management, and conflict resolution as students work through the project together. “They learn about more than just computers and information technology,” he says.

Bretschneider begins the tournament by demonstrating a software program to one member of each group, who must then share the information with teammates. “By teaching the program to other group members, a student gains a deeper insight into the material and also experiences a motivational effect from being identified as an expert by peers,” Bretschneider says. If conflicts arise, students must resolve them on their own. For Nitika Kuruvilla G’03, whose team won the tournament and the prize (lunch with Bretschneider), collaboration was an essential part of the competition. “My teammates and I worked on different pieces of the project, but we all experienced the same struggles,” she says. “We helped each other overcome confusions and preliminary mistakes, which made it a good finished product.”

Bretschneider has dedicated more than 20 years to conducting group projects in his classes. A 2003 Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, he says the forecasting tournament is one of the models for his Meredith teaching project, the Real Leaderless Sponsored Student Team Project. He plans to develop curricula aimed at communication and conflict within groups and distribute it to faculty throughout the University. In addition, he will provide in-service training and act as a consultant to professors who want to implement it. “I’ve found that people who have had these group work experiences are better prepared for whatever they go on to do,” he says. “You see real growth.”

—Kate Gaetano




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