Compiled from SU news reports

Pop culture center

As director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television, Newhouse professor Robert Thompson is one of the nation’s most quoted experts on popular television and culture. Now, thanks to a gift from longtime media executive Edward Bleier ’51, Thompson will widen the scope of his work at the renamed Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture.

“Since 1997, Professor Thompson has staked his claim as the leading public intellectual, not only on the subject of television, but on many aspects of popular culture,” Newhouse Dean David Rubin says. “With this generous sustaining support from our devoted alumnus Ed Bleier, who had a hand in creating much of the popular culture we study, the work of the center will expand. His gift will permit us to bring in visiting faculty and connect the center’s work to other parts of Syracuse University, where there is additional expertise in the area of media and popular culture. As a result, we foresee Syracuse University as the leading academic center in the United States for the study of television and popular culture, with the Bleier Center playing a major role.”

The Center for the Study of Popular Television has concentrated on the medium’s history, aesthetics, business practices, and content. Through teaching, archiving, pub-lishing, and recording interviews with key figures, the center researches, documents, and disseminates information about American television. “Our work has been expanding to include a wider range of subjects in American popular culture,” says Thompson, Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture. “This grant will help us to continue that expansion, and our new name will reflect it.”
The Post-Standard/Dennis Nett big east champs

Big East Champs
SU basketball players Demetris Nichols ’07, left, Ross DiLiegro ’07, and Gerry McNamara ’06 check out the Big East tournament trophy in Madison Square Garden on March 11. The Orange won its second straight title, defeating Pittsburgh, 65-61, in the final, and became the first team in Big East tournament history to win four straight games en route to the championship. McNamara received the MVP award, and Nichols and Darryl Watkins ’07 were named to the all-tournament team. The Orange was defeated by Texas A&M, 66-58, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, finishing the 2005-06 season with a 23-12 record.


Biology professor Scott Pitnick knows a lot about the birds and the bees—or, in this case, bats. His latest research, published in the Royal Society of London’s biology journal, sheds light on a little-explored area of evolutionary biology: the contribution of sexual selection to brain evolution. “The brain can be considered the most important ‘sex organ,’” Pitnick says. “Nevertheless, the relationship between breeding system and relative brain size has received little investigation.”

In a National Science Foundation-funded study, Pitnick and colleagues Kate Jones of the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London and Jerry Wilkinson of the University of Maryland discovered that bat species roosting in larger social groups and those with promiscuous females have relatively smaller brains than species with females faithful to their mates. Male infidelity, by contrast, had no evolutionary impact on relative brain size. “We’re excited about these results,” Pitnick says. “They may stimulate more research into the correlated evolution of brains, behavior, and the extravagant and costly ornaments and armaments favored by sexual selection.

Courtesy of DIPA

A he Division of International Programs Abroad has a new home for its London program. DIPA opened the doors last semester to Faraday House, a two-building complex that is located in Bloomsbury, the city’s university quarter. In January, Chancellor Nancy Cantor inaugurated the facility, delivering the address, “Conversations on Pluralism in a City of the World.” To read the Chancellor’s speech, go to www.syr.edu/chancellor/speeches/faradaySpeech.pdf.

Chancellor Leads ACE

Chancellor Nancy Cantor was elected chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for higher education in the United States, with more than 1,800 member institutions. Cantor, who assumed the role in February, will serve a one-year term. “Nancy Cantor brings a wealth of experience to her role as chair of the ACE board of directors,” says David Ward, president of ACE. “She has served both public and private universities as a faculty member, administrator, and president. She knows firsthand the challenges facing America’s colleges and universities—whether they are issues related to scientific research, federal funding and regulation, or racial equity and access to higher education.”

As chair, Cantor will work with ACE staff and colleagues nationwide on the ACE-organized Solutions For Our Future, a multiyear, national public information campaign. The initiative will demonstrate the value of higher education as one of America’s greatest resources, higher education’s role in developing innovators and leaders, and its importance to shaping the country’s future.


CNY Reads, the largest “one book, one community” program in New York State, is encouraging Central New Yorkers to read North Star Conspiracy (Penguin USA, 1995), a mystery by Miriam Grace Monfredo set in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1854. The novel focuses on a feminist librarian help-ing a fugitive slave escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad. This year’s program, which runs through May,
features several community initiatives, including distribution of 1,000 copies of the book at locations throughout the area, and a “Read and Pass It On” program. Monfredo is also
scheduled to make several appearances.

Syracuse University Library Associates leads the CNY Reads Consortium, which includes representatives from organizations throughout the region. For more information on CNY Reads, visit http://library.syr.edu/cnyreads.


Steve Sartori


Ben Ware, Syracuse University’s vice president for research, has been named dean of the Graduate School. Ware succeeds John Mercer, a geography department faculty member who stepped down after serving six years as dean. “Ben Ware is the right person to assure that graduate education benefits optimally from synergies with the many research initiatives that are part of the Creative Campus vision,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund.

As dean, Ware plans to implement a number of improvements, including better integration of the Office of Research and the Graduate School. “Research and graduate education are natural partners,” says Ware, who retains his position as vice president for research. “In consultation with colleagues from across campus, we will examine how we can improve the learning environment for graduate students and for the faculty members who teach and mentor

Reviewing ALITO

The College of Law provided one of the two academic reading groups that critiqued Judge Samuel Alito’s written work as part of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) evaluation of his qualifications to serve as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito’s qualifications were reviewed in the areas of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament—the criteria on which the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (SCFJ) rates all federal judicial nominees. The SCFJ gave Alito a unanimous rating of “well qualified,” the highest rating a nominee can receive. The U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment to the Supreme Court in January.

The SU reading group, chaired by Professor Lisa A. Dolak G’88, senior associate dean for academic affairs, consisted of 10 College of Law faculty members who have expertise across a wide spectrum of substantive legal issues. Individual members carefully and independently evaluated a substantial number of Alito’s judicial opinions and other writings and reported to the SCFJ on his qualifications. “We were very pleased to be invited to participate in this extremely important and highly influential evaluation process,” Dolak says. “Each member of the committee solemnly discharged his or her duty to thoughtfully evaluate Judge Alito’s written work against the ABA’s criteria. It is truly an honor to have played this part in our nation’s constitutional history.”


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