UniversityPlace
Steve Sartori
ribbon cutting
John A. Couri ’63, left, chair of the SU Board of Trustees, and Trustee Bernard R. Kossar ’53, G’55 join Chancellor Nancy Cantor in celebrating the dedication of the Whitman School’s new building.

New Home

Whitman Dedication » A “gateway to the Hill” officially swung open its doors during dedication ceremonies April 8 for the Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s new building. University officials, alumni, faculty, staff, and students joined together to celebrate the Whitman School’s new home as part of an event-filled day that included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an address by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and panel discussions on investing and business education.

The $39 million, 160,000-square-foot building, located on University Avenue, offers the latest in technology, and its student-focused design promotes collaboration and community. “We have an exceptional learning environment,” said Dean Melvin T. Stith G’73, G’78. “It supports our world-class business education that meets the needs of our undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students in team-based learning.” Stith is grateful to the architects, contractors, and builders, as well as University staff and faculty, who made the new building a reality. School officials also recognized Martin J. Whitman ’49 and his wife, Lois, for their support. “We thank you both for your help and generosity and sharing your name with our fine institution,” said John A. Couri ’63, chair of the SU Board of Trustees.

Chancellor Nancy Cantor reflected on the school’s physical position at the north entrance to the University. “When you consider the location of this building, in many ways it acts as a gateway to the rest of our Main Campus,” Cantor said. “And that’s a good thing, because we really want the spirit of enterprise and innovation of this school to be the gateway to all that happens as we move up the Hill.” Providing a student perspective, Chad Bender ’05 remarked on the benefits of the state-of-the-art facility. “The School of Management has recognized the growing needs of students and has expanded with these growing needs,” Bender said. The new building has such distinctive features as the Flaum Grand Hall, which provides an airy gathering space; a video-conferencing and distance learning studio; and the Ballentine Investment Institute lab, which has sophisticated financial research capabilities. The building also showcases the latest in sustainable “green” design with energy-efficient lighting and air systems and the use of recycled materials (see related story). Cantor noted the creative work of architect Bruce S. Fowle ’60, whose firm, Fox & Fowle Architects, designed the building.

At the start of the dedication day, members of the University community gathered in Hendricks Chapel to hear Rubin. Now chair of the executive committee of Citigroup Inc., Rubin spoke of the challenges facing the United States, including fiscal imbalances with Social Security, Medicare, and the federal budget. Political leaders must recognize the complexity of these issues to reestablish sound fiscal policy, he said. “That is only going to work if all concerned engage in an open-minded way, focusing on the analyses and facts and putting aside ideology and politics,” he said. The afternoon featured a blue-ribbon panel on investing with Whitman and SU Trustee Emeritus Robert B. Menschel ’51, H’91, senior director of Goldman Sachs Group, and a panel on business education with Chancellor Emeritus Kenneth A. Shaw and Robert J. Swieringa, dean of Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Stith was pleased to see so many Whitman School supporters present to herald in the new building. “Dedication day will live on forever in the minds of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” he said. He also recognized the presence of Rubin, a former cabinet member, as setting a tone for the important work being done at Whitman and as signaling a new beginning of possibilities for the world-class facility. “The day created so much positive energy, which we are channeling into new ideas, activities, and programs that will continue to make us one of the best business schools in the country,” Stith said.


Creativity at Work

Soling Program » After a yearlong hiatus, the University’s Soling Program re-emerged on campus to offer three spring courses and sponsor Mayfest, a campus-wide event highlighting the creative efforts of SU students. Founded in 1984 by Trustee Emeritus Chester Soling ’54, the program offers courses designed to stimulate creative, independent thinking through interdisciplinary work and community collaboration. Each semester, about 15 students participate in each of six classes taught by faculty from across campus, and work in teams to solve real-world problems. “We’re doing things that have never been done before,” says chemistry professor James T. Spencer, who took the helm as the program’s director last August. “We tried to update the program to enhance creativity and reinforce such goals as collaboration, interdisciplinary study, and community outreach.”

Robert Neubecker
MacDonald
College of Visual and Performing Arts professor David MacDonald creates a piece of pottery during a demonstration at Mayfest.

Three new classes marked the program’s rebirth and established a bridge between the classroom and the community: Puppets and Community, which combined the talents of SU students, the Open Hand Puppet Theater, and the Syracuse City School District to construct puppets and design a puppet pageant celebrating diversity; Forensic Science in Action, which invited local high school students to campus to participate in a forensic science challenge; and Web Design for Novices, in which students learned to create web pages, a skill they then taught to staff members at University College and local nonprofit organizations. “It’s very hands-on,” says Samantha Smidt ’08, a College of Arts and Sciences student. “We’re actually helping the campus and community with web design.”

Windfall Projects, a new Soling initiative, provide faculty members with mini-grants to assist students in developing community-based projects. Earth sciences professor Suzanne Baldwin led a Windfall Project last fall in which Soling students developed lessons on New York State minerals for local elementary school students. Students also shared the lessons with the staff at the Museum of Science and Technology in downtown Syracuse to use with museum visitors. The project will be offered as a course this fall.

This spring, the Soling Program launched Mayfest: A Celebration of Student Creativity and Discovery, a campus-wide, multi-venue event highlighting the students’ creative works and research. “It’s the first time we’ve celebrated creativity, discovery, research work, and performances from across the entire University at one time,” Spencer says. “This is the very best of what SU does and is all about.” Nearly 5,000 area high school teachers were also invited to bring their students to campus for the event. The day-long festival encouraged the University community and guests to explore spaces surrounding the Quad, including galleries, labs, and auditoriums. It featured poetry readings, music and dance performances, chemistry magic shows, cooking displays, film screenings, and various academic presentations and lectures.

“Soling classes are a great way to be involved in something more than just furthering yourself,” says Bradley Rubin ’05 of the School of Architecture. “You can be part of something that has a larger effect, and get involved on a larger scale.”


Teaching Lessons

Information Studies» Professor Jeff Stanton assigned students to take up teaching as part of the redesigned Information Technologies course this year. The introductory class challenges students to create their own curricula, go into the Syracuse community or their hometowns, and help people learn information skills. Stanton developed the project as part of the class to help students polish their individual skills while fostering connections with inexperienced computer users. “Information technology is a service profession and has elements of teaching, training, and coaching,” Stanton says. “This particular assignment drives that point home.”

The project provides students with the shared experience of teaching community members while giving them the freedom to pick their own topics and pupils. Some undergraduates went to elementary schools and others worked with students at community centers. Some chose to educate elderly family members, younger relatives, or friends’ siblings. Others even set up web cams and instructed pupils over the Internet. Students designed curricula featuring PowerPoint slides and taught such topics as how to access health information on the web and use instant messaging. “I left the assignment open so students could teach topics that they were confident with and that fit their students,” Stanton says. Students used digital cameras to document their experiences, wrote biographies of their pupils, and handed in their curricula to Stanton after teaching.

Jessyca Jackson ’06 worked with a 6-year-old from Onondaga County and found the project rewarding. “It was very humbling,” she says. “I realized a lot of people are at a technological disadvantage due to lack of experience.”
Stanton believes the project works well for students. “The IT major is great because it gets students to help people, to put their skills to work, and to serve individuals who don’t have the same access to technology as we do,” he says.


Repairing the Spinal Cord

John Dowling
spinal
Professor Julie Hasenwinkel is exploring how spinal cord nerve cells interact with biomaterial-based implants.

Engineering & Computer Science » In August 2004, the Spinal Cord Injury Information Network estimated that 247,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries in the United States, with 11,000 new cases reported each year. Recently, people have become more aware of spinal cord research because of publicity generated by the late actor Christopher Reeve and by the stem-cell research debate. At the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), a group of students and faculty is doing what it can to further this important research. Headed by Professor Julie Hasenwinkel of the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, these researchers are working to find ways to promote nerve regeneration after spinal cord injuries. Their goal is to improve understanding of how nerve cells interact with biomaterial-based implants. “Our priority is to focus on advancing the basic science at this point,” Hasenwinkel says. “Obviously, spinal cord injuries are devastating for the patients and their families. Any progress in moving these patients toward a functional recovery would be an enormous benefit to society.” Although the project is still in its early stages, they want to move the findings from the laboratory to actual patient care and clinical use.

Last year, Hasenwinkel was awarded a prestigious Watson grant by the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR). The $200,000 Watson award is given to 10 outstanding faculty members each year who perform research in the life sciences at universities across New York State. The funding enabled Hasenwinkel to improve her research capabilities and productivity with a state-of-the-art tissue laboratory on campus. It also allowed her to provide research stipends to her students, helping them further their own work in the laboratory. Terrance Carone G’05, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, is one of the recipients. “The work we are doing on spinal cord nerve regeneration and tissue culture is at the cutting edge of biomedical engineering research,” Carone says.

The research is also enhanced by the recent merger of ECS’s departments of bioengineering and neuroscience with chemical engineering and material science, to form the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. “The merger created a department with a new emphasis on research areas that interface between biomedical and chemical engineering, and our research lies at the heart of that interface,” Hasenwinkel says. “As the new department hires additional faculty, I will have new colleagues with whom I can collaborate and share new research equipment and facilities. I’m very excited about the possibilities.”

 

  International Excursions

Maxwell » Holly Dobbins and Payal Banerjee are among many doctoral candidates who have found themselves in exotic locations as part of the Goekjian Summer Research Grant program. Dobbins trekked across the Canadian Arctic gathering the life stories of the Inuit, the Native people of the region, during the long days of the polar summer. Banerjee journeyed to India to study immigrant Indian information technology (IT) professionals. The grants—named for SU Trustee Samuel V. Goekjian ’52, a Maxwell advisory board member—enable Ph.D. students working in global affairs to further their research and develop themselves as scholars. The program began four years ago and is administered through the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs. “Faculty members thought it would be beneficial to have research funding for students in the summer,” says institute director Peg Hermann, a Gerald B. and Daphna Cramer Professor of Global Affairs. “Students interested in international projects need to go to those places to try out their ideas and collect research firsthand.”

So far, the research grants, generally about $2,500, have funded travel and research expenses for nearly 60 scholars from Maxwell’s seven doctoral programs. After completing their summer research, students take part in a bi-weekly workshop, for which they receive another $500, to learn about research methodologies and present their findings for critique by fellow scholars, building student awareness of the other disciplines’ perspectives. Students also discuss their research with Goekjian, chair and CEO of Intracon Associates LLC, an international business consulting firm, and Goekjian shares his experiences with the students. “He’s been all over the world, and his international focus has been beneficial in his own professional life,” Hermann says. “He’s their mentor.”

Economics professor David Rich­ardson, the program director, sees the potential for students to excel because of the experience. “Our most successful students have gone on to positions that really do depend on the Goekjian support and philosophy of conducting research in a global setting and developing a multidisciplinary perspective,” says Richardson, a Gerald B. and Daphna Cramer Professor of Global Affairs. Dobbins, a doctoral candidate in social sciences whose dissertation is on the creation of the new Territory of Nunavut in Canada, credits the experience with inspiring her future research and helping her garner additional grants, including a Fulbright. Banerjee, a sociology doctoral candidate, says the fellowship was critical to her research. “Had I not been able to conduct research in India, I would have missed out on a lot of insights,” she says, noting her studies of the socio-economic dimensions of the IT scene in that country. “My work would not be as rich as it is now.”

 

Battling Childhood Obesity

Human Services & Health Professions » More than 16 percent of Americans ages 6-19 are overweight, a 300 percent increase since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Faculty and administrators at the College of Human Services and Health Professions (HSHP) are working with colleagues at SUNY Upstate Medical University (UMU) to remedy the problem—and forestall health problems obesity can cause—one child at a time.

In 2003, nutrition and hospitality management professor Kay Stearns Bruening received a two-year grant of $225,286 from the New York State Attorney General’s office to implement a family-based child obesity intervention program. It has thus far been successful in reversing the trend in some children. “We have some kids on the right track to a healthy lifestyle, and there is more we can do,” says Bruening, who is exploring the idea of implementing the program in other community settings, especially those where child obesity and diabetes are rising at rates even faster than national averages.

Bruening’s program, Committed-to-Kids, is based on a model developed at Louisiana State University and fitted to the needs of area families. It reaches low-income children, ages 7-17, through Syracuse City School District health clinics, UMU’s pediatrics clinic, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Syracuse (BGCS). After weights and other measurements are taken, children are interviewed about their eating habits and activities. Over a 12-week period, they learn physical activities under supervision of exercise science graduate students from the School of Education and work on healthy eating habits and behavior modification with graduate students from HSHP’s marriage and family therapy program. “There is very little in the published research about weight intervention programs for children from low-income families,” Bruening says. “Changing lifestyle is a difficult task for families with lots of resources—and it is even more difficult for families with less.”

The BGCS implements the program at Kids Meals it serves at each of three club locations. “We serve an average of more than 130 snacks and 160 hot meals every day, Monday through Friday,” BGCS coordinator Joe Morley says. “The program is great, and Kay has been fabulous with the kids. I hope we can continue the program here.”

Bruening and her colleagues believe the long-term effects of Commited-to-Kids will be determined at home. Special family nights are held to make sure parents support what their children are learning. “Parental involvement is vital when it comes to successful weight management among children,” she says.

 

 

Preparing for Graduate School

Gateway » One of Syracuse University’s newest residential learning communities has emerged as a successful bridge for upper-class students preparing to enter graduate and professional schools. The Gateway Learning Community gears students toward achieving their post-baccalaureate academic goals through various learning opportunities in a collective living environment. Larry Thomas G’99, associate director of the Office of Graduate Preparation Programs, recognized the need for the community, which was implemented last fall. “I wanted to create a community for self-directed learners of like mind who were serious about academic achievement and professional success,” Thomas says.

Eight students participated in the program’s first year, and Gateway coordinators plan to double that number next year. The students, who are juniors and seniors, need to meet several criteria, including having a minimum 3.0 GPA, and live in Slocum Heights. “We want to prepare students for graduate school, and Slocum Heights is a graduate student community,” says Nicole Zervas G’99, Gateway’s learning community coordinator. “Slocum Heights residents are really focusing on academics.”

Gateway offers weekly seminars to support the students’ goals. Sessions focus on the graduate school application process and financing, and the importance of research and internship experience. Spring semester activities include a dining etiquette program, as well as a trip to the Washington, D.C., area to tour graduate and medical schools. “The workshops have connected me to a lot of people and services on campus,” says Kayla Reid ’06, a Gateway resident.

Gateway students also engage in community projects, such as helping to collect more than 2,000 books during a campus-wide holiday book drive and assisting the Lore Heath Working Woman’s Clothing Closet. Overall, student reaction has been positive to the Gateway program. “It’s really like a community, a family environment,” Olivia Sims ’06 says. “Everyone in this program wants to do well. That inspires me to want to do better.”

  Technology for Society’s Gain

Law » A Syracuse-based technology company is seeking more efficient ways to recycle old computer parts, known as “e-waste.” Scientists at Columbia University are hoping to use DNA as a diagnostic tool by creating DNA nano-computers that monitor cell behaviors. At Stony Brook University, scientists are developing a new ultrasound method for measuring bone density loss caused by osteoporosis. As good as these ideas are, there is a problem: They’re just ideas. The scientists and engineers behind them need help to move their technologies from the laboratories to the marketplace. And that’s where students and faculty of the New York State Science and Technology Law Center (NYS-STLC) at the College of Law come in.

For the past 15 years, the college has studied the process of technology commercialization. “When a client comes in with a technology in its embryonic stage, students must figure out how to get it into the market,” says law graduate Stacie Ropka G’05, who split her time between the law school and SUNY Upstate Medical University (UMU), where she was a senior research associate. With the college’s designation in 2004 as a New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR) Center, student help is sought not just by Syracuse-area clients, but from all over New York State. “Because of NYS-STLC, my scientific work can have a greater impact on society,” says Ropka, who investigates immune responses to viral infections of the central nervous system at UMU.

Ted Hagelin, Board of Advisors Professor of Law and director of NYS-STLC, believes the center’s mission greatly benefits the students, who work in teams to solve clients’ problems. Their work includes devising better business models to make clients’ companies more efficient, and exploring the link between technology and disability studies to develop and patent the equipment used by people with hearing and speech impairments. “The great thing about this program is that it’s interdisciplinary,” he says. “Students from other colleges with backgrounds in science, engineering, business, and law all come together to find solutions that will help society.”

Hagelin believes that technology commercialization will also strengthen the state’s economy and create new jobs. “We spend billions of dollars on research and development,” he says, “but very few of the patents are making money. If we can find better ways to get technology out of the lab and into the market, then we can make a difference.”

  Progressive Urban Planning

Architecture » School of Architecture Dean Mark Robbins G’81 believes urban renewal is more than just fixing up run-down buildings or adding a park. “It’s not about decorating a city,” he says. “It’s about changing the way a city and a region function through more innovative and smarter design.” Robbins brings that spirit of design to the City of Syracuse and Central New York through the Upstate Institute, an evolving center of collaboration between the region and the School of Architecture. “We’re thinking about Upstate Institute as a conduit for some of the best thinking on urban issues and design,” he says.

Steve Sartori
upstate
School of Architecture Dean Mark Robbins G’81 addresses the audience at the “UPSTATE: downtown” symposium.

Lectures, conferences, symposia, and exhibitions will be part of the institute’s work with local governments to address such issues as city and regional planning, housing, and community development. “As a university, we’re uniquely situated to find some of the most progressive approaches to city planning,” says Robbins, who sees SU as inextricably linked to the city, which faces an eroding tax base and population loss.

Upstate Institute’s first symposium, “UPSTATE: downtown,” was held in April at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The event featured architects, landscape architects, and planners from across the country, along with city and University officials. Design proposals for revitalizing downtown Syracuse—generated by faculty and students—were displayed, as well as plans from other cities, which improved through design that draws people into the inner city. “Bringing people into the city signifies a kind of civic health, which is our goal in revitalization,” Robbins says. The symposium was followed by a reception at The Warehouse, a building near Armory Square that will house the School of Architecture while Slocum Hall is renovated. Robbins points out the connection between the discussion on revitalization and the gathering that followed at The Warehouse, which establishes SU’s presence in downtown Syracuse. “We’re taking something from the realm of ideas and moving it into reality,” Robbins says. At the symposium, Chancellor Nancy Cantor noted the benefits of building SU’s presence downtown and such initiatives as the Upstate Institute. “We believe that creative work is at the heart of what makes universities great and what makes cities thrive, and we want to bring those things together,” she said. Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll lauded the University’s commitment to the city and region, noting the shared goal of improving the quality of human life.

“At a curricular level, the students are also able to see very real community partnerships,” Robbins says. Students also benefit from the expertise of visiting critics and designers, and from continuing opportunities through the school’s Community Design Center, which explores architectural issues in the city and is now under the Upstate Institute’s umbrella. “Students learn design techniques and how to approach architectural issues, and, just as importantly, they learn how to engage with communities, ” Robbins says.

—Kathleen M. Haley

 

Revolutionary Research

Arts & Sciences » Applied research by chemistry professors Philip Borer and Bruce Hudson is signaling progress against two of the most troubling and persistent front-page stories of the 21st century: the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the war on terrorism. The OrthoSwitch, their revolutionary system for detecting waterborne pathogens, promises to speed the selection of anti-viral compounds to a fraction of the time now required. In another application, OrthoSwitch technology recognizes the presence of biotoxins in water almost instantly. These twin capacities have brought them research support from sources as varied as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the New York Indoor Environmental Quality Center.

“An effective drug must bind tightly with its target, and HIV presents many problems in this regard,” Borer says. “Current anti-virals are effective in binding with only two of the 15 proteins on the surface of the virus.” As a result, new infections are becoming increasingly resistant. Hudson is convinced that OrthoSwitch can help. “We are attempting to isolate an ingredient that targets a third protein, and add it to the ‘drug cocktail’ used to fight HIV,” Hudson says. “Our long-range goal is to screen drug candidates to fight all 15.” The speed of OrthoSwitch technology in detecting binding behavior makes this a possibility. When fully developed and put to work in a robotic testing facility, it may be capable of testing as many as 100,000 drugs in a single day.

The ability of OrthoSwitch to recognize biological and chemical targets, and to signal their presence in seconds, may yield an effective technique for monitoring water supplies. “Many contaminants, manmade and natural, are not adequately controlled by conventional methods, such as chlorination,” Borer says. “Bad drinking water remains among the biggest killers in the world. Improvements in testing methods are badly needed.” Hudson agrees. “The dangers posed by terrorism and pollution have become one in our age,” he says. “Both are now a matter of environmental safety.”

In 2002, Borer and Hudson formed Orthosystems Inc. to develop marketable products for their discovery. They credit SU for helping them establish the company without exposure to personal risks. The CASE Center’s incubator program provided them start-up space for Orthosystems and the College of Law’s Technology Commercialization Research Center prepared marketing reports that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Orthosystems president Peter Kent says, “SU is investing in us by granting us exclusive license to the technology in exchange for stock, and by paying for the patent and agreeing to defend it against challenges, even before the commercial possibilities are fully known.” Hudson points out that the University is taking wise advantage of recent federal legislation designed to encourage high-technology spin-offs. Borer puts it another way: “It’s easier to stay focused on your research when you don’t have to risk your mortgage.”

—David Marc

Steve Sartori
Audra

 

 

 

Tony Award-winning actress and singer Audra McDonald visits in April with a College of Visual and Performing Arts class as drama professor James Clark looks on. McDonald performed in Goldstein Auditorium for members of the University community and the general public. Her appearance was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs’ Pulse program.

 

Retaining Talent

Newhouse » Central New York companies hoping to attract the wave of young talent graduating from the region’s 60 colleges and universities each year received “cheat sheets” on how best to do so from the students themselves. Last fall, students in Newhouse professor Jean Vincent’s Public Relations Research class surveyed 2,300 students at colleges and universities in a 12-county area of Central New York about what factors influence their decisions whether to stay in the area after graduation. The study, called Project KEEP US (Knowledge Enabling Efforts to Preserve University Students), identified five distinct student types or clusters, each of which uses a different strategy when selecting where to go after graduation. The clusters are characterized by the factors that motivate them, which include quality of life, nearness to family, commitment to a personal vision, career opportunities, and effective recruitment. By understanding what drives a particular group of graduates, businesses can better focus their recruitment efforts.

That’s where another group of public relation students stepped in. This spring, the Public Relations Campaign class taught by Robert Kucharavy brainstormed campaign ideas based on the Project KEEP US research that would help businesses launch college graduate recruitment efforts. “In today’s economic development climate, community groups will be anxious to hear the students’ ideas and strategies about retaining the best and the brightest,” says Vincent, president of Vincent McCabe Inc., a marketing research firm that sponsored the project.

The purpose of both classes was to provide students with experience that takes a project from “soup to nuts,” Kucharavy says. “Our students come up with the goals and strategies for the project and work with a real client until they finish the campaign.”

Public relations student Matt Werder ’06 was excited to be part of a hands-on project that benefited the community. His research revealed that many students leave the area because they don’t know enough about it. “Programs that get students into the community and internship opportunities and job fairs are a good place to start in correcting this problem,” he says.

The project has produced significant spin-offs. Several news agencies, including the Associated Press, reported on the students’ findings, and Vincent presented the research findings to several interested organizations.

The project’s overall goal was to add to the knowledge base to improve leaders’ decision-making when it comes to retaining area college graduates, Vincent says.“Through the Project KEEP US student web site (www.projectkeepus.com), we’ll continue to make this student-driven project and new information developed from the study available to the community.”

 

Linking Literacy and Positive Behavior

Education » When Sheila Clonan G’92, G’97 was a school psychologist, she noticed that children who were repeatedly referred to her office for behavior problems often had related academic difficulties. “I knew there was a connection,” says Clonan, now a faculty member in the Department of Reading and Language Arts. “The kids with the most chronic behavioral difficulties were often struggling readers who ‘acted out’ due to frustration, or in an attempt to conceal their weaknesses.” Clonan believes these problems go largely unaddressed in most schools until they become significant enough for a child to become eligible for special education. “By that time, the child has struggled academically and behaviorally for years, and intervening becomes much more difficult,” she says.

Clonan has combined her background in psychology with a passionate interest in literacy intervention to provide earlier, more universal intervention. She explores the connection between academics and behavior with the aim of improving literacy while preventing antisocial and violent behaviors. With co-investigator Gretchen Lopez, the University’s faculty associate for diversity, Clonan works in creative conflict resolution, part of the Syracuse University Violence Prevention Project in the School of Education. In consultation with Priscilla Prutzman and Kathleen Cochran of Creative Response to Conflict Inc. (CRC), a conflict resolution organization based in Nyack, New York, the two work with teachers at Grimshaw Elementary in the LaFayette Central School District to implement Community of Learners, a curriculum that integrates conflict resolution and literacy education. “The program is unique because it teaches skills that lead to nonviolent, creative solutions to conflict through lessons embedded in an academic context,” Clonan says. “The children learn through stories, songs, chants, games, and activities designed to benefit literacy skills.”

The project, funded by the Wege Foundation and the Central New York Community Foundation, was launched in August 2004. During the school year, Cochran worked with teachers to implement the program, which covers such topics as cooperation, self-control, and creative problem solving. “We teach children a step-by-step conflict resolution process,” Cochran says. “This gives them a foundation of skills and concepts as well as a road map for handling conflict.”

The project promotes equity in the classroom, which Lopez sees as an important aspect in violence prevention efforts. “This program supports positive, pro-social behaviors,” she says. “We’re quite interested in continuing this work, and in further collaboration with CRC, including evaluating the curriculum at more advanced grade levels.”

 

A Deeper View of Diversity

Visual & Performing Arts » The term “diversity” is often used to indicate numeric balance in race, gender, and other demographics. Professor Amardo Rodriguez of the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies is troubled by what he sees as the narrowness of that definition. To explain why, he has written a trilogy of books, including Between Transitions: Fairy Stories and the Search for Home (2005). “Public discourses about diversity seem to operate on the dangerously false premise that its benefits can be achieved simply by physical inclusions,” Rodriguez says. “That concept requires us to believe that because of a difference in race or gender, a person somehow represents or embodies a different understanding of the world. This, of course, is not true.”

For Rodriguez, benefits accrue when individuals are stimulated by exposure to other viewpoints. “You can have the correct ‘amounts’ of different types of people—add a woman here, an African American there,” he says. “But that is of no consequence if each continues to frame the world and experience life the same way.”

Desirée Sanchez ’04, who took several courses with Rodriguez, is a personnel recruiter for MTV Networks in New York City. “He taught me how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and at different levels of an organization,” she says. “His classes helped me understand myself when I was a student. Now they’re important to me at work.”

For Dan Tordjman ’04, a reporter for KODE-TV in Joplin, Missouri, Rodriguez’s actions demonstrate the value of his words. He counts their one-on-one discussions of philosophers as highlights of his education. “What I really loved was when I thought a writer was important, he’d look into that person’s work,” Tordjman says. “The relationship was reciprocal. He respected me and that gave me confidence.”

The ability to reap full benefit from a diverse environment is a crucial concern of education, Rodriguez says. “Too many look for personal identity by searching for a ‘home’ in the past. But to live is to evolve, which means to go forward—to look for a home in the future.”

  Summer of Exploration

Summer College » This summer, high school students from across the country are on campus to launch rockets, design and construct clothing, create architectural plans, cross-examine witnesses, and put together sophisticated market analyses. These students are developing real-world skills and getting pre-professional training while they participate in SU’s Summer College for High School Students (summercollege.syr.edu), now in its 44th year. “Summer College provides high school students with an early opportunity to test out their academic interests, earn college credit, and get a sense of what college life is like,” says Anne Shelly, the program’s executive director.

The students live in residence halls and work closely with SU professors in fields as diverse as acting and musical theater, architecture, art and design, engineering and computer science, fashion and textile design, law, liberal arts, management, and public communications. This year, Summer College—which runs from July 3 to August 12 and is open to high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors—is offering new programs in technical theater and forensic science.

Steve Sartori
rocket
Summer College students assemble a model rocket.

Most of the programs grow out of existing undergraduate courses and majors that emphasize both hands-on and classroom learning experiences. Chemistry professor James T. Spencer’s new forensic science program, for example, evolved out of an undergraduate chemistry course, and is designed both to introduce students to basic scientific principles and to give them realistic experience with criminal investigations. Students learn how to use professional equipment and listen to guest lectures from law enforcement officers and other forensic science experts. They also do lab work, fingerprinting, blood typing, and organic analysis, and use a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, an instrument designed to identify chemical compounds. Students then use the techniques they learn to investigate mock crime scenes and “solve” mock homicides. While the mock crime scenes can be a lot of fun for students—“Everybody likes to see murders,” Spencer says wryly—these exercises also help students learn to work collaboratively and put scientific principles into action.

While students appreciate the combination of hands-on and traditional academic experiences they get at Summer College, they often find that their most important experiences come outside of the classroom. Summer College alumni stress the rewards and challenges of managing their own time, living in residence halls, and working and living with students from diverse backgrounds. “Summer College definitely taught me what to expect from my college courses and how to succeed academically, but it also taught me a lot about life and diversity,” says Summer College alumnus Charles Johnson ’06, a public relations major in the Newhouse School. “I made friends from all over the country and all over the world.”

 

Dollars and Sense

Whitman » Whitman School professor Bill Walsh stands in front of his class and announces the day’s assignment: an accounting problem set. Whispers ensue from his students as they anxiously shuffle through their notes. “This is not a quiz,” Walsh reassures them. “It’s a problem set. I want you to feel comfortable and confident.” Walsh’s intent throughout this new course, Accounting for Non-Majors, is to help students from outside the world of accounting become self-assured in money matters. The first class in spring consisted of approximately 70 students, primarily sophomores and juniors, whose majors included communications, psychology, computer art, and forestry. “You name the major,” Walsh says. “We had it.”

Walsh developed the idea of an accounting course for non-majors while teaching an accounting course in the Newhouse School’s independent study degree program for mid-career professionals. Previously, the only option for students was a rigorous introductory course geared toward accounting majors in preparation for later intermediate accounting courses. “There was a bunch of students in these classes who were management minors or in different programs that require them to take an accounting course,” he says. “They were good students who ended up having a less-than-pleasant experience.” Now, such students have the option of taking Walsh’s course, which covers accounting and financial reporting, but avoids the discipline’s heavier technical aspects. “It’s not just accounting,” Walsh says. “It’s their first exposure to business.” Mike Greco ’07, a sport management major, enjoyed how classroom topics translated into real-life lessons. “The class will help us later in life, even with simple tasks like balancing a checkbook,” he says. Emily King ’07, a television-radio-film major, agreed. “Professor Walsh explains to us how we will use this information in our careers,” she says.

Walsh intends to offer the class again. “It’s a positive introduction to business in general and to accounting in particular,” says Walsh, a Whitman Teaching Fellow. “Students will have the confidence that they can hold their own when it comes to financial matters.”

 

 

 

Online Opportunity

University College » In an effort to better accommodate part-time students who juggle full-time work and family responsibilities with their studies, University College will offer an innovative online distance-learning version of its organizational leadership program in the fall, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree or a certificate. “This is a well thought-out move,” says Carol Heil, program director for organizational leadership. “We’ve been offering online courses for quite a few years. This program and format will be directly responsive to the market.”

Planning for the Online Plus program began two years ago when market research revealed that potential University College students were interested in online degrees. A committee composed of representatives from University College, the Whitman School, and the University at large then hammered out the details. “A lot of courses needed to be developed in a distance-learning format,” Heil says. “That’s what took a great deal of time.”

To entice more part-time students to the program, the committee changed the required residency to just one mandatory six-day campus visit per year. “If students work full time, it becomes onerous to come to campus three times a year,” says Geraldine de Berly, associate dean of University College. “Coming to campus once a year doesn’t add an extra burden. It gives students a chance to get to know SU, to come and use our resources, and to meet deans, faculty, and fellow students.”

The curriculum mirrors that of the on-campus program and is equally rigorous. The courses are multidisciplinary, and include leadership, communication, problem solving, negotiation, customer service, ethics, and behavior and conflict resolution. “Organizational leadership has to do with understanding how organizations work, and how an employee within an organization can be more effective,” de Berly says. Offering the program online, she believes, will provide a greater number of professionals with access to a ride on this wave of the future.

 

Debating International Security

New Student Group » As graduate students at the Maxwell School, Roxana Botea, Anthony Nocella II, and Jason Pogacnik G’05 got together regularly—and passionately—to discuss international policy issues. “We benefited greatly from our conversations,” says Pogacnik, who earned master’s degrees in international relations and public administration. “We have radically different backgrounds and beliefs. If a staunch conservative, an animal rights activist, and a progressive pragmatist can disagree so fruitfully, we thought, why not extend our discussions beyond our living rooms to the new international security focus at Maxwell?”

Enlisting the help of interested students and faculty members, they formed the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis (SATSA), the first graduate student organization specifically dedicated to critical analyses of terrorism, counterterrorism policy, and related security issues. According to U.S. Army Captain Scott Taylor G’06, vice chair of SATSA’s first board, the group promotes dialogue and critical engagement by organizing conferences, debates, and informal get-togethers that provide specific information about the pressing issues and challenges of national and international terrorism.

Pogacnik, SATSA’s founding president, says the interdisciplinary group works closely with SU’s Institute for National Security and Counter terrorism, an initiative of the Maxwell School and the College of Law. SATSA’s membership includes students from the College of Law, the Newhouse School, the Maxwell School, and a variety of academic programs who contribute a range of exceptional abilities and diverse viewpoints. “If we truly want to understand a root cause of terrorism, then we need to look at it from different perspectives and vantages,” says Taylor, a graduate student in Maxwell’s public administration and international relations programs.

SATSA, which was launched in September 2004, has hosted a series of luncheons with guest speakers, including Cresencio Arcos, director of international affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In February, the group held the Syracuse University Graduate Conference on Terrorism and Security, a daylong program featuring student presentations and faculty discussants at four panel sessions. Although currently a Syracuse campus organization, SATSA has a long-term goal of establishing chapters across the country and around the world, according to its founders. “The study of terrorism and security cannot be limited to U.S. institutions because these issues are global in scope,” Taylor says.

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