Maryland Moments, December 2008
(Honors, Awards, New Programs)
More than 2700 UM students were recognized during the University's winter commencement ceremony on December 20. Among the thousands graduating, 1610 applied for bachelor's degrees, 734 for master's degrees and 369 for doctoral degrees. There are an additional 1183 August graduates who will be recognized -- 586 with bachelor's degrees, 426 with master's degrees and 171 with doctoral degrees. The featured commencement was Dr. John C. Mather -- a 2006 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and an adjunct physics professor at UM. A senior project scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope project, Dr. Mather is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center where he is a senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory.
Easton Star-Democrat: "The Easton Club announced Friday it has donated its golf course, restaurant and pro shop to the University of Maryland Foundation Inc. Starting Jan. 1, the facilities will be managed by the University of Maryland Golf Course, said Kari Rider of The Easton Club. She said operations at the course and at Waterview Grille would continue as usual, and she was not aware of plans to lay off any staff. 'As far as we know, everything will still be the same; it will still be a semi-private golf course,' Rider said. The donation from Easton Club owner Allen and Rocks Engineering is estimated to be worth about $5 million, said Millree Williams, executive director for the Office of University Communications."
Asian Week: "The U.S. Department of Education cut the ribbon on a historic new initiative in Washington, D.C. last month, awarding approximately $10 million in grants to six colleges that serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Formally referred to as the grant for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, the funding will be dispersed over 10 years and will be used to expand programming and outreach to Asian American communities. The schools that will receive the grant are City College of San Francisco, Foothill-De Anza Community College (Calif.), Guam Community College, South Seattle Community College, University of Hawai'i at Hilo and University of Maryland, College Park."
NASA: "Astronaut Richard Arnold from Bowie, Md., will make his first journey into orbit on space shuttle Discovery's upcoming mission to the International Space Station. Arnold, a former teacher, is a mission specialist who was selected by NASA in 2004. He and his six crewmates are targeted to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 12, at 7:28 a.m. EST. ... Arnold earned a bachelor's degree from Frostburg State University in Maryland, completed Frostburg's teacher certification program in 1988, and received a master's degree in marine, estuarine and environmental science from the University of Maryland in 1992. He taught at several schools in the U.S. and overseas, including John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf, Md."
Lancaster New Era: "Jordan Steffy might not have a long white beard, a round belly and bellow 'Ho, ho ho,' but Tuesday night he was able to play the role of Santa Claus with hundreds of presents in hand. Steffy, the former Conestoga Valley High School star athlete and current quarterback at University of Maryland, arrived with volunteers to hand out gifts to children at Crispus Attucks Community Center in Lancaster city. The gifts had been donated to Steffy's charity, the Children Deserve a Chance Foundation, which he helped to found several years ago, and all told they brightened the holiday for more than 1,000 children. ... The Children Deserve a Chance Foundation has been raising tens of thousands of dollars, donating scholarships to high school seniors and aiding charities. But this was the first year it attempted a toy drive."
Politico: "Got a ticket to the Inauguration but nowhere to stay? Your only hope may be local college students. But don't think you'll get off cheap. Washington's college students appear to be dedicated young capitalists: The going rates for student apartments popping up on Facebook and Craigslist range from $500 to $1,800 a night during Inauguration weekend. ... As the inaugural frenzy grows, universities in and around Washington have already started preparing for the influx of non-students who intend to live on campus for a few days in January. Most have strict rules about subletting, which amount to: 'Don't.' Students are not allowed to sublease their room, for any reason. ... Sanctions for breaking the rules vary from one campus to another, but in most cases students would go before the Students Judicial Services of the college, with penalties ranging from a reprimand (at the University of Maryland, College Park) to getting booted from your room (at American University). ... Not all local colleges will be in the thick of inaugural festivities. The University of Maryland will not even be in session by Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, since the 2009 spring semester starts on Jan. 26. Some students have made arrangements to stay on campus during Christmas break since a few residential halls stay open, but Jan Davidson, Associate Director of UM Administrative and Business Services, does not expect too big a demand."
Obituary, Washington Post: "Robert L. Gluckstern, 84, a physicist and retired chancellor of the University of Maryland, died Dec. 17 of lymphoma at his home in Baltimore. Dr. Gluckstern came to the University of Maryland from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975. In his seven years as chancellor, he worked to upgrade academic quality by raising entrance standards and also worked to improve salary equity for female faculty members. He also established merit scholarship programs, including the Francis Scott Key/Benjamin Banneker scholarship. He resigned his administrative position in 1982 to return to his first love: full-time teaching and research as a physicist."
Jerusalem Post: "Instead of spending their winter vacation with their families, 120 American college students have come to volunteer in the Negev -- despite the proximity to the war in Gaza. The students, participating in the Jewish National Fund's weeklong Alternative Winter Break, had to raise a minimum of $950 each toward construction of a JNF protected indoor playground in Sderot, set to open later in 2009. 'Even though there's a war, I wanted to show my support and that I wasn't going to be afraid to go to the place that I love,' said Jesse Golodner, 23, from Philadelphia. He studies at the University of Central Florida, and arrived in Israel on Tuesday night. Golodner and his fellow students spent the day painting inside a community center in Arad, and were personally greeted by Mayor Gideon Bar-Lev. 'Everyone else was more scared for me than I was,' said Jennifer Schwarz, 19, from Rockville, Maryland, and a student at the University of Maryland. Schwarz's Israeli friends were shocked that she decided to come regardless of the fighting in Gaza and the rocket attacks across the Negev in recent days. 'My coming was an act of solidarity," she said. "My Israeli friends are happy that I came, but still think I'm crazy.' "
Tech Journal South: "The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) says five Maryland university-based research teams received $75,000 total in funding. Each receives $15,000 TechStart grants to determine the commercial viability of specific technologies. TechStart helps university-based teams determine the commercial viability of specific technologies, and is designed to increase the number of university startups, elevating Maryland's national standing. ... Among those receiving the funds: Marino diMarzo, Ph.D., engineering professor at UM, Phyllis Kolmus and Sherry McCray, graduates of the entrepreneurial ACTiVATE program; and Gayatri Varma, acting director of the office of technology commercialization at UM. They are working to commercialize the Fire Protection for Vehicles Technology (FPVT) developed by di Marzo."
Baltimore Business Journal: "Maryland's higher education leaders have opened the doors of the state's colleges and universities to an influx of thousands of incoming military workers. The state Higher Education Commission said in a statement Wednesday it will offer in-state status to workers moving to Maryland as part of the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure plan. Even before they move here, those workers will be eligible for in-state tuition and for financial aid at the University of Maryland University System of Maryland and Morgan State University."
Chronicle of Higher Education: A survey of graduate student benefits and a look towards the future. "When it comes to the financial packages that graduate students receive to pursue their degrees, the devil is in the details. A Chronicle survey, conducted this summer and fall, of the pay and benefits of teaching and research assistants at more than 100 research institutions reveals a dizzying array of variables that students must compare. Some institutions cover 100 percent of graduate students' tuition, while others waive only a portion. It is possible to get health insurance paid in full -- 42 percent of the institutions that responded to the survey do just that -- but coverage for family members is harder to come by. ... Many institutions with deep pockets, not surprisingly, reported offering generous packages. ... But even other universities ... are making moves to improve graduate students' quality of life. For example, while efforts by graduate students at the University of Maryland, College Park to gain collective bargaining rights haven't been successful, the university's new strategic plan includes a suggestion that the minimum stipend be set at $18,000 (in 2006 dollars) for a nine-and-a-half-month assistantship. Previously, many Maryland stipends were significantly lower."
Society & Culture
New York Times review: "Edward Hopper's cityscapes evoke many possible narratives of loneliness and solitude, some of which are imaginatively brought to life by Later the Same Evening, a one-act opera inspired by five of his paintings. A joint production of the University of Maryland (School of Music) and the National Gallery of Art in Washington (which hosted a Hopper exhibition last year), the work, which has a score by John Musto, received its New York premiere last week at the Manhattan School of Music. In Erhard Rom's simple, elegant set, five Hopper paintings are hung on a gallery wall. The opera unfolds over one evening in New York in 1932, with each scene a vignette involving people in Hopper's cityscapes -- whose lives then intermingle with the figures in the other pictures. There were additional characters in the plot not taken from any of the paintings. The clever concept, the brainchild of Leon Major (Artistic Director, Md. Opera Studio), is vividly realized by his intelligent directing and Mark Campbell's witty libretto. David O. Roberts's costumes and Scott Bolman's lighting evocatively recreate the ambience of each painting."
Washington Post: "Some people like the conventional trappings of your standard orchestral concert: Dress nicely and sit in worshipful silence while a group of black-clad musicians perform. To them, however, James Ross, director of the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra, issued a prophylactic apology prior to the orchestra's Friday-night performance of Stravinsky's Petrushka at the Clarice Smith Center -- which was decidedly, even exuberantly, unconventional in its anarchic, foot-stomping wildness."
Rocky Mountain News: "The Guarneri String Quartet is preparing to call it quits after more than four decades as one of the world's premier chamber ensembles. With only one personnel change in all those years, violinists Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley, violist Michael Tree and the relative newcomer, cellist Peter Wiley, have begun a farewell tour. The group stops in Denver ... for a sold-out Friends of Chamber Music concert at the Newman Center. The Rocky's Marc Shulgold spoke with first violinist Steinhardt before the announcement of Dalley's cancer. (The quartet are all faculty members in UM's School of Music.)
New York Times: "In a cross between academic analysis and an update to the 'man-catching' guide The Rules, researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park have found that the 'best chance of "reeling-in" an unmarried father and building the foundations for a stable family life are the critical months of pregnancy,' according to the school's own analysis of the research. Getting a man to the alter is far less a guarantee that he will stick around than getting him emotionally involved in the preparation before a baby is born, concludes the study, which is published in the December Journal of Marriage and Family. The report is based on data about 1,686 couples, most of them unmarried, from the ongoing Fragile Families Child Well Being Study, which is a joint project between Princeton and Columbia. Describing the findings yesterday, Natasha Cabrera, professor of human development at Maryland and a researcher at the university's Population Research Center said: 'Unmarried dads are less likely to drift away if they are involved with their partner during this vital period when a family can begin to bond.' "
Inter Press Service: "People in seven majority Muslim countries favour a more active United Nations with broader powers, while simultaneously viewing the world body as dominated by the U.S. and failing to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a new poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org , a global network of research centres. The survey was conducted in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, the Palestinian Territories and Azerbaijan. Nigeria, which has a 50 percent Muslim population, was also polled. The survey found conflicted attitudes towards the United Nations. There was, however, clear support for a U.N. with much broader powers than it has today. ... Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org told IPS: 'If we compare the results in Muslim-dominated countries to those in other regions, there is virtually consensus around the world on giving the U.N. more powers. This consensus is rather striking.' 'While many people in Muslim countries express disappointment with the U.N., this actually masks their underlying desire for a U.N. that is robust and powerful,' Kull said." WorldPublicOpinion.org is part of UM's Program on International Policy Attitudes.
Following the Mumbai terror attack that killed over 170 people, Indo Asian News Service: "India faced more than 4,100 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2004, accounting for more than 12,000 fatalities, according to the Global Terrorism Database. The database is maintained by the University of Maryland and the US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). START's Terrorist Organisation Profiles collection has information on 56 groups known to have engaged in terrorism in India, including the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). About 12,540 terrorist-related fatalities in India between 1970 and 2004 -an average of almost 360 fatalities per year from terrorism in India. These fatalities peaked in 1991 and 1992, when 1,184 and 1,132 individuals (respectively) were killed in such incidents, a University of Maryland statement said. These figures are on the lower side as official figures in India put the toll at around 70,000 deaths."
Associated Press: "President-elect Barack Obama should shift the main U.S. foreign policy focus in the Middle East from Iraq to curtailing Iran's nuclear program and promoting peace agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors, analysts at two prominent Washington think tanks proposed Tuesday. Prepared by 15 experts at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, the report calls for restoring balance to U.S. strategy and making more use of diplomacy in the Middle East. ... That new U.S. strategy would diminish the Islamists' incentive to undermine peace negotiations with Israel and force Hamas either to accept a peace agreement that supports Palestinian rights or lose the backing of the Palestinian public, said Steven A. Cook, of the council, and Shibley Telhami, of Brookings. 'We suggest before the president does anything at all, the president should put forward a new framework for security and peace in the Middle East,' Telhami said in an interview. At the same time, he said, the Obama administration should have Saudi Arabia and Egypt encourage the Palestinians to have a 'national unity' government that would negotiate with Israel.' "
Science & Technology
USA Today four part series: Amir Sapkota, assistant professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (Public Health), who is also affiliated with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Public Health), combines with researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to produce data indicating a "widespread, insidious and largely unaddressed" problem. "Using the government's most up-to-date model for tracking toxic chemicals, USA Today spent eight months examining the impact of industrial pollution on the air outside schools across the nation. ... USA Today worked with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to take 'snapshots' of the air at almost 95 schools in 30 states."
Times Higher Education Supplement (UK) book review: "In 2000, Robert Park, a veteran physicist at the University of Maryland, published the best-selling Voodoo Science. There he exposed the gullibility of not only the public but also the US Congress to phony scientific claims. He divided voodoo science into three categories. In 'pathological science', scientists refuse to concede their claims, no matter what the evidence against them. In 'junk science', the justification for a claim is that it is merely possible. In 'pseudo-science', a claim is couched in scientific lingo but in fact has no scientific basis. Park continues the story in Superstition. The main cases he considers are the anthropic principle, intelligent design, the efficacy of prayer, mental cures for cancer, extrasensory perception, the existence of the soul, the existence of heaven, the memory of prior lifetimes, out-of-body experiences, New Age consciousness, the hand of God in natural catastrophes, channelling, homoeopathy and acupuncture."
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