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September 2004 Archives

September 1, 2004

One for the books


After adding 2.5 million books to Chicago’s stacks over 24 years, Martin Runkle, AM’73, steps down as library director October 1. Photographs, articles, and a timeline highlight his tenure in the Special Collections Research Center exhibit Catalyst for Change: On the Occasion of Martin Runkle’s Retirement as Library Director. The exhibit, which opened Monday in Regenstein Library, focuses on themes such as donors and friends, evolution of technology, staff development, library outreach, Regenstein reconfiguration, and the construction of Crerar.

A believer in “digitization as a means of preservation,” Runkle oversaw the Library’s user-interface overhaul. Personal computing terminals—beginning with the green-text-on-black-screen systems and progressing to today’s Windows, Mac, and Linux machines—replaced the old card catalog in 1989. More recently Special Collections began digitizing its photo files, a continuing project.

Even as computers made the need for a massive card catalog obsolete, the expanding science collection led to the 1984 addition of a new library, Crerar, which in part replaced the old Chemistry Library. The Library system’s continued growth forced a massive reorganization in 1990, including more compact, motorized stacks on the B level.

The exhibit will outlast Runkle’s time at the University by a week, running through October 7.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

September 3, 2004

Life at the pond

“Excuse me, are you the architect?” inquires James Cronin, professor emeritus in physics and astronomy & astrophysics, approaching the Botany Pond walkway from the main quad road. When David Gianneschi replies that yes, he is a landscape designer for architect Douglas Hoerr, Cronin continues: “I’m delighted to see you’re putting in some grass. I walk by here every day. It’s one of the few calm, beautiful places” on campus, and grass near the pond’s edge, he says, is important for frolicking children.

Cronin isn’t the only one who’s noticed the quickened pace of the pond’s renovation, begun July 1. As Gianneschi points out, this week landscapers planted most of the new greenery, intended to give the area a more lush feel, as it had circa 1910. Besides the sod, the flora includes two azalea varieties, a Japanese maple, lily of the valley, pickerelweed, and iris.

Still to come are a couple crab-apple trees and four bald cypress—two of which will go in the pond itself to give it “more height and diversity,” Gianneschi says. Planted in concrete culverts just below water level, the trees will be at least six feet away from the pond’s edge, Giannesci says, to prevent children and duck-hunting cats from jumping to them. The water lilies, meanwhile, will stay, though two-thirds of the smaller, floating lilies will be removed to make the surface more visible.

At the pond’s south end, circular stepping-stones lead to the Class of 1988 concrete bench, while two north-end stones offer pond access for people and other fauna. Three new lampposts provide nighttime lighting.

The pond should reopen, Gianneschi says, by mid- to late September.


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Photos by Dan Dry.

September 8, 2004

Fall cheer

A squint-inducing setting sun and half-filled campus didn’t stop about 100 students and parents from cheering on Division III’s new top-ranked women’s soccer team Tuesday afternoon. In many ways the game was a typical, nonthreatening affair for the Maroons (2–0–0), who didn’t allow a Lake Forest (1–1–0) shot and made two of their own in the victory. The crowd roared its approval from beginning to end for 15th- and 83rd-minute goals and taunted the opposition: “That goalie’s going to be real good after this game.” The squad played hard with the fan encouragement; scrappy starting forward Bridget Hogan, ’07, had to walk on crutches post-game after a late leg-to-leg collision, and others regularly got banged up. That type of play helped women’s soccer earn their top poll ranking, vaulting ahead of State University of New York at Oneonta, to whom they lost in last year’s national championship game.

Other Maroon teams also dominated the competition last weekend, as the men’s soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross-country teams each had successful opening performances. Men’s soccer (2–0–0) impressed the home crowd, earning shutout wins in Friday and Sunday games. Volleyball (3–1), guided by Chicago’s new career-digs leader Tracie Kenyon, ’06, earned three wins in two days after having only seven all last year. Men’s cross country swept the four-team field at the University of Illinois at Chicago Invite. Women’s cross country followed with a 3–1 mark.

With four winning teams and football starting Saturday, returning students may be surprised to see how Chicago’s fall teams have become some of Division III’s best, despite the Princeton Review’s ranking of Maroon sports as the 18th-most “unpopular or nonexistent.”

Sean I. Ahmed ’06

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September 10, 2004

Awaiting O-Week


Although first-years won’t start Orientation Week for another eight days, housing staff is busy preparing for their arrival. Many Resident Heads—the adult couples living in each of the 38 houses—moved in weeks ago, and the last of the third- and fourth-year Resident Assistants arrived Tuesday. Now the bunch faces intense training and planning for the thousands of students who will soon crowd campus. “Once the O-Aides come,” says Johanna Gray, ’05, Vincent House’s RA, “it all happens really fast.”

This is Gray’s second year in Vincent House, but for 27 RAs and 17 RH couples, housing work is a new experience. “I’m really less freaked out than I was last year,” laughs Gray, while first-time RH Sacari Thomas-Mohamed admits her excitement is tinged with worry that her residents will dislike her. Katie Callow-Wright, director of the University housing system, says she focuses on training new RHs for O-Week, which she describes as “a critical time to get to know first-years individually.”

The schedule for new and old housing staff alike reads like alphabet soup: presenters come from relevant campus offices including SCC (Student Care Center), UCPD (University of Chicago Police Department), SCRS (Student Counseling and Resource Service), CPO (College Programming Office), RSVP (Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention), and OMSA (Office of Minority Student Affairs). But Callow-Wright is the first to point out that the training isn’t intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it aims to acquaint staff with resources that will help them build communities, develop relationships, deal with emergencies, and handle administrative responsibilities.

Tonight the housing staff will hold a banquet, a welcome respite from days of 9 to 5 training. Activities such as the banquet, ice-breakers, and snack times, Callow-Wright says, are ways for the RAs and RHs to foster a community of colleagues “who are in the same boat.” “It’s the last chance to focus on ourselves as a group,” Gray says from her empty dorm, “before we turn to our houses.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: resident heads and assistants take a snack break from training week (top); the group settles in for a two-hour training session on planning house activities (bottom).

September 13, 2004

Early returns

Anticipating the September 23 autumn quarter start, construction workers continue to place finishing touches on the GSB’s new Hyde Park Center. Today contractors installed doors on the building’s western, or Rockefeller Chapel, side, while electricians wired the lobby receptionists’ computers. Though the grand opening is not until next week, already the six-story glass atrium, dubbed the winter garden, illuminates the entire building, giving the interior a lighter-than-air quality. Lounge chairs are scattered everywhere to give business students a collaborative and relaxing atmosphere, one of architect Rafael Viñoly’s main priorities, along with creating an exterior that reflects the neighborhood. While the jury is still out on whether Hyde Park’s latest addition does in fact resemble both Robie House and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, the some 1,500 projected full-time users are excited by its prospects.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

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First two photos by Sean I. Ahmed. Far-right photo by Dan Dry.

September 15, 2004

Video renaissance


Tucked under the eaves on the fourth floor of Cobb Hall, the Renaissance Society is a leader in showcasing contemporary art. But for the current exhibition the small gallery looks—at first glance—totally unprepossessing, divided into five enclosed screening rooms whose blank outer walls give no clue to the artwork that awaits inside.

This is the fifth time in the past two years that the Renaissance Society has used isolated screening rooms to exhibit video art. So by now, says educational director Hamza Walker, the gallery knows how to deal with the art’s peculiar needs: lighting and sound demands, screen sizes, and adequate space for each work. “As a medium,” Walker says, “[film] has definitely come into its own.”

The filmmaker on exhibit this time is Yang Fudong, whose work has been shown at museums worldwide, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and who was recently nominated for a Hugo Boss Prize. The new show, open through October 14, features five of Fudong’s black-and-white films, including one—part II of “Seven Chinese Intellectuals”—produced by the Renaissance Society.

Producing artwork is a growing part of the Renaissance Society’s mission, says Walker. “It isn’t simply showing recent art that’s already existing, but going one step further.” The gallery, he stresses, remains “completely beholden” to the artists’ requests, exerting no creative control. Fudong’s films, he continues, comprise “a really beautiful and very generous body of work” that, taken as a whole, explores critical questions about modern-day China. “The show is very, very rich.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: still from "An Estranged Paradise" (top); still from "Seven Chinese Intellectuals" (bottom).

September 17, 2004

Celebrity swim

Though already Olympic-sized, the Myers-McLoraine Pool seemed even bigger this week when eight-time Athens medalist Michael Phelps dove in for a workout. Phelps, who is touring with U.S. teammates Ian Crocker and Lenny Krayzelburg for Disney’s “Swim With The Stars” show, called the University early Wednesday morning to request some practice time between stops. At 11 a.m. the 6-4, 195-pound 19-year-old arrived at the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and swam for an hour. His 200-meter backstroke, one of the only events that didn’t garner him an Athens medal, was timed at 1:48, seven seconds faster than the pool record.

Nearly everybody who caught wind of America’s hottest sports celebrity was excited to bask in swimming greatness. Phelps accommodated the attention gracefully, staying around after his practice to answer questions and pose for pictures. “Once everyone realized that there was an Olympian swimming in our pool, people started coming out of the woodwork with their cameras,” fourth-year swimmer Dennis Connolly said. “Most everybody was in awe of him—especially the girls. For a 19-year-old, he handles all the attention given him incredibly.” With Phelps’s large signature now scrawled on the men’s swim team’s locker room door, Ratner has its own piece of the 2004 Olympics.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

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Photos by Dennis Connolly, '06.

September 20, 2004

So many children, she didn't know what to do

Hyde Park resident Mae Wilson sits at Kimbark Avenue, hugging a stuffed goose as she welcomes families to the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair. Her first year playing Mother Goose, the opening parade’s grand marshal, the grandmotherly volunteer kicks off the day by leading Peter Rabbit, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, and other book characters in a procession around the fairgrounds.

Throughout Sunday afternoon fairgoers approach her and recite lines from Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes. “I always say, ‘Oh, I am so honored and humbled that you remember that!’” Two girls run up to pet Wilson’s goose, while their mother comments, “We just had to say hello.” As the three leave the fair, Wilson laughs, “That’s a pleasant notoriety.”

Lab Schools parent and four-time volunteer Sophie Worobec notes that her friend Rebecca Janowitz, LAB’70, started the fair 18 years ago as a back-to-school celebration. Then, distracted from recounting the event’s history by a booth advertising $5 paperbacks, Worobec pauses. “Oh,” she reminds herself, turning away from the books, “I better concentrate.”

The book fair, Janowitz says, has blossomed into a Hyde Park tradition featuring singers, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers, author signings, and dozens of book vendors. And not only young children enjoy the festivities. Mixed in with face-painted toddlers are University students and faculty. Dana Kroop, ’07, shows off her glittered construction-paper crown, while Rebecca Knapp and Laura Mazer, both ’06, read a Babar picture book aloud to each other. Knapp asks, “Can we live here forever?”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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September 22, 2004

Oh, what a week


One first-year, stressed about his placement tests and problems registering for certain classes, mutters sarcastically, “Well, this is just amusing,” as he walks out of his adviser’s office. Meanwhile, 20 ambitious new students take a librarian-led tour of the Reg, asking nervous questions about everything from making copies to interlibrary loans. Perhaps most indicative of the early college-student traumas are the handful of first-years locked out of Bartlett Dining Commons, left hungry because they neglected to learn the dining hall’s hours.

Still, O-Week has brought a lot of excitement for the Class of 2008, with the College Programming Office attempting to make the acclimation to college life as easy as possible. Smiling O-Aides helped with Saturday move-in before students filtered to “O-Fest”—a midday fair offering games, prizes, and food—and later Opening Convocation. After the bagpipe procession, which passed through the main Quad and ended at the newly redesigned Botany Pond, students said goodbye to their parents one last time before officially becoming phoenix-loving first-years.

With 52 percent of the new class varsity high-school athletes, 60 percent musicians, 40 percent involved in publications, and 25 percent student-government leaders, this year’s 1,220 enrolled students have résumés on par with recent classes. They’ll continue meeting each other in activities this week, including tonight’s Reynolds Club dance party; tomorrow’s Aims of Education Address, given by President Don M. Randel, and subsequent discussion; and Saturday’s “Explore Chicago Day,” which culminates in a downtown reception at the John Hancock Observatory. Now if only first-years could get that lunch schedule down, they’d be in the clear—at least until midterms.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

Photos: new students tour the Reg (top); first-years fill out registration forms in the College advising office (bottom).

September 24, 2004

An onion by any other name


Judging from the wealth of nicknames boasted by the Windy City (others include the Wild Onion, the City of Big Shoulders, and the City in a Garden), describing the Big Chi is a big challenge—one answered this fall by the University of Chicago Press with a very big book. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, edited by U of C history lecturer James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, AM’79, PhD’84, and UCLA professor Janice L. Reiff, offers 21 critical essays, 56 original maps, and 1,400 entries from abolitionism to Zoroastrians.

The 1,000-plus page volume also covers a few of the city’s choicest monikers. “Chicago,” for example, comes from an American Indian word meaning “striped skunk,” a term that also refers to the pungent wild onions that grew along the eponymous Chicago River. “Windy City,” on the other hand, was coined by Midwesterners in the late 1800s to deride the famously long-winded local politicians and other vocal boosters who touted the charms of the soon-to-be Second City (another insult, this from A. J. Liebling New Yorker articles). Both Windy City and Second City, the encyclopedia notes, have since been adopted with pride.


September 27, 2004

Jensen wins "America's Nobel"


Following in four Chicago faculty members’ footsteps, Elwood Jensen, PhD’44, the Charles B. Huggins distinguished service professor emeritus in the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, today received this year’s Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

Jensen shares the honor with Pierre Chambon, of the Institute for Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Ronald Evans, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The trio’s discoveries, the award citation says, “revolutionized the fields of endocrinology and metabolism.”

Jensen was singled out for his research on how estrogen and other steroid hormones work, transforming “the treatment of breast cancer patients” and saving or prolonging “more than 100,000 lives annually.” On campus this afternoon, Jensen will address the “Discovery of Estrogen Receptor” at the Biological Sciences Learning Center.

Called “America’s Nobel,” the Lasker often is a precursor to the prestigious Swiss prize, as was the case for Chicago professors George Wells Beadle, Charles Huggins, and Roger Sperry, PhD’41. Double-helix codiscoverer James Watson, PhB’46, SB’47, also made the Lasker-to-Nobel leap. (Professor Janet Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, has won a Lasker but no Nobel.)

Meanwhile, bioterrorism expert Matthew Meselson, PhB’51, who earned an honorary Chicago doctorate in 1975, earned the Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science “for a lifetime career that combines penetrating discovery in molecular biology with creative leadership in the public policy of chemical and biological weapons.”

The Albert & Mary Lasker Foundation administers the awards, first presented in 1946. Recipients will receive an honorarium, a citation, and an inscribed statuette October 1 in New York.


About September 2004

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in September 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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