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January 2006 Archives

January 4, 2006

The dog ate my application


College-application time can be stressful as students touch up their essays, collect recommendation letters, and rush the whole package to the mail (or e-mail) by the January 1 deadline—all during the holidays. Given that January 1, 2006, fell on a Sunday and the next day was a federal holiday, the College took pity, extending its deadline to midnight January 3—not Central, Eastern, or Pacific time, but anywhere in the world.

On the U of C’s Uncommon Application Web site, Associate Director of Admissions Gerald Doyle, AB’81, explained that if potential undergraduates wanted to submit their applications after midnight in their own time zone, they simply needed to e-mail him and tell him which zone they were using. So he’d get notes saying, “I want to let you know that I live in the Pacific Time Zone but I will be submitting my University of Chicago application under the Hawaii-Aletian Time Zone, which extends it by two hours.” To Doyle, it’s a matter of understanding. “The application process is fraught with anxiety,” he says. “It just seemed like a small thing to do.” And Chicago applicants, he notes, “never take more time than they need.”

In the days before last night’s deadline (one of the last times midnight hit, he notes on the site, was central-Pacific Baker Island), Doyle stayed up late answering student and parent questions on the Admissions Office blog, set up with NSIT’s help. For instance: “My brother went down to the post office on 33rd Street in Manhattan to mail my application, and he got stuck in a long line and it is now January 4 in New York.” Doyle replied: “This is fine. To anyone else driving this evening to reach a late night post office, drive safely.” A student from Karachi Grammar School wrote: “My computer had crashed yesterday and I have only managed to fix the problem right now. All my application data was on my PC and I had no hard copy of it. I am sorry about the delay in submitting my application but it could not be helped. I will be submitting my application shortly.” Again Doyle found compassion: “No problem,” he wrote. “If you need to take an extra day...say into the 4th...that would be fine as well...it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Pakistan and Karachi Grammar but it remains one of my favorite schools....”

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday (CST), 567 applicants had taken advantage of the extension. Now Doyle and the rest of the office start reading, a process that will go through the end of March, when they begin mailing decisions to the Class of 2010.


Photo: Gerald Doyle

January 6, 2006

Cultural cross-trainer


Lemon squares and powdered cookies were still circulating the room when Wallace Goode Jr. stood up to describe his “Chautauqua” life at Wednesday’s Divinity School lunchtime talk. A Woodlawn native whose career has taken him across the globe and into Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s office, Goode last August became director of the University Community Service Center and associate dean of students. He recalled his early experiences with the University, first as a fifth-grader tutored by U of C students and later as a chagrined high-schooler trying to blend in on campus. After being stopped once, he said, by a University police officer who “very clearly said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” Goode began sneaking into the Ida Noyes coffee shop and trying to effect the erudite nonchalance of students there. University police always picked him out. Finally, he asked an officer what gave him away. The answer: Goode’s Converse All-Stars. “So I went and bought some penny loafers.”

After studying at the University of Vermont—where he “would look into a mirror just to see another person of color”—Goode served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic and the Solomon Islands. Then he helped politicians and business executives avoid international faux pas as a cross-cultural trainer. That job eventually landed him in Chicago’s City Hall, where he spent seven years, working in workforce development and most recently as executive director of the Empowerment Zone program, providing commercial tax breaks to stimulate investment and create jobs in local communities.

Goode was still in fifth grade when his father recognized he was “bilingual.” He could converse with his U of C tutors at school and come home and talk to “the brothers on my street. My father said, ‘That is a skill you need to continue to cultivate.’” These days, Goode told Wednesday’s audience, “I am multilingual,” able to speak with educators, University development officials, corporate heads, government types, his 8-year-old son, and his 30-year-old daughter—with whom “I speak a language I’m not sure of.” Having crossed the world as a lecturer, volunteer, and teacher, Goode has also become a cultural polyglot. He encouraged University students and employees to do the same, saying they could start on the South Side by venturing into neighborhoods like Woodlawn, Kenwood, and Grand Crossing. “Volunteer,” he said. “Roll up your sleeves and get on the boards of community groups.” Cultural learning goes both ways, as does community service. “And you don’t always need to feel the hurt to understand it.”


Photo: Wallace Goode Jr. at Swift Hall.

January 9, 2006

Art therapy


Since spring 2005 passersby in the U of C Hospitals’ Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine have watched New York artist Audrey Ushenko create a large painting of the building’s three-story atrium, where she set up her canvas. This week Ushenko, a member of the National Academy of Design and a professor at Indiana University–Purdue University, Fort Wayne, puts the final touches on the 5 x 8-foot oil painting, which includes portraits of about 25 staff members, patients, and visitors.

As part of Chicago’s Art-in-the-Hospital program, Ushenko began by drawing the architecture and sketching the volunteer models. This past summer she composed the larger painting and started to add the details. She first noticed the space when she brought her husband for a clinic visit, impressed by the atrium’s open appearance and natural light. During subsequent visits she came to appreciate the ongoing human drama quietly played out each day in the specialty clinics that open onto the atrium.

While she painted, patients and staff observed the process, asking questions as Ushenko made compositional decisions and fine-tuned. “Many people have taken a lasting interest in the work,” Ushenko said. “They stop by to see how it’s coming, what’s changed since their last visit. Patients tell me it’s a nice distraction, something cheering and peaceful, unrelated to their medical issues. They look forward to seeing the project advance. Many say it can make treatment easier.”

Ushenko hopes to finish up the work this Friday or Monday. Once complete, it will likely be displayed in the Hospitals for several months before being shipped to her gallery, Denise Bibro Fine Art of New York, and sold. Negotiations with a potential buyer are already under way.

John Easton, AM’77

Photo: Ushenko wields her brush.

January 11, 2006

Burritos on the rocks


A sure sign that the U of C winter festival Kuviasungnerk is under way: ice sculpting in Hutch Courtyard. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today Jim Bringas of Chicago Ice Works chain-sawed and ice-picked a snowman, an eagle, and a sea horse. A former chef, Bringas learned the art as part of his culinary training, said coworker Angel Reyes, standing watch about ten feet away to keep onlookers and question-askers a safe distance from the roaring chainsaw.

Overlooking the ice art in progress outside the Reynolds Club, undergraduates manned three tables stocked with Chipotle burritos, which they handed out for free. “Chipotle donated 300 steak, chicken, and veggie burritos,” said third-year Bill McCormick, assistant chair of the Kuvia board. “In the first ten minutes we got rid of 150.”

Other Kuvia activities this week include Kangeiko, the 6 a.m.–8 a.m. daily calisthenics and sports at Henry Crown; faculty fireside chats in the dorms; nourishment-enhanced study breaks; and a dance marathon. The week ends with Friday’s morning lakefront “salute to the sun” and afternoon quads polar-bear run.


Photo: Bringas sculpts a snowman (top). The masses reach for free food (bottom).

January 13, 2006

More than the dream


Martin Luther King Jr. is in little danger of being forgotten as a charismatic leader and a civil-rights pioneer, but during a Monday night ceremony at Ida Noyes Hall to kick off a week of tribute, Woodlawn’s Bishop Arthur Brazier sought to remind people that King was also a Baptist preacher. His social-justice campaign, Brazier said, encompassed more than the “I have a dream” speech replayed annually in elementary-school classrooms and television documentaries. A resolute theology informed King’s words and actions, a belief in a “divine presence that binds all of life,” said Brazier, who worked closely with King during the civil-rights movement and whose own congregation, the Apostolic Church of God, claims more than 18,000 worshippers at 63rd Street and Dorchester Avenue. King insisted “all men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. … That I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be,” Brazier said. In other words, none are free until all are free.

Tracing the “fear, economic competition, and political needs” that spawned the South’s Jim Crow laws in 1838, Brazier warned the Ida Noyes crowd that King’s struggle against a racist social structure “stronger and higher than the Berlin Wall ever could be” remains unfinished. “The strife and despair in this country are a sign that something is still wrong in the heart of America.” Economic inequality continues to widen; social and political disputes divide along racial lines. “I believe we will choose community over chaos,” Brazier said, admonishing his audience to take up the cause of social justice. After all, he said, King’s speeches were healing and loving, but they were also fervent calls to action. “And procrastination,” Brazier said, “is still the thief of time.”

MLK Week continues tonight with an evening of “cross-cultural” music, poetry and spoken word at International House. Tomorrow the University Community Service Center sponsors at day of volunteering called “A Day in the Life of a Child,” and Sunday offers two performances of August Wilson’s Fences. The weeklong celebration concludes Monday with a noon service at Rockefeller Chapel, headlined by University Trustee Valerie Jarrett. (An additional event tied to MLK Week, a panel discussion of race and politics in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is slated for January 19 at the School of Social Service Administration.)


Photo: Bishop Arthur Brazier with The Woodlawn Organization head Leon Finney.

January 18, 2006

Cultural evolution

Student-choreographed dances, demonstrations by the Wushu (martial art) Club, and vibrant, multicolored costumes graced the Mandel Hall stage this past Saturday evening at the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association’s (CUSA) tenth annual culture show and New Year celebration, Chasing the Red Dream. As usual, the show interspersed a narrative with dance and martial-arts acts, but in a departure from years past, the event “went in a more politically charged direction,” fourth-year CUSA show director Christina Pei noted in the program.

The fictional story portrayed a family of five during the Cultural Revolution: Xian, a district judge disillusioned by the corruption of his fellow government officials; Ying, his wife and a secret member of the Red Guards, civilian Cultural Revolution implementers; their two mischievous sons, who are sent to the desert to perform manual labor; and Xian’s elderly father, an adherent of Confucianism. Despite its political theme, Chasing the Red Dream remained lighthearted throughout, often playing for laughs. Though Xian narrowly escapes execution and his family is scattered, they reunite at the show’s (and the revolution’s) end.

“With this turn toward a more serious side of culture, I hope CUSA will open more doors for discussion,” Pei wrote. “Asian history is charged with politics and ripe with stories—Tibet’s struggle for independence, British settlement of Hong Kong, the Japanese invasion, and World War II.” Themes, perhaps, that CUSA will explore in culture shows to come.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Photos (left to right): The Daughters of the Sea dance; a Wushu performance; a Red Guard rally.

January 20, 2006

Composition creation


A night at the symphony evokes images of black-and-white-clad performers, silent save their instruments and the impeccably rehearsed pieces they bring to life. At this morning’s student-composer readings in Mandel Hall, audience members got a behind-the-scenes peek at how the magic comes together. Led by Cliff Colnot, principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW series and sometimes U of C orchestration instructor, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra—now in a three-year residency at the University—rehearsed, discussed, and tweaked graduate student David Smooke’s composition Breathing the Water. Smooke was one of four composition students to have his work performed and critiqued by the ensemble during the two-day event, organized by University of Chicago Presents.

The energetic, 13-minute piece incorporated piano, strings, and a mix of percussion including the marimba xylophone and crotales, metal discs known for their high-pitched, bell-like tone. Working section by section during the two-hour reading, Colnot made occasional on-the-fly revisions. “Mark that dynamic as forte instead of fortissimo,” he instructed the musicians. The ensemble also helped hone the piece. “Feels like between [measures] 37 and 41, there should be a crescendo, but there’s not,” volunteered the pianist. “Yes,” agreed Colnot, “there’s an implied build there.” Smooke, seated onstage behind the conductor, quietly recorded the suggestions.

The final product, played from start to finish an hour into the reading—and only after the union-member musicians voted and received the go-ahead from their personnel representative to slightly postpone their scheduled break—bounced from dark, jolting chords to soft, dreamy tones. At times menacing and frantic, at others somber and mysterious, the piece experimented with major and minor notes sliding together (“like Stravinsky,” commented Colnot during the reading), gentle piano and strings, and even a waltz-like moment. After the peaks and valleys, it ended quietly, like a violent wave subsiding, gently returning to sea. But the orchestra’s work was not yet done. “There are still three or four things in top quarter to work on,” instructed Colnot. He then released the musicians for their break


Photo: Colnot leads the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at Friday's student-composer reading.

January 23, 2006

Media probe


A spirited crowd of students, faculty, and occasional hecklers crammed into the Oriental Institute’s Breasted Hall last Thursday evening for a panel discussion on media responsibility. The Chicago Society organized the event, and Humanities dean Danielle Allen—who’d consulted the Federalist Papers beforehand and uncovered arguments favoring both a strong media and occasional government secrecy—served as moderator.

Fault lines opened quickly, if mostly cordially. On one side stood Nation Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel—who boasted about her magazine’s reputation for “steadfastness in speaking truth to power and its inability for turn a profit”—and John Nichols, the Nation’s Washington correspondent, who earned frequent cheers from the audience. Both decried the consolidation of media ownership, publishers’ increasing focus on the bottom line, and the softening—or narrowing—of hard news coverage. “Right now there is an assault on truth,” declared vanden Heuvel, pointing to the Bush Administration’s tight lips and relativist philosophies, a rollback on Freedom of Information Act requests, and reporters’ diminishing access to political heavy hitters. Calling local ownership of news outlets “one of democracy’s last hopes,” Nichols reminded the audience of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2003 proposal to loosen the rules for media conglomerates. Close to three million citizens wrote letters protesting the move. Even when satellite newspapers’ op-ed pages diverge from a parent company’s political leanings, Nichols said, “it’s with the full understanding of who owns the paper. What you get is a range of disagreements that are within the safest zones.”

Chicago Tribune Publisher and CEO David Hiller and Deputy Managing Editor James Warren, meanwhile, took a less stormy view. Defending the idea of a robustly independent and diverse Fourth Estate, Warren said, “The notion of a homogeneous force is dubious, if not laughable.” He conceded that arrogance, passivity, and bad marketing had “pissed away” much of the public’s goodwill and respect, despite good stories like the Tribune’s death-penalty series. Although newspaper owners worry more these days about profit, journalism’s ideals remain intact, he said. “And the more money we make, the more independent we can be.” Hiller agreed, cautioning vanden Heuvel and others: “If you go out of business, if the lights go out, guess what? You’re not doing any news.”

During the audience Q and A, one questioner asked about the Daily Show’s popularity. Nichols proclaimed it a “strong warning signal” for editors. “When the media lose the public’s trust, they turn to parody,” he said. “We’re much closer to that in America today than our leaders and media people want to admit.” Hiller and Warren, though, insisted the Daily Show proves the country’s wealth of freedom, creativity, and diversity of opinion. “It’s a well-written, funny satire,” Hiller said. “It’s a barometer of the health of the media content and landscape that people have the freedom and financial wherewithal to do this show.”


Photo: The Nation's John Nichols and Katrina vanden Heuvel (left) listen as the Tribune's David Hiller speaks, sitting beside colleague James Warren.

Photo by Juliana Pino for the Maroon.

January 25, 2006

Global menu

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Ben Zimmerman_thumb.jpg

Braving the January cold, students lined up around the block outside Ida Noyes this past Saturday evening for the Asian Students Union–organized International Food Festival. Once inside, they waited some more, first in the lobby to gather plates, drinks, and utensils, then at three food stations in the library, east, and west lounges. Both student organizations and local restaurants—16 outfits in all—donated food. Tamales from the Organization of Latin American Students and pierogi from the Polish American Students Association jostled for space with menudo (Mexican soup) from Samahan, the Filipino Students Association, and shrimp fried rice from the Taiwanese Students Association. Aside from the two-course meal (entrees at 7 p.m., desserts at 9 p.m.), the gathering featured Cloister Club performances by a cappella groups Unaccompanied Women, Men in Drag, and Chicago Men’s A Cappella; Korean drumming troupe Loose Roots; the Middle Eastern Dance Society; the Balle Bhangra Team; and second-year Joy Lin, who did two solo Chinese dances.

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Students wait for plates and utensils (top). Ben Zimmerman, '07, enjoys Asian noodles (bottom).

January 27, 2006

Repeat performance

What do you give two people who have given millions to help sick children—on the South Side, in the city of Chicago, in the nation, and through the world? On Wednesday University trustees, administrators, physicians, nurses, past patients, and friends gathered in the lobby of the U of C Comer Childrens Hospital and gave Gary Comer, founder of the Lands’ End catalog company, and his wife Francie a standing ovation. Then they did it again.

The Comers did it again, too, making a $42 million donation—the largest single gift in the University and Hospitals’ history—to create the Comer Center for Children and Specialty Care. The $100 million facility will adjoin the Comer Children’s Hospital, which opened in February 2005, and will house the Comer Pediatric Emergency Department (scheduled to open this year) as well as space dedicated to specialty ambulatory care, advanced operating rooms and procedural areas, and inpatient units. Of the gift, $8 million will be used to recruit more physician-scientists to continue providing state-of-the-art care to U of C patients while doing research that can have global impact. “It’s not good enough to do the same thing tomorrow for a child that we did today,” said Pediatrics Chair Steve Goldstein, in thanking the Comers. “We can always do better.”

Since 2001, counting their latest gift, the Comers have donated more than $84 million to support what Gary Comer called “the best pediatric hospital in the world.” And like Goldstein, Comer hoped those gifts won’t be the end of the story: “It’s up to everyone else to dig into their pockets, to come up with the programs, to do the funding—to keep this thing going.”


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Photos (left to right): The Comers at the announcement; Pediatrics Chair Steve Goldstein, Biological Sciences Dean James Madara, and Hospitals CEO Michael Riordan thank the benefactors; Former patient Ally Bain presented Comer with a poem.

Photos by Dan Dry

January 30, 2006

Twenty first dates


This past Friday night, single graduate students from across the University’s divisions and schools gathered at the GSB Hyde Park Center for speed dating: 20 three-minute encounters conducted across 75 small tables in a crowded room. The ground rules? Wear your speed-dating identification number in plain sight; don’t exchange personal information; if you click with someone, write his or her ID number on your yellow date card; and “what happens at speed dating stays at speed dating.” After the event, the organizers would collate the yellow cards and put mutually interested parties in touch.

The morning of the event, all 75 slots reserved for women were filled while several slots were still available for men. But sometime between morning and evening, an epidemic of either last-minute cold feet or love by other means had befallen the women of Chicago—at 9 p.m. the shortfall was on their side, and the organizers were scouring the premises for willing female participants. They had some success, but a handful of men were still relegated to wallflower status during each three-minute session.

At evening’s end, some participants bolted. “I’d rather stay home and study than do that again,” one woman exclaimed, drawing her companion’s emphatic agreement. But many lingered, resuming conversations that had been curtailed by the clock and, when the lights went down, migrating to Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap. The festivities benefited more than simply social life on a campus where fun allegedly comes to die: the evening’s $12 entry proceeds went to REMEDY, a group of Pritzker Medical School students that cosponsored the event with the Graduate Student Council and that sends medical supplies to the Dominican Republic.

Laura Demanski, AM’94

Photos: A GSB room fills with speed daters.

About January 2006

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in January 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2005 is the previous archive.

February 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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