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June 2006 Archives

June 2, 2006

Everything old is new again

Members of Chicago classes ending in 1 and 6 have begun streaming into campus for the 2006 Alumni Weekend. Their starting point is Alumni House, where they register, pick up their reunion badges and schedules, grab breakfast, meet old friends, and catch a campus trolley. "I'm excited to see the campus," said Jessica Franklin, AB'96, MD'01, enjoying a bagel in the Alumni House library. "I haven't been back in five years." She and husband Suleman Khawaja, MD'01, came in from New York.

Also in the library, Marcia Earlenbaugh, AB'66, flew from Denver, while Jim Fullinwider, AB'66, arrived from St. Louis. Neither had been back in 40 years and planned to walk around this morning to see how much had changed. "The new stuff has probably been here for 20 years," said Fullinwider. Joining them were classmates Judy Cohen Siggins, AB'66, AM'68, PhD'76, in from Binghamton, NY, and Joel Brody, SB'66, in from Oakland, CA. They spent last night at Ida Noyes looking at old photos, Earlenbaugh said, "and wondering where everyone was" in life—that is, everyone but the 100-plus peers the Class of '66 expects to see again this weekend.


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Photos (left to right): The trolley takes alumni around; An alumnus gets reacquainted with a campus map; Jessica Franklin and husband Sulemen Khawaja grab breakfast; Members of the Class of '66 meet up at Alumni House; Returning alumni register and peruse the flyer table.

June 5, 2006

Singin' in the quads

In the 95-year history of the Interfraternity Sing, 1922 was a very good year: nearly 30 fraternities and more than 18,000 (no, it’s not a typo) fraternity actives and alumni participated in the Hutchinson Court event—which included awarding Order of the C blankets and emblems to student athletes—hoping to win a trophy for quality of singing or quantity of singers.

The numbers were down at this June’s event, held Saturday night as part of the 2006 Alumni Weekend. Representing seven fraternities and three sororities, about 500 students and alumni took the stage, vying for four trophies: quality, quantity, spirit, and best overall.

In the pre-contest briefing, Sing Coordinating Council members Greg Miarecki, AB’94, JD’97, and Lisa Magnas, AB’88, reminded the judges (the eight-person panel included this writer) that Sing rules emphasize tradition and spirit. Songs like “It was Founded by Our Fathers” (whose chorus runs, “Del-ta Up-si-lon for-ev-er, Del-ta Up-si-lon for-ev-er, Del-ta…”) let alumni join in, swelling both sound and numbers.

Although there’s no dress code, the women of Alpha Omicron Pi, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Delta Gamma all wore variations on the little black dress (emphasis on little) and three-inch heels, while the fraternity men wore variations on suits and ties—some more varied than others. As for the caliber of singing, as President Don M. Randel noted in accepting a pewter mug recognizing his attendance at all six IFSings of his presidency, “Thank God for coeducation.”

Bearing out Randel’s observation, the quality cup went to the women of Delta Gamma, who sang flirty and sweet with equal style and polish. Meanwhile, the women of AO∏, with 64 performers, won the quantity cup; Delta Kappa Epsilon, with a lively rendition of “Son of a DKE” and some vaudeville choreography, won the spirit award; and Phi Gamma Delta—whose men sang without recourse to crib sheets, sang in harmony, and sang the old songs—won best overall.

Same time, next year.


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Photos (left to right): The judges' table holds the coveted trophies; the women of Alpha Omicron Pi; the men of Phi Delta Theta.

Photos by Dan Dry

June 7, 2006

Fifteen ways of supporting the University


From July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, the members of the University of Chicago’s Women’s Board have committed themselves to raising $350,000 to fund 15 projects that span four University-wide categories—faculty research and support, cultural institutions, quality of student life, and community outreach.

Added to $9,000 reallocated from the previous year, that’s $359,000 in programmatic support. Earlier this spring, a committee chose the winning projects from 28 proposals, and this Tuesday board members gathered at the President’s House to hear how the grant monies would be spent.

From an overhead door to a concert grand harp, the Women’s Board will give:

* $47,900 to the Enrico Fermi Institute, to replace the electric controls for an overhead crane and purchase a new overhead door in the Accelerator Building.

* $75,000 to the Smart Museum, to be the primary sponsor of the Smart’s 2007 exhibition Cosmophilia: Islamic Art from the David Collection, Copenhagen.

* $15,000 to the Center for School Improvement, to build classroom libraries for the University’s charter schools.

* $20,860 to Assistant Professor of Classics Helma Dik, to help build a Web site to teach ancient Greek grammar.

* $17,595 to the Department of Music, to buy a concert grand harp for recitals in Mandel Hall, Rockefeller Chapel, and Fulton Recital Hall.

The list goes on and can be found on the Women’s Board Projects site.


Photo: Fulton Recital Hall will get a concert grand harp.

Photo by Dan Dry.

June 9, 2006

Pomp and preparation

The wooden folding chairs have sat in formation since Wednesday, but the finishing touches were completed Thursday for this weekend's four convocation ceremonies. Beginning Friday morning with the Law School, Harris School, and SSA ceremony, the festivities continue this afternoon with Graham School, BSD, Pritzker, Humanities, PSD, and SSD graduates; Saturday morning with the College; and Sunday afternoon with the GSB.

Thursday afternoon the tents and audio-visual equipment were set up, and a small ramp was installed over the step between the quad's center circle and the road. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's people took a walk-through before their boss arrives Saturday to address the crowd—along with convocation speaker James Chandler, the Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke professor in English and the College.

The weather for the prep work was perfect; as Friday dawned cloudy, planners hoped any rain would hold off for Chicago's 485th convocation.


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Photos (left to right): The chairs await the graduates; workers prepare the dais; large screens will air the ceremony for those too far back to see; Mayor Bloomberg's people get a walk-through; Kevin from Facilities helps graduates avoid tripping.

June 12, 2006

Artists in transition

While Chicago visual-arts MFA grads were crossing the stage at this past weekend’s convocation, their work was hanging on the walls at Hyde Park’s Del Prado Building. Titled The Space Between, the eight-person, free exhibition opened last Thursday with a broad offering of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and performance art.

Reflecting on her immigrant family’s American assimilation, Maria Perkovic, MFA’06, created black-and-white landscapes meant to seem simultaneously “familiar and alien,” she wrote in her artist’s statement. The skyscrapers, ladders, and beams in her spare, almost surreal canvases look more like models than real objects. Perkovic’s work, she wrote, examines the “Western ideological umbrella” that equates “placeness” with identity and defines groups by locale. Photographer Rachel Herman, MFA’06, sought to generate “new stories” by skewing commonplace images: two painted doors, one cracked open to reveal a flood of light; a face obscured—all but a grinning row of teeth—by a parka hood. Meanwhile, Joe Cory’s (MFA’06) deceptively simple drawings made use of absurdity and humor. In Untitled (They never saw it coming), red clouds look down on houses blithely huddled around nuclear cooling towers squirting a bright green liquid. Grant Schexnider’s (MFA’06) paintings drew on pornography as a metaphor for everyday social and political interaction. “There is, above all, a brutal honesty” about pornography, Schexnider’s artist’s statement read. “It illustrates our need for power, control, and release. It exposes our weakness.”

Capping off a two-year program that combines artistic practice with critical theory and art history, the exhibition marks a transition from student life to professional career. Cocurated by art-history doctoral student Dawna Schuld and Smart Museum contemporary-art curator Stephanie Smith, The Space Between—open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 5307 S. Hyde Park Boulevard from noon to 6 p.m.—runs through June 18.


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Photos (left to right): Untitled paintings by Grant Schexnider; visitors view Joe Cory's drawings; Untitled #1, Normandie (left) and Untitled #2, Normandie by Rachel Herman.

June 14, 2006

Yerkes sale nears completion


After more than a year of speculation, the University has reached an agreement to sell Yerkes Observatory to New York developer Mirbeau Company, which plans to develop 45 acres of land near the 109-year-old structure, creating homes and a spa.

If approved by the village of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, the agreement with Mirbeau owner Gary Dower would preserve the observatory—which houses a 40-inch refracting telescope, the largest in the world—and 30 acres surrounding it, and create a four-acre conservation zone along Geneva Lake. Mirbeau would pay $400,000 a year to support the observatory as an education and outreach institution, and $8 million to the University, supporting astronomical research. Yerkes and the surrounding land would be owned by an exposition district created by the village and directed by a board of scientists, most of whom would be appointed by the University.

Proceeds from and taxes on a 100-room Mirbeau Retreat and 72 small homes to be built on 45 acres of the property would help fund the observatory. The University, meanwhile, would continue to manage Yerkes for at least five years and provide $300,000 annually for maintenance during that time. The U of C also would provide $1 million to help create a Yerkes education and outreach organization.


June 16, 2006

Allegorical renaissance

In Lithuanian sculptor Jacques Lipchitz’s The Rape of Europa series, a bull—the god Jupiter in disguise—drags maiden Europa to Crete and has his way with her. The second piece in the collection, featured in the Smart Museum’s exhibition Revisions: Modernist Sculpture by Rodin, Lipchitz, and Moore, shows Europa resistant yet clinging to the bull’s neck. By the artist’s third and last iteration of the Greek tale, created at the height of World War II, the allegory had become political commentary; Europa, representing Europe, stabs the bull, representing Hitler, with a dagger.

The Smart piece is one of a handful in the exhibit that demonstrates how Lipchitz, Auguste Rodin, and Henry Moore reintroduced allegory, a popular art technique during Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Divided into four themes—reclining female form, heroic male nude, sculptural fragment, and allegory—the exhibit shows how these three early modernists updated classical forms and also informed each others’ work. In the heroic male nude section, Rodin’s Le Penseur (The Thinker) sits near Lipchitz’s cubist bronze Seated Man, which the exhibit notes cite as an “intended homage” to Rodin’s sculpture. Comparing the two works, the first created in 1880, the second some 30 years later, illustrates an evolution not only in sculpture but also in man’s mental state. Though Lipchitz’s modern figure has its chin poised on the hand as in the 1880 Rodin, Seated Man slumps over in resignation, replacing The Thinker’s strong, quiet contemplation.


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Photos (left to right): Jacques Lipchitz, Reclining Figure, 1928, Cast bronze; Henry Moore, Sketch Model for Reclining Figure, 1945, Unglazed modeled terracotta; Auguste Rodin, Reclining Figure (Study for Danaid), c. 1885 (model, Musée Rodin, cast 1969), Cast Bronze. All three sculptures are from the Smart Museum's Joel Starrels Jr. Memorial Collection.

June 19, 2006

Certifiably Chicago


On Saturday afternoon, one week after the University’s 485th Convocation filled Harper Quadrangle with thousands of June graduates and their guests, a smaller gathering of soon-to-be alumni and their well-wishers convened a few paces to the west: an un-air conditioned Swift Lecture Hall—windows open to the afternoon breezes and carillon bells—was the setting for the 57th annual awarding of certificates to the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults graduates.

Now part of the Graham School of General Studies, the course began 60 years ago, an outgrowth of University President Robert Maynard Hutchins's Great Books program. The four-year, structured curriculum of Socratic-style classes stretches from Homer and Plato to Joyce and Freud and is, said Bertram Cohler, AB'61, the William Rainey Harper professor in the social sciences and a staunch Basic Programs supporter, "about words and actions," the idea that a text has meaning in the world beyond its pages.

Not all of the 93 students who’d earned either two- or four-year certificates braved the day's heat for the ceremony and reception that followed, but those who did covered the demographic and sartorial waterfront: from twenty-somethings to retirees, suits and ties to sundresses and sandals. What they had in common, said fourth-year graduate Lewis M. Schneider, is the realization that "this is not a conclusion.... Here's to a lifetime of learning."


Photo: Bertram Cohler spoke at Saturday's Graham School ceremony.

June 21, 2006

Book bazaar


Ever wonder where books go to retire? In Regenstein Library’s southwest corner, wedged between the Interlibrary Loan office and Special Collections, hundreds of volumes—withdrawn from the library’s holdings—are for sale. Divided by discipline, offerings include French chemistry journals from the 1940s, dog-eared copies of The Communist Manifesto, and a well-preserved edition of John F. Kennedy’s 1956 book Profiles in Courage. Paperbacks retail for $1, hardcovers for $2, and recordings on LP or cassette are free. Staff members add items every day as the library clears its stacks of duplicates. The sale, which kicked off June 5 and draws 50 to 100 visitors daily, runs throughout the summer (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 1:30–4:45 p.m.).


Photo: Get in while the shelves are stacked.

June 23, 2006

Arts alliance


Better known as an avant-garde poet and a ballet dancer, Mark Turbyfill—to whom Poetry magazine devoted an entire issue in 1926, and who in the 1920s and ’30s was a principal dancer with the nation’s first ballet company, Chicago Allied Arts—was also a painter. He viewed the arts as a continuum and sought to give his poems the feeling, he said, “that they were practically three-dimensional instead of a flat thing on a page,” according to an explanatory poster at the Smart Museum, where an exhibit of Turbyfill’s paintings opened last week. The show spans two decades of his career, from the late-1940s to the mid-1960s, when he exhibited work frequently at Chicago galleries and his style evolved from “unsettling Surrealist-inspired figuration” to the abstract. Often giving his paintings evocative titles like Feast at Sunset and Pride of Place, Turbyfill sometimes incorporated text from his writing into the canvas.

Drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, the Smart exhibit runs through September 10.


Images: Mark Turbyfill, Untitled, 1953, Gouache on paperboard. Smart Museum of Art, The Joel Starrels Jr. Memorial Collection (top); Mark Turbyfill, Observation and Non-Identification, 1951, Tempera on paper. Smart Museum of Art, Gift of the artist (bottom).

June 26, 2006

Tut treasure trove

While the Field Museum exhibits the nationally touring King Tut display, the Oriental Institute shows off its own Tutankhamun treasures. On loan from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, 50 photographs by Harry Burton, who was there when Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, hang at the OI through October 8. They document the Valley of the Kings; the tomb's initial discovery; the moment when the excavators first glimpsed the artifacts inside; the burial chamber's entry; the series of shrines and coffins that protected the king; and the mummy, wreathed in floral collars and bedecked with gold jewelry.

Some highlights:

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Photos (left to right): In the tomb's "treasury room," a statue of Anubis, the god of embalming, sits on a portable chest. Behind it is the great gold shrine that contained the king's embalmed viscera.

Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb in 1922, stands over the nest of three coffins positioned over the stone sarcophagus.

The royal mummy's head and shoulders were covered with this gold mask, inlaid with glass and semiprecious stones. In this photograph the false beard and the necklaces have been removed.

The tomb's burial chamber was filled with four nested wood shrines surrounding the sarcophagus. The seals of the third shrine were undisturbed, indicating that the ancient robbers had not reached the king's body.

Photos courtesy the Oriental Institute Museum.

June 28, 2006

Waste not, want not


Department of Visual Arts graduates Sara Black, MFA’06, and John Preus, MFA’05, are building an artists’ collective out of trash. Working with University of Chicago and School of the Art Institute alumni, Black and Preus last year launched Material Exchange, which recycles cast-off materials from museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions and transforms them into tables and chairs, light fixtures, futons, and bookcases. The artists donate the finished products to charitable organizations. “We’re interested in the way materials move through the world,” says Black, “how the value of a thing shifts in varying contexts, and why our culture allows material obsolescence to occur so quickly.”

Based in Hyde Park, Material Exchange grew out of a Smart Museum internship Black did last summer, when Austrian artist collective WochenKlausur held a three-week residency as part of Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art. That exhibit demonstrated the ability to make useful objects from waste materials, and Black and Preus volunteered with the artists to build a table and set of stools for Deborah’s Place, a Chicago women’s shelter. They also helped create two databases: one of local cultural organizations that generate leftover materials and another of charities in need of durable goods.

Last fall the two enlisted local art schools’ help with one of Material Exchange’s first projects. Using leftovers from the $8,000 set of Court Theatre’s production of the August Wilson play Fences, students at the Illinois Institute of Technology built a reading loft and library shelves for Hyde Park’s Chicago Child Care Society.

“Objects and materials have a history that effectively ends when they enter the landfill,” Preus says. “We are certainly interested in reimagining and reusing these materials for environmental and social reasons, but also as a way to investigate questions that revolve around surplus and entropy. What a thing is includes the history of its fabrication and the functions and stories that keep it alive as a vital element in the world.”

Jennifer Carnig

Photos: Illinois Institute of Technology students built a reading loft (top) and library shelves (bottom) for Hyde Park’s Chicago Child Care Society.

June 30, 2006

Child’s play

“It’s amazing what kids will think up to do,” says Melissa Holbert, the Smart Museum’s outreach and education technology coordinator, overseeing the 30 or so youngsters clustered around long tables in the museum’s glass-walled lobby. Armed with scraps of construction paper, scissors, and glue, the kids (and their parents) flexed their creative muscles, designing brightly colored collages at this Wednesday’s Art Afternoon. Each week child artists, ranging from toddlers to grade-schoolers, gather to work on projects—be they painting, puppets, or other paper fun—suggested by Smart staffers. Started in 2001, the free summer program draws an average of 125 kids and parents each week and runs this year through August 30.


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About June 2006

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

May 2006 is the previous archive.

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