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July 2006 Archives

July 3, 2006

We the people


This year the Law School offers Fourth of July revelers weary of barbeques and fireworks some patriotic reflection via the faculty blog. Visitors can check out a recording of professor emeritus David Currie, AB'57, reading the entire text of the United States Constitution—believed to be “the first free Web-based audio version” of the document. A constitutional law scholar who retired in June after 44 years at Chicago, Currie is also an actor and has been part of the University’s Gilbert and Sullivan troupe for more than 40 years. The reading was taped at Chicago’s campus radio station WHPK this past spring and can be listened to in its entirety or by section. Back in June, each 2006 Law School graduate received a copy of the recording loaded onto a USB flash drive. For everyone else, a quick download does the trick.


Photo: David P. Currie, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus.

July 5, 2006

Patriotism measured


As the blasts of Independence Day fireworks fade from memory, the U of C's National Opinion Research Center (NORC) shares news that U.S. and Canadian citizens are among the most patriotic people in the world—for different reasons.

In a recent NORC survey (.pdf) of people in 34 countries, Americans ranked highest in pride for the country's democratic system, political influence in the world, economy, science and technology achievements, and military. They ranked relatively low regarding the U.S. social-security system (12th) and sports (9th). Canadians ranked higher in pride for their social-security system (5th) and their treatment of different groups within their society (2nd) than on any other dimensions. They ranked relatively low in their pride for their sports (18th), arts and literature (16th), military (11th), and history (11th).

When asked if they would rather be a citizen of their country than any other in the world, people in the United States were first, with 75 percent strongly agreeing with the statement. The Canadians were sixth, with 56 percent strongly agreeing.

The survey was carried out by the International Social Survey Program.

Bill Harms

Photo by Dan Dry

July 7, 2006

Sports knockout

In the fall, the field behind Henry Crown Field House fills with football players practicing tackles and running sprints under head football coach Dick Maloney. This past Friday Coach Maloney was on the field, but he wasn’t giving instructions to big guys with shoulder pads. Instead he was giving water bottles to kindergarteners at a cookout for the U of C’s Super Summer Sports Camp. University coaches like Maloney make up the staff, while varsity athletes serve as counselors.

On the football field, the kids thought over their first three weeks of camp. Asked their favorite sports, one boy nodded earnestly, his mouth too full of hamburger to speak, as a friend rattled off every game from floor hockey to dodgeball. “My favorite sport is baseball,” a kid with big eyes and a red cap interrupted. “I’m great at first base.”

Meanwhile, third- and fourth-graders practiced their strokes in the pool at Ratner Athletics Center, working to earn diving-board privileges. Afterward they formed a ragged line and wove toward the field house for basketball, chattering about World Cup Soccer. The campers begged counselor and track athlete Emily Sayer, ’07, to play Knockout. “I’m about on par with the third- and fourth-graders,” she joked.

More than 200 kids aged six to 16 will be in the pool, on the courts, or on the fields behind Ratner and Crown through July 28. Next week: archery.

Jenny Fisher, ’07

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Photos (left to right): Seventh-graders wait to bat; a boy tosses his bat to run the bases; kindergarteners enjoy a cookout.

July 12, 2006

Of friends and football


As millions of soccer fans crowded around their televisions Sunday afternoon for the 2006 Fifa World Cup final match between France and Italy, Hyde Park stirred with its own share of football craze.

Fans packed a Subway restaurant at 57th Street and Harper Avenue screening the game via satellite, enticing passers-by to stop in and catch a few minutes of the game. Loud waves of “oohs” met each nearly missed goal, and patrons applauded each team’s star players.

Two floors above, the mood was just as electric in the apartment of undergraduates Rob Law and Sarah Cohan, where a group of about ten friends gathered to watch the game. “Football is my new religion,” said Cohan, a rising fourth-year and recent convert to the sport. “I always watch all the World Cups,” said Law, a rising third-year in the College, making his loyalties clear with an Italian team shirt. “I’ve always been a fan.” Most of the friends shared his allegiance. “There is one person here for France,” Law said, “but we’re all having fun.”

When France’s Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest with only ten minutes left in overtime, the friends quickly quieted each other down to find out exactly what had happened. Words like “shocked” and “surprised” circulated. “He’s not thinking about his team,” said Cohan after watching several slow-motion replays of the incident.

When the Italians emerged victorious after winning the penalty shootout 5-3, the delighted revelers headed downtown to cap off the evening. Fresh off the train, they ran into a crowd of elated Italians, waving their country’s flag down the sidewalk. “Come to Millenium Park with us to celebrate,” an Italian fan urged. But exhausted from an afternoon with friends, football, and nothing but finger food, the Hyde Park group opted for dinner—at a small Italian place—instead.

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: College students Sarah Cohan and Rob Law react during Sunday's game.

July 14, 2006

Material musings

“My problem here is that I want to touch everything,” said Dilshanie Perera, ’07, at the July 9 opening reception for Material Science. Soda and pretzels accompanied the first exhibition of works by Hyde Park Art Center faculty in the center’s new building, where college students, residents, and featured artists snacked and surveyed the show. Perera was drawn to Darrell Roberts’s untitled painting; he created a mossy look by slathering bright green pumice over thick layers of paint.

Visitors trickled in from the oppressive heat to the cool and cavernous entry hall, where Holly Cahill talked about her inspirations. In her modular painting, Undoing Mountain Building, Cahill evoked the dips and undulations of mountains and rivers as if seen from an airplane window. Having moved from Kentucky to Chicago, she said she now looks at books on Montana for ideas, but also studies cracks in the sidewalk and the way ice freezes along Lake Michigan.

In the main hallway, Linda Cohn interrupted a chat with friends to discuss the creative process behind her collage series a Patriot acts, begun as an attempt to “express a concept of loss, disenchantment, and hope” with the war in Iraq. Inspired by the story of original American flag seamstress Betsy Ross, Cohn stitched red, white, and blue embroidery onto her collages. “Sewing,” says Cohn, “is a subtle way of screaming.”

The artwork in Material Science, open through July 23, spans genres from metalwork to installation, and the themes are just as broad. Other contributors include Sarah Kaiser, MFA’03, and Dawn Brennan, AB’80, MFA’02.

Jenny Fisher, ’07

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Photos (left to right): Viewers gather in the HPAC hallway; Linda Cohn, And Crown Thy Good, 2004-06; Sarah Kaiser, MFA'03, Alice, 2005.

July 17, 2006

Law review


In the lobby of the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum downtown, about 60 people took their seats Thursday evening for a discussion with U of C Law professors Geoffrey Stone, JD’71, and Richard Epstein. The program involved a broad discussion of the John Roberts-led Supreme Court and more specific reflections on some of the 100-plus cases heard in the last year. “We have an extraordinarily conservative Supreme Court,” Stone said—despite, he conceded, what some feel are politically balanced outcomes decided by a 5–4 vote.

Epstein saw the Court’s future differently. “It’s a court that’s going to move further to the left,” he said, referring to the influential role of liberal Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy, Stone agreed, “is a coalition builder.”

Stone and Epstein discussed one of the year’s most controversial cases, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (.pdf), in which the court ruled that President Bush’s military commissions to try Guantanamo Bay detainees were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. The case was so important, Stone said, because the Bush administration’s use of “secret evidence to prosecute” detainees “was never before done in Anglo-American law.”

While taking several questions from the audience, Stone and Epstein discussed the Supreme Court’s decisions on affirmative action, eminent domain, and gay marriage. “Gay marriage is going to be accepted in the U.S. in the not too distant future,” Stone predicted. “It’s just a matter of when.”

Drawing laughter after a relatively serious discussion, Epstein commended the audience for its interest and attentiveness. “These are issues,” he admitted, “that put most people to sleep when you talk about them.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: Stone and Epstein discuss the Supreme Court at the Freedom Museum.

July 19, 2006

Fast times at Ratner Center

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The Ratner pool echoed with cheering and clapping from the packed stands Sunday morning as swimmers stepped up to the blocks in the seventh Gay Games Sports and Cultural Festival. The games are open to anyone, so amateur swimmers raced alongside pros like Audy Oktavian, who placed second in the 2000 Olympic trials and swam the second lap of Sunday's 200-meter medley relay for the New England Masters swim club.

Ben Thompson, a third-year PhD/MD student in the U of C’s Medical Scientist Training Program, was one of several volunteers checking in competitors and spectators. In a Tribune interview, he captured the atmosphere: “It’s like a giant week-long sports party,” he said. “We’re trying to pack in as much as we can.”

Later the swimmers clustered around the results sheets taped up in Ratner. Oktavian’s relay team posted the best time among the men, with all four swimmers finishing in one minute 47.27 seconds. Oktavian also triumphed in his solo event, swimming the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.68 seconds. Although younger swimmers often had the best times, there were exceptions. Maria Anderson, 43, clinched the women’s 100-meter freestyle, finishing in one minute 50 seconds.

Swimming continues all week, with the longest event, the 1,500-meter freestyle, scheduled for Friday afternoon. The All Styles Martial Arts Tournament began Tuesday at Ratner and continues through Thursday. Wednesday’s martial-arts events include weapons forms, empty hand forms, musical forms, and sparring.

Jenny Fisher, ’07

Photo: The crowd circles the pool between races (top). Swimmers mill about before the medley relays (bottom).

July 21, 2006

Resetting the molds

In the dank basement of Rockefeller Chapel, Moses, Plato, and the angel Michael lean against the walls, covered in soot. The 80-year-old plaster molds, commissioned by the chapel’s founders, were models for the final limestone statues that adorn the church’s Gothic façade.

“A mold was used to get the idea from paper to something physical, something three-dimensional,” says Lorraine Brochu, AM’88, assistant to the dean of the chapel. Designed by artists Ulric Ellerhusen and Lee Lawrie, known for his Atlas statue in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, the figures were sent between 1910 and 1920 to an Indiana limestone quarry, where artisans used them as blueprints for carving. Once the stone statues were hoisted upon the chapel, the University gave some of the molds away but stashed the rest in the basement, according to documents chapel intern Tera Ellefson, ’07, found in the Regenstein Library.

For years the molds remained unattended, collecting dirt and deteriorating from damage done by vandals and extreme heat and cold. While some maintain the most intricate details of the artists’ original work, most of the roughly 70 statues are too cracked and fragile for anyone to handle safely.

Plans to conserve the statues emerged after the chapel opened a basement interfaith center this past spring. Once preserved, Rockefeller will showcase the molds in the interfaith-center lobby. “We thought we’d choose three representative figures for the display,” Ellefson said. The chapel has selected Amos, an Old Testament Jewish prophet; Zoroaster, an ancient Iranian prophet; and Saint Francis of Assisi, the medieval Catholic patron saint of Italy, as the first statues to undergo preservation. Wisconsin-based Conrad Schmitt Studios will conserve the statues, which will be stored permanently in an improved basement storage space.

With limited funds from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial endowment, the statues will be fixed a few at a time, Brochu said. “Unless we get a huge hunk of money, it will take years,” she said. “We’re hoping for six statues a year, three at a time.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

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Photos (left to right): The molds lean against Rockefeller's basement walls; some are missing eyes, and all are covered in soot; masking tape identifies some statues.

Photos by Dan Dry.

July 24, 2006

Center of diversity


The University has entered a new phase in its plans to build a home for the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA), the Amandla Center, and a resource center for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer (LGBTQ) community. As part of the process to renovate the groups’ new space at 5710 South Woodlawn Avenue, the University and architects from Urban Works will launch a blog to keep students updated on the project and to encourage student, faculty, and community participation in the final design.

“Student input is crucial,” says Bill Michel, AB’92, assistant vice president for student life in the University and associate dean of the College. “This will really bring together spaces for student groups, and we hope it will be a resource for students as well as the Hyde Park community.”

Urban Works Architects, the firm heading the roughly $1 million renovation and addition, proposed the blog idea, says Michel, based on previous success with blogs it had created for similar community-based projects. As a space for posting and sharing feedback, the blog will reflect similar student-input initiatives, Michel added, such as open meetings held while planning the new dorm south of the Midway Plaisance.

The plans to consolidate the Harper-based Amandla Center, the Administration Building–based OMSA office, and a new LGBTQ resource center call for a completed design by early fall and construction to begin early this winter. The groups hope to open their doors by the start of the 2007–08 academic year.

Michel looks forward to the blog’s launch, expected in the next few weeks. As he puts it, “We will begin to create a real sense of bringing students together to learn from each other.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: The new center will be housed at 5710 South Woodlawn, currently home to the Publications and Training & Development offices.

July 26, 2006

Summer service


In a half-refurbished building at 6100 South Blackstone Avenue, intern Sofia Narvaez-Gete, ’07, separates good bicycles from bad at Blackstone Bicycle Works, which plans to reopen this month after a fire devastated the site in 2001. Once the shop opens, Narvaez-Gete, who’s also designing a curriculum, will help teach kids age 8 through 18 business, math, and language skills as they learn how to fix bikes. Working 25 hours at the shop earns each youth a bike.

She got this internship through Summer Links, a program the University Community Service Center (UCSC) runs matching undergrads and grad students with community organizations for the summer. The Office of the Dean of the College provides a $4,000 stipend on behalf of the cash-strapped organizations.

While Narvaez-Gete researches business-education models for children and adjusts brakes and spokes on donated bicycles, other Summer Links interns work on refugee resettlement at World Relief and the Heartland Alliance or help out behind the scenes of Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic and Stroger Hospital. “We have internships all over the world. We could benefit from some in our community,” says David Hays, assistant director of UCSC. “You don’t need to go to India to learn about poverty.”

After ten years, Summer Links has placed 300 volunteers in the 11-week program, working more than 3,000 hours. Over the years, Hays says, he’s seen relations between the community and the University improve. The internship opened Narvaez-Gete’s eyes to the development going on in Woodlawn, from Blackstone Bicycle Works to a renovated 1920s ballroom at 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. “I’ve seen that there are people who are trying to bring the community forward.”

Jenny Fisher, ’07

Photo: Intern Sofia Narvaez-Gete fixes bikes and teaches kids at Blackstone Bicycle Works.

Photo by Dan Dry

July 28, 2006

Creative intelligence


A hot and rainy Thursday evening did little to hamper turnout at the fifth annual student reading of creative writing at Hyde Park’s 57th Street Books. Part of the University of Chicago Graham School’s Insight summer programs for high-school students, the session concluded a three-week course on fiction writing and the creative process. About 20 friends and family members attended the hour-long event, where students read short stories they had developed during the course.

In open-mic style, high schoolers from Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York, and California read pieces both serious and satirical, with themes that included death, insomnia, anorexia, and adolescent angst. “My mother always said silence was a killer,” began 17-year-old Jesse Glaze’s fictional story about a brother’s death and the family’s grief. “But silence was easier than confrontation.” “The boss had impeccable aim, so as to only hit the face and nothing else,” read senior Briana Finegan, whose dark comedy portrayed a ruthless young boss heaving coffee at her intern’s face. “The second-degree burns didn’t matter to her, but getting stains on a shirt was too low a blow.”

“This class was jam-packed with ridiculously talented kids,” said course lecturer Achy Obejas, a novelist and Chicago Tribune culture writer. “What they don’t have at the beginning of the class are specific craft tools like critical vocabulary to make a story really good, but that’s what we work on, day-in and day-out, over these three weeks.”

During the course Obejas gave the students an insider field trip to her Tribune stomping grounds, emphasizing the hands-on approach of the writing process. “In learning to write, you can’t just say, ‘You need to add conflict to this part of the story,’” she said. “It’s about explaining exactly what conflict is. And that’s not what you get in high school.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photos: Budding writers read their original fiction at 57th Street Books.

July 31, 2006

Pageants with a purpose

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Hundreds of fans packed Stratford Square Mall in suburban Bloomingdale this weekend for a chance to meet the next Miss Illinois, and the University of Chicago was well represented. Valerie Lynch, a third-year in the Law School, was one of 21 women competing for the 2006 Miss Illinois crown, a preliminary round of the Miss America competition.

“Everyone’s been extremely supportive and fascinated by all this,” Lynch said during the lunchtime autograph session before Saturday’s final event. “It’s been a nice outlet, especially being at the Law School.”

Lynch is no stranger to the pageant scene. Originally interested in pageantry as a “great way to win scholarships,” she was crowned Miss Orlando during her senior year at the University of Florida in 2003, and she earned Miss DuPage County honors last year. Lynch said she has won $35,000 in scholarships over the past four years (the Miss Illinois pageant carried a pooled $20,000 scholarship prize for the top five contestants).

Lynch emphasized the need to look beyond the competition’s glitz and glamour. At the Law School and as her pageant platform, she is an advocate for mental health. Lynch is part of the Mental Health Advocacy Project, a program in the Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, founded in 1957 to provide legal services to underserved populations on Chicago’s South Side. She has worked with Law School professors to enact legislation to keep new federal Medicaid dollars in the community mental-health system.

“We’re working to illustrate that Illinois has got an F-rating from the National Institute of Mental Health, and we need these funds to provide higher-quality services to people afflicted with these illnesses,” she said, adding that a close family member suffers from bipolar disorder. “The Mental Health Project was one of the reasons I chose the Law School.”

Although Lynch placed in the top ten finalists later that evening, her name was not called as Miss Illinois 2006, so it was back to the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs, where she will complete her work as a summer associate before returning to Hyde Park for autumn quarter.

During her autograph session, she reflected on the hectic schedule ahead. “What girl doesn’t like to be in the mall?” she joked. “It’s much better than the library, that’s for sure.”

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Signature smile: Law student/tiara wearer Valerie Lynch signs autographs and shows her pearly whites for fans after the Miss Illinois pageant.

About July 2006

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

June 2006 is the previous archive.

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

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