Fred Venne on the Warm Winter
Springfield (MA) television station WWLP-22 spoke with Fred Venne, educator at the Beneski Museum of Natural History, for his perspective on the warm winter we just experienced. He wouldn't call this a shift in the climate but rather an extreme temperature change that will continue into the summer months:
"Heading into the summer with a very dry potential we don't have a lot of water retained, we have no snowfall, we are going to have a fairly dry start to the summer. Whether or not they are going to bring in more rain, it's going to be that jet stream and how the oceans impact the jet stream,” he said.
Stavans on Hispanics, Native Countries, and George Zimmerman
The Associated Press recently spoke with Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, for a story about a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center, which concluded that a majority of Hispanics prefer to identify themselves according to their families’ countries of origin, rather than by the government’s suggested terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.” Stavans, who explores the complexities of Hispanic identity in his recent book What Is la Hispanidad? cited the confusion over the ethnic identity of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February. Police and early media reports described Zimmerman as white, but Zimmerman’s mother is Hispanic, which his defenders cited when called to answer allegations of racial profiling.
“It seems to me that the whole identity of George Zimmerman is really an expression how modern individual American identity has all these many facets. If I were to say where he belongs, I’d say he belongs right at the center of where America is today,” Stavans said.
“A New Test of Leadership”—Chronicle of Higher Ed Profiles Biddy Martin
Amherst College President Biddy Martin was recently the subject of an exhaustive front page profile in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece, a thorough and balanced account of her transition from the University of Wisconsin at Madison to Amherst, was the result of Amherst College providing reporter Jack Stripling with access to the college and its inner workings, including a meeting of the Committee of Six.
Podcast interview with reporter Jack Stripling
Douglas on the Death of Demjanjuk
Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, spoke with the Reuters news service and subsequently wrote a March 20 piece for Salon.com about the recent death of John Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. engine mechanic convicted in 2011 for his role in killing 28,000 Jews as a guard at a Nazi death camp during World War Two. "His passing brings us closer to the day when the Holocaust moves from lived memory of survivors and perpetrators into history," Douglas told Reuters. "That one of the last trials (linked to the Nazi era) involved such a minor figure in no way detracts from the justice of the case.” Douglas concluded in the Salon.com article, “That this era should end not with a Goering or an Eichmann or even a Barbie in the dock is less ironic than it is fitting. The Holocaust was not accomplished through the acts of Nazi statesmen, SS bureaucrats and Gestapo henchmen alone. It was made possible by the Demjanjuks of the world, the thousands of lowly foot soldiers of genocide.”
Everybody Has a Story
Everybody Has a Story Week was the subject of a March 16 article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette and March 23 editorial in the Amherst Bulletin. "The whole point is to build relationships and have meaningful conversations," said Director of Religious Life Paul Sorrentino. Paul chairs the Interfaith and Community Challenge Committee, which set out to get people who normally don’t socialize with one another to connect. “This is a campaign with a head and a heart,” the Bulletin editor wrote, “It understands that until people with different views understand one another and respect their differences, their best work together will remain undone.”
Leise: Stay in the Dark to Fight Jet Lag
Tanya Leise, assistant professor of mathematics, recently recorded an Academic Minute segment for Inside Higher Ed on the biology of jet lag. “Research conducted by my colleagues and me has found that travelers can avoid the dreaded jet lag by going to bed at the right time for the new time zone, and sleeping in a very dark room,” said Leise, whose research interests includes biologic clocks. “For those flying east and crossing five or six time zones, delaying exposure to light until mid-morning on the first day in the new time zone is one of the most effective measures in terms shifting the internal clock in the right direction,” she said.
Plumer on the Shortage of Women Hockey Coaches
The New York Times spoke with coach Jim Plumer for a March 17 article about the declining number of women who choose to coach college hockey. “People get in and see what’s involved,” he said. “They say: ‘I want to do this. I’m passionate about this. But I want a family. I’m in a relationship that’s important to me. It might take me 10 or 15 years to become a head coach, and the money isn’t that great. That doesn’t feel all that appealing to me. And I don’t want to move two or three times.’…I can’t blame them. That’s a legitimate reason for someone to say, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ It’s no one’s fault.”
Pritchard Reviews Begley's Latest Novel
In the Boston Globe, English professor William H. Pritchard reviewed Louis Begley's new novel, Schmidt Steps Back: “The most lively pages are ones [Schmidt’s] animus against the trendy, the petty, and the self-righteous are given full rein. His irascibility, at times directed against himself, represents the other side of an embrace of positive things - like imagination, love, irony, the occasional double bourbon, and the novels of Trollope. One feels these are qualities and pleasures that, like his protagonist, Louis Begley finds sustaining and around which he has woven an appealing novel.”
Parker: Best Students Want Diversity
Thomas H. Parker, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, was quoted in recent press accounts decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case which would revisit the use affirmative action in college admissions. Educators are concerned that the court could possibly undo the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case which allowed colleges to assure diversity by taking race into account when enrolling students.
Parker told the New York Times, “Nine years, when you’re talking about a decision of this magnitude, it really took me aback. What happens with the next president, the next Supreme Court appointee? Do we revisit it again, so that higher education is zigging and zagging? If the court says that any consideration of race whatsoever is prohibited, then we’re in a real pickle. Bright kids have no interest in homogeneity. They find it creepy.”
“What happens if the swing vote changes in six or seven years? Do we revisit it again? This is not a way to establish law,’’ he told the Boston Globe.
Billy McBride on Paintings of the Negro Baseball Leagues
Billy McBride, Assistant Athletic Director-Diversity and Inclusion, spoke with Springfield’s WGGB-TV for a piece on the history of negro league baseball, currently the subject of an exhibit of paintings by Kadir Nelson at the Eric Carle Museum. McBride said, “I can appreciate how [Nelson] captured the essence of our history, of things that went before that a lot of the time you simply don’t know…There is a history, there is a strong history of Black Americans, of African Americans in this country who have done great things. But a lot of our children and a lot of our colleagues don’t know.”