The Colgate Scene
March 2002

Around the college
Filmmaker Spike Lee spoke to a capacity crowd in Cotterell Court on February 2.
Tenure for six

Six members of the Colgate faculty will receive tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor, effective in July.

Douglas Johnson (psychology) is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis who earned his doctorate in 1992 at The Johns Hopkins University. He came to Colgate in 1996 after spending four years as a postdoctoral fellow at the national institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health. He teaches Introductory Psychology, Quantitative Methods in Behavioral Research and courses in cognitive psychology. He also teaches in the Core Scientific Perspectives program. His research explores the way the mind works, such as how humans selectively attend to important information while ignoring that which is distracting. He is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in journals such as Psychological Science, Human Perception and Performance and Memory and Cognition.

Hélène Julien (French) received her academic degrees from the Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne and Princeton University. At Colgate she teaches French literature and language in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. She has led the Colgate study group in Dijon and has contributed to the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum and the Women's Studies Program. She is the author of "Le Roman de Karin et Paul": le Journal de Catherine Pozzi et les Cahiers de Paul Valéry. She joined the Colgate faculty in 1997, and her research interests include twentieth-century French literature, first-person narratives and literature written by women.

Douglas Johnson Hélène Julien Damhnait McHugh
Douglas Johnson Hélène Julien Damhnait McHugh

Damhnait McHugh (biology) is a graduate of University College Galway, Ireland; she earned her M.Sc. from the University of Victoria and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In her research she takes a comparative approach to studying the life history ecology and evolution of marine worms. In addition to field observations, she uses DNA sequence data in her analyses of population structure; DNA analyses also help her to decipher the evolutionary relationships among worms and other animal groups that arose 600 million years ago. She has won several National Science Foundation grants, is an editor for an international journal, has published numerous articles in highly respected journals and, over the past two years, has been involved in the production of a television series for National Geographic/Sea Studios Foundation called The Shape of Life, which is slated for broadcast this spring.

David Robinson (history) came to Colgate in 1996. He earned his B.A. from Hobart College in 1988 and his Ph.D. in East Asian studies from Princeton University in 1995. His dissertation research considered the roles of violence and banditry in the social structure and political organization of China during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was published as Bandits, Eunuchs, and the Son of Heaven: Rebellion and the Economy of Violence. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities International Postdoctoral Fellowship to support his current research, which focuses on the integration of Manchuria into China during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

David Robinson Daniel Schult Lynette K. Stephenson
David Robinson Daniel Schult Lynette K. Stephenson

Daniel Schult (mathematics) was a Federal Reserve economist before he earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Northwestern University and joined the Colgate faculty in 1996. His research involves the study of complex dynamic behavior and chaotic phenomena. Specifically, he models and describes solutions for combustion in porous media, such as smoke and fire, in the natural world. He has published widely and is the recipient of a prestigious, three-year National Science Foundation grant. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and his masters in economics from Princeton.

Lynette K. Stephenson (art and art history) holds a bachelors degree from Northwestern State University and an M.F.A. from Georgia State University. A painter, she has exhibited her work extensively in the southeastern United States and, more recently, in the northeast. She has traveled as a Fulbright-Hays fellow to Brazil, India and Pakistan and has shown her art in Ghana. Before joining the Colgate faculty in 1998, she was associate professor of art at Jackson State University. She teaches Basic Studio and painting, and she has contributed to the Liberal Arts Core curriculum.

Colgate faculty members who will be promoted from associate to full professor, also effective in July, are: Rebecca Ammerman (classics); Thomas Balonek (physics and astronomy); Timothy Byrnes (political science); Robert Elgie (geography); Jill Harsin (history); Rhonda Levine (sociology and anthropology); Frederick Luciani (Romance languages and literatures); Laura Sanchis (computer science); Contance Soja (geology); and Sarah Wider (English).

Bolland, Vecsey are Dana professors

Nigel Bolland and Christopher Vecsey were appointed to named chairs by vote of the Board of Trustees in January.

Vecsey is Charles A. Dana Professor of the humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. He joined the Colgate faculty in 1982 with degrees from Hunter College (B.A.) and Northwestern University (M.A. and Ph.D.). He taught previously at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Vecsey, who has been humanities division director since 1994, is a specialist in American Indian religions, American religious history and American Indian history. He also has served as philosophy and religion department chair and as director of Colgate's Native American studies program. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, Where the Two Roads Meet, The Paths of Kateri's Kin and On the Padres' Trail, which all concern American Indian Catholics. He is co-editor and co-author of several books, including Iroquois Land Claims and American Indian Environments. He has also written numerous articles for publications such as Commonweal and Christian Century.

Bolland, the Charles A. Dana Professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, has been a member of that faculty since 1972. His teaching specialties are Caribbean social and cultural organizations, colonialism and development and slavery in the Americas. His research on development in Belize, begun in 1970, has resulted in several publications and in opportunities for Colgate students to conduct field research there under his leadership. He also led Colgate's first study group in Trinidad, in 1996. He is the author of several journal articles and of seven books, including The Politics of Labour in the British Caribbean; The Formation of Colonial Society: Belize, from Conquest to Crown Colony; and Struggles for Freedom: Essays on Slavery, Colonialism and Culture in the Caribbean and Central America. He has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and two NEH Summer Fellowships, and he was a member of the executive committee of the Society for Caribbean Studies. He is a graduate of the University of Hull (B.A. and Ph.D.) and McMaster University (M.A.).

Bryce-LaPorte honored

The Caribbean Research Center celebrated the life and work of Roy Bryce-LaPorte, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of sociology and anthropology, emeritus, in November with a symposium in his honor. Zakia Feracho '97 was there and sent these details to the Scene.

"History and Future of Caribbean Migration" attracted more than 100 participants to the campus of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, where the center is located. Colleagues including Prof. Nigel Bolland (sociology and anthropology) paid tribute to Bryce-LaPorte as teacher, colleague, scholar and administrator and as a pioneer and preeminent scholar of migration and the Caribbean diaspora. He received a Lifetime Award and Medal of Honor from the research center. In a letter read by Bolland, Interim President Jane Pinchin wrote: "Roy Bryce-LaPorte is, by now, an institutional legend, a man of large proportions -- wise, deeply kind and the very best of company. Students adore him, as do his colleagues, among whom I am honored to be one."

New grants aid Asian studies, service learning, residential life

The Freeman Foundation has awarded Colgate $740,000 as part of the foundation's Undergraduate Asian Studies Funding Initiative. The grant will allow Colgate to expand the study of Asia to new areas of the curriculum, create new opportunities for study and research in East and Southeast Asia, and build cross-cultural perspectives within the Asian studies program.

Colgate has a long history of involvement in Asian studies. It began offering an interdisciplinary major in the subject in 1976, and today, the program encompasses more than 50 courses taught by faculty from academic departments across the university. In addition, Asian studies have long been a part of Colgate's well-regarded study abroad program. Colgate students and faculty participate in study groups to Japan, India and China.

The Freeman Foundation grant is the second major award for Asian studies in the past year. The prior grant, from The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., provided funds for Colgate to establish a new junior faculty position in Chinese language and culture.

Colgate also has received fund-ing from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for programs designed to promote service learning and to enhance residential life. The two-year grant totals $180,000.

Part of the Mellon grant will support the activities of Colgate's Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (the Cove), which fosters both student community volunteer work and curriculum-based service learning. The Cove, established in the summer of 2001, supports Colgate's service learning initiatives, in which students engage in community service related to their academic coursework. In addition to general support of the Cove, the Mellon grant will provide funds for faculty to develop service learning courses; for a service learning internship program; and for a staff member to help develop programs in career services focused on the public and nonprofit sectors.

The remainder of the grant will allow Colgate to investigate new models for residential life on its campus, with the goals of fostering community among students and increasing faculty involvement in residential life.

Bill Bradley
Expect -- and prepare for -- the unexpected, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley told his Colgate audience.

Calling his 2000 campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination "unabashedly idealistic," former United States Senator Bill Bradley told a to-the-rafters crowd in the Chapel last month that the ideals he stands for are more important than ever. His lecture, "America: the Path Ahead," was sponsored by the Office of the President.

"Thirteen million kids live in poverty in this country, more than all the people who live in New York City and Los Angeles. If those children were all in one place, would we turn our back on them? No. We turn away because we choose not to see it," Bradley said.

The twentieth century saw the kind of changes that could not be predicted even a few years before they occurred, Bradley said, and there is no reason to expect that the pace of chance will falter soon. So, he said, "the question is, how do we cope with change?" The answer is to be prepared for change by understanding the forces that drive it.

He cited globalization of markets, worldwide population growth (there are one billion more people on Earth than there were a decade ago), the movement of people and ideas across borders, the increasingly pluralistic U.S. population and the continuing evolution of technology as factors to watch. For instance, Bradley said, the Social Security system's predictions for the future are premised on an average life expectancy of 77 years. If biotechnology provided a breakthrough that added years to our life expectancy, current calculations "would be out the window," he said. "What you think will never change could change tomorrow."

But Bradley said uncertainty about what is to come is no reason for today's college students to feel paralyzed or apathetic. "All of the rich experiences of life -- getting married, having kids, making friends -- can take place at the same time you have the awareness that it's an insecure world," he said. "My generation [during the Cold War] knew that we could be incinerated tomorrow. We have managed to have rich experiences."

Bradley said he thinks Americans hunger for leadership that springs from core convictions. At a time when political activism on campuses has never been lower and community activism never higher, Bradley said, it's clear that "one person can make a difference in another person's life."

"You don't have to be a senator, a member of congress, or the president," Bradley said, though a dislike of politics "doesn't let you off the hook" as far as voting goes. He urged students to become involved in their communities, since civil society, government and the private sector form the three-legged stool on which the nation sits. More community service would "make our democracy more accountable and our communities better, with each of us having a deeper commitment," he said.

Mel Watkins
A talk by Mel Watkins '62 capped Colgate's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
King for a day

Colgate celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 21 with a student presentation in the Chapel, nearly two dozen faculty- and staff-led workshops and an evening speech by Mel Watkins '62.

At the noon observance, Desmond Alexander '03 read King's "I Have a Dream" speech, those assembled sang "We Shall Overcome" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and students from each class spoke about what King meant to them. "His words remind us that injustice to some is injustice to all," said Antoine Bartholomew '04. We should, he added, "remember not only the man but the philosophy, not only today but every day."

Colgate professors and administrators led discussions in the afternoon on historical and contemporary issues related to King, civil rights and racial and ethnic relations. It was intended as the first of a regular series of workshops to be held on the holiday in the future.

That evening, in a speech titled "Dancing with Strangers, Then and Now," writer, editor and social commentator Watkins spoke about his years at Colgate and about his career, which has focused on the fact that "black life is as infused with wisdom as any other."

"The intellectual and cultural arena is one of the last bastions of prejudice and bigotry in our nation," he said, calling on students to take on that issue "with the wisdom of King and the pride of Malcolm X."

Watkins read from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," which the civil rights leader wrote in 1963. The letter was a response to criticism from fellow clergy who accused him of causing the violence unleashed on peaceful protestors by the Birmingham police and of being an extremist.

Watkins quoted: "'The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?'"

"There is room for improvement," Watkins said, "and at every conflict we should continue to ask ourselves, `What kind of extremists will we be?' That's the best way to remember Martin Luther King."

In it together

When it comes to bioterrorism or infectious disease, it's a small world -- and getting smaller. That was the message delivered by Newsday reporter Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, to a Love Auditorium audience last month.

President George Bush's proposed FY2003 budget included a 300 percent increase in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health for the fight against bioterrorism -- prompted by last year's anthrax scare. Unfortunately, Garrett said, the CDC's non-bioterrorism budget would be cut by $340 million and its infectious disease budget by $10 million. "That's astonishing," she said, "since most diseases that could be used in bioterrorism are infectious."

Garrett said that because public health systems are no longer a priority in most of the world and because global travel has become common, epidemics caused by whatever means could devastate any exposed population. "No place, from a microbial point of view, is an island," she said.

Citing the enormous manpower and financial outlays brought to bear on the anthrax threat, she said, "Anthrax is peanuts. Anthrax is nothing. Anthrax is not contagious."

"No one unleashed something that could spread from person to person," Garrett said. "If that happened, the scale would be much larger than anything we've dealt with so far."

The CDC conducted a survey recently to predict the results of widespread exposure to a deadly infectious agent. They concluded, Garrett said, that if 100,000 people were exposed and in the unlikely event that all of them could be put on antibiotics within 24 hours, 5,000 people would die and $128 million would be expended in costs associated with the outbreak. In a much more likely scenario -- the disease going undetected until the first symptoms appeared six days after exposure -- there would be 35,000 deaths and a $26.2 billion price tag.

"Politicians want a quick-fix solution with single-time funding," Garrett said. "We need a public health infrastructure." She noted that in 1947, when a Mexican tourist brought smallpox to New York City, the public health system was able to recruit the help of police, churches, school organizations and others to mount an effort to vaccinate 6.5 million people in 60 days.

"We could not do that today," she said, noting that administering the smallpox vaccine requires a needle with a unique design and persons trained in the complex process of using that needle. In addition, she said, for the vaccine to halt an epidemic, 90 percent of the affected population would have to be inoculated -- and people today are far more likely than they were in 1947 to refuse vaccination.

Garrett's report on the worldwide effects of HIV/AIDS was much more grim. "HIV is a test of our humanity," she said, looking out over her audience of mostly 18- to 22-year-olds. "If you were a teenager in sub-Saharan Africa today, your lifetime risk of dying of HIV would be sixty percent." She added that unless a cure is found, it is estimated that by 2020, 6.4 million people will die of HIV annually.

Stuligross receives dissertation award

David Stuligross (peace studies) has been named Sardar Patel Scholar by the Friends of Sardar Patel Award Foundation. He is the second person so honored. The award, which comes with a $10,000 prize, recognizes the "best dissertation, in any discipline, on modern India." It is adjudicated by a group of UCLA scholars who specialize in the study of south Asia. Stuligross received the award at a gala gathering in Los Angeles; guests included India's west coast consul general, H.S. Vishwanathan and Congressman Xavier Becerra. His dissertation, titled "A Piece of Land to Call One's Own: Federalism and Institutional Innovation in India," was written at UC-Berkeley. The award is named for the former deputy prime minister who organized the sprawling political structures of India into a system of federal states.

Governor's award for music society

The Syracuse-based Society for New Music has received a 2001 New York State Governor's Arts Award. Neva Pilgrim (artist-in-residence, voice) is among the society's founding members. The society was honored as "a catalyst for the continued active growth of the central New York musical community. The society commissions at least one new work each season by a central New York composer and features these composers in several premieres each season." Other honorees included filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, the Museum of Modern Art and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Top of page
Table of contents
<< Previous: People on the go Next: View the right thing >>