The Colgate Scene
May 1999
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People on the go

Michael Neidig '99
A first Churchill
Senior Michael Neidig is the first Colgate student to be awarded the prestigious Churchill Foundation Scholarship for graduate study at Churchill College of Cambridge University.

Neidig, who grew up on a family farm in McAlisterville, PA, is a chemistry major at Colgate and plans to further his bioinorganic research during his year in England.

The Churchill Scholarship was first awarded in 1959 "to enable outstanding American students to do graduate work in engineering, mathematics and science." Applications from only the most highly selective U.S. colleges are considered and applicants must have at least a 3.7 grade point average. This year the foundation awarded but ten scholarships from more than 100 applications.

Neidig will enroll in the masters of philosophy program at Cambridge. He will conduct his research under professor Jeremy Sanders and will be required to write a formal thesis and defend it before a committee of scholars. Neidig plans to study metalloporphyrin. Porphyrins are a type of molecule with four nitrogen atoms that can be bonded with various metal atoms.

"It's very difficult chemistry, but very important chemistry to do," says Professor of Chemistry Peter Sheridan.

"Michael has a spectacular grasp of the material. He's an independent student who is thinking well ahead of the current problem. He's also very unassuming with a wonderful value system." Neidig, who has worked closely with his family since he was a young boy, still goes home when he can to help with the milking and other farm chores.

A member of Colgate's Wales Study Group as a sophomore, Neidig greatly enjoyed studying in Cardiff and developed an affection for the United Kingdom that played a key role in his pursuit of the Churchill.

"I love the UK. The people were friendly and outgoing. The chemistry was great, but the atmosphere was even better."

Neidig has plans to enter Stanford's Ph.D. program when he completes his year at Cambridge.

Michael Neidig takes open delight in his scholarship, but it hasn't affected his outlook.

"I've lived my entire life on the same farm. Doing chores, field work and developing a close relationship with my parents really shaped who I am. Working on the farm has made me appreciate the opportunities school offers.

"The best decision I ever made in my life was coming to Colgate. It feels like home in more ways than one."

Michael A. Hiltzik '73
Hiltzik wins Pulitzer
Michael A. Hiltzik '73 won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting along with fellow Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips. The pair's coverage of corruption in the entertainment industry was recognized by the Pulitzer Prize Board, which announced its winners in April.

LA Times entertainment editor Mark Saylor said the Pulitzer was especially meaningful because it rewarded "aggressive reporting on the hometown industry."

Hiltzik and Philips reported on "a charity sham sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, illegal detoxification programs for wealthy celebrities and a resurgence of radio payola."

With the Times since 1981, Hiltzik has a masters from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In his 18 years with the Times, Hiltzik has worked as a financial and political writer, a foreign correspondent serving in Africa and Russia and as a technology writer and editor. He is the author of two books including Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age, published to widespread critical acclaim this year by HarperCollins.

In the words of publisher Michael Parks, the Pulitzer was "a celebration of hard-nosed reporting."

According to, one set of Hiltzik's and Philips' stories "showed that widely trumpeted charities sponsored by the Grammys and controlled by chief executive C. Michael Greene actually spent only pennies of each dollar on their stated goal of helping infirm, disabled and unemployed musicians.

"Their `Sunday Report' on hotel detoxes -- Westside luxury hotels used for drug `treatment' -- disclosed that one reason powerful figures in the entertainment industry are unable to kick the drug habit is that they rely on untested therapies designed more to gratify their expensive tastes and desire for comfort than to subject them to the grueling regimen of legitimate treatment.

"The reporters' third project in their prize-winning entry exposed the reemergence of payola, illicit payments for radio airplay of new recordings. Payola was outlawed after a series of scandals in the 1960s, but Hiltzik and Philips showed that it had returned under a new guise -- radio conglomerates forcing performers to appear for free at promotional concerts in return for airplay."

Hiltzik had praise for his editor, who "encouraged us to go full-bore every step of the way, delving into organizations that have a lot of influence." JH

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