Vol. 4, No. 1 - October 27, 2004

Columbia Scholar to Lecture on Celestial Iconography

George Saliba, a professor of Arabic and Islamic science in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, will discuss "Reaching for the Skies: Between Greek and Arabic Celestial Iconography" at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Payne Room of the Tang Museum.

Free and open to all, the talk coincides with the current Tang exhibition, A Very Liquid Heaven. Saliba will address the interplay between Greek and Arabic interpretations of the stars, with an emphasis on the 10th-century Sufi Atlas. Saliba works in the general area of history of Arabic science, with a special interest in the history of Arabic astronomy and the development of planetary theories in medieval Islamic times.

An internationally renowned scholar, Saliba is the author of numerous publications, including A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories During the Golden Age of Islam; "Arabic Planetary Theories After the Eleventh Century AD," in Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science; A Thirteenth-Century Reform of Ptolemaic Astronomy; The Crisis of The Abbasid Caliphate; and more recently an Arabic book on the Origin and Development of Arabic Scientific Thought (1998) and an article on "Greek Astronomy and the Medieval Arabic Tradition," in the July-August 2002 edition of American Scientist.

He last was at Skidmore in March, when he was Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Fellow. Saliba's upcoming talk is sponsored by the campus chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the Tang Museum, the Dean of the Faculty's Office and the departments of physics and philosophy and religion.

Hrbek Reading Announced

Writer-in-Residence Greg Hrbek, author of The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly, will give a reading at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in Davis Auditorium of Palamountain Hall. Admission is free and open to all.

A Skidmore faculty member for the past three years, Hrbek previously taught at Princeton and Vassar. He earned a B.A. degree at Vassar and an M.F.A. degree at the University of Iowa.

His received an Iowa Arts Fellowship from the University of Iowa and an Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton. He also received the James A. Michener Fellowship from the James A. Michener/Copernicus Society of America, and the James Jones Literary Society's First Novel Fellowship Award.

Hrbek's most recent story, "frannycam.net/diary," was published in the Winter-Spring 2004 edition of Salmagundi. An earlier short story, "Green World" originally published in Harper's in 1999, was short-listed for the 2000 O. Henry Prize Stories Anthology. It also was a finalist in fiction for the 2000 National Magazine Awards sponsored by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Of The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly, Hrbek's first novel, Publisher's Weekly wrote, "well worth the read." And Diane Cole commented in The New York Times Book Review, "Hrbek writes with an appealing lyricism."

Phillips Receives Keck Foundation Grant

Associate Professor of Psychology Flip Phillips received a $12,000 grant from the Keck Foundation to develop a series of courses for a program titled Computational Science Across the Curriculum, organized by Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Capital University has established the Keck Undergraduate Computational Science Educational Consortium. Due to Phillips's involvement, Skidmore is one of 10 schools in the consortium developing and implementing educational materials for an undergraduate curriculum in computational science — a field that integrates computing, mathematical modeling, and visualization to solve problems in physical, natural, behavioral, and social sciences, as well as finance and engineering. Because of its location at the intersection of mathematics, computer science, and science, the field enhances the development of scientific knowledge.

Phillips designed a module in the section on Computational Neuroscience and Psychology, where students explore different but related problems in neuroscience and psychology. His module, Artificial Neural Networks, introduces the student to the mathematical foundation, biological foundation, structure and function of artificial neural networks.

Courses in the Computational Science Across the Curriculum-Keck Project are available to anyone, anywhere. Phillips will use some elements of the module that he developed in his Skidmore neuroscience courses. For more information on the CSAC-Keck Project, visit the Capital University web site.

Segrave Accepts Smithsonian Invitation

Jeffrey O. Segrave, professor of exercise science and athletics director, has been invited by the Smithsonian Institution to serve as one of a handful of expert speakers for a new exhibit from the National Museum of American History titled "Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers."

The exhibit, which will travel across America over the next two years, portrays athletes from more than a dozen sports, focusing on their participation in significant events and the social contexts that influenced them. Spotlighting artifacts from the Smithsonian's sports collection, the exhibition will depict pioneering men and women who dominated their sports; championed their country, race, or sex; and helped others to achieve. On and off the playing field, these athletes broke records for themselves and shattered many barriers — physical, social, psychological, and cultural.

Segrave will be available to lecture at museums where the exhibition is being shown and at the Smithsonian itself. His expertise on the Olympics is especially welcome in this context, according to the Smithsonian, because "Olympians never fail to inspire and break barriers for women, ethnic groups, and impoverished nations."

Read more about the exhibition

Benefits Fair Set for Nov. 9

The annual Employee Benefits Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Sports and Recreation Center. All employees are welcome.

The event is taking place during the annual benefits open enrollment period (Nov. 4-30) to help employees obtain the information they need to assist in making benefits choices for the coming year. Benefits representatives for all of Skidmore's programs will attend. Other fair attractions include free massages, a free blood pressure clinic, and healthy snacks from Food Service vendors. In addition, more than 25 prizes will be raffled off, including tickets from Southwest Airlines, a 2005 entertainment book from CDPHP, assorted gift baskets and other items. Mark your calendars and plan to attend.

Lawyer/Activist to Speak on Human Rights

Human rights lawyer Carolyn Patty Blum, a widely recognized authority in the area of refugee and asylum law, will discuss "Human Rights Law: The Case of El Salvador" when she visits Skidmore Monday, Nov. 8. Free and open to the public, the talk gets under way at 5:30 p.m. in Emerson Auditorium of Palamountain Hall.

A clinical professor emerita of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Blum practiced in a legal services agency serving immigrants and refugees for eight years before launching the clinical program in immigration and asylum law at Berkeley in 1984. She was the guiding force behind the school's creation of an International Human Rights Law Clinic, which opened in 1998.

The recipient of two Ford Foundation research grants, Blum was involved in precedent-setting litigation involving Central American and Haitian refugees, as well as female refugees. She has been honored by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Her publications include "The Protection of Refugee Women" (with Nancy Kelly), published in Women's International Human Rights; and "License to Kill: The Principle of the Government's Right to 'Investigate its Enemies' in Asylum Law," published in 1992 in the Willamette Law Review.

Blum is a graduate of the University of Arizona and earned a J.D. degree at Northwestern. Her Skidmore appearance is sponsored by the Department of English.

In the News

Skidmore faculty and staff expertise was in demand this summer, as the following media round-up demonstrates. Items included below include late spring through late September:

Mary Lou Bates, dean of admissions and financial aid, was interviewed by The Saratogian for a Sept. 5 story titled "Slew of Students Flock to Skidmore."

Sandy Baum, professor of economics, was a source for the following stories: "Kerry Failing to Play Vital Education Policy Card," Sept. 15, Financial Times (London); "In College, Scraping By," Sept. 14, The Buffalo News; "The Issues: Paying for College," Aug. 3, CBS Evening News; "More Schools Allow Tuition Freezes," July 27, WSJ.com, the online version of The Wall Street Journal; "Kerry Taps into Unrest of Middle Class," July 20, FT.com, the online edition of Financial Times; "College Financial Aid Out of Reach for Many," July 15 letter to the editor of USA Today; and "2004-05 College Tuition: Movin' on Up," May 19, CNN/Money.

The Rev. Stephen Butler Murray, chaplain, was a source for "Spiritual Guidance: College Chaplains Remain a Key Resource for Students," published Sept. 12 in The Sunday Gazette (Schenectady); and for "In the Midst of War, Prayers. Faith, Combat Often Go Hand in Hand," in the Sept. 5 edition of The Post-Star (Glens Falls).

Regis Brodie, professor of art, was featured in an Aug. 13 news story airing on Time Warner Cable Channel 9, titled "Art Professor Heading to Korea."

Denton Crocker, professor emeritus of biology, was interviewed for "WWII Vet Waged War Against Malaria," published May 30 in The Saratogian.

Jennifer Delton, associate professor of history, was a source for "Heroism on D-Day Endures at 60," published June 6 in the Times Union (Albany).

President Glotzbach was one of several college presidents quoted on the subject of college rankings in an Aug. 20 story, "Williams Again No. 1 on College Rating List," published in The Berkshire Eagle.

Tom Lewis, professor of English, was interviewed for "Building Character: UPH Strikes a Balance Between Preservation, Sustainability," published June 26 in The Saratogian.

Jack Ling, lecturer in liberal studies and director, Office of Institutional Diversity, was a source for "Home, Thousands of Miles Away: Life in Chinese Restaurant Binds Family, Isolates Members," published Aug. 29 in The Post-Star.

Susannah Mintz, associate professor of English, was interviewed for "College Life Starts with Honesty 101," published Sept. 13 in the Times Union.

Roy Rotheim, professor of economics and Quadracci Professor of Social Responsibility, was a source for "Locals Reflect on President Regan's Style," published June 10 in The Saratogian.

Jeff Segrave, professor of exercise science and athletics director, was a featured commentator in The Golden Games, a multi-part program on the history of the Olympic Games, produced in New York City by Sandra Carter Productions and sold to Columbia Tri-Star TV. The program aired in Europe and Russia this past summer. On Aug. 25, Segrave was a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation, hosted by Neal Conan, discussing "Subjective Olympic Coverage." (Currently available on the NPR web site) In addition, Segrave was a guest on the Aug. 13 edition of The FlipSide, airing on CNNfn, discussing the opening of the Summer Olympics. He was a source on "From Athens to Mexico: The Games in a Political and Historic Perspective," which aired Aug. 10 in Denmark. Also on Aug. 10, he was interviewed about the Olympics by Susan Arebetter on Roundtable, which airs on WAMC-FM. He authored two essays, "Business, Politics at Play in Olympics," published Aug. 27 in the Times Union; and "Hitler's Ambitious Plans for the 1936 Olympics," for the History News Network (currently available on the HNN web site) In addition, Segrave was a source for the following newspaper articles: "Athletic Prowess, Fallible Judging," Aug. 25 in The Christian Science Monitor; "Skidmore Olympics Scholar Observes Games to Track Trends," Aug. 11 in The Daily Gazette; and "When Winning Was Ideal," a column written by AP writer Steve Wilstein and published nationally. It appeared July 11 in the Times Union.

Ron Seyb, associate professor of government and chair of the department, and Robert Turner, assistant professor of government, were interviewed for "Watergate: Reflections on a Watershed Event," published Aug. 1 in The Saratogian. In addition, Turner was a source for "Presidential Campaigns to Focus on Key States," published in early July by Cox News Service and appearing in several newspapers in the South and West.

Bob Shorb, director of the Office of Student Aid and Family Finance, was a source for "Budget Delays Create Anxiety," published Aug. 1 in The Sunday Gazette.

Laury Silvers-Alario, assistant professor of religion, was a source for "Violent Muslims Are on the Fringes," published Aug. 6 in The Saratogian.

Linda Simon, professor of English, and her new book, Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-Ray (2004, Harcourt: New York), were the subjects of several recent stories. A feature by Associated Press writer Michael Hill was widely published, appearing in Newsday and USA Today, as well as The Sunday Gazette, The Post-Star, and the online edition ofthe Fall River, Mass., Herald News, among others. Simon also did an interview with WBET radio in Boston July 26 and a phone interview with KFAR-AM in Fairbanks, Alaska, in early August. In addition, the Times Union published its own story on the book June 27 ("Electric Shock, in More Ways Than One"). The book was reviewed Aug. 16 in The Philadelphia Inquirer ("When Electric Light Was a Scary Idea").

Recent research by Sheldon Solomon, professor of psychology and Courtney and Steven Ross Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, on factors that influence voting behavior was widely publicized this summer. He was interviewed by the Reuters News Service for a story titled "Fear of Death Wins Minds and Votes, Study Finds," that appeared July 30 on CNN.com and CNNinternational.com, in the Calgary Sun (Alberta, Canada), the Buenos Aires Herald, and Boston.com, the online edition of The Boston Globe; as well as the Aug. 3 edition of the Pakistan Daily Times. A Detroit Free Press story on Solomon's research titled "Fear Can Be a Politician's Best Friend," appeared Aug. 3 and was circulated by Knight Ridder News Service, leading to publication on Fort Wayne.com, the online edition of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Aug. 4 and on TimesLeader.com in northeastern Pennsylvania Aug. 8. On Aug. 4, the New York Daily News published "Death Goes to the Polls" online and in its metro edition; Philly.com published a column by Elmer Smith titled "Reading Chicken Entrails and Voter Polls"; the Arizona Summer Wildcat published "Psychology of Sept. 11 Studied"; and Solomon was interviewed by BBC Radio. On Aug. 5, Discoverychannel.com published "Study: Fear Can Cloud Judgment at the Polls," and Time Warner's Capital News 9 in Albany interviewed Solomon on the arrest in Albany of two men suspected of terrorist activities. The Philadelphia Inquirer Aug. 16 published an essay titled "A Climate of Fear Makes Us Less" that drew on Solomon's research; and NewScientist (a British magazine similar to Scientific American), published "Death Defying" in its Aug. 28 issue. On Sept. 13, Solomon was a guest on a program titled "Psychology in the Wake of Terror," a segment of Voices in the Family hosted by Dan Gottlieb and airing on WHYY-FM, a public radio station in Philadelphia, Pa. The Sept. 24 issue of The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald published "The Fear of Living Dangerously," citing Solomon's research.

Mary Zeiss Stange, associate professor of religion and women's studies, wrote an opinion essay titled "Rules Change Would Beat Reckless Path Through Forests" published July 22 in USA Today.

Christopher Whann, lecturer in government and academic advisor, UWW, contributed an opinion essay titled "Glens Falls Can Learn from Spa City Review" to the July 25 issue of The Post-Star.

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