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MonthA news summary for the UVM Community

March 2012 (Vol. 11, No. 7)

This Month's Top Stories . . .

UVM Alum Jon Kilik’s “The Hunger Games” a Box Office Smash (top)
Movie lovers throughout the U.S. and Canada flocked to see the blockbuster premiere of “The Hunger Games,” the year's most anticipated film, the weekend of March 23-25. The movie, produced by UVM alumnus Jon Kilik, class of 1978, opened with a staggering $155 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices, beating Hollywood's lofty expectations and making history as the third-highest domestic film opening ever. Perhaps the premier premiere experience was reserved for the lucky few on hand when Kilik came to Vermont to talk about the film and answer questions from the audience. Read more here.

Ski Team Wins Nationals, Men's Basketball Goes Dancing (top)
The Catamounts claimed two titles March 10 when the UVM ski team won the NCAA Championships in Bozeman, Mont., and the men's basketball team topped Stony Brook, winning the America East Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. This is the first NCAA title the ski team has won since 1994 and its sixth overall. Vermont won with 832 points, the most ever by a NCAA champion. The UVM men's basketball team earned a 71-59 victory over Lamar in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the fifth time Vermont has advanced to the NCAA Tournament and the second time the team has won a first-round game. The Catamounts’ season came to a very respectable end on Friday, March 16, as the team lost to the #1-seeded North Carolina Tarheels 77-58, with an overall 24-12 record for the 2011-2012 campaign. Read more on the UVM Athletics website.

$1.5 Million Estate Provision for Professorship in College of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences (top)
A $1.5 million estate provision from an alumnus of the University of Vermont will establish a professorship in electrical engineering in the School of Engineering. The professorship will be named the L. Richard Fisher Professorship in Electrical Engineering after the donor, a retired Silicon Valley sales executive who grew up in Hardwick, Vt., and earned UVM degrees in electrical engineering in 1947 and in business in 1949. Fisher has chosen to start funding for the professorship immediately through his annual giving so that its benefits can begin to be felt during his lifetime. "We are honored by Richard Fisher’s vision and allocation of $1.5 million for the establishment of a professorship in electrical engineering," says Interim Dean Bernard "Chip" Cole. "This new professorship position will help to enrich students’ educational experience as well as provide new opportunities for faculty collaborative research initiatives.” The first Fisher Professor is expected to be named this spring, Cole said. Read more here.

UVM Signs "Real Food Campus Commitment" (top)
At a ceremony held on campus March 22, the University of Vermont became only the fifth school in the nation, and the first large university east of California, to sign on to a program launched last fall called the Real Food Campus Commitment. UVM students were instrumental in advocating for UVM’s participation. By signing the commitment, UVM pledges to serve 20 percent “real food” at all its campus food outlets by 2020. Real food is defined as that which is locally grown, fair trade, of low environmental impact and/or humanely produced. Currently 12 percent of UVM’s menu falls within those categories, and the university says it is confident it will exceed the 20 percent threshold before 2020. Read more here.

UVM in the News (top)
Forbes, Popular Science, and the UK’s Daily Mail, among other major media outlets, covered the work of UVM biologist Bryan Ballif and his team for their discovery of two new blood types, a finding that could save the lives of people who need blood transfusions or organ transplants . . . English professor Emily Bernard gets the attention of The New York Times with her new book Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White which it says "convincingly captures the era and the colorful personalities who punctuated it..." The book also received strongly favorable reviews from The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others . . . NPR’s On Point talks with Joe Roman, marine ecologist, conservation biologist and professor, along with a science historian from Princeton University, about whales, once viewed as "great blimps of meat and oil," and how they have become beloved, extraordinary creatures for humans. See the full summaries of media coverage of these and other UVM stories in recent months here.

Fixing A Broken Food System: UVM Food Systems Summit (top)
Our broken food system is creating economic, environmental, health, and societal problems, many experts say. The result: the agricultural landscape in the U.S. is under threat, seriously challenging the sustainable production of food. To address these pressing issues, the University of Vermont will host its first-ever Food Systems Summit during the summer of 2012. Titled “Leading the Necessary (r)Evolution for Sustainable Food Systems,” the summit seeks to answer the pivotal question: “How can we create regional food systems that are viable alternatives to the conventional one that exists now?” Read the full story here.

Conference to Explore “The New Feminist Agenda” (top)
As far-reaching as the changes brought about by the feminist movement have been, society in many ways has not caught up with a world where two-income families are the norm, more women than men attend college and graduate school, and 40 percent of women out-earn their husbands. The University of Vermont will host a conference on Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Waterman Building designed to explore issues raised by the growing empowerment of women. The conference is titled “The New Feminist Agenda: The Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family; Balancing a Career and Family.” Sponsor of the conference is former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a visiting professor in UVM’s James Marsh Professor-at-Large program. Registration is required, and a $10 donation is suggested. Read more here.

Janus Forum Examines Federal Financial Aid, Higher Ed Costs (top)
Does federal support for higher education make college more or less affordable? That was the key question in the latest installment of UVM’s Janus Forum, a debate series that examines important and controversial policy issues of the day and challenges individuals to reexamine their views in the light of well articulated, contrary positions. The March 20 event rewarded attendees with a spirited and enlightening exchange of ideas, as the debaters found little to agree on. According to aid opponent Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University, the explosion in federal aid that began in the 1970s has not only not increased access for low income students, it’s led to rising prices for all, as colleges routinely hiked tuition in response to growing federal largesse. Not true, said proponent Robert Archibald, chancellor professor of economics at the College of William and Mary. His research shows aid resulted in greater access for low-income students and lower real costs for all. Read more, and follow a link to an audio recording of the full debate here.

UVM on Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (top)
The University of Vermont has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education. The distinction is awarded to schools with a strong institutional commitment to service, who develop campus-community partnerships that produce measurable impacts, and who engage students in meaningful service that leads to a lifelong path of civic engagement. UVM has been on the honor roll every year since the award's inception in 2006.

Video: Making Aiken (top)
The newly renovated George D. Aiken Center is a virtual showcase of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood: 27,000 board feet in all, which add warmth, luster and natural beauty to all three floors of the building. But what exactly is certified wood, and what process does it go through to earn the imprimatur of being FSC-certified? Watch the video here.

Professor Emeritus Wins Prestigious Sociology Award (top)
The American Sociological Association has presented one of its top honors, the 2012 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, to UVM Professor Emeritus James Loewen. Oliver C. Cox, Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier, the individuals for whom the award is named, were African Americans who put their scholarship in the service of social justice with an eye toward advancing the status of disadvantaged populations, broadening the views of society and improving global conditions. In recognition of their lifetime efforts, the ASA annually names an individual or institution that has performed outstanding work to forward human rights and social justice issues with an emphasis on African Americans or populations who have experienced similar historical racial discrimination. In his lifelong commitment to racial justice, Loewen has brought his rigorous work as a scholar into the public sphere, where he has made a broad and powerful impact. Read more here.

Campus Kudos (top)

Heather Bean, a post-doctoral associate working with professor of engineering Jane Hill, has been named the Carol Basbaum Memorial Research Fellow by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This award is given to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Research Fellowship applicant who receives the highest score during the foundation’s review of research proposals.

Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, curator of collections and exhibitions at the Fleming Museum, received a visiting scholar fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art this summer to work on a book based on her dissertation, Dangerous Beauty: Painted Canvases and Painted Faces in Eighteenth-Century Britain.

Kathy Fox, associate professor of sociology, was awarded a Fulbright to travel to New Zealand during the Spring semester of 2013. She'll be conducting a comparative study of New Zealand's and Vermont's restorative justice programs.

A publication by senior Benjamin Vaughan, postdocotral researcher Tony Wetherby and assistant professor of chemistry Rory Waterman elucidating the molecular structure of unique zinc bis( beta-diketiminate) complex appeared in the journal Acta Crystallographica Section E.

Burton Wilcke, professor and chair of medical laboratory and radiation sciences, has been appointed to serve on the newly-created Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The PHAB, which was established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is charged with accrediting state, territorial, tribal and local public health departments, a process which has never been done before. The first PHAB meeting will take place in April 2012.

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