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Chicagophile
  > > e-Bulletin: 06/14/02


EDITOR'S NOTES
Deadlines as efficient cause

Just to show I'm still in the game," joked Max Palevsky, PhB'48, SB'48, at the May 14 dedication of the residential commons bearing his name, "let me enumerate-in the Aristotelian sense-the causes" behind Chicago's new dormitories. He began with final cause ("to house these hardworking students"), followed by formal cause (the design by Ricardo Legorreta, who was also among the dedication attendees) and material cause (bricks and mortar, glass and wood). Last came efficient cause: "I could never have conceived of such a magnificent cause by myself. No, it took someone with insight, foresight, perseverance; someone who wouldn't take no for an answer," Palevsky said, then called former president Hugo Sonnenschein up to the dais to share the applause.

Thinking about efficient cause-the maker or builder of the thing-made me consider the makers and builders of Max. For several weeks before the dedication, every stroll past the quadrangle formed by the Reg, Max, and Bartlett brought a visible change: gates built, fences erected and painted, trees planted, sod laid, all in a race against time.

I looked up "deadline" in the Oxford English Dictionary, expecting to find centuries' worth of etymology-an expectation based on a feeling that the term must be as old as the human tendency to procrastinate. I was, of course, wrong. One of the word's earliest uses dates to the Civil War, when "deadline" signified "a line drawn around a military prison, beyond which a prisoner is liable to be shot down."

The dictionary's example of "deadline" being used to indicate a time-limit, "esp. a time by which material has to be ready for inclusion in a particular issue of a publication," comes from the January 10, 1920, Chicago Herald & Examiner, reporting that "Corinne Griffith is working on 'Deadline at Eleven,' the newspaper play."

Long before "deadline" was a household or an office word, the concept flourished. Take October 1, 1892. At 8 that morning, President Harper and 29 helpers finished their night's work: outfitting Cobb Hall with desks, chairs, and tables. He washed his face, gulped some coffee, and at 8:30 greeted the new University's first students.

Another French connection
The April/02 "Chicago Journal" item on the U of C's Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and its new collaborations with French hospitals and agencies has a sequel.

Just as our April magazine hit your mailboxes, sociologist Kristina Orfali, the center's assistant director, was interviewed on National Public Radio's local affiliate, WBEZ, about her recently completed study comparing parental involvement and decision making in neonatal intensive care units in the U.S. and France. The study had a surprising outcome: French parents, who are asked to make fewer decisions about their child's treatment than their American counterparts, "turned out to be the ones more satisfied with the experience."

They also experienced far less guilt, since in the French "paternalistic" model physicians make the treatment decisions and share them with the parents. In contrast, in the "autonomous" model of "informed consent" common in the U.S., parents often have "to choose in a very difficult situation with high uncertainty," and can feel very much alone.

Orfali isn't calling for a wholesale switch to the French model, but rather incorporating its best features: "Parents want the responsibility, but not the guilt, and we should help them." That means sharing insights, and in mid-June Orfali, along with Mark Siegler, MD'67, the Maclean Center's director, and U of C pediatrician John Lantos, will lead a Franco-American seminar on clinical ethics-the first of its kind-at L'Institut des Sciences Politiques de Paris.
-M.R.Y.


 


  JUNE 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 5


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You Go Girl!


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