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For the record

Park place

A one-acre garden in Washington Park was named in memory of Allison Davis, PhD’42, the John Dewey distinguished service professor in education. Davis, who died in 1983, became the U of C’s first African American faculty member in 1940 and, in 1948, one of the first African Americans to receive tenure at a non–historically black institution. The garden, designed by Peter Lindsay Schaudt, was dedicated September 17.

Chicago as a wonderland

In a September 15 poll by the Chicago Tribune, the University was voted one of the city’s seven wonders. Some controversy ensued when a U of C administrator’s e-mail urging alumni and staff to vote in the best Chicago tradition—early and often—became public. But the University proudly stands its ground at No. 6, ranked behind (in order): the lakefront, Wrigley Field, the “L,” and the Sears and Water towers. Another South Side institution, the Museum of Science and Industry, made the cut as the seventh wonder.

Million-dollar man

Hans G. Kaper, a researcher at the University-operated Argonne National Laboratory, received a $1 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to study a multiscale approach to self-organization of microtubules, minute filaments that help form and maintain cellular shapes.

Granting genius

Chicago professors Olufunmilayo Olopade and Kevin Murphy, PhD’86, have been named 2005 MacArthur fellows. Known as “genius grants,” the prizes award 25 winners $500,000 over five years. Olopade, professor in medicine and human genetics and director of the Hospitals’ Cancer Risk Clinic, researches breast cancer in African American women. Murphy, the George J. Stigler professor in economics at the GSB, studies economic forces underlying wage inequality, unemployment, addiction, and medical research.

A blooming professorship

Sir Peter Crane, director of Kew, England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, will become the Marion and John Sullivan university professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College on July 1, 2006. Before his 1999 Kew appointment, Crane spent 17 years in Chicago, curating the Field Museum’s geology department and rising to museum director. He also was a U of C professor of geophysical sciences and lecturer in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology.

Inductee inventory

The U of C Athletic Hall of Fame has seven new members. Inducted on October 14 were swimmer Kris Alden, AB’91; football player and track star Mark Catlin, PhB’1905; basketball standouts Gerald Clark, AB’74, MBA’76, and Kristin Maschka, AB’91, AM’93; football player Bruce Montella, AB’86, MD’90; baseball player Mark Mosier, AB’97, JD’04; and tennis player Calvin Sawyier, AB’42, AM’42.

Education by committee

Stephen W. Raudenbush, an expert on education research methods, is the new Lewis-Sebring professor in sociology and chair of the new Committee on Education. The committee draws upon faculty and graduate students in public policy, social-service administration, economics, business, mathematics, and the sciences to consider pressing issues facing urban schools. Raudenbush had been at the University of Michigan’s School of Education.

Machine malcontent

Longtime Chicago alderman Leon Despres, PhB’27, JD’29, received the University’s Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service. An activist who preserved landmark buildings, crusaded against racial discrimination, and fought political corruption, Despres, 97, recently published his autobiography, Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman’s Memoir.

Rank and file

The Economist rated Chicago No. 10 in its list of the world’s top universities. The rankings, published in the September 8 issue, were based on indicators of academic and research performance, including the University’s number of Nobel prizes and articles in respected publications. Harvard; Stanford; Cambridge; University of California, Berkeley; MIT; Caltech; Princeton; Oxford; and Columbia placed one through nine, with Chicago squeezing Yale and Cornell out of the top ten.

Explosive expectations met

It’s official: NASA’s Swift satellite and ground-based telescopes have confirmed the 1999 prediction, by University astrophysicist Don Lamb and then-graduate student Daniel Reichart, of the most distant exploding star ever observed in the universe. Reichart, SM’98, PhD’00, professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, led the team that discovered the explosion’s afterglow and confirmed the earlier forecast.

Diverse endeavor

The National Black MBA Association has named the Graduate School of Business its 2005 outstanding educational institution. The group noted that the GSB created the first business-school scholarship program for minorities in 1964, and that Chicago is the only top-tier business school with a diversity-affairs office that supports minority recruiting and offers individualized academic and career services.

Green acres for medical research

The University has partnered with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to train graduate students at the HHMI’s new Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia. There Chicago will offer an interdisciplinary, biomedical-doctoral program beginning in fall 2007. Cambridge University will provide European access to the program. At Janelia, which opens next summer, more than 350 scientists will work toward two central goals: understanding how neuronal circuits process information and developing technologies and computational methods for image analysis.

Prime real estate

The two bids for Yerkes Observatory and surrounding land in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, have been made public. Aurora University, which has a campus nearby, offered $4.5 million and would run Yerkes as an educational facility, relying on an endowment. East Coast developer Mirbeau Cos. offered $10 million, proposing a special taxing district to maintain Yerkes, which it has invited Aurora to operate. While Aurora would build 11 new homes, Mirbeau hopes to create up to 100 homes, an inn, and a spa. A committee of U of C trustees, senior scientists, the Physical Sciences dean, and administrators plans to make a decision this winter.

Intergalactic atlas

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) plans to create the most detailed map of the universe to date. Using a 2.5-meter telescope in southern New Mexico, over the past five years the SDSS measured the precise brightness and positions of hundreds of millions of galaxies, stars, and quasars. The group plans to complete the survey by autumn 2008. Richard Kron, professor in astronomy & astrophysics, director of Yerkes Observatory, and head of Fermilab’s Experimental Astrophysics Group, directs the SDSS.

Moving in, moving up

Ronald J. Schiller has succeeded Randy L. Holgate as vice president for development and alumni relations. Holgate, who held the post since 1994, is now senior vice president for University resources. Schiller hails from Carnegie Mellon, where he was associate vice president of university advancement and campaign director. His team there won the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Circle of Excellence Award for overall fund-raising improvement over three years.

Lupus grants awarded

The Lupus Research Institute has awarded two Chicago physicians—rheumatologist Marcus R. Clark and pathologist Martin Weigert—three-year, $300,000 grants for their novel research approaches to lupus. Clark will study the pathobiology of resistant B lymphocytes in human lupus nephritis, while Weigert will focus on light chain editors and autoimmunity. Clark and Weigert were among 15 grant recipients.