For the Record

Philosopher becomes immortal
Jean-Luc Marion, a Divinity School professor of the philosophy of religion and theology has been elected to the prestigious Académie française, the official French-language authority. Founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu and known in France as “les immortels,” the 40-member group has included French heads of state and writers such as Victor Hugo. Marion, a leading Catholic thinker who also teaches at the Sorbonne, was selected to succeed the former Cardinal of Paris, who died in 2007.

Opinion leader
Tom W. Smith, PhD’80, senior fellow at the University-based National Opinion Research Center, has begun a term as vice president and president-elect of the World Association for Public Opinion Research. In addition to serving as the director of the National Science Foundation–sponsored General Social Survey, Smith is one of the founders of the International Social Survey Program, which allows the cross-national comparison of survey data.

Booth bragging rights
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business snagged the No. 1 spot in Business Week’s 2008 rankings of full-time MBA programs. Harvard University, Northwestern University, and the University of Pennsylvania trailed in second, third, and fourth place, respectively.

Humanities honor extended
Milton J. Rosenberg, professor emeritus in psychology and longtime host of WGN radio show Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg, has been awarded a 2008 National Humanities Medal. The honor acknowledges individuals and organizations whose achievements have broadened the nation’s understanding of humanities. As a radio host for the past 36 years, Rosenberg has engaged millions of listeners on topics ranging from foreign policy to religion.

Shubin swims to success
Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, professor and associate dean for organismal biology & anatomy and evolutionary biology, won the 2008 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science and was selected as best science book of the year by Studying fossils and DNA, Shubin traces the evolution of human organs back millions of years to their nonhuman roots. The Phi Beta Kappa honor, intended to support outstanding scientific literature, comes with a $10,000 prize.

Up next: secondary-school teachers
In response to a national shortage of high-school math and science teachers, U of C’s Urban Education Institute will offer a secondary-school teaching master’s degree as part of its Urban Teacher Education Program. This expands the current program, in which students complete the first year of a two-year elementary-school teaching degree during their last year in the College. The first secondary class will be admitted in spring 2009, composed of current U of C students or College graduates who majored in mathematics, biology, or their equivalents. After completion of the degree, students will be licensed to teach in Illinois classrooms.

Dry decision hampers hotel
A November vote to prohibit liquor sales in the Fifth Ward’s 39th precinct has halted plans to build two hotels at 5800 South Stony Island Boulevard, site of the defunct Doctors Hospital of Hyde Park. White Lodging, which leased the property, had proposed a combined Marriott Hotel and Fairfield Inn and Suites. Some precinct residents objected to the demolition of the old hospital and White Lodging’s labor policies—none of the company’s 160-plus hotels are unionized—and organized to get a dry measure included on the ballot.

Opinion-survey head is official
John H. Thompson has taken the reins as National Opinion Research Center president after serving as interim head since last February. A former officer at the U.S. Census Bureau, where he led the 2000 Decennial Census, Thompson joined NORC in 2002 as executive vice president for survey operations. His recent work there includes a post as project director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Survey.

Lab Schools architects chosen
Award-winning Illinois architectural firms Valerio Dewalt Train Associates and FGM Architects will lead a multi-year renovation and expansion project at the U of C Laboratory Schools. The initiative will focus on sustainable design and making the schools’ resources more available to University and community families. The Chicago-based Valerio is considered one of the country’s top ten firms, while FGM, a specialist in educational design, has completed more than 1,000 public- and private-school projects.

Hansen scores innovation prize
Economics and statistics professor Lars Hansen received the third annual CME Group and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications. The award honors those whose mathematical, statistical, or computational methods have influenced the study of economic behavior. Hansen’s Generalized Method of Moments, an approach to analyzing economic models that he developed in the 1980s, is now a key tool for financial-data analysis.

Big ideas get a boost
The University has launched the Arete Initiative to encourage and provide resources for large-scale interdisciplinary projects. Arete, which takes its name from the classical Greek concept for excellence, began as a collaboration among psychology professor John Cacioppo; Matthew Christian, administrative director of the Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience; and Ken Olliff, director for Strategic Foundation Initiatives. The intellectual-incubator program has already led to projects on topics such as The Scientific Study of Wisdom and Modeling the Human Dimensions of Climate Change.

Chapel celebrates new dean
Representatives from each of the major religious and spiritual student groups, musical groups, and community groups welcomed Elizabeth Davenport as the sixth dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in a November ceremony. Readings, chants of sacred texts, dance, and songs from groups like the Motet Choir greeted the new dean. In her post, Davenport will oversee chapel use and facilitate dialogue among campus religious groups.

(Partial) exit for Epstein
Longtime law professor Richard Epstein will leave Chicago in fall 2010 to permanently join the New York University School of Law faculty, where he has previously served as a visiting professor. He has taught courses in antitrust, constitutional law, patents, criminal law, and other topics. Epstein, who joined the Law School in 1972 and served as interim dean in 2001, will continue to teach at Chicago as a senior lecturer.

At the human-rights helm
History professor Michael Geyer has been named the first faculty director of the Human Rights Program. A specialist in 20th-century European history, he has written on war, genocide, and human-rights history. Founded in 1997, the interdisciplinary program integrates human-rights education and practical experience into Chicago’s liberal-arts curriculum. Under Geyer’s leadership, the program will focus on new teaching and research initiatives. Susan Gzesh, AB’72, a senior lecturer in the College, continues as executive director.

Eminent ensemble
Pacifica Quartet, one of the music department’s four artists-in-residence, has been named the 2009 Ensemble of the Year by international performing-arts publication Musical America. The Grammy-nominated string quartet, on the University’s music scene since 1998, performs its season’s third and last concert April 19 as part of the University of Chicago Presents series. On the program: Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s new work.

Not just chilling
The Helmut Jahn–designed South Campus Chiller Plant (at 61st Street and Dorchester Avenue, next to the University Steam Plant) has won a Chicago Architecture Foundation 2008 Patron of the Year Award. Completed in August, the plant can hold 10,500 tons of chiller capacity and will support new construction on the U of C’s south campus.

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