The University of Chicago Magazine August 1995
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In this department: A new dean for the Division of Biological Sciences. A humanities MA program in Tokyo. University signs Department of Energy contract to manage Argonne National Laboratory. The Campaign for the Next Century tops $500-million.

Photographs from campus: Reunion '95. The Blanik Knight Statue restored.

Plus items For the Record.

A dean of many talents to lead biology division

Renaissance man: At Harvard, Steele was both a noted researcher and a respected surgeon.

Described variously as a significant cancer researcher, a popular and effective teacher, and a topflight surgeon, Glenn D. Steele, Jr., will bring a range of talents with him when he arrives at Chicago this fall.

At that time, Steele will leave his duties as Harvard Medical School's William V. McDermott professor of surgery and as surgery department chair of the New England Deaconess Hospital to become dean of the University's Division of Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and vice president for medical affairs.

His appointment, announced in late June by President Hugo Sonnenschein, concluded a candidate search that began in the spring of 1993, when Samuel Hellman, the A. N. Pritzker distinguished service professor, concluded a five-year term as dean to resume his teaching and research interests. Godfrey Getz, the Donald N. Pritzker professor and chair of the pathology department, served as acting dean in the interim.

Thanking Getz for his "wise and careful stewardship," Sonnenschein expressed confidence that the search had yielded a seemingly perfect candidate in Steele, who is widely recognized for both his surgical innovations and his laboratory research. "We have found exactly the person we need to realize our aspirations."

U of C Hospitals President Ralph W. Muller saw an additional bonus in strengths Steele will bring "to our already outstanding programs in surgical oncology, cancer care, and cancer genetics." Steele-who is also affiliated with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute-is noted for his investigations in the treatment of primary and metastatic liver cancer, for colorectal cancer surgery, and for his research on gastrointestinal cancer and precancer cell biology.

"We are also pleased," said Muller, "to have someone who not only has been in the forefront of cancer research but has been active in reforming the delivery of health care in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving medical market" such as Boston.

As dean of biological sciences, Steele is expected to build on the division's interdisciplinary approach and its tradition of close contact between basic scientists and clinicians. Such cooperation, Steele told the Chicago Tribune, "creates bridges across disciplines, and that has the potential for improving both scientific knowledge and patient care."

Steele received his B.A. from Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in history and literature in 1966. He then entered New York University School of Medicine. After receiving his M.D., he completed his internship and residency in surgery at the University of Colorado. In 1973, he was awarded a National Institutes of Health fellowship in immunology to the Wallenberg Laboratory at Lund University, Sweden, where he received his Ph.D. All of Steele's teaching and clinical career has been with Harvard University and its associated hospitals.

Steele is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He serves on the boards of several medical journals and has coauthored nearly 400 scientific articles. Steele and his wife, Lisa, have a son and two daughters.

University degree offered in Japan

The University made history this June as the first major American research institution to offer a graduate-level degree program in Japan.

The University established the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities in Japan "in response to the growing demand by Japanese professionals for graduate-level education to advance their academic and career goals," said President Hugo Sonnenschein.

About 40 students-who represent a wide range of professional experience and who all have undergraduate degrees from major Japanese institutions-were accepted into the program, which began June 30 in Tokyo.

The program's first group of students includes a vice president from Lehman Brothers Japan, an assistant vice president of Citibank Tokyo, an official of the Japanese Ministry of Education, an interpreter who has worked with former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, a noted author of children's stories, a social worker, high-school teachers, and government officials.

Designed to take just over two years to complete, the program's academic requirements are similar to those for earning other master of arts degrees at Chicago-except that students can take evening classes, held in space leased from Tokyo's International Education Center, and will be required to study in the U.S. for only two five-week periods.

University faculty members, assisted by four advanced-degree candidates, teach a variety of humanities and social-sciences courses, with an emphasis on American culture. The faculty for summer and fall 1995 includes James Redfield, AB'54, PhD'61, the Howard L. Willett professor in the Committee on Social Thought; Herman Sinaiko, AB'47, PhD'61, professor in the humanities; and English professor Joseph M. Williams.

Philippe Desan, associate dean of the humanities division, will direct the new program. According to Desan, the program's appeal is based on "a demand for a high-profile master of arts degree from a prestigious American university" in Japan.

"We will be offering an intensive program," Desan added, "focusing on the development of critical, analytic, and writing skills-exactly what professionals in Japanese society are looking for, and exactly what the University of Chicago has always done best. And as we see in our first pool of students, we have attracted the crème de la crème of Japanese professionals."

The program expects to award its first degrees in August 1997.

Argonne contract favors University

The University has signed a four-year contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue to manage Argonne National Laboratory through the end of the decade.

U of C President Hugo Sonnenschein and Deputy Secretary of Energy William White were among the officials who participated in a signing ceremony at the laboratory's headquarters 30 miles southwest of Chicago. An important feature of the contract they signed is a new management fee that will be paid to the University based upon the DOE's evaluation of Argonne's performance-over which the University hopes to have more control, thanks to a new contract policy giving the U of C more power over employee compensation. In return, the University has committed 20 percent of the management fee to a special fund supporting joint U of C-Argonne research at the lab by scientists from both institutions.

With an annual operating budget of $500 million and sites in both Illinois and Idaho, the laboratory is one of the nation's largest multipurpose research facilities. Argonne's 5,000 employees perform research and engineering work in fields ranging from energy technology to high-speed computing.

In a letter to Argonne personnel, Sonnenschein said Chicago entered negotiations with the DOE with three primary goals: to maintain Argonne's ability to perform first-class science and engineering; to manage the lab in a way that continues its excellence; and to avoid any liabilities under the new contract that could place the University at risk.

"I am happy to report that the agreement is fully compatible with these principles," Sonnenschein wrote. "We look forward to continuing to work with the laboratory and with the Department of Energy to maintain Argonne's preeminence. As Argonne begins to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we are happy to remain your partner." Sonnenschein also noted the leadership of Argonne Director Alan Schriesheim, whose negotiating team worked with those from the University and the DOE.

Formed in 1946, Argonne was an outgrowth of the U of C's Metallurgical Laboratory, which in 1942 produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Today, in addition to its basic research, Argonne works on problems in energy production and use, the environment, economic competitiveness, and health.

Another aspect of the lab's mission is to develop, build, and operate facilities such as its Advanced Photon Source for use by outside scientists. When it is completed this fall, the APS will be the world's most powerful source of X-rays-scentists at Argonne, at the U of C, and from around the world will use the APS to gain an unprecedented look at the microstructure of solid materials.

Chem teachers try new formula: Solutions may be in the questions

The University will be a principal player in a multi-institutional effort to reform how chemistry is taught to first- and second-year undergraduates.

Called the ChemLinks Coalition and funded with a five-year, $2.7-million NSF grant, the group includes 13 Midwest liberal-arts colleges, the U of C, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Chemistry professor David Oxtoby-director of the University's James Franck Institute and one of three co-principal investigators on the grant-says the coalition's main goals are to bring chemistry curricula up to date with current research and to make classes more accessible to students.

The process of revamping chemistry teaching begins, says Oxtoby, by asking "how do we do science as scientists? Number one, we ask interesting questions. Two, we try to answer those questions. Yet what we typically do with college students is completely the opposite: We answer a lot of questions that no one has bothered to ask."

Oxtoby gives an example from a a typical first- or second-year chem class, where the professor begins the week saying something like, "Now we're going to learn about acids and bases." The problem? "It's not clear to the students why they should be learning about acids and bases except that it's going to be on the exam."

Rather than presenting a set of abstract and unrelated concepts to be learned, the coalition hopes to encourage an intellectually challenging process for asking and answering students' questions related to their specific interests and to the needs of society. Toward that end, the coalition is developing what Oxtoby calls a "modular approach" to chemistry, consisting of material that could be taught in two to four weeks, designed to stand alone and yet relate to the other modules.

"In one of the modules," he says, "we might begin with the question, Why are forests in the northeastern United States and Canada being destroyed? Is it because of pollution? If so, what are the constituents that are causing it?" With these questions, the students are introduced to the topic of acids and bases, which, in turn, gives students the tools to begin to understand the deforestation problem.

Although the instructor will guide the direction of the material, exploring questions that students ask will be a key element, says Oxtoby, and collaborative problem-solving and small-group learning will be stressed. "We want this to be student-centered learning."

The project ultimately aims to have an impact well beyond the 15 schools in the coalition, adds Oxtoby, who hopes that once the approach has proved successful, publishers will become interested in printing modules as well as textbooks.

Campaign passes $500-million mark

As of June 30, the University's five-year Campaign for the Next Century had reached $512 million, passing its original $500-million goal a full year ahead of schedule.

In a vote earlier this year, the board of trustees moved to increase the campaign goal to $650 million to provide critically needed resources for the University ("Chicago Journal," April/95). The campaign is scheduled to end June 30, 1996.

Describing the support received so far as "enormously gratifying," President Hugo Sonnenschein noted that "increasing our goal to $650 million was a bold step. Our friends and alumni in Chicago and beyond are helping us meet that challenge with spectacular support over the last three months."

In those months, the University received two major gifts that helped push the campaign over the $500 million mark: a $5-million challenge grant to develop a leading center for Korean studies, and a $1-million gift from Mr. and Mrs. Richard Franke. The Franke's gift-to be used to support humanities programs at Chicago-is their second major campaign contribution. Richard Franke is CEO of John Nuveen and Company and a University trustee. The $5-million challenge grant, provided by the Korea Foundation and Chey Jong Hyon, AM'61 (see "Chey's Way," page 24), will be used to create three faculty positions in Korean studies and to add to Chicago's already prodigious library of books on Korea.

Each year of the campaign, donations have risen higher, with last year's gifts surpassing $100 million for the first time in the U of C's history. Most of the support has come from individual donors, who have given more than $304 million through the campaign. More than $66 million of that total has come from University trustees.

In its final year, the campaign will focus on three areas that University trustee and campaign chairman Harvey B. Plotnick, AB'63, describes as critical to the University's future: endowed supported for faculty positions, endowed support for student fellowships and scholarships, and funds for the construction of a new athletic center.

Also in this department: Photographs from campus: Reunion '95. The Blanik Knight Statue restored.

Plus items For the Record.

Go to: Return to August 1995 Table of Contents