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Awards, appointments, & other announcements

By Adam Overland




December 21

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor.


$45M Race to the Top early learning grant
The Obama administration announced that Minnesota is one of nine states to receive a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. For Minnesota, this will mean approximately $45 million over five years to expand the capacity and infrastructure of the state to serve its most high-risk preschoolers through a variety of efforts and initiatives. CEHD's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) played a role in the grant's preparation, and will play a role in its implementation.

Karen Cadigan, a CEED alumnus, now serves as director of Minnesota's Office of Early Learning and will coordinate and lead much of the grant-funded efforts. Dr. Amy Susman-Stillman, CEED co-director, and her colleagues proposed creating professional development materials and conducting training sessions to implement the expansion of Parent Aware as part of the coming effort.

Other CEED staffers will be working with the Northside Achievement Zone and three other high-poverty communities that will serve as a place-based focus for Minnesota's efforts. Details will emerge in the weeks ahead, as this grant represents both an acknowledgment and investment in Minnesota's early childhood system. For more information, see CEED grant.

$28M grant to close achievement gap
The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), in partnership with the University's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED), Minneapolis Public Schools, and more than 50 community partners, has been awarded a $28 million Promise Neighborhood Implementation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to close the achievement gap. The grant will help expand and improve services that directly engage North Minneapolis families by promoting developmental and educational attainment and life-long success for children from birth through college.

Minnesota's achievement gap is consistently among the largest in the nation, with arguably the most significant effects noticed among African American students in North Minneapolis. The Northside Achievement Zone, in cooperation with CEED, is committed to reducing this gap through improved and expanded educational services and a wide array of family support initiatives. CEED faculty and staff, for example, are working on program design, management, and evaluation, partnering with other community experts in early childhood, elementary education, behavioral and mental health, housing, and career and financial development.

With this new funding, NAZ will engage parents with aligned education support, including nine committed and innovating schools within a continuum of support service, and will provide effective whole-family support programs. This approach connects families to high-quality services through a "high touch" process, in which parents are supported by skilled coaches from their own community who work with them to set and implement family plans of action. The plans are then tracked through an online achievement planning and data system.

Faculty, staff, and graduate students from CEED, led by CEED's director of community engagement Scott McConnell, with research associates Tracy Bradfield, Lauren Martin, and Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, will help NAZ to develop, improve, and evaluate Family Academy (a parent education component for young children and their parents), and to build and implement an internal evaluation system that monitors and helps improve all components of NAZ.

The grant will provide up to $6 million in the first year and the remaining funds over four more years.

CEED is also a partner on the $45 million Race to the Top award, announced above, for early childhood education. For more information, read the CEHD News story.

Miles appointed Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics
Steven Miles 165Steven MilesSteven Miles has been appointed as the Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics. The appointment acknowledges Miles' extraordinary record of academic achievement and leadership, and his continuing contributions to the scholarship and practice of bioethics. Miles is an internationally renowned bioethicist who has had a lasting impact on the fields of bioethics and medicine through his work on human rights, social justice, the history of medicine, and clinical ethics. His work has resulted in fundamental reforms in the health care insurance industry, end of life care, the use of restraints in nursing homes, refugee camp medicine, and prison medical ethics.

Miles also received a "Champions of Care" award from the Fairview Foundation. This award provides an opportunity for patients at the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC), Fairview to recognize superb caregivers by donating in their honor to the UMMC, Fairview Greatest Needs Fund. Learn more about Miles in this Star Tribune story.

Outstanding Student Mental Health Leadership Award
The Provost's Committee on Student Mental Health presented its inaugural Award for Outstanding Student Mental Health Leadership to Harriett Copher Haynes. The award honors a student, staff, faculty member, or department that has demonstrated leadership or exemplary practice in raising awareness about issues related to student mental health; effecting policy change related to student mental health; improving the campus climate for students with mental health conditions; or serving as a model of collaboration for the U of M and other universities on issues related to student mental health. Haynes is a senior psychologist with University Counseling and Consulting Services.

OED director of evaluation named
Rosemary White Shield, Ph.D, has been named director of evaluation in the Office for Equity and Diversity. Dr. White Shield is responsible for the ongoing development and execution of equity and diversity evaluation efforts in support of the University of Minnesota and the Office for Equity and Diversity and its units. Her research and evaluation approaches focus on inclusive, culturally responsive constructs and processes, utilizing Western and non-Western paradigms and methods.


U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news

WCCO-TV Sits Down With 'U Of M' President Kaler, His Wife
An art major meets a chemical engineer who would someday have 10 patents under his belt. It may not sound like a traditional Hollywood romance, but it is the story of the new University of Minnesota president and his wife, who are now back in the state where he proposed three times. WCCO-TV.

Poll: Americans don't like what they see in 2012 race
By wide margins, those surveyed say the election process isn't working and the candidates aren't coming up with good ideas to solve the nation's problems…"We're looking at the politics of backlash," says Lawrence Jacobs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. USA Today.

Health reform pilot program includes 3 Minnesota groups
Three Minnesota health care organizations will take part in a federal pilot program designed to improve the quality of health care for seniors by remaking the way physicians, hospitals and clinics get paid…Widespread reform will be a challenge, said Roger Feldman, a health economist and Medicare expert in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Star Tribune.

Indoor tanning operators say they're getting burned by tax
An industry group says many salons have closed, though state data are less clear on the cause… "It's obviously shortsighted to put profits over people's health," said DeAnn Lazovich, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Star Tribune.

Good Question: Are Cell Phones The Most Distracting?
The National Transportation Safety Board wants every state to ban all cell phones used by drivers — no texting, no talking, not even hands-free… "Eating a hamburger while you're driving is very distracting, because you're worried you're going to spill stuff all over yourself," said Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportations Systems Institute at the University of Minnesota. WCCO-TV.

Voting-Rights Laws Must Be Enforced in U.S., Holder Says
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he is concerned about new state laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, entering a controversy over whether the measures suppress minority turnout… The Justice Department reviews of new voting procedures and proposed election maps are attracting attention during the first redistricting with a Democrat in the White House since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, said Doug Chapin, director of an elections-administration program at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis. Bloomberg Businessweek.

Renewable energy: As U.S. dawdles, Germany is thinking 40 years out
Germany has decided it is done with nuclear power. It has already shut down seven of its 17 plants, and the rest will be closed by 2022… That is one reason Sabine Engel, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for German and European Studies, asked for and received a grant from Germany to set up the Germany-Minnesota Renewable Energy Exchange Project. MinnPost.


December 14

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor.


Michael Schmitt will be the new associate dean for Extension in the College of Food, Agricultural and Michael Schmitt 165Michael SchmittNatural Resource Sciences (CFANS). While serving as senior associate dean for University of Minnesota Extension the last four years, Schmitt provided leadership and played a major role in Extension’s new strategic plan, Extension’s promotion process, and Extension’s grant program.

Schmitt spent thirteen years as a professor and Extension Soil Scientist and seven years in a similar collegiate administrative position before assuming his current role. He will assume his new duties on Jan. 17, 2012. 


U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news

Good Question: Who Is In The Middle Class?
When President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to extend the payroll tax deduction, he pronounced it “a make or break moment for the middle class.” But how do we define “middle class?”… “The middle is a household that makes about $50,000 a year,” said Fabrizio Perri, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Minnesota economics department. WCCO-TV.

U study validates Best Buy flexible workplace initiative
A flexible workplace initiative at Richfield-based Best Buy led to a healthier and better-rested workforce, according to a new study. Researchers Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen at the University of Minnesota collected survey data on 608 white-collar employees after Best Buy introduced a program in 2005 called the Results Only Work Environment. Pioneer Press.

Klobuchar looks to put cameras in the Supreme Court
When the Supreme Court hears arguments on President Obama’s health care reform bill next year, it’ll be considering overturning a law that effects nearly everyone in the country — but only several hundred people will get to see the court deliberate the matter… Even one of the biggest supporters of cameras in the courtroom, University of Minnesota media law professor Jane Kirtley, acknowledged that. MinnPost.

Climate Change and Other Threats to World's Freshwater Goliaths
Many parts of the ocean are better understood than some of the Earth's large lakes, despite the fact that these are key reservoirs for much of the fresh water on the planet…"As I started doing work in Lake Superior, I came to realize that there had been very little done in the way of scientific study of these lakes beyond the biology of the fish," says LLO founder and oceanographer Tom Johnson. "The University of Minnesota Duluth decided that they wanted to have an institute in Duluth, and the idea was to have expertise locally to look after the welfare of Lake Superior. Science Nation.

Four ways to put a spring in your step
As we make our way toward the end of the year and the holidays that come with it, let's not be beaten down by the bitter cold and the long dark nights…The University of Minnesota's dance department faculty includes some of the best choreographers in town including, among others, Ananya Chatterjea and Uri Sands. Minnesota Public Radio.

Flat taxes make fat cats fatter—we need more and higher tax brackets
Under the glossy allure of simplicity, conservative challengers for the presidency are engaged in a mighty struggle to offer a tax plan that likely will be even more advantageous to the top 1 percent than their current sweetheart deal… Jay Coggins is a professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota and a policy fellow for Growth & Justice, a policy research organization that focuses on economics and building a broader prosperity. MinnPost.

Good Question: Why Do We Like Violence In Sports?
There’s new information about a former feared enforcer for the Minnesota Wild. U of M's Nicole La Voi is the associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport. She said violence in sports has become a form of entertainment for fans. WCCO-TV.

The impracticality of a cheeseburger
What does the cheeseburger say about our modern food economy? A lot actually…Very recently, David Tillman and Jason Hill of The University of Minnesota released a study anticipating that global food demand could double by 2050. Scientific American.

Minnesota Sounds and Voices: Ignore 'The Birds,' embrace the crows
As they do with the coming of winter every year, thousands upon thousands of crows—maybe even millions—have started to swarm, caw and roost each night in downtown Minneapolis…But while they will famously eat pretty much anything, and they do tend to leave a carpet of droppings beneath their roosts, University of Minnesota ornithologist Bob Zink says this kind of flocking behavior for survival shows that crows don't deserve the bad rap with which they've been tagged -- thanks in part to movie director Alfred Hitchcock, in whose movie, "The Birds," crows made it open season on humans. Minnesota Public Radio.

Rosenblum: Sexting study will be a relief to parents - and their kids
A clearer picture of sexting came to light this week, but there's no need to shield your eyes…Shayla Thiel-Stern, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota School of Journalism, wasn't surprised by the new findings either. Star Tribune.


December 7

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor.


Rohloff named head of government relations
State CapitolJason Rohloff has been named special assistant to the president for government relations. Rohloff will lead the University’s local, state, and federal government relations program and our grassroots advocacy efforts.

Rohloff is a University of Minnesota graduate (B.A., international relations), and has more than 15 years of state government, federal relations, and foundation experience. In the Minnesota Legislature, he served as a House committee administrator, the director of House Legislative Services, and legislative director to the Speaker of the House. He also served in Washington, D.C., as the director of federal affairs for Governor Pawlenty. Most recently, he has been a senior policy officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he developed and executed multistate strategies to support the foundation’s work in secondary and higher education. He also holds a master’s degree in international management from the University of St. Thomas.

Rohloff will begin Jan. 9, 2012. He replaces Donna Peterson, who is retiring after 22 years as head of the U’s government relations.

IonE Mini Grants awarded
The Institute on the Environment has selected 13 interdisciplinary initiatives for funding in the second round of awards for its Mini Grant program. Projects will help bridging humanities and science, explore how families of children with disabilities use the outdoors, host a leadership event for students working on campus sustainability and more. For a complete list of projects and recipients, see IonE Mini Grants.

Uggen Receives Equal Justice Award
Chris UggenChris Uggen
is the recipient of the 2011 Equal Justice Award in Research from the Council on Crime and Justice. The award recognizes community leaders who provide exemplary leadership in helping to create safer, stronger, and more just communities. Professor Uggen was selected for ensuring that injustices in society remain at the forefront of public thought and discourse until they are resolved, particularly through his research and advocacy work in offender reentry and felon disenfranchisement. Other recipients of this year’s award were Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and Minnesota’s first Public Defender, C. Paul Jones. The Council provides a balanced approach to criminal justice and has been at the forefront of programs in offender services, alternative sanctions, victim's rights, and restorative justice.

Learn more about Uggen by reading a profile of a criminologist.

Holmes elected Fellow of Econometric SocietyEconomics professor Tom Holmes has been elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society, one of the highest honors in economics. Of the 16 new fellows, three have strong U of M ties. Besides Holmes, former faculty member Sam Kortum and Ph.D. Albert Marcet have also received this honor this year.

Gewirtz named Professional of the Year by NAMI of Minnesota
Abi Gewirtz
, assistant professor, Department of Family Social Science and Institute of Child Development, has received the Professional of the Year Award for 2011 from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota. The award recognizes a professional or staff person who provides high quality services, exemplifies best practices, and demonstrates commitment to and leadership in the field of mental health.

U will receive nearly $17 million from Dow
The U has finalized an agreement with Dow Chemical Company that will result in the University receiving nearly $17 million over the next five years.

Almost $2.3 million per year over the next five years will go to chemical engineering and materials science, chemistry and mechanical engineering researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. Dow also has made a $5 million commitment to help fund a building expansion for Amundson Hall, the home of the highly ranked Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

The commitment is part of Dow’s recently announced investment of $25 million per year over 10 years at 11 leading U.S. universities to strengthen research in traditional scientific fields important to Dow and to the nation’s future. Dow chose the 11 universities for their excellence in science and engineering education, research and willingness to collaborate with industry.

At the University of Minnesota, Dow will fund a variety of research projects focused on developing materials used in photovoltaic devices; polymers that target electronic devices, floor coatings and the delivery of pharmaceuticals; and catalytic compounds that facilitate the transformation of oil and natural gas to feedstock chemicals. Dow will partner with the school’s graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty researchers, giving them a chance to work directly with Dow scientists on an ongoing basis. Researchers from Dow and the University meet by telephone each week to discuss the progress of their research and the researchers will meet in person at least four times each year. For more information, see the news release.


U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news

U of M neuroscience researchers awarded with $500,000 worth of grants
Recognizing that it can be frustratingly difficult for researchers to get the kind of money they need to take their ideas beyond the idea stage, the Wallin family has created the Discovery Fund and four University of Minnesota neuroscience researchers have been awarded the round of awards. Star Tribune.

Cores reveal when Dead Sea 'died'
It is a discovery of high concern say scientists because it demonstrates just how dry the Middle East can become during Earth's warm phases…"Lake dry-down happened 120,000 years ago without any human intervention," said Prof Emi Ito, from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. BBC News.

Unprepared for the Worst
Since September 11, those who study biological terrorism have been losing plenty of sleep over what-if questions…Other members of the Old Guard, such as Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, take the view that the American public needs urgently to know the scale of the threat, what ought to be done by government to protect the populace, and where individuals fit into the picture. Vanity Fair.

What's Behind A Temper Tantrum? Scientists Deconstruct The Screams
Children's temper tantrums are widely seen as many things: the cause of profound helplessness among parents; a source of dread for airline passengers stuck next to a young family; a nightmare for teachers…"We have the most quantitative theory of tantrums that has ever been developed in the history of humankind," said study co-author Michael Potegal of the University of Minnesota, half in jest and half seriously. National Public Radio.

Starvation Forces Snowy Owls Into Minnesota
It’s one of those rare treats of Mother Nature…“We’ve had four come in so far this year,” said Dr. Julie Ponder of the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center. WCCO-TV.

Exercise may be more effective than stents for artery pain
For many of the 2 million to 3 million Americans with leg pain from narrowed arteries, exercise could be more effective than some surgeries, a University of Minnesota researcher says…But a new study at 20 national sites lends support to a far cheaper and in some ways more effective approach to peripheral artery disease, said Dr. Alan T. Hirsch, chairman of a study. Seattle Times.

Silicone bracelets let us wear causes on our sleeve
It all began with a simple yellow band. Not a band of gold. It was silicone… In the 1970s, Vietnam War-era POW-MIA metal wristbands helped Americans remember those imprisoned in Southeast Asia, says pop culture observer Edward Schiappa, chairman of the communication studies department at the University of Minnesota. USA Today.

U of M business school seeks higher tuition for its undergraduates
Undergraduates in the University of Minnesota's business school would pay more than their classmates under a new proposal that would bring a major change to the U's egalitarian tuition model… New U President Eric Kaler has argued that because all other public Big Ten schools have differential tuition, "that does, in a financial sense, limit our ability to compete in those fields." Star Tribune.

Line Grows Long for Free Meals at U.S. Schools
Millions of American schoolchildren are receiving free or low-cost meals for the first time as their parents, many once solidly middle class, have lost jobs or homes during the economic crisis, qualifying their families for the decades-old safety-net program…“These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,” said Benjamin Senauer, a University of Minnesota economist who studies the meals program, adding that the surge had happened so quickly “that people like myself who do research are struggling to keep up with it.” New York Times.