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Awards, appointments, & other news

Compiled by Adam Overland


May 22

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.

Danita Brown named vice provost for student affairs and dean

Danita Brown has been named as the University of Minnesota's new vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, effective July 31, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

Brown's professional career in higher education includes a wide variety of experiences and progressive responsibility in student affairs, ranging from crisis management, mediation, counseling and advising, student advocacy, teaching, fiscal management, and public speaking, to strategic planning, leadership and policy development.

Brown comes to Minnesota from Purdue University, where she has served as dean of students since March 2011. She began her tenure at Purdue in August 2008, as the associate dean of students for counseling, and she has served on many institutional and community committees in West Lafayette. Prior to her service at Purdue, Brown was the interim dean of students at West Virginia University at Parkersburg; associate director of campus life at Ohio University; and program coordinator of student activities and leadership at Loyola University Chicago.

She is a native of Kent, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from Kent State University and Master of Arts degree in community counseling from Loyola University Chicago. Brown earned a Ph.D. in higher education from Ohio University and is a licensed professional counselor. She is also active and involved with many organizations associated with higher education.

As the chief student affairs officer on the Twin Cities campus, Brown will be responsible for providing leadership and administrative oversight of and accountability for the student services and programs in the Office for Student Affairs. The vice provost and dean works with and represents the interests of a diverse student body to ensure a mutually reinforcing relationship between the academic and non academic life of students. She will also work to promote the intellectual, cultural, personal, educational, and social development of students. Brown will lead the Office for Student Affairs and serve as a key member of the Provost's senior leadership group.

Brown replaces Jerry Rinehart, who is retiring after more than 35 years at the U of M.

For more information, see the news release.

Interim dean for CLA and search committee

Provost Hanson has convened a search committee for the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design, will chair the 20-member committee, which met last week to receive its charge and to discuss the position and search process. Dean Fisher also launched a series of listening sessions with various CLA and campus communities.

Raymond "Bud" Duvall, Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science, has agreed to serve as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts from July 1 until a new permanent dean is in place. Professor Duvall has served as chair of the political science department since 2007.

Send questions, suggestions, or thoughts about the position to the search committee by contacting committee chair Dean Tom Fisher, at, or Kate Stuckert in the Office of Human Resources at

Interdisciplinary Graduate Group funding award

Five new and four existing interdisciplinary graduate groups were recently awarded funding in this year's Interdisciplinary Graduate Groups (IGG) competition.

Intended to facilitate collaboration among faculty, staff and students with similar interdisciplinary interests, Interdisciplinary Graduate Groups also seed and support the development of research, educational, and training activities that expand and enhance interdisciplinary graduate and professional education. For more information, see the funding announcement.

ACLS Fellowship

Professor of English Andrew Elfenbein won an ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Fellowship for 2013-14. Elfenbein will undertake his project, "The Gist of Reading," to provide scholars for the first time with models and vocabulary for describing the reading strategies and mental processes of nineteenth-century readers.

UMRA awards for service

The University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) has recently established three awards for service. Awardees will be recognized at May 28 Annual Meeting of UMRA.

Recipients of the awards

Judy Leahy Grimes—Award for Service to UMRA.

Paul Rosenblatt—Award for Service to the University.

Gary C. McVey—Award for Service to the Community.

Brief descriptions of their contributions are given in the May UMRA Newsletter (PDF), page 4.

Larry Yore to receive Outstanding Achievement Award

For his pioneering work in science education, Larry Yore will receive one of the highest awards bestowed on alumni of the University of Minnesota at a ceremony on campus May 22. The U's Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes graduates who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields – appropriate for Yore, an internationally known expert on the role of language in science and science education and on how language affects scientific inquiry.

For more information, see the news release.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

Scientific research? We built that!
U of M physicist James Kakalios calls for President Obama and Congress to undo sequestration, while illustrating how research that impacts our daily lives is federally funded, and carried out at universities and national laboratories with no immediate expectation of profit. The Hill's Congress Blog.

Creating a global tapestry of climate stories from around the world
Professor Aaron Doering of the Learning Technologies program at the University of Minnesota discusses his two-week expedition in the Canadian Arctic. Doering lead a crew of five whose mission is work with Arctic communities to tell their climate change stories. WTIP.

University of Minnesota research case is not a scandal
Examinations of the Markingson case have been conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Hennepin County District Court, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice (assisted by the Minnesota attorney general's office) and the University Office of General Counsel, at the direction of the Board of Regents. ...None of these investigations found that the university in any way contributed to Markingson's death. Author Aaron Friedman is vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School at the University of Minnesota. Star Tribune.

Gene-testing dispute focuses on how much a patient should know
Should patients undergoing broad DNA testing for a specific ailment be told of unexpected findings that signal risk of cancer or other serious diseases, even if they don't request the information? The question is at the core of a battle brewing among doctors and ethicists amid growing use of gene sequencing for clinical use. Susan Wolf of the University of Minnesota led a group of ethicists that just established a report on the issue. Bloomberg.

Pollen count apps for smartphones are nothing to sneeze at
Much like the trees and flowers causing problems for some Minnesotans, allergy apps are just starting to bloom. Don Reilkoff, a pulmonologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, offers his expertise. Star Tribune.

Time to say 'Ta-ta' to the bra?
Research is showing that wearing a bra might actually make your breasts sag, according to 15 years worth of data collection. Jean McElvain, assistant curator at the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota, comments. Star Tribune.

Double mastectomies are rising, along with the costs
After Angelina Jolie announced yesterday in The New York Times that she underwent a double mastectomy to remove both breasts to dramatically lower her chances of contracting breast cancer, women who have had the same operation have shared their stories. Todd Tuttle, From the University of Minnesota Medical School, comments. Popular Science.

May 15

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.

McMaster honored as UCGIS Fellow

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) will honor three individuals who have contributed to the advancement of geographic information science education and research at its upcoming annual Symposium at George Mason University, May 21, including Robert McMaster, an eminent educator and leader in the field of geography and GIScience.

McMaster, professor of geography, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, is a scholar of international reputation who has made extraordinary contributions to research, education, and service in geographic information science and technology, and to UCGIS. McMaster has made significant research contributions in automated generalization of geospatial data and phenomena, environmental risk, GIScience and society.

The Fellows Program was created in 2010 to celebrate the extraordinary record of achievements of individuals in a variety of spatial disciplines and communities of practice that use spatial information. Fellows were selected by the UCGIS Board from a slate of nominees presented by the current UCGIS Fellows.

For more information, see UCGIS Fellows.

Association of College and Research Libraries

Karen Williams, associate university librarian for research and learning at the University of Minnesota, has been elected vice-president/president-elect for the Association of College & Research Libraries. She assumes the presidency in July 2014 for a one-year term.

Committee on Geotargeted Disaster Alerts and Warnings

Professor Shashi Shekhar has been appointed a member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board committee on Geotargeted Disaster Alerts and Warnings. The NRC is the operating arm of the National Academies, which provides science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln that was originally granted in 1863. The committee will consider the potential for more precise geographical targeting to improve the effectiveness of disaster alerts and warnings; examine the opportunities presented by current and emerging technologies to create, deliver, and display alerts and warnings with greater geographic precision; consider the circumstances where more granular targeting would be useful; and examine the roles of federal, state, and local agencies and private sector information and telecommunications providers in delivering more targeted alerts.

Previously, Professor Shekhar served on National Academies committees on Mapping Sciences (2003–09), Priorities for GEOINT Research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2004-06), and Future U.S. Work-force for Geospatial intelligence (2011–12).

Outstanding Institutional Advising Program

The Center for Academic Planning and Exploration (CAPE) was one of a select few chosen nationally as the recipient of the Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Award Winner from the National Academic Advising Program Association. CAPE's innovative model of serving undecided students will be recognized at the national conference in Salt Lake City this fall. For more information, see CAPE.

Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

Recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals are Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, Philippines (Humphrey Fellow '06-'07); Yong-Lin Moon, South Korea (Educational Psychology, '87); Azwinndini Muronga, South Africa (Physics, '02), and Rüşdü Saraçoğlu, Turkey (Economics, '80). The University-wide award honors alumni, former students, and friends of the University who have distinguished themselves in their post-university work as leaders in their professional careers.

For more information, see Award for Internationals.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

Good Question: Same medical procedure, different price tags?
For the first time Thursday, the U.S. government released pricing information from hospitals around the country. And that data showed vast disparities in the amount hospitals are charging for the same procedures. Dr. Roger Feldman, a professor of insurance in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, offers insight. WCCO-TV.

The next contagion: Closer than you think
Michael Osterholm, epidemiologist, professor of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health, and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, at the University of Minnesota, authored an op-ed on the emergence of the H7N9 coronavirus. New York Times.

Minneapolis political upheaval signals possible major change at City Hall
Larry Jacobs, professor in the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, comments on the latest political developments in the city of Minneapolis. MinnPost.

Simply Science: The sound of your own voice
University of Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences professor Ben Munson discusses why we hear ourselves differently live than in a recording. Psychology professor Stephen Engel explains how we see ourselves differently in mirrors and photos. KARE 11.

Leaning out: Why do women retire earlier than men?
Bloggers have had much to say lately about the difficulties of working women who are raising children and/or managing dual-career marriages, as well as those who are planning to marry or to have children. Author Phyllis Moen, PhD holds the McKnight Presidential Chair in Sociology at the University of Minnesota. Huffington Post.

You are what you breathe
If you think air quality in the U.S. has improved since the government has cracked down on industrial emissions and Priuses now zip down every highway, you're not totally off base. However, 132 million Americans – or 42 percent of the population – live in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone and soot, according to a recent American Lung Association report. Dr. Russell Luepker, an epidemiology professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, comments. Men's Journal.

Why we need public boarding schools
Thomas Fisher, professor and dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, authored an article for the Huffington Post regarding his opinion on the need for public boarding schools. Huffington Post.

U pharmacy prof 'unrivaled' in her field
For Gunda Georg, writing scientific papers on a weekend is fun. It’s often the only time she has for that part of her job because the week is full of her other responsibilities. The University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy professor loves what she does, and her colleagues say that’s what keeps her so dedicated to her many roles. Minnesota Daily.

Supplemental Medicare coverage associated with higher rates of spending
Ezra Golberstein of the University of Minnesota and coauthors report that employer-sponsored and self-purchased supplemental coverage were associated with annual spending growth rates of 7.17 percent and 7.18 percent, respectively, compared to 6.08 percent for beneficiaries without supplemental coverage. Health Affairs Blog.

Defending U of Minnesota literature course
Susan Henderson, director for precollege programs at the U of M, offers a counterpoint to a previous commentary questioning the literature course offered through College in Schools. Star Tribune.

May 8

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.

William Donohue named general counsel

William Donohue has been named the University's next general counsel, effective May 22, and continuing up to June 30, 2015, pending approval by the Board of Regents on May 10.

Donohue has been deputy general counsel since 1996 and has served in Office of the General Counsel (OGC) since 1982. For many years, Donohue was a litigator representing the University in state and federal courts. For the last several years, he has overseen the overall administration of the office, directing all University litigation and supervising OGC lawyers responsible for litigation and labor employment. Prior to coming to the OGC, Donohue was on the staff of the Minnesota Attorney General. He is a graduate of Carleton College, and received his law degree cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1974. He has taught The Law and Post-Secondary Institutions through the College of Education and Human Development for many years.

As general counsel, Donohue will be responsible for leading the OGC in meeting the legal needs of the University by offering highly specialized legal services in many areas, including patent, trademark, and copyright law; technology licensing and commercialization; employment and labor relations; healthcare law and medical malpractice; and real estate transactions, development, and eminent domain.

Barbara Burke Receives Fulbright Award

Barbara Burke, associate professor of communication, media, and rhetoric, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research at Vidzemes Augstskola (VIA) in Latvia during the 2013–14 academic year. During this time she will teach courses in media literacy and visual journalism and will speak at guest and community lectures.

As a Fulbright Scholar and Media Specialist, Burke will spend more than six months in Latvia, teaching courses from late January until mid-July 2014. Throughout her tenure abroad she will explore ways in which 21st century Latvian media stories contribute to the creation of a national identity and the ways in which media consumed by the country's Russian-speaking population parallel Spanish-language media in the United States. The notion of cultural identity is a current focus of VIA, the institution where Burke will be teaching and studying. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more information, see Burke.

Spring 2013 Mini Grants

Mixing music and visual arts at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, assessing impacts of frac sand mining, and providing bicycle repair stations for student commuters are among the 12 interdisciplinary initiatives the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment has selected for funding in the latest round of awards for its Mini Grant program.

Mini Grants are designed to encourage collaboration among faculty, staff and students across University of Minnesota disciplines, units and campuses on environmental themes. Along with up to $3,000 in funding, each recipient is provided space for meetings, workshops and conferences and some administrative support for a year.

For more information, see descriptions of the projects.

Outstanding Community Service Award

The Office for Public Engagement has announced the 2013 recipients of the University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award.

Donna Gabaccia, College of Liberal Arts professor and Immigration History Research Center director.

Kristine Miller, College of Design professor.

Natasha Wright, School of Public Health graduate student.

JoAnn Velde, chair of the City of Minneapolis' Southeast Strategic Compliance Team.

Established in 1999, the award recognizes faculty, staff, students, and University-affiliated community members who have made significant contributions to society's wellbeing through research, teaching or public service. For more information, see community service.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

Bouncing back may be tough, but so are we
In 2005 the National Science Foundation brought together some unlikely collaborators—ecologists and psychologists among them—to talk about resilience. Researchers were surprised to find that many of those children, despite the tremendous emotional, social, and economic deficits they faced, went on to lead normal, healthy lives. Ann Masten, a professor of child psychology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, coined the term "ordinary magic" to explain why. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gitmo dilemma: Force-feeding violates international law
As a legal scholar who once campaigned against the Bush administration's human rights abuses, President Obama surely knows the international rules on the treatment of prisoners. Steven Miles of the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics, comments. MSNBC.

Good Question: Should we force people to save for retirement?
Aaron Sojourner, a human resources assistant professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, helps answer. WCCO-TV.

U of M poised for major role in Obama BRAIN initiative
The University of Minnesota will be at the forefront of a stunningly ambitious federal initiative to map the human brain. On Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., jumped ahead of the game and called a roundtable meeting at the U with Kamil Ugurbil, director of the U's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, and representatives of foundations that raise money for research into epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Star Tribune.

Potholes filled using kitchen technology
We all know what a great tool microwaves have been for filling our stomachs. But a public-private partnership between David Hopstock and Larry Zanko of the Natural Resources Research Institute at University of Minnesota Duluth is using the same technology to fill potholes. KARE 11.

Selling body parts: lucrative and life changing
If you're looking for some extra cash, you may not need to look any farther than yourself. The donation of sperm or egg cells, and even plasma, can be worth around $4,000. But when it comes to selling your body, there are limits. University of Minnesota professor Michele Goodwin offers insight on these limits. KARE 11.

Schools look to U for more diverse teachers
A diversity gap exists among Minnesota teachers, and Twin Cities public schools have consistently looked to the University of Minnesota for help. Misty Sato, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction [at the U's College of Education and Human Development, discusses what CEHD is doing to educate diverse teaching candidates. Minnesota Daily.