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On the move: USC people, making news, making an impact (8/7/2000)

“The University of Southern California’s ‘fabled network in the law’ celebrated its centennial anniversary … with glamour befitting a Hollywood awards ceremony, but one featuring more powerful headliners and guests,” began the front-page story in the June 14 Los Angeles Daily Journal. The USC Law School’s centennial coverage also included a photo captioned “Crème de la crème” showing four California Supreme Court Justices who were USC Law grads: Marcus Kaufman, ’56; David Eagleson, ’50; Joyce Luther Kennard, ’74, and Malcolm Lucas, ’53. All attended the black-tie centennial anniversary party on June 10. “Bruce Karatz, CEO of Kaufman and Broad and chair of the Law School Campaign, brought the audience to its feet with his announcement that the centennial fund-raising campaign had surpassed not only its original goal of $39 million but even its revised goal of $50 million,” noted the article. “’As of today, we’ve raised $50.4 million, and the campaign isn’t over yet,’ Karatz told the cheering crowd.” The extensive coverage chronicled the rich history of the school, including its pioneering public interest clinics, and its enrollment of women in classes from the very beginning.

“There are some fathers who become closer with children after divorce,” said marriage and divorce expert Constance Ahrons in the May 2 Tulsa World, disputing a study that suggests that trust and the relationship between children and a divorced male parent always decline once the father leaves the house. “And there are fathers with joint custody who have stayed in very close contact.”

Tsunami expert Costas Synolakis was quoted in a May 7 story in the Times Community Newspapers. The story covered his presentation to Santa Monica officials warning them that the Southern California shore was structurally similar to Papua New Guinea, where an underwater landslide triggered by an earthquake caused a catastrophic tsunami in 1998. Synolakis said such tsunamis can occur only minutes after an earthquake, giving emergency officials little time to prepare. “A 4-foot wave could move vehicles, which become like battering rams against houses,” said Synolakis.

The May 8 Business Week reported on the apparently successful treatment of two infants in France using the nascent medical technology of gene therapy. The field suffered a setback last September when a patient in America died during treatment, and the public view of gene therapy began to darken. The latest results from Paris came as a morale boost to the field’s advocates. “This is an important first step. It’s so nice to have something positive to report,” said gene therapy pioneer W. French Anderson. Anderson was also quoted in the May 9 Boston Globe, defending the field against a recent clamor of criticism.

The May 8-14 Los Angeles Business Journal quoted pediatrician Beverly Wood in an article on interactive and online medical school courses. “People don’t want to watch videotapes. They want a site that offers an active, self-directed approach,” said Wood.

USC faculty have been serving as experts in online chats at the WebMD consumer Web site over the past few months. Surgeon Robert Beart discussed surgery for colorectal cancer. Hematologist Alexandra Levine offered her expertise on current treatments and issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Surgeon Nicolas Jabbour was interviewed on new alternatives for liver transplants. Surgeon Marvin Corman was interviewed on new surgical options in the treatment of incontinence, and oncologist Heinz-Josef Lenz was interviewed on cancer genetics and on the treatment and diagnosis of colon cancer.

An earthquake staffer shakes up Quackenbush

In a June 5 L.A. Times story, Jill Andrews, public outreach director for the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, was a large thorn in the hide of embattled state Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. When she’d heard about the commissioner’s new foundation to promote “earthquake safety and seismic science” she applied for $75,000 to help pay for an hour-long scientific documentary. She didn’t get it, although her documentary was eventually completed while Quackenbush’s foundation spent $853,184 for a one-minute video. “It is an appalling amount of money to pay for a video. With $150,000 I created an hour-long, prime time video that will also be used for educational purposes all across the U.S. But I’m also angry because as a taxpayer it seems like such a gross waste of resources.”

Op Ed: ‘Yes to progress,’ say black churches

Donald Miller, professor of religion and executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, was the author of an op-ed article, “Black Churches Say ‘Amen’ to the Lord and ‘Yes’ to Progress in the Sunday, July 16 Los Angeles Times. Miller noted that black churches, often seen by intellectuals as a Marxist-like “coping mechanism for the masses” to help dull the pain of poverty, are actually working within “the democratic structures of capitalism” in Los Angeles. “There is a lesson to be learned from the black mega-churches in our city. Not only do they have social capital—those ties that bind people of faith together in service to each other—but they have financial capital. Indeed, some of the most entrepreneurial people in our city are sitting in their pews listening to sermons about discipline, the common good and the fact that dependency unless it is spiritual in natural, is not to be praised.”

Kevin Starr has heartfelt advice for Democrats

L.A. State Librarian and USC political expert Kevin Starr drew on his own health experience to comment in a July 26 Wall Street Journal article about George W. Bush’ selection of Dick Cheney for a running mate. Questions immediately rose about Cheney’s health as he had undergone heart bypass surgery. Starr, who is the same age as Cheney, said he felt “more energized than ever” two months after his own bypass surgery and added that Democrats would “make a big mistake if they try to bait Mr. Cheney on the basis” of his heart. “The operation is so common, millions of Americans have had it, and it doesn’t involve a permanent state of invalidism…Once you recover from the surgery, you’re in better shape than ever.”

Michael Noll pens two op-ed articles

Communications guru and watchdog of the world’s telephone companies, A. Michael Noll penned two op-ed articles during July. On July 14 in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, he warned New Jersey residents that Bell Atlantic’s petition to the state’s board of Public Utilities for deregulation of its rates was “not in the best interests of consumers.” He pointed out that Bell Atlantic did not have competition providing residential local phone access, that its after-tax profit margin was 13 percent for its 999 domestic telecommunication business and “that greed for even higher profits is gripping management…Competition usually is better than monopoly, but an unregulated monopoly is far worse than a regulated one,” said Noll.

In the Los Angeles Times on July 26, Noll explored a recent announcement by Deutsche Telekom to buy VoiceStream Wireless for $50 billion. The deal made no financial sense because the German firm would have to make an annual profit of $3200 per customer just o make back its investment in 10 years. But Noll argued that the U.S. should oppose the deal because more than half the overvalued stock of supposedly privatized Deutsche Telekom is owned by the German government and the company was busy acquiring telecommunications enterprises around the world. “These acquisitions are being done in the name of globalization, but that is simply a politically correct term for the colonialism and imperialism of the past,” he wrote. “Until Germany completely privatizes Deutsche Telekom, the company should not be allowed to have dominant ownership of any telecommunications firm in the United States—even if it is about to lose its lederhosen in this deal.”

Bart Kosko advises Congress to kill a carnivore

Electrical engineer Bart Kosko, author of “The Fuzzy Future,” wrote an op-ed article published in the July 27 L.A. Times about the FBI’s surveillance software, called “Carnivore,” which is used to snoop on e-mail. “The only thing right about Carnivore is its name: This digital beast devours both personal privacy and constitutional limits on state police power. Congress should kill it,” he concluded. Kosko argued that Carnivore undermines the 4th Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches, that the FBI could instead ask Internet service providers to turn over information the way that telephone companies currently do, and that the software surveillance program was unlikely to be successful. “The only people Carnivore can confidently watch are the innocent citizens whom it has no right to watch. This sets a foolish and dangerous precedent for the type of heavy-handed precedent for the type of heavy-handed government surveillance one would expect to find in Myanmar or China.”

David Grazman named to board

David N. Grazman, assistant professor of health administration in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and an expert in the management of health-care organizations, has been appointed to the board of directors of Public Health Foundation Enterprises. Founded in 1968, PHFE is a leader in the development, promotion, and support of programs and activities to improve public health.

Pierre Koenig named Royal Fellow

Pierre Koenig, a University Professor in the School of Architecture and a legendary modernist architect, has been named an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA). The RIBA is a worldwide organization with more than 32,000 members in over 100 countries, but only 75 of them are in California. The organization is dedicated to the advancement of architecture and to the improvement and enjoyment of the physical environment.

Robert Maronde retires

Robert Maronde, emeritus professor of medicine and special assistant to the vice president for health affairs Joseph P. Van Der Meulen, is retiring after more than five decades of service to the university.

Van Der Meulen lauded Maronde’s 50 years of service, calling him, “an innovative and dedicated faculty member who has been instrumental in some of the key developments in integrating medical care and the proper utilization of pharmaceuticals.”

Maronde joined the Keck School of Medicine in 1948 as an assistant professor of physiology and served in numerous positions in medicine and pharmacology over the following decades, including service as head of the Clinical Pharmacology Section.

Cinema-TV pairs with AtomFilms

The USC School of Cinema-Television has partnered with netcaster AtomFilms to distribute 100 short films on the Web through summer 2001. Classic short films from the school’s alumni, including George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis, can be viewed online. The USC library at Atom also will include the hottest new student films, many of which are currently making the festival circuit. To view the films, go to http://www.atomfilms.com. Click on “USC” to see the USC Cinema Yearbook.

On the move: USC people, making news, making an impact (8/7/2000)

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