USC in the News
Brats at Work
USC experts were prominent in a May 10 Los Angeles Times special Business section, “Careers: The Bratty Bunch,” about problem bosses and co-workers. Leadership expert Warren Bennis was quoted in two stories, coming to the defense of both young and older managers. “Being young does not automatically preclude you from being a good leader,” he said, adding that it can be an advantage when the pace is hectic and change is a constant, as with technology companies. In a different story that questioned whether General Electric CEO John F. Welch, 63, could grasp the implications of the Internet, Bennis said: “Welch is an incredibly strategic thinker, part of the grown-up group.” In a story about bosses as bullies, child development experts Penelope K. Trickett and Franklin Manis were quoted.
USC’s Commencement Makes Big News
More than 50,000 people crowded in and around Alumni Park on Friday, May 14, for the university’s 116th commencement, and the media were there to cover it. Camera crews from KNBC, KABC and KCOP, along with reporters and photgraphers from KNX, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Associated Press and Korea Central Daily, were on hand when former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher urged graduates to pursue public service (see his address, page 6), and they captured on tape and in print the standing ovation civil rights activist Rosa Parks received when awarded an honorary doctorate. In fact when the Associated Press reported May 8 that Parks would receive an honorary degree at USC’s commencement, the story ran nationwide. Newspapers using the item included the Dayton, Ohio, Daily News; Salt Lake City Deseret News; Detroit News; The Record of Bergen County, N.J.; Sacramento Bee; and New Orleans Times-Picayune.
“I think we’ve all heard more than enough in recent weeks about students who cause trouble. It makes us fear for the future,” read a May 12 Los Angeles Times column about 1999 valedictorian Alaina Kipps. “Then along comes Kipps, and we can breathe a little easier.” “She’s attacking the future,” said Peter Shugarman, an associate professor of biology who had taught Kipps. “The future’s out there, and she’s not afraid of it.” The May 13 Los Angeles Daily News , the May 14 Orange County Register and the May 15 Santa Cruz Sentinel, along with KNBC and KABC, also followed the story.
Transportation expert James E. Moore II wrote a March 19 Los Angeles Daily News op-ed suggesting that competitive decentralized contracting in a transit zone separate from the MTA might reduce costs and improve service in the San Fernando Valley. “There can be little doubt that the MTA has provided inadequate transit services in the San Fernando Valley,” he wrote.
The $1.5 million gift from USC alumnus George Lucas and a $500,000 donation from director Steven Spielberg to the School of Cinema-Television’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts was reported in several newspapers, including the April 2 Vancouver Sun and the April 7 USA Today.
Raising $125 million in a record amount of time and boosting the reputation of the USC Marshall School of Business was possible because of a sound marketing plan, Randolph Westerfield said in an April 19 Los Angeles Business Journal Q & A. “What we really needed was somebody who was willing to promote and market the school to the corporate community, to our alumni – somebody who was willing to do what it took to build up the endowment, to build up the financial viability of the school,” Westerfield said.
Microsoft’s successful launch of Windows 95 was tied to a shorter cycle time for product debuts and the speed at which information now gets around the world, marketing expert David Stewart said in an April 20 Investor’s Business Daily Q & A. “Products are getting accepted into the marketplace faster,” Stewart said. “Such changes as the advent of the Internet and the growing use of overnight couriers have made markets truly global, and information flows much faster.” Stewart was also quoted in the May 10 Los Angeles Times about the marketing of Pokemon, a menagerie of action-figure toys.
The April 23 Los Angeles Times called the offerings of the third night of USC’s L.A. Jazz 1999 festival “high-quality, compelling music” and was equally complimentary in an April 21 review following the opening night. The largest free jazz festival in Los Angeles, the program offered 12 concerts over four days, with such featured performers as the David Sanchez Quartet and Kamau Daaood and His Army of Healers.
“A very sad and dispiriting observation we made is there’s always a predictable flurry of activity after a major disruption like a riot,” urban problems and policies expert Phil Ethington commented in a front-page April 23 Los Angeles Times profile of activist Joe Hicks. Ethington earlier this year unveiled a report that suggested additional funding for the city’s Human Relations Commission, which Hicks heads.
The USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center was the setting for an April 24 KABC-TV news report on a new breast cancer awareness program developed by the Magic Johnson Foundation. The program is designed to heighten awareness of the disease in the African American community, and Norris medical interviewer Dorothy Harris explained her personal battle with the disease. “The doctors here at Norris are wonderful,” she said.
Psychiatrist William Arroyo was quoted in an April 25 Los Angeles Times article on the possible long-term effects on those who lose family members in the Kosovo crisis. “[For] a child who loses a parent or parents … the natural system is not available to them. That tends to compound the psychological trauma.”
Entrepreneur expert William Gartner helped New York Times business columnist James Schembari feel better about his failure to invest in publicly traded Internet stocks, according to Schembari’s April 25 column. Investing in the Internet is nothing more than a gamble, Gartner said. “A company rarely went public before it turned a profit, but now we have companies who are going public without profits or any prospects of having profits.” Gartner was also quoted in the April 27 Los Angeles Times on the “Wal-Mart-ization” of small stationery stores. He advised small stationers to choose a niche market as a way to stay in business despite competition from the major chains.
The April 26 Los Angeles Times quoted neurologist and gerontologist Victor Henderson in a story on possible ways to ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. “We know that exercising, eating a proper diet and refraining from smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease and may reduce the risk of some cancers,” he said. “There may be certain things one could do for Alzhei-mer’s, but we aren’t smart enough to know what they are yet.”
The April 26 Los Angeles Times quoted preventive medicine specialist Anna Wu in an article on the pros and cons of including soy in one’s diet. Countries where soy intake has been traditionally high – such as China and Japan – have lower levels of breast and prostate cancer, observed Wu. However, “We’re still in the early stages of trying to sort out if there is an effect, what the effect is, and how it’s being exerted,” she cautioned.
The April 27 “Look Good … Feel Better” showcase at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center attracted local media interest. KNBC-TV, KCBS-TV, KNX-AM, KFWB-AM and local newspapers, including The Foothill Leader, all covered the event. During the two-hour session, volunteer stylists taught women undergoing cancer treatment at USC/Norris how to enhance their appearance using make-up techniques, turbans, scarves and other accessories. Oncologist Christy Russell welcomed the more than 100 guests to the event.
Constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky sounded alarms in an April 27 New York Times article about a proposed city ordinance in Cicero, Ill., that would evict all gang members – and punish them if they returned, even to visit their families. “Cities would love to be able to say ‘We don’t want child molesters released back in our community,’” he said. “But they can’t. And what if every city adopted that? Does that mean they wouldn’t be allowed to go every place?”
The dedication of the new David L. Wolper Center for the Study of the Documentary at Doheny Memorial Library was reported in the April 28 Daily Variety and April 28 Los Angeles Times Morning Report column.
“It is obviously true, almost axiomatic, that quality-of-life issues are treated differently, depending on where you live,” geographer Michael Dear said in a front-page April 28 Los Angeles Times article about the poor quality of city services on Skid Row. “People with more avenues, more wealth, more clout tend to get attention more quickly than those without those avenues.”
The School of Dentistry’s mobile dental van was featured in several photos and a story in the April 29 Spanish-language daily La Opiñion.
Research by clinical neuroscientist Adrian Raine was featured in a front-page April 29 USA Today article on the evidence for a biological link to criminal behavior. “We know there are murderers who don’t have the usual signs – a history of child abuse, poverty, domestic violence, broken homes – and yet they commit violence,” Raine said. “Research suggests the cause may lie internally, in terms of abnormal biological functioning.”
A defective-housing construction case before the state Supreme Court could help consumers and developers understand whether a personal injury suit could be filed before shoddy construction actually causes physical injury, business law expert David Honn said in the May 1999 California Lawyer. “This notion of stigma damages has never really been clarified in California decisions,” Honn said.
In a May 3 Los Angeles Times Calendar section “Counter-punch” op-ed, law and communications expert Matt Spitzer urged consumers to pursue an idea suggested at a recent conference sponsored by the USC Center for Communications Law & Policy: allow various interest groups to develop television rating systems for use with the new V-chip technology. “If we are to do anything about the problem of having children watch mass murders in Colorado, the FCC will have to reverse its course and allow children’s advocates, educators and religious groups to attach their own ratings to television programs, including the news,” wrote Spitzer.
In a May 3 KCET “Life & Times” segment, gang expert Malcolm Klein warned against putting too much faith in an injunction leveled against a Culver City gang responsible for killing four and wounding 30 people in a month. “With only one exception, the gang injunction programs have never been independently evaluated, so we’re left with the opinions of those who write the injunctions or of some community residents who give testimony,” Klein said. On the same broadcast, constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky worried about lingering confusion over charter reform, which is on the June 8 ballot. “The media generally has covered well the politics of charter reform, but not so well the substance of the charter reform process,” said Chemerinsky, who chaired the elected charter reform commission.
Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Paul Conrad’s irascible attitude doesn’t fool his old buddy, legendary newsman Ed Guthman. Quoted in the May 3 New Times L.A., Guthman characterized Conrad as a father-knows-best character. “Someone who doesn’t know him might think of him as this critical old codger, when in reality here’s a guy who’s a family man and who has coached Little League baseball for years and raised four wonderful grown kids,” Guthman said.
A Rand Corp. study by health expert Glenn Melnick has found that merging hospitals quickly exploit their new market share by raising prices – regardless of whether the hospitals are for-profit or not-for-profit, according to a May 3 Modern Health Care Weekly Business News article. The study examined the pricing practices of nearly all general acute-care hospitals in California, dating back to 1986.
A long front-page story in the May 5 Los Angeles Times about the 50,000 Americans aged 90 or above who are still working quoted Helen Dennis, a retirement expert from the Andrus Gerontology Center. “It’s really important to start tracking these kinds of late-life, highly productive individuals,” she said. “What we see now as exceptional is going to become more mainstream.”
Rapid growth in telecommuting prompted the Annenberg School for Communication and Pacific Bell to launch a year-long study on how technology and telecommunications affect workers and employers, according to articles in the May 5 Orange County Register and May 9 Sacramento Bee. Because telecommuting has changed dramatically in the past decade, the research conducted in the 1980s and early ‘90s “does not reflect the daily experience of today’s tele-workers,” said communication expert Patricia Riley. “This [new] research study will break new ground.”
Robotics researcher Maja Mataric was featured in a May 5 ABC “World News Tonight” report on emergent behavior, a phenomenon in which computers do unexpected things. Commenting on how some of her foraging robots become aggressive, she said: “This is not something we anticipated, and it is not something we programmed in. In fact, we cannot predict which one is going to be shy and which one is going to be aggressive.”
A study by accounting expert Mark DeFond has found that rules recently adopted in China are driving business away from large and small firms alike, according to the May 6 Wall Street Journal.
USC film experts were quoted in two stories about the hype surrounding the new Star Wars “prequel,” The Phantom Menace: Todd Boyd in the May 6 New York Times and Rick Jewell in the May 9 Los Angeles Times.
A lively debate ensued in the May 7 L.A. Weekly when international relations expert Ronald Steel joined a minister, a film director, two humanitarian relief workers, a journalist and two academics for an extensive roundtable discussion on NATO’s bombing of Serbia. “I think the [bombing is] a cowardly policy designed, not to end the war in Kosovo, but to demonstrate American leadership of NATO and NATO solidarity,” Steel said.
In a front-page May 7 Los Angeles Times Metro section article about a new, controversial Universal Studios 3-D attraction, educational psychologist Myron Dembo suggested guidelines for parents who are concerned about potentially violent entertainment. “If your child watches a shootout, you need to ask questions like, ‘Do you think the person would get up if it was a real gun?’” Dembo said.
More than $60,000 was raised through the 11th annual “Chamber Day,” a benefit event that supports USC’s Hyperbaric Chamber housed on Catalina Island, according to the May 7 Long Beach Press-Telegram. The event raised the money through dives, raffles and a gala dinner at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. Treatments at the chamber are administered by the LAC + USC Medical Center’s department of emergency medicine. USC and the county founded the program.
“The University of Southern California opened the nation’s first film program in 1929,” noted a May 9 New York Times article on “Where Auteurs Learn the ABC’s,” which also listed USC’s as among the handful of U.S film schools considered “perennial heavyweights.”
Computer guru Ellis Horowitz was featured in a May 10 Internet World story about the high demand for college graduates with computer science degrees. “When you get out of here, you have a job waiting for you,” he said, comparing “the frenzy for tech-heads” to that for recruiting college athletes.
EFAB (electrochemical fabrication), a new process for manufacturing micromechanical devices being developed by Adam Cohen at the Information Sciences Insti-tute, continues to garner publicity. Business Week highlighted the project with both a picture and a short story in its May 10 “Developments to Watch” column. The Financial Times carried a short description on April 29 and Nature had a picture and story about the technology in its May 6 News and Views section. On April 28, the Associated Press sent a scanning electronic microscope photo of an ant and a 290-micron-wide chain made with EFAB out on its West Coast wire. Other publications with EFAB stories include Electronics Times, Electronic Engi-neering Times, and on the Web, High Tech Materials Alert, Nano-tech Alert, UniSci University Science, Science Daily, US-Tech, and the American Institute of Physics Web page.
The publication of USC’s 424-page Directory of the Hispanic Community of the County of Los Angeles was highlighted in the May 11 Los Angeles Times. The directory, edited by community relations expert Samuel Mark, has more than 1,300 entries in Spanish and English and is in its ninth edition.
Southern California’s apparel industry must find a way to make itself more competitive to prevent further erosion, said entrepreneurial expert Nitin Bhatt. Quoted in the May 12 Los Angeles Times, Bhatt said buyers are attracted to imported products mostly because of lower prices. He encouraged local manufacturers to “figure out what their customers value outside of cost and how they can add that to their offerings.”
Television and the Internet offer teachers a prime opportunity to use technology to engage students, entrepreneur expert Thomas O’Malia says. In the May 12 Los Angeles Daily News, O’Malia explained why he jumped at the chance to participate in a 12-part teaching series produced by Los Angeles-based distance learning company University Access. “All of the functions of education have been moved to a new medium,” said O’Malia. “The jury is out, but this is what the winner will look like.” The series has been appearing on PBS and local access television stations since January on the East Coast.
United Airlines’ adoption of an entire third-grade class at 32nd Street/USC Performing Arts Magnet School was prominently featured in the May 13 Los Angeles Times. Adoption of one of USC’s Family of Five Schools is “an emerging corporate strategy of aiming the philanthropic dollar directly at the intended beneficiary … rather than mediate it through a school board,” said education expert Guilbert Hentschke. The Family of Five program is a national model of private-public partnerships that offer a range of outreach programs and tutors, the Times reported.
In a May 24 U.S. News & World Report article about what patients need to know before agreeing to participate in clinical trials, bioethicist Alexander Capron urged potential research subjects to seek a second opinion. “Get information from someone with no stake in the research,” he said, suggesting that doctors doing the research may be too close to the project to be completely objective. Then on the May 16 CBS “Nightly News” and the May 17 CBS “News This Morning,” Capron commented on a Prozac infomercial that Eli Lily is starting to run on late-night TV.
More stories about: Commencement 1999