Newsletter for April 10

Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to speak at Class Day; U of C agreed to pay up to $1million to celebrate the Pearson Institute’s launch

By Pete Grieve, Euirim Choi, and Tyrone Lomax

Good morning. Welcome to third week.
Class Day speaker: Former White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett will be the 2018 Class Day speaker, according to two Maroon Key Society members. Jarrett is a distinguished senior fellow at the Law School, and currently serves as an adviser to the Obama Foundation.
The University denied all of the Pearson Family’s allegations and stated that it had maintained the grant agreement in its response to the Pearsons’ lawsuit over a $100 million gift on Thursday. The University also filed a counterclaim alleging that the Pearsons defaulted on the grant agreement by failing to pay their $13 million installment due June 30, 2017.

  • Both parties agreed earlier last week to unseal the grant agreement that outlined the conditions of the gift. Agreements like this have seldom entered the public domain, making the lawsuit a rare opportunity for the public to see how far universities are willing to go to land a blockbuster donation.
  • Grant agreement highlights: The University was prepared to spend up to $1 million of its own money for an event announcing the creation of the Pearson Institute—money that was initially allocated towards filming an announcement video, preparing a venue, and hiring top-dollar speakers. Speakers under consideration included Henry Kissinger and Robert Mueller.

Business econ major update: The faculty-led proposal to create a business economics major has been withdrawn, according to John List, chair of the Department of Economics. Instead, the economics department will be discussing internally whether a “business economics” track should be added to the preexisting economics major. We reported in the last newsletter that economics chair John List announced that the business economics major had been approved. We can now confirm that List meant the economics department would create a separate track in the existing economics major to accommodate this field of study.
Maroon Weekly podcast: This week’s podcast includes audio from several interviews and speeches about Charles Thomas, who was shot by UCPD last Tuesday.

  • Olivia De Keyser knows Charles Thomas as a co-worker at the Oriental Institute and as a friend. “He’s one of the most laid-back people I think I’ve ever met. Always just very friendly, very chill,” she said. “He’s just such a great presence to have around.” She feels a duty to talk about Thomas as a person because he’d be vouching for any of his friends in the same situation.

  • Guy Emerson Mount, Thomas’s Global History of Hip Hop professor, said, “You have people that are now openly saying, this is clearly what you deserve when you have a pipe in your hand and when you walk toward a police officer. And in one sense you can say well that’s wrong, but the only way that’s wrong is if the protocol itself is wrong. … Zimmer was not wrong when he said that’s the protocol. To me, the problem is the protocol itself.”
  • Daniel Lastres, Thomas’s friend, said he suffered a broken shoulder blade and a collapsed lung." He did what he could to get himself help by visiting Student Counseling Services at the end of winter quarter. Rather than being provided with a regular counselor on campus, SCS referred him off-campus."

Update: The University said Sunday that Nicholas Twardak is the UCPD officer who shot Thomas.

  • Law School professor Craig Futterman, who is known for securing the release of Laquan McDonald dashcam video, spoke to The Gate about the UCPD shooting. “The University gets some credit for releasing the bodycam videos very quickly,” he said. “But while I’ll provide that praise, that shouldn’t be a matter of discretion. When a University police officer has the power to arrest, the powers of the state, the power to use force, and does so […]it ought to be public information and not a matter of discretion.” There was “sound” legislation to fix this that hasn’t passed the state senate, he said.

In Viewpoints
Editor Meera Santhanam writes in:
Columnist Annie Geng reflects on the abysmal state of mental health at UChicago in wake of the UCPD shooting.
Contributor Michael Lemay writes that while the ethics of the UCPD shooting itself may be up for debate, the situation should never have occurred in the first place.

Z&H on 57th Street has new ownership and a new name, True North Café, which is a Chicago-based restaurant. With a new smoothie bar and an expanded menu, the co-owners are currently looking for more staff as management adjusts to the new space.

Residential Properties building will be demolished: Graduate students and staff can find significantly cheaper apartments from Residential Properties than private landlords, but there aren’t many of these buildings left in the University’s hands. There were once 48 buildings in the program, but with one more now set to be demolished, soon only 12 will remain.

  • The University holds real estate throughout Hyde Park and has reaped the rewards of increased market values by selling some of its holdings in the profitable area north of the Midway, including former dorms Broadview, Blackstone, and Maclean. At the same time, the University has responded to the area’s change with marked expansion south of the Midway, where properties are still relatively cheap. (Listen to the podcast.)

Trauma services begin May 1 at the University’s medical center, which was approved as a Level 1 adult trauma center yesterday by the Illinois Department of Public Health. UChicago Medicine hasn’t offered adult trauma care since 1988; the South Side hasn’t since 1991.

  • Medical center president Sharon O’ Keefe, on a conference call with reporters Thursday: “Now as I look back over this journey, over several years, I can proudly say we’ve hit every milestone to bring a Level 1 trauma center to the South Side of Chicago.”

Art professor Theaster Gates has accepted a three-year visiting artist appointment at Colby College. In a New York Times interview, he said he’s excited to have a quiet place to work away from the city. Gates, who has been a leader with planning the Garfield Arts Block, will remain a professor at the U of C.

  • “Sometimes the challenge is that, as a black artist or as an artist who works in the city or someone who has a public practice, it’s hard to take off the public profile…. If the art practice is going to continue to grow, I need time to retreat and so one of the things that I’m excited about is that I get a chance to retreat.”

Stories Against Stigma: Chicago’s Black Lives Matter branch and the activist group Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) cohosted an event last Friday that focused on the impact of closing mental health clinics in Illinois. During the event, audience members spoke on their experiences, alongside discussing gang violence and police shootings.
Assistant professor Adom Getachew helped organize a march Wednesday night supporting victims of state violence. Coordinated on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the rally centered around the shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento and fourth-year Charles Thomas.

  • Adom Getachew: “What happened at the University of Chicago is emblematic of what we see around policing in other contexts…we have to create alternative kinds of responses in our communities.”

Professor John Wilkinson will be the creative writing program director for the 2018–19 academic year, after taking a one-year leave. He hopes the program will continue to grow, with the eventual possibility of a graduate program being launched.
Correction: The last newsletter incorrectly stated that a forum featuring University President Robert Zimmer and Dean of the College John Boyer was an IOP forum, when it was an SG forum moderated by IOP director David Axelrod.

Subscribe at Feedback via e-mail