NEWS

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December 3, 2002

News in Brief

Provost releases annual report

University Provost Robert Saller recently released his Annual Report for 2001-2002. This report provides an overview of the University's financial and academic progress over the past year. Additionally, the report tracked the progress of the Chicago Initiative, the large-scale fundraising campaign which aims to raise $2 billion over the next five years.

"2001-2002 has been [a year] of transition and renewal at the University," Saller wrote.

At this point in the Chicago Initiative, the University has raised $723 million for the support of faculty, students, programs, facilities, and other needs of the University.

The report also recounts faculty achievements over the past year, which include Professor John Calstrom's election to the National Academy of Sciences, and Professor Jean Bethke Elshtain's winning of the Goodenough Prize for lifetime achievement from the American Political Science Association.

Newly tenured professors were also listed, as well as an official crime report. Over the past 25 years, crime in the Hyde Park area has decreased dramatically. Burglaries have dropped by 76 percent, robberies by 56 percent, and sexual assaults by 92 percent.

Saller credited the decrease in crime to the renewal movement in the neighborhood, which has resulted in the opening of the North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School on 46th Street, as well as the Lucky Strike pool hall and bowling alley.

Finally, Saller addressed the financial state of the University's endowment. "The endowment of the University grew much faster than the rate of inflation in the 1990s, but over the past two years has declined along with the stock markets," Saller reported.

Saller approximated the University's loss at about 20 percent from its peak in 2000, although he was quick to state that campus construction would not be held up, and that the University would follow through on all current building plans and the programs associated with them.

Universities across the country have been under increasing financial strain since the start of the recession in the summer of 2001. The New York Times recently profiled several institutions' responses to the financial shortfall, including faculty hiring freezes, building delays, and decreases in student services.

"We will make every effort to protect academic programs," Saller said. To do this, a working group of deans and senior administrators has been established. This group will explore budget options for the upcoming fiscal years, and deal with any expected financial shortfalls.

"We do not expect that the impact of the endowment decline will change our academic priorities and aspirations, though it may well require adjustments in the pace of implementation," Saller said.

--Josh Steinman

Humanities scholar receives grant

Sheila Fitzpatrick was one of five humanities scholars at American universities to received a $1.5 million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation last week.

"A versatile and influential historian of 20th century Russia, Professor Fitzpatrick has made major contributions to cultural, social, and political history," the Foundation said in its announcement of the winners. "Her studies of the Russian Revolution, of the Soviet cultural revolution, and of everyday life under Stalinism--even when they evoke disagreement--have set the standard for the field."

The Foundation also cited her overall commitment to students and the number of her former students who have become professional historians.

The award is paid out over three years, two years of which recipients are expected to remain on their home campuses, and funds are overseen by the recipients' institutions.

"I was very surprised because you don't have advanced warning. And, of course, I was very pleased," Fitzpatrick said of her reaction to receiving the grant. "It makes things like research travel possible."

Fitzpatrick is currently engaged in a research project on Stalin, Molotov, and the practice of politics, which will be facilitated but not changed in many ways, she said. "That's a topic one needs to go to the Russian archives for," she said.

Fitzpatrick, renowned for her investigation and guidance of research into state archives released after the collapse of the Soviet Union, will facilitate further work in the field by helping fund more scholars to pore through these documents and store them in systematic ways.

"Russian scholars and archivists need a lot of support, so I think I'll have the chance to help them," she said.

Several projects Fitzpatrick was working on or considering have changed or become possible as a result of the grant. She is now planning a project with Leora Auslander, an associate professor in history, on social practices and relationships between what people do and what they say about it.

"That's a project that's just getting underway," she said. "That's one that the Mellon Grant should make possible. We talked about it, but we didn't have any specific plan."

Fitzpatrick also said that she is planning a third conference for an ongoing series with Michael Geyer, a professor of history, on the problem of comparative history with respect to Nazism and Stalinism.

In addition, Fitzpatrick is planning a workshop and conference with young scholars, including recent Ph.D. graduates from the University, looking at "Stalinism from the neo-traditionalist paradigm," she said.

--Simon Shifrin

SSA sponsors holiday book drive

The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) is sponsoring a holiday book drive for needy elementary schools in the Woodlawn area. The SSA, whose mission statement is "to improve the quality of life of vulnerable individuals through education, scholarship, and service," regularly orchestrates social service projects in the community.

"We wanted to do something for the holiday season that would help the Woodlawn community, especially the children," said Ginny Cooke, SSA Student Body President.

Cooke spearheaded the campaign along with fellow SSA students Natalie Haney and Sara Schommer. The book drive will go to filling the library of McCosh Elementary in the Woodlawn neighborhood; books will also be given to needy children as Christmas presents.

Books are currently being collected at locations in undergraduate dormitories and in graduate school buildings across campus.

The drive, "A Holiday of Lights and Literacy," is part of the SSA's holiday community outreach program. The books will be going to McCosh Elementary School in the Woodlawn neighborhood, where the SSA feels they will have the most impact. "We're looking for all kinds of books--fiction, non-fiction, and reference--but we're particularly hoping for books geared towards children in grades 3-8," Cooke said.

Students were recruited for the drive by the Student Government Assembly, a conglomeration of the College Council and the Graduate Council. "This is one of the best community service projects I have heard of on campus," said first-year and College Council representative Katherine Oppenheim.

Oppenheim is coordinating book collection in the Max Palevsky Residential Commons, and has been contacting outside corporations to solicit donations.

The book drive continues through December 13. To make a donation or volunteer to help in collection, contact Ginny Cooke at 773-262-9263, or at VCooke@uchicago.edu.

--Josh Steinman