Fordham Notes: September 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Chynn Family Endows $100,000 for Prize in Ethics

Dr. K. York Chynn and M. Noelle Chynn, GSS '60, have made a $100,000 gift to the Center for Ethics Education to endow an essay prize that asks undergraduate students to delve deep into their personal experiences to find moments that taught them about moral choices.

By creating a prize that stimulates self-examination on morality and ethics, the Chynns’ generous gift “reflects the larger mission of the University, which emphasizes moral development in tandem with intellectual development”, said the Center’s Director, Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D., Marie Ward Doty University Chair and professor of Psychology.

Fisher added that the prize has a trickle down effect, in the best sense of the term: No one loses a contest that challenges one to answer questions like, “What personal characteristics are essential to a moral life?”

The University wide prize sprung from an initial contest this past spring where more than 100 students submitted essays on ethical and moral issues and dilemmas they encountered personally or as a concerned member of society. Three students won prizes of $300, $500, and $1,000.

Those winners (and their essay titles) included, Ariadne Blayde Baker-Dunn, FCLC '12: Alex; Patrick Kelly, a Fordham College at Lincoln Center senior: Ecuadorian Oil: A Reason to Re-Examine My Consumption; and Kevin Coughlan, a Gabelli School of Business junior: Ethics and Morality Leading to a Happy Life. Deadlines for the 2013 prize are December 12, 2012 and March 15, 2013.

--Tom Stoelker

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Romantic Academic

Under the nom de plume Eloisa James, Fordham English professor Mary Bly has watched her latest romance novel, The Ugly Duchess (Avon/HarperCollins, 2012), tie for the number four spot on The New York Times Best Sellers List. And there’s more. Bly, that is to say, James, has also been invited to speak just before Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa at the National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington D.C. this Saturday, September 22.

With Llosa in the audience, Saturday’s event promises to merge Bly’s Shakespearean “high-brow” scholarship with James’s “mass-market” appeal. Last week, in The Washington Post, Bly mused about the challenges of her dual identity, where James’s wardrobe of “pink and, on occasion, sequins” contrasts with that of Bly’s “prim red glasses and tweedy coats.” But it was James who received the invitation to speak in D.C. “This is a little like a soap opera star being invited to present the Gielgud Award,” she writes here.

It’s not the first time that the author’s dueling worlds have intersected. Just this past spring James’s Paris in Love (Random House, 2012) dealt with Bly’s very real world diagnosis of breast cancer. In spite of its non-fiction subject matter, Bly wrote the book as James. That book spent three weeks on Times bestseller list.

Tom Stoelker

Theologians Weigh In on Newly Revealed Papyrus

(Photo via CBS News)
It has been an exciting week for theology professor Michael Peppard.
When news broke on Sept. 18 that Harvard professor Karen King revealed an ancient scrap of papyrus that claims Jesus Christ had a wife, Peppard, as he wrote in this blog post at Commonweal, was “giddy like a child.”
As a reader/teacher of Coptic and trained papyrologist, Peppard settled in to assess the newly revealed papyrus.
“After scrutinizing the wonderfully high-resolution photograph offered in Laurie Goodstein’s New York Times piece, I would like first to commend Karen King of Harvard for the ways in which she has presented this fragment to the world,” he wrote in the blog. “Nowhere in her quotations or the manuscript of her forthcoming article does she engage in the kind of grandstanding that would be so tempting in her situation.”
Peppard was interviewed by a few media outlets. He told the Catholic News Service that a belief in asceticism saw rapid development in the second to fourth centuries, especially in Egypt where Christian monasticism was born.
 “The new text published by King may be a sign of early Christians ‘pushing back’ against asceticism and moving closer to mainstream Jewish attitudes ‘of blessing sex and procreation,’” Peppard said.
And in this interview that aired on CBS 2 New York, he said “It has the appearance of a middleman who had one papyrus, wanted money, chopped it up, chopped up to get higher value for resale,”
The interview also featured McGinley Chair Father Patrick Ryan, S.J., who said the papyrus does not prove Jesus had a wife.

”Well, the trouble is that’s all there is,” he told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “’My wife the Church’ could be the next word. We don’t have the next word.  We just have ‘Jesus my wife.’” 

-Gina Vergel

Biology Professor Tracking Evening Bird Migrations

They're going to light up the night in Philadelphia.

But first, backers of Mexican-Canadian media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's "Open Air" project want to make sure they don't kill thousands of birds in the process.

"Open Air" will feature 24 searchlights aimed into the night sky that will move in response to the sound of human voices, from 8 to 11 p.m., Sept. 20 to Oct. 14.

Since those date coincide with the peak of the fall bird migration, there is a danger that the 250 species of birds that fly through the area will become disoriented and die. A similar phenomenon was documented in 2010 during the "Tribute In Light" at the World Trade Center site.

As it happens, J. Alan Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Fordham, studies how migrating birds move through urban landscapes, so "Open Air" is a unique opportunity to study how the birds react to light. Along with Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Campaign Manager for the American Bird Conservancy, he'll be monitoring them via radar from a location north of the city.

Clark and Sheppard were featured recently in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Will the birds swerve to avoid the beams? Fly higher to avoid them? Or ignore them? Only time will tell.

—Patrick Verel

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Students Pull All-Nighter for Cardinal/Colbert

How popular are Cardinal Dolan and Stephen Colbert?

Even though “The Cardinal and Colbert” bracelet handout didn’t begin until 8 a.m. this morning, campus security reported that at Rose Hill, some students began lining up the night before with pillows, and spent the night in wait.

By 8 a.m. the line stretched from the McGinley Center to the Fordham Prep path toward The Fordham Prep Gate (Line photo by Fordham student Emily Featherston.)

In the lobby at Lowenstein, Dorothy Wenzel, director of Lincoln Center student leadership and community development, said that the staff gave out 250 bracelets in just over a half hour, starting around 8 a.m., servicing a line that stretched down the hallway towards the McMahon residence.

By noon, all of the bracelets on all three campuses had been handed out.

Those students, faculty and staff who did not receive a bracelet can watch the event in simulcast at Keating Hall, in either Keating First or Keating Third, on the Rose Hill campus. Doors open on Friday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. and, like the bracelets, the seats are first come, first serve.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daily News shines spotlight on Fordham masters program

The New York Daily News recently highlighted the Fordham University Masters in Elections and Campaign Management, one of the few programs in the country that trains people to become professional campaign managers.

“They learn what we know about voting behavior and voter psychology and political institutions from an academic point of view,” Fordham professor Costas Panagopoulos told the Daily News.

“Political campaigns have gotten increasingly professionalized over the past few decades, so you need people with specialized skills to be able to manage them effectively,” Panagopoulos said. “We’re talking about an industry that spends tens of billions of dollars, and to allocate those resources efficiently and effectively requires people with specialized training.”

Read more here. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fordham Fashion Law Experts Lend Advice to Budding Designers

Fordham Law Dean's Fellow Adrienne T. Montes, LAW '11,
manages a Fashion Law Institute Pop-Up Clinic.
Amidst the glitz and glamour of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the Fordham Fashion Law Institute has been on hand to provide assistance to those navigating the vagaries of intellectual property, contracts, real estate, and of course, trademark issues. 

The center’s “Pop-Up Clinics” match individual designers with a volunteer attorney who has both fashion experience and expertise related to the question at hand, along with an advanced student studying fashion law for extra assistance. 

In an interview with Crain’s New York, Susan Scafidi, the academic director of the Institute, said Fashion Week was a natural fit for the two year-old institute.

“I'm so delighted not only to give these designers legal advice, but now to show off what they do," she said.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gabelli Student Follows Tennis Pro Roger Federer

 Photo courtesy Fordham Athletics
Gabelli junior Kuba Kowalski is the Rams' top singles tennis player and it earned him a chance to meet top-seeded Roger Federer at the U.S. Open recently.
Kowalski was featured in Bloomberg BusinessWeek in a piece that focused on his tennis game, academics (he has a 3.8 grade-point average as a finance major) and internships, which includes  JPMorgan, where he'll shadow a financial adviser this semester.
“As a tennis player, there is a lot to learn here from just observing the best in the world,” Kowalski told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “I’ve had a chance to see the process from beginning to end, and it’s definitely motivating.”
Kowalski, who hails from Poland, was the country's second-ranked junior when he was in high school, according to the piece. He said he chose Fordham because of it's proximity to Manhattan. "He’s not the first player to choose the Rams because of the city’s business opportunities, according to Fordham coach Cory Hubbard, who said the location is 'the No. 1 thing I push' when recruiting." Read more here