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Tulane Honors Program

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Hullabaloo Online - Room on seventh floor of Butler up in flames, computer blamed

A computer was the source of a fire in room 704 of Butler Hall Friday.
Last Friday (the 11th) my family joined me for dinner at Chez Bruff and we saw the fire trucks pull up in front of Butler. Fortunately no one was hurt and Erica, Dan and the rest of the HR staff did a brilliant job.

According to Ally Helperin, a Newcomb College freshman living on the seventh floor of Butler, “right after it happened, Erica, the area director, ordered pizza for everyone cause we were out of Butler and then on Sunday night she ordered Semolina’s for us. She was like I’m really sorry, she was trying her best, I mean they did everything they were supposed to do. They handled it the best they could in the situation; they did a great job.”

(And the new pool table is fine and lookin' good! ;-)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Harvard President's Remarks

Harvard has released the transcript of Summers remarks about women and their ability to achieve high level jobs in academia. The transcript begins (and places things into context):
I asked Richard, when he invited me to come here and speak, whether he wanted an institutional talk about Harvard's policies toward diversity or whether he wanted some questions asked and some attempts at provocation, because I was willing to do the second and didn't feel like doing the first. And so we have agreed that I am speaking unofficially and not using this as an occasion to lay out the many things we're doing at Harvard to promote the crucial objective of diversity. … The other prefatory comment that I would make is that I am going to, until most of the way through, attempt to adopt an entirely positive, rather than normative approach, and just try to think about and offer some hypotheses as to why we observe what we observe without seeing this through the kind of judgmental tendency that inevitably is connected with all our common goals of equality.

So, he was engaging in a hypothetical discourse. He repeated his caveat in observing that many women apparently chose having a family over the career.
I think it is hard-and again, I am speaking completely descriptively and non-normatively-to say that there are many professions and many activities, and the most prestigious activities in our society expect of people who are going to rise to leadership positions in their forties near total commitments to their work.

... Another way to put the point is to say, what fraction of young women in their mid-twenties make a decision that they don't want to have a job that they think about eighty hours a week. What fraction of young men make a decision that they're unwilling to have a job that they think about eighty hours a week, and to observe what the difference is.
Then he turns to the sciences, and notice the last snippet I am about to post, he seems to be saying not "here is one possibility" but "I think the reason is, at least in part, fundamental to a difference in nature" (my words, not his). So he says,
... it seems to me, looking at a relatively simple hypothesis. It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined.
...So my sense is that the unfortunate truth-I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true-is that the combination of the high-powered job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair amount of this problem.
Well. From there he does indeed to go on to say that, in his experience, there are simply differences in taste between girls and boys (say, an affinity for trucks or engineering) that is not related to cultural imprinting.

Be sure to read the whole thing. Summers is not going to get out of this mess easily, whatever you think of his views.

Update: Helen of the Internet has Summers!

Monday, February 14, 2005

I need a new email address:

Which is more antisocial?

To walk across campus talking on your cell phone or listening to your iPod? Now that I have an iPod Shuffle I am able to do both! (But not at once, please.) I realize I shouldn't be modeling bad behavior, but in all honesty I haven't listened to a "portable music device" around campuses since I was an undergrad. It is kind of nice to have my soundtrack back. :-) The sad thing? I have found my iPod most useful when I am doing the dishes at night. The kids are asleep, my wife is reading or prepping for class, and I want some tunes while I scrub. Perfect! How domesticated is that...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Katie Clark in the Times-Picayune

Katie is a graduating senior in our Honors Program, has four (4!) majors, and has won the Beinecke and the Marshall Scholarships. She will be attending Oxford (England, not MS) next year. Needless to say, we are very proud of Katie. As Dean Jean, my predecessor is quoted in the article, we are most proud of the fact that Katie always has been, and I am sure always will be, "Katie."

Tulane student has star quality
She's set to graduate with four majors

Sunday, February 06, 2005
By Coleman Warner
Staff writer

Is there anything that Katie Clark cannot do, and do exceptionally well?

More than a few people are asking that question these days about a Tulane University senior who has become a bona fide star at one of the nation's top 50 research universities.

"She has wings that sprout from her back," said Chris Brady, a classical and Jewish studies professor who directs a Tulane honors program. "She's a figment of our imagination."

Clark, 21, who is shy about her accomplishments, has a 3.94 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Always one to seek out demanding classes -- she spent most of one summer in an intensive Latin program at the University of Toronto -- Clark will graduate in May with credits qualifying her in not one, but four, majors: history, medieval studies, Latin and French.


Mardi Gras Round Table Today!

Dr. Tom Langston of Political Science, and a former member of a carnival Krewe (those folks who throw things at you) will be speaking on "Carnival From the Inside."
Place: Butler Lounge
Time: 3:30 (today, Thursday)

For various Mardi Gras images (rated PG or G) see Nola's site: http://www.nola.com/mardigras/

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

NPR : College Freshmen Face Growing Debt

A survey conducted by researchers at UCLA finds that this year's college freshmen are working more -- and taking on more debt -- than those in years past. NPR's Elaine Korry reports.
This is a real challenge for students and their parents. The hard reality is that education is now a commodity. You have to determine if the Tulane education is worth the difference in tuition that you might pay at LSU. The answer for each student will be different. I certainly believe that the Tulane education and experience is very valuable! But we do not provide all things for all people.

Fundamental message: Debt is a serious burden and students must consider carefully all the options before signing their name to the forms. (Parents too!)

Update: Evan, in his comments, reminds us that Tulane is indeed a top-tier institution with significant scholarships available for many students (full and half tuition). A LARGE majority of our students (I do not have the figures to hand) received significant funding. See the Admissions site for some statistics.
Through university-funded grants and scholarships, Tulane awarded $74 million in financial aid in 2003.

Friday, February 04, 2005

NYT > New-SAT Takers: Confused Yet?

For our current and even this year's prospective students this is not a large concern, but the new SATs are coming... This NYT article gives some details and discussion about it:
The bare-bones facts are these: What used to be a two-part, three-hour ordeal, half math, half verbal, will now require students to spend 45 more minutes completing an extra writing section. The new section will consist of three parts - one an essay, the other two multiple-choice grammar and sentence-completion questions.

In addition, the math and verbal sections are undergoing changes. The math will for the first time include questions on advanced algebra. The chief difference in the verbal will be the absence of multiple-choice analogies ('curd is to cheese as slurry is to ...').
For more info go straight to the source: Princeton Review - The New SAT

German Boxing Legend Max Schmeling Dies at 99

The New York Times > AP > Sports > Other Sports > German Boxing Legend Max Schmeling Dies at 99

The bouts between Joe Louis and Schmeling epitomized the tensions between Germany and the US prior to WW2 and yet had little to do with the two men. Frankly, I had no idea Schmeling was still alive. This was all history well before I was born. One quote from the story and Schmeling:
"Looking back, I'm almost happy I lost that fight,'' Schmeling said in 1975. "Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.''

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who's been doodled?

This story is just too good to let pass:
Davos doodles seem to show writing's on the wall for Tony

AS WORLD leaders discussed international aid for Africa, Tony Blair scribbled notes and doodled. Unfortunately for him, after the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, his notes fell into the hands of a Emma Bache, a graphologist.

Her verdict: the Prime Minister’s surprisingly chaotic script indicates an aggressive, unstable man who is feeling under enormous pressure.

Wow! Damning stuff. This is unbelievable! But it turns out, they were not the PM's drawings. but were in fact those of Mr. Gates. Downing Street issued a report (I notice that Google news only brings up this report in Indian newspapers, no retraction, that I can find, in the Times, etc.). From The Telegraph of Calcutta

Instead, the aggressive, distracted incompetent analysed by experts was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who could make a case for being the most successful businessman the world has known.

It went on: “We look forward with amusement to explanations by a variety of psychologists and graphologists of how various characteristics ascribed to the PM on the basis of the doodles, such as ‘struggling to concentrate’, ‘not a natural leader’, ‘struggling to keep control of a confusing world’ and ‘an unstable man who is feeling under enormous pressure’, equally apply to Mr Gates.”

Oops.