newsId: F3F6B2A8-5056-AF26-BE63EF9FFC8D6795
Title: Professor’s New Book Unveils Pros and Cons of Reading Onscreen
Author: Rebecca Basu
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Abstract: E-book or print book: Does it matter? According to new research by American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, depending on the circumstances, the answer is yes.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 01/23/2015
Content:

E-book or print book: Does it matter? According to new research by American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, depending on the circumstances, the answer is yes.

For the past 20 years, Baron has been probing how technology shapes the ways we speak and listen, read and write. In her new book, Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (Oxford University Press), Baron uncovers the advantages and disadvantages of e-reading and makes a case for educators, parents and policy makers to slow down the rush to digitize all reading.

Surveying university students in the United States, Japan, and Germany, Baron found that 92 percent of them found it easiest to concentrate when reading print. Not surprisingly, they were three times as likely to be multitasking when reading onscreen. What’s more, if cost were the same for hardcopy and digital versions, between 75 and 94 percent (depending on the country) favored print, both for school work and when reading for pleasure.

“Millennials’ preference for print may seem paradoxical given that they use so many digital devices in their daily lives,” Baron said. “Educators need to be mindful about the potential consequences of digitizing so much reading. Educators also need to listen to students’ voices rather than assume we know how they prefer to do their reading, and why.”

Conflicts in reading choices

Words Onscreen presents a research-based challenge to the growing move in education from K through college to replace print with digital reading to help the environment and to save money. Among Baron’s findings are that

• Students generally believe that digital screens are more environmentally friendly than paper. Yet some who cite environmental concerns as their reason for reading digitally nonetheless declare a strong preference for print. In reality, digital devices (and the cloud they access) have many negative environmental impacts.

• Students, especially in the U.S., repeatedly complain that they turn to digital textbooks to save money, not because they believe digital reading is the best way to learn.

• Many students report they learn more when they read in print.

• Length of reading matters in choosing between reading onscreen or in print.

In addition to her empirical research, Baron sketches out the modern evolution of reading. New forms of writing and publication (the novel, the magazine, and anthologies) made for new styles of reading. Today, the web propels people into search mode and skimming snippets rather than long reads. Baron, like many experts, is concerned that digital technologies discourage deep, individual, reflective reading.

“If you are reading on a device that has an Internet connection, it’s tempting to break off to send a text message, update social media accounts, or check out restaurant reviews,” Baron says. “These interruptions short-circuit concentration. The vast literature on multitasking documents how much time and mental focus we lose when we keep switching tasks.”

Baron also considers whether the surge in online social reading networks, along with eReader features that share other readers’ highlights, privilege superficial commentary and mechanical agreement, rather than encouraging people to wrestle with authors and their texts individually.

The smell of the pages

Triple-digit growth in eBooks from 2009 to 2011 led many people to believe that digital reading would soon overtake print. However, annual eBook growth has slowed down to the single digits. In Words Onscreen, Baron cites surveys indicating that today’s readers are interested in having multiple reading options available, including print and electronic versions of the same book – one to use at home and the other to access when on the go.

While eBooks are convenient and often less costly, readers don't own e-books the way they own print books, Baron stresses. When surveying students, many enthused about the look and feel of books, their ease of use, and even the smell of pages and bindings.

“Readers talk about the difference between having a collection of titles that are out-of-sight, out-of-mind, versus being able to view on their shelves the books they’ve read, or even having an unread title stare them down,” Baron said.

Though Baron’s point-of-view is cautionary, she recognizes the virtues of both media. The book’s final chapter offers readers pragmatic steps for capitalizing on the best of both formats.

“Digital reading devices will be with us for the long haul,” Baron observes. “It’s important for us as readers, parents, and teachers to capitalize on their very real advantages. But it’s equally vital for us to remember that form should follow function: Some reading is best done in print – just ask the millennials.”

Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World will be available in early February.

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Title: New at AU Museum: Argentine Glass and ‘Locally Sourced’ Art and More
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Winter exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open Jan. 24, 2015 and close March 15.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 01/22/2015
Content:

Winter exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open Jan. 24, 2015 and close March 15.

Identidad showcases the work of Argentine glassmaker Silvia Levenson, featuring 116 intricate pieces of cast glass baby clothing, an homage to the social movement of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The grandmothers lead a campaign to reunite missing grandchildren with their families following the Dirty War, a dark chapter in the country's history. In March 1976, after the overthrow of President Isabel Perón, a military dictatorship took hold for seven years. Many young pregnant women, believed to be political dissidents, were kidnapped, tortured and killed. Their children disappeared after birth and were later stripped of their identities and given up for adoption.

Levenson, who was 19 in 1976 and pregnant with her daughter, but not kidnapped, identifies as a survivor. She channels that identity and her emotional connection to the grandmothers to push the bounds of her skills as a glassmaker and produce the refined glass works of Identidad. "I feel that glass is the ideal medium for conveying this mixed feeling of beauty, fragility and tensions that represents our human condition," Levenson said.

Locally Sourced is the first exhibit in the four-part series "Do You Know Where Your Art Comes From?" curated by Victoria Reis, executive & artistic director of Transformer, a D.C.-based non-profit that promotes emerging artists. The exhibit, which features more than 300 small works in a variety of mediums, showcases the work of artists supported by Community Supported Art (CSA) and Flat File programs. Selected artists utilized silk, paint, sculpture, digital prints, collage, and other means. This exhibition will span the 2nd floor of the American University Museum. See more at http://www.transformerdc.org.

Phyllis Plattner: Gods of War! is a painted meditation appropriating images of war and religion to contrast the opposing drives of violence and peace. Plattner draws upon images of war from art history and photojournalism to capture the rationale of those who wage battles in God's name. This solo exhibition features monumental, highly narrative altarpieces from Plattner's Legends and Chronicles of War series.

Photoworks: Presence of Place brings together works of the past and present by members of the Photoworks community at Glen Echo Park in Washington, D.C., including faculty and students who have distinguished themselves by the quality and integrity of their art. Photoworks is a collaboration of artists started 40 years ago by four young photographers with a shared mission of seeing, shooting and printing images of lasting beauty and artistic integrity in their daily work. AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen curated the exhibit, which is in memory of Elsie Hull Sprague, an artist who received an M.A. in Film from AU's School of Communication.

Dean Byington: Building Without Shadows is a collection of paintings composed of a dense profusion of original and appropriated images. Pieces reflect the 1950s and 1960s art culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, where Byington has lived and worked since the mid-1980s. His work recalls surrealist collage and the assemblage and psychedelic aesthetic of that time to envelope the viewer in an enigmatic narrative that hovers between history, mythology, sociopolitical observations and autobiography.

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Title: Book Notes: Leonard Bernstein and His Young People's Concerts
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Abstract: Performing Arts Professorial Lecturer Alicia Kopfstein-Penk publishes new book.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 01/20/2015
Content:

This month Rowman & Littlefield will publish Leonard Bernstein and His Young People's Concerts, a new book written by Performing Arts Professorial Lecturer Alicia Kopfstein-Penk. 

Kopfstein-Penk describes herself as an enthusiastic postmodernist. She has taught musicianship, guitar, music history, and general education classes at American University since 1998. As a performer, she has sung Bernstein at the Metropolitan Opera, Beatles at clubs, and classical guitar at the Kennedy Center. She is also a contributor to Soundboard and a podcast producer for the Washington National Opera. 

 

Leonard Bernstein and His Young People's Concerts  

Leonard Bernstein touched millions of lives as composer, conductor, teacher, and activist. He frequently visited homes around the world through the medium of television, particularly through his fifty-three award-winning Young People’s Concerts (1958-1972), which at their height were seen by nearly ten million in over forty countries. Originally designed for young viewers but equally attractive to eager adults, Bernstein’s brilliance as a teacher shined brightly in his televised presentations. And yet, despite the light touch of the “maestro,” the innocence of his audience, and the joyousness of each show’s topic, the turbulence of the times would peek through. 

In this first in-depth look at the series, Alicia Kopfstein-Penk’s Leonard Bernstein and His Young People’s Concerts illustrates how the cultural, social, political, and musical upheavals of the long sixties impacted Bernstein’s life and his Young People’s Concerts. Responding to trends in corporate sponsorship, censorship, and arts programming from the Golden Age of Television into the 1970s, the Young People’s Concerts would show the impact of and reflect the social and cultural politics of the Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, and the Counterculture. Bernstein cheerfully bridged classical and popular tastes, juxtaposing the Beatles with Mozart even as he offered personal, televised pleas for peace and unity. At the same time, the concerts reflect Bernstein’s troubled relationship as a professional musician with the dominance of atonality and his quest to nurture American music. 

 

Praise 

“Alicia Kopfstein-Penk has written a thrilling and vivid account of the element in Leonard Bernstein's work that touched more Americans than anything else he did: the musical education—and inspiration, too—of an entire generation.”
— Humphrey Burton, producer, director, and Bernstein biographer  

“Alicia Kopfstein-Penk is a master of archival research. In her recent study of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts and their cultural significance she has painstakingly gone through a large body of material in rich detail. Her study is exhaustive and extensive, and will form the foundation for future scholarship on Bernstein and this important cultural legacy.”
— Elizabeth Wells, Mt. Alison University, author of West Side Story: Cultural Perspectives on an American Musical  

“For the general public, the Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic were one of the highest-profile parts of Leonard Bernstein’s remarkable career. The broadcasts have been considered by scholars for their educational content and value and as part of Bernstein’s work with the orchestra, but, until now, little work had been done in terms of putting them in the broader contexts of Bernstein’s life or the larger musical world. Alicia Kopfstein-Penk has done this beautifully in this study, combining dogged archival work in the Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bernstein bibliography and knowledgeable handling of related topics in American music, modern music, cultural contexts, and the medium of television.”
— The University of Kansas, Paul Laird, Director of Musicology Division, The University of Kansas, author of Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Research 

 

For More Information 

Visit the Rowman & Littlefield website

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Title: AU Hosts Interdisciplinary Intramural Public Health Case Competition
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Teams of students will compete to solve real-world public health issues.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/20/2015
Content:

The AU Public Health Program is calling for participants for its second annual Intramural Public Health Case Competition. Teams of students will be presented with a real-life public health issue and challenged to develop strategies to solve the issue.  

The competition, modeled after Emory University’s Global Public Health Case Competition, is open to students across the university. “It is a unique opportunity for AU graduate and undergraduate students from multiple schools and disciplines to come together to develop innovative solutions for 21st century public health issues,” said Jolynn Gardner, director of the Public Health Program. “Participating in the competition will provide an opportunity to develop strategies for real-world problems, a critical experience for all students.” 

Gardner said this year’s case will focus on global mental health. Once the case is released to the teams, they will research the case and develop an intervention, policy initiative, or other strategy to address it. “Teams will apply their academic knowledge and skills to crafting solutions for real issues. The competition really encourages innovative collaboration across disciplines and academic units.” 

 

How to Participate  

The first step is to form a team and submit a team roster to jgardner@american.edu by Friday, February 6, 2015.  

Team Guidelines: 

  • Teams must consist of four to six students.
  • Teams may include graduate and undergraduate students from any academic units of American University.
  • Teams may have no more than two graduate students.
  • The teams must be interdisciplinary in nature, with a minimum of three distinct disciplines being represented.
  • At least two members of each team must be from the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

How it Works

The case will be developed by AU’s Public Health Program and will be delivered to the teams on February 11, 2015. Students will have two weeks to prepare a strategy to address the issues presented in the case; faculty may be consulted as resources, but are not allowed to contribute to the strategy. 

Students will present their case solutions on February 25, 2014, to a panel of public health professionals. Each team will prepare a 15-minute presentation. Each presentation will be followed by 10 minutes of questions from the panel of judges, who will then determine the winner.

 

Prizes 

Prize Money will be awarded for first, second, and third places. The grand prize is $1,000; second place is $500; and, third prize is $300. 

 

For More Information 

Questions? Contact Jolynn Gardner, director of the Public Health Program, at jgardner@american.edu.

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Title: Top 5 Ways to De-Stress Now
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Last fall stress you out? De-stress early in the semester with these recs!
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 01/16/2015
Content:

Spend a lot of time feeling stressed out last semester? Anxious? Hands shaking, hard to sleep, sweating, worried about so much you couldn’t stand it? You’re not alone; other AU students may be feeling the exact same way. What can you do? So many things!

The university has loads of stress-reducing options for the entire AU community. So, consider making a New Year’s resolution to tame your stress early this semester before midterms and finals roll around. 

Apart from keeping your academics and physical health in order, check out some of these great options to bring some more zen into your life:

1. Counseling Center

AU’s Counseling Center now offers far more than one-on-one counseling sessions, though they still do plenty of those as well. On Thursday afternoons from 3-3:45 p.m., the center opens its doors for its Relaxation for Mind & Body drop-in group. No need to sign up in advance, just come by for guided meditations, breathing exercises, and visualizations to calm your nerves.

Student in counseling session;

The Counseling Center also organizes group therapy on topics including stress management and self-insight. Of course, if you’re looking for a solo debrief with a counselor, they can help with that too. Just call or drop by to set up an intake appointment with one of their trained clinicians. For emergencies, the center also holds walk-in hours, weekdays from 3-5 p.m.

Additionally, the Counseling Center has a lot of helpful resources on their website, including a self-help library, anonymous mental health screenings, and videos that give you a glimpse into their center and services.

2. Fit to be Swell

Whether you’re into hitting the treadmill alone or hitting the court for an impromptu basketball game, Recreational Sports & Fitness has you covered for stress-reducing exercise. Interested in group exercise? Both the Jacobs and Cassell Fitness Centers host a number of group classes, ranging from yoga and Pilates to high intensity interval training and even a Bollywood dance cardio workout.

Group of yoga practitioners;

Classes not your thing? Then hop into the pool for some laps, grab some free weights at the gym, or shoot some hoops in Bender. If you’re looking for something more competitive, try out any of the club and intramural sports coordinated through rec fit. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to find your endorphins up and stress levels down.

3. Meditation Stations

Hoping to bring your thoughts to a higher, calmer plane of existence? Then grab a cushion, sit down, and meditate! AU offers several, weekly meditation sessions, two of which take place in the Kay Spiritual Life Center main sanctuary. Tuesdays at noon offer Juniper-style meditation, with discussion and practice facilitated by AU staff and faculty.

Group meditates;

On Wednesday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Buddhist chaplain Bhante Katugastota Uparatana leads AU community members in traditional, Buddhist meditation that soothes the body and mind as well as the soul. Beginner and seasoned meditators alike are welcome at either session.

Alternately, the Jacobs Fitness Center now also holds weekly one-hour meditation sessions, Tuesdays at noon. Learn the principles and techniques of seated meditation along with walking meditation and mindfulness training.

4. The Flaming Cupcake

Aside from great meditation options, the Kay Spiritual Life Center offers a lot of what it’s named for—spirit. Need some religious guidance or prayer to find grounding? Kay houses chaplains from more than two dozen faith groups. Whether you’re Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Secular Humanist, you’ll find someone to connect with for a heart-to-heart or soul-to-soul chat.

The Kay Center sanctuary with gospel choir at front and audience in pews;

What’s more, the Quad’s “flaming cupcake” also hosts a number of student-led spiritual groups that cook up potluck dinners with a healthy serving of community—both of which are sure to fill anyone’s spirit. Plus, the center is just a downright peaceful place to be between breaks in classes for a quiet moment or for an evening religious service.

5. Holistic Centre

Outside of the stressors of class, work, and internships, college can present various other barriers to healthy living. If you’re struggling with issues around alcohol, drugs, nutrition, sexual health, or body image, the Wellness Center is here for you. Located just beyond the Student Health Center in McCabe Hall, the staff there focuses on a holistic approach to wellness.

The Wellness Cabana student crew;

They have countless resources to help you with healthy choices and a more positive lifestyle so that you can perform to your optimal, stress-reduced self. Can’t visit their office? Then keep an eye out for their Wellness Cabana, bringing resources to you across campus.

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Title: Health Promotion Master’s candidate J.R. Denson receives the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Eagle Endowment award
Author:
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Abstract: Health Promotion Master’s candidate J.R. Denson received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Eagle Endowment award to implement a community learning garden for a year-round youth mentoring program.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 01/16/2015
Content:

One of the strategic goals of the School of Education, Teaching & Health is to “bring the world to AU and AU to the world and act on values through social responsibilities and service.” This is a goal that we not only encourage our faculty and staff to exemplify but our students as well. While many students have ideas on how to bring this strategic goal into fruition, there are not always funds available to support the various ideas. This is where grants like the Eagle Endowment play a large role in helping our students become agents of change in the surrounding community.

In 2014, Health Promotion Master’s candidate J.R. Denson received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Eagle Endowment award. This grant, in particular, is meant to be utilized by AU students or student organizations to promote social justice by "building partnerships, empowering communities, and serving to make a difference." He was awarded funds to implement a community learning garden for a year-round youth mentoring program which principally serves under-resourced families in DC public housing. The children, ranging in age 5 - 12 years old, will have the opportunity to literally have a hand in seeing fruits and vegetables go from ground to table as they help to build the garden, cultivate the produce, and ultimately take part in cooking lessons to learn to make healthy meals for themselves.

Dr. Elizabeth Cotter, a professor in the Health Promotion program with a particular interest in community gardening, stated that "Gardens can play an important role in the health of communities, not only by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but also by enhancing opportunities for communication and collaboration among community members, and providing an opportunity for youth to learn more about nature and where their food comes from.” Through this grant, Denson will play a part in providing healthy foods in areas where fruits and vegetables are so often inaccessible.

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Title: Going Abroad? Meet Pronunciator
Author:
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Abstract: The Library now offers Pronunciator—free language-learning software with a host of useful features.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/16/2015
Content:

Planning to study abroad and wondering how you're going to going to find time to brush up on your language skills? Looking for a convenient way to structure your study time? Simply love languages and want to try learning a new one? Meet Pronunciator, our new online language-learning tool. Pronunciator offers instruction for 80 languages that can be taken from any of the 50 starting languages. This range of permutations means that a Spanish speaker can learn Chinese, a Thai speaker can learn Russian, or a Japanese speaker can learn German (just to name a few).

Pronunciator focuses on the language of everyday situations, so you can begin with the essentials, like food or transportation, and then build on that foundation at your own pace. With Pronunciator by your side, you'll be able to ask for directions, order a drink, and communicate with your host family in no time!

Pronunciator's free mobile app for iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire lets you take your lessons with you. It also features thousands of downloadable audio lessons and phrasebooks, so you can access the tools you need—even while you're offline.

One of Pronunciator's most useful features is the real-time pronunciation analysis tool. All you need is a microphone and Pronunciator will help you test your accent. Especially useful If you're learning a tonal language like Chinese, where pitch can completely change the meaning of a word. Use Pronunciator to help you avoid ending up at a book store, when you really want to visit the library.

If you're planning a trip make sure you check out one of their 8-week travel-prep courses. You'll be conversational before you know it. Bon voyage!

Tags: Library,Library Services,New at the Library,University Library,Languages,Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition & Research (CLEAR),Kogod School of Business,Study Abroad,Abroad at AU,AU Abroad,World Languages and Cultures,Language and Area Studies (w/ College of Arts and Sciences),English for Speakers of Other Languages
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Title: Center for Israel Studies Book Talk Series
Author:
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Abstract: AU Center for Israel Studies hosts authors book talks.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/14/2015
Content:

The Center for Israel Studies (CIS) is launching a series of authors' new book talks on Thursday, January 15, with a discussion about the book, To the Gates of Jerusalem, by AU History Professor Richard Breitman and his co-author Normal Goda (University of Florida). The discussion will be followed by a reception, and books will be available for signing and sale.  

 

To the Gates of Jerusalem Book Talk
with co-authors Richard Breitman (AU History Professor) and Norman Goda (University of Florida)
Thursday, January 15, 7–8:30 p.m.
School of International Service Building, Abramson Family Founders Room
The event is free, but an RSVP is requested.

AU History Professor Richard Breitman and Norman Goda (University of Florida) will talk about their recently published volume of James G. McDonald's edited diaries and papers. McDonald was a U.S. diplomat, and this book covers his work from 1945, with the formation of the Anglo-American Committee, through 1947, with the United Nations' decision to partition Palestine between Jews and Arabs. He was instrumental in the recommendation that 100,000 Jewish refugees enter Palestine and won President Truman's trust in order to counter attempts to nullify the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry Regarding the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine. McDonald later became the first U.S. ambassador to Israel.  

The event is co-sponsored by CIS, the Department of History, and the Jewish Studies Program.  

 

Why Hawks become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel
by SIS professor Guy Ziv
Thursday, February 5, 3:30–5 p.m.
School of International Service (SIS) Building Abramson Family Founders Room

Professor Guy Ziv will discuss his recently released book, Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel. The book examines how the personalities of national leaders impact policy shifts, using Shimon Peres' shift from hawk to peacemaker. 

The event is co-sponsored by CIS and SIS. 

 

The Arab-Israeli Conflict in American Political Culture
by Jonathan Rynhold, Bar-Ilan University
Monday, February 23, 7–8:30 p.m.
Mary Graydon Center, Room 5

Bar-Ilan University's Jonathan Reinhold will discuss his new book The Arab-Israeli Conflict in American Political Culture for the final talk of our author series. Reinhold is director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People and senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.  

 

About the Center for Israel Studies
AU’s Center for Israel Studies is a nationally known pioneer and leader in the growing academic field of Israel Studies. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, going beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict to study modern Israel’s history, vibrant society, culture, multiethnic democracy, and complex geopolitical challenges. The center sponsors frequent public programs—including conferences, discussions, lecture series, performances, and exhibits. For more information visit the Center for Israel Studies website

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Title: New Joint Engineering Program with Columbia University
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Program offers AU students opportunity to earn BA at American and BS at Columbia.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 01/12/2015
Content:

American University now offers students a joint degree program in partnership with Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. 

Students will spend three or four years as full-time students at AU, followed by two years as full-time students at Columbia Engineering. They will graduate with a BA from AU in the natural sciences and a BS in a specific engineering major from Columbia University. 

“We are delighted to partner with Columbia University on this project,” said Peter Starr, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Combined Plan program offers our students a wonderful opportunity to combine a liberal arts education with professional training in the field of engineering.”  

 

A Winning Partnership 

Columbia’s Combined Plan program is the first dual-degree engineering program in the United States. American University joins more than 100 colleges and universities that are already Columbia Combined Plan affiliates.

The partnership is natural fit for American University, said Nate Harshman, chair of the AU department of physics. “Engineering is a discipline that takes cutting edge ideas from science and turns them into action and service. Many of our students want to acquire the knowledge and skills to have an impact, and engineering offers the possibility of doing that in a rewarding career full of real world problem-solving.”  

Teresa Larkin, associate physics professor and director of the dual-degree engineering program, said there is already a lot of interest in the program from current and prospective AU students. “We have already started advising students about our affiliation with Columbia,” she said. “It is a fantastic recruiting tool for STEM programs at American University. But more than that, it gives our students an opportunity to receive two degrees on their resume, instead of one. It quadruples the number of opportunities for them in terms of graduate studies, internships, and jobs.” 

 

How it Works 

Students will apply for admission to the program during their studies at AU. The program officially begins in fall 2015, but all current AU students are grandfathered if they meet the admissions criteria.  

Applicants must complete foundational and major-specific prerequisite coursework. The pre-engineering requirements include courses in the natural sciences, mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Applicants must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.30, as all as a minimum grade of 3.0 on their first attempt in all science and mathematics prerequisite coursework. They must submit recommendation letters from the Combined Plan liaison, a science instructor, and a math instructor.

 

For More Information 

For more information, contact Teresa Larkin, Director, Dual-Degree Engineering Program in Affiliation with Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, at tlarkin@american.edu, or visit the Columbia Combined Program website.

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Title: Story of Great Dismal Swamp Revealed in New Book
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Abstract: Five questions for author and anthropology professor Daniel Sayers.
Topic: Social Sciences
Publication Date: 01/12/2015
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In 2010, associate anthropology professor and historical archaeologist Daniel Sayers received a three-year, $200,000 We the People Collaborative grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support his Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study (GDSLS). The study is an ongoing and interdisciplinary exploration of the resistance communities that lived in the swamp interior from the 1600s through the Civil War.  

In December, Sayers published the results of his research as a book, A Desolate Place for a Defiant People: The Archaeology of Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and Enslaved Laborers in the Great Dismal Swamp (University of Florida Press and The Society for Historical Archaeology).  

 

What exactly is the Great Dismal Swamp and how did you first become interested in it?

The Great Dismal Swamp is kind of like it sounds: a big water-laden, tree-dense, and critter-filled place just south of Norfolk, Virginia. It is big enough to extend well into North Carolina as well … about 190 square miles in size today.  

The US Fish and Wildlife Service manages and protects the area today, and I work with them to explore its social history. We who know it well don’t think of it as “dismal,” but before the Civil War most people did—and it was 2,000 square miles in size back then. 

I became interested in it my first few weeks at William and Mary as a doctoral student. My advisor, Marley Brown III, told me about it and how Maroons, or African Americans who escaped slavery, may have formed their own communities in it. I was hooked at the thought of it.  

 

Who are the people who have lived in the swamp interior, and what have you unearthed about them? 

Based on our work in the swamp, it is clear that communities of people lived in the interior from the time of the Jamestown’s founding (1607) up through the Civil War. We know that only people who had enough with the oppressive and exploiting world of colonialism and enslavement outside the swamp joined these interior communities. So, African American Maroons certainly were major contributors to interior communities, as were Indigenous Americans, and, possibly indentured servants.  

Communities formed on areas of relatively dry ground that pepper the swamp landscape. Residents lived in raised cabins, harvested daily used materials from the swamp, and avoided contact with the outside world as much as was possible. The communities persisted for more than 250 years, even if they changed dramatically here and there across those centuries.  

No one knew this history, with reasonable certainty, until archaeology was used to demonstrate it.  

 

How did the book idea first come about? 

My mentor and committee member, Marley (mentioned previously), nominated my doctoral dissertation, which I completed in 2008, for the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) dissertation award for 2009. Winners of the award get prize money, and the SHA works with the University of Florida Press to see it published. 

My dissertation didn’t win, but it came in a very close second. So, the award committee for the SHA offered to help me publish through the University Press of Florida.  

At the time, I thought it would be a dissertation-turned-book kind of thing. But our annual archaeology field schools in the Dismal Swamp between 2009 and 2013 kind of changed that. Because we found so much in those seasons, and I have had a decent amount of time for further thinking, the content and analytical approach of the book are quite different from the 2008 dissertation. For example, we have recovered evidence, which we didn’t have before, of big changes in interior community practices and organization after 1800. 

 

What is the GDSLS Archaeology Field School?  

The Great Dismal Swamp Landscape Study archaeology field school is supported by AU and was held every summer for 5 years; I took a break from it in 2014. Students in our GDSLS field school take it for credit, and we spend 5–7 weeks (depending on the year) working in the Dismal Swamp and living in a big rented house in one of the neighboring towns, like Suffolk, Virginia.  

The class is basically an intensive learning and community-building operation where students learn to do archaeological excavation, artifact analysis, and any of a host of skills-building activities while also working and living as a team. We may be running it again this summer (May and June 2015).  

 

Tell us a little bit about the logistical challenges of exploring the swamp.  

Archaeology is an expensive and laborious line of work to begin with. Working in a 190-square mile swamp exacerbates those problems. With few exceptions, there are no “easy access” sites out there; you’re always wet with swamp water; and, getting the several hundred pounds of gear to and from a site is quite difficult. You can get lost very easily, so one has to be very aware at all times of where they are.  

In summer months, mosquitoes, snakes, ticks, and bears enjoy messing with you one way or another (bears, usually, through chewing up equipment). I’ve worked out there alone a lot, but when I am leading people in, getting them safely to and from the swamp each day can be stressful. It’s all big fun though.

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newsId: 59CDADC4-5056-AF26-BEF34466B4C19301
Title: Emerging as a Young Leader in the Arts
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, leveraged his interdisciplinary studies at AU to become an emerging player in the arts as SVA Theatre's Director.
Abstract: Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, leveraged his interdisciplinary studies at AU to become an emerging player in the arts as the Director of the SVA Theatre.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/15/2015
Content:

As the director of the School of Visual Arts' SVA Theatre in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, has had some incredible opportunities – from hosting events featuring Oprah and Beyonce in 2013, to moderating a Q&A with actor David Duchovny in 2014, and finishing the year with a special 25th anniversary screening of Batman

Adam's path to being SVA Theatre's director started while he was a student at American University. At AU, he created his own interdisciplinary major – a bachelor's in directing for theatre and film – by combining the fields of visual media, psychology, and theatre. He credits his "three terrific advisors" for helping him reach his potential: Caleen Jennings, professor of performing arts; Leonard Steinhorn, professor of communication; and Anthony Ahrens, professor of psychology. "I was able to take many other classes; I wasn't strictly confined to theatre and film. I was incorporating other courses from a wide range of programs, all of which I feel like gave me a really well-rounded experience," he says. "I think that is really important in this line of work."

Adam remembers a particularly seminal experience as a member of AU's performing arts group. "My first semester on campus I got to stage-manage and assistant direct a production, which was the unheard of for a freshman," he recalls. This unique opportunity reinforced a passion for directing. "I was always interested in this line of work. I performed as an actor in high school, but I didn't want to live the life of an actor. Then I realized that there are also starving directors." 

In his final year at American, Adam interned at the National Endowment of the Arts, leading him into what would become his first job in the field of arts administration. He says, "Without the internship, I wouldn't be on the path that I am on now. I wouldn't have been able to interact with all the different professionals in the field." His success prompted an invitation to come back to AU to speak at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium in 2009, on a panel called "Challenges of Being a Young Leader." He also served in a leadership role for Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization, which connects him to the AU and D.C. arts scene. 

Adam works with groups both inside and outside the community to bring a variety of productions to SVA Theatre's stage. He organizes everything from lectures and conferences to student events and film screenings. He especially loves the ability to bring some artistic programming to the theatre, like the inaugural alumni film and animation festival called "After School Special," which he launched in September.

Adam hopes to continue his success as SVA Theatre's director by "becoming a player in the New York art scene" and continuing to have diverse programmatic events that attract people from all walks of life. To see what is next on his schedule, check out SVA Theatre's calendar.

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Title: Alumni Board Member Uses Family Business Experience to Assist Others
Author: Patricia Rabb
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Abstract: Lee Tannenbaum actively supports family-owned business
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
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"I guess you can say that I came to AU in 1976 and never left," says Lee Tannenbaum, CAS/BA '80, about his ties to AU. "A college counselor told me how beautiful the campus was and felt that I would be at home there since I had grown up in the suburbs," he adds.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Lee has lived in Rockland County, N.Y., since 1960. Upon graduation from high school, Lee knew he wanted to attend college in Washington, D.C., since he was fascinated with politics and its effect on business.  

After arriving on campus as a freshman, he immediately went to Capitol Hill and was hired as an intern in the office of his Congressman, Benjamin Gilman, who served as a U.S. Representative for New York for 30 years. Thus began Lee's "love affair" with Washington, D.C.   

During his time at AU, Lee wrote for the university newspaper, played intramural sports, and made several life-long friendships. "My best friend at AU is still my best friend today," says Lee. His favorite memory is attending concerts and writing music stories for The Eagle. Lee was able to meet several artists whose music inspires him to this day. He recalls meeting Dennis DeYoung, founding member of the rock band, Styx. Lee says the rocker called out to him, saying, "Get over here and ask me some questions, kid."  

Since graduating, Lee has been the president and owner of Mill Supply Division, wholesale fabricators of Hunter Douglas blinds. He runs the company with his brother, Ross, and the two have been working together there for more than 33 years. Their father started the company in 1969 and Lee joined him upon graduation from AU. Over the years, he's helped grow the business from $4 million in revenue in 1994 to $23 million in 2013. Lee says that the most rewarding part of operating this company came from the example his father set. "I got to work with my dad and brother. We were always there for each other," says Lee. 

Lee is now a business development manager for a growing family business, Designs by Town & Country, a full-service window treatment company in Greenwich, Conn. Lee is helping the owners build their family business by enhancing their brand and improving their networking with interior designers, architects, and home automation integrators. In this role, Lee helps the father and son team use lessons he learned while running his own family business.

Lee says that volunteering his time to AU has been very rewarding. "The fact that I can still help my alma mater makes me feel valued," he says. In addition to being a member of the Alumni Board, Lee serves as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. At a recent college fair in New York, Lee says he was impressed by the quality of the prospective students. "Just seeing the types of young men and women being accepted by our university makes me feel good about our future," he says.

Lee notes that much has changed at AU since he attended in the late '70s. He recalls the time, before Bender Arena was built, when students had to ride a bus to the Fort Myer gym in Virginia to attend basketball games. "All the new academic buildings on campus demonstrate that this indeed is a new AU. There is a new attitude and it is infectious," he says.

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Title: "Braven" The Odds
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA ’03, opens Braven Brewing Company in New York City
Abstract: Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA ’03, opens Braven Brewing Company in New York City
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
Content:

"Perseverance, patience, persistence and pride" –that is the mantra of Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA '03. Marshall is owner and CEO of Braven Brewing Company in Brooklyn, New York, and the journey to get to this point has taken several turns. 

Marshall came to American University with an interest in business. He enrolled as a freshman in Kogod, but transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences to complete his bachelor's degree in anthropology. Marshall says that he was attracted to the program because of his interest in people and culture. As an entrepreneur, he says one of the best parts of his work is meeting new people.

Appropriately, people have been a large part of Marshall's success. He credits AU for bringing together people who are "really driven, smart, and creative." Marshall's sophomore year roommate, Dan McAvoy, introduced Marshall to his now-business partner, Eric Feldman, who is a friend of Dan's from high school. 

Marshall surrounded himself with talented and creative friends during his time at AU, and most of them have stayed connected more than 10 years later. Marshall emphasized his strong support network of AU friends and family members who he says continue to encourage him to pursue his dreams. 

After graduating from AU, Marshall's first venture into entrepreneurialism was District Line, a clothing store that carried brands which were popular in the United Kingdom but hard to find stateside. Envisioned after his study abroad program in London, the store saw great success online, getting orders from all over the world. District Line closed in 2008 (during the recession), but Marshall learned from this great experience, saying "It taught me that I need to believe in what I am doing, that it needs to be authentic and real." 

Now, continuing to live by his mantra, Marshall has persevered through challenging setbacks, was patient with slow-moving bureaucracy, and persisted to fulfill his dream of opening a brewery. Braven Brewing Company, located in the historic Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, will be open to the public in the spring of 2015. You don't have to wait to try their beers though –restaurants and bars all around Brooklyn will be getting Braven beers on tap by the end of this year. 

Keep an eye on the New York Young Alumni Chapter events calendar –soon Braven will be on it!

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Title: Brett Smock, CAS/BA ’92: From Dancer to Producing Artistic Director
Author: Patricia C. Rabb
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Abstract: AU alumnus is Producing Artistic Director of The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 09/09/2014
Content:

"I remember getting out of the car and walking across the quad and immediately having this sense that things felt right." So says alumnus Brett Smock, CAS/BA '92, about his first impression of AU.

As the son of a diplomat, born in Hawaii but raised predominantly overseas, Brett enjoyed living in countries such as Libya, Pakistan, Israel, and France. During his junior year in high school in Singapore, he took a two-month tour of select U.S. universities – starting at UCLA and ending at NYU. His second to last stop was American University. "I am someone who listens closely to my gut reaction, and it has never let me down. I went back to Singapore with AU on the brain; and well, the rest is history."

Trained as an Olympic swimmer, graduating from AU as a theatre major, and then becoming a dancer, Brett realized that he also enjoyed the business side of theatrical companies. In June 2014, he assumed the role of producing artistic director for The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, a three-venue operation, after working with the company for almost 30 years. 

Brett now oversees a budget of roughly $5 million and a staff of approximately 20 that grows to a company of over 250 at the height of the season. This includes the youth theater and the programming and operation of the festival's musicals at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse at Emerson Park, Auburn Public Theater, and The Pitch at Theater Mack in Auburn, N.Y. Auburn, located in central New York on one of the Finger Lakes, is an historic city where Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward lived while helping lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.  

Much has changed since the time when Brett first started at this playhouse. He recalls actors brushing their teeth in a spigot in the yard. Now, alongside a renovated 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility, two more venues have been added. In line with his organization's mission, Brett says, "When the arts flourish, so do local communities. That's exactly what we've seen happen. Auburn is thriving. [It's] certainly not entirely as a result of the arts, but we're a driving force."

In terms of his goals for the coming years, Brett is focused on growing the festival's audience, developing the next generation of theatre-goers, introducing important works of musical theatre, and developing musical theatre writers. The company operates on three stages and plays to audiences of more than 65,000 each season. "We're an arts organization and our sole task is to create terrific theatre. That is my mantra and my light in the storm. If we do that and we provide theatrical excellence, the rest will organically follow," says Brett.  

Brett has returned to AU many times since graduating more than 20 years ago. He has served as a guest director and as a choreographer several times – beginning almost immediately upon his graduation and continuing to the present. Brett has gratitude for his time at AU and likes to support other AU alumni whenever possible. "I am a product of that investment – not only by the faculty but by the institution itself. AU has given me a lot and I feel, as a leader in the arts today, an incredible responsibility to pay that forward as well as pay that back to AU in every way," he says. 

Brett splits his time between homes in New York City and Auburn. He spends more time in Auburn as a result of this position but gets back to the city whenever possible. He admits to being a workaholic and recalls training for the Olympics by swimming in the pool daily, both at 5 a.m. and immediately following school. He brings a lot of passion to his work in theatre. "If you don't get out of bed and run to work, what are you doing?" he asks.

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newsId: CD6E4DA2-DCB6-68C6-7A58566F30E408CB
Title: Family Values Worth Cherishing
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle: To keep Larissa Gerstel’s legacy alive, her relatives are inspiring future generations at AU to follow in her footsteps.
Abstract: To keep Larissa Gerstel’s legacy alive, her relatives are inspiring future generations at AU to follow in her footsteps.
Topic: Education & Teaching
Publication Date: 03/25/2014
Content:

Take a family member of Robin Berk Seitz, SIS/MA ’95, or her husband, Richard (Bob) Seitz, and chances are pretty good that person is an educator. Counted among their relatives are principals, classroom teachers, reading specialists, community college instructors, instructional design specialists, and trainers who have worked with diverse populations spanning young children, college students, adults, medical professionals, ESL students, and the deaf and blind. There is a passion that is palpable, illustrated in one case by Bob’s mother, who directed a reading clinic open to people of all ages into her eighties

So when their daughter Larissa Gerstel, née Rozek, CAS/BA ’00—fittingly, an elementary school teacher on her way to graduate school in Denver to become a bilingual reading specialist—had her life cut short by a sudden illness just after her 26th birthday, their response was only natural. Within months, Robin and Bob set in motion a vision to honor Larissa’s life by inspiring students and future educators, bringing all of their extended family together in an effort that is still growing after almost a decade.

“This is important to all of us,” Robin confides.

********

As an AU student, Larissa Gerstel quickly stood out as a passionate force against injustice. While studying to become a teacher, she became an outspoken advocate of critical literacy, an instructional approach that emphasizes active analysis and questioning on the part of the reader to uncover underlying messages of power, inequality, and injustice in human relationships. Together with one of her mentors—Dr. Vivian Vasquez, a professor of education in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health, (SETH)—Larissa helped found an organization called Educators for Critical Literacy, and reached out to local communities in an urgent effort to make literacy a central component of children’s lives. It was the discovery of a calling that would become her life’s work. When it came time to enter her field professionally, she took action on her ideals.

“Larissa had been offered a teaching position in a wealthy area near her home in Port Orange, Florida,” Robin remembers. “And she chose instead to drive 60 miles each way to teach migrant workers’ children.”

Dubbed “the fern capital of the world,” the town of Pierson, Florida relies heavily on agriculture to support their local economy. Around 60 percent of the population is Latino, as classified by census figures, and one-third live below the poverty line, including 40 percent of children under 18. After a year teaching in Montgomery County, Larissa moved to central Florida, teaching at Pierson Elementary School. Shaped by her own childhood as a second-language learner growing up in Switzerland and Italy, as well as her influential experience as a Spanish tutor in high school, she found a fundamental connection with the community.

“Larissa really knew herself. Kids were really important to her, especially kids who were disadvantaged, and who came from immigrant backgrounds learning English as a second language,” says Robin. She also notes that her daughter also worked hard to involve parents, and encouraged them to be active and informed participants in their children’s education. “We really were grateful to Pierson because Larissa really found her voice as a teacher there, and really loved her students and colleagues. It was a very important place to her.”

Today, Pierson is home to the Larissa Gerstel Parenting Center, where parents join their children in reading and other literacy events.

**********

AU became home for Larissa before she even began the college application process, as a high school student while Robin was working toward her master’s in the School of International Service.

“I often took her with me to AU, to the library. Larissa became very familiar and very comfortable being there,” Robin explains. “She was always ready to grow up fast. After her sophomore year [of high school], she was ready to move on. Really the only place she wanted to go was AU.

“She really wanted to apply early decision, but you normally can’t apply two and half years through high school!” Fortunately, after meeting with the family, the administration at McLean High School wrote a statement in support of Larissa and explained her circumstances, and AU accepted her application, to Robin's delight. “She was just thrilled.”

The mother-daughter trips to AU, which set the stage for a college experience that nurtured Larissa’s passion for her chosen career and close friendships, remain special to Robin. “I’ve really been putting a lot of my efforts and energy over the last nine years into the library. It's very meaningful to me and to us as a family, because that’s where Larissa developed her passion for AU... It is still that way for me when I visit campus; I feel like I am coming home, this is where I belong.”

**********

After Larissa’s passing, an outpouring of support from her professors and mentors at AU quickly followed. As Robin recalls, “I talked to Vivian and to Sarah [Irvine-Belson, dean of SETH, another professor who knew her well] to tell them what happened. Immediately they said they needed to do something to honor Larissa’s life’s work and memory.” The Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Collection was born, initially funded with $10,000 from SETH, plus other donations. After a pre-opening ceremony in 2006, the collection officially opened in 2007. “They [Vivian and Sarah] really helped this process a lot by initiating the vision. In fact, they both came to Larissa’s memorial service [two months later] and brought flyers about the collection to our church.”

The collection was to be housed in the Curriculum Materials Center within the AU Library, and as discussions of the concept progressed, AU librarians and development staff worked increasingly closely with SETH and the Seitz family. “It was a partnership,” Robin emphasizes. “It really evolved over time.” The scope of the effort grew to include an annual event, the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Symposium.

“I remember putting together the first symposium,” Robin reflects. “From the very beginning, we set up the fund so that 75 percent would go to the books and curriculum materials and 25 percent would go to a symposium. We knew early on that we wanted it to be both something living—in terms of an event—and also long-lasting, which would be the books, and the teaching of teachers through the curriculum materials.”

“The spreading of the importance of child literacy issues has really taken off,” Bob adds. “We are very happy to have this as a remembrance for Larissa, but the other goal is genuinely helping students and professors at AU communicate about child literacy issues. [The symposium] has done very good work for all the potential teachers that come out of SETH, and others who attend out of sheer interest. You get different perspectives, and a continually higher level of discussion every year.”

In the Curriculum Materials Center, among the many multicultural books for students, children, and parents to learn about issues of social justice and equity in a safe, comfortable space, there hangs a plaque with a quote from Larissa’s graduate school application essay:

“The look of understanding that comes over a child’s face when she or he finally understands a concept that before was baffling and yet now seems simple is the greatest joy I have had as a teacher.”

***********

As momentum surrounding the collection and symposium continued to build, the conversation of sustaining Larissa’s presence on campus expanded. “Over time, we gradually began discussions about establishing the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Endowment,” Robin stated. With the support of the extended family, the AU Library and SETH, after years of difficult but uplifting work, the endowment became fully funded this fiscal year.

“Why an endowment? It evolved into that. This is really going to be an ongoing legacy that will build—and hopefully exponentially over time—and continue to give to the school and the students, and really have an impact. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to have Larissa remembered in this way, as a living legacy.

“I think what’s really unique about this is the partnership between the school (CAS) and the Library. It’s not easy to work across departments at a university. The fact that this is such a fantastic success story, and that it’s ongoing, it’s external as well as internal—outreach to the community as well as students and teachers makes this really special. There are a lot great things about that for everybody, including the library.”

Not least among these benefits of the endowment is preserving the memories of Larissa for future generations of her family. Says her fourteen-year-old sister Loree, “AU has helped keep Larissa’s spirit and ambitions alive, and this has been an experience I will never forget. Over the past nine years, I’ve felt like the AU community has been like family to me.”

“It’s really an enduring legacy and an annual legacy,” Robin imparts. “We have the best of both. On Larissa’s birthday, we want to come on campus and be with Larissa there, and we feel the same way about the symposium during Alumni Weekend in October. This is a way of keeping Larissa’s spirit alive; that’s the value to us as a family.”

 

The Seitz family wishes to communicate special thanks to all current and former AU community members who played important roles in making the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Endowment a reality: Sarah Irvine-Belson, Vivian Vasquez, and Danielle Sodani of SETH; Alex Hodges, Bill Mayer, and Nancy Davenport of the AU Library; and Jenny McMillan, Sarah Papazoglakis, and Nicole Weaver of the Office of Development.

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Giving,Library,School of Education, Teaching and Health,Donor
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Title: SIRIUSXM Executive Gives Back as Mentor to Current Students
Author: Megan Olson
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Abstract: Steve Leeds, CAS/BA ’72, began a career in music while a student at AU.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/12/2014
Content:

Today the students of American University listen to WVAU, the Internet based student-run radio station. For American University alumnus Steve Leeds, CAS/BA ’72, the campus radio station, then WAMU AM, was a second home for him during his formative years while studying at AU in the early ’70s and just the beginning of his successful career in the music industry.

Steve reminisces warmly about his time at AU – many life experiences, putting service first, and living in Washington, D.C. during the Nixon administration. He remembers fondly the house he lived in on Wisconsin Avenue his senior year as well as his experiences during the war protests in Ward Circle – even broadcasting live while wearing a gas mask. An avid music fan, Steve proudly shares that The Allman Brothers’ Band recorded an album live in the American University gym on December 13, 1970.

Steve, who is now vice president of talent and industry affairs at SIRIUSXM, is an active AU alumnus. In his current role, Steve is part of the department responsible for providing talent for all of the channels at SIRIUSXM. At the office, no two days are ever the same for Steve. His responsibilities range from maintaining relationships with promoters, publicists, and record labels to coordinating times and talent from New York to Nashville, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.

Even though Steve’s job can be demanding, he continues to serve as a dedicated alumni volunteer and mentor to numerous SOC students. He is passionate about giving his time freely in an effort to provide students with access to candid career advice. He says he enjoys “sharing insights with students and helping them to see the forest through the trees while they are trying to navigate what to do next after AU.”

Steve’s involvement reaches beyond personally advising students. He also invites students to his office at SIRIUSXM in New York during the annual SOC site visit trip. SIRIUSXM is always a favorite site for students to attend, and Steve asks his colleagues at various levels in the company to provide them with stories about how they got started in the industry.

Steve continues to pay it forward, acknowledging how instrumental a mentor can be in shaping someone’s future. He recalls that his faculty advisor at AU was vital helping him figure out how to turn his passion into a career, including assisting him in creating an interdisciplinary degree track, which is known today as the BA in American Studies, as well as encouraging him to continue on to graduate school at Syracuse University, where he received an MS in television and radio.

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Title: Alumnus Daniel Maree wins Do Something Award for Creating Social Change
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, he took action.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/12/2013
Content:

When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, he knew he had to take action. “I lived in Gainesville, Florida for two years, and I’ve been in positions like [Trayvon was in]. I’ve been stopped in predominantly white neighborhoods in Florida by police or [citizens] just because I was an African American male. … Trayvon could have easily been me or my little sister, and I knew immediately I had to do something about it.”

Daniel definitely did “do something.” He launched the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice movement, and because of its success, on July 31, 2013, he won the Do Something Award, broadcast on VH1, which includes a grand prize of $100,000.

Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed, so Daniel recorded a YouTube video to launch Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. “We were calling on people around the world to show solidarity for Trayvon’s family with one act – simply by putting on a hoodie and sharing a picture of themselves in the hoodie,” Daniel says.

This sparked a social media firestorm, the fastest-growing petition in the history of the internet, as well as more than 50,000 people participating in more than a dozen protests in different cities across the United States, including 5,000 people in New York City’s Union Square.

Daniel credits American University for giving him the opportunity to create his own interdisciplinary major in history, philosophy, and film so he could study how social change occurs and how to use media to create change. He says some of his mentors are Professors Russell Williams, SOC/BA ’74, Peter Kuznick, and Gemma Puglisi.

“I had the privilege of being taught by some of the best professors. … I look back every day, and I see how their coursework and the conversations I had with them, not only in the classroom but during office hours, helped establish my foundation in critical thinking and exploring issues beyond the surface,” he says, “The School of Communication provided a great basis for my training in interactive media and film, which has been a huge part of the Million Hoodies movement. We leverage media and entertainment every day to galvanize people to the cause.”

When asked how he will spend the prize money to continue his activism, Daniel says, “Trayvon Martin is just the tip of the iceberg. … We want to prevent [incidents like this] from ever happening again, so we really have to attack to root causes: racial discrimination and structural violence against young people of color – black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian American, the list goes on. It’s not just African Americans.”

Daniel hopes to accomplish this by educating young people and engaging them in conversations on race and gun violence at an early age. He is in talks now with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a digital study guide for classrooms to start these discussions. He also hopes to start local conversations about racial profiling and common sense gun legislation because, he says, change must come from the local level.

“We are calling on college students to start Million Hoodies chapters on their campuses, and we will give them the resources they need to have an impact on their local communities. And I want American University to be the first Million Hoodies college chapter. All it takes is one student,” says Daniel.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,College of Arts and Sciences,School of Communication
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newsId: 528D56DD-EB88-65D2-CC4833E8E6916E04
Title: Nicole Zangara, CAS/BA ’06, Has New Book Analyzing Female Friendships
Author: Patricia Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: The book is an analysis of how to find and keep female friendships in the age of new technology and social media.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 07/17/2013
Content:

“I truly hope that after reading this book, a student or alumna walks away with validation and adopts the ‘it’s not just me’ mentality when finding/managing her friendships.”

So says alumna Nicole Zangara, CAS/BA ’06, about her book, Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, an analysis of how to find and keep female friendships in the age of new technology and social media. Nicole is a licensed clinical social worker and provides psychotherapy in Arizona, where she moved to be closer to family.

Nicole decided to write the book because she felt that “there wasn’t enough information out there for women who have experienced complicated friendships – from how we meet and make friends to the long-lasting friendship that ends without any explanation, to having to let go of an unhealthy friendship.”

In this book, Nicole not only recalls her own experiences but also includes stories from women ranging in age from 20 to over 60. “Regardless of age, every woman has a story,” she says. “Another reason for the book is that, as women grow older, we tend to focus on our family and career, and sometimes friendships take a backseat in our lives; it’s not good or bad, it simply is, and I want to acknowledge the shifts that so often happen in female friendships.”

The book examines what Nicole calls a popular myth about female friendships —that they will last. “Friendships take work. They take both parties putting in time and effort to keep the friendship going. Oftentimes, friendships lose steam if both people are not reaching out in some way,” she says.

The longest friendship that Nicole herself has consistently maintained has lasted seven years (and counting). “This friendship has lasted so long because we both put in time and effort to make it last. And the kicker is that we don’t live in the same state, so it takes even more time and effort – calls , emails, and text messages to maintain the friendship,” she says.

According to Nicole, one of the best parts of writing the book was “asking various women for their incredible stories, thoughts, and experiences and being able to give them a voice.” She says also enjoyed the “journey” of making a book.

Nicole also maintains a blog.

When sharing aspects of her AU experience that have stuck with her since graduation, Nicole says, “I learned a great deal about friendships during my time at AU and even write about some of these experiences in the book. College allowed me to grow as a person, yet also provided insight into how friendships can change.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Author,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,College of Arts and Sciences
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newsId: A26FABE8-9FE8-486F-05097B28A77CFD3E
Title: AU Students and Alumni Build Skills in the Office and at the Movies
Author: Roxana Hadadi
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU students and graduates make up the ranks at entertainment marketing firm Allied-THA, creating a community that encourages creative thinking and research.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/14/2013
Content:

In his three years at the entertainment marketing firm Allied-THA, publicist David Lieberson, CAS/SOC/BA '10, has seen more movies than he can remember. He’s met celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Jesse Eisenberg. And, during a career that has already included two promotions, Lieberson continues to be surrounded by other AU students and alumni. One third of Allied-THA’s D.C. staff is made up of former Eagles, and current AU students consistently dominate the office's intern pool.


Working in film promotion has its celebrity-focused perks, but the firm’s numerous opportunities for creativity and development coupled with the opportunity to work alongside fellow Eagles is appealing enough on its own, Lieberson says.


“It’s been kind of nice to learn different positions coming right out of college,” says Lieberson, who worked on AU’s WONK campaign before joining Allied-THA full time. “And when you’re working with other AU alumni, everyone knows what we’re talking about.”


That connection to AU came in handy not only when Lieberson started at Allied-THA as an intern—he learned about the position from one of his fraternity brother’s friends, who was working there at the time—but when, after working his way up the ranks to junior publicist, he took over the Allied-THA intern program with another AU alumna. For more than a year, Lieberson and his co-worker drew on friends, acquaintances, and other AU students to staff the intern program. Internship responsibilities range from clipping articles and sending out packages to distributing screening passes for films and working on specific releases. 


“In terms of what attracts AU students, it’s a good intersection of communications, entertainment, and film, but we’re also a large PR firm,” explains Lieberson. “We have over 200 employees; we have 15 or 20 offices. It’s not like a little boutique firm. … The only thing we do day to day is clips; other than that, everything is different.”


Now as a full publicist with seven clients including Universal Pictures, Summit Entertainment, and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Lieberson spends more of his day planning press tours and events. Time management is key, says coordinator Jenna Irish, SOC/BA '11, whose responsibilities include working public film screenings, helping prepare reports for studios that include audience feedback, and pitching story ideas to press members. 


“When I was an intern, the things I was concerned about getting done and my responsibilities were nothing compared to here,” Irish says. “The amount of stuff you’re working on is intense.”


But the intern program is engaging because it provides chances for students to come up with their own kind of promotional ideas, Lieberson and Irish both say. If an intern comes up with an idea for a partnership with a local business to promote an upcoming film, they’re encouraged to pursue it—“you get out how much you put in,” Lieberson notes—and that kind of leadership and dedication to a project will look good on a resume. 


And so far Raakkel Sims, SIS/BA '13, has put in a lot. Although her previous internships have been more directly related to her academic focus on international relations—including her internships with the White House in summer 2012 and Finland’s Foreign Ministry while she studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium, in fall 2012—her internship with Allied-THA has provided her more insight into marketing methods and targeted writing. Those skills may come in handy during her internship with the Department of State this fall, Sims says, and for her eventual career goal of joining the Foreign Service.


“It’s really broadened my capacity to think outside of the box,” says Sims, who has worked on campaigns for films like “The Big Wedding,” “Safe Haven,” and “The Purge,” of her internship. “I know I can apply marketing to different SIS aspects; if I’m writing a report, I know how to word it in a certain way so the person reading remains interested.”


The large contingent of AU interns have helped bring a sense of familiarity and comfort to her experience with Allied-THA, Sims says, and she would encourage any student—movie obsessed or not—to consider an internship with the firm for the chance to improve and develop creative thinking, public speaking, and research skills. You may even be small enough for Sims’ favorite part of the job.


“I’ve done a lot for the movie ‘Despicable Me 2,’ and there have been a lot of appearances of the Minion costumes, which I am fortunate enough to be short enough to fit into,” Sims says with a laugh. “So when I think of Allied, I think of the Minion costume. I always volunteer to do it because that’s a fun thing to do. Everyone can be creative—you don’t have to just be a marketing major or minor to be here.”

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Film,Film and Media Arts,School of Communication,School of International Service,Career Center,Career Development
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newsId: 4247EC8B-A7D0-E9A7-2D5BA65F399FC37F
Title: Alumnus Captures the Power of Storytelling
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Paul Costello, CAS/MFA ’97, believes: “If you want to change the world, you have to change the story.”
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/12/2013
Content:

“If you want to change the world, you have to change the story,” says Paul Costello, CAS/MFA ’97.

He should know. For the past 20 years, Paul has been bringing young people from areas of conflict around the world to D.C. for the summer. His most recent venture, New Story Leadership, unites college students from Israel and Palestine.

“Understanding that Middle East is old-style leadership stuck in old stories, we have to find new leaders. We have to create new experiences that will spark them to write a new story,” Paul says.

The students live with host families, learn the art of narrative storytelling, and immerse themselves in American culture – visiting the Library of Congress while learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and experiencing the Fourth of July festivities in the nation’s capital. They also intern at prestigious institutions like Congressional offices and the World Bank.

“The power of the United States is the power of its stories, and D.C. is the perfect platform for these students to learn,” Paul says.

Students work together to craft their stories and understand one another and then share those narratives with people who wouldn’t otherwise hear them. Students have told their stories in Congress, embassies, and international conferences.

This is important, Paul says, because, “In Washington, the story of Israel and Palestine is largely told by politicians and government. We get these students a seat at the table by telling stories of hope. We are not trying to change the Middle East; we are trying to change Washington.”

The bonds these students form are long-lasting and transcend cultural barriers. Paul recalls the story of a Palestinian student, Dia, who made the dangerous, day-long journey through multiple military checkpoints from Amman, Jordan to Palestine and then Tel Aviv, Israel, to surprise an Israeli friend, with whom he shared a host family in D.C., for her birthday.

In the past, Paul has worked with people from Northern Ireland and South Africa to open a dialogue and foster understanding. Paul credits much of his success to AU and the people he met here.

Kathie Hepler, CAS/MA ’95, whom he met while studying at AU, worked with Paul for years. He also says Professors Henry Taylor, Myla Sklarew, Kermit Moyer, Richard McCann, and Jo Radner were inspiring. Jim Gray, an AU psychology professor, opens his home and hosts students for New Story Leadership.

“I have AU interns working with me all the time, and I just hired Elliot Jeffords, [SOC/BA ’13], to be my summer program manager. … I don’t feel I’ve ever left AU. I still get books from the library. I don’t know where I’d be without AU. It’s a backstop and an inspiration. I’m a huge booster. AU is in this work very deeply,” Paul says.

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