newsId: 0A229BF0-5056-AF26-BEA52120BB859B7E
Title: Libraries and the Fight against Fake News
Author: Erica Bogese
Subtitle:
Abstract: In a ‘post-truth’ era, the ability to discern between reliable and unreliable sources of information is essential. As a skill set, information literacy allows the consumer to evaluate both data and news sources.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/13/2017
Content:

In a 'post-truth' era, the ability to discern between reliable and unreliable sources of information is essential. As a skill set, information literacy allows the consumer to evaluate both data and news sources. This is increasingly important in an environment rife with ‘alternative facts’ and fake news. Libraries and librarians are uniquely situated to address the problem of growing information illiteracy. For years, university librarians have instructed students on the research process, helping them to establish the foundational skills required for scholarship. This same pedagogical approach can be used to develop media literacy competencies for the digital age within the broader community.

Libraries can offer guidance for consumers wishing to better identify dependable news sources, or conversely, to develop the critical thinking skills needed to spot more dubious news stories. The librarians of the American University Library offer their insights on the connection between information literacy and an informed electorate, as well as practical suggestions for becoming a media-savvy reader.

As the phrase ‘alternative facts’ enters the national consciousness and many Americans look to social media platforms as valid sources for news, distinguishing fact from fiction becomes ever more challenging. Fabricated stories, now referred to as fake news, may be picked up by legitimate news outlets and then re-posted elsewhere, obscuring their disreputable provenance. Additionally, news feeds provided through websites like Facebook use algorithms to determine the interests and political alignment of users, effectively curating their selection of news stories.

Gwendolyn Reece, Associate University Librarian and Director of Research, Teaching and Learning, describes this as a “problematic system of recommendations that reinforces the echo chamber.” As Facebook uses a preferential ranking algorithm to determine the content and order of an individual’s news feed, that material narrows in scope to reflect the biases of the user. Social media as a news source poses other problems as well. When trusted colleagues or friends share news items, it is easy to assume that the news story itself is trustworthy or that the sharer has already vetted the source. The ease with which one can go on to share that same story with their own network allows for a piece of unsubstantiated information to spread widely and quickly. Assistant Librarian Derrick Jefferson proposes that mindful analysis and corroboration are two of the best tools to combat the spread of misinformation, saying, “do not blindly accept a headline as a fact.”

Jefferson stresses that research is a skill that can be improved with practice, but that the first step is establishing a set of trusted sources. “Bypass the emotional appeals to fear and the clickbait. If you see a piece of information on Facebook or Twitter, go check a reliable news source to corroborate the story.” With his background in journalism, Jefferson tends to trust legacy news organizations and reads the Washington Post and New York Times each day. “Online, anyone can present themselves as an expert. It is up to each of us to be an informed consumer of media.”

Reece believes that informed and engaged citizens are essential to maintaining a democracy, and that libraries have an important role to play in helping Americans develop broader information literacy skills. “Libraries as institutions are safeguards to protect democracy. Libraries provide access to information, advocate for the transparency and preservation of government records, and protect people’s right to read, study, and research any subject without government interference.” Public and academic libraries offer their users access to services that might not otherwise be available, from basic internet access to exorbitantly expensive databases. Jefferson notes that not only do university and public libraries invest a great deal of money in vetted services and resources, “libraries are home to a great deal of expertise and citizens can take advantage of that knowledge base. As librarians, we want to help people assess bias and make sense of the noise.”

Both librarians stress the importance of treating research as a learned life skill. Reece argues that “research is not just for school; it is about establishing the baseline of civic literacy that allows our democracy to function.” She also understands the temptation to take shortcuts when it comes to following the news, saying, “most of us lead lives with very little free time and it may seem simpler to rely on others to determine what we read, but that can be very dangerous. It is too easy to fall into the hole of information bias when we do not take the time to verify information externally or look up the meaning of an unfamiliar term.”

“Nobody wants to be played,” says Jefferson, “so don’t play yourself. Double and triple check what you read, go deeper, and ask questions. Research is not just about learning how to write a paper. Critical analysis is a skill that you can apply throughout your life, at work and as a citizen.”

Practical Advice for the Media-Savvy Reader

  1. Develop a go-to list of trusted sources and writers.
  2. Look for indications of bias - check the affiliations of the source and author.
  3. Be on the lookout for sponsored content.
  4. Corroborate the story by checking other sources.
  5. If you can, support your trusted sources with a subscription or donation.
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Title: Reflect on Black History Month with these Books, Films, & Music
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Abstract: Black History Month is a time of observance during which we reflect on the important people and events in African American history. Here at Bender Library, we spotlight the best selections in our collection to help further celebrate Black History Month.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/01/2017
Content:

Black History Month is a time of observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom during which we reflect on important people and events in history. The precursor to Black History Month was Negro History Week, created in 1926 and since expanded to a month long celebration during the bicentennial of the United States in 1976. For more about the origins of this observance, read Ralph Crowder’s “Historical Significance of Black History Month” in Black History Bulletin (requires AU login) or check out our African American Studies LibGuide. Here at the American University Library, we have curated this selection of books, films, and music to recognize just a few of the many important contributions made by African Americans.

Books:

African-American history extends from the time of slavery to present day America, as activist organizations such as the Black Lives Matter Movement work to raise awareness of institutional racism. These selected books highlight experiences of black Americans, both fictional and real, throughout history.

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama [E185.97 .O23 A3 1995]
Written at the beginning of his political career, President Obama explores his heritage in this memoir and offers a personal and poignant account of his young life.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglas [E449 .D749 2005]
This highly influential book changed the abolitionist movement forever in 1845 through its account of Douglass’ life as a slave and his ambition to become a free man.

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois [E185.5 .D83 2005]
Du Bois’ 1903 collection of essays was groundbreaking in creating an intellectual argument for the black freedom struggle in the twentieth century—which continues to resonate in the twenty-first.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [PL8021.A35 A44 2013]
While this award-winning novel is initially set in the 1990s, the issues within are highly relevant today. The central characters struggle with their experiences of immigration, acculturation, identity, and love.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates [E185.615 .C6335 2015]
Deeply moving, critically acclaimed, and beautifully written, this series of essays is a message from the author to his son and an unflinching look at the author’s experience as a black man in America.

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis [JC571 .D38 2016]
Angela Davis is an iconic figure for good reason and through this powerful collection, the scholar/ activist/ author addresses issues such as intersectionality, police violence, and human rights.

Films:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these films tell a score of struggles and triumphs in black history.

Roots (1977) [HU DVD 6121]
Based on the novel, Roots: the Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley chronicles the story of his own family across many generations. It begins with an 18th century African, Kunta Kinte, who is captured and sold into slavery in the United States, then traces the lives of his descendants in America.

Malcolm X (1992) [DVD 165]
Denzel Washington holds nothing back in his Academy Award nominated portrayal of the influential activist and Black Nationalist leader in this epic Spike Lee film.

Beloved (1998) [DVD 1747]
Adapted from Toni Morrison’s groundbreaking magical realism novel, this film boasts an all-star cast (including Oprah Winfrey and Thandie Newton.)

12 Years A Slave (2013) [DVD 11176]
This emotionally devastating film is adapted from the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery.

42 (2013) [BLU 4622]
An inspiring depiction of the story of Jackie Robinson from his signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1945 to his historic 1947 rookie season when he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Fruitvale Station (2013) [DVD 11125]
A biographical film based on the tragic death of a young man at the hands of a police officer. Michael B. Jordan is compelling in the lead role as Oscar Grant, heightening the film’s heart-rending intensity.

Music:

Music is an integral component of the American history. Here is just a small sampling you can find in our streaming content or at the American University Music Library, located in the Katzen Arts Center.

Negro Spirituals
This collection catalogs a sampling of songs slaves sang for inspiration while working and, sometimes, used in secretly coordinating flights to freedom.

Jazz
Jazz originated in African American culture, evolving from Negro spirituals and European music. Some influential black jazz artists include Louis Armstrong [CD 3332], Duke Ellington, Miles Davis [CD 2335], and Billie Holiday [CD 1700]. All of these artists, and many more, used their talents and prestige in the 20th century to fight for equality in the United States and across the world.

Go-Go
Originating in Washington, D.C. during the 1970s, Chuck Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go,” introduced this subgenre of funk to the black music circuit. Get a taste of the culture, and D.C. history, with a live recording of Chuck Brown at the 9:30 Club [CD 9827].

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Title: Secret Lives: Joy Adams
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Abstract: This article in this profile series offers a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at Dr. Joy Adams, Instructional Designer with eLearning Support Services.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/04/2017
Content:

Upon first meeting instructional designer and human geographer Dr. Joy Adams, it is not surprising to learn that she has more than a decade of teaching experience at the university level. Instructional design is the process of devising learning experiences and Joy is an ideal teacher, full of sharp insights, buzzy enthusiasm for a range of topics, and a terrific sense of humor. When she describes her "meandering career path" in more detail, the range of her experience reveals part of the reason she has such a talent for instructional design. Joy has worked at a start-up in DC, as a Senior Researcher for the Association of American Geographers, as the editor of a small town paper, and as a professor of Geography. Over time, she has learned that "having breadth is really important. You can specialize later, but career paths aren’t always straight and seizing different opportunities can open unexpected doors."

As a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, Joy wrote her dissertation on German heritage festivals in Texas, which required plenty of field work at beer and sausage festivals. She was intrigued by the question of how heritage is represented and the concept that these representations may reflect an identity that is inconsistent with the current population of a region. For Joy, the tension between image and reality encouraged her to explore notions of authenticity and questions about who is able to participate in celebrations of heritage.

After completing her PhD, Joy moved to California to teach Geography at Humboldt State University. In Humboldt, she found a "remote, but fun place to live with an abundance of natural beauty – and the world's tallest trees!" She also discovered a new passion for genealogy, which developed as an extension of her interest in ethnic geography. While doing field work in a local cemetery, she noticed a significant number of headstones with Portuguese inscriptions. Through further research, Joy learned that many Azoreans immigrated to Northern California for the whaling opportunities.

Joy brought her students on field trips to these cemeteries to teach them to look for patterns pertinent to ethnic geography, such as evidence of epidemics or family structure. Later on, she published papers on this sort of research, such as "Ethnicity Carved in Stone: Cemeteries as Learning Environments" and "Branching Out: Genealogy as Pedagogy in American Ethnic Geography." This interest in genealogy led her to teach a class in which students tracked their own family backgrounds in order to better understand ethnic geography. She was delighted when students returned to class with fascinating insights and an ability to relate to the discipline in a more personal way.

Joy's interdisciplinary background allows her to "speak the language with teaching faculty from other disciplines," which is critical in her work as an instructional designer. "My work is about helping faculty be more effective. Many professors are so busy that it can be a challenge to keep up with professional development and new classroom resources. Through instructional design support, my goal is to empower faculty and help them achieve results." For Joy, instructional design work brings together all her favorite parts of teaching – creativity, collaboration, student engagement, and problem solving.

Recommendations from Joy:

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan: Who's domesticating whom? Four fascinating case studies explore the notion that plants have evolved to meet human needs in order to fulfill their biological imperative, just as we have cultivated and bred them to fulfill our desires -- for sweetness (apples), beauty (tulips), intoxication (marijuana), and control over nature (potatoes). The PBS special of the same name is also available as streaming media through the AU Library.

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard: A fantastic synopsis of the origins, persistence, and implications of North American sub-regions that compellingly demonstrates the relevance of place and the resonance of historical geography. If you’ve ever wondered "What's the matter with Kansas?" or why we have "red" and "blue" states, this book is for you.

AncestryLibrary from Ancestry.com: Members of the AU community have free access to millions of records that can help you discover your family roots or conduct scholarly research.

"Orphan Black," Seasons 1-3, from BBC America: A young grifter steals the identity of her doppelganger, only to discover she's a clone… and she's being hunted. A gripping thriller about bioethics, corporate greed, and the meaning of family, lightened up with touches of black comedy. Emmy Award winner Tatiana Maslany's brilliant performances make it difficult to choose a favorite among the dozen (… and counting!) diverse protagonists she portrays to perfection.

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Title: Winter is Coming: Get cozy with these Titles
Author:
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Abstract: This month’s collection highlight article deals with all things winter which means each item has the word “winter” in the title. Bundle up with these cool picks.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

This month's collection highlight article deals with all things winter which means each item has the word "winter" in the title. So ironically you won't see Game of Thrones [HU DVD 10021], the inspiration for our title, on this list. So as this semester draws to a close and the nights grow longer and the air becomes colder, make sure to check out one of these books, films, or musical treats.

Books

Captain America: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection by Ed Brubaker [PN6728.C35 B78 2010]
The comic inspiration for the summer blockbuster hit, this graphic novel delves into the Cold War, using the conflict between Winter Soldier and Captain America as a metaphor for this historical clash of super-powered nations.

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare [PR2754 .K5 1966]
This romantic-comedy features a man-eating bear, a disastrous shipwreck, a living statue, and one of Shakespeare's best comic relief characters in "a rogue" named Autolycus. A great treat to get your mind off those finals-blues.

The Long Winter Ends by Newton G. Thomas [http://bit.ly/1xSrRSd]
Thomas tells the story of a year in the life of a young immigrant miner who leaves Cornwall in the southwest of England to work in the copper mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This novel offers a glimpse into the lives of an often neglected immigrant group that played an important role in the development of the Great Lake and American mining industries.   

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck [PS3537.T3234 W5]
Set in Steinbeck's contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty, offering penetrating insight into the American condition.

Bonus Winter Treat
Anything by Robert Frost [PS3511.R94 A17 1930] perfectly complements a peppermint mocha latte or fireplace snuggle. 

Films

Captain America: Winter Soldier [HU DVD 11478]
Playing on the fears of government surveillance, this Washington, D.C. centered, action-packed superhero political thriller will keep you warm on even the coldest winter days.

Winter's Bone [HU DVD 7696]
Jennifer Lawrence stars in this movie about an unflinching mountain girl who hunts down her drug-dealing father. This film will chill you to the bone.

Bonus Winter Treat
Fargo [HU DVD 2393] The iconic shot of bright red blood stains on the snow in this hit Coen Brothers film might just send shivers down your spine.

Music

"A Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon and Garfunkel [http://bit.ly/1xBZitQ

"Winter Wonderland"
Give your Spotify and Pandora stations a rest and listen to this American classic covered in genres such as country [http://bit.ly/1zmXFj4], Jazz [http://bit.ly/1ugTBAK], [http://bit.ly/113mzIx], [http://bit.ly/14iLIRs], [http://bit.ly/113mHrA], Hawai'ian [http://bit.ly/1zmXYu6], [http://bit.ly/1v8YwoJ], Rock [http://bit.ly/1v8YwoJ], and Hip-Hop Remix [http://bit.ly/1ugUhGv]

"Winter" by The Rolling Stones [Rolling Stones COC 59101]

Vivaldi [http://bit.ly/14iMDRZ]
Add some class to your winter break with these violin concertos.

"Winter" by Tori Amos [Compact Disc 9727]

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Title: Archives & Special Collections is Moving
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Abstract: AU Archives and Special Collections is currently closed to prepare for their move to the Spring Valley Building during the spring semester.
Topic: Announcement
Publication Date: 12/09/2016
Content: AU Archives and Special Collections will be closing on Friday December 9 to prepare for a move to the Spring Valley Building (4801 Massachusetts Avenue) during the spring semester. This includes public use of the Archives Reading Room. Over the course of the upcoming weeks, they will be packing books, making sure everything is properly labeled, and replacing damaged boxes to ensure that the collections survive the move intact. If you find yourselves on the third floor of the Library, you will be able to follow their progress as they will be working in the Archives Reading Room. They will continue to monitor email traffic though response times may be slow and some tasks such as digitization orders may have to wait until after they reopen. 

They will post regular updates as the move schedule is finalized as well photographs of cool finds and their new space.
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Title: Make the Library Your Lab Partner
Author: Erica Bogese, Library Communications Coordinator
Subtitle:
Abstract: At the American University Library, we think that knowledge creation is a natural partner with innovation, visualization, and impact.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 11/11/2016
Content:

Labs are all about seeing how ideas come to life. At the American University Library, we think that knowledge creation is a natural partner with innovation, visualization, and impact. Take a look at the resources we have for making, mapping, teaching, and measuring your research impact — we think you’ll want to make us your lab partner.


Printing your idea in 3-D

Three-dimensional (3-D) technology gives students and faculty the ability to bring lectures and presentations to life in a unique way, allowing them to form a hands-on connection to the material and ideas. It has the potential to dramatically reshape research presentations and projects.

Technology Services at Bender Library offers an Ultimaker 2 3-D printer and a MakerBot Digitizer 3-D scanner for the campus community. These new tools have the ability to print plastic designs from 3-D files that are original creations, downloads from the growing community of 3-D printing enthusiasts, or designs that have been scanned from an existing object.

Staff members at the Technology Services Desk have compiled resources to help users understand, design, download, and format 3-D files for printing. Printing costs are low (base printing fee of $4 plus five cents per gram of material) to reduce the barriers for our users and to optimize the accessibility of this technology. Three-dimensional printing provides opportunities for more dynamic presentations that incorporate physical representations of digital models, allow for “hands-on” experiences with 3-D printed artifacts, and encourage the audience to become more engaged with the speaker and the subject matter.


Supporting your Research and Teaching through Technology

The library’s newest lab provides helpful services, new devices, and a comfortable space for members of the AU Community who want to expand their understanding of geospatial research and/or use of instructional technology. Located in Anderson Computing Complex, room B16, this lab features two distinct service zones: the Geospatial Research Lab and the IdeaSpace.

The Geospatial Research Lab supports the university’s research and teaching programs that use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and resources. The lab is building and curating AU’s spatial data collection and providing services in support of robust geo- spatial research. The lab supports scholars who work in fields not historically associated with geospatial analysis as they explore how geographic visualization can assist them in examining relationships and causalities, uncovering patterns, and making predictions. Meagan Snow, program director for Geospatial Research Support at the library, offers assistance with using lab resources and training on unique and informative data visualization. The lab is a hub for maps, data, and visualization.

The IdeaSpace is an instructional technology training zone,that creates a designated place for faculty classroom technology training. Maintained by AU's Audio Visual (AV) Services group, the IdeaSpace contains classroom mock-up configurations, experimental classroom arrangements, and a collection of new technologies that allow faculty to try devices or practice integrating technology into the classroom. Katie Kassof, instructional technologist and space designer at the library, offers one-on-one faculty training, which is specific to the university classroom technology. In short, you get the most out of the technology in your classroom with the IdeaSpace.

For more information, contact Meagan Snow at msnow@american.edu or 202-885-6409, or contact Katie Kassof at katiek@american.edu or 202-885-2292.


Maximizing Your Research
Visibility and Measuring
Research Impact

There are several approaches researchers can take to increase the visibility of their output, including sharing articles through scholarly and social networks, publishing open access scholarship, and communicating their research to non-scholarly audiences.

Scholarly and Social Networks: Research is frequently shared through a variety of online communication channels. Increasingly, scholars are also using academic versions of social networks, such as academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley, and SSRN, to keep up with other researchers, discover articles, ask questions, and disseminate their own research. More information about each of these networks, including how to register and main features, are covered in the library’s research guide.

Open Access: Open access, or OA, is the publication process that makes research freely available to the public, and remains one of the best options to reach researchers with limited resources. American University pro- vides a repository for faculty scholarship, the Digital Research Archive, which can increase research visibility. For more information, contact Chris Lewis, at clewis@american.edu or 202-885-3257.

Communicating Research: While not traditionally included in impact measurements, another potentially important area is public impact. This can take many forms, from an op-ed in a newspaper on a research topic, keeping a professional blog related to research, or creating and publishing videos related to research through venues like YouTube, or citing a publication in Wikipedia. These types of communication introduce research to the public, and to other researchers.

Measuring Research Impact

The subject of impact, and the best way to measure and demonstrate it, has been debated throughout academia. Historically, citation counts have been the primary indicator of scholarly impact, as well as publishing in prestigious journals, as measured by the journal impact factor. Today, we have more ways to measure journal quality, and we can also measure indicators such as downloads, views, and shares. These methods help understand the attention, engagement and impact of scholarly works.

The Library provides a guide to help faculty locate and use metrics. Researchers can also set up an individual consultation for a more personalized introduction to using various tools to measure their own research impact.

For more information about any of these topics, or to schedule your own individual consultation, contact Rachel Borchardt, science librarian, at borchard@american.edu or 202-885-3657.

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Title: Bowles Award Deadline Extension
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Abstract: The deadline to apply for the W. Donald Bowles Award ($1000 award) has been extended to November 14th. Apply now!
Topic: Announcement
Publication Date: 11/01/2016
Content: The W. Donald Bowles Award recognizes students for conducting outstanding research or pursuing a course of study addressing productivity, income, or poverty in the United States through empirical, theoretical, or artistic efforts. The $1,000 award will be given annually in November, following evaluation by a committee comprised of teaching faculty and librarians from AU. A $500 runner-up award will also be given.

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Title: Librarian Profile—Olivia Ivey
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Abstract: This article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Public Affairs Librarian Olivia Ivey. With her background in social work and her interest in information literacy, Olivia brings a special perspective to the Library and classroom.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/25/2016
Content:

Born and raised in Georgia, Public Affairs Librarian Olivia Ivey began her college career in “The Peach State” at the University Of Georgia in Athens. She received her BA in Social Work and continued on to earn a Master of Social Work at Columbia University in New York City. Olivia was drawn to social work because of its practical and rewarding nature, and inspired by her father’s dedication to the field. After graduation, she moved on to work for a nonprofit organization, The Caring Community, as the Director of a senior center in Greenwich Village. Although the work was gratifying, after two years, Olivia was ready for a new challenge and wanted to explore her interest in Archival and Library studies. She received her Master of Library Science from University of Maryland in College Park, where she found a strong community of fellow students and a break from the busy pace of New York City. Post-graduation, Olivia worked as a Law Librarian at the Wirtz Labor Library before transitioning to academic librarianship, first at the Washington College of Law, and now at Bender Library.

Where can you find her?

Olivia provides individual appointments to students each week, in addition to her work at the Research Assistance Desk, and the Library instruction she provides by working with SPA professors to add an information literacy component to their courses. She is also working to assess learning outcomes that take a holistic approach to information literacy. Olivia can often be found riding her bike when she isn’t at work. Between her regular bike commute to work and weekend rides on local trails, she loves the “glorious Vitamin D, guilt-free milkshakes, and getting out of the heart of the city.” Olivia even spent her honeymoon last year cycling from Salzburg to Vienna!

Why she loves her job

“I love the students with my whole entire heart! I don’t like to be on center stage, but I love playing a support role that matters and helping students and researchers find the missing puzzle piece for their projects. Learning through the curiosity of others helps me to grow and develop as a person each day.” Olivia also enjoys being a part of an academic community, where she finds motivation in the lively environment and high level of student engagement. Another stimulating aspect of working at a university is the increased activity and the many opportunities for human engagement through her work as a librarian.

In the community

Olivia stays busy within the AU Community, chairing the Budget & Benefits Committee, serving on the Faculty Senate, the Dean’s Round Table, the Senate Executive Committee, the University Library Faculty Council, and the Collection Management Team (which she chaired last year.) She will be presenting later this spring at the 2016 Colloquium on Libraries & Service Learning in Boston, speaking about an assessment project of information literacy as a institution-wide learning outcome in service learning courses.

While it can be challenging to stay on top of it all, one lesson that Olivia has taken from cycling is this: “The cap to what you’re capable of is so much higher than you think.”

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Title: Secret Lives: Adam Robinson
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Abstract: This article in this profile series offers a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at Adam Robinson, a Resource Description Specialist and collector of degrees.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/02/2016
Content:

As a Resource Description Specialist in the Technical Services unit, Adam Robinson works to make Library materials findable for researchers. In his words, “If books are not properly cataloged, libraries don’t know what they have and users can’t find what they need.” The good news for AU students and faculty is that Adam enjoys the “problem solving satisfaction” of his job and is dedicated to making Library resources easier for users to locate.

Additionally, Adam works with other units around campus to include partner collections in the Library catalog. The American University Library cooperates with unaffiliated, on-campus library collections in order to make their content more accessible to the university community. These collections include the Career Center Resource Library, the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition and Research, and the Visual Resources Center.

Adam brings a broad knowledge base to his cataloging work, with BAs in English, Spanish, and Art History from the University of Kansas, which his sister, mother, and grandfather all attended. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked at the University Library and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science, and relocated to Boston to attend Simmons College, where he received his MS. Here at AU, he is in the process of completing his master’s thesis for the Art History program, a project that focuses on the design and decoration of the Boston Public Library. When he finishes this work, he will have an MA in Art History.

While attending school in Boston, Adam loved exploring all of the art, culture, and history of the city. His favorite Bostonart museum is the Museum of Fine Arts, with its substantial ‘Art of the Americas’ collections. As a specialist in American art, Adam has a bit of a bias, but also enjoys the more internationally focused collections at the Gardner Museum. He sees some similarities between Boston and DC, “both are charming, walkable big cities that offer a tangible feeling of history and have great art museums.” Here, Adam tends to gravitate toward the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

His love of art history attracted him to the MA program at AU, but it is difficult to say what he may study next. “I value lifelong learning and just follow what interests me.” He plans to continue auditing courses in interesting subjects. His experience as a grad student at AU has been a positive one. Adam stresses the importance of accepting challenges, while keeping perspective, and praises his thesis advisor and professor, Dr. Helen Langa, for inspiring him with her depth of knowledge and encouraging him as a student.

Adam’s interest in amassing knowledge is also what attracted him to a career in library work. “Cataloging can be intimidating. It requires learning a new language in order to interface between the library and the user. There is also rarely a single solution, which makes the process feel a bit like solving little puzzles.” Working on the Research Assistance Desk is a similarly intellectually rewarding experience. “It is exciting to sit down with someone who is not acquainted with AU Library materials and be able to shed light on their research problem – or show them an unexpected resource or tool! The dynamic back and forth is fun too. It is gratifying to delve into other subjects, learn new things, and help someone on their personal journey.”

As a result, Adam is able to help users on both sides of the Library experience. In his work cataloging materials, he is behind the scenes striving to make the Library collection easier to search, while on the Research Assistance Desk, he is helping scholars and researchers face-to-face with some of their trickiest research questions. His familiarity with these two aspects of the research process give him a unique perspective on the user experience. Insights like these help the Library provide the best possible service, digitally and in person.

Book, Film, and Game Recommendations from Adam:

Novels and stories: the Lottery, the Haunting of Hill House, We have Always Lived in the Castle, Other Stories and Sketches by Shirley Jackson.

Readers familiar with Jackson’s better-known works, The Haunting at Hill House, or The Lottery already know that she has a talent for writing about the strange and uncanny. In the short story format, her ability to evoke psychological fear is perhaps even more pronounced. Whether these elements slowly seep into or suddenly upset the carefully-ordered and mundane lives of her characters, the dread and fear they engender is masterfully developed and eminently relatable.

Housebound

A film that any fan of the comedy-horror genre is “bound” to enjoy! I tend to enjoy atmospheric horror movies and dark comedies, and this marries the two nicely within the framework of a family dramedy, offering a little something for everyone—and not just at Halloween!

Betrayal at House on the Hill

(3-6) Players. Casual board-gamers beware? Betrayal at House on the Hill features a cooperative strategy gaming experience with a mid-game twist, as a yet-unidentified member of your party turns on the rest to achieve an almost always different, but ever-nefarious B-Movie/Horror scenario.

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Title: Slaying Snowzilla
Author: Maggie Barrett
Subtitle:
Abstract: A by-the-numbers breakdown of how intrepid staff kept operations running smoothly.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/28/2016
Content:

Forget showdowns over the federal budget or getting a bill to pass both houses. If you really want to see DC frozen in its tracks, wait for a blizzard. Preferably one that dumps 1-3 feet of snow across the metro area.

AU was closed from noon on Friday, January 22 through Tuesday, January 26. While some employees enjoyed an impromptu extended weekend, numerous others didn’t have that luxury. After all, there were still students on campus to be fed, kept safe, entertained, and allowed to continue their studies. Not to mention faculty and staff working on deadline, come hell or high water (or in this case, frozen, crystalline flakes of water).

Stats don’t lie. Below, a by-the-numbers blizzard breakdown of just how hard intrepid staff worked to keep things running smoothly on campus and for AU staff members working remotely.

AU Library

24 staff members kept the library open for students Sunday through Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library was closed at the height of the storm on Saturday, January 23.

  • Most of the library’s services were available, including Blackboard support, borrowing, course reserves, Graduate Research Center, Information Desk, Media Services, New Media Center, Printing Services, research and IM help--including late night/overnight chat to answer research questions--and Technology Services.

77 percent increase in “Reserves” books check-outs.

4,525 people came to the library.

123 movies loaned in advance of the storm on Thursday, January 21—twice the number of movie loans on the same Thursday last year.

45 research-related questions answeredthrough chat/IM.

Campus Life/Recreation

2,629 people sweated out their cabin fever at Jacobs and Cassell fitness centers.

11 people manned the information desk and helped with University Center events.

15 hours of OCL-planned programming to entertain students featuring 5 different kinds of indoor, snowy-day activities (movies, Bingo!, board games, coloring, knitting).

20 staff attended and planned events.

Experience #SnowyAU through students' photos and social media posts.

Dining Services

12,000 + meals served in TDR (Terrace Dining Room)—1,400 more meals (13 percent more) than they would usually serve under normal conditions.

4,000 purchases at the POD (Provisions On Demand).

18 people handled the work that normally requires 90 people. BRAVO!

  • In addition to the dedicated food service workers, Charles Smith, director of auxiliary services, pitched in. Throughout the weekend, Smith worked 12 hour days in the kitchen making pancakes, cooking roasts and running stations to feed the AU community.
  • President Kerwin visited TDR to thank staff and interact with students.

Facilities Management

60 staff members directly supported snow removal operations.

10,000 lbs. of magnesium chloride applied to walkways and stairways and 8 tons of road salt on all campus roadways.

280 gallons of biodiesel to fuel diesel-powered equipment and vehicles.

1,200 cubic yards of snow transported and stockpiled.  

11 building maintenance technicians supported facility related corrective and emergency repairs.

6 plows; 8 salt-rigs; 3 backhoe loaders; 1 dump truck; 8 snow throwers; 6 tractors; and 35 snow shovels.

Office of Information Technology (OIT)

85 OIT staff members worked full days from home, including 9 who worked around the clock to upgrade the MyAU portal environment.

4 NOC (Network Operations Center) team members stayed overnight in the data center throughout the storm to provide 24/7 monitoring of the IT infrastructure. Under normal conditions, only 1 NOC team member is scheduled per shift.

438 Help Desk support requests resolved.

4,000 concurrent users a day of AU’s wireless network on Saturday and Sunday; 5,000 concurrent users a day of AU’s wireless network on Monday and Tuesday.

575 AU employees from across the university worked remotely via the VPN (Virtual Private Network).

25 percent more VPN users could work remotely at the same time. This thanks to OIT procuring 50 additional VPN licenses from the vendor in advance of the storm.

Public Safety

28 police officers and 8 dispatchers worked 12 hour shifts—4 hours longer than their typical 8 hour shifts.  

9 police officers and 3 dispatchers stayed on campus overnight to ensure shift coverage.

University Communications

5 staff members worked to communicate information from administrators about weather operating status.

4 + channels for communicating weather operating status, including the university website, social media, AU Alerts via Get Rave, and news media outlets in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD areas.

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Title: AU Launches Crowdfunding Platform
Author: Joanna Platt
Subtitle:
Abstract: UFUND is a platform the AU community can use to directly fund projects and initiatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

American University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations recently launched UFUND, a crowdfunding platform just for the AU community. This is a new way for alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to directly fund the projects and initiatives they care about most.

AU faculty, staff, and students are planning ventures to shape the future of the community, nation, and world. By making a gift, donors support the development and success of these projects.

Currently, UFUND features five initiatives – The Eagle Innovation Fund, the DC-Area High School Ethics Bowl, an Alternative Break in Cuba, the Skills for Success Career Seminar, and production of the documentary In The Executioner's Shadow.

Members of the AU community are invited to submit new projects to be featured on UFUND.


 

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Title: Non-stop News and A Heart for Helping
Author: Penelope Buchter, SIS/BA '16
Subtitle:
Abstract: Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ’06, has a passion for information and a desire to see others succeed.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/10/2016
Content:

Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ‘06, is an alumna whose passion and drive are evidenced by her impressive honors. Her energy and ambition have earned her the titles “Top 5 Under 40 Citizen,” and “Young Professional on the Move” as well as winning an award for dedication and service to the community from the local Courier Eco-Latino newspaper in her former home, Columbus, GA. She has even been nominated for an Emmy. She is currently in Lawton, OK, assisting in the KSWO Channel 7 News transition into a Raycom Media company.

Janell’s work in the news and media industry stems from an unquenchable desire to be informed on issues and know what is going on around her first. But more than just wanting information for herself, Janell wants to be part of informing others about what is going on in their community and their world. It is that get-up-and-go attitude which has yielded her such great success in her field.

Despite all of her success in news, Janell says that she is most proud of her work as a mentor, especially with young people. She started a local non-profit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in Georgia and has worked with several other organizations, including the NAACP and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Through these organizations, she has had the chance to talk to students in elementary school through college and had the opportunity “to inspire, empower, and encourage, to give people someone to look up to and to show them that they can be successful.” With the NABJ she has been able to mentor students through college and sometimes even into their first journalism jobs. She says that getting into journalism, especially in places like DC can be incredibly difficult, but Janell loves to encourage people and see them succeed in getting these tough positions.

When Janell came to AU, she says that she maintained good relationships with her professors, made sure they knew her career aspirations, and allowed them to help her achieve those goals. This is the same advice she has for students hoping to pursue a media career, “have good relationships with your professors and do internships.” She says that “The best way to figure out what you want to do is to do it.”

It’s easy to see that Janell has been running full speed ahead, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Right now, Janell is looking into starting her own business for event planning, and hopes to do media consulting.

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Title: SOC Alumna Gets a Running Start
Author: Megan Olson and Nicole Mularz ’14
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Abstract: Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA ’03, shares her passion for entrepreneurism, fitness, and strengthening communities.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/18/2015
Content:

Whether it is going for a mid-day run or teaching a class at Solidcore, working up a sweat has led to success for Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA '03. As founder of Solidcore boutique fitness studios, Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit serving the homeless community, as well as noted motivational speaker, Anne is nothing if not entrepreneurial.

A native of Bismarck, North Dakota, Anne was drawn to graduate school in Washington, DC for its politics, and to American University for its reputation. As a student in AU's one year Master of Public Communication program, Anne was very diligent and took advantage of all of the opportunities available to her on and off campus. While taking a full course load, she balanced work as an intern at Widmeyer Communications and as a server at a local restaurant. 

In November 2013, Anne followed her passion for health, fitness, and its community to launch Solidcore. Today, she serves as the company's founder and chief motivational officer, empowering a community of more than 10,000 members. Just a few miles from American University's campus, Solidcore offers rigorous classes that encourage participants to push themselves to be their best physically. Anne says, "Solidcore is not just a workout. We are on a serious mission to help you create the strongest version of yourself inside and out."

As Anne continues to push others to be their best selves, her own success seems to have only just begun. Anne plans to make Solidcore a national brand with hopes of inspiring individuals across the country. In addition to Washington, DC, Solidcore has locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Minneapolis.

Prior to opening Solidcore in 2007 at 26 years old, Anne's commitment to service led her to start a non-profit, Back on My Feet. With a mission of serving those facing homelessness, her vision was to help as many people as possible and empower them to redefine themselves so they could redefine their lives. Anne found that by using running as a tool, participants could gain the endurance to meet and exceed their goals as well as promote a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. Under Anne's leadership, Back on My Feet has enabled 1,942 members to obtain employment and 1,350 to obtain housing. 

For American University students looking to get a running start like Anne, she encourages them to take big risks, ask themselves what the worst thing that can happen is, and to not be afraid to try something different.

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Title: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh Experiences Success at Cannes Film Festival
Author: Melissa Bevins ’02
Subtitle:
Abstract: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh experienced success at the Cannes Film Festival with her film, NonCritical.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 09/04/2015
Content:

When she was in the Kingdom of Lesotho serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, Kelsey Marsh, SOC/MFA '15, knew that her next career move would be to head to graduate school and study documentary filmmaking. Kelsey spent her days working as a community health and economic development volunteer and a primary resource teacher, but she had her sights set on American University and was thrilled to learn of her acceptance while still in Lesotho. 

As a student at AU, Kelsey says she was constantly busy. She made it a point during her tenure to avoid saying no to opportunities. In fact, she held three different jobs one semester (as a fellow at Center for Media and Social Impact, intern at Voice of America, and student worker at the Academic Support and Access Center), all in addition to being a full-time graduate student. 

As a result of her reputation for working hard and getting the job done, Kelsey had the opportunity to work with Professor Brigid Maher on a film she was producing and directing, The Mama Sherpas. Kelsey credits this opportunity to AU's culture of blending theory with practicality and encouraging students to work in the field. In the case of The Mama Sherpas, Kelsey's involvement and responsibilities continued to grow, and she earned credit as an associate producer on the film. 

Kelsey made every effort to emulate the experience she had working with Professor Maher as she produced and edited her own thesis film, NonCritical. The film, a short documentary about America's ambivalence toward finding missing black adults, earned Kelsey an invitation to the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, where she won the Jury Choice Award. As Kelsey said, "The majority of filmmakers participating were from USC's famed film school, and my success proved to me that AU students are on the same level and do belong in international filmmaking competitions."

Kelsey now works full-time at Maryland Public Television as an associate producer. She loves the excitement of the position and the fact that every day is a little different. Currently, Kelsey serves on the arts and culture team and works on two half hour shows, Chesapeake Collectibles and Artworks

Kelsey also continues to freelance on many projects. She is currently producing a film called Women with Balls, about the D.C. Divas professional female, full-contact football team. The Divas had an undefeated season this year and just won their league's championship. Since the final game was played in Los Angeles, Kelsey was able to engage with three other American University alumni to help her with shooting the championship game.

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Title: AU Alumna Recalls Powerful Katrina Experience
Author: Ann Royse, SIS/MA '14
Subtitle:
Abstract: This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/11/2015
Content:

The news today is filled with images of treacherous weather patterns all across the country—from raging wildfires in the west to blizzards, floods, and storms in the east. Ten years ago, however, it was a single, violent storm covering the news outlets, a storm now infamously referred to as Hurricane Katrina. Whether you watched the horror unfold on television, responded to the national call for help, or actually lived amidst the chaos, the devastation Katrina caused will forever remain etched within the nation’s memory. This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.

As a communications student in both her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduate studies at AU, Rebecca’s venture at the Red Cross began with a simple volunteer role updating the organization’s database. However, due to her strong communications background, she found herself at a disaster relief call center the week of August 23, 2005, warning anxious Gulf Coast residents to immediately head inland. As the date of the hurricane’s landfall drew closer so did the intensity of calls and questions from residents frantically wondering where to go, what to do, and how to leave—even as many said, their instinct was to remain in their own homes.

While Rebecca worked with a range of people on the ground—from parents to children to soldiers and reporters—her skills were truly put to the test. However, she soon found herself particularly concerned with the psychological trauma and effects on the younger children, specifically the six- to 12-year-olds.

One young girl’s struggle to process the unfolding events inspired Rebecca to communicate and connect. Rebecca provided the girl with a job, instructing the 10-year-old to stand at one of the Baton Rouge River Center's entrances with a large bottle of medical grade sanitizer, ensuring that everyone entering or exiting was thoroughly disinfected. The job soon became too large for one person so, under Rebecca’s direction, the young girl led a team of purpose-seeking children to help guard and sanitize multiple entrances of the Center. As Rebecca explained, “People need that sense of empowerment…if you have all of your control taken away, one of the most therapeutic things is to give them a sense of control over something, even if it’s in the smallest, most unexpected ways. For kids, that was easy. For everyone else, that was hard.”

This story is only a sampling of the profound experiences Rebecca endured during her time volunteering with the Red Cross in New Orleans. From assisting in the search for family members, to counseling children, to being thrust in front of the cameras on behalf of the Red Cross, it is apparent how vital Rebecca’s communications skills were to her survival and success in such treacherous environments.

Today, Rebecca continues her passion for public and strategic communications as a public affairs strategist at Booz Allen Hamilton. She also continues work with the Red Cross as a public affairs liaison for the National Capital and Greater New York regions. Her time at AU prepared her for a much greater purpose, and she says that purpose lives on in the memory of those she aided during one of the most tumultuous disasters in recent American history.

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Title: Alumni Board Member Shares Passion for Giving Back
Author: Patricia Rabb
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Abstract: Amy Lampert is an AU Alumni Board member and active volunteer
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/19/2015
Content:

 "I fell in love with the campus when I visited. What an exciting place to live and study," says Amy Lampert, SOC/BA '94, about her first visit to AU during her senior year of high school. "As soon as I saw the campus, I knew that I wanted to be there. There's nothing quite like Washington, DC," she adds. 

After arriving on campus, Amy was involved with the American University Resident Hall Association (serving as vice president during her junior year), worked at the Anderson/Centennial Hall front desk for three years and participated in many leadership development opportunities on campus. She also worked on the yearbook and The Eagle newspaper and was active with "AU Students for Choice."  

Her most memorable AU experience occurred during her junior year when President Bill Clinton came to campus. "I was able to sit in the second row and shake his hand," says Amy. Not long before that, she stood along the inaugural parade route while the Clintons walked past. "That's not something you get to do anywhere else in the world. It has to be one of the coolest things I've ever done," she adds.

During her time at AU, Amy secured internships at locations as varied as the House Majority Leader's office, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, US Weekly magazine in New York City, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "My internships gave me invaluable work experience that I know contributed to being able to get a job right out of college," Amy adds. 

Amy's first job was in the development office at Sidwell Friends School where she worked on publications. "I was able to immediately put my journalism degree to work," reports Amy. "My ability to write and edit as well as multi-task have been essential in everything I've done since graduation whether it's been professionally or in graduate school," says Amy. 

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Amy earned two masters of arts degrees since leaving AU. One degree is in writing and publishing from Emerson College and the other is a business management degree from Webster University. Amy is currently vice president at Time Square, Inc., a family business where she works in real estate and investment management. She manages investments as well as a wide-ranging portfolio of residential and commercial properties. Amy is pleased this position provides her with the flexibility to spend time with her 10-year-old son, describing herself as "a very hands-on mother." She continues to reside with her family in St. Louis and also spends time at a second home in Florida.

An active volunteer, Amy is enthusiastic about giving her time to AU as well as to her local community. She can be found volunteering at her temple, at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and in many other activities in her region. As an alumna, she enjoys giving back as a member of the AU Alumni Board and as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. As an AAV member, Amy enjoys welcoming incoming freshmen and their families to the AU community by hosting summer send-off events at her homes in both Missouri and Florida. "I've really enjoyed meeting prospective students and their families over the years and sharing my passion for such an exciting place with people who are as excited about AU as I still am," she adds.

Amy observes that much has changed at AU since she attended in the 1990s. She finds herself wishing she could go back to AU and take advantage of all it has to offer. "As beautiful as I thought AU was back in the 1990s, it's even more beautiful now," she adds. She also remarks upon what she sees as an evolution of the student body. "Everyone was active and passionate when I was there, but today the students are more impressive than ever. They all are so driven, ambitious, devoted, and passionate about everything in life. They have lofty goals that I know they will achieve," she says.

Although she is undoubtedly busy with both work and family, it is clear that Amy is passionate about volunteering in both her hometown as well as for the alma mater with which she fell in love 25 years ago. "I want to do whatever I can to help AU continue to grow and thrive," she exclaims.

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Title: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, Gives Back to AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Ron Nessen reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Abstract: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

"I love American University. I wanted to stay and get my degree. No matter what I was doing, I always arranged it so I would have time to go to AU." 

Even from the way Ronald H. Nessen, CAS/BA '59, speaks as we sit in an alcove of SOC's McKinley Building, it is evident that he loves his alma mater. Ron has had a distinguished career in broadcasting and journalism –going from a radio journalist in Arlington, Va. to television news correspondent in Vietnam, to Press Secretary for President Gerald Ford. 

Ron put himself through American University by working part time and going to school in the evenings. He knew more than anything that he wanted to get a degree from AU. He graduated in 1959 with a bachelor's in history.

After a several years of news, writing, and reporting, Ron became a television news correspondent for NBC News. He served as the White House correspondent from 1962 to 1965, and then spent time as foreign news correspondent, including five tours covering the Vietnam War. "In war," he says, "you see terrible things that you will never forget." 

After getting seriously wounded by a grenade in July 1966, Ron recuperated and chose to go back to Vietnam and finish his assignment. In 1974, White House Press Secretary Jerald terHorst resigned after President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon a presidential pardon. President Ford asked Ron to join the administration as Press Secretary. Ron served as White House Press Secretary until the end of the Ford Administration in 1977. He went on to be a writer, lecturer, and public affairs specialist in Washington. His book, It Sure Looks Different on the Inside, speaks of his time in the White House. 

Reflecting on his career path, Ron says, "Nobody really knows where they are going to go in life. Things have unfolded in a way that I never expected." In one of many interesting twists in his career, Ron was Larry King's boss at Mutual Radio Broadcasting Network, where ran the news department for many years. 

Throughout his career, Ron always had a special place in his heart for AU. He currently gives back as a volunteer for the SOC Mentoring Program, and he enjoys seeing his old stomping grounds. His favorite memory of his time in college, though, is uniquely AU: "When Willard [Scott, NBC News's "Today" weather-person], Eddie [Walker, radio personality and first blind student at American University] and I worked at WAMU. We all wanted to go into broadcasting, and we all ended up in broadcasting."

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Title: SOC Alumna Reports Breaking News for ABC
Author: Nicole Mularz, SPA/BA ’14, and Megan Olson
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Abstract: Cecilia Vega, SOC/BA ’99, discusses her career in journalism and shares advice with students.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

As anchor of "World News Tonight" Saturday and senior national correspondent for ABC News, Cecilia Vega's, SOC/BA '99, office is wherever the news takes her. Although she spends much of her time traveling back and forth from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area to New York, Cecilia says her time in Washington, DC and at American University gave her a start in the journalism field and provided the foundation for her success.

For Cecilia, there is no routine day in the office. Breaking news takes her all over the world. She could start her day in one city and be on her way to another continent by evening. Cecilia has reported from the bottom of the Arctic in a submarine and in London's Olympic Village. She has also covered midterm elections, interviewed Heads of State, and more recently reported on cases of Ebola in the United States. Regardless of where an assignment leads her, Cecilia says that her work gives her a sense of fulfillment as she shares information with the public to ensure they make better decisions as citizens.

After growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cecilia moved to the nation's capital to attend American University's School of Communication, where she earned a degree in French and print journalism. Her busy schedule today is reflective of her experience as a student. Cecilia remembers balancing studying, working, and interning during her time on campus. Though all of these commitments were hectic at times, Cecilia says that her hard work at AU paid off.

Cecilia's job in broadcast journalism came as a total accident. She started her career as a newspaper reporter and worked for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle. When the opportunity to move from print to broadcast at KGO-TV ABC7 in San Francisco presented itself, Cecilia jumped at the chance. Though she had no formal broadcast journalism training, she quickly learned the ropes. Six years later, Cecilia is an Emmy-winning broadcaster and has appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," "Nightline," and "20/20."

Reminiscing about her time at American University, Cecilia shared advice for students today saying, "Utilize what you have at your disposal. Being in Washington, DC, you have so much at your fingertips. Your professors are in the newsroom in the morning and teaching classes at night –it is an invaluable education. The ability to capitalize on these opportunities separates AU students from other students."

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Title: Producer-Director Adam Friedman Discusses Documentary Featuring Meryl Streep
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: Friedman is wrapping up work on a film called “Shout Gladi Gladi,” which Streep narrates.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

"I like to say it was like painting the Mona Lisa without the smile." That's how producer-director Adam Friedman, SOC/BA '79, describes his latest film –before Meryl Streep signed on. "For four months, I had a movie I couldn't proceed on too much because I didn't have my narrator in place," Friedman says. 

In February, Friedman says, he got very lucky when his sister, a New York newscaster, somehow got a rough cut of the movie in front of Streep. "I got an email from Meryl's assistant saying 'hey, Meryl would love to do your movie. She thinks it's great,'" he says. And, the rest, as they say, is history.  

Friedman, owner of production company Vertical Ascent, is wrapping up work on the documentary called "Shout Gladi Gladi." It's a film about one woman's drive to help save African mothers suffering from fistula. That woman, Scottish philanthropist Ann Gloag, a former nurse turned businesswoman, now runs medical facilities in three African countries.

"We recorded her at nine o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the day before the Oscars," Friedman says of Streep. "That's how cool she was." Having booked a studio for six hours to do the voiceover, Friedman says, "she was in and out of there in 56 minutes…She was amazing." 

Not everything went so quickly, of course. The project began with a visit to Scotland to discuss it with Gloag. Then came trips to Malawi, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, where Friedman and his crews filmed what he calls an "immense" amount of footage. Friedman says they visited some "horrific" slums during their time in Sierra Leone, and he believes his was the last crew filming in the country before the Ebola outbreak. 

A lot of time was spent working on the film before the first cut was finished in September. Still, one key piece was missing. Enter Meryl Streep. "Obviously she changes the movie completely because of the way she reads. We were all just blown away," Friedman says. "Before we had a movie about fistula…a subject that most people will turn away from." But, he says, with Streep on board, he thinks the movie will reach "an incredibly large and wide swath of humanity." 

Friedman says he wouldn't be where he is today without AU. "I'm in this business because of AU and particularly because of my mentor, Larry Kirkman…I think differently than most producer-directors, and it's all because of what I learned at AU," he says.

Friedman tells a story about "lying his way into ABC" during his time as a student and working on an Emmy-nominated documentary. "But I didn't want to do documentaries then," he says. "There was a new thing happening at the time called music videos." Music video interested Friedman, so he wrote one for Darryl Hall and John Oates. They liked it and hired him to do more. He continued working in the industry, producing videos for the Rolling Stones and other musical acts. 

Since then, Friedman has gone on to do lots of different kinds of work, including a recent television show about the CIA for National Geographic. "AU gave me a lot of opportunities to play with a lot of toys, and you need that," he says. 

Friedman remains involved with AU, serving as a mentor for the School of Communication and as a volunteer leader with the Entertainment and Media Alumni Alliance. "What AU taught me was a really strong notion that there's nothing you can't do if you really want to," he says. "I met the best people in the world there." 

Friedman says he thinks what's happening with film online is going to change everything about his business so that's where he will turn his focus next. 

And, he says, "Obviously we're aiming for the Oscars next year."

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Film,Film and Media Arts,Film Production,School of Communication
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newsId: 4D9FB6D6-5056-AF26-BECD1B3F2095E040
Title: Nate Beeler Draws The News
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumnus Nate Beeler is an award-winning editorial cartoonist.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

“There is something primal about a hand-drawn image that goes back to people painting on caves. We’ve always had cartoons, and editorial cartooning has a very rich history in the United States. It’s a powerful way to have a voice in the national conversation,” says Nate Beeler, SOC/BA ’02, an award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch.

By now, Beeler’s cartoons are certainly part of the national dialogue. His depiction of the Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice embracing following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) won the 2014 John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition.

When the news of DOMA broke, Nate says he struggled for inspiration at first, but once he knew what he wanted to portray: the joy of same-sex couples as well as the scope and historical significance of the ruling, he says, “It seemed a natural fit to put Lady Justice and Lady Liberty together because this decision affirmed freedom and also righted an injustice.”

Nate draws five editorial cartoons each week for the Columbus Dispatch and his cartoons are also syndicated internationally to more than 800 other publications. “When you’re an editorial cartoonist, your work is basically a visual column, and you fall into the natural rhythm of the news,” he says.

Nate uses the newspaper and Twitter to track the national news conversation and search for topics that will resonate with his audience. Once he chooses a topic, he does extensive reading to determine how he feels about the topic, which guides his editorial approach.

His first foray into creating a cartoon tied to a national news story was for the edition of The Eagle published after September 11, 2001. Nate drew an image of the Twin Towers with angel wings, and the original drawing still hangs in The Eagle offices today. In fact, the The Eagle was Nate’s first stop when he arrived on campus, and he still stays in touch with his former Eagle colleagues and fellow alumni, including Brett Zongker, Scott Rosenberg, and Andrew Noyes.

American University’s strong journalism program and location in Washington, D.C. motivated Nate, a Columbus native, to attend AU. During his time in college, he was an editorial cartoonist for The Eagle and created two comic strips: Undergrad and Lawn Darts from God. His work with The Eagle earned him the prestigious Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist as well as the John Locher Award.

Since then, he has won more recognition, including the 2009 Thomas Nast Award from the Overseas Press Club and the 2008 Berryman Award from the National Press Foundation.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of Communication
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