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Media Relations

AU in the Media: 8/28/09

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Honoring a Champion of Education

American University was engaged in the most significant news story of the week as the world remembered Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Local, national and international print and broadcast turned to our AU experts who shared in-depth commentary, reflections, and analysis of Kennedy's legacy. Our experts, in turn, were able to position American University's deep connections to the Senator and our shared dedication to public service. A snapshot of coverage includes:

Neil Kerwin, AU President, was an in-studio guest for an hour of WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show, during which he discussed Kennedy’s legacy and causes. "The service he did to American higher education in the process is incalculable," said Kerwin. "He understood that if this country was going to be strong, it was going to be strong because it was populated by educated, competitive people, and that we could not limit ourselves only to the privileged and to the well-born, and that America higher education had to have its doors opened to everyone."

Dotty Lynch, professor of communication who worked on Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980, told WUSA-CBS 9 in a television news segment that it is likely Democrats will work harder to push the health care reform bill through in light of Kennedy’s passing.

Lenny Steinhorn, professor of public communication, discussed with WUSA-CBS 9 the growing trend of citizens using the blogosphere to post negative comments about celebrities and politicians in death. “If this is a virtual memorial service that our country is going through right now, they’re effectively standing outside that service and saying really hostile and rude things,” he said, comparing the increase in unkind remarks to the minor attention it received in the wake of former President Ronald Reagan’s death. “There may have been people out there who may have said that, but it didn’t get much visibility.”

Allan Lichtman, professor of history, appeared in an MSNBC television news segment about President Obama’s ability to carry on Kennedy’s ideals, saying that Obama "clearly has tried to embody and live up to the Kennedy legacy in many ways by trying to be an inspirational president, just as John F. Kennedy was an inspirational president and Ted Kennedy was an inspirational senator."

James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and a neighbor of Kennedy’s, appeared in a WRC-NBC 4 television news segment, and spoke during a 15-minute, in-studio interview with WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show about Kennedy as a friend as well as his endorsement of President Obama at a rally held at American University. "That made the difference in this campaign. [For] campaign professional’s sake, that's what turned it," he said. "We're very proud of the connection with Kennedy here at American University." (8/26/08)

Other Features

A professor is honored for a lifetime of mentoring film students in a national trade magazine, and a staff member provided health and nutrition advice for college students.

Mentors in Film

John Douglass, director of the film and media arts division in the School of Communication, was one of eight professors featured in a Hollywood Reporter article about film professors serving in a mentoring capacity, as part of the magazine’s special report on film school mentors. Douglass, an American University alum, said he has mentored thousands of students in his 30-year career. "I enjoy the dissemination of information, actually figuring out how to take something apart and make it understandable," he said, "and then watch them have the 'Ah-ha experience' ... and (subsequently) turn out really top-rated product." (8/26/08)

Health and Nutrition Awareness

Alan Duffy, a health educator in the Wellness Center, was an in-studio guest for an 8-minute television news segment on Newschannel 8’s Let’s Talk Live, the station’s daily midday talk show, to discuss health awareness for college students as they begin a new school year on campus and in the residence halls, and offered tips on how to maintain a healthy diet. "The great work that the [dining services] does, they’ve actually won an award from PETA 2," he said, when asked about the campus dining at American University. "We’re the most vegetarian-friendly university in the United States, so we try to do a lot of work for the Wellness Center, educating students about nutrition." (8/26/09)

Faculty & Quotes

And in other news, AU's community provided expert commentary on some of the most significant issues of the day:

Heavy Lifting in Congress

James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, was quoted in Time Magazine on the topic of how current issues for prominent Democrat lawmakers may weigh against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ future congressional campaigns. "These are powerful people in the power structure in the House," he said. "They are also Pelosi's friends. If she does not let the Ethics committee do objective and aggressive work she undermines her political capital and the integrity of the ethics review. She leaves an opening, a wedge issue, for the Republicans in 2010." (8/22/09)

Budget Cuts for Space Travel

Howard McCurdy, professor of public administration, was quoted in an Associated Press article about how NASA’s budgeting matters may prevent the launch of future space exploration programs. More than 100 news outlets, including U.S. News and World Report, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and, syndicated the article. "The problem is the size 14 foot in the size 10 shoe," he said. "It's just really hard to fit it all in. A lot of the assumptions made in 2004 (for the Bush plan) have just not materialized." (8/26/09)

Digital Marketing and Teens

Kathryn Montgomery, professor of public communication, was quoted in an article for Canwest News, a Canadian news service, about today’s teens and their inseparable identities and interaction with social brands. More than 15 Canadian news outlets, including the Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen and the Calgary Herald syndicated the piece. "It becomes a part of how they communicate with their friends," she said. "If they're incorporating brands into their profiles and communicating those with their friends, if the companies are inserting the products into the games young people play, if they're part of the use of mobile technology so there's a brand presence that follows their every move — that is creating a new kind of intimacy." (8/25/09)

Naturalization Rankings

Alan Kraut, professor of history, was quoted in a Washington Examiner article about Maryland and Virginia’s rankings among the top 10 states for naturalizations, placing seventh and tenth respectively. Kraut, an expert in immigration history, spoke of the "ebb and flow" of applications for citizenship since 1996, and said many immigrants wanted to become eligible to vote in time for the 2008 election. (8/21/09)

A Frontrunner State for Gay Rights?

David Lublin, professor of government, was quoted in a Baltimore Sun article about the growing need for the state of Maryland, which is considered one of the more progressive states in the nation, to legalize gay marriages, and the factors blocking the decision. "African-Americans, who are a key part of the Democratic coalition, are much less supportive than many other Democratic voters," he said. "There are many African-American legislators in the Democratic coalition, and while some are very supportive there are others who are prominent opponents."The same is true for many legislators with significant Orthodox Jewish populations." (8/25/09)

Bank Secrecy and the Law

Andrew Pike, a tax law professor, was quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle article about the value of bank secrecy after the Swiss government agreed to surrender to the Internal Revenue Service names of more than 4,000 bank accounts held by American residents as part of a settlement agreement after reports of the Union Bank of Switzerland soliciting Americans to open an offshore account to avoid income taxes. “The Swiss government might have seen it as the best way to deal with one frightfully embarrassing situation,” he said. "It enables them to say, 'Look, there has always been a treaty, we are obligated in certain circumstances to exchange information. That's what we are doing here. Nothing more and nothing less.'" (8/23/09)