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Media Relations

AU in the Media: 2/05/10

Top story

Faculty, Staff Analyze the State of the Union Address

National and international media outlets turned to American University faculty for expert opinion and commentary regarding President Obama’s first State of the Union address.

The Philadelphia Inquirer turned to Robert Lehrman, a former White House speech writer, for pre and post State of the Union analysis. “He was showing that he hasn't abandoned the big plans that he came to Washington with, and I think that was what people wanted to see,” Lehrman said in regards to Obama’s address. The story was republished in the Lexington Herald-Leader and North Carolina’s News & Observer. Lehrman, an adjunct professor in the School of Communication, also spoke to Agence Press-France. This article was republished in six news outlets, including Yahoo! News. (1/28/10).

"I think he is reaching out to working families and a lot of independents about jobs. And President Obama put jobs front and center,” said political science professor Elizabeth Sherman in a radio segment with Voice of America. “He [Obama] said this is where we have to focus our attention -- on the economy -- and he got rousing applause for that." (1/28/10).

Health and Fitness chair Robert Karch expressed disappointment in Obama’s lack of specific points on health care reform to Health Leaders Media. "Given all the attention that has been focused on that topic, I was surprised that the President did not devote more time and include more specific actions that could be taken that would improve the current conditions,” Karch stated. (1/28/10)

Allan Lichtman, professor of history, told Inter Press Service that foreign policy to Obama is a “minefield that right now he’d rather tread around,” pointing out his lack of new ideas on the subject and opting to focus on the domestic situation. “[He [President Obama] had absolutely nothing new and nothing interesting to say,” he said. (1/28/10)

Other Features

Downward Trend for College Yearbooks: Not at AU

The trend in college yearbooks appears to be taking a turn for the worse as many colleges and universities have ceased publishing, according to the Washington Post. However, according to Talon editor and AU senior Ashley Kemper, AU’s yearbook has not only grown in size, but the 2009 edition was the largest volume printed."We try to give things context,” Kemper said. “Fifty years from now, people can open their yearbook and remember what it was like." A large, color photo of the yearbook staff was featured prominently on the Metro section’s front page. (1/26/10)

High Rankings in Peace Corps Volunteerism

American University ranked as one of the nation’s top three schools for Peace Corps volunteers, coming in at second place in the “medium school” category. Al Kamen’s Politics and Policy column for posted the Peace Corp’s annual rankings of colleges and universities with the most volunteer participation. (2/4/10)

Professor Discusses Politics, Culture of Haiti

School of Public Affairs’ Rene Aubourg was an in-studio guest on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss the culture of Haiti, its struggle with dictatorship and poverty, the relationship with other countries in the midst of the devastating aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, and the sense of urgency among Haitians. “Every time a new president has come into power, the whole system has to be reset, and these people come with their loyalists,” he explained. “And as a result, it is very difficult for this country to have any type of institutional memory, and these things have also contributed to the situation you have currently,” (1/25/10).

Small Exercise Changes to Increase Better Health

The key to a successful exercise routine is revving up the heart rate, according to Health and Fitness chair Robert Karch. In an 8-minute segment for NPR’s Morning Edition, Karch explained the importance of maintaining a heart rate above 85 percent of your minimum resting hearrate as part of a regular five-day exercise routine. (2/1/10)

OpEds and Editorials

Solutions Needed for Haiti Reconstruction

Charles Call, assistant professor of international relations, wrote about how to best approach recovery efforts following Haiti’s massive earthquake on January, 12 in an opinion piece for the Miami Herald. “It is a mistake to see the earthquake as a chance to remake Haiti from scratch,” he said. “However, it is possible to try to do things a bit differently in ways that will support this famously resilient people and nudge their representatives toward new and hopeful paths,” (1/25/10).

Bipartisanship Needed To Fight Federal Debt

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Jordan Tama, assistant professor of national security policy, discussed the U.S. Senate’s vote against a commission created to recommend solutions to the federal debt. “The intensely partisan climate of today’s Washington will make it quite difficult for the commission to succeed,” he wrote. “At a time when the House and Senate are deadlocked along partisan lines, a commission may yet turn out to be a valuable tool for shaking Congress into action.”(1/26/10)

Steps, Effort Necessary to Rejuvenate Honduras

Joseph Eldridge, professor of international relations, discussed the necessary steps to restore international relations with Honduras in his opinion piece for the Huffington Post. “Honduras today is a country divided - both internally and from the international community,” he wrote. “And, if these steps are implemented quickly and thoroughly, the dictum that Hondurans can argue in the morning and embrace in the evening might once again be true.” (1/26/10)

Expert Quotes

Shorthand Texting May Face a Short Lifespan

According to linguistics professor Naomi Baron, the art of “textisms,” abbreviated words used in text messaging, will see a decline as people become more proficient with handheld devices. The shorthand novelty will fade, she told New York Times Magazine, as the devices continue to grow more sophisticated than simple telephone touch pads. (1/22/10)

Officials Discuss Trial Venues for 9/11 Terrorist Suspects

Law professor Stephen Vladeck discussed possible venues for 9/11 terrorist attack trial proceedings with theNew York Times. According to Vladeck, federal law requires that trials on murder charge be at a venue tied to “the place where the injury was inflicted , or the poison administered or other means employed which caused the death,” which would mean that sites would extend beyond where the planes crashed to where the flights initiated. (1/30/10)

Fighting To Maintain the Majority

Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the American Electorate, told that the trend in angry voters crosses both major political party lines. “The problems for the Democrats will be remobilizing the enthusiasm that they had in 2008, and I think that is a serious problem,” he said. “Right now, the Republicans have the advantage of strong emotions, and that tends to pull their people to the polls, whereas weak emotions do not.”(1/25/10)

President Obama Urges Donors to Continue Support

James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, discussed President Obama urging his party to begin working together while simultaneously wooing the opposition in a story for BusinessWeek. “He has no other choice,” he said, adding that Obama “needs to find policies where there’s common ground with the Republicans—such as national security and Afghanistan and deficit reduction—while still keeping the pressure on the Democratic leadership.” (2/5/10)

Obama’s Family Man Image is Appealing to the Public

“The sense of normalcy surrounding President Obama and the first family is a major appealing factor to the public,” communications professor Leonard Steinhorn said in a story for the Los Angeles Times. "I think the American people appreciate the normalcy, and that's part of why his likability remains high," he explained. "He's a guy who likes to go and get burgers. . . . He wants to be with his kids, wants to go on dates with his wife." (1/25/10)

NASA Considers Outsourcing, Potential Companies Express Interest

In two separate Associated Press stories about NASA, space policy expert Howard McCurdy talked about its plans to hire private companies to build and operate spacecraft, and the companies interested. “This is something that NASA has been drifting toward in the last 25 years,” he explained. “Clearly what they're trying to do is make it look positive. Instead of making it a story of cancellations, it's a story of new beginnings." The two articles were republished in more than 450 news outlets, including USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and

A Warm Farewell to D.C.’s Panda

International relations professor Robert Pastor talked to the Associated Press about the symbolism of pandas as the National Zoo and the Atlanta Zoo each shipped a panda to China. Pastor viewed the pandas as goodwill ambassadors, adding that the “warm and close relationships,” help counterbalance tension. The story was republished in more than 20 news outlets. (2/5/10)

Remembering a Literary Legend

Literature professor Richard McCann discussed the legacy of the late author J.D. Salinger during a segment for BBC World News. “[“Catcher in the Rye”] was published in 1951, but my graduate students now read that with a sense of its freshness, as its applicability to them,” he said during the 4-minute segment. “It’s still kind of an underground text to them.” (1/28/10)

Post-Racial America, Post-Racial Advertising?

Sonya Grier, a marketing professor, talked to AdWeek about President Obama’s election and its impact on the new, more-multicultural approach to advertising. “Youth of all races and ethnicities appear to lead a more 'multicultural' lifestyle," she said. "So such ads would not seem as contrived to the black consumers in that generation and mind-set as they might to a black consumer who lives a more 'segregated' lifestyle." (2/4/10)

Secretaries of State Are Becoming the Final Word in Elections

According to international relations professor Robert Pastor, state secretaries of state are undermining Americans’ faith in the election process. "After the 2000 election, partisanship in the office accelerated,” he told “It has skewed enough elections since then that a sufficient number of Americans should be concerned.” (2/1/10)