Archive for March, 2012

Jennifer Summit named American Council on Education Fellow

March 30th, 2012

Jennifer Summit, by Simon Firth

JENNIFER SUMMIT, professor of English, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. She is one of 57 fellows, nominated by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions, selected this year.

The ACE Fellows Program, established in 1965, is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration.

Summit joined the Stanford faculty in 1995 as an assistant professor of English. She earned her BA in English at Vassar College and her PhD in English literature at Johns Hopkins. At Stanford, she is also the Eleanor Loring Ritch University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. She served as chair of the English Department from 2008 to 2011 and is a faculty fellow with the Center for Teaching and Learning. She directs a multi-campus working group on undergraduate literacy called “What is a Reader?” funded by the Teagle Foundation.

Summit serves as a committee member for the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) and is chair of the group’s Subcommittee on Writing and Oral Communication.

Summit’s ACE fellowship, which she will develop in consultation with HARRY ELAM, vice provost for undergraduate education, will focus on undergraduate education reforms. Her intent is to study other colleges and universities with innovative undergraduate curricula and strong faculty involvement to help plan the implementation of SUES proposals.

“My own special interest is undergraduate writing requirements and their delivery across the departments, since I chaired the SUES subcommittee on writing and oral communication,” Summit said. “So I’ll be particularly interested in learning more about how faculty, departments and writing programs work together to deliver strong campus-wide writing and communication requirements across the disciplines. I’m also interested generally in the challenges of bridging general education requirements—like writing—and the work of the departments and academic programs, and coordinating breadth requirements into synthetic interdisciplinary clusters or pathways, which a number of other campuses have been doing in interesting ways.”

Summit’s research focuses on Medieval and Renaissance English literature, with a special interest in the histories of books, reading and the disciplines. She is the author of Memory’s Library: Medieval Books in Early Modern England (University of Chicago Press, 2008). The book won the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference and the John Ben Snow Foundation Prize from the North American Conference on British Studies.

See the American Council on Education press release.

—Kate Chesley; photo by Simon Firth

Professors recognized for their research in the social context of education

March 29th, 2012

Guadalupe Valdés

H. Samy Alim

Education Professors GUADALUPE VALDÉS and H. SAMY ALIM are recipients of awards given by the American Educational Research Association.

Valdés, the Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education, is the recipient of the Henry T. Trueba Award for Research Leading to the Transformation of the Social Contexts of Education.

Alim, an associate professor of education and, by courtesy, of linguistics and anthropology, received the Early Career Award.

Both awards are from the association’s Division G, which focuses on the social context of education. The division examines the processes of teaching and learning in the context of the social, political, cultural and economic forces in which that teaching and learning takes place.

“We encourage submissions that examine the ways in which the new knowledge economies operate to include and exclude, embrace and marginalize, offer access and create barriers for learning in formal and informal contexts,” the Division G website states.

Alim earned his master’s degree in linguistics in 2002 and a doctorate in educational linguistics in 2003, both from Stanford. He joined the Stanford faculty in 2009. His goal is to shed light on the relationships among language, race and ethnicity across a wide range of social, cultural and educational contexts.

Valdés, one of the nation’s foremost experts on Spanish-English bilingualism, has been a member of the Stanford School of Education faculty since 1992. She studies the sociolinguistic processes of language acquisition by those who set out to learn a second language in a formal school setting, as well as those in immigrant communities who must learn two languages in order to adapt to immediate family-based or work-based environments.

Ask Stanford Med: Hank Greely takes questions on health care act proceedings

March 28th, 2012

Hank Greely

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the opening arguments in a historic three-day session that could decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Stanford law Professor HANK GREELY summarized the first day’s proceedings and offered his perspective in the Medical School’s SCOPE blog.

Greely continues to follow the oral arguments and comment briefly on the issues on SCOPE and will take questions on the debate as part of the Med School’s Ask Stanford Med series.

Questions can be submitted by either sending them via Twitter  and  including the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting them in the comments section of the SCOPE blog.

Greely,  the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law, is an expert on the legal, ethical and social issues surrounding health law and the biosciences. He is director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences, and chairs the steering committee of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.

For ground rules and additional information about posting your questions for Greely, click here.

Stanford Men’s Basketball: NIT Special

March 27th, 2012

The Stanford men’s basketball team touched down in New York City just after midnight on Monday with one goal in mind: return to campus with a championship. They will face the University of Massachusetts this afternoon at 4 p.m. PT in the semifinals of the Postseason National Invitation Tournament. Washington and Minnesota square off in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. PT. The winners meet Thursday. You can stay tuned to for continued coverage of the Stanford men’s postseason run. In the meantime, you can watch video of the team on its way to Madison Square Garden.

Middle school choir performs at Stanford

March 26th, 2012

The Willow Oaks Choir performs at Stanford: From left: Jakelin Rivera Hernandez, Itzel Villa, Kalonnie Bridges, Adan Quintero, Nehumi Tuulakitau and Edwin Sanchez. Photo credit: Fannie Watkinson

They started with vocal warm-ups but soon warmed the hearts of the crowd.  On Thursday evening, at the Braun Music Center, six students from Willow Oaks Middle School in Menlo Park presented their debut concert as the Willow Oaks Choir.  KALONNIE BRIDGES, JAKELIN RIVERA HERNANDEZ, ADAN QUINTERO, EDWIN SANCHEZ, NEHUMI TUULAKITAU and ITZEL VILLA performed a Welsh lullaby, a traditional German song and a Michael Jackson tune. They were joined by members of the Stanford Chamber Chorale for a rendition of the gospel song “Down by the Riverside.”

The Willow Oaks singers were formed just two months ago by JACOB BOEHM, a member of the Stanford chorale and a senior majoring in music.

In the printed event program, Boehm laid out the impetus for starting the choir.

“Willow Oaks is a school with no music program. It is one of the many schools plagued with budget cuts and an emphasis on test taking. In California, only 24 percent of middle school students and 14 percent of high school students received music education in 2007. In the past dozen years, California has reduced the number of music teachers by more than 1000. Programs like the California Arts Council’s Arts in Education and Artist-in-Residence programs, formerly funded at more than $10 million annually, now have less than $1 million in funding. These reductions are astounding considering the proven positive effects of music education, including higher retention, higher test scores and mental acuity,” the program note said.

During the first half of the eight–week middle-school program, Boehm introduced a new song each week, and each new song provided students an opportunity to try a different musical concept, such as  singing in a round, performing a solo, or tackling a song in a foreign language.

Following Thursday’s music program, which featured alternating performances by the Willow Oaks group and the Stanford Chorale, led by music Professor STEVEN SANO, the two singing groups were joined by Stanford faculty for an exchange of ideas and questions.  The faculty included music professors HEATHER HADLOCK and MARK APPLEBAUM, STEWART LEVIN, geophysics, and DIANE FRANK, dance.

The Stanford students talked about their career plans: law school, travel, professor of particle physics.

“Is it true that if you go to college you can pick the times you go to class?” one of the Willow Oaks students asked.

Stanford senior Jacob Boehm, left, rehearses with Nehumi Tuulakitau. Photo credit:Fannie Watkinson

“Nobody makes you go to class but if you don’t go to class you can fall behind,” Levin advised.

“Being a student is something you might want to do forever,” Applebaum said. He admitted that that might “sound miserable” from a middle-school perspective, but that one of the exciting things about being a professor at Stanford is learning from his students. “It’s a two-way street. We’re students for life.”

Asked by one of the Willow Oaks parents how the experience had changed the middle-schoolers’ perspectives. Sanchez said that he initially thought singing was for girls, but soon realized that he liked to sing and to appreciate the music “When I hear Jacob singing, it calms me down,” he said.

Boehm’s name might be familiar to some readers. Last summer, he became the poster child for the power of social media while he was traveling in Malaysia and went off the grid.  Worried friends and family members used an international network of Facebook postings and Tweets to track him down.

Answering the question about his plans after graduation, Boehm said his include travel to Greece, where he will practice another of his passions – lighting design – in a touring production of Wanderings of Odysseus.

“I’ll stay there till someone gets worried again,” he quipped, to which a fellow Stanford student called out, “Keep your cell phone on.”

For now, though, Boehm urged members of the audience to do what they can to support music in the schools.

And if anyone needed a reason to do so, Tuulakitau said it best.  The Willow Oaks Choir, the seventh grader said, “changed my life a lot.”







Stanford on iTunes U hits new milestone

March 23rd, 2012

From human behavior to linguistics, audio and video lectures offered on Stanford’s iTunes U have been downloaded a whopping 50 million times.

The milestone, reached last week, comes nearly seven years after Stanford became the first university to give the public access to campus lectures, concerts and courses through iTunes U.

“It shows there is a huge appetite for high-quality educational content,” said BRENT IZUTSU, the senior program manager for Stanford on iTunes U, or SoiT. “And that will only grow as more people look online to supplement their education.”

The courses attract everyone from high school students and mid-career professionals to retirees, Izutsu said.

The most popular offerings are in engineering, where students can learn to build an iOS app or study quantum physics under one of the fathers of string theory,  LEONARD SUSSKIND.

But more than 100 collections of course lectures in subjects including entrepreneurship, American history and clinical anatomy are available through Apple’s iTunes store. There also are 13 full courses offered on the iTunes U app that include assignments and supplemental reading material.

Students do not receive credit or certificates of study for taking the courses.

Apple formally launched iTunes U in 2007, two years after it tested the site in collaboration with Stanford and several other pilot schools. By January, iTunes U had logged more than 700 million downloads, with Stanford’s content among the most popular.



Christen Press blogs about her new post in Sweden

March 22nd, 2012

Christen Press during her Stanford days

CHRISTEN PRESS, Stanford’s all-time leading scorer and the 2010 Hermann Trophy winner, begins her first European season April 10 with Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC of Sweden’s Damallsvenskan. In the meantime, she has been providing regular posts to the Athletics website.

After graduating in 2011, Press was the 4th overall draft pick of the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) draft, signing with the Atlanta Beat last November.  But by January, the WPS announced it was suspending play to focus on legal issues.

In her first blog post, Press wrote:

“When the WPS league suspended operations for 2012, I, like other players in the league, was left in a state of anxious uncertainty. . . . While the old me tried to rear a rigid head in panic, the new me decided to take stock of my situation and look beyond the horizon for a new opportunity. . .

She needn’t have worried.

Here’s an excerpt from her third post titled Restart:

“I have been in Sweden for over two weeks and I think it’s a good time to decompress. I like to speckle my weekly blogs with alliterations and metaphors, as I relay specific lessons in soccer and show how that lesson altered my point of view in some way. Now, I feel is a good time to step back and give you a little background perspective.

I’ve brought nothing with me to Sweden but an open mind … and about 140 pounds of luggage … and okay, my 20-year-old Teddy bear, Brown Bear (I was a clever 3-year-old), but you get my point. I left my expectations and preconceived notions at home, as I set off to accomplish two big things.

First things first, change is scary! It’s hard to leave home, especially when home is Palos Verdes Estates, California. But my little sister, Channing, recently brought to my attention that I am change. I love fashion, but I change my style spontaneously (not good for my bank account). I left Chadwick, my high school, claiming to be a moderate. When I left Stanford, my sister Tyler described me as “a baby hippie.” I can cut off my hair on a whim, like last month, and I am glad to be at a point in my life where I am secure enough to love it. I am determined not to miss out on any experiences in life. My motto here in Sweden is (á la Nike) … “Just do it… Just do it all!”

This season I’m hoping to have an Existential Experience Exploring the Errors of my Earlier Existence …(couldn’t resist) Meaning, I want to find myself and learn to love myself unconditionally. I believe that traveling and living abroad is just the opportunity to do such a thing … but I’ll get back to you on that in December.

When I walked through the gate at the Gothenburg airport, I was prepared to receive a new culture with open arms. I’m not shy or introverted. I am not afraid to meet new people or to be alone … Still, I wanted to make sure I left any tendencies to be standoffish behind. I’m not the same girl I was five years ago, nor do I want to be. Another objective is is to push my game to its physical and mental edge. I have big goals for myself in soccer. It’s no secret that I want to play on the world stage someday soon. But instead of focusing on the disappointments of 2011, my plan for 2012 is to ensure I am the best player I can be in 2013. And to do so, I want to be exposed to another facet of the game — goodbye soccer, hello football!”

Read Press’ full blog post.

Dance company proves March isn’t just for hoops

March 21st, 2012

March is not just for hoops. While the Cardinal basketball teams participated in the NCAA and NIT tournaments, another team of Stanford stars took the floor. The Stanford dancers went to the American College Regional Conference this month to perform Twilight Composite – and it was selected as the strongest work at the conference. In March Madness terms, the dancers won their bracket.

The team of seven has been invited to perform with other elite dancers representing the best choreography and performance in the nation at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in May. “We are planning to go – how is not yet certain – but to be so recognized by the dance field within a national forum is a huge signal honor in and of itself,” Twilight Composite choreographer and Stanford dance faculty member DIANE FRANK said about the Kennedy Center honor.

Twilight Composite was evaluated in relation to dozens of other adjudicated works at the regional conference, most from fully accredited degree-granting undergraduate/graduate dance departments. The adjudicators were unreservedly positive in their analysis and comments, starting with “an exemplar of choreography” and proceeding to “classical restraint” and “clarity of intent and beautiful dancing.”

At Stanford, students can declare a drama minor with a concentration in dance but their commitment to dance is not degree-driven. “The dancers’ intellectual appetite informs their studio practice, making it possible to do choreographically sophisticated and nuanced work,” Frank said of her students. Five members of the cast intend to pursue dance careers after graduation.

With regard to the regional conference and the invitation to the Kennedy Center, Frank said, “It is absolutely great for our dancers to know that they are working at a level of accomplishment which the professional dance field sees as worthy of national attention. The same intellectual energy that drives creativity in other university research drives the work in dance.”

The Stanford dancers are GARY CHAMPI, CC CHIU, KATHERINE DISENHOF, TESSALY JEN, MINDY PHUNG, JULIA NEIDERT and SANJAY SAVERIMUTTU. Collaborative interdepartmental participation came from DOHI MOON, affiliated with the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, who composed the music; and MELISSA DEMERS, an undergraduate in drama working with Professor MICHAEL RAMSAUR, who designed the lighting.


Loeb to be nominated by Obama to National Board for Education Sciences

March 20th, 2012

Susanna Loeb

The White House issued a press release March 16 announcing that President Barack Obama intends to nominate SUSANNA LOEB, professor of education and director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis, to the National Board for Education Sciences.

The National Board for Education Sciences consists of 15 voting members appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The board’s duties include advising the director of the Institute of Education Sciences.

Loeb specializes in the economics of education, and the relationship between schools and federal, state and local policies. Her work focuses particularly on school finance and teacher labor markets.

In the press release, the White House noted that Loeb “also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Director of the Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice and Co-Director of Policy Analysis for California Education.  In addition to her work at Stanford, Dr. Loeb is currently a policy council member with the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, co-editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and a Faculty Research Fellow with the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

Read the White House press release.

“Nerd City” video features Cardinal’s scholar athletes

March 19th, 2012

Following up on the 2011 smash hit “I Got Bounce,” scholar athletes NNEKA and CHINEY OGWUMIKE of Stanford Women’s Basketball front the latest release from VANDERVEER Records and the Cardinal Channel.
“Nerd City” is the 6th release of the Stanford Athletics 19 Hours project, in which each of Stanford’s 35 teams get 19 hours to make a short film. Check it out.

By the way, the Cardinal women beat Hampton Saturday 73-51 in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament. They play West Virginia in Denver at 4:15 p.m. today, March 19, in the second round of the championship.