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New directors named for three research centers
STANFORD -- Stanford Vice Provost and Dean of Research and Graduate Policy Charles Kruger has announced the appointments of three new independent research center directors, all effective Sept. 1.
Associate Professor Luis R. Fraga, political science, will direct the Stanford Center for Chicano Research; John Perry, the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy, will head the Center for the Study of Language and Information; and economics Professor Gavin Wright takes over at the helm of the Center for Economic Policy Research.
Fraga hopes to expand scope of center
Fraga will succeed Fernando Mendoza, who has returned to the Stanford Medical School as associate professor of pediatrics.
The center was founded in 1980 to promote interdisciplinary research on issues affecting Mexican Americans and Latinos in the United States. Faculty and students from virtually every discipline at Stanford, especially the social sciences, English and Spanish literature, and medical and engineering departments, have projects through the SCCR.
The center produces and disseminates social science research on Mexican Americans and other Hispanic subgroups. Projects range from health care for Latinas and their children, voting rights, and effects of environmental toxins on family health to defining culture and exploring the effects of bilingual education on students and parents.
As the new director, Fraga said he hopes to expand the resources of the center. He said that while continuing to promote and help fund Chicano-related research, he would like to increase the center's potential to become a national voice for discussing issues affecting Chicano and Latino communities.
"I want to increase our capability and availability to contribute to national debate on issues particularly related to Latinos," Fraga said. "We have the resources to be a key participant in state and national debate and discussion. The major resource of the center is our faculty.
"I'd like to make the center an important player on a broader level, providing comment, expertise and research," he said. "We've done some of that, but I don't think we've been as strategic as we can be."
Fraga has already started working on some new projects for this year. He and history Professor Al Camarillo are developing a symposium, "Beyond Los Angeles," which will involve academics, public policy officials and community advocates. The symposium will explore the causes of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Also new this year, a $150,000 Irvine Foundation grant will allow the center to begin a research mentoring program, Fraga said. He and Charlene Aguilar, center administrator, created the program to link undergraduate and graduate students with ongoing projects, and inspire students to continue their studies in Chicano-related issues.
Fraga was appointed associate professor of political science at Stanford in 1991. His most recent research has centered on racial and ethnic politics, the structure of elections and representation, and on educational policy.
Perry starts third term as head of CSLI
Perry begins his third appointment as director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) in the fall. He succeeds John Etchemendy, who is taking on new responsibilities as associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.
The center was established in 1983 for the fundamental study of natural and computer language. It is dedicated to developing integrated theories of language, information, and computation. The center involves a blend of university scientists and researchers working in close collaboration with SRI International, Fairchild, and the Palo Alto research center of the Xerox Corp.
CSLI has worked on exploring issues dealing with the practical application of the theories surrounding the nature of information and the reality of today's advanced computer and robot technology.
"CLSI is a unique mixture," said Perry. "For 10 years, computer scientists, linguists, philosophers, logicians and other people in the humanities have been overcoming institutional and disciplinary boundaries to talk to each other about language and information.
"It's been exciting to have been a part of it, and I'm happy to take on the job of trying to find money and managing resources so we can continue for the next 10 years," Perry said.
Looking ahead, he said, "I expect that we'll pursue efforts like the Archimedes Project, trying to focus our theoretical work on practical problems." (The recently developed Archimedes Project is working to improve information dissemination for disabled people.)
An internationally known philosopher, Perry received his doctorate from Cornell in 1968 and taught at the University of Michigan and the University of California-Los Angeles before coming to Stanford in 1974. At Stanford, he has taught in the philosophy department and has served as department chair.
Perry has made significant contributions to the philosophy of language, particularly in explaining the links between language and action, and meaning and context. He has published two books, Situations and Attitudes and The Problem of the Essential Indexical and Other Essays, which explore these ideas.
Perry is the recipient of a number of teaching awards, including the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, and has been awarded the National Medal of Science.
International focus for economic policy center
Wright, the new director of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), replaces John Shoven, who has been appointed dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Professor David Starrett will succeed Wright as chairman of the Economics Department.
The main focus of CEPR is to solicit and review research proposals from faculty in Stanford schools and departments, and then to fund projects that are intended to be useful in the policy-making process.
CEPR brings together scholars from many areas within the university and with a wide range of economic policy interests to form a research-oriented relationship with the private sector.
"The general theme of the center," Wright said, "is to take advantage of all the talent Stanford has to offer - not just in the departments, but in the Hoover Institution, the Food Research Institute, and the Law School, to name just a few. We need to be looking into the 21st century."
As director, Wright will be responsible for the organization's administrative duties and generally overseeing it's activities. He will work with a steering committee that selects the projects and activities that the center funds.
Wright said he doesn't have many "concrete" plans about the future direction of the center, but did say he hoped to "build up our focus on international issues, in keeping with the direction of the Stanford campus."
Wright said he hoped to involve newcomer to the faculty, economics Professor Anne Krueger, in the center's research, and that he would organize a conference on theories of economic growth.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wright joined the faculty of the Economics Department in 1981. Before that, he taught at the University of Michigan, the University of California-Berkeley and Yale.
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