September 2008


John Contreni

Harvesting knowledge

What seemed like a shorter than usual summer hiatus was confirmed by last weekend's Labor Day observance, the traditional end of summer. The first Monday in September this year fell on September 1.

The new academic year is off to a fine start. We are all adjusting to the new Banner, or OnePurdue, system and teaching each other how to navigate through its novelties.

The new Department of Anthropology is up and running under the aegis of its new department head, Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum.

Dr. Matthias Steup is securely at the helm of the Department of Philosophy.

Fourteen of our College colleagues were inducted into Purdue's Great Book of Teachers.

We also welcomed our new undergraduate students to the College and hosted an ice cream social for them in Founders Park, where many of them donned their neon CLA T-shirts.

New students socialize

Our new faculty colleagues participated in a Center for Instructional Excellence workshop which the College hosted on August 18, the official beginning of the new school year. The interactive workshop focused on undergraduate teaching at Purdue and was both informative and lively. Please meet and welcome our new colleagues.

Best wishes for a wonderful semester!


John J. Contreni
Justin S. Morrill Dean


Political conventions more show than substance

Both the Democratic and Republican national conventions have more to do with the parties' image than the delegates' preferences for president, says a Purdue University political scientist.

Click here for
McCann interview

"The conventions are like greeting cards to Americans from their political parties," says James McCann, professor of Political Science. "There was a time and place when conventions really did matter in candidate selection. Think back to the days of the so-called 'smoke-filled backrooms' where a group of party elites would decide whom to nominate. But that has not been true in our lifetimes.

"That's not to say that conventions are politically inconsequential. They have a lot of symbolic oomph. They are the calling card for their party. They show off the parties' best and brightest to America." More

Prof takes a swing at history of baseball scandals, the modern athlete

Baseball will continue to score with fans despite the national pastime's steroids scandal, says a Purdue professor of History.

Click here for
Roberts interview

"Fans are so jaded because there have been so many scandals involving all kinds of athletes that it doesn't affect baseball or any other sport anymore," says Randy Roberts, distinguished professor of history. "It's still about the game and baseball's competitive spirit. The summer that saved baseball was the summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris' home-run record. Even though allegations of steroid use overshadow such baseball statistics and records, the fans are still faithful."

But while athletes are still admired, fans' perceptions and expectations of modern athletes has changed, Robert says.

"Athletes aren't role models; they are pitch men," Robert says. "They sell products. Basketball player Charles Barkley said it best. 'If you want a role model, look at your parents, minister or teachers, but don't look at me.' Just because they are athletes doesn't equip them to become a role model." More

Professor's novel parallels family's trials with 1970s politics

Purdue University associate professor and author Porter Shreve's latest novel looks at how a family's struggles mirror 1970s politics.

Porter Shreve

When the White House Was Ours is Shreve's third novel, and it is loosely based on his own childhood growing up in the Washington, D.C., area. The book ($12.95), published by Mariner Houghton Mifflin, is available Tuesday (Sept. 9).

The story is set in 1976, the year of the country's bicentennial, and focuses on teenager Daniel Truitt. He lives with his father Pete, who has been fired from another teaching job, while his mother Valerie continues to threaten to leave the family. More

Study: Verbal aggression may affect children's behavior

The methods mothers use to control their children during playtime and other daily activities could have a negative impact on their child's self-esteem and behavior, according to a new Purdue study.

"It's hard to tell parents how to interact with their children based on one study, but what we see here is that parents who have a propensity for being verbally aggressive have a tendency to try to direct and control their children during a play period," said Steven R. Wilson, a professor of Communication who specializes in family issues. "As a result, these children were less cooperative, and not only are parents setting up situations that are challenging for them to handle, but they also are subtly undermining their child's self-esteem."

Wilson and Felicia Roberts, an associate professor of Communication, are lead authors of a study that appeared in the July issue of Human Communication Research journal. More

When the spotlight is on candidates, what's the president to do?

While the Democrat and Republican presidential nominees are campaigning, the incumbent is likely to play a small role and focus instead on his legacy, says a Purdue presidential scholar.

"Right now, President Bush's standings resemble that of President Harry S Truman," Rockman says. "When Truman left office, he was very unpopular. However, his reputation grew more positive with time. Today, more historians and scholars believe that Truman was courageous and had to make some tough decisions as president. Bush may take solace in this.

"Bush's legacy is likely to focus on foreign relations, and it's expected that he, too, will focus on rhetoric about the tough decisions he had to make regarding Afghanistan and Iraq." More

Purdue, Lafayette School Corp. partner to improve students' physical activity

Researchers from Purdue are teaming with the Lafayette School Corp. to implement a program to enhance the physical education experiences of Lafayette elementary through junior high school students.

The project, called Making Physically Active Lafayette Students through Partnerships, is a three-year initiative that seeks to help more Lafayette School Corp. students maintain physically active lifestyles and meet Indiana standards for physical education.

Alan Smith, associate professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, leads the Purdue team that will direct the teacher education and program evaluation components. More

Language program shows signs of ongoing popularity

Incoming students may be surprised that foreign language options at Purdue and many other colleges include American Sign Language.

"Learning American Sign Language encourages flexibility in thinking and in interacting with others," says Diane Brentari, professor and director of the American Sign Language program in the College of Liberal Arts. "It improves visual-spatial memory, as well."

Some Purdue students enrolled in the program are preparing for careers in speech pathology, teaching or interpretation, while others may be fulfilling the College of Liberal Arts foreign language requirement. More

Friendships, community ties before Hurricane Katrina play role in recovery

Recovery from a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina is strongly influenced by the relationships and community ties that existed before the tragedy, says a Purdue professor who studies disaster recovery.

"The damage to homes, the cost to rebuild or even death were not the deciding factors that influenced whether people returned to their neighborhoods after disasters like Hurricane Katrina," says Daniel P. Aldrich, an assistant professor of Political Science. "Based on historical evidence, people who were likely to return had strong social networks, such as neighborhood groups, churches, synagogues and parent-teacher associations, that they knew they could rely on for emotional support, information and even assistance. The people in communities who didn't know their neighbors' names or never picked up litter or had not given blood together were less likely to return. Civil society -- the bonds that tie us together through work and play -- provides many incentives to bring people back."

Aldrich, who was a professor at Tulane University when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, is studying the recovery efforts in the city, as well as the disaster's effects on population and demographics. His focus, which includes interviews with residents, is on 300-block areas, including Village de L'est, Lakeview and the surrounding parishes. More

Audiologist speaks up about tips for talking in our noisy world

Making eye contact and speaking clearly are among the steps people can take to communicate more effectively with others, says a Purdue audiologist.

"We live in a noisy environment, and people with normal hearing report problems hearing because of background noise," says Lata Krishnan, a clinical associate professor of Audiology. "Patients with hearing loss often tell audiologists that if everyone spoke like an audiologist, they wouldn't have a problem hearing."

Krishnan says people should always think about how they speak because they never know when they are speaking to someone who has hearing difficulties. Hearing loss, especially noise-induced hearing loss, is a factor for people of all ages. More

Communication programs rank in top 10

The Purdue Department of Communication's health, interpersonal and organizational programs ranked in the top 10 based on faculty's publications in the 50 journals related to the field.

Com Vista, a guide to programs of study in communication-related departments, ranked communication programs in 99 areas based on faculty research productivity. This is determined by the number of publications by each department's current faculty members, said Howard Sypher, professor and head of the Department of Communication. The journals are indexed in the Com Abstract database.

Purdue's health communication is ranked No. 2, and interpersonal and organizational communication are ranked fourth. More


Prof to help voters understand more about casting electronic ballots

A Purdue cybersecurity expert will discuss the reliability and security of electronic voting Sept. 8 at a talk sponsored by PLACE (Purdue Liberal Arts Community Engagement), the Unitarian Universalist church and the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana.

Eugene H. Spafford, the executive director of Purdue's CERIAS (Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security), will present "Will Your Vote Be Counted? How Do You Know?" from 7-9 p.m. at the Morton Community Center, 222 N. Chauncey Ave. More

Fall forum to feature international films

Purdue University's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is showing films from Germany, Morocco and the Caribbean during the 2008 World Film Forum, a monthly fall series.

The forums will take place Sept. 10, Oct. 22 and Nov. 12, and all the films, which are free and open to the public, have English subtitles. Purdue professors will introduce the films and lead a discussion after them. Film information is available online. More

Purdue's Confucius Institute offers calligraphy lecture, demonstration

People interested in learning more about calligraphy and practicing this ancient form of writing with an artist are invited to attend a Sept. 12 demonstration at Purdue.

Harrison Xinshi Tu, whose work is part of the Denver Art Museum's permanent collection, will present "Calligraphy: The Beautiful and Unique Chinese Art" from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Civil Engineering Building, Room 2113. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Purdue's Confucius Institute. More

Chinese music, acting group to perform at Purdue

The Jiangsu Silk & Bamboo Performing Group is performing at Purdue on Sept. 13.

Jiangsu Silk
& Bamboo Performing Group

The event, which is free and open to the public, is 2-3:30 p.m. in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. Doors open at 1:45 p.m. The event is sponsored by Confucius Institutes at Purdue and Valparaiso University.

The 25-member group includes 13 instrumentalists, two vocalists, two dancers, two acrobats and three Beijing Opera actors and actress, and one puppet show actress. The artists will present traditional Chinese instrumental and vocal music, folk dance, magic face-changing, puppet shows and excerpts from famous Beijing Opera classics. More

Philosophy professor speaks about Buddhism, Christianity

A Philosophy professor will speak Sept. 17 about religious issues in Buddhism and Christianity.

Donald W. Mitchell, professor of Philosophy, will present "Buddhist Emptiness, Christian Trinity and the Spirituality of Unity" at 4:30 p.m. at the Krannert Building's Krannert Auditorium. The event, sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts' Religious Studies Program and the Aquinas Educational Foundation, is free and open to the public. More

Jewish Studies announces fall Evening Lecture, Noon Lecture series

The Jewish Studies Program at Purdue will offer a variety of speakers for both its fall Evening and Noon Lecture series.

The first Evening Lecture event is 8 p.m. Sept. 22 in Stewart Center, Room 310. Anita Norich, professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, will present "How Tevye Learned to Fiddle."

Information about other lectures is available online. More

Aging symposium focuses on issues for family caregivers

Stress, chronic illness complications and depression in family caregiving are some of the issues that will be discussed at the 2008 Center on Aging and the Life Course symposium on Sept. 26.

The theme for the symposium is "Family Relations and Late Life Health." Registration is free for Purdue faculty, staff or students and those 65 and older. The fee for others is $40. More

New Purdue Theatre season to showcase flavors of love

The 2008-09 Purdue Theatre season will include a variety of productions ranging from love stories to comedy to a glimpse of horror.

"Variety's the very spice of life, and this season we invite our audience to savor the many flavors of love," said Rich Rand, chair of the Division of Theatre. "Come to our Marquee and Horizon productions and experience stories heartwarming and surreal, tragic and edgy, radiant and romantic, bitter and sweet."

This year's performances include:

  • You Can't Take It With You
  • Blue Window
  • The Seagull
  • Dracula
  • The Shape of Things
  • Much Ado About Nothing

    Dates, locations and ticket information is available online. More

    Purdue Galleries to offer new season of exhibits

    A pair of exhibitions will kick off the Purdue Galleries' new season with playfulness and inventive creativity.

    "Li'l Heads, Too!" will be presented Sept. 2 to Oct. 12 in the Stewart Center Gallery and also on display will be "'No Danger' Airplane Show" in the Robert L. Ringel Gallery in Purdue Memorial Union.

    At 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4, Galleries will present an opening reception for "Li'l Heads, Too" in the Stewart Center Gallery. At 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10, Edward Bernstein, exhibit co-creator and professor of printmaking at the Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University, will present a lecture on the project in the Ringel Gallery. A reception will be held in the gallery immediately after the lecture. More



    ♦ Matthias Steup is the new head for the Department of Philosophy. Steup recently served as department chair at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. He earned his master's degree in philosophy from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and completed his doctorate degree at Brown University. His research focuses on epistemology, and he also is interested in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, ethics and logic. The Department of Philosophy is housed in the College of Liberal Arts and is home to 21 faculty, 65 graduate students and 87 majors.

    ♦ Ellen Gruenbaum is the inaugural head of the new Department of Anthropology. She received her bachelor's degree from Stanford University, and her master and doctorate degrees are from the University of Connecticut. She has held academic appointments at California State University in San Bernardino and California State University in Fresno. Her expertise is on women's health and the role of traditional practices in Africa, especially Sudan, and the Middle East. Her research interests include the health of women and children with emphasis on female circumcision, spirit possession, healing and HIV prevention. Anthropology, which was formerly part of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is housed in the College of Liberal Arts and is home to 13 faculty, 30 graduate students and 66 majors.

    Other CLA Honors

    ♦ Bart Collins received a "Seed for Success Award" from the Provost. This award is given to faculty members who are principal investigators or co-principal investigators on grants of $1 million dollars or more.

    ♦ Jeong-Nam Kim received a research grant ($5,000) from the KPRA for his project on "Internet Flaming and Public Relations: Situational Factors of Becoming Flamers."

    ♦ Lorraine Kisselburgh received a $30,000 seed grant from the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering to explore the use of a Nano-Hub like infrastructure for health communities of practice. The award will help facilitate population identification, as well as the development of analytic tools using social network approaches to understand how individuals connect, communicate, and collaborate in the pursuit of resources and information about assistive technologies for health.

    ♦ Janice R. Kelly, professor of psychology, has been elected president of the Midwestern Psychological Association for 2009-10. Kelly's primary research area is small group decision making. She is currently associate editor of Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin.

    ♦ William McBride, the Arthur G. Hansen Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, was elected the president of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, also known as the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie. McBride was elected at the recent XXII World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul, Korea. The society is an umbrella organization in philosophy, and as president, McBride will supervise the planning for the 2013 World Congress in Athens.

    ♦ Skyler Jennings, who earned his doctor of audiology in 2008 and continues to study psychoacoustics at Purdue, was selected by the Audiology Foundation of America as the 2008 recipient for its Leo Doerfle Ph.D. Memorial Scholarship. Jennings will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

    ♦ Jayagenesh Swaminathan, a student working on a doctoral degree in hearing science, received the second-place prize for the Best Student Paper Award in Psychological and Physiological Acoustics by the Acoustical Society of America. The paper, "Neural coding of envelope and fine structure in noise degraded speech," was presented in July at the society's annual meeting in Paris.


    Athletes in the zone may see the world differently
    (Jessica Witt, Department of Psychological Sciences)

    USA Today
    States work to curb prison violence
    (Bert Useem, Department of Sociology)

    Pittsburgh-Tribune Review
    Party conventions a scripted week of political pageantry
    (Bert Rockman, Department of Political Science)

    Indianapolis Star
    Purdue professor debunks physics myths in national pastime
    (Howard Zelaznik, Department of Health and Kinesiology)

    Canwest News Service, The Gazette (Montreal), Times Colonist (Canada) –
    Internet distributes news in untidy ways
    (Glenn Sparks, Department of Communication)

    WTHR-13, Indianapolis –
    Rural town is the 'cradle of acrobatics'
    (Wei Hong, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures)

    WTHR-13, Indianapolis –
    Hoosiers living in China
    (Wei Hong, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures)

    Reuters –
    Iraq troop deal could affect U.S. presidential race
    (James McCann, Department of Political Science)

    Indianapolis Star
    What's that, you say?
    (Lata Krishnan, Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences)

    Reno Gazette Journal
    Olympic Games help strengthen a soccer fanbase in United States
    (Randy Roberts, Department of History)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier
    Russia's actions in Georgia suggest the birth of a new Cold War
    (Michael Smith, Department of History)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier
    In search of one man's story: Purdue professor pieces together life of Lester A. Walton
    (Susan Curtis, Department of History)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier
    Purdue professor studies effects of darkness of 'Knight'
    (Glenn Sparks, Department of Communication)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier
    Tragedy spurs new outlook for soon-to-be graduate
    (Randy Roberts, Department of History)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier
    'Makeover' designer helping Habitat
    (Interior Design, Patti and Rusty Rueff Department of Visual and Performing Arts)

    Lafayette Journal & Courier, WLFI TV18 –
    Fitness centers coming to Sunnyside, Tecumseh
    (Alan Smith, Department of Health and Kinesiology)

    WLFI TV 18 –
    Purdue classes start, new department
    (Ellen Gruenbaum, Department of Anthropology)


    Story ideas can be sent to Amy Patterson Neubert at the Purdue News Service, 494-9723,

    Purdue News Service: 494-2096;

  • Links to
    summary categories:

    CLA Update
    Research & News
    Faculty & CLA Honors
    Experts in the News
    Sign up to be:
    Media Expert
    Community Speaker
    Other Links:
    CLA Home Page
    CLA Faculty Senate
    CLA Speakers
    CLA Magazine
    Purdue News
    Purdue Home Page
    News by E-mail
    Alumni E-news
    Purdue in print
    Purdue in the news
    Purdue University Research Expertise (PURE)