May 2007


The Power of Poetry
John Contreni

For many of us in the arts, humanities, behavioral and social sciences, words are the tools of our craft. We listen to other people's words in clinical settings and communicate our research with spoken and written words. In the classroom and over the Internet we "profess" with our words.

Recently we've been reminded of the power of words in public places, unfortunately in excruciatingly painful and tragic times.

In the days and weeks after the attacks of 9/11 when many Americans were reeling and trying to come to some kind of understanding of what had happened and what it all meant, many commentators in both print and broadcast, who themselves still could not speak of the horror in their own voices, drew on poetry to fill the void and to help guide us.

We heard the voices of the ancient Greeks as well as more contemporary poets and somehow, slowly, slowly, we could begin to understand and to speak for ourselves.

Since, then, we have used the arts, gigantic twin towers of light beams, welded steel beams, photography, paintings, sculpture, and words in the form of essays, poetry, and gradually drama and film scripts to memorialize and to reflect.

On April 17, when the shattered community at Virginia Tech came together to grieve and remember, we again witnessed the magic of powerful words.

We had again been listening to the professional commentators, again scrambling without scripts, who clumsily filled space with words that seemed too readily to assign blame somehow to the university and revealed an awkward understanding of an academic community.

Then, on the 17th, at the memorial gathering in Virginia Tech's football stadium, the president of the university spoke and the President of the United States spoke words both eloquent and consoling, but expected words and not quite healing.

And, then, a poet spoke.

Professor Nikki Giovanni reminded the thousands that they will not truly get over what happened on their campus the day before. As she spoke of their collective grief, she repeated the refrain over and over again, "We are Virginia Tech. We will prevail." When she had finished, Rachel Holloway, a College alumna (Communication, MA, 1985 and PhD, 1990) and faculty member at Virginia Tech thought, "Nikki Giovanni gave us our heart back."

And her powerful words gave her university community her own courage and strength. How else to interpret the Greek chorus of thousands and thousands of voices, now recovering and empowered, chanting rhythmically, "Let's Go Ho-kies, Let's Go Ho-kies."

It was a familiar chorus from sporting events, but somehow these banal words became majestic and seemed right that night.

The next day, the professional commentators showed they had been transformed as well as they began to speak about the fine programs and rich traditions of the university and as they spoke to students whose words shared their love of their university and hope for the future.


John J. Contreni
Justin S. Morrill Dean

Honors Convocation

College of Liberal Arts faculty and students received several special honors at the April 15 Honor Convocation in Elliott Hall of Music.

Marianne J. Boruch, professor of English, received the Excellence in Education Award.

Of the six Murphy winners, three are from CLA:

Patricia Hart, Robert May, and Richard Thomas. The Murphy is given annually in recognition of outstanding teaching in all phases of undergraduate instruction at the West Lafayette campus. The University's highest undergraduate teaching honor, the Murphy is accompanied by a $10,000 cash award.

The winners' names will be engraved in the Book of Great Teachers, a plaque in the Purdue Memorial Union that honors the best teachers throughout Purdue's history.

– Hart, professor of Spanish, has been in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures since 1987. She has been recognized for her teaching excellence by her department and her college. One of her students said, "The outside-of-class activities were awesome, especially the films, and also going for the class tour of 'Invisible Mexican Lafayette.' I wouldn't have known it was there otherwise!"


"She clearly understands that meaningful one-to-one interactions between students and their professors can be life-changing experiences," said Paul Dixon, department head. "Over the years, I have observed her pour much time and effort into such interactions. In this sense, she is surely one of the most generous members of our department."

Hart said she enjoys "helping students 'read' the world by reading great literature and film. I want them to imagine what it feels like to be someone else. The best test of this is when we can go from studying plays and poems in class to crossing the Wabash River and performing service projects in Spanish in the local community."

– May, professor of History, has been on the faculty since 1969. May often has students on waiting lists to enroll in his courses. A spring 2007 history course wound up with 59 waiting students after the 80-seat classroom filled to capacity. May, who during the past 10 years has taught 10 different undergraduate courses, also teaches the honors courses in history for Liberal Arts.


"I feel especially good about my teaching on those occasions when I can tell it has provoked inquisitiveness among my students and an understanding that the pursuit of history is more about questions than answers," he said. "Although I take a great amount of satisfaction on those occasions when I feel I have been lecturing effectively, I probably experience my most fulfilling moments as a teacher when in-class scheduled discussions about the books and articles I have assigned my students are going especially well.

"I never leave campus for home with more satisfaction than on those days when my students have become so engrossed in arguing a historical issue drawn from the readings that they do not notice or do not want to notice that the class period has expired."

– At Purdue since 1980, Thomas, professor of Visual and Performing Arts, has been singled out for a Murphy award because of his teaching experience, teaching evaluations, and student mentoring.


"His dedication and success in the classroom is exemplified by accomplishments his students demonstrate in areas of sound and in life," said David Sigman, head of the Patti and Rusty Rueff Department of Visual and Performing Arts. "Professor Thomas is a valued colleague and has earned the utmost respect from faculty, staff, and students for his teaching and creative endeavors."

Thomas said he reaps great rewards from his lasting relationships with students.

"During a student's academic career, the work and relationships are so intense that you take the interpersonal camaraderie that is so essential in a collaborative art like theater for granted. My least favorite time of the year is May, when a number of these students graduate, and I realize how much I'll miss them. But the real meaning and enjoyment comes when they unexpectedly return with tales of conquering the world, often with families in tow, and cheery stories about how much everything we suffered through together at Purdue meant to them, and how grateful they are for the opportunities that Purdue provided."


Purdue debuts new performance for the global stage

Purdue Theatre will preview a performance on May 11-12 that is being prepared for the 2007 Prague Quadrennial, the world's largest international stage design and architecture event.

Labcoats on Clouds

Labcoats on Clouds, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on both days in the Dance Studio Theatre in Pao Hall. The project is a collaboration among the areas of Dance, Art and Design, Theatre, and Computer Graphics Technology. Purdue's performance will be premiered at the Prague Quadrennial, held on June 14-24.

"This is a theatre piece conceived, born, and performed by designers, rather than the more traditional theater which begins with the playwright and a dramatic text," said Richard Thomas, a professor of Visual and Performing Arts who specializes in sound design. "We spent this year working intensely with a group of advanced students on a piece for a series of performances at the Prague Quadrennial called 'Design as Performance.'" More

Preschool Language Program celebrates 20 years

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences' Preschool Language Program celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 15.

Preschool Language Program

"The Preschool Language Program has served 250 families of children with communication delays and disorders by providing intervention services in a language-rich preschool setting," said Jeanette S. Leonard, co-director and speech-language pathologist and audiologist. "It is important to provide early intervention for young children with communication difficulties. The goal of this intervention is to foster communication development and minimize problems with social interactions with peers and later academic learning."

More than 200 graduate students in speech-language pathology have gained experience at this site, said Hope Gulker, who is the program's developmental specialist and social worker. The students, working under supervision, participate in practicum training by working with the children. More

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist's works on display

Purdue Libraries will display the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper cartoonist John T. McCutcheon through May 15.

McCutcheon cartoon

The display will be in Archives and Special Collections, located in Stewart Center's room 279.

McCutcheon, an 1889 Purdue graduate who is often called the "Dean of American Cartoonists," spent a 57-year career in newspapers, all in Chicago. In 1932, while the front-page cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his work titled Bank Failure, or A Wise Economist Asks a Question.

Six graduate students from a Department of English class titled "Rhetorics of the Lost Archives: Theory, Research, Practice" are preparing the display.

Shirley Rose, a professor of English who is leading the class, introduced her students to archival research by exploring how archives are created, organized, described, and maintained. More

Breast cancer survivors can find comfort in teams with athletic goals

Breast cancer survivors may find participation on a team that incorporates physical fitness, such as boating, walking, or running, can help improve their quality of life, says a sport and exercise psychologist.

"Many of these survivors' emotional, informational and social needs are met through traditional support groups or online groups," says Meghan McDonough, an assistant professor of Health and Kinesiology who studies the role relationships play in physical activity.

Women who have had breast cancer are not always looking for, or expecting benefits from, the social aspects of competing, but such camaraderie seems to improve their confidence and self-esteem about being a cancer survivor, says McDonough, who has studied breast cancer survivors in Canada who compete in canoe racing. More

Professor isolates roots of some violence

A Communication expert says incivility is on the rise because people are lonely from lacking the basic relationships and friendships that are essential to human beings.

Following the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech in which 33 people were killed, including the alleged gunman, the shooter was identified as a loner.

"Many of us admit to having few close friends," says Glenn Sparks, professor of Communication who studies the effects of mass media. "We easily recognize the living rooms and kitchens of sitcom characters, but have never seen the inside of the home of the family living next door. We are increasingly isolated. A society that persists in creating a culture of isolation and disconnection may find itself in a very scary place. In extreme cases, people may lash out and hurt others.

"It is time to recognize that we are all in this together. We need each other." More

Really listen to college students' reactions to Virginia Tech

Friends and family members of college students should provide a listening ear regarding students' fears and concerns about the Virginia Tech tragedy, says a Purdue University expert who studied how college students coped with 9/11.

"My research suggests that many college students are experiencing some degree of emotional distress as a consequence of the Virginia Tech shootings," says Erina MacGeorge, an assistant professor of Communication who studies the role of comforting in relationships. "Even though there is geographic distance between other students and Virginia Tech, there is still a great possibility for students to experience stress because they can relate to the campus environment.

"We know that students who received more comfort and support after 9/11 felt safer and were less likely to experience psychological distress and health-related problems such as depression." More

People should mull over how much wine, beer they pour

While many people are aware of the potential health hazards posed by oversized food servings, an expert says consumers face the same risks at the neighborhood bar as they do at a buffet bar.

"The overconsumption syndrome in this country is not only about food, but alcohol's portion sizes as well," says Julia Chester, an assistant professor of Psychological Sciences. "There is a lack of knowledge about standard drink sizes and that leads to consuming too many calories and experiencing alcohol's harmful effects."

Among those are alcohol dependency, as well as long-term and short-term cognitive effects that can lead to impaired judgment, says Chester, who studies the role of genetics in alcohol withdrawal and how stress influences alcohol consumption. Binge drinking - exceeding the number of recommended drinks in a short period of time - can damage the brain and liver. More


– University faculty promotions were approved at the April 13 Board of Trustees' meeting. The following College faculty were promoted.

To professor from associate professor:

  • Kevin B. Anderson, Political Science
  • Michael A. Bergmann, Philosophy
  • Donal E. Carlston, Psychological Sciences
  • Robin P. Clair, Communication
  • Rosemary L. Kilmer, Visual and Performing Arts
  • Windell H. Kilmer, Visual and Performing Arts
  • Robert P. Lamb, English
  • James A. McCann, Political Science
  • Donald O. Platt, English
  • Nicholas K. Rauh, Foreign Languages and Literatures

    To associate professor from assistant professor:

  • Petronio A. Bendito,Visual and Performing Arts
  • Joel R. Ebarb, Visual and Performing Arts
  • Elizabeth A. Hoffmann, Sociology
  • Jessica E. Huber, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
  • Michael L. Jacovides, Philosophy
  • Patrick P. Kain, Philosophy
  • Erina L. MacGeorge, Communication
  • Sorin A. Matei, Communication
  • Christopher J. Pincock, Philosophy
  • Thomas J. Rickert, English
  • Shirley Rietdyk, Health and Kinesiology
  • Seokbo S. Shim, Visual and Performing Arts
  • Mangala Subramaniam, Sociology
  • John D. Sundquist, Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Jian Wang, Communication
  • Jennifer M. William, Foreign Languages and Literatures

    To clinical associate professor from assistant professor:

  • Susan M. Flynn, clinical associate professor of Health and Kinesiology

    Other Faculty & Staff Honors

    John Contreni, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, received the Black Graduate Association's fourth annual Engagement Award during the association's annual banquet in March. The award is given in honor of individuals' contributions to engagement, diversity, and community outreach at Purdue. Contreni was recognized for his support of Black Graduate Association programs during his term as dean of the Graduate School and now as dean of Liberal Arts.

    Laurence B. Leonard, the Rachel E. Stark Distinguished Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, has been awarded the 2007 Purdue Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award. The 2007 award announcement was made April 28 at the annual banquet for the Purdue chapter of Sigma Xi, a global science and engineering scholarly society that brings together scientists from across disciplines to exchange ideas. The Purdue Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, first given in 1950, includes $1,000 and a commemorative plaque. As part of the award, the recipient presents their academic research at an annual seminar the following fall semester. Leonard's research is in normal and disordered child language.

    Michael Salvo, assistant professor of English, has been named the program chair for the 10th annual Association of Teachers of Technical Writing conference, which was March 21 in New York City. The association publishes Technical Communication Quarterly.

    Patricia Rochon, clinical assistant professor of Communication, was selected as one of five faculty members as the fourth group of Service-Learning Faculty Fellows. The Community of Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program supports campus leaders in developing service learning in the curriculum and encourages networking. As in the previous three years, the fellows will receive a $5,000 grant to develop service learning in the curriculum.

    Patricia Hart, professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was selected by the Instituto de Cine Rueda in Spain as a delegate for the United States and Canada. The institute was created in 2006 as an international central point of development and research for the application of the new audiovisual technologies and to be the vanguard of the specialized formation of professionals in the television and film media. Hart also has been named as consultant on Hispanic film for a workshop organized by Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University. The May workshop, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is titled Reeling Them In: Invigorating the Humanities Through Film.

    Deborah Bradford, an academic adviser in the College of Liberal Arts, was featured in the April 14 USA Weekend magazine for her participation in Make a Difference Day. Bradford and another volunteer did yard work at three homes for an elderly couple, an elderly woman and a disabled woman as part of the October 2006 Make a Difference Day. They received an honorable mention for their work. Bradford and other volunteers also were honored in 2005 for helping people with addictions.

    Alumni Honors

    Liberal Arts recognizes 2007 distinguished alumni

    The College of Liberal Arts honored six people as its 2007 distinguished alumni.

    The distinguished alumni are Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Jonnie G. Guerra, Donald Mahley, Hyman (Hy) Mariampolski, David Potts, and Patricia Welch.

  • Chodzko-Zajko is professor and head of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He earned his doctorate in 1984 in exercise physiology, and has spent the past 20 years focusing on the effect of exercise and physical activity on the health and quality of life in old age.

  • Guerra is vice president for academic affairs and professor of English at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa. She earned her master's degree in American Studies in 1975 and her doctorate in English in 1981.

  • Mahley is an ambassador and acting deputy assistant secretary for Threat Reduction, Export Controls, and Negotiations for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation in the U.S. Department of State. In 2004, he was the senior U.S. representative in Libya during the dismantlement of Libya's programs for weapons of mass destruction. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1964.

  • Mariampolski is managing director of QualiData Research Inc., in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is a leading worldwide consultant and award-winning authority on qualitative marketing research. He earned his master's of science degree and doctorate in sociology in 1971 and 1977, respectively.

  • Potts is a television, film and theatre production and set designer. He earned his bachelor's in theatre in 1972. He is currently the art director on the new HBO television series, John From Cincinnati. He received an Emmy Award as art director for the HBO series Deadwood.

  • Welch is a retired executive director at St. Mary's Child Center in Indianapolis. She earned her master's degree in psychology and child development in 1973 and doctorate in developmental psychology in 1977. When she retired in 2001, the center was recognized as on one of the highest quality preschools in the state. More


    Students win cash, prizes for short films

    Five Liberal Arts students were winners at the Digital Cinema Contest premiere on April 19. The following students captured the top spots with their short films in the alternative, animation, and documentary categories in the event, sponsored by the Purdue Digital Collaboratory.


  • How to Eat an Apple, by Chad Rainey, a senior in Film Video Studies from Indianapolis.


  • Millberg Apartments, by Matthew Mann, a junior in Film Video Studies from Champaign, Ill.
  • Alone on a Dark Road, by Zach Castedo, a senior in Film Video Studies from Elkhart, Ind.


  • Due for the Moon, by Craig Lozanovski, a senior in Film Video Studies from Crown Point, Ind.
  • Scaredy Cat, by Kevin O'Shea, a senior in Film Video Studies from Metamora, Ill. More

    Other Student News

    – Pirita See, a psychology and sociology major from Helsinki, Finland, will receive the $1,000 Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity Arts Scholarship. She is a member of the Purduettes, has been performing since she was a child, and has written more than 150 songs. The scholarship is endowed by the Purdue chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and presented annually to a freshman, sophomore or junior with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 and whose life is enhanced by a passion for the visual or performing arts.

    – Ivette Wilson, a graduate student in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, will receive the 2007 Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award. Wilson will receive $500.

    – A number of Liberal Arts students were recently honored for achieving either Dean's List or Semester Honors in Spring 2006 or Fall 2006.



    The New York Times
    Hey, that's (not) funny
    (Victor Raskin, Department of English)

    The Times (New Jersey) and The Rider News (Rider University)
    Drinking culture plagues colleges across the nation
    (Julia Chester, Department of Psychological Sciences)

    Indianapolis Star, Lafayette Journal and Courier, Metro Network Radio, WIBC radio in Indianapolis –
    Tragedy amid freedom, isolation
    (Glenn Sparks, Department of Communication)

    WISH-TV 8, Indianapolis –
    College students may be experiencing distress after Va. Tech tragedy
    (Erina MacGeorge, Department of Communication)

    The Oregonian
    Societal shift, deadly arms a toxic mix for troubled
    (Glenn Sparks, Department of Communication)

    Lafayette Journal and Courier
    The joke's on you: Local pranksters – and their victims – share their favorite April Fools' Day memories
    (Andrew Buckser, Department of Sociology and Anthropology)

    Inside Indiana Business
    Business of health: April is organ donation month
    (Susan Morgan, Department of Communication)

    Times of Northwest Indiana
    I ain't afraid of no digit
    (Glenn Sparks, Department of Communication)

    Lafayette Journal and Courier
    War protests nothing new to United States
    (Darren Dochuck, Department of History)


    Any story ideas can be sent to Amy Patterson Neubert at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-9723,

    Purdue News Service: 494-2096;

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