Summer 2015 Newsletter

In this Issue

Michaella Morzuch ’03, Political Science, Named President of Alumni Association

“UMass is a part of my family,” remarks Morzuch. “My father teaches resource economics on campus and my mother, two sisters and husband are all alumni. UMass has framed who I am today and so I give back to it in any way that I can.”

Mednicoff Works to Create Opportunities for Syrian Refugees

Assistant Professor David Mednicoff (public policy) visited the largest refugee camp in Jordan on June 6, as part of a delegation affiliated with iPlatform for Global Change, an organization he helps lead. As a result of this visit, this international nongovernmental organization is now working to further the educational opportunities for youth in the Za’atari camp, located less than 20 miles south of the Syrian border.

Scholarship Makes WCVB Internship Possible

“I’m so grateful to the Bacherman family for even considering me for this scholarship,” says Haley Bucelewicz ’16 (communication/journalism), recipient of the Scott J. Bacherman Scholarship. “While my internship at WCVB is an amazing opportunity, it’s unfortunately unpaid and takes up most of the time I would otherwise have working a paid job. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to intern at WCVB. This scholarship means so much to me."

Branch Selected as Director of Diversity Advancement

We are pleased to announce that Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch, Professor of Sociology, is now serving as the SBS Director of Diversity Advancement. A scholar interested in race, racism, and inequality, she will be working to promote excellence and diversity in SBS among faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff. 

Celebrating Graduation 20,000 Feet Up

Alex Calder, recent graduate of the resource economics department and his fellow UMass roommate Jeff Rogers summited Alaska’s Mount McKinley, located in the Denali National Park and Preserve, this past May. Only 50% of climbers who attempt the climb ever make it to Denali’s summit.

Other Topics of Interest

UMass Begins Search for Inaugural Director of School of Public Policy

Building on the success of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, the founding director will be in a unique position to lead a faculty hiring strategy, to make the SPP a national and international hub for policy debates, and to create multidisciplinary programs that prepare students for life-long engagement with public issues. 

Journalism Major Nia Decaille Wins Senior Leadership Award

Nia Decaille’s many leadership roles on campus earned her the Senior Leadership Award this year. “It means a lot to me because I learned from so many great leaders, who are also people of color on campus,” she says. “This award really goes to those before my who taught me how to lead.”

Pader Wins Distinguished Community Engagement Award for Teaching

"For me, this award is a recognition of why community-engaged learning is, and should be, one of the pillars of UMass's Strategic Plan for the development of a well-educated, civically-minded population," says Associate Professor Ellen Pader (regional planning). "I'm continually awed by the thirst so many students have for classes that guide them in their quest to be agents of positive social change, and how willing they are to grapple deeply with emotionally and intellectually difficult subjects in order to attain that goal."

The "Ivory Ceiling" and Retention of Women in Academia

Graph - Changing Gender Composition of  Tenured Associate Professors - U.S.

UMass sociologists Jennifer Lundquist and Joya Misra report their research findings on the retention and level among tenure-line faculty, most notably women associate professors.  

Alumni News | Department and Faculty News
SBS in the News | A Word from SBS

Alumni News

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar ’15 (economics) has been coronated as 27th Maharaja of the 600-year-old Wadiyar dynasty on May 28 at Mysore Palace in Kanartaka, southern India, according to the Deccan Chronicle in Bangladesh. According to The Guardian (UK) and New Delhi Television, a court battle is expected to settle a family dispute to determine the future of the dynasty’s estate, estimated to be valued at approximately $8 billion.

Former UMass lacrosse player Will Manny ’13 (resource economics) had five goals and four assists, including the game-winning overtime goal, for the Boston Cannons in a 17-16 victory over the Rochester Rattlers in a Major League Lacrosse game at Gillette Stadium on May 17. The article appeared in the Boston Herald, 5/18/15.

Aaron Schacter ’92 (journalism) won the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club for his work "Repercussions of the Arab Spring" with Marine Olivesi from PRI's The World. The award honors best radio news or interpretation of international affairs.

Rose Egan ’13 (MPPA) is now executive director at Voices from Inside, an organization that works with women in western Massachusetts who are or were incarcerated, offering writing groups, public speaking opportunities and leadership training.

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Department and Faculty News

Inside Higher Ed features sociologists: A study on diversity issues for midcareer faculty members finds that universities need to recruit more faculty of color and they must put more effort into retaining those faculty members, says Joya Misra, sociology and public policy, and Jennifer Lundquist, associate dean for research and faculty development.

Melissa E. Wooten (sociology) is interviewed about her new book “In the Face of Inequality: How Black Colleges Adapt.” The book looks at how historically black colleges, both public and private, were created in an era of overt discrimination and hostility to their mission and how they have responded to those challenges.

Julie Caswell (resource economics) was profiled in a recent Spotlight Scholar feature story.

UMass Lecturer in Anthropology, Linda Ziegenbein, led a local excavation project, 'Digging Northampton's History' with a team of current graduate students Mary Larkum and Elena Sesma as well as Jill Zuckerman from Archaeological Services.

Jonathan R. Wynn (sociology) writes a column about his experiences as a visiting assistant professor.

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SBS in the News

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Jamaica Gleaner, 8/2/15. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, is mentioned in a story about the economic cost of homophobia. Her research is cited in a story about homophobia in Jamaica.

Salon, 7/26/15. A study by Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes (political science) is noted in an article on the influence wielded by large campaign donors. Their study found that roll call voting by members of Congress may be more strongly associated with the views of their donors than with those of their voting constituents.

New York Times, 7/26/15; Brookings, 7/24/15. Research by Arin Dube (economics) and alumnus Ben Zipperer on local minimum wage hikes is cited in an article examining the potential effects of a national increase in the minimum wage. Also, a blog article on the 2016 voter initiative in the District of Columbia to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour says the plan aligns well with a benchmark proposed by Dube in a paper for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project. Dube posited that state and local governments should gauge their minimum wages to half of the local area median wage.

Bloomberg Business, 7/24/15. Gerald Friedman (economics) is cited in an article noting that arguments by major national health insurance companies that mergers will create new efficiencies mirror calls for replacing insurers with a single-payer national system.

Health 24, 7/22/15; Medline Plus,, 7/20/15. Lynnette Leidy Sievert (anthropology) says a new study that finds that nearly six in 10 women over the age of 60 who are in committed relationships are sexually active counteracts the stereotype that older women don’t enjoy or want sexual activity. She also points out that the study finds that age wasn’t related to higher sexual satisfaction. The study was published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

The Express Tribune, 7/21/15. Leonce Ndikumana (economics) is a member of a nine-person independent commission calling for changes in the existing system of taxing the global profits of multinational corporations.

Atlanta Journal Constitution, 7/21/15. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, outlines why legalizing same-sex marriage will provide an economic boost to the state of Georgia. She says the increase in weddings brings spending not only from the couples, but also from out-of-state guests. She estimates that 11,000 same-sex couples will now get married and generate spending of $79 million in the next few years., 7/17/15. Gerald A. Epstein (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, writes a column about inflation targeting, a central-bank policy that is pushed on developing countries, and what is wrong with it.

Sringfield Republican, 7/15/15. David M. Mednicoff, public policy and director of Middle Eastern Studies, says the deal struck between the Iranian government and the major world powers including the U.S. is the best way to deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon. He says without a deal, the Iranians would be free to move forward and build a nuclear weapon and hostility between Iran and the West would likely increase.

Springfield Republican, 7/7/15. David M. Mednicoff, public policy and director of Middle Eastern Studies, is interviewed about his recent visit to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan for displaced Syrians. He says world powers need to prevent an entire generation of Arab youth from being lost amid the political and cultural struggles that have disrupted life for people in the Middle East.

Reuters, 7/7/15. Jesse H. Rhodes (political science) says Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s call for an overhaul of the country’s higher education system is aimed at attracting voters to his presidential campaign. He says the move is “very much an effort to win the support of the middle class, moderate Americans who play a key role in general elections.”

Washington Examiner, 7/6/15. A news analysis on why federal campaign finance laws aren’t working makes reference to a study conducted by Brian Schaffner and Raymond La Raja (political science) that found state bans on corporate and union political contributions from 1939-2009 had little impact on the outcome of elections.

The Real News Network, 7/5/15. Robert N. Pollin, Distinguished Professor in Economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, is interviewed about how he believes expanding the green economy in Europe will boost the overall economy and provide job growth while making the environment cleaner and healthier. He recently proposed such a program to the new ruling party in Spain.

The Conversation, 7/2/15. Léonce Ndikumana, economics and director of the Africa Policy Program, writes an opinion piece exploring how Africa can overcome being marginalized in the global economy.

Kiplinger, July 2015. Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Political Economy Research Institute, says changes to the minimum wage have some ripple effect in the overall economy, but that effect is small and only effects people who make just above the minimum wage. For better-paid workers, she says, there is only a minimal effect.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/1/15. Research from C.N. Le, director of Asian-American studies, is cited in a feature article about former Vietnamese refugees - U.S. citizens now - who were reunited for the first time 40 years after the mass exodus of South Vietnamese when Saigon fell to communist forces on April 30, 1975.

The Real News Network, 6/29/15. Deepankar Basu (economics) is interviewed about a new study he had co-authored that finds that incomes are rising in India, but calorie intake is dropping. He says his research shows that Indians have spent the entire increase in income on non-food essentials leading to less average food consumption.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/29/15. Eve S. Weinbaum, sociology and director of the Labor Relations and Research Center, says the state’s new sick leave law is a move in the right direction for workers, businesses and society.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/25/15. Paul M. Collins, director of legal studies, and M.V. Lee Badgett, economics and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, say they believe the U.S. Supreme Court will legalize same-sex marriage., 6/24/15. Nancy R. Folbre, emerita professor of economics, comments in a story about possible effects of a Greek default and exit from the Eurozone on the global economy. Regarding job losses from globalization and previous free trade agreements, she says, “Trade theory emphasizes that those who benefit from free trade should be able to compensate those who suffer, making everyone better off. What trade theory doesn’t explain is why the beneficiaries would offer such compensation unless they are forced to do so.”

The Local [Spain], 6/23/15; The Guardian [U.K.],, 6/22/15. Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, is working with the Podemos party in Spain to develop a green energy plan that backers say will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/22/15. Officials in Amherst are releasing final results of a “public perception” survey designed to identify important community values. The survey includes work from UMass Amherst graduate students and is being overseen by Flavia Montenegro-Menezes (landscape architecture and regional planning) and alumna Jennifer Stromsten ’14.

Dallas Observer, 6/19/15. Paul M. Collins (political science and director of the legal studies program, comments in a story about last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the state of Texas is not required to issue license plates featuring the Confederate battle flag. He says state officials in Texas are trying to decide the issue on whether it offends people and says that is a difficult standard to define and uphold.

Media Shift [PBS]. 6/18/15. Stephen J. Fox (journalism) gave a presentation at the Teachapalooza conference held at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., on his work with students breaking a news story about heroin addiction and the use of confidential informants at UMass Amherst.

WBUR, 6/18/15. C.N. Le (sociology) was a guest panelist on the program “Radio Boston” in a discussion about whether Harvard University discriminates against Asian applicants.

Marketplace [NPR], 6/17/15. Gerald C. Friedman (economics) says a California court ruling that a former Uber driver was an employee during her time with the company will encourage similar lawsuits in other states. He also says Uber has been successful because the driver, not the company, pays for fuel, insurance on the car and isn’t responsible for waiting time.

WickedLocal [via Deseret News], 6/14/15. Deseret News [Utah] 6/5/15. A news story on why there is a wage disparity between moms and dads in the workplace includes a comment from Michelle Budig (sociology). She says, “Employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for, so they are less likely to be flaky. That is the opposite of how parenthood by women is interpreted by employers. The conventional story is they work less and they’re more distractible when on the job.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch,, 6/12/15. New York Times, 6/11/15. A columnist cites the work of Arindrajit Dube (economics) in a blog posting about the need to rethink common theories about how wages are set in certain market situations. He says they both believe companies that are willing to pay higher wages gain some benefits from the policy, including lower employee turnover and higher productivity.

Business Day, 6/11/15; Star Africa, 6/10/15. Leonce Ndikumana (economics) gave a talk at the recent meeting of the Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa held as part of the annual meeting of the Shareholders of Afreximbank in Lusaka, Zambia.

Dallas Morning News, 6/10/15. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 6/1/15. Huffington Post, 5/20/15. A columnist cites a recent report by Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Political Economy Research Institute, which made the case that fast-food companies could safely absorb the added costs of increasing their minimum wage to $15/hr.

Marketplace [NPR], 6/10/15. Vox, 6/4/15., 5/26/15. Vox, KPCC-FM [Calif.], New Republic, Forbes, Bloomberg, 5/19/15. Slate, 5/19/15. National Review,, 5/14/15. Research by Arin Dube (economics) is cited criticizing lawmakers from the city of Los Angeles for moving closer to adopting a $15 minimum wage. The writer cites Dube’s research findings that a reasonable minimum wage should be somewhere around 50 percent of the area’s median wage, which Dube had calculated to be about $10.36/hr. in Los Angeles. Dube also appeared on PBS NewsHour: "Do better-paid works equal better business?"

Indian Country Today, 6/9/15. Sonya L. Atalay (anthropology) comments in a story about the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and how it is being administered across the country.

The Real News Network, 6/8/15. Robert N. Pollin, Distinguished Professor of economics and co-founder of the Political Economy Research Institute, is interviewed about how the PODEMOS party in Spain could help boost that country’s weak economy by using what he calls a green growth agenda. He says an environmentally friendly set of national policies would create many jobs and help reduce pollution.

The National [Scotland], 6/5/15. A 2013 report by UMass Amherst economists Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, which found serious errors in an influential paper on national debt by Harvard economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, is cited in an article evaluating the future of austerity economic policies in the UK.

Vox,, 6/4/15. A video features a theory by Charli Carpenter (political science) that the popular book and HBO television series “Game of Thrones” functions as an elaborate allegory both for the dangers of global climate change and for the unwillingness of countries like the United States and China to deal with it.

Scientific American, 6/3/15. Sylvia Brandt (resource economics) is quoted in an article about President Obama’s emphasis on the potential health benefits of his administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Amherst Bulletin, 6/3/15. Ray La Raja (political science) and graduate student Wouter Van Erve have written an opinion piece criticizing the format of Amherst Town Meeting and noting a number of drawbacks their research has found with the town meeting system of municipal government.

Los Angeles Times, 6/2/15. Tom Juravich (sociology), Labor Relations and Research Center, is quoted in a news article about Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. raising the wages of more than 100,000 managers and employees in specialized departments.

The Conversation, 6/1/15. UMass Amherst’s new Public Engagement Project is mentioned in an opinion piece about the growing tension between universities’ internal cultures and their role within society.

Wicked Local Plymouth, 5/28/15. A news article examines a new report by graduate research assistant Jonathan G. Cooper (landscape architecture and regional planning) which explores the potential socio-economic impact of the closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The report was commissioned by the town of Plymouth in order to provide local planners a blueprint for mitigating the effects of the 43-year-old plant’s possible closure.

AfterEllen, 5/28/15. Research by M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, is quoted in an article listing the positive effects that legalized same-sex marriages have had on relationships.

Boston Globe, 5/28/15. Ray La Raja (political science) is quoted in a column about the inability of state lawmakers to institute political reforms. La Raja says that the lack of transparency and political reform in Massachusetts makes the state more “governable” than states such as California, where pro-transparency reforms have been more far-reaching.

Boston Globe, 5/28/15. Stellan Vinthagen (sociology) is quoted in a news article about a form of non-violent protest against the Russian navy recently deployed by The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society off the coast of Stockholm.

PBS NewsHour, 5/27/15. Amy Schalet (sociology) is quoted in an article examining the Netherlands’ practice of teaching sexuality education to primary school students.

Times Union, Capital New York, Glens Falls Post Star, 5/27/15. Multiple news articles, as well as a letter-to-the-editor, about the New York State Assembly approving a bill that would create a single-payer health system in the state cite research by Gerald Friedman (economics) which found New York health care expenditures would be reduced by $45 billion a year if the law is enacted.

The Asian, 5/21/15. David Mednicoff, director of Middle Eastern studies, co-signs an open letter to President Obama from 60 Middle East and North Africa experts calling for increased aid to Tunisia ahead of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi’s visit to the White House.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 5/21/15. A memorial service for Jane Blankenship, professor emerita of communication who died April 24, was held on May 23. Blankenship taught in the communication department for many years until her retirement in 1997 and won numerous awards and honors during her career.

BuzzFeed, 5/19/15. CN Le (sociology), director of Asian and Asian-American studies, is quoted in a news article about a split among Asian-Americans’ views on affirmative action in college admissions in response to the May 15 filing of a federal complaint accusing Harvard University of discrimination., 5/19/15. Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Center for Research on Families, is quoted in an article listing the five best states for working mothers, as originally ranked by the website WalletHub. Massachusetts ranks fifth on the list, while Vermont tops the list and New Hampshire ranks fourth. Minnesota and Wisconsin round out the top-five at third and fourth, respectively.

Huffington Post, 5/18/15. Past research by the Political Economy Research Institute is cited in an opinion piece about U.S. performance in the United Nations’ human rights review.

Columbus Dispatch, 5/18/15., 5/14/15. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, writes a column about the chances that Ireland could legalize same-sex marriage before the U.S. does. Irish voters will decide the issue in an upcoming national referendum.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 5/16/15. A column by lecturer Jim Foudy (journalism) examines the prospects for the UMass system under incoming president Martin Meehan. Foudy says that Meehan “may well prove to be the best” president in UMass’ history.

Springfield Republican, 5/14/15. Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says while he supports global trade, there are numerous reasons to be skeptical of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal moving through Congress. He says opposition from Democrats is based on experience of job losses from other international trade deals that were supposed to benefit American workers, but didn’t.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 5/14/15. Gerald M. Platt, 82, of Amherst, emeritus professor of sociology, died May 7.

The Conversation, 5/13/15. David M. Mednicoff (public policy), director of Middle Eastern Studies, says the absence of Saudi King Salman from the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting with President Obama this week is less important than we are being led to believe. He says the fact that the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf are meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern is the real news coming from the gathering.

Environmental & Energy Publishing, 5/12/15. Sylvia J. Brandt (resource economics) commenting on a panel discussing the cascading impact climate change will have on our quality of life, household incomes, social justice and health conditions, says, “Climate change is this whole new world. The thing I find most disturbing is the interplay – the interconnected between all of this.” She recently conducted a study that found climate change is expected to increase the prevalence of asthma in children.

Al Jazeera American, 5/12/15. Naomi Gerstel, Distinguished Professor of sociology, says that erratic scheduling in the job market exists “across the entire class spectrum” but falls most heavily on low-wage workers. Her comments are in response to a new report from the Center for Popular Democracy that finds irregular hours and just-in-time scheduling are pervasive in the low-wage economy, but they are particularly harmful to working women.

Springfield Republican, 5/7/15. A feature story looks at the Community Journalism Project that is run with students from UMass Amherst visiting Springfield’s High School of Commerce. Nick McBride (journalism) is a Springfield native and brings his students to the city to learn first-hand about issues faced by Springfield residents.

Legislative Gazette,, 5/5/15. Gerald Friedman (economics) is featured in two news stories about a study he has done on health care and why it shouldn’t be considered a regular good or service. He also studied how much could be saved by adopting a single-payer system in New York. [Ark.], 5/3/15. An opinion piece calling for increased investment in bicycle paths in Fort Smith, Ark., cites a 2011 study by Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute, which found that $1 million invested in bicycling infrastructure generated 11.4 jobs, compared with 7.8 jobs for road-only projects.

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A Word from SBS

This e-letter has been created for alumni and friends of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SBS includes the degree-granting departments and programs of Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Journalism, Labor Studies, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, Resource Economics, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), and Sociology. Among our ranks are 38,600 alumni, 3,700 undergraduate majors, and 560 graduate students. In addition to its departments, SBS is home to numerous centers and research institutions. Through the general education courses that SBS offers, the College’s 200 faculty members teach one quarter of the nearly 20,000 undergraduates on campus in any given semester.

Gifts from alumni and friends are vital to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Your investment allows us to create remarkable opportunities for today’s—and tomorrow's—students. If you are already a donor, please accept our sincere thanks. If not, please consider a gift to SBS for your department, financial aid, a purpose that speaks to your personal experiences and priorities, or an unrestricted designation. To make a gift online, click here. Or, send a check to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Draper Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 40 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9244. Questions? Contact James Mallet, 413.577.1700.

We welcome feedback related to this newsletter, the college in general, specific concerns, or topics of interest. Please address all correspondence to If you wish to add your name to the mailing list, or if you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us. If you have had a change of address, email or other personal information, you can update it online. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences respects your privacy. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone unrelated to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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