December 2013/January 2014

In this Issue

UMass Economists Among 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013

Thomas Herndon and Professors Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, who found serious errors in a key study that lawmakers around the globe used as a cornerstone of austerity policies, have been named to Foreign Policy magazine’s list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013.

Pollin Named Distinguished Professor

University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret has appointed Professor Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), a Distinguished Professor, following approval from the Board of Trustees.

Sociologist Wins Prestigious Humboldt Research Award

Professor Donald Tomaskovic-Devey (sociology) has been named one of eight scholars and social scientists to receive the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s 2014 Anneliese Maier Research Award. As part of the award, he will receive 250,000 EUR (approximately $342,000) designated to finance research collaboration with specialist colleagues in Germany.

Determination Drives Student to Leave Cycle of Poverty

Of the West End House Scholarship, Rosana Urbaez ’14 (communication/psychology) says, "My success is contingent on having those around me believe in my success, and with help from scholarships like this, it can become a reality for me.”

Other Topics of Interest

Empowering Communities to Plan for Climate Change

Elisabeth Hamin

As the potential consequences of climate change continue to grow—from increasingly frequent storms to rising sea levels and a rash of severe weather that has become the new norm—Elisabeth Hamin (landscape architecture and regional planning) is working with communities to incorporate resiliency frameworks into their budgets and prepare for extreme weather events.

Acclaimed Economist Leads the Way to Better Policies for Africa

Léonce Ndikumana

The societal issues that stand between many African countries and economic stability vary, but according to economist Léonce Ndikumana, strong public policy can lay the framework for more equal, inclusive development across the continent.

Former Minutewoman Named To All-Time U.S. Soccer Team

Briana Scurry

Briana Scurry appeared on a Wheaties cereal box in 1999 after the U.S. won the World Cup.

UMass women's soccer alumna Briana Scurry '95 (political science) has been chosen for the national women's team all-time best XI as a part of U.S. Soccer's commemoration of its centennial.

Blanchflower to Play in Senior Bowl

Rob Blanchflower

Tight end Rob Blanchflower '14 (communication) has accepted an invitation to take part in the 2014 Senior Bowl.

Alums Beat Hollywood Odds to Make a "Life of a King"

Cuba Gooding in "Life of a King"

Classmates Dan Wetzel '94 (journalism) and David Scott '94 (journalism/political science) are the co-writers, along with director Jake Goldberger, for the film, “Life of a King,” starring Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., which opens on Friday, January 17, 2014. 

Springfield Economic Development Project Receives Merck Grant

Fred Rose

The John Merck Fund has awarded a $45,000 grant to the Wellspring Collaborative, an economic development project in Springfield co-directed by Fred Rose, lecturer at the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA).

Alumni News | Faculty and Department News 

SBS in the News | A Word from SBS

Alumni News

The Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA) is pleased to announce a generous donation from Richard Barnard '76, MPA '86 for support of students pursuing master's degrees in public policy. This donation will help fund scholarships and summer internships over the next two years and lead to the establishment of the Barnard Family Fund, a permanent endowment that will eventually provide annual support for students pursuing careers in public policy. "Mr. Barnard is an advocate for social justice, a cause shared by so many of our students at CPPA," says Kathryn McDermott, acting CPPA director. "This donation will allow a greater number of them to pursue that passion." Read more...

At 24 years old, Michael Clark '13 (political science) holds the distinction of being the youngest School Committee member in the history of Longmeadow, MA. Recently, he also earned another honor, being named Best Elected Official in The Republican and Mass Reader Raves. Read more...

Forbes Magazine named Derek Khanna '11 (political science) one of the top 30 under 30 in Law and Policy.

The Boston Globe carried a great story about Daniel Rivera '96 (political science) shortly before his inauguration as new mayor of Lawrence, MA.

Jeremy Hathaway '95 (political science) is so excited about UMass Basketball that he has come up with a great fundraising idea

Chris Evans '95 (journalism) captured a classic Boston winter scene for a recent Boston Herald. See his website for more stunning images.

Richard Meegan '66 (political science) retired from his career in secondary teaching and administration in public education in 2008. He is now teaching full time again at the college level and enjoying it. From 2003–12 he had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer in clinical psychology at UMass Amherst. His UMass education has been an outstanding bonus to his career due to the problem solving approaches that were a part of so many of his courses. Both of his daughters are UMass Amherst grads, and they too found in their careers how powerful the education was that they received at UMass.   

Erin Casey '09 (political science) and Nick Tino '09 (College of Engineering) shared a photo from their recent wedding that includes the UMass students and alums in attendance. 

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen '81 (journalism) wrote a great article about Dorchester native Bill Bratton, who is again serving as New York's top police officer.

Evan Weisman '01 (economics), director of development at First Potomac Realty Trust in Washington, DC, along with his team, recently received LEED Platinum Certification for 440 First Street, NW, a redeveloped office building in the prominent Capitol Hill submarket of Washington, DC. The project is only the ninth LEED CS Platinum certified building in the city. The LEED Platinum designation recognizes a building's sustainable design and construction practices, which increase profitability while reducing a building's negative environmental impact. The 140,000-square-foot, Class A redeveloped building boasts a glass curtain wall design that allows an abundance of natural light into the space and provides views of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  440 First Street also features two rooftop terraces, a conference center/boardroom, a state-of-the-art fitness center and underground parking, as well as ground floor retail and restaurant space. 440 First Street utilizes the first ever DOAS HVAC system in Washington, D.C. The installation makes use of an innovative HVAC system that provides a superior level of air quality for tenants and uses far less energy than a traditional HVAC system.  

SBS, in collaboration with CMASS, Career Services, and the Alumni Association, had a very successful Student/Alumni Networking event on January 15 at City Year in Boston. On hand were 45 students and 14 alumni. Students reported that the event was helpful. View photos.

The annual ALANA Career Fair and Career Blast will take place on February 18 and 19 in the Student Union/Campus Center. If you are looking for UMass students for jobs or internships, consider sending a representative from your company to one or both of these fairs. Registration information for employers can be found here.

Please send us your news! Also, view upcoming alumni events, sponsored by the Alumni Association, on their Events Listing. And check out MaroonCentral, the Alumni Association's online community. This is a FREE social networking service that encourages communication and professional networking among alumni and students through class notes, profiles, a searchable directory, and more.

Back to Top

Faculty and Department News

Here are two short videos produced by Taylor Gilmore '15 (communication/journalism): So You Think You Want to be a Communication Major, featuring department chair Erica Scharrer, and What is a Resource Economics Major, featuring department chair Dan Lass and undergraduate program director Julie Caswell. Keep an eye out for your favorite department.

John Spraggon (resource economics) received an Erskine Visiting Fellowship for his sabbatical leave this spring at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He'll be working with Dr. Jeremy Clark and Dr. Maros Servatka and has plans to visit Dr. Steven Tucker at New Zealand's Waikato Management School and Dr. Lata Gangadharan at Monash University in Australia. Spraggon will work on research relating to microcredit, environmental compliance, institution choice as well as other projects.  

Sut Jhally (communication) and Shaheen Pasha (journalism) were featured speakers at the most recent TEDxUMassAmherst conference. You can watch the videos here.

On its homepage the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning has a new blog about the process and proposals for the new Integrated Design Building. The idea, says chair Elisabeth Hamin, "is to keep our faithful alumni and future students updated on what is going on. We’ll post when we reach big milestones, so keep watching this space!"

Psychology professor Maureen Perry-Jenkins '81, director the Center for Research on Families, has been named a fellow of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) for her extraordinary contributions to the field of family studies. Read more...

Ventura Pérez, associate professor of biological archaeology in the Department of Anthropology, and doctoral candidate Heidi Bauer-Clapp, who assists Perez, discussed his field school and class on bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology on Connecting Point, WGBY-Springfield.

Jane Fountain (political science and public policy) is one busy lady. In the space of a few weeks she was part of the "largest brainstorming session in the world" at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, in Abu Dhabi. Then she gave a keynote in Santa Marta, Colombia, at an international conference. On to Chicago, she was a panelist at the high-profile Urban Forum, and then in D.C. she presented research findings at the plenary meeting of the Administrative Conference of the United States! Keep up with Jane's activities on the National Center for Digital Government blog.

Economics, the Environment, and Our Common Wealth by James Boyce was published in a paperback edition in November. The Economics department celebrated its release on December 12 with a launch party at Amherst Books. 

Jack Ahern (landscape architecture and regional planning), vice provost for international programs, gave a keynote paper at the First Regional Forum for Green Infrastructure in Tijuana, Mexico. The conference was organized by El Colegio de al Frontera Norte department of urban studies, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.

The Center for Heritage & Society announces its three-part lecture series for Spring 2014. On February 28, Lisa Wexler (public health) will speak on "CircumChange: Researching Heritage, Arctic Societies and Imposed Change." Ethan Carr (landscape architecture and regional planning) will present "The Cape Cod Model: Heritage Landscape Conservation in the Kennedy Era" on March 14. And on April 4 Laetitia La Follette (art, architecture and art history) will give a talk titled "CPIA, CPAC, and the MoU Process: Thinking about Next Steps for Protecting Heritage Abroad." Further details are on the CHS website.

The Boston Society of Landscape Architects has honored Nicolas Dines, professor emeritus of landscape architecture and regional planning, with its community service award for his work creating green spaces near the Mill River in Williamsburg, MA. Read more...

Back to Top

SBS in the News

Denver Post, 1/27/14. The research of Arindrajit Dube (economics) is cited in a column supporting efforts to boost the minimum wage in Colorado. U.S. News & World Report, 1/23/14. Noting that President Obama will likely use his State of the Union address to urge Congress to deal with income inequality in the U.S., a columnist cites research done by Dube that says raising the federal minimum wage will help reduce the poverty rate. CBS News Money Watch, 1/20/14. A column on the debate over how to help the poor cites research and commentary by Dube. He says raising the minimum wage reduces the poverty rate and increases the effectiveness of other economic tools such as the earned income tax credit. Seattle Weekly News, 1/16/14. With Seattle considering raising the minimum wage to $15, Dube is tapped to discuss the impact on jobs and income. His research shows “There is very little evidence of job loss.” Huffington Post, 1/14/14. Research by Dube, that says raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour would reduce the number of Americans in poverty, is cited in a story noting that 75 nationally known economists support the increase. Los Angeles Times, 1/13/14. A new research paper by Dube concludes that the 39% increase in the federal minimum wage proposed by Harkin and Miller would immediately reduce the poverty rate among America's nonelderly population by 1.7%. Over time, the reduction would be 2.5%, or 4.6 million people lifted out of poverty immediately, and 6.8 million over time. Milford Daily News, 1/9/14. An editorial supporting an increase in the minimum wage cites research done by Dube that finds small increases in the minimum wage won’t cause job losses. Sun-Sentinel [Florida], 1/6/14; [Korea], 1/5/14; Washington Post, New York Times, 1/4/14;, Think Progress, 1/3/14;, 1/2/14; Policy Mic, 12/30/13. Dube is widely quoted in stories about the debate underway in Congress on raising the federal minimum wage. Dube argues that small increases in the minimum wage won’t cause job losses, but will help reduce the poverty rate. His new research paper says raising the minimum wage by 10%, from $7.25 to $8 per hour, would reduce the number of people living in poverty by 2.4%.,, 12/13/13; Baltimore Business Journal, 12/12/13. Business Insider, Atlantic Cities, 12/11/13. Dube's research on raising the federal minimum wage is used to underline the argument that even with an increase in the minimum wage, it would still be just 37% of the median full-time wage across the country. New York Times, 12/10/13. An article notes that Dube has found that increases in the minimum wage can help slightly reduce poverty. MSNBC,, 12/5/13; New York Times, 12/4/13. Dube discusses the controversy surrounding efforts to boost the minimum wage, especially for fast-food workers. His research shows that raising the minimum wage doesn’t automatically lead to higher unemployment and incremental increases have little effect on prices. If the minimum wage is increased from its current rate of just over $7 per hour to $15 per hour as advocated by some fast-food workers, it would increase the cost of a hamburger by about $.60. New York Times, 11/30/13. Dube writes about the current debate over raising the federal minimum wage, the history of efforts to develop a fair wage policy at the national level and the economic impact raising the wage rate has on employment and the economy. Dube argues that raising the minimum wage doesn’t boost unemployment, but rather helps workers at the low end of the wage scale while boosting economic activity. A rebuttal was posted on 12/8/13 in which the writer says Dube ignored a large body of research that contradicts his conclusions.

New York Times [Economix blog], 1/27/14. Writing about proposed federal legislation creating paid family leave, prof. emeritus Nancy Folbre (economics) says like other social insurance programs, such as Social Security, the program’s costs are borne mostly by individuals. She says that warnings of the program being a “job killer” have not been borne out in places where it is used; instead, workers tend to support it and appreciate employers who use it., 1/14/13. A columnist writing about the increase in advocacy for workers owning part of the businesses that employ them cites an Economix blog entry by Folbre. She supports the idea but says it may not require government intervention to be adopted if companies believe it will help their performance. New York Times [Economix blog], 1/13/14. Folbre writes about the benefits and downsides of expanding employee ownership of companies and corporations. New York Times [Economix blog], 12/30/13. Folbre writes about how to find financial advice online, stressing the need to understand whether the person or institution offering the advice stands to benefit from it. New York Times [Economix blog], 12/9/13. Folbre blogs that college graduates still earn a relative premium in today’s labor market, but their real earnings are trending down.

National Review, 1/23/14. A news story on the debate over the number of jobs created by large defense projects such as production of the F-35 combat aircraft notes that a 2011 study by Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute and colleague Heidi Garrett-Peltier concluded that spending by the Pentagon created far fewer jobs than defense contractors and their supporters claim. Washington Post [Wonkblog], 1/9/14. Lane Kenworthy, author of a new book that calls for higher taxation and an expansion of the social safety net as a way to make capitalism more efficient and fairer cites several sources, including a book by Pollin.

Pacific Standard, January/February 2014. Research by Brian Schaffner (political science), in which a micro-targeted campaign message was tested for its effectiveness on voters, is cited in a story about how contemporary political campaigns use data to identify and motivate their supporters.

Fox News, 1/20/14. Lynnette Leidy Sievert (anthropology) comments about a recent study that suggests menopause, which is unique to humans, may be caused by men’s desire for younger women. Earlier studies had suggested its cause was a “natural safeguard” for older women who would not live long enough to care for their children. Sievert says the new study doesn’t really address these questions. 

Talking Points Memo, 1/20/14. In an op/ed Jesse H. Rhodes (political science) discusses why the Rev. Martin Luther King focused on legislative solutions to voting rights rather than pursuing a strategy that relied on court rulings. Pointing to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down key parts of the voting rights law, he says only Congress can preserve voting rights. 

The Express Tribune [Pakistan], 1/16/14. PhD candidate Shahram Azhar (economics) writes a column in which he attacks the idea that the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf was good for Pakistan’s economy. In the final analysis, he says, democratic government that is stable has been shown to keep Pakistan’s economy strong. He says instability, either from changing governments or military rule, hurts the country’s economic well being. 

The Real News Network, 1/15/14. Jeannette Wicks-Lim (Political Economy Research Institute), interviewed about what the impact would be if the federal minimum wage is increased to $10.10 per hour, says such an increase would help but falls short of the $12 per hour that is considered a “living wage” by some economists. National Journal, 1/13/14. Wicks-Lim has released a new research paper that found when transit authorities use only domestic manufacturers for buses and railway cars, they create at least 26% more jobs than when they only meet the requisite 60% domestic threshold. WBUR, 12/5/13. Wicks-Lim weighs in on the fast-food workers’ wage demands., 1/10/14. Sheldon Goldman (political science) comments about a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a decision made by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The case questions whether President Obama has the power to make recess appointments to the board while the U.S. Senate is not conducting ordinary business but remains technically in session. Goldman says a ruling against the recess appointments would weaken any president’s hand.

Taiwan NewsMSN.comAtlanta Journal [All from AP], 1/10/14. C.N. Le (sociology) comments on the celebration of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, known as Tet, and why some families don’t join the celebration., 11/29/13. Le comments that Chinese Americans have learned that they must make their voices heard or they will continue to be the punching bags for people’s fears and anxieties.

Quartz, 1/8/14. Shaheen Pasha (journalism) outlines how the Egyptian revolution has failed, pointing out that the recent crackdown on the press, including the arrest of four Al Jazeera journalists by the military government, mirrors the type of action taken by the Mubarak regime. 

Foreign Policy, 1/6/14; New Republic, 1/5/14;, Oxford University Press blog, 1/3/14; Bloomberg, 12/31/13. A number of news stories mention Thomas Herndon, a graduate student in economics, along with Robert Pollin and Michael Ash (economics), authors of a white paper that found a spreadsheet error that undermined an influential paper written by Harvard economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart. The Reinhart and Rogoff paper had been cited extensively by political proponents pushing austerity policies to handle the economic downturn caused by the great recession that began in 2008. Washington Post, 12/31/13. Herndon, Pollin and Ash are lauded as authors of the “White paper of the year: The spreadsheet error heard round the world,” by the Wonkblog column. New York Times, 12/29/13. Herndon’s work is cited by columnist Paul Krugman as one of the key elements in 2013 that has helped break the hold the Tea Party has had on national economic policy. Boston Globe Magazine, 12/22/13. Herndon is named one of the 2013 Bostonians of the Year: Honorable mentions.

New York Times, 12/27/13. In an important article about academics who offer advice and commentary about financial institutions and policies but don’t reveal financial interests they may have in those companies or industries, Gerald Epstein (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says, “If those...creating the culture around financial regulation also have a significant, if hidden, conflict of interest, our public is not likely to be well served.” Epstein conducted a study in 2010 on academics who advised the federal government after the 2008 financial crisis and has called for stronger ethics standards for economists. The Real News Network, 12/5/13. Epstein says the record highs recorded in the stock market recently have little positive impact on working- and middle-class people because most stocks are held by people in the very top economic tier of society.

Bloomberg News, 12/20/13. In an article looking at the role played by fathers in the family dynamic Maureen Perry-Jenkins, director of the Center for Research on Families, says that children benefit from having two adults who are engaged with them and want to be around. Time, 12/13/13. Perry-Jenkins is cited in a column on work-family balance and paid family leave following the introduction of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)., 12/18/13. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, says legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey has the potential to bring a significant economic boost to the state economy. She says new spending on weddings, guest lodgings and related expenses will be beneficial to the New Jersey economy. Freakonomics, 12/12/13. Badgett is featured in a podcast on the perceived wealth of gay men. One of the reasons that gay men have a higher average yearly income. she says, is due to increased levels of education to compensate for fears of potential wage discrimination based on their sexuality.

Guitar World, 12/20/13. Jackson Maxwell '17 (journalism/history) writes an article about Sixto Rodriguez, the Detroit-based musician who was the focus of the recent documentary “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Boston Globe, 12/20/13. Basketball player Chaz Williams '14 (sociology) is profiled. Williams explains his decision to stay at UMass Amherst for his senior year, despite the possibility of being drafted into the NBA and offers to play professionally overseas. 

Headlines and Global News, 12/14/13; Medical Daily, 12/13/13. Articles mention research on lying by Dean Robert Feldman., 12/3/13. A group of researchers, led by Brigitte Holt (anthropology) has published a paper in the Canadian Archaeological Journal that finds that Neanderthals were much more organized in their living spaces than was previously thought. Here's a link to the journal article.

Back to Top

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, CommunicationEconomics, 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, including story ideas, to Sabine Cray, director of communications and marketing. 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.

Back to Top