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SBS Newsletter – November 2008

In this issue

Anna Branch and Melissa Wooten in South AfricaSociologists Address Race, Gender and Inequality in South Africa
This fall two assistant professors in the Sociology Department, Enobong (Anna) Hannah Branch and Melissa Wooten, traveled to South Africa as part of an American delegation, organized by the People to People Citizen Ambassadors Program. For ten days Branch and Wooten addressed issues of race, gender and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa with scholars, government officials and NGOs. Read more...

Laurie GodfreyAnthropologist Assembles and Copies Skeleton of Extinct Lemur
Scientists in Madagascar, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Vienna Natural History Museum, and the UMass Amherst Anthropology Department now have a nearly complete skeleton of a rare species of extinct lemur to study thanks to a century-long discovery and reconstruction effort. Laurie R. Godfrey, professor of Anthropology and lemur expert, played a key role in the process. Read more...

Alex TraddScholarships and Hard Work Make Student’s Dream a Reality
Alex Tradd ’09 (psychology and Spanish) chose to attend UMass Amherst for several reasons. “I was raised in southeastern Massachusetts, and I was looking for a change without being too far from home,” he says. “UMass has a wonderful reputation—as does the Psychology Department in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Plus, it offers financial advantages. The rural experience combined with the large university and liberal attitude helped me make up my mind.” Read more...

Janice IrvineSociologist Receives Fulbright for Sexuality Studies
Janice Irvine (sociology) has been awarded a Fulbright grant for next semester. She will travel to Croatia where she’ll be on the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb. “I'll be teaching an advanced course called Sexuality and Social Theory,” says Irvine, who will also be doing research on sexuality in a post-socialist country with Aleksander Stulhofer, a professor of sociology there. Read more...

And other topics of interest...

Chancellor Robert HolubChancellor Details Plans, New Process for Faculty Hiring
Chancellor Robert C. Holub shared plans with the campus about faculty hiring, addressing the need to fill critical faculty positions right away and detailing longer-range plans to partner with the faculty to grow its ranks in both number and quality. “While current budgetary difficulties will hamper us, we must remain committed to meeting our mission and providing a top-quality education, while remaining focused on our ultimate goals,” Holub says.” To that end, the Provost and I have approved plans to continue 49 faculty searches this fiscal year, thus filling critical needs across the campus.” Read more...

Cutting a dollar in halfBudget Cuts Loom
The UMass system could be facing an 8-percent to 10-percent state budget cut for the next fiscal year, which might require an increase in student fees. However, the figures, presented to a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees on Nov. 20, are estimates. The UMass president’s office has already laid off 18 employees across the board, including administrators and service staff. The move has sparked concern that layoffs may be in the offing at the UMass Amherst campus as well. Discussions about how to deal with an $11 million budget cut for this year and anticipated cuts next year are underway. So far, a targeted hiring freeze has been implemented, but no layoffs are imminent. A budget planning task force, charged with making recommendations about how to best manage budget cuts, has been created. Read more about the budget...

Jacket of Suzanne Model's new bookSociologist's Book Examines Economic Success of West Indian Immigrants
A new book by Professor Emerita Suzanne Model (sociology) examines why West Indian immigrants enjoy more economic success than native-born African-Americans and finds that the key factor in this outcome is their self-selected immigrant status. The findings of the book, West Indian Immigrants: A Black Success Story, are summarized in the November/December Issue of the journal Society. Read more...

students celebrate presidential electionStudents Rock Election Night '08
The Cape Cod Lounge was alive with election fever as students and faculty attended the Election Night '08 event. Sponsored by the Political Science Department and the Political Science Undergraduate Board, with food provided by People's Market and Sweets N' More, the event featured televisions lining walls, and an area set aside where speakers held discussions with students about issues concerning the election. Read more...

Barack ObamaProfessors Consider Obama Win
After the election of Barack Obama, the Daily Hampshire Gazette featured nine short essays solicited from area academics. Asked to share thoughts on Obama's historic run to the White House, they wrote about rejoicing at Obama's selection, how he was able to achieve the highest position in the U.S., the historic significance of his presidency and what challenges lie ahead. Among the contributors were two from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Jane Fountain (political science), director of the National Center for Digital Government and the Science and Technology Initiative, and Peter M. Haas (political science), a leading expert on global environmental issues. Read the essays...

Picture of a brain with Alzheimer's diseaseFree Memory Screening at Psych Services Center
On Thursday, December 11, the Psychological Services Center on campus will be providing free memory screening to adults who are experiencing difficulties with memory. Often these changes are simply the result of normal aging—though not always. Recent studies conservatively estimate that 12% of people over 70 have mild cognitive impairment, which is known to lead to Alzheimer’s disease. That percentage represents almost 9 million people who might be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest, however, that the incidence of dementia could be reduced by as many as a million cases if the disease's onset is delayed by as little as six months in this generation. As Psychological Services Center Director Christopher Overtree notes, “as with any problem, early detection is the key to receiving the best treatment.” Read more... [pdf]

Josh JenningsLinebacker is Player of the Week—Again
Josh Jennings '10 (sociology), the 6-foot, 220-pound middle linebacker on the football team, leads UMass Amherst with 80 tackles. His 8.9 tackles per game place him third in the Colonial Athletic Association. All season he has demonstrated an ability to dominate defensively. Against Rhode Island, he led a 49-0 lockdown with two interceptions. He returned one of them 40 yards for a score. That effort earned Jennings CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time this year. Read profile in the Boston Globe.

mens' cross country runnerConference Championships Abound
The men's cross country team nipped Duquesne by a single point to capture the Atlantic 10 Championship at Charlotte, N.C. "The team has worked hard in the last nine months to put ourselves in a position to become a better distance running team," says coach Ken O'Brien, who was named coach of the year. "This was a real test for our guys. After all the work they put in during the spring season and this summer, I'm glad they got the reward they were looking for and deserved." The field hockey team won the Atlantic 10 Championship with a 2-0 win over Richmond on in Philadelphia. The title is the Minutewomen's 11th all-time and second-straight under second-year head coach Justine Sowry. The men’s soccer team won the Atlantic 10 Championship with its 1-0 victory over Charlotte at Rudd Field. They are the defending champions and the number 1 seed in the tournament.

Upcoming Events
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Oral History Conference—"Don't Talk About That!!!" Measuring the Value of Life Stories
Part of the 2008–09 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series
1:00–5:30 p.m., Herter 601
In determining compensation for the families of 9/11 victims, alumnus Kenneth Feinberg relied in part on oral interviews, recognizing the limits of written documents to convey personal experience. This conference brings together two compelling sets of speakers to talk about subjects that are difficult to pin down in the documentary record, either because the topics are intensely personal, and therefore hard to speak of, or because of external factors that make silence seem necessary. The first panel, “Youth at War,” offers two perspectives from Vietnam and one from a current history major who spent time in Afghanistan. For the second panel, “Turning Points: Sex and Self,” speakers will talk about what it was like to need an abortion before Roe v. Wade, to make transsexual choices, and how legal marriage can change the experience of being in a same-sex relationship.
The 2008-09 Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted by the Department of History, has its theme “Measuring the Value of Human Life,” which engages scholarship in history, bioethics, legal studies, the arts, and other realms to explore how value has been ascribed to human lives in courtrooms, labs, archives, boardrooms, and universities.

Monday–Tuesday, December 8–9, 2008
International Conference—Reconfigurations of Racism and New Scenarios of Power after 2001
Begins at 9:00 a.m., Campus Center Reading Room
Since the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa, Latin America has emerged as a primary region in global constellations of racial politics and race-specific policies. The rise of Black movements across the region has been met by the elaboration for the first time of state policies explicitly designed for Afro-descendant popluations. Yet, social indicators reveal that the majority of the Afro-Latinos still suffer from serious social inequalities and persistent political and economic disenfranchisement. This international conference brings together leading Black movement activists and specialists in comparative race relations to assess the status of racial inequality, the current state of racial politics, and the efficacy of racial policies pertaining to Afro-descendants in the Latin American region and, comparatively, in the Americas as a whole since Durban. For program details and other information, click here.
Sponsored by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Black Cultures and Racial Politics in the Americas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series: Fitness & Cognitive Training: Influence on Cognition and Brain Structure/Function
Arthur F. Kramer, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
4:00 p.m., 620 Thompson Hall. Free and open to the public
Kramer will discuss the relationship between cognitive training, fitness training, and intellectual engagement on cognition and brain function of older adults, including the breadth of their effects on cognition and dementia. The discussion will include a description of results from a 35-year fitness study and results from a recent study examining changes in cognition and brain function in response to improvements in the aerobic fitness of healthy older adults. Kramer is Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center and Co-Director of the NIH Center for Healthy Minds. His research has been featured in a long list of print, radio and electronic media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, CBS Evening News, Today Show, NPR and Saturday Night Live. Read more...
Co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Families and the Center for Public Policy and Administration.

Friday, December 12, 2008
Lecture—"The Conditions for a Security Community in East Asia"
Alastair Iain Johnston, Governor James Noe and Linda Noe Laine Professor of China in World Affairs, Harvard University
3:30-5:00 p.m., Campus Center Conference Room 911-15; free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Mellon Mutual Mentoring Initiative

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Networking Night in New York City
6:00–9:00 p.m., The Crown Plaza Hotel, 1605 Broadway, Times Square, New York City.
Complimentary parking
Student Affairs and Campus Life has invited leaders from the private and public sectors to meet with current sophomores, juniors and seniors to discuss career paths.
Alumni: If you would like to share your expertise with these students during this very special evening, please send an email or call 413.545.6267 no later than December 22, 2008.
Students: If you would like to attend and network with potential employers, please send an email or call 413.545.2224 no later than December 22, 2008.
Refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by Career Services.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Networking Night in Boston
6:00–9:00 p.m., Boston Park Plaza Hotel, 64 Arlington Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Complimentary parking at Motor Mart Garage in Park Square.
Student Affairs and Campus Life has invited leaders from the private and public sectors to meet with current sophomores, juniors and seniors to discuss career paths.
If you would like to share your expertise with these students during this very special evening, please send an email or call 413.545.6267 no later than December 22, 2008.
Students: If you would like to attend and network with potential employers, please send an email or call 413.545.2224 no later than December 22, 2008.
Refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by Career Services.

Faculty Notes
Professor Nancy Folbre (economics) was honored Nov. 12 by the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts at its annual celebration in Holyoke. Folbre, also the keynote speaker at the event, was one of four recipients of the organization’s Ripple Effect Awards, which recognize women who have taken part in programs supported by the fund and have gone on to make a mark in their communities. Read more...

Brian Schaffner (political science), an analyst for, said in a Fox News post-election piece that most polling organizations were quite accurate in how they tracked the presidential election this year. "For a pollster, it comes down to bragging rights. If you were close you did good. There's a significant difference between a 5 to 6-point win and a 10-point win." He also was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, noting that national political polls that didn’t dial cell phones were actually a bit more accurate than those that did.

computer, a cross-partisan partnership of academics, bloggers, and e-communities, is run by the eCitizen Foundation in partnership with MIT's eCitizen Architecture Program,, Pajamas Media,,, voterwatch,,, and the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, headed by Ethan Katsh (legal studies). is accepting video and text questions for President-Elect Obama as well as votes on current entries through early December, and they hope to see replies from the President-Elect in December. The questioners behind the top three questions wil be flown to MIT in mid-December, receive a tour of the MIT Media Lab, and engage in a networked event with the Obama transition team, subject to the terms and conditions found on the eCitizen Foundation's website.

The Department of Anthropology was well represented at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in San Francisco. Heidi Bauer-Clapp, was chair of and participant in "Using the Past to Understand the Future: Bioarchaeology and Forensics"; Siobhan Hart, was co-organizer of and participant in "Lost in Transition: Decolonizing Indigenous Histories"; Bob Paynter presented "The Four Fields of Anthropology through the Lens of Anthropological Archaeology," part of the Presidential Panel "Beyond Toleration and Lip-Service: Toward a Mutually Engaged Anthropology," and participated in the discussion of "Radical Archaeology as Critical Anthropology: Papers Honoring Thomas C. Patterson"; Martin Wobst was an invited discussant in "The NAGPRA: Triumphs, Trials and Tribulations"; Julie Woods and Elizabeth Chilton, co-authors of "Continuities and Changes in Native Ceramic Technologies in the Middle Connecticut River Valley, Massachusetts," presented an overview of their work.

The Chancellor's Budget Planning Task Force includes 14 faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate. Among them are three from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Mari Castañeda (communication), Robert Pollin, (economics), and Ralph Whitehead (journalism). Says Chancellor Holub, "While this committee is important, I want us to keep the lines of communication to the entire campus open, and I encourage you to share thoughts, reactions, ideas and suggestions going forward via the special budget website....We’’ll be sharing these ideas with the committee and with others. It is critical that we all contribute to our institution’s success. I know these are difficult times, but I do believe that together we can emerge as a stronger community and an even better university, and I’m encouraged by the passion and support that UMass Amherst has in its faculty, staff and students."

Students from UMass Amherst conversed with more than 100 Kurdish students over a video link from Iraq on Nov. 3, thanks to a project run by the Civic Initiative at the UMass Donahue Institute. Director and Visiting Scholar Michael T. Hannahan (political science) hosted the event in Iraq, where he was traveling from 10/26 through 11/9 to lecture at several univerisites, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Visiting Scholar Lonce Sandy-Bailey '06 PhD (political science) was on hand at UMass Amherst to direct the discussions. In addition to talking about the U.S. presidential election, there were comments and questions about the how long U.S. armed forces should stay in Iraq and whether Kurdistan should become its own country.

Alumni News
Alan LeBovidge '64 (economics), executive director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority for the past year, discusses the proposed $100 million a year toll increase covering Boston's bridges and tunnels in a Wall Street Journal article. "Did anyone know what they were doing?" he asks, referencing contracts related to the Big Dig that were sealed with UBS AG, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The deals have gone wrong for the state, adding to its interest burden and confronting it with up to $467 million in potential fees if the firms opt to pull the plug on the contracts. Maybe, he says, his predecessors "should have been nice and conservative. It's like going to Las Vegas."

In Miami Christopher I. Hughes '93 (STPEC) is cofounder, president and CEO of, a marketing, media relations, engagement and sampling collaborative. After ten years with HBO and Ogilvy & Mather in New York, Hughes joined forces with his business partner and is working with clients like Disney/Buena Vista Entertainment, Miramax Home Entertainment, and Toyota/Infiniti/Scion. In 2006 Success South Florida Magazine named him to the 40 Under 40 Most Prominent Black Professionals.

In 2006 Michelle S. Butler '00 (communication and Spanish) founded the Women's Business Center of California that supports the successful growth of entrepreneurs. She is an entrepreneur at heart, whose inspiration comes from finding challenging and cutting-edge projects and turning them into reality. Founder of a number of unique ventures, Butler was among the first to enter into legal and direct trade between the U.S. and Cuba. Her goal is to help others, particularly women, achieve their entrepreneurial goals and reach their full potential in regards to business ownership. Last year she was named to the 40 under 40 by San Diego Metopolitan Magazine.

After their three children died in a car crash in 1992, John Moritz '80 (economics) and his wife Libby found solace and renewal from this incredible loss by helping orphans. The Moritzes established the nonprofit Hearts of the Father Outreach in 1994. Since then, they've distributed over $2 million to help more than 1,000 orphans in seven developing countries. And they adopted a little girl from China. Last year People Magazine featured the Moritzes in their Heroes Among Us section. Read the article...

BusinessWeek has named Jeff Cassidy '07 (ISOM), Boris Revsin '08 (interdisciplinary) and Jared Stenquist '07 (communication), who founded in Amherst a year and a half ago, among their top 25 Best Young Entrepreneurs for 2008. is now be customized for 18 campuses around the country. The business, which employs five full-timers as well as interns, had just over $100,000 in revenues in 2007 and is negotiating a $1.25 million seed round with a group of angel investors. It is expected to be profitable by January. Read more...

Keith Wright '89 (political science, Spanish), who now teaches in Springfield, MA, says he traveled around the country for about a dozen years, but on a particularly beautiful weekend came back to western Massachusetts and decided to stay. "There were beautiful, puffy white clouds in the sky and everything was a vibrant green....I knew it was time to return home." Read article in the Springfield Republican...

Please send us your news!

SBS in the News
St. Petersburg Times, 11/30/08. Linda Tropp (psychology), director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence concentration, was cited in an article on race relations in light of Obama's election victory. Tropp has spent years investigating the ways in which groups of people communicate across race and culture.

Reuters, 11/28/08. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, says Massachusetts and Connecticut, which have legalized gay marriage, will receive an economic benefit from California’s rejection of a gay marriage as the two states develop a niche market for same-sex marriages. Badgett estimates Massachusetts will see 32,200 same-sex marriages in the next three years, generating about $111 million in new economic activity., 11/23/08. Gerald Friedman (economics) comments in a story about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru where U.S. President George W. Bush defended his reliance on free-market ideology. Friedman says the Chicago School of Economics, which is the ideological underpinning for Bush’s economic views, has lost favor on Wall Street and that deregulation has been largely discredited., 11/4/08. Friedman comments in a story about the decline in influence of the University of Chicago’s economic ideology that has been a powerful force in U.S. government and business circles for the past several decades.

Dollars & Sense, 11/18/08. A column by David Kotz (economics) discusses how the current financial crisis will have an effect on ordinary people and how they conduct their lives. He says it is an opportunity to readjust the economy to a more realistic and productive model., 11/11/08. Gerald Epstein (economics) comments in a story about the “financialization” of the U.S. economy, where financial markets, institutions and motives are becoming an ever-larger and more important part of how we conduct business and trade.

PBS, 11/7/08. Emeritus Professor Sam Bowles (economics) is interviewed for the PBS program “The Business Desk” on what good can come from the current international financial crisis. Host Paul Solman, noting that only a small segment of the interview was included in the show, offers a link the entire video of the interview, noting that it is a "fascinating case for the negative economic consequences of inequality." [scroll down]

Boston Herald, 11/10/08. Tom Juravich (labor studies) says the election of Barack Obama to the presidency is good news for organized labor. He also says the current economic crisis can be another opportunity for labor.

Kansas City Star, 11/6/08. Sut Jhally (communication) comments in a story about how Barack Obama’s election as president might affect race relations in the U.S., 11/13/08. Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, rebuts criticism of a report he co-authored on how investing in green jobs in the U.S. economy can boost economic activity and help clean up the environment. Wall Street Journal, 11/7/08. Pollin comments in a story about whether Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to create many new jobs in the U.S. economy by spending large sums on green energy stands up to scrutiny. Pollin is working on a new study of the issue but argues that green industries create many more jobs than they displace.

New York Times, 11/06/08. In the article "Tolerance Over Race Can Spread, Studies Find,"about the election of Barack Obama, Linda Tropp (psychology), director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Concentratio, says, “It’s important to remember that implicit biases are out there, absolutely; but I think that that’s only half the story. With broader changes in the society at large, people can also become more willing to reach across racial boundaries, and that goes for both minorities and whites.” Tropp also says the willingness to be more tolerant has to be weighed against biases that remain in our society.

Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, 11/6/08. Ray La Raja and Tatishe Nteta (political science) comment on Barack Obama’s election as president. La Raja says Obama has learned from his friend Gov. Deval Patrick the value of getting his new administration organized as early as possible. Nteta says Obama’s election will help eliminate racism in American society, but that change will still take time. What Obama’s election does clearly signal, Nteta says, is that the old-style politics of racial identity as practiced by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson no longer will work., 11/3/08. Steve Fox (journalism) is noted as one of the people organizing an electronic feed on the Twitter service to report on any voting irregularities around the country during voting in the national election.

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, Legal Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), and Sociology. With 38,000 alumni, 5,000 current undergraduate majors, and 500 graduate students, SBS is the largest of UMass Amherst’s colleges. In addition to its departments, it is home to numerous centers and research institutions. Through the general education courses that SBS offers, the College’s 150 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 donation to SBS for your department, student financial aid, or a purpose that speaks to your personal experiences and priorities. To make a gift online, click here. Questions? Contact:
Saige Reisler, Director of Development
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
235 Draper Hall
University of Massachusetts Amherst
40 Campus Center Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9244

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.

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Draper Hall • University of Massachusetts Amherst • 40 Campus Center Way • Amherst, MA 01003-9244 • Tel: 413.545.4173 • Fax: 413.577.0905
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Draper Hall University of Massachusetts 40 Campus Center Way Amherst, MA 01003-9244 (413) 545-4173 FAX: (413) 577-0905