February 2014 Newsletter

In this Issue

Political Scientist Jane Fountain Appointed Distinguished Professor

Trustees appoint Professor Jane Fountain (political science and public policy), director of the National Center for Digital Government, a Distinguished Professor.

Assistant Director of Career Planning to Help SBS Students

Rebecca Bell has been hired to help SBS students make connections to practical experiences.

Thinking—and Acting—Strategically About a Career in Public Policy

Andrew McGavern ’13 (political science) is making the most of opportunities at UMass, including impressive internships, the Accelerated Master of Public Policy Program, scholarships, and various student development offices.

Sophomore and Her Dog Win Westminster Championship

Delaney Ratner '16 (resource economics) and her border collie Kelso win the first ever agility competition at the 138th annual Westminster Dog Show.

Other Topics of Interest

New Chair of Journalism Selected

Kathy Forde

Kathy Forde, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, has been appointed chair of the UMass Journalism Department.

First Director of Legal Studies Hired

Paul M. Collins, Jr.

Paul M. Collins, Jr. has been hired as the first director of Legal Studies and will shape the future of the popular undergraduate major that is part of the Political Science Department.

Alum is Subject of Upcoming Disney Movie

Sports marketing legend JB Bernstein '90 (political science), one of the creators of The Million Dollar Arm contest that led to the signing of the first professional baseball pitchers from India, will speak about his career and his system for creating the next big idea on Tuesday, March 4 at 4 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

UMass Funds Fastest-growing Category of Student Financial Aid

Lots of hundred dollar bills

The University of Massachusetts expects this year to direct $148 million of its own funds toward financial aid for students.

Economy Will Benefit from Immigration Reform

Robert Caret

Robert L. Caret, president of UMass, and Paul Guzzi, president of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, have written an op-ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill.

Undergraduate Research Program Benefits Students

Thumbs up "like" icon from Facebook

A new model for undergraduate education in the social sciences trains students to work with faculty to develop studies with real world significance and gives them a crucial edge in the job market. Nicole Berns ’14 (political science/comparative literature) explains.

Alumni News | Faculty and Department News 

SBS in the News | A Word from SBS

Alumni News

Jonathan Edwards MPA '91 is trying to get on the Democratic primary ballot in the race for lieutenant governor in MA. If he gets at least 15% of delegates to support him at the State Democratic Convention in Worcester in June, he'll be on the primary ballot in September. Here's a link to his website.

Sorin Dan MPPA '09 has published  "The Effects of Agency Reform in Europe: A Review of the Evidence" in the journal Public Policy and Administration. Dan is an academic researcher at the Public Management Institute at Belgium's University of Leuven.  
Kevin Moforte MPPA '13 is teaching courses on innovation and sustainable development at two Chilean universities, including the University of Chile, the country's top institution. Moforte's class explores the social, political, economic and environmental challenges that sustainable development faces today, and examines how policy and business innovations are needed to overcome those challenges.

Cherise Leclerc '11 (communication) has been named the lead anchor at WSHM-TV 3 in Springfield, MA. A former Miss Massachusetts finalist and a summa cum laude graduate, she was part of the CBS team that received a national Edward R. Murrow Award and has worked at the CBS-affiliate station since 2011. Read more...

Danielle Hughes '91 (political science), founder and CEO of Divine Capital Markets LLC in NYC, discusses the volatile stock market, noting that complacency is a killer: "Stay the course and keep your focus on the long term," she advises. Watch the full discussion here

Now that several states have legalized marijuana for medical use, Allen St. Pierre '89 (legal studies), executive director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), is getting a lot of attention from elected officials in D.C. An article in the Boston Globe offers a profile and an overview of the shifting political environment when it comes to legalization of the drug.

State Representative Paul Mark MS '08 (labor studies) visited UMass this month to discuss and help find alternative solutions to the student debt crisis. Read more...

Bill Keegan '85 (regional planning) has been appointed Foxborough (MA) Town Manager. Read more...

Here's the latest interview with fitness expert Eliza Shirazi '13 (communication/public health).

Among Coach Mark Whipple's new hires for the UMass football team is former standout Liam Coen '09 (communication) as quarterbacks coach. Read more...

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.

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Faculty and Department News

The Department of Political Science is pleased to welcome Dr. Armen Baibourtian from the United Nations office in Armenia as a visiting scholar and professor for the Spring 2014 semester. Read more...

Professor M. V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, was a featured speaker for the United States at a summit last week of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) titled "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender: The Economic Case for Inclusive Policies." Following the international gathering, the Netherlands and U.S. urged the OECD to develop recommendations for policymakers around the globe to eliminate LGBT workplace discrimination.  

Acting CPPA Director Kathryn McDermott (education and public policy) is among an elite handful of scholars who participated this month in "Policy and Politics of the Common Core," a research conference hosted by the national Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Participants examined the national and state political contexts behind the unfolding of the Common Core curriculum standards. Over the next year, they will use the Common Core example to explore how educational reforms develop.  

On February 20 Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, investigative reporters for ESPN and the authors of League of Denial, were on campus to discuss their book and the ongoing concussion crisis facing the NFL. The event, which was open to the public, was sponsored by the Journalism Department. 

Prof. Shaheen Pasha (journalism) was a guest speaker for Boston University's Metropolitan College class on terrorism. She discussed the current turmoil in the Middle East and the threat of burgeoning terrorist groups amid the political chaos. Also, via Skype, BBC journalist Serena Chaudhry spoke to Pasha's "Going Global: Changes in International Journalism" class about her time as a correspondent covering troop withdrawals in Iraq and the recent funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Longtime Economics Department assistant Nancy Nash has published her first children's book. Mama's Books relates the story of a family leaving Vermont in the mid-1800s and heading west on the Oregon Trail for a new life. Nash graduated from Mount Holyoke College and earned an M.F.A. in Writing for Children from Simmons University. Read more...

We are sorry to report the death of Prof. Emeritus Franklin W. Houn (political science), 93, on Feb. 3. A resident of Silver Spring, MD., he taught at UMass from 1963 until his retirement in 1990. Houn published four books and several dozen articles in academic journals and other well-known publications. His book, A Short History of Chinese Communism (1967), was a groundbreaking analysis and review of the communist Party's socio and political origins, its post-1949 political structure, and the reform policies under Mao Zedong. Read more... 

We are sorry too to report the death on January 29 of Lewis Yablonsky, 89, of Santa Monica, Calif., a sociologist and expert on gangs, who served as associate professor of sociology and criminology at UMass Amherst from 1958-61. Read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

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SBS in the News

The Real News Network, 2/26/14. Distinguished Professor Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says incremental increases in the minimum wage will have little impact on employment. PRI/Marketplace Morning Report, 2/19/14. Pollin says there is no evidence that increasing the minimum wage would cost the nation about 500,000 jobs, as stated in a Congressional Budget Office report.

Washington Examiner, 2/25/14. A columnist opposed to raising the federal minimum wage says Prof. Emeritus Nancy Folbre (economics) and Arindrajit Dube (economics) are wrong when they state that increasing the wage rate will not cause job losses.

NPR [Morning Edition], 2/24/14. Ray La Raja (political science) says billionaires who use their own money in political campaigns have disproportionate influence and have little incentive to moderate their views. The influx of big money donors introduces a form of corruption that likely will cause distortions in the electoral process. 

New York Times [Economix blog], 2/24/14. Prof. Emeritus Nancy Folbre (economics) notes that grassroots political pressure has proven effective in getting minimum wage increases approved at the local level along with laws requiring so-called living wages to be paid. She points to San Francisco as a model for other communities. New York Times [Economix blog], 2/10/14. Folbre says paid family leave for fathers is beginning to win acceptance from parents and in the workplace, despite forms of backlash that put real, but informal pressures on working dads. 

Talking Points Memo, 2/21/14. In this blog Amel Ahmed (political science) says the U.S. Supreme Court was correct to strike down several parts of the federal Voting Rights Act related to racial discrimination because they are obsolete and have been overtaken by events on the ground. She argues that the reach of the law should be expanded beyond just racial discrimination to have an impact on all Americans’ voting rights. 

Center for Popular Economics, 2/20/14. Free and accessible higher education is feasible, writes PhD candidate Anastasia Wilson '11 (economics) on the Center's blog.

Huffington Post, 2/19/14. Arindrajit Dube (economics) is interviewed about the findings of a Congressional Budget Office report that states an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10/hour would have the potential impact of a possible increase in earnings for 16.5 million low-wage Americans but cost the nation about 500,000 jobs. Dube, whose research is cited in the report, says that the CBO “put their thumb on the scale a little bit” and that “the CBO report puts too much weight on lower quality studies.” Dallas Morning News, 2/17/14. A columnist writing about Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas who is pushing to have the city raise its minimum wage, cites recent research by Dube on how voters in both red and blue states have approved minimum wage increases. Dube says since 1988, 10 states have approved increases with no rejections. Seattle Times, 2/14/14. Dube is quoted in a story about how a recent raise in the minimum wage at SeaTac airport complex in Washington State has not had the negative effect critics had predicted. Dube says it will take a while to see if this pattern holds. The Week, 2/13/14. A news story about efforts to raise the federal minimum wage cites recent research by Dube that says a modest increase in the rate helps reduce the poverty rate. Sun Sentinel, 2/9/14​. A columnist writing about efforts to raise the minimum wage in Florida cites recent research by Dube that says a modest increase in the rate helps reduce the poverty rate. Globe and Mail [Toronto], 2/7/14. A columnist, writing about why the government of Canada's Province of Ontario should raise its minimum wage, points to Dube's recommendation that governments should aim for a threshold of 50-60% of the prevailing median wage as a target for the minimum wage. Hawaii Free Press, 2/3/14. A columnist in support of raising Hawaii's minimum wage cites a study done by Dube that says raising the minimum wage by 10% will reduce the number of people in poverty by 2.4%. Journal Sentinel [Milwaukee, Wis.], Huffington Post, 2/3/14. Stories mention research by Dube as part of the ongoing debate about whether raising the minimum wage helps low-wage workers with little impact on employment, or causes job losses due to higher business costs. His studies show that raising the minimum wage has little significant impact on jobs. Bloomberg, 1/30/14. A story on the ongoing debate about whether raising the federal minimum wage helps low-wage workers with little impact on employment, or causes job losses due to higher business costs, includes Dube's research.

Los Angeles Daily News, et al, 2/19/14. Steve Fox (journalism) blogs for Digital First Media and his posts appear in newspapers across the country. This one explains the steps to teach children social media etiquette. He says the old adage, “Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read,” remains appropriate when tweeting or posting to other social media platforms. Denver Post, 2/12/14. Fox focuses on the plus sides of texting from a parent's perspective. Colorado Daily, 2/4/14. Fox discusses on how officials in Amherst handled a case where a student posted on social media that he was bringing a gun to the high school. 

Center for Popular Economics, 2/18/14. A column by Gerald Friedman (economics) discusses why so few in the business community are pushing back against these ideologues in support of policies to bolster economic growth and employment.

Chicago Phoenix, 2/16/14. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, says market surveys intended to measure the relative wealth of groups of people such as gays or lesbians don’t really represent those groups because surveys have incentives to see groups as more affluent than they actually are. Making sweeping generalizations about social groups is a bad idea because reality is much more complicated than we think. Washington Blade, 2/12/14. Badgett says a new study that shows the poverty rate is higher in the LGBT community than in the population at large is based on a complex set of personal and economic circumstances. 

Toronto Star, 2/14/14. Dean Robert S. Feldman, an expert on lying, comments in a story about Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford, who has publicly admitted he lied about his drug use and raucous behavior. Feldman says deception “is deeply ingrained in our everyday interactions and our broader culture.” 

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/12/14. David Mednicoff (public policy), director of Middle Eastern Studies, was a speaker at the first event put on by “Bridging Muslim/Non-Muslim Divides,” an educational series on Islam and issues facing the Muslim world held at the Jones Library in Amherst. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/11/14. Sylvia J. Brandt (resource economics) writes a letter-to-the-editor urging quick action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on new motor vehicle emission and fuel standards for cars and trucks to help clean up the air and thanks U.S. Rep. James McGovern for his support of these new regulations.

Real News Network, 2/9/14. Jane D'Arista, research associate with the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and co-founder of SAFER, an Economists' Committee for Financial Reform, discusses the Federal Reserve's winding down of the quantitative easing program.

Clutch Magazine, 2/7/14. In an article about self care not being selfish, Jeannette Wicks-Lim (Political Economy Research Institute) says working mothers have less time for leisure, personal care and rest. 

New Republic, 2/5/14. A story on how supporters of austerity policies in the U.S. are now on the defensive and losing the policy argument says the work done last year by three UMass Amherst economists—graduate student Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin—in debunking an influential report by two Harvard economists was a major force in this change.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 2/1/14. Karen List (journalism) discusses the value of verification for front-line journalists and how that affects credibility. She contrasts the style of Eric Athas '08 (journalism), who works for National Public Radio and relies on digital media for his reporting, with that of Linda Wertheimer, a veteran NPR reporter who relies instead on personal contacts and conversations for her sources. In both cases, however, the reporters say that accuracy is the key to success. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1/30/14. UMass Amherst has suspended its affiliation with Living Routes, a non-profit organization that has provided study abroad services since 1999. Jack Ahern (landscape architecture and regional planning), vice provost for international programs, says the action was taken because of the firm’s handling of an alleged rape that happened in December. 

Real News Network, 1/30/14. Gerald Epstein (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says big banks will benefit from higher interest rates in emerging markets, but this does not benefit the US economy. Marketplace [NPR], 1/29/14. Epstein comments about currency depreciations and how money moves through the global economy. He says when interest rates were low in the U.S., investors put their money in overseas markets to earn more, but with the U.S. economy getting stronger, money is beginning to flow back to the U.S. This causes countries such as Turkey, South Africa and Argentina, to raise interest rates to retain the investments, which creates a drag on those economies. 

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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, 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.

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