Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jon Krosnick Testifies Before Congress

I was channel-surfing with my TV remote last night, when I came across a televised Congressional hearing on C-SPAN. One of the witnesses was Stanford professor Jon Krosnick, with whom I overlapped a year in the social psych graduate program at Michigan, and with whom I've stayed in touch over the years in regard to issues of survey methodology.

It was in that methodologist's capacity that Jon helped with NASA’s National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS), and he was testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology. What NASA probably brings to most people's minds is space travel, but the hearing had to do with pilots and safety in commercial aviation (as best I could tell). I guess airlines fall within the "Aeronautics" portion of NASA's title.

Here's a picture of Jon testifying, which I "borrowed" from the Committee's website (the original picture was very small, so this enlarged version is pretty fuzzy).

The most interesting part of the hearing, to me, came when Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), holder of a Ph.D. in political science from Duke, mentioned during his time for questioning that he had taken a social psychology methods workshop from Jon, while the latter was on the faculty at Ohio State.

A transcript of Jon's testimony is available here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Joe Veroff Dead at 77

I have just learned of the passing of UM psychology professor Joe Veroff, at the age of 77; his death occurred on September 30. An obituary appeared in the University Record, in which it is noted that, "A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. [Eastern] Nov. 24 in 1324 East Hall."

Joe's kind, gentle spirit is what I remember most. I, as well as countless other social and developmental psychology students over the years, took Joe's social-psychology core course on socialization and lifespan development (co-taught with the late Libby Douvan). As per Joe's tradition, the final day of class was a luncheon at his home. For my cohort, this event took place in May 1985. I was reminded of that by this portion of the obituary:

"It is hard to pass the old Veroff house on Granger without thinking of the many casual get-togethers for faculty and students, replete with wonderful home-cooked dishes, engaging conversation and good company that he and Jody provided for scores of scholars over the years," said Toni Antonucci...

Joe and his collaborators (and other Michigan faculty, too) were practitioners of the survey method, which I found to be a nice complement to the seeming emphasis at UM and in other social-psych programs on laboratory experimentation. Again, from the obituary:

With Elizabeth Douvan and Richard Kulka, Veroff co-authored two influential books based on findings from two nationally representative ISR surveys on these topics: "The Inner American: A Self-Portrait from 1957 to 1976" and "Mental Health in America: Patterns of Help-Seeking from 1957 to 1976."

Right around the time my graduate-student contemporaries arrived at UM in the early-mid 1980s, Joe and colleagues were beginning to launch the Early Years of Marriage Study, which continues to this day. Back on June 25, 2004, I wrote about Joe and the marriage study (June 2004 archive).

I'm sure many in the Michigan and broader psychology communities join me in expressing condolences and best wishes to Joe's family, friends, and colleagues.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Visiting with Paula Niedenthal

In mid-July, I caught up with my UM social-psych graduate-school classmate Paula Niedenthal (we overlapped three years in Ann Arbor, with Paula finishing her Ph.D. in 1987 and me in 1989). Our recent meeting occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, where each of us has been visiting at the University of Wisconsin, Paula for the past year in psychology and me in Human Development and Family Studies, teaching a four-week summer course.

Paula, who has been a faculty member for several years at Université Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand, France, was an undergrad at Wisconsin, before moving on to Ann Arbor for grad school. To this day, she remains an enthusiastic ambassador for all things Badger-related.

A larger photo collection from my Madison visit is available here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Visiting with Tom Nelson

A little over a week ago, I was at The Ohio State University, attending the second biennial U.S. Conference on Teaching Statistics. While there, I was able to visit with Tom Nelson, who partly overlapped with me during our graduate training in social psychology at Michigan.

Since 1992, Tom has been on the faculty in political science at OSU, focusing on the kinds of topics one would expect from a social psychologist -- attitudes, public opinion, and methodology. In fact, Tom is a leading figure in the hybrid field of "political psychology."

Like Tom, I have a faculty appointment outside of a psychology department (in my case, human development and family studies). As I've discussed with various people over the years, social psychology is an excellent discipline in which to receive training, as the social/behavioral theories and methodological/statistical techniques one learns can be applied across a variety of disciplines.

Here's a photo from our recent visit, taken in Tom's office. He just happened to have his U of M diploma laying around, so we included it in the picture.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shaking Things Up a Bit on "Michigan Thursday"

As I wrote about in my March 4, 2004 entry (March 2004 archives), since I first arrived as a faculty member at Texas Tech University in 1997, I have carried on my own "tradition" called Michigan Thursday, in which I wear U of M garb every Thursday. Michigan Thursday complements the pre-existing Texas Tech tradition of faculty and staff members wearing the school colors of red and black every Friday. Thus, with me, Michigan Thursday leads into Texas Tech Red & Black Friday.

In the fall of 2005, upon completion of her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, an attachment theory scholar named Kazuko Behrens joined our faculty at Texas Tech. A Golden Bear through and through, Kazuko became the first (and thus far, only) Texas Tech faculty colleague to join me in the weekly use of garments to display spirit for our alma maters. In Kazuko's case, we have Cal Thursday.

The first (or sometimes second) Thursday of every month, my department has its regular faculty meeting. On May 10, we had our final meeting of the academic year. In anticipation of this final meeting, Kazuko and I decided to throw our colleagues a curve-ball, of sorts, by switching our school garb. Neither of us has any official affiliation with the opposite school. I wore a Cal shirt (which I had picked up on a previous visit to the Berkeley campus) and I loaned Kazuko one of my Michigan ones. We were pleased to see our colleagues discover the switch very quickly.

The picture below shows us at the faculty meeting. Notice, also, the matching pens we're holding (me, a Cal pen, and Kazuko, a Michigan one).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Demise of the Frieze Building on the UM Campus

In recent months, the demolition of the Frieze Building on the University of Michigan campus has been ongoing. As I first learned about and reported here in July 2005 (see monthly archives on the right-hand side of this page, midway down), the Frieze Building will be making way for a new residence hall, North Quad (which will join South, West, and East Quads).

Various online articles and photo essays about the demolition are available. The university has a blog devoted to the Frieze Building, through which you can access a link to the photo essays.

There's also a retrospective exhibit, sporting a title only a punster such as myself could love, "Frieze Frame" (click here and here for further details).

During my years at Michigan in the mid-late 1980s, social work was one of the disciplines housed in the Frieze Building. I used the Social Work Library fairly often, as it was a good source of journal articles on stress and coping, a topic I was studying at the time. Ultimately, however, a splashy new building for the School of Social Work opened several years ago by the corner of South U. and East U.

The Frieze was also home to performing arts disciplines, but new replacement theatrical facilities are in the works, too.

Given the physical size of UM, many faculty, staff, and students probably have had little familiarity with the Frieze Building, even during the years it was hosting academic departments. For some, though, it does carry nostalgia.

Monica Biernat, who obtained all of her degrees at U of M and was a member of the same entering cohort as me in grad school, e-mailed me this reflection in 2005: "I can't believe the Frieze building is coming down -- I used to study there for finals when I was an undergraduate!"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

25th Anniversary of Zingerman's Deli

I was just doing some leisurely web browsing, when I decided to check out the latest news that was fit to print at the New York Times. Front and center on the page (the online version, at least, as shown below) was a nice photograph. Was it of a major news event in Washington, DC or in some other major world capital? No. Shown in the photo was none other than Zingerman's delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The occasion for the article appeared to be Zingerman's 25th anniversary, and how the deli and the company's associated businesses are expected to bring in $30 million in revenues this year.

My cohort entered graduate school at U of M in the fall of 1984. As best as I can recall, I was never aware during my years in school there of how new Zingerman's really was, at the time. Perhaps the brick exterior just made it look old. My final two years of grad school (1987-88 and 1988-89), I lived on East Kingsley, just a few blocks east of Zingerman's. I wouldn't say that I frequented the place, but I certainly enjoyed a bagel or a sandwich there from time to time.

Congratulations to everyone at Zingerman's for their accomplishments, longevity, and recognition by the New York Times.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Arthur Schlesinger, Famous Historian Who Spoke at UM, Dead at 89

Arthur Schlesinger, the Harvard (and later, City University of New York) historian and friend of the Kennedy family, died a couple of days ago at the age of 89. Schlesinger spoke at the University of Michigan in, I would guess, 1987 or '88. I attended and, as I recall, fellow social psych grad student Jill Klein, a longtime fan of the Kennedys, went with me.

Schlesinger's UM talk focused on his theory of 30-year cycles in American politics (the ideas of Schlesinger and others who take a similar approach are analyzed here). The Republicans, of course, dominated presidential politics in the 1920s, '50s, and '80s, whereas the Democrats held the White House for most of the 1930s, '60s, and (not known at the time of Schlesinger's appearance) the '90s.

The regular speaking appearances by eminent scholars, writers, public officials, and artists from around the nation and world are, in my view, an important part of the Michigan experience.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hazel Markus Quoted in New York Times Article

Today's New York Times has an article on the demographic make-up of top American universities' undergraduate student bodies, with a focus on the large percentages of Asian-American students at these institutions ("Little Asia on the Hill," by Timothy Egan). Here is a link to the article; note, however, that you may have to complete the free registration and the article will probably disappear from free access in a few days, anyway. Those of you at universities whose libraries have online subscriptions to LexisNexis might try seeking the article through that option.

Hazel Markus, a social psychology professor at Michigan from 1975-1994 before moving to Stanford, was quoted in the article, as seen in the following excerpt:

Hazel R. Markus lectures on this very subject as a professor of psychology at Stanford and co-director of its Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her studies have found that Asian students do approach academics differently. Whether educated in the United States or abroad, she says, they see professors as authority figures to be listened to, not challenged in the back-and-forth Socratic tradition. “You hear some teachers say that the Asian kids get great grades but just sit there and don’t participate,” she says.

One of the main findings of cross-cultural psychology is that Asian cultures tend to be more collectivist, with more of a premium on maintaining harmony within the group, than is the case in the U.S. In the above excerpt, I can see Asian students' stance toward professors as being consistent with preservation of harmony within the classroom. However, such a demeanor may also create the seeming paradox of Asian students being perceived as excessively individualistic.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Getting to Meet Mary Sue Coleman at UM Rose Bowl Rally in L.A. Area

Happy New Year!

Wolverine Nation relocated to southern California this past holiday season, as supporters of the Maize and Blue flocked to see Michigan play in the Rose Bowl football game (the less said about the game, the better).

I'm from Los Angeles and was back home visiting family. I did not go to the game, but my family and I attended a pep rally for the team at the Santa Monica Pier, Sunday, December 31, the day before the game.

I would say there were at least a few thousand Wolverine fans there. Because we were a bit late in arriving, we had to stand off to one side of the stage, behind a huge sea of humanity. Afterwards, however, a couple family members and I walked around the main area where the stage was.

UM President Mary Sue Coleman was in the area, and what looked like a dozen or so students were reacting to her as if she were a rock star, requesting to take photos with her. I waited my turn and got to take a picture with her, too (shown above). There were two points I wanted to convey to her, and did during my brief opportunity:

(1) After introducing myself as a Michigan Ph.D. recipient and current faculty member at Texas Tech University, I noted to her that my president at Texas Tech is her former provost when she was president at the University of Iowa, Jon Whitmore.

(2) In reaction to a statewide ballot proposition passed in November 2006 barring consideration of race/ethnicity (and some other demographic characteristics) in decision-making by Michigan governmental entities, President Coleman had vowed to use all legally available means to maintain a diverse student body at the university. (Many of you will recall that the U.S. Supreme Court had said in 2003 that race-sensitive admissions policies, if properly designed, were constitutional. The Court's opinion only said, however, that such policies were allowable, not required.)

In that context, I told President Coleman that, through my experiences as a social psychology graduate student, I had gotten to know some of the faculty members who would go on to play roles in defending the university's admissions policies at the Supreme Court. I then finished with my encouragement to her to, "keep fighting the good fight on educational diversity."


In addition to former football coach Bo Schembechler, about whom I wrote a couple entries ago, the University of Michigan lost another icon recently, former U.S. president Gerald R. Ford. Not only was Ford a UM alunmus; he also played football for the Wolverines. Also, the UM's School of Public Policy was named after Ford a few years ago.