On Wisconsin http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:36:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Staying Power http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/staying-power/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/staying-power/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:03:50 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13465 Phil Rosenthal

Don’t write off newspapers, Phil Rosenthal says, urging skeptics to recognize the adaptability they’ve demonstrated over the decades.

This Chicago Tribune columnist covers his very own industry, and he maintains that reports of the demise of newspapers don’t tell the whole story.

Phil Rosenthal ’85 is holding an endangered artifact. Its size and shape have evolved over time, yet its benefit to society, he argues, remains the same — even after TV and radio threatened to steal away audiences and advertisers. Even after the Internet actually did.

The artifact Rosenthal holds is a newspaper. He picks it up off his desk in a cramped back office at the Chicago Tribune, and admires a front page that still demonstrates all the journalistic ideals he was drawn to as a UW–Madison freshman in the early 1980s, a time when he regularly pestered an editor at the Capital Times, hoping to land an assignment.

Rosenthal eventually convinced editors at the former afternoon daily to give him bylines. He made lasting impressions on professors at the journalism school, then landed high-profile jobs at the Los Angeles Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times. But after more than thirty years in the newspaper business — covering grisly crime scenes as a news reporter, scribbling in a notebook at UCLA and LA Rams games, and, with a TV column, helping nudge Jay Leno to do something Leno had long resisted — Rosenthal finds himself in the midst of his biggest career challenge yet.

The Internet has grabbed hold of today’s news consumers, who, as evidenced in dramatically declining advertising revenue and newspaper subscription numbers, are decidedly less interested in the smudge of newsprint on their fingers. In turn, newspapers across the country have been forced to close, slash staff, eliminate local movie reviews and other staples, and, in some cases, abandon the print product altogether in favor of online publications.

It’s a quandary Rosenthal deals with both personally and professionally. Now a business columnist at the Chicago Tribune, he joins his colleagues in worrying about his employer’s future. He may have gone into journalism partly because of a belief in its mission to inform and improve lives. But today he has a house in Chicago, a wife who also works, and two children in grade school. Rosenthal’s love for journalism also has to pay the bills.

Complicating matters is the fact that media news and the happenings at the Chicago Tribune — a historic and major corporation in the Windy City — are part of his beat. So Rosenthal must regularly write about the state of the industry in which he works and the company that provides his paychecks. The duty, which he describes as “walking a tightrope,” forces him to confront his bosses about their business decisions and reveal to the public flaws in the very industry he hopes they’ll continue to support.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m aware of the impact of every single word when I write about the Tribune — probably more than when I write about other companies,” Rosenthal wrote in a June 2006 column published just before the Tribune Company was sold in a controversial transaction with ramifications that would play out for years afterward. He echoed the sentiment last summer, weeks after his front-page byline helped to explain a high-stakes move that broke the company into two entities: one primarily for broadcast endeavors, the other for print publications.

Interestingly, though, Rosenthal says the front-row seat to the industry’s fall has made him feel better, not worse, about the future of newspapers. And at a time when journalism schools, including the UW’s, are retooling their programs to take the emphasis off of newspaper-specific writing, he remains one of the school’s most supportive alums.

Phil Rosenthal holding the Chicago Tribune

Rosenthal admits to “walking a tightrope” when he’s writing a column that covers the media business — which includes the company that provides his paycheck. He’s had the cow art that decorates his office since his college days.

Although he says that the format of newspapers needed to change, his faith in their future is based in their history.

“They’re still referred to as papers, despite their increasingly digital orientation, in the same way people might say they dial phones. But on paper, pixel, video stream, or whatever platform they play, these are organizations that over the decades have survived all manner of challenges from within and without. … Those who would write off newspapers as history may wish to consider the adaptability and wherewithal it’s taken for them to get this far,” he wrote in his column about the Tribune Company’s split last August.

Through multiple platforms, newspaper content today enjoys larger audiences than ever, but industry leaders must figure out how to generate the revenue needed to produce it.

When Rosenthal first took an interest in journalism, newspapers were still the obvious place to begin. Born on the south side of Chicago, he and his family moved to the North Shore suburb of Lake Bluff where, as a senior in high school, he decided that working as a barback and prep cook at a local pizza pub wasn’t exactly positioning him for the future.

After calling around to various local media outlets, he walked into the News Sun office in suburban Waukegan, where the sports editor agreed to let him cover local high school sports. That experience — and mentoring — gave him the confidence to visit the Capital Times offices a year later, where the sports editor at the time, Rob Zaleski, tried to nicely explain that he didn’t have any stories for the college kid to write.

“He would come around at least once a week after that. I kept telling him, ‘Sorry, nice to see you, but I don’t have anything for you,’ ” Zaleski recalls. “He was a gentleman, and yet, he was persistent. You couldn’t help but be impressed.”

When one of Zaleski’s regular stringers got sick, Rosenthal got his break. He turned in a story about an Oregon High School football game that was so well reported and cleanly written that Zaleski thought a veteran sports writer had taken the assignment. From that point on, Zaleski regularly called on him for other stories, and Rosenthal, nicknamed Rosie, became a well-liked and ever-present personality at the office, even though he was only officially paid to work part time, Zaleski says.

Rosenthal also impressed professors at the UW, where the journalism program was both popular and prestigious. In the early 1980s, the school enrolled five hundred students who chose from one of five tracks: print, broadcast, public relations, advertising, and research. James Baughman, a longtime journalism professor who taught Rosenthal in a newswriting class, remembers being amused by the fearlessness and gumption the young reporter demonstrated.

In one case, Baughman created a class exercise using details from actual news events in Maine. When Rosenthal couldn’t surmise the facts he needed to tell a complete story, he simply picked up the phone and called city workers in Maine to gather them himself, Baughman recalls.

“What I remember about Phil was that he didn’t need to be in the class — he was that good,” says Baughman.

Rosenthal also impressed editors and professors with his ability to write objectively, even critically, about subjects — such as UW athletics — to which other reporters were more inclined to give allowances.

That early skill came in handy decades later.

“Everyone knew that Phil was destined to become a big-timer,” says Zaleski. “When he was hired by the LA Daily News, it was hardly a surprise.”

With his journalism degree in hand, Rosenthal moved to Los Angeles in 1985, joined the paper to cover college sports and the Rams, and wrote a TV sports column. When an opening as the paper’s TV critic became available in 1989, he landed the position, which evolved into a more general four-days-a-week, pop-culture feature column a few years later. The job lent itself to celebrity encounters and enterprising reporting experiences. He traveled to Washington, D.C., to shadow Sonny Bono in his early days as a freshman U.S. representative. He flew to a remote South Pacific isle to observe contestants roughing it on Survivor. For another assignment, he went shopping with international supermodel Vendela Kirsebom, and she helped him pick out a pair of red-and-white swim trunks — after he’d modeled several pairs for her and a photographer.

And after Jay Leno remarked for the umpteenth time that he regretted never publicly thanking Johnny Carson for handing off the Tonight Show, Rosenthal wrote a column suggesting the perfect occasion to do so would be on Carson’s seventieth birthday. Leno called Rosenthal to argue otherwise, but ultimately, that’s exactly what Leno did.

“It was a great job, a wonderful job,” Rosenthal says.

By 1996, though, the LA Daily News restructured itself to focus more predominantly on the San Fernando Valley and surrounding communities. Rosenthal figured it might be a good time to seek new opportunities. When an old friend offered him a position in the sports department of the
Chicago Sun-Times, Rosenthal happily returned to the Midwest. He wrote a sports column for the paper until 1998, covering the Olympics, Michael Jordan’s last three championships with the Chicago Bulls, and other notable stories. In July 1998, he became the paper’s TV critic, a position that appealed to him because of its seemingly limitless possibilities.

“I viewed it as an opportunity to write about everything,” he says. “Being a TV critic was like being a TV viewer — only louder.”

In the larger media context, however, things were changing rapidly.

Newspaper publishers, journalism scholars, and other experts had been cautiously monitoring the arrival of the Internet, not quite sure whether the technology would catch on with the public. Even if it did resonate, many assumed it could happily coexist with newspapers, the way TV and radio had previously, says Baughman, who also serves as chair of the advisory board for the university’s Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.

But by the early 2000s, Baughman says, as the diffusion of laptop computers and mobile devices, and the spread of WiFi, only made the Internet more appealing, scholars began to realize that the newspaper industry was being threatened by something entirely different.

Photo: Lobby of Tribune building

Both chandeliers and words of inspiration grace the lobby of the Tribune building in downtown Chicago.

In the first of several missteps in dealing with the crisis, newspaper companies merged and consolidated debt under the assumption that there would be continued double-digit profits. Then came the decline in revenue. Internet sites such as Craigslist stole away once-unwavering profits from classified ads. The 2009 recession led to a dramatic drop in newspaper advertising and an unfavorable standing to investors on Wall Street, Baughman says.

By the time Rosenthal was recruited to write a media column for the business section of the Tribune in 2005, the newspaper industry was deep in crisis. “Who knows where we’re headed, but we’re headed there fast. The current is strong,” he wrote in his inaugural column in April of that year.

Since then, Rosenthal has chronicled two separate sales of the Chicago Tribune that have brought in colorful casts of new leadership, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company’s division into two entities — not to mention the struggles of other major newspaper companies across the nation. Those who know him say he’s the right person for the delicate job.

“He just has an amazing integrity. He’s always going to do the right thing,” says Bill Adee, executive vice president of digital development and operations for the Chicago Tribune who has worked with Rosenthal at three other papers. “In those cases of covering yourself and covering your industry, you’re faced with a lot of choices. In those places, Phil’s always made good ones.”

Recognizing the evolution of the industry, directors at the UW’s journalism school revamped its curriculum in 2000 to put less emphasis on writing for specific forms of media and increase training for reporting in general.

Today, the school’s nearly six hundred students must complete a rigorous, six-credit course that introduces them to a “platform agnostic” set of newswriting skills that are applicable to careers in both a multimedia reporting track and PR and advertising, Baughman says. Despite the struggles within the newspaper industry, the school’s incoming spring class was expected to be at or near a historic high. For last fall semester, two hundred and ninety applicants had vied for one hundred and twenty spots, and the school’s total enrollment was nearly double that from a decade ago, according to academic adviser Robert Schwoch.

Rosenthal regularly returns to Madison for guest lectures, has served on the journalism school’s board of visitors, and co-operates a Facebook page, Friends of Badger Journalism, with another J-school alum, Ben Deutsch ’85, who is now vice president for corporate communications at the Coca-Cola Company.

Regardless of the dramatic changes he’s seen, Rosenthal remains optimistic about the future of journalism — and newspapers specifically. He believes that the newspaper industry will make it through by forcing itself to offer unique, expert, and informative perspectives that readers can’t find elsewhere. He asks himself whether he’s doing so with every column he writes, and he’s embraced social media opportunities to interact with people he might not reach otherwise.

At the end of the day, he’s not so worried about the aging artifact on his desk. True, it has been around for a long time. But, he argues, perhaps that in itself is a reason to believe in its future.

“One of the reasons I’m hopeful about the newspaper business,” he says, “is that we produce something every day. We create. We solve problems every day. We are always adjusting. Most industries don’t have that.”

Vikki Ortiz Healy ’97 is a metro reporter and health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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The Warlord’s Biographer http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/the-warlords-biographer/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/the-warlords-biographer/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:00:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13484 Photo of Abdul Rashid Dostum

During a presidential run in 2004, Abdul Rashid Dostum, the subject of a book by Brian WIlliams PhD’99, climbed on top of a horse and waved at throngs of supporters at a campaign rally in a Kabul stadium in Afghanistan. AP PHOTO/David Guttenfelder

Brian Glyn Williams travels to the world’s most dangerous regions to learn more about our surprising allies in the War on Terror.

Like many Americans, Brian Glyn Williams PhD’99 spent last summer and fall closely tracking a contentious, historic election that would shape a nation’s future. But unlike most Americans, the race he watched wasn’t one of the U.S. midterms.

Williams’s attention was focused on Afghanistan’s presidential election, where, after two votes and several months of audits, Ashraf Ghani secured the country’s first democratic transfer of power. But it wasn’t Ghani whom Williams cared most about — it was Ghani’s vice president, Abdul Rashid Dostum. When the final results were announced, Williams sent Dostum his personal congratulations.

Dostum isn’t just any rising politician in just any developing country. Born in a rural village, he climbed first to regional and then to national prominence in the place where the United States has fought its longest war. His story is a rags-to-guns-to-riches tale complete with ethnic battles, geopolitical intrigue, covert operations, and even a mythical death ray.

It’s also the story of Williams’s career.

Apocalyptic ghost zone

Williams’s first day in front of a classroom at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth went about as he expected. The brand-new professor of Islamic history surveyed the handful of students who had signed up for his course on central Asian history from the time of Genghis Khan to the present.

“Have you ever heard of a Muslim theocracy called the Taliban?” he asked. Only one student raised a hand. The date was September 5, 2001.

When the World Trade Center towers fell less than a week later, Williams was invited to visit Ground Zero by a friend who worked nearby. “He called me up and said, ‘[Al-Qaeda has] made the news. Come see their handiwork,’ ” Williams says. He rushed to Manhattan, put on a mask, and stepped into what he recalls as an “apocalyptic ghost zone.”

Williams watched with horror as human remains were removed from the wreckage of the skyscrapers. He was shaken by the idea that Americans had become victims of a terror group closely allied with the Taliban, and he knew at that moment that his life was about to change. As the country tried to make sense of what had just happened, he was tapped as an expert source for national media interviews, and he gave several public talks to packed halls at UMass.

“I was someone who could infuse knowledge at a time of urgency,” he says.

The class roster for his course on central Asian history swelled well past one hundred.

Williams had, essentially, spent a lifetime studying the places and cultures he was now asked to explain. During a childhood spent living in Wales and Florida, he developed an interest in stories about the horse-mounted Afghan warriors who faced off against the invading Soviets during the Cold War. At the time, Williams romanticized the Afghan mujahideen forces. “The rebels in the ‘land that time forgot’ were standing up to these Communists to protect their faith, their land, and [their] families,” he says.

That interest motivated Williams to study Russian as an undergraduate at Stetson University in Florida and then to pursue master’s degrees in Russian history and Central Asian studies at Indiana University, where the CIA regularly recruited for operatives before the Gulf War. Williams opted for academia and pursuit of a doctorate instead and headed to Wisconsin, home to one of the few university programs in the country dedicated to Central Asian studies.

It was also the only place where Williams knew he could focus on Afghanistan. His adviser, Kemal Karpat, a renowned Turkish specialist and emeritus professor now based in Istanbul, encouraged his interests. “I had a tremendous education there,” says Williams of his time at the UW. “The chance to study an obscure part of the world was a career builder for me. It made me who I am.”

Williams realized early in his doctoral program that he wasn’t cut out for a career in “a dusty archive.” Instead, he was drawn to the idea of studying history as it unfolded to explain — and perhaps to help shape — current events. In 1997, he moved to a region of Uzbekistan just north of the Afghanistan border for his dissertation fieldwork. While there, he witnessed the rise of an unknown group of zealots called The Students, or, in Pashto, the Taliban, which was rapidly attracting new members and allies, including a faction of the al-Qaeda army.

Williams headed to the border to get closer to the action and began hearing stories about an ethnically Uzbek (Turkic-Mongol) warlord named Dostum, who had snuck back into Afghanistan after years in exile to help lead a new, tenuous coalition against the Taliban. Though Williams eventually turned his attention back to his dissertation, he developed a deep fascination with Dostum. “It was my dream to meet him,” Williams says, but at the time, travel into Afghanistan was impossible.

Instead, Williams traveled north to the University of London, where he began teaching in 1999. While there, he was invited by Scotland Yard to become an adviser on the conflict in Chechnya and to provide early insights about the Taliban. Then came a whirlwind of projects, including fieldwork in Kosovo during the aftermath of that country’s ethnic war and a trip to Macedonia to meet with rebel insurgents — a move that promptly got Williams arrested by the Macedonian Army. Thanks to his dual British and American citizenship, he was released after only a few hours, but Williams says the experience was a turning point.

“That night, as we sat in the pub, it sort of empowered me,” he says. “You can do field research in potentially dangerous situations and get away with it.”

Why should I trust you?

In 2003, Williams managed to secure a grant to travel to Afghanistan to attempt an interview with Dostum. Flying from Boston to Kabul can take more than a day, sometimes two, but getting to the capital city was the easiest part of Williams’s odyssey. “Afghanistan is the only country where you can experience the Middle Ages,” he says. Sheep roamed the city’s streets.

Western reporters have described Dostum as an “an ogre” and “a monster who burns people alive.” These depictions made him wary of talking with foreigners and especially of talking to Americans, who he believed had turned their backs on him in the aftermath of Bai Beche — the U.S. battle that led to the overthrow of the Taliban and was won, in large part, by horse-mounted Uzbek cavalry wearing turbans and robes.

In October 2001, teams from the CIA and U.S. Special Forces coordinated with Dostum’s guerrilla army to launch an attack against the Taliban, who refused to hand over their Al-Qaeda guest, Osama bin Laden. Though U.S. military officers anticipated the guerrillas would need until spring to prepare an attack, Dostum was ready to move almost immediately. On November 5, some two thousand Uzbek horsemen charged into nine thousand Taliban fighters and heavy tank fire. As they did so, the Green Berets called in coordinates for U.S. planes to drop laser-guided bombs from above.

During the Bai Beche attack, Dostum spread a rumor that he was in possession of a death ray. Each time a plane dropped a bomb, Dostum was informed by radio. He would point at the target just before it exploded and broadcast to the Taliban that he was allied with Azrail, the Angel of Death. The Taliban soldiers surrendered in droves. “That scene inspired me to write a book,” Williams says. “The cavalry attack broke the spine of the Taliban army in the north.”

Williams has tracked down multiple military reports that acknowledge Dostum’s role in the success of the Bai Beche offensive. However, after Dostum’s troops left hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Taliban prisoners to die in metal truck containers that December, U.S. government officials distanced themselves publicly from the warlord. Dostum felt he had been used.

Map showing Williams route from Kabul to Kondoz to Mazar-e Sharif to visit Dostum

The map at left shows the route Williams took to visit Dostum. University Marketing.

Despite Dostum’s aversion to American visitors, Williams was determined to meet him, and the two had mutual friends. Turkey had granted asylum to Dostum after the Taliban briefly conquered Dostum’s northern territory in 1997, so when the Turkish embassy sent word that it could vouch for Williams, the warlord agreed to receive him. In 2003, a convoy of more than one hundred bodyguards — all wielding AK-47s — was arranged to transport Williams from Kabul to Dostum’s compound in the northern desert.

They drove north through the Hindu Kush Mountains to a location near Mazar-e-Sharif, a shrine well known for its beautiful, blue-domed mosque, which local residents believe contains special powers of protection. A crowd of elders was waiting to greet Williams when he arrived in the middle of the night, and he was directed to Dostum, who sat watching Williams from a throne-like armchair.

Williams stood through “some of the longest seconds of my life,” he says, before Dostum spoke: “I’m sure you have many questions for me, because you’ve come all the way from America. But I have a question for you, my friend. Why should I trust you?”

Williams replied in Turkish: “Well, Pasha [general],” he said, “I’m here to tell your story. Let me live with you as the first outsider to write the Dostum epic.”

Flattery and the promise to set his reputational record straight appealed to Dostum. He invited Williams to sit down, eat a Turkish biscuit, turn on his camcorder, and start asking questions. For the next couple of months, Williams lived at the compound and spent hours with Dostum, his family, his men, and even his prisoners.

Photo of Williams and his wife, Feyza, with Dostum

Williams and his wife, Feyza, meet with Dostum at his compound in Sheberghan during Williams’s second visit to northern Afghanistan in 2005. On his first visit two years earlier, Williams had been accompanied by a convoy of more than 100 bodyguards — all wielding AK-47s — who transported him from Kabul to the general’s compound in the northern desert. Courtesy of Brian Williams.

At the time of Williams’s visit, Dostum was holding an estimated five thousand captured Taliban soldiers in a medieval fortress. Williams was guided through giant metal doors into the prison’s central corridor, where thousands of men looked down from their cells at the blond, blue-eyed American. He interviewed several prisoners, who held a range of opinions about Americans and about their own involvement in jihad. Some were fanatics; some were farmers who had joined the Taliban for the promise of $700. “One guy lost his two brothers, and he wanted me to call his baba [father] and tell him,” Williams says. “Another guy was a mullah, and he told me he’d kill me if he wasn’t in this prison. He spat at me.”

Williams realized that most of the prisoners he spoke with had no idea their al-Qaeda allies had attacked the United States. “A lot of them were skeptical. There was this real sense that America was the bad guy, that we had invaded and didn’t belong there,” he says. “They thought we were like the Russians.”

Black, white, gray

At first glance, Dostum may seem an unlikely ally for the U.S. military. After all, the Afghan Communist Army spent the 1970s and ’80s battling against mujahideen fundamentalist groups supported by the CIA.

At the beginning of his career, Dostum viewed the Communists he fought for as advocates for equality and proponents of a secular society free from Islamic law. For years, he’s identified himself as a moderate secularist rather than as a Communist, but Williams says that nuance was lost on the CIA intelligence agents who lost track of him during the 1990s.

When the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia withdrew funding for its allies in Afghanistan, Dostum aligned himself with former mujahideen leaders from various ethnic groups and overthrew Mohammad Najibullah, the Communist president who had begun disarming his former friends — a move the mujahideen interpreted as a sign of impending subjugation. Dostum’s new alliance broke down quickly after the presidential coup, however, when he was snubbed for a position in the new government. A few years later, Dostum tried partnering with a particularly brutal warlord, an attempt that resulted in a failed coup and a series of sieges that killed more than twenty-five thousand people in Kabul during the mid-1990s.

At the same time, the Taliban’s ideology was spreading across Afghanistan. Eventually, warring ethnic leaders in the north realized they faced a common enemy: the Taliban. The extremist group had severely restricted the rights of women in its territories and imposed harsh religious requirements on men, too. When the Taliban publicly tortured and killed Najibullah, it became clear to Afghanistan’s most powerful figures that something had to be done.

From his base in Mazar-e-Sharif, Dostum ruled a northern territory that was one of the few remaining sanctuaries where women could attend a university and move freely in public without male escorts or burqas. But one of Dostum’s Uzbek countrymen betrayed him and accepted a $200,000 bribe to turn his personal army on Dostum’s forces. The Taliban then overran Mazar-e-Sharif, and Dostum fled into exile in 1997.

Right after 9/11, the CIA knew little about Dostum’s complex web of alliances and the motivations behind them. According to Williams’s research, the dossier on Dostum that the U.S. Army used during preparations for Bai Beche was riddled with errors. It described him as a frail man in his eighties who was missing an arm and harbored a hatred for Americans. None of this was true; in 2001, Dostum was forty-seven years old, in possession of both arms, and thought of the Americans as his saving grace.

Williams’s work provides the first significant alternative to popular Western depictions of Dostum as a tribal killer who couldn’t possibly have contributed meaningfully to the strategic plan behind Bai Beche. “Americans see the world in black and white. But the world is very gray. It’s complex,” Williams says, explaining that his main goal was to present a fuller picture of Dostum’s involvement in the War on Terror. “This book took me a decade. Journalists don’t have that kind of extended deadline. I can probe much, much deeper as a professional scholar and educate journalists, teach them what they missed in their rush for the headlines.”

After the 2003 visit, Williams returned to Dostum’s compound twice more. The second time, his wife, Feyza Williams, came along — over Williams’s objections. “I said, ‘It’s too dangerous,’ and she said, ‘Well, if it’s too dangerous, then why are you going?’ I backtracked and said, ‘No, it’s not so dangerous,’ and that was it,” he says.

She and Dostum were fast friends.

Over the next few years, the “Dostum epic” was interrupted by various projects. In 2007, the U.S. government asked Williams to conduct a study that tracked Taliban suicide bombings across southeastern Afghanistan. A year later, he served as an expert witness at the Guantanamo Bay trial of Osama bin Laden’s personal driver. Eventually, after tracking down CIA agents and a few of the Green Berets to corroborate Dostum’s account of Bai Beche, Williams kept his word and finished the book.

Initially, publishers rejected it out of a perception that Americans were tired of the War on Terror. But that perception changed when bin Laden was killed in 2011, and The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior Who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime came out in 2013. “More than one hundred Uzbeks living in America came to Manhattan for the book signing,” Williams says. “They were thrilled.”

Beyond telling the full story behind Dostum’s involvement in the overthrow of the Taliban, Williams hopes that The Last Warlord might serve as something more: a model for conducting historical research that has political applications in the present.

“As scholars, we owe it to ourselves to be in the field. We should be traveling to these areas, even if it’s dangerous, and bring back these stories,” he says. “With the War on Terror, there are so many myths, so many misunderstandings. We can make blunders on a massive scale, so it’s important to make decisions based on history.”

Sandra Knisely ’09, MA’13 is the news content strategist for University Communications. Her passport stamps do not include Afghanistan.

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Badger Tracks Spring 2015 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/uncategorized/badger-tracks-spring-2015/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/uncategorized/badger-tracks-spring-2015/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13650 WAA is planning gala events around the nation to help the UW Foundation kick off its new comprehensive campaign. The next event, Wisconsin Ideas: Let the World Know, will be held in Milwaukee on June 11. Program highlights include remarks from Chancellor Rebecca Blank, inspirational alumni stories, innovations from UW faculty, a strolling supper, interactive stations, and more. Visit uwalumni.com/ideas for details.

Wanted: your ideas for the next edition of The Red Shirt.™ Please email your spirited designs and phrases to theredshirt@uwalumni.com. Everyone who submits an idea will be entered into a random drawing to win The Red Shirt, Eighth Edition when it launches this August.

Registration for the fifteenth Grandparents University opens on March 24 for WAA members and on April 7 for non-members. Don’t miss out on this popular annual event that allows grandkids and grandparents to enjoy special classes together on campus. See uwalumni.com/gpu to get on the mailing list.

WAA is sponsoring more than 50 Founders’ Days this season.The events, which commemorate the first class held at the UW on February 5, 1849, are held in cities across the country and feature university or alumni speakers. Hot tickets: the New Jersey event on May 6 will feature Leon Varjian of Pail and Shovel Party fame, and the New York event on May 7 will include Scott Dikkers x’87, speaking on “institutional goofiness.” See uwalumni.com/founders-days/ for details.

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An Outback Bowl To Remember http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/an-outback-bowl-to-remember/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/an-outback-bowl-to-remember/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13647 AA-News-photo

Photo: Pete Christianson.

From left are Mike Artus, Kelli Trumble ’79, Emily Artus, Cindy Artus, and Ben Borcher. Emily Artus, who has Apert Syndrome, went to high school with Badger tight end Sam Arneson x’15, and the two became friends. Arneson sent her tickets to the Outback Bowl, and Emily’s hometown of Merrill, Wisconsin, raised money for her to travel to Tampa with her family. One highlight was a game-ball raffle during the Badger HUDDLE®. Trumble, a member of WAA’s President’s Advisory Council, won the raffle and later offered Emily the special football as a memento of her trip.

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Sweet Victory http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/sweet-victory/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/sweet-victory/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13645 New-Badger-Connections-Foto

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

For the second time, Badgers have won The Amazing Race. Food science graduate students Amy De Jong ’12, PhDx’17 (center) and Maya Warren PhDx’15 (right) came from behind to win the $1 million prize on the CBS reality show. (Host Phil Keoghan is on the left.) Competing as the “Sweet Scientists,” the pair followed in the footsteps of Dave and Rachel ’03 Brown, who won in 2012. “UW–Madison is a special place,” says Warren. “It gets ridiculously cold here, but people still tough it out and have a good time and make the most of every situation. And that’s [what] we were able to do on the race — just have a good time in spite of the obstacles that came our way.”

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Advocating for Your University http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/advocating-for-your-university/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/waanews/advocating-for-your-university/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13634 Alumni voices have played a role for more than 150 years.

When the university’s first graduates launched the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 1861, advocating for state support of the UW was their founding mission. That mission continues today as the association educates alumni about federal and state policies and how they affect the university’s funding.

During Wisconsin’s 2015–17 biennial state budget process, many alumni advocates are making their voices heard in support of UW-Madison as they engage in dialogue about the budget, which is expected to be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in July.

“The nearly 400,000 living alumni all over the world have a broad set of backgrounds, interests, and occupations, and they represent the full spectrum of political views,” says Paula Bonner MS’78, WAA president. “What they all share is passion for their UW education, and they value the role higher education plays in making our economy stronger, our world healthier, and our lives more fulfilling and enriched.”

As many classes of students have become alumni over the years, the budget picture has changed. In the last biennium, revenues from state government totaled $497 million of the $2.9 billion budget for the twenty-six campuses and statewide extension of the University of Wisconsin System. Over time, the amount of total dollars from the state has increased. But, as a percent of the total budget, state support has significantly declined — from 43 percent of total revenue in 1973 to just 17 percent today.

In this changing landscape, volunteer advocates know that it is essential to stay informed about the UW’s top priorities through connections with faculty and campus leaders, university websites, publications (including this magazine), and new sources, such as the chancellor’s blog, Blank’s Slate.

While alumni voices can make the difference at crucial times during the budget process, notes Mike Fahey ’89, WAA managing director of alumni advocacy, the Alumni for Wisconsin network of volunteers is active all year. Alumni for Wisconsin encourages Badgers to be ambassadors for the UW among friends and influencers. (See uwalumni.com/support/advocate.) “When alumni translate that passion to elected officials through grassroots advocacy, they help support a stronger UW-Madison for generations to come,” he says.

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Kim Kelleher ’93: Media Mogul http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/kim-kelleher-93-media-mogul/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/kim-kelleher-93-media-mogul/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13627 Kim-Kelleher-2013

Kim Kelleher’s latest move has landed her at Wired magazine, where she is VP-publisher. Photo courtesy of Kim Kelleher.

As a UW student in 1989, Kim Anderson Kelleher ’93 couldn’t have known just how much the world — and specifically, the World Wide Web, created that same year — was about to change. Or that she — a history major when research meant shuffling through sweetly musty stacks at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library before pecking out papers in the Memorial Library computer lab — would one day helm Wired, the revered digital and print media powerhouse that reaches 47 million people annually.

“I was one of those freshmen who actually didn’t know what they wanted to do, so once I found an incredible professor, I was absolutely hooked,” says Kelleher of the Russian and Irish history professors (David MacDonald and Jim Donnelly, respectively) who made an indelible impression. “They taught through stories and storytelling, and it’s funny, because it led into the career that I’ve had in a way I wouldn’t have anticipated. Because I feel like now I’m in a career where storytelling is a big part of my profession — storytelling of brands, storytelling of partnerships — and it really started with my love of storytelling in history.”

Kelleher was named VP-publisher of Wired magazine in September 2014, when parent company Condé Nast’s president Bob Sauerberg called her a “proven business leader” and a “true pioneer in this industry.” He’s referring to Kelleher’s striking trajectory since the Sister Bay, Wisconsin, native’s UW days, when she leaped straight into the New York City workforce after earning her bachelor’s degree. Her more than two-decade career in “storytelling” has included stints as VP-publisher of Self magazine, the first female publisher of Sports Illustrated, and global publisher of TIME magazine. She’s served as president of Say Media (the umbrella site for xoJane, ReadWrite, and a dozen or so other sites) and was named Ad Age Publisher of the Year in 2011. But it’s the move to Wired that has Kelleher feeling especially excited, particularly on a personal level.

“I’ve always loved Wired. I’m a longtime reader of the magazine, a longtime visitor to the site. I really appreciate the curiosity that Wired readers have of what could be lurking around the corner, what is coming up next,” says Kelleher. “Curiosity is either a personality trait that you have or you don’t, and I’ve always had it, since I was a little kid.”

That childhood spent in a tiny Door County town — in a house without cable TV and the closest movie theater forty-five minutes away (not to mention dial-up Internet and the limited reach of AOL keywords in her college years) — couldn’t possibly have prepared Kelleher for a high-speed, high-profile digital media career. But it imbued her with the Midwestern family values that she draws on today, not only as a wife and mother of two children under the age of ten, but as a woman in leadership.

“I think that leadership is often tied to intuition and decisiveness and kindness, and those are values that I hold dear,” says Kelleher. “I feel incredibly grateful for the teams of people that I’ve worked with over the years.”

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Philip Tedeschi ’84, MS’87: Animal Alliances http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/philip-tedeschi-84-ms87-animal-alliances/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/philip-tedeschi-84-ms87-animal-alliances/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13620 Phil-Tedeschi2

Philip Tedeschi and his lab, Samara, have a close bond. Photo: Terese Bergen.

Every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day for Philip Tedeschi ’84, MS’87. And you couldn’t find a better-tempered, sweeter-eyed dog than Samara, Tedeschi’s black lab — which is only to be expected from the poster dog of a cutting-edge, animal-assisted therapy program.

Tedeschi is the executive director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) at the University of Denver, which he co-founded in 2005. Housed within the university’s School of Social Work, the institute offers an animal-assisted social-work certificate to students in the master’s degree program, and distance learners can earn an animals-and-human-health certificate.

It all started at the UW. As a student in the veterinary program, Tedeschi moonlighted teaching horseback riding to adults with schizophrenia. The positive changes he saw in the riders left him fascinated with human-animal interactions. His advisers suggested that he leave the vet school to design his own major. Citing Aldo Leopold as a major influence, Tedeschi says he drew from psychology, educational psychology, social work, occupational therapy, physical and recreational therapies, and companion-animal and equine sciences to create his independent major. He stayed on at the UW and completed his master’s in social work in 1987.

While several veterinary schools have related programs, IHAC’s approach of looking at animal-human interactions through the lens of social science is very new, says Tedeschi, and the response has been overwhelming. Hundreds of the program’s graduates have specialized in animal-assisted therapy, and distance learners have represented every continent except Antarctica.

“Animals are now in human health-care environments across the whole human lifespan,” Tedeschi says. IHAC alumni use animal interventions to help many populations, including survivors of school shootings, children in forensic interviews, self-destructive people in prisons, children with autism, and seniors with depression. “[Our graduates] have opened clinics everywhere from Singapore to Latin America,” he adds.

IHAC is also interested in companion animals and their role in providing an “everyday form of mental health” for millions of people. “That really is a major part of the way people cope with everyday stressors,” he says. “They’re some of the most important relationships we have.”

The institute has formed many national and international alliances. Tedeschi was recently at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to set up internships with the Warrior Canine Connection project, which uses dogs to help service members with PTSD. Last year, the institute hosted its first international conference on the role of animals in trauma recovery. Tedeschi has advocated for biodiversity protection and animal welfare at the UN. He’s taken many students to East Africa, where he encourages them to examine the correlations among ivory poaching, deep poverty, and terrorism.

“I’ve been [at the institute] nearly twenty years,” Tedeschi says, “and this year will be the most exciting yet.”

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The Heart of Campus? http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/scene/the-heart-of-campus/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/scene/the-heart-of-campus/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13610 Rathskeller15_5303_18W

This much-loved table is in Der Rathskeller at the Memorial Union, January 8, 2015.

Photo by Jeff Miller

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Fine Four http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/sports/fine-four/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/sports/fine-four/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:14:09 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13572 Will the farewell tour for the Badgers’ seniors lead to Indianapolis?

When the clock runs out on the basketball court this season, the four seniors leading the UW men’s team will have played a role in some of its biggest games and solidified a winning tradition far beyond the wildest dreams of most Badger fans. Is one more Final Four in store for this quartet?


Duje Dukan

Duje Dukan

Height: 6’10”
Position: Forward
Hometown: Deerfield, Illinois

Fun fact: Born in Split, Croatia; his father played professional basketball in Europe and worked as an international scout for the Chicago Bulls, where he discovered Toni Kukoc.

Best UW memory: “Other than the Final Four, I’d say just being around friends on a daily basis and being part of a family.”


Traevon Jackson

Traevon Jackson

Height: 6’3”
Position: Guard
Hometown: Westerville, Ohio

Fun fact: His father, Jim, played college basketball at Ohio State, was the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, and played in the league for fourteen seasons.

Best UW memory: “Coming home from the Final Four and seeing the city of Madison welcoming us back. On the bus ride to the Kohl Center, seeing the whole town electric — that was pretty cool.”



Josh Gasser


Josh Gasser

Height: 6’4”
Position: Guard
Hometown: Port Washington, Wisconsin

Fun fact: Returned to the floor last year after a torn left ACL cost him the entire 2012–13 season, cementing his reputation as one of the toughest and most well-rounded players in the country and earning the “All-Glue” Team label from Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis.

Jackson on Gasser: “Josh is pretty plain and boring.”


Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky

Height: 7’0”
Position: Forward
Hometown: Lisle, Illinois

Fun fact: Grabbed attention for something other than his basketball skills in a viral video featuring the Taylor Swift song “Shake It Off.” Dukan sums it up: “Frank is an interesting dancer.”

Gasser on Kaminsky: “Frank is the biggest kid ever, and he gets really mad when he loses in video games.”

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