On Wisconsin http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Tue, 09 Dec 2014 00:23:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Bookshelf: Winter 2014 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/bookshelf/bookshelf-winter-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bookshelf-winter-2014 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/bookshelf/bookshelf-winter-2014/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13260 OnWisc_book_1k

Nickolas Butler ’02 of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, is having great success with his debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press): it’s become a national bestseller; Fox Searchlight has purchased the film rights; and People says that it “sparkles in every way. A love letter to the open, lonely American heartland… A must-read.” It’s the tale of four male friends who came of age together in a tiny Wisconsin farm town. Now in their thirties, they examine their lives’ diverse paths, with a focus on the character inspired in part by Butler’s high school friend Justin Vernon: the musician Bon Iver.


A century has now passed since World War I began. Mark Van Ells ’90, MA’92, PhD’99 asserts that the world has largely forgotten America’s role in the colossal struggle, and he aims to change that through America and WW I: A Traveler’s Guide (Interlink Books), dedicated to longtime UW history professor Edward Coffman. Van Ells shares the accounts of doughboys as they moved from U.S. training camps to the European front lines, traces the American experience, and takes readers to battlefields, memorials, and unmarked sites. Van Ells is a travel writer and a professor of history at Queensborough Community College of CUNY in Bayside, New York.


Kenneth Vogel ’97’s years covering the intersection of money, politics, and influence as a Politico reporter in Washington, DC, have given him plenty of fodder for his “rollicking tour of a new political world dramatically reordered by ever-larger flows of cash.” His book is Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp — on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics (PublicAffairs). Vogel has won numerous journalism awards and analyzes politics on national television and radio.


Madisonian Stephen Laubach MS’00, PhD’13 has devoted his new novel, Living a Land Ethic: A History of Cooperative Conservation on the Leopold Memorial Reserve (University of Wisconsin Press), to the history of the 1,600-acre reserve surrounding the revered naturalist Aldo Leopold’s famous “shack” and to its stewards. The shack — a laboratory of sorts — was where Leopold found the inspiration to write his iconic A Sand County Almanac. Laubach also unearthed rare footage of Leopold fly-fishing, available at stephenlaubach.com/living-a-land-ethic. He works for the UW Arboretum’s Earth Partnership program.

frank lloyd wright and his manner of thoughtAs an authority on twentieth-century literature, thought, and culture, Jerome Klinkowitz PhD’70 has examined the writings of Frank Lloyd Wright x1890 to link “his organic architecture with literary (as opposed to architectural) postmodernism.” In Frank Lloyd Wright and His Manner of Thought (University of Wisconsin Press), Klinkowitz contends that it’s Wright’s importance in cultural history — his concepts for living that transcend architecture — that makes him the object of such fervent interest. Klinkowitz is a University Distinguished Scholar and professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

trauma recovery handbookIt’s inevitable that we will all undergo some form of trauma, whether mild or severe, during our lifetimes. Psychologist and trauma expert Debra Weinberg Tasci ’79, MS’81 of Golden, Colorado, has co-authored the Trauma Recovery Handbook: A Recovery Guide for Yourself, Your Colleagues & Those You Love, Second Edition (self-published) to identify the symptoms of damage from a range of traumatic experiences and to provide insightful, direct advice that can help the sufferer begin to heal. Tasci has been on staff with Nicoletti-Flater Associates since 1996.

video revolutionsVideo — the name we now give to all kinds of moving images — is the subject of UW-Milwaukee associate professor Michael Newman MA’00, PhD’05’s new work, Video Revolutions: On the History of a Medium (Columbia University Press). In it, he explores the shifting roles, legitimacy, and value of video in culture, society, and moving-image-media industries as an artistic medium, high-tech gadget, format for entertainment, force for democracy, and documenter of reality — especially in relation to film and television.

up the amazon, down the andesAllowing himself three months and $500 per week, Ben Ballweg MPH’ll backpacked through nine South American countries and Antarctica. Up the Amazon, Down the Andes (CreateSpace) is his chronicle of that adventure, in which he also profiles one person whom he met in each South American country. During the summer of 2014, Ballweg promoted the book at Hostelling International network hostels by biking up the California coast, returning to Wisconsin, and then traveling around the East Coast. Next stop? He’s planning a year in Haiti starting this winter.

building a better manBuilding a Better Man: A Blueprint for Decreasing Violence and Increasing Prosocial Behavior in Men (Routledge) presents a practical, science-based discussion of masculinity in modern America, but it also blends a diverse group of compelling personal stories with an exploration of the external forces that affect the socialization of boys and men. Co-author William Seymour III MS’97, PhD’99, a psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and an assistant clinical professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, notes that the work’s approach allows men to feel less judged and more understood, which can set treatment on a more productive path.

the united nations' top jobWhen you hear about the UN’s secretary-general, do you ever wonder what the post entails? With limited legal power, the work of this key global leader and mediator becomes a delicate balancing act — one that Lucia Mouat ’58 examines in The United Nations’ Top Job: A Close Look at the Work of Eight Secretaries-General (CreateSpace). She also studies the varied ways in which the first eight secretaries-general have applied their own special skills in pursuit of a more peaceful world. Now a freelance writer in Chicago, Mouat is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a longtime Christian Science Monitor correspondent and editorial writer who covered the UN as her final assignment.

four books by j.j. bhattJack (Jagdish) Bhatt MS’63 concluded his professorial career in 2011 and is now retired in Wesley Chapel, Florida. He taught geology and marine and environmental sciences in Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, Rhode Island, Florida, and Wales. “The interesting part of this story,” he writes, “is that my professors at the UW had doubted my potentiality. But, I never lost self-confidence, as I believed in my ability to succeed, no matter what the odds. In retrospect, I am truly thankful to all those erudite mentors at the UW for challenging me to do better in life.” Bhatt’s recent works are Human Endeavor: Essence & Mission (CreateSpace); Rolling Spirits: Being Becoming (CreateSpace); a new edition of Odyssey of the Damned: Revolving Destiny (Celecom); and Parishram: Journey of the Human Spirit (CreateSpace).

finding helenBrooke Bulovsky Cameron ’63 and Janice Levenick Collins ’52 never knew their Aunt Helen personally, but they’ve honored her in Finding Helen: The Letters, Photographs and Diary of a WWI Battlefield Nurse (Mizzoustore.com). Helen Bulovsky graduated from the Madison [Wisconsin] General Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1917, joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, and documented her war experiences behind the front lines of battle in Belgium and France. The co-author cousins based their work on materials found in separate family households and wrote it by email and whenever they could meet in person. Cameron is a professor emerita of art at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and Collins is a retired medical technologist in Milwaukee.

field guide to wisconsin streamsexploring wisconsin trout streamsIf you want to get knee deep in Wisconsin waters, two new books published by the University of Wisconsin Press should offer great guidance. The second edition of Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams: The Angler’s Guide is co-authored by Steve Born MS’68, PhD’70 and Bill Sonzogni MS’69, PhD74, with a foreword by Gary Borger PhD’71. According to Midwest Fly Fishing, “There is no need for anyone to even attempt to come up with a better, more complete introduction to Wisconsin trout fishing” — and it’s hard to argue with that. Field Guide to Wisconsin Streams: Plants, Fishes, Invertebrates, Amphibians, and Reptiles is lauded as the “ultimate companion” for learning about the flora and fauna inhabitants of the Badger State’s eighty-four thousand miles of streams — and you may thank co-authors Michael Miller ’85, Ron Dolen MS’09, and Katie Songer MS’09.

modern hebrewIn Modern Hebrew: The Past and Future of a Revitalized Language (McFarland), Norman Berdichevsky MS’71, PhD’74 follows the evolution of the language, examines its social and political aspects, and explores its mechanics, how it overcame obstacles to become a spoken vernacular, how it can serve as a model for other national revivals, and the dilemmas it faces as Israelis, Israeli Arabs, and Jews of the Diaspora speak it differently. Berdichevsky, of Orlando, Florida, is a former lecturer on Judaic studies at the University of Central Florida and is now a translator, freelance writer, and lecturer on history and culture for several cruise lines.

landscape with yellow birdsriver of inkThomas Christensen ’71, MA’72 and his wife, Carol Novshek Christensen ’72, met in a UW geology class, taught English in Guatemala, and together translated Like Water for Chocolate. Thomas was later the director and editor-in-chief of the publishing company Mercury House, and he’s currently the director of publications at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. His most recent book — a translation of selected poems by Spanish postwar poet José Ángel Valente — is Landscape with Yellow Birds (Archipelago Books), from which he read at the Library of Congress and for which he embarked on a book tour sponsored by the Spanish embassy. He also has a new book of essays — River of Ink: Literature, History, Art — coming soon from Counterpoint Press.

narrating social work through autoethnographyAutoethnography is an innovative approach to inquiry that falls between science and literature, blending researcher and subject roles, and using analytical strategies to explore the social and cultural contexts of meaningful life experiences and their personal implications. It’s the approach that editor Stanley Witkin MS’74, PhD’76 has sought for Narrating Social Work through Autoethnography (Columbia University Press), an essay collection that covers international adoption, cross-dressing, divorce, cultural competence, grave illness, transformative change, and more. Witkin is a professor of social work at the University of Vermont in Burlington and president of the Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work.

Broadway aficionados, this one’s for you! Tighe Zimmers MD’75 has authored Lyrical Satirical Harold Rome: A Biography of the Broadway Composer-Lyricist (McFarland), about the man whose biggest hits, running from 1937 until 1965, included Call Me Mister, Wish You Were Here, Fanny, Destry Rides Again, I Can Get It for You Wholesale, and The Zulu and the Zayda. Rome was politically active; his songs contributed to the home-front efforts during WWII, both as a civilian and as an army corporal; and he was an esteemed painter and collector of African art. Author Zimmers is a Chicago physician whose previous writings include numerous articles on emergency medicine.

consider the nightWhen a man returns from the Vietnam War, he seeks the happiness that he believes is his right in Paul Maurer ’83’s Consider the Night (Lulu). But the horrific memories of war and a present life of disillusionment transform him into a loner who must face evil, a return from his past, and an unexpected arrival in order to grasp at a new life and his last chance for absolution. Maurer lives in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where he’s also published the young-adult novel Touched, short stories, song lyrics, and other works.

wild rice gooseAfter you’ve hunted, fished, foraged, or purchased something wild to eat, you have to know how to cook it. That’s where John Pallitto Motoviloff MA’92’s new Wild Rice Goose and Other Dishes of the Upper Midwest (University of Wisconsin Press) comes in: its clear, tested recipes reflect the region’s ethnic riches and revive overlooked dishes that were popular in the past, and its lyrical prose is like good gravy over the top. Motoviloff is a skilled hunter, fisher, and forager who’s in the field more than one hundred days a year and shares his expertise through wildfoods-cooking workshops. He splits his time between Madison and a cabin in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley.

Many American cities are experimenting with school choice, a controversial idea that’s dramatically reshaping public education. Educator, education activist, and organizational change consultant Sam Chaltain ’93 believes that before we can answer the questions swirling around the issue, we must put a human face on it. In Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice (Teachers College Press), he chronicles a year in the life of one new charter school and one older neighborhood school in his home city of Washington, D.C., and blends the observations and emotions of those whose lives intersect there.

black performance theory“Black performance theory helps us decipher the imperatives of blackness,” begins the foreword to Black Performance Theory (Duke University Press). Co-edited by Anita Gonzalez PhD’97, the work offers new essays by some of the pioneering thinkers and performers in the field, who examine choreography, plays, music, writing, and dance. Gonzalez is a professor of theater at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

lessons from a CEO's journalA fictional retired entrepreneur/CEO shares insights — over the course of an imagined Caribbean cruise — on how business leaders can land top talent and capitalize on it in Kim Ruyle EMBA’97’s entertaining Lessons from a CEO’s Journal: Leading Talent and Innovation (Inventive Talent Consulting). Ruyle is the president of Inventive Talent Consulting in Coral Gables, Florida; an associate in Korn Ferry’s Global Associate Network; and the co-author of four other books on talent management.

the murder of joe whiteIn 1894, two Wisconsin game wardens were dispatched to arrest Joe White, an Ojibwe chief, for hunting deer out of season and off reservation. They eventually beat White and shot him in the back as he attempted to flee, fatally wounding him. The wardens were charged with manslaughter in a county court and tried by an all-white jury. Erik Redix ’00’s historical study The Murder of Joe White: Ojibwe Leadership and Colonialism in Wisconsin (Michigan State University Press) contextualizes this event within the decades of struggle of White’s community at Rice Lake to resist removal to the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. The author, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, is an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

The first rhetorical biography of an inspirational activist who was known for her electrifying speeches is A Voice That Could Stir an Army: Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rhetoric of the Black Freedom Movement (University Press of Mississippi), by Maegan Parker Brooks MA’05, PhD’09 of Denver. Using symbols — images, words, and even physical objects — to effect social change, Hamer rose to prominence at the 1964 Democratic National Convention and throughout the 1960s black freedom movement. Brooks is also a lead researcher on a forthcoming documentary about Hamer.

nationalism and youth in theatre and performanceA new collection of essays co-edited by Victoria Pettersen Lantz MA’05, PhD’10 opines that children around the world — though often seen as excluded from public discourse and political action — do actually engage with politics and nationalism through theater, performance, parades, and protests. Nationalism and Youth in Theatre and Performance (Routledge) includes contributions by Erika Hughes MA’03, PhD’09; Joohee Park PhD’10; and UW theater professor Manon van de Water. Lantz is an assistant professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

innovation step-by-stepMadisonian Darin Eich PhD’07 seeks to “demystify innovation in seven simple steps” in Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for Your Challenge (CreateSpace), offering simple systems, practical tools, and skill-development exercises to help readers thrive in a quickly changing world. Eich is a professional speaker, a product and service creator, the founder of InnovationLearning.org, and the author of Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs.

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Union South Bowling http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/traditions/union-south-bowling/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=union-south-bowling http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/traditions/union-south-bowling/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13234 Union_South_bowling14_9066

Photo by Jeff Miller.

When winter wraps its icy fingers around Madison, Badgers need a place to burrow — and have fun.

Deep inside Union South, they lace up their bowling shoes and hope for strikes (or at least spares). In a recent one-year period, bowlers of all abilities played 58,520 games on the building’s gleaming lanes.

Wisconsin is what you could safely call a bowling state. High schools have teams, which is where many Badgers sharpen their skills before coming to Madison. And the UW has a team. Representing one of thirteen schools that make up the Wisconsin Collegiate Bowling Conference, it takes over the student union’s eight lanes to practice on Monday nights.

Even with frigid temperatures outside, some wear shorts with their bowling shoes. There is high-fiving and trash-talking. Distinct bowling styles are on display. A few team members stick out their weak side legs, flamingo-like, as they release their balls, bending their knees back behind them. For some bowlers, the ball makes a guttural thud as it hits the lane. For others, it just barely kisses the surface before smoothly rolling toward the ten pins and knocking them down with a crash.

There used to be other places to bowl on campus. In 1910, four lanes opened in Lathrop Hall, designed to give female students some space to engage in physical activity. The lanes remained until the building underwent a major restoration in the 1990s. Memorial Union added six bowling lanes during a 1939 remodeling project, but those were closed in 1970. The old Union South opened that same year with eight lanes — enough to accommodate the bowling team.

In many ways, bowling is a throwback, a connection to an era when people gathered without the distractions of cell phones and text messages. It brings back fond memories for those who perched on barstools and munched on french fries during their parents’ Friday night leagues.

Whether a final score is 200 or somewhere south of 80, it’s fun. And the best part? It’s cheap. You can rent shoes and bowl a couple of games on a Saturday night for about $10.

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And Now We Play Short-Handed http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/flashback/and-now-we-play-short-handed/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=and-now-we-play-short-handed http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/flashback/and-now-we-play-short-handed/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13225 Flashback-11068R

Bob Suter. UW–Madison Archives, 11068-R.

The UW athletics community lost a tenacious teammate when Robert “Bob” Suter ’79 died in early September at age fifty-seven.

Suter, a Madison native, played for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team from 1975 to 1979. He was part of the 1977 NCAA championship team and earned a reputation as a tough defenseman who was highly protective of his fellow Badgers. His teammates nicknamed him “Woody,” because Suter just kept popping back up after hard hits, like a wooden duck that won’t sink in a pond.

In 1980, Suter was selected for the Olympic team. Three months before the games in Lake Placid, New York, he broke his ankle in a game against Canada. But Woody managed to pop up once more, playing in all seven Olympic games, including the “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union. Team USA went on to win the gold medal against Finland.

Back home, Suter bounced around the professional hockey scene, but he ultimately retired in 1982, becoming a hockey scout and opening a sporting goods store in Madison. Son Ryan x’04 followed in the senior Suter’s skates, playing for the UW and earning a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He is now a defenseman for the Minnesota Wild.

Suter was also part owner and director of Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wisconsin, where he served as a coach and advocate for youth-hockey programs. He suffered a fatal heart attack while working at the arena.

“It’s a sad day, for not only the community of Madison, but for the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder,” says Mark Johnson ’80, head coach of the UW women’s hockey team, who was Suter’s teammate at Wisconsin and at the 1980 Olympics.

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West wing, Memorial Union http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/scene/west-wing-memorial-union/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=west-wing-memorial-union http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/scene/west-wing-memorial-union/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13212 BANDALOOP_dance14_2449_19L_1k

Bandaloop Aerial Dancers boogie their way down the wall during a dress rehearsal for the reopening of the Wisconsin Union Theater. 6:15 p.m., September 11, 2014.

Photo by Jeff Miller

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Malala’s Story http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/malalas-story/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=malalas-story http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/malalas-story/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13201 GoBigRead_distribution14_1798

Photo: Bryce Richter

This year’s book program says go read — and then go do.

Malala Yousafzai became a household name for defying the Taliban and campaigning for girls in Pakistan to have the right to an education. Now readers across the campus and beyond are discovering the inspiration behind her mission and the rich and complicated history of her home country.

Her book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is this year’s pick for Go Big Read, the university’s common-reading program.

“Malala’s story is about the value of doing something — anything, even when it’s scary and even when you’re not sure it’s the exact right solution — rather than sitting around feeling hopeless,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the more than five thousand students who attended convocation at the start of fall semester. “And it’s about the power each one of us holds to make good things happen for ourselves and for those around us.”

The seventeen-year-old Pakistani activist won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize and was recently named by TIME as one of the one hundred most influential people in the world. She and her family now live in England, where she continues to go to school.

In October, Shiza Shahid, the CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund, spoke on campus and met with groups of students. She grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan, three hours from the Swat Valley where Yousafzai lived. At age eighteen, Shahid left Pakistan to attend Stanford University on a scholarship, but she continued to follow developments in her home country, especially the issues facing its girls and women. In 2009, she organized a summer camp in Islamabad for Yousafzai and about two dozen other girls with the goal of helping them advocate for their right to attend school.

The two were reunited three years later after Yousafzai was shot and transported to Great Britain for treatment. Since then, Shahid and Yousafzai have teamed up to help the more than sixty million adolescent girls worldwide who are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal, and political factors.

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Splash Mob http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/splash-mob/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=splash-mob http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/splash-mob/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13193 Citizen scientists provide clarity for lake researchers’ big questions.

A massive new study of water clarity trends in midwestern lakes is sure to make some waves in scientific circles.

The study involved nearly a quarter of a million observations in 3,251 lakes spread across eight states, and data dating back seven decades. But it’s where that data came from that’s truly noteworthy. Each and every observation came from lakefront homeowners, boaters, anglers, or other interested members of the public wanting to know a little more about what’s going on in “their” lake.

More and more, ecologists are looking at big picture issues, says Noah Lottig, a co-author of the study. Lottig, a scientist at the UW Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Station, says there aren’t enough scientists in the world to collect data for these projects, but, thanks to citizen- scientists, “there’s a lot of information out there and, really, citizen data have been underutilized.”

In an attempt to start capitalizing on citizen-generated data, Lottig and a team of freshwater scientists from across the U.S. combed through state agency records and online databases full of water-clarity measurements. Over decades, lake associations and other citizen groups have documented conditions on their respective waters.

Previous studies have shown that citizen readings of water clarity are nearly as accurate as professional scientists’ measurements, says Lottig. With a dataset covering more than three thousand lakes and stretching back to the late 1930s, his team decided to ask questions about large-scale and long-term change.

The authors found that, on an individual scale, some lakes were getting clearer while others were not. However, says Lottig, combining all that data indicates that there is a slightly increasing trend in water clarity at a regional scale. “Unfortunately,” he says, “the data don’t exist to explain those patterns.”

Though the citizen-scientist dataset limited his team’s ability to explain the patterns they observed, Lottig says it suggests that such information can play a role in shaping future research — a possibility that has some scientific organizations taking notice.

“This study highlights the research opportunities that are possible using data collected by citizens engaged in making important environmental measurements,” says Elizabeth Blood, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Biological Sciences, which funded the work. “Their efforts provide scientists with data at space and time scales not available by any other means.”

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The Cost(s) of College http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/insidestory/the-costs-of-college/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-costs-of-college http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/insidestory/the-costs-of-college/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:29 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13075 iOweUhighRes_inside_800

Alex Nabaum

Chances are good that you attended college.

After all, this is an alumni magazine. But readers of On Wisconsin span the decades, so the memories of how you paid for college — and how much you paid for college — no doubt vary widely.

Despite these sundry recollections of the bottom line (and whether or not ramen noodles were part of the equation), these days two things are certain: the cost of college has been climbing, and college involves finances, a subject many students are ill-equipped to handle.

Whether families are chatting about college applications at the dinner table or President Obama is talking about student loan debt from the East Room of the White House, these topics have become part of a national conversation. That level of interest motivated us to research and write about college as a value proposition.

One of our stories looks at many facets of tuition, including who sets it, what it does and doesn’t cover, and why it’s viewed as worth the investment. A second story explores how much students know about taking on debt, whose responsibility it is to pay when the tuition bill comes due, and how that expectation, some believe, can change the composition of a school’s student body. And a third story describes a bold direction to ensure that humanities degrees show their value in a world immersed in technology.

A recent national survey of undergraduates and their parents conducted by Sallie Mae and Ipsos found that “98 percent of families agree that college is a worthwhile investment and more than eight in ten families indicate they are willing to stretch themselves financially to obtain the opportunities afforded by higher education.”

The UW’s financial aid experts make one point absolutely clear: no matter who is footing the bill, when it comes to talking about college, the earlier, the better. They advise making this national conversation a personal conversation.

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At Loggerheads http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/at-loggerheads/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=at-loggerheads http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/news_notes/at-loggerheads/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:16 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13187 RadioTurtle

Photo: Jim Abernethy

Where do all the baby turtles go? According to research aided by UW zoologist Warren Porter, they spend most of their time on weed — seaweed. Specifically, baby loggerhead turtles float for years on mats of sargassum as they cross the Atlantic Ocean from their birthplace on Florida’s coast to their reappearance as juveniles near the Canary Islands. Porter and colleagues at the University of Central Florida attached satellite transmitters to seventeen baby loggerheads and tracked their movements. They theorize several reasons why the turtles hide out in seaweed: sargassum seems to provide concealment to the vulnerable reptiles, as well as food and warmth.

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Mark Riccobono ’99: Pioneer for the Blind http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/mark-riccobono-99-pioneer-for-the-blind/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mark-riccobono-99-pioneer-for-the-blind http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/mark-riccobono-99-pioneer-for-the-blind/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:15 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13274 MarkRiccobono

Mark Riccobono, center, works with two students in one of the National Federation of the Blind’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. Courtesy of National Federation of the Blind.

When Mark Riccobono ’99 slid into the driver’s seat at Daytona International Speedway in 2011, he was fulfilling the childhood dream of many people — with one astonishing distinction: Riccobono is legally blind.

“We endeavored to build a car that a blind person could drive,” says Riccobono, who spearheaded the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Blind Driver Challenge® initiative by finding a university to build nonvisual technology that purposely left room for independent thought and driver error. In other words, this was no autopilot Google Car. “I was selected to represent [NFB] to demonstrate that blind people, if given the right information, could do something that most people believe is impossible,” he says.

Just three years later, in July 2014, Riccobono was elected president of NFB, which he describes as “the oldest, largest grassroots, most dynamic organization of blind people in the world.” Riccobono has also served as founder and president of the Wisconsin Association of Blind Students at UW–Madison, president of the Wisconsin chapter of NFB, and executive director of the Maryland-based Jernigan Institute, the first and only institute for blindness run by the blind. For Riccobono, who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition that left him legally blind at five years old, his UW–Madison experience served as an awakening.

“I started to really understand that I had internalized society’s low expectations for blind people and that I was sort of following the path you were supposed to follow, rather than pursuing what my dreams were, because I didn’t know that I could pursue my dreams,” says Riccobono, who received WAA’s Forward under 40 Award in 2011. “So I got students together at the university; we created a student association; and we started sharing our tools and techniques. We started working together to advocate for better services.”

Back then as today, those advocacy goals include harnessing new technology to increase access (such as a goal to make the newly scanned UW library collection equally accessible to the blind); advocating for policy change (a loophole in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act makes it legal to deny minimum wage to those with disabilities even today); and challenging the public’s perception of blind people, which is generally sympathetic but skewed, breathtakingly limited, and unintentionally dismissive of the potential contributions that an entire segment of the population could offer.

“The University of Wisconsin is a tremendously diverse place. I think when you can open yourself to that environment, it gives you a perspective about the tremendous human resource we have in this world and the value that comes out of our diverse perspectives and sharing with each other,” says Riccobono, who knows he’s now in a stronger position than ever to effect critical change. “One way to look at it is, blind people have more opportunities and access than ever before. But there’s still a lot of progress needed to truly have the type of lives that we want, to have the equality in society where we are respected and seen as people who have capacity.”

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Lisa Nett ’97: Arbor Day All The Time http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/lisa-nett-97-arbor-day-all-the-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lisa-nett-97-arbor-day-all-the-time http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/departments/alumni-close-ups/lisa-nett-97-arbor-day-all-the-time/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:41:15 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=13269 LisaNett1

In Brooklyn, New York, Lisa Nett helps urban residents appreciate the trees that many take for granted. Photo: Bud Glick

For Lisa Nett ’97, a tree doesn’t just grow in Brooklyn — it also merits an appreciative look and a flash of recognition. That’s why she’s taught tree identification since 2011 with the Brooklyn Brainery, a grass roots organization that offers classes on a variety of topics.

On a summer Saturday, Nett asks her students to form a circle under a flowering linden on a Brooklyn side street and name their favorite tree.

“Sweet gum,” says one pupil. “Fig — and I can’t get enough of the ones from my mother-in-law’s tree,” says another. “Spruce,” avers a man from Maine — the home of Moxie cola, which is flavored by gentian root, notes Nett. Many are uncertain of their favorites, perhaps growing up in urban environments where nature was not a focal point. And that’s fine, says Nett: “The point is being curious and starting to look, doing some observation.”

We tap into our surroundings with trees, says Nett, who has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources. “We’re all caught up in the hustle-bustle, but we walk by trees all the time. Maybe you don’t have time to smell the roses, but you have time to slow down and look at the trees. The shape, the smell — there are almost endless possibilities for making that connection.”

Nett still recalls the University of Wisconsin tree that swayed her interest: a deciduous conifer called a tamarack in the UW Arboretum. The tree turns golden in the fall and is the only conifer in North America to lose its needles in the winter. Although she grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, Nett hadn’t seen tamaracks before she took a botany class with professor Michael Adams.

“I realized [in that class] that you could enjoy a tree simply because it’s beautiful — you don’t even have to go into the science to know that,” she says. “That said, any interest in science and nature often starts with that — an interest in the beautiful.”

Studying natural resources took Nett to a biology field station in Germany for a science research internship. Later, while teaching English in China, she learned about cities. Beijing’s massive size prompted her to try living in New York City. And, wandering around Munich showed her “how planful and thoughtful Germans are in organizing their urban spaces — making parks and creating spaces of respite in the city.”

In a megacity, Nett has found such respites to be very necessary. “I find that the students I teach are, yes, interested in trees. But they’re also just hungry for connections with nature.”

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