Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Building an important space

Professor Charlie Huenemann reading outside his
 Philosopher's Hut.
It probably isn't always true, but sometimes the shape of your workplace mirrors the shape and order of your mind. This makes sense. For the mind is in constant interaction with its environment. Mind raises a question, or is seized by a problem, and Eyes, Feet, Mouth, and Hands take their orders and spring into action.

Over time, pencils or computers or special books come to be arranged within reach, spaces are cleared for work, and the piles on desks begin to conform to your own mental categories. In a short while, your office becomes a portrait of your mind. Others might find it messy, but that's only because their minds follow a different organizational pattern. Indeed, some philosophers have gone so far as to write of "the extended mind," enlarging the domain of the mind to include laptops, chalkboards, cell phones, or anything that is just as readily employed in your intelligent actions as any lobe of your brain.

So when we sold our 1959 Airstream, I knew we would be building a Philosopher's Hut. It was into the Airstream that I would retreat precisely so that my extended mind would be cut off from some of its more distracting organs. In the Airstream I had a notebook, a pen, a pipe, and a troublesome book. That was it. Some might call it a monk's cell or a hermitage or an ashram, but in fact it was for me a portal through which I could escape the ring tones and shadow games of Plato's Cave and feel, for a little while, that I was part of a larger project: namely, that of crafting meaning out of an enduring human experience. (That probably also explains why I made the career choice I did.) Entering it was a way of changing my mind, in the sense of tuning it to a channel that runs deep.

That wasn't the only function of the Airstream. It also was a place for guys to congregate and smoke cigars and drink whisky and tell dirty jokes. This too was an occasion to enter into a different universe of thought, if you'll forgive me for over-thinking this a bit. When guys congregate in such circumstances, they tend to probe at the meaning of life, though of course the topic never comes up explicit discussion. (These are guys, after all.) They enter into a special environment, losing themselves in things that are roundly forbidden in this day and age, and they emerge in a condition dimly similar to that of an initiate into the rites at Eleusis. Well, okay: it's really not that big of a deal. Lives and rebirths tend to be smaller and more sensible these days.

I hired my friend Joe to build the Hut, and he patiently taught my son Ben and me to measure twice, cut once, and hammer straight. It was gratifying to see his enthusiasm for the project grow as he learned it was not to be a shed, nor a playhouse, but a Philosopher's Hut. He grasped the significance immediately. This was to be a place where Important Things would be Thought, though to all the world it would look just like a Guy in a Shed with a Book.

Soon after the last nail was driven I began to move in a desk, chalkboard, shelf, and my collection of 28 rotary dials. (Don't ask; nobody understands it.) As I settled in, the furniture gradually shifted into different places, and diagrams appeared on the chalkboard, until I felt I was in the right place. And now, as with the old Airstream, I can enter into it and rapidly lose parts of my mind, if you know what I mean.

No doubt some thinkers are less fragile. They can direct their attention wherever they want, whenever they want, and they don't need any kind of shed to do it. Bless them. For the rest of us, I recommend listening closely to those feelings you might have that vaguely suggest you need to be in a slightly different environment; that you need a rocking chair, or a standing desk; that, for some unknown reason, you would think more clearly if you had a yo-yo in your hand. The brain is an organic organ, and the mind is no less organic, and it's good to provide it with the right environment for its own pattern of growth. You never know what you might find in your Hut - an idea, a purpose, a meaning. Bon voyage.

- Charlie Huenemann
 USU professor of philosophy, associate dean of CHaSS

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Memoir Can Save Us

Jennifer Sinor, associate professor of English, is
the author of The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary
 Her essays have appeared in the The
Norton Reader.
Last summer, I taught a five-day workshop on writing memoir, five days immersed in writing and the past. Of the students in the class, I remember Donna most clearly. A non-traditional student in her sixties, from a rural town in Wyoming, Donna didn’t look like the other students in my class. She didn’t share their subject knowledge, their demographic, or their tastes in music, but she took a seat, opened her book, and signaled her readiness to begin.

Donna spent most of those five days with her brow wrinkled and her hand raised. Her training as an elementary school teacher meant that much of the language we used in class was foreign to her: through lines, assonance, set pieces, extended metaphor.  She was good about stopping us in our discussions, good about saying when she was lost. But I could see the frustration building and was reminded once again of how language engenders intimacy as well as outsiderness.

Donna was not a strong writer. She struggled at the level of the sentence, had trouble getting her ideas onto the page. During breaks in class, I worked with her, showed her how to take details from her past and turn them into scenes. We talked about plot and story, setting and tone, semi-colons and fragments. Then she tried again, the result better but still halting.

On the third day, Donna knocked on my office door during lunch and asked to talk. We had spent the morning discussing the importance of deeper subject in memoir, how it’s the memoirist’s job not to relate what happened but to make something of what happened. Donna handed me her paper.

“I just have this car accident,” she said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

By then, I knew the story Donna was trying to tell about a car accident on a road in rural Idaho. She only mentioned her father once in the essay, when she considered calling him, but he lurked in what she wrote.

“I really think it’s about your father, Donna” I said, looking up to meet her eyes. “I feel his presence underneath each of your sentences.”

Donna pushed her glasses back up the bridge of her nose and shook her head. “I loved my father,” she said.

“I’m not saying you didn’t love him, Donna. I’m saying that you are trying to write about him here and need to acknowledge that.”

She stared at me and then out the window. I wasn’t sure, but I thought her lips were trembling.

“Donna,” I said, “he haunts this accident. He is everywhere and nowhere at once.” I paused and then added, “Did you fear him?”

I tried to be gentle in my tone, not wanting to imply that I understood her better than she understood herself. But in ten years I have seen a lot of student writing and have a sharpened sense for what is at stake in a piece, often when the writer herself doesn’t know it. I trusted that instinct as I pushed.

“No,” she said, but the tears were falling. For a second I wondered if the days of feeling out of place were finally taking a toll on Donna. Maybe it had been too much. I handed her a Kleenex and waited, expecting her to tell me she was dropping the class.

Instead, she cried harder, her head bent in suffering, the papers in her hand shaking with each sob. Between breaths she told me about a father who was kind to her but who beat her brothers and sisters. A father who praised her and spared her, while taking his anger out on the flesh of her siblings. She told me a story about forgetting to put the lid back on the gas tank and losing all the gas, expecting finally to feel her father’s wrath on her legs, her chest, her cheek, and then her confusion when he hit her brother instead, again and again with his backhand, red welts that grew so numerous on her brother’s legs she could not tell where one strike ended and another began.

“Why,” she sobbed, “why didn’t he hit me? Why them? Why always them?’”

I didn’t have answers for Donna. I just sat with her grief. “That’s your story, Donna,” I said finally. “That’s the question you are pursuing on the page. What does it mean that you remained untouched?”

Donna left my office armed with a framework for her memoir. I would be lying if I said her prose dramatically improved. It didn’t. She still had a ways to travel.  But I can say that on that day we identified a theme, the pain of a survivor’s guilt, that had shaped Donna’s life, and that such clarity will not only improve her writing, it will broaden her humanity.    

My students will tell you that at the end of my creative nonfiction courses, in particular the ones that have focused most heavily on memoir and personal essay, I often say that the world would be a better place if we all learned to write memoir. By that point in the semester, they know I don't mean that attention to language at the level of diction, syntax, and image would make the writing we produce more beautiful and pleasurable, though it would.

And they know I don't mean that if we all learned to pursue a subject to the point of complication, to think in shades of gray rather than black and white, we would be closer to meaningful truths about the world, though we would. They know, instead, when I walk around and meet their eyes, bound as I am to them by the stories they have shared, the metaphors they have chosen, and the way their minds work, that I am describing the work a memoirist undertakes to excavate the self. She does this work not out of narcissism, but, as Cheryl Strayed writes, because such work “illuminate[s] the human condition.”

Memoir can save us, I believe, because it demands that the writer find the deeper subject, the themes thrumming underneath the past, and articulate why a story matters. No longer a tale about your parents' divorce when you were twelve, it becomes an examination of loss, or grief, or alienation. It becomes, to paraphrase another memoirist, Scott Russell Sanders, a door through which others might pass. When we claim our own humanity, our complicity and our pain, we learn to bear the stories of others with more grace. To write memoir, then, is to take responsibility for the past and the future and to realize that we are bound to one another by the stories that we share.

                            - Jennifer Sinor, associate professor of English and chair of the Creative Writing Program

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Field Practicum in Social Work: Transformation and Empowerment through Experiential Learning

As a faculty member at USU, one of the exciting parts of my career has been mentoring students to become my colleagues in the profession of social work. I have supervised students in the field for the past 21 years. The field practicum (internships) in social work represents the culmination of undergraduate and graduate social work education. The practicum internship is the most significant, most productive, and most memorable component of social work education. This opportunity allows students to integrate and apply the fundamentals of the profession in real world settings under professional social work supervision. It forms the basis for the transition from the student to professional practitioner role and is a critical component of their training.

In addition to supervision in the field, I also conduct a weekly integrative seminar with student interns. The essence of this seminar is to facilitate the process of Alearning through doing. There are three kinds of learning that students accomplish: (1) learning to know, where mastery of knowledge is applied, (2) learning to understand, where you confront directly the reality of working in an agency and use of self, and (3) learning to do, where performance in the field is directed toward professional intervention. There are three phases in the practicum that facilitate the process of Alearning through doing. The first phase focuses on orientation and exploration, the second phase is about integration, and the third phase deals with endings. My role as a teacher and supervisor is facilitating student success in each one of these phases.

The new beginnings phase of orientation and exploration focuses on how students take responsibility, builds relationships, and assumes an active stance. In this phase I have students explore several questions: (1) how can I get what I want out of this experience? (2) What am I passionate about? (3) What are the expectations of the agency? And (4) how can I perform at the level expected of a professional in this agency? Each of these questions is centered on assuming responsibility for learning. Building relationships is another important part that I emphasize in professional development of students.

As the Practicum Director, I work in conjunction with the agency Practicum Instructor to ensure a student’s professional development through supervision and coordination of their learning. These support systems can help students to assess their goals and expectations and develop specific strategies for realistic responses associated with anxiety and unexpected emotions related to the demands of building relationships with clients and coworkers. Finally, I expect students to assume an active stance in their internship which entails taking initiative as they strive to gain confidence and experience effectiveness. It has been my experience that students who are self-starters will move much smoother through the normal cycles of success and discouragement associated with the internship experience.

Moving along the path phase entails integration within the agency and focuses on how a student develops an assertive orientation, effectively utilizes supervision, engages in productive activities, and develops a sense of civic responsibility. I believe that assertiveness is essential for a student to take direct action in being completely familiar with the agency and in feeling a part of the team. Being assertive entails high accomplishment and investment in the work of the agency.

Students are also successful to the degree that they effectively utilize supervision. Supervision provides students with mentorship, evaluative feedback for growth and development, and the opportunity to be engaged in worthwhile tasks. Finally, an important outcome of a college education is developing a civic capacity that emphasizes citizenship, engagement in communities, and social responsibility. I feel that social workers have a moral obligation towards volunteerism and community service which are the hallmarks of the social work profession.

The culmination of the practicum has to do with the phase of developing a new direction and centers on endings. In essence this is the culmination of the practicum field experience. It entails endings with clients, supervisors, coworkers, faculty, and peers. It entails the identification of feelings, reflection, feedback, and a plan for continuing career development. I have found that endings are much easier when students approach the practicum with an attitude of excellence. I promote excellence and define it as an active stance of going the extra mile, making practicum a priority (make any adjustment in your life so you can balance your life in a more effective way), being on time, behaving professionally, developing positive rapport with all agency staff, and taking every opportunity you have to learn social work. In the end result excellence takes time, discipline and hard work but the alternative is a mediocre ending.

Overall, I think the practicum experience can best be expressed in a quote by T.S. Eliot, "Awe shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." It has been a highlight of my faculty career to work with so many talented students over the years and watching their success in the profession.

Diane Calloway-Graham, Associate Professor and Practicum Director of Social Work

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Design Studio: An experimental class that could change the student experience at USU

Last January, fifteen students seated around a conference table in Old Main were presented with a campus-wide problem: students at USU often struggle when making important decisions about their studies and are unaware of the resources and services available to help them navigate this process. They were asked to conceptualize solutions to this issue.
The students were participating in a 16-week experimental course developed to allow students transform higher education by conceiving new tools for their peers to track and understand their progress through the university. The class, Design Studio, was co-taught by Jennifer Peeples, associate professor of speech communication, and instructors from the Business Innovation Factory, a nonprofit organization focused on innovation in areas of high social impact.
“We have all these great services, but I don’t think we enable student access to all of them, said James Morales, vice president for student services. “I don’t think they’re really aware of what they are.”
The students set out interviewing student service departments, deans, and students about how students access information and devise pathways through the university. They concluded that there needs to be one place housing all the information students need to know during their college careers and it needs to be easy to use. They proposed the university develop a personalized online system for students to track and modify their progress over time.
When Morales came to USU two years ago, he noticed the university was using an outdated model of student accessibility to university services. He wanted to upgrade to a more web-based, user-oriented model that evolved with students as they progressed through college.
“It’s really kind of serendipitous,” Morales said. “They were thinking about the very same thing I had been thinking about. We came at them from two different vantage points, and in my experience, when those serendipitous experiences happen; you have to pay attention to them.”
In fall 2011, Peeples was asked to lead a continuation of the Design Studio course taking the concept of the single information site and making it a reality. Morales tapped staff to work in parallel with the class, focused on implementing the students’ designs into a workable model.
It is not a typical class. There are no lectures; there are no grades; and students are immediately applying what they learn to create a real product for a real client. Design Studio demands a great deal of commitment and is only graded pass/fail. It does not count towards their majors. A few students commented that the class is “like having a final project due every week.” However, they remained dedicated to their project.
Trent Morrison, a junior studying communications, admits the class is intensive, but worth it. “We work hard, but we have fun, he said. “It’s a really good experience. It will be really cool to see the outcome.”
Peeples knows the class is demanding, yet she continues to be impressed with the students who enroll in it.
“The students are excellent,” she said, “There is a high level of expectation, but they really step up because they see it as important.”
This unconventional classroom setting has allowed these students to design three prototypes for a new website that heightens accessibility to student services by compiling them in one location. The primary goal of these prototypes is personalization and accessibility, bringing services to the students instead of them having to go search for them.
One design is based on a gaming models and social networks, where each student creates a profile with an avatar.  The main focus of this design is to simplify and enhance the navigation of services. Features include interactive applications, divided into academic and social and extracurricular subjects. Another prototype is fashioned after a dashboard concept, comprised of apps and widgets. Students can add and remove student services applications as their interests change.
“All the models are transformable to the students’ needs as they develop through their college career,” Morales said. “There are a lot of visuals with manageable chunks of information instead of an information overload. And the site builds around the individual student.”
Each design is focused on creating an enjoyable and informative experience for students, allowing them to see first-hand how they are doing with the click of a button. The Design Studio teams tested their prototypes with a variety of students to gather feedback on their designs.
“Student ideas, insights and thoughts are being taken very seriously. If they don’t like it, [we] won’t use it.” Peeples said. “We’re hoping [the project] will be useful for everyone. If we do it right, it shouldn’t just be freshman, but it should be all-encompassing.”
Student services aims to have the new site completed and running by Fall 2012. The timeline is “aggressive,” Morales admitted. However, he has been impressed with the work produced in the past two Design Studio courses and has faith they will create workable prototypes.
“My confidence in USU students just keeps rising,” he said. “I continue to be extremely excited about where we’re going.”
This article was written by Shanelle Galloway, the first Boyd and Sybil Stewart Fellow in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three ways political scientists shape the real world

As a political scientist, I am always asked by students, “How can political science contribute to real world politics”?  It is not only an academic question but also a practical question. It is understandable that students are eager to know how to transform their knowledge from the university to the real world. Although some political scientists like to live in the ivory tower of academia, political science as a discipline has a natural connection with “real” politics.

There are three ways that political science can have an impact on real politics. First, knowledge and theory derived from political science research can guide real policies. For example, President Thomas Woodrow Wilson was a political scientist before running for president. His idea of internationalism, or the so called “Wilsonian” ideology, not only led the United States to fight for democracy in the twentieth century, but also guided U.S. foreign policy until today. Political scientists’ findings regarding “democratic peace theory”, i.e., democracies are less likely to wage war with one another,” is reported as a major guideline for America’s “promoting democracy” after the Cold War.

Second, political science scholars can actively engage public debates and contribute to public discourse. Many political scientists publish op-ed articles in leading newspapers and participate in TV shows to help improve the public’s awareness on different political issues. For example, Stephen Walt, a leading International Relations scholar at Harvard University, hosts an influential blog at the Foreign Policy website. At USU, political science professors are often interviewed by the local media about various political issues, such as the North Korean crisis in 2010, the current economic crisis, and the coming general elections in the United States.

The third channel for political science professors to have an impact on politics is the most important one—through the classroom. The major educational goal of political science is to equip and educate the next generation of leaders with knowledge, inspiration, and their responsibilities. In the Department of Political Science, we are proud of many alumni who are working for the government and serving the country and the larger community.  

My research interest within the field of political science is foreign policy analysis. I came to academia after working in governmental and non-governmental organizations as a researcher and negotiator. From participation and observation of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, I was exposed to the rich differences in negotiation and mediation styles of diplomats from different countries. My interests grew with these working experiences: Why do diplomats from different countries display such different cultural styles? Why is it so difficult to reach any agreement if we are all calculating like human beings? How do diplomats (decision-makers) make decisions? What is in their mind?

My interests in the cultural impact on behavior and beliefs on foreign policy decisions led me to my major research area of foreign policy analysis with a focus on leadership studies using political psychological analysis. However, even when I turned to be more academically focused on theory and analysis, I was very much aware of the importance of making my research relevant by asking policy relevant research questions about topics such as China’s leadership transition and its foreign policy changes and the future of U.S.-China relations.

Many people believe that future conflict between the U.S. and China seems inevitable because of the strategic competition between the two nations in world politics.

From my research, I suggest that any linear predictions about either China’s continuous economic rise or America’s seeming decline are all academically flawed and analytically biased. Strategic competitions among states are normal in international politics, but competition does not equal conflict. It is political leaders who make decisions for both countries. How to make both Chinese and American leaders fully informed and how to reduce misunderstandings between the two nations are the keys to maintain a good, healthy, and peaceful relationship between the United States and China. 

- Huiyun Feng, assistant professor of political science

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Learning languages - a critical skill for a globalized world

I started my career as a teacher in Brazil when I was 23 years old. I have been working in an educational setting for 18 years. The only reason I start by saying this is to highlight that, even after all those years, I still find passion and significance in what I do as an educator. 
In Brazil, I had the privilege to start working with kids, the equivalent of 5th grade here in the United States. At this level, you develop one very important skill as a teacher: students will learn if they are interested in the subject, and more importantly, if you find ways to make the subject relevant for them. This means that developing pedagogical strategies is essential. Especially today, relying only on the professorial authority is a strategy that will take you only half way down the educational road.
 But my time with the little kids is long gone, and I am grateful for that. After some time, I began to believe that I didn’t have the physical energy to run with them and keep up with their energy level, and for that matter, it was good for me to move on up the educational structure. So, I went to work with college “kids.”
I worked at three universities in Brazil, one public and two private. Although they were very distinct institutions, they all provided me with the expertise to work with a completely different body of students. It was only after my master’s degree that I moved to the U.S. I went to the University of Minnesota to get my PhD and I had one of the most significant experiences: to teach Portuguese as a second language. My whole expertise had been developed to teach Portuguese to native speakers and some of the goals for that enterprise are completely different from teaching Portuguese as a second language. Again, I had to reconfigure myself to be in the classroom, and a new set of skills had to be developed.
My professional journey brought me to USU in 2010.
Here, I have the opportunity to teach and research Brazilian Literature. At USU, unlike any other place that I have worked in the U.S., the majority of my students come to my classes with 2 years of experience in Brazil. This is a very positive linguistic background. My students also come to my classes without being specialists in literature or even in Humanities.
When I think about the role of higher education and the importance of the Humanities in this context, I’d like to believe that this is an essential part of the mission of any respectable university. In this sense, my goal here is to transform Brazilian Literature into a subject that will help my students to continue to improve their linguistic abilities in a second language (very important in an increasing globalized world), and to develop critical skills that will allow them to be more sensitive to cultural differences and to become good citizens in a democratic society. And I am proud of it!
                                                             - Marcus Brasileiro, Assistant Professor of Portuguese

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Using folklore to examine backward thinking

Steve Siporin, director of USU's folklore program, teaches
students to examine folklore for traditional wisdom.
I teach in USU’s Folklore Program, so it is no surprise that during office hours, my students and I discuss folklore.  They quickly and adeptly get beyond such misconceptions of folklore as being merely colorful superstitions of ignorant Ozark hillbillies, “dancing with your elbows out,” and the fakelore of Paul Bunyan. 

Rather, in discussions, my students join me in trying to understand what a Navajo story means to Navajos, what an Arab folktale means within its own culture, or why hazing won’t disappear. We decode the time-tested solutions to humankind’s enduring problems that folklore’s traditional wisdom offers.  And we marvel at the creativity and ingeniousness of supposedly backward thinking.
 I find myself hoping that students will not just learn about folklore but that they will carry its wisdom and creative thinking into their own lives.  These lessons are too valuable to be left in the classroom.  Even the most cliched of traditional English and American proverbs, like, for instance, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” has value in students’ demanding lives.
But it’s not just our students who could benefit from serious attention to common sense and traditional proverbs.  Most of us at USU have been suffering (like the rest of the country) from a sustained financial crisis for several years now.  Yet if you look around—literally look around—you might think we’re in the middle of an economic boom.  New construction on campus appears to be at an all-time high.  But when resources are so limited, is the choice to build really in the best interests of students who have come here to learn?
Compared to 5 years ago, most students walk into larger classes (more students, less faculty, resulting in less individual attention) and most professors and staff earn lower salaries (because of no raises coupled with inflation).  We have lost experienced faculty, operating budgets, and funding for special programs and lectures.  Key enriching elements in USU’s intellectual life—humanities graduate programs and the USU Press—remain under siege.  Departments are cutting back on the requirements for majors, and while pedagogical arguments rationalize these reductions, such arguments sound like so many versions of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  We know that the reason we are compelled to cut back is because we don’t have the faculty to provide the courses.  This “reform” is fiscally, not pedagogically, driven.
At the same time there is a building boom on campus, and money flows to buy furniture, paint, art for the hallway walls, as well as to maintain the lawns and flower beds.  Common sense says that such expenditures are secondary to the purpose of a university.  Surely administrators are tired of explaining to seemingly thickheaded professors that these items come from different budgets and that funds cannot be transferred from one budget to another.
But something else cannot be denied:  when there are no raises year after year, yet large, expensive buildings can be funded throughout the campus, and when our classrooms and offices are often unnecessarily fixed-up with new carpets, paint, and artwork annually, students, faculty, and staff can’t help but feel devalued, and morale can’t help but decline.  That is common sense, too.  Today there is nowhere on campus one can go without seeing a new building emerging, as if to say “this campus is a construction project, not an educational institution.”
Something is very wrong, and to say that that’s just the way budgets work is to accept what needs to be challenged.  I don’t have the answers, but I know we need more creative thinking and creative problem solving.  What we claim to teach our students needs to be practiced by our leaders and by us.
No university ever thinks it has enough funding, and choices always have to be made.  I remember a research visit I made a number of years ago to Stanford University, where I’d been an undergraduate.  Since I was going there to work in the library for one week, and it was summer, I asked if I could stay in a dorm to save on my expenses.  As it turned out, I got to stay in the same dorm I’d lived in as a student—more than 20 years earlier.  At first I was shocked at how rundown my old dorm had become.
It seemed as if only minimal maintenance had been carried out over all those years:  the furnishings, the lamps, even the worn-out mattress in the old iron frame bed, appeared to be the same objects that weren’t new even twenty years earlier.  Yet this was Stanford!  A university of enormous wealth!  But of course, Stanford is known for its academic excellence, not its accommodations.  Budget choices had to be made, even at one of the country’s richest universities.
And then I recently saw an article about Dr. Hussam Haik, a young Arab Israeli molecular biologist who conducts research at the Technion in Haifa, Israel.  He and his 26-member team are well on their way to perfecting a small, inexpensive mobile device that can detect cancer in its early stages through olfactory analysis of a person’s breath.  What a breakthrough this is going to be.
Haik contradicts stereotypes in a most delightful way:  he is an Arab doing cutting-edge research in Israel, and he turned down opportunities in the United States in order to work in Israel, which he considers his home.  Dr. Haik says, “Israeli universities all suffer from shortages in funds.  But the Technion spends its budget in a very effective manner.  While some universities splurge on beautiful buildings and facilities, Technion invests in a young, dynamic, and prestigious staff.  This is an investment which will surely pay off.”
In spite of arguments about the separateness of state budgets, Utah laws cannot be as immutable as the biological laws that lead to cancer.  If we can find success in redirecting those unyielding natural forces, why can’t we be more creative with the institutions that we ourselves have made?  Common sense says this challenge can’t be as difficult as cancer.  Folk wisdom says “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  I ask, “Is there a will?”
 - Steve Siporin, Director Folklore Program