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Rochester In Review

Rochester Welcomes Its Sesquicentennial Class

Let's put it this way: A class like this one just doesn't come along every other day. The University's millennial class-- the Class of 2000, which ought to be distinction enough -- is also the very special Rochester Sesquicentennial Class that will graduate as the University celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding back in 1850.

The entering class in the College is also the first to be admitted under the Renaissance Plan, the sweeping initiative announced last fall that strengthens and refocuses the University's core programs in arts and sciences and engineering.

So what kind of a group makes up the College's Sesqui Class? Wayne Locust, director of admissions, sums it up in one word and a punctuation mark: "Outstanding!" Mean SAT scores increased by 50 points over last year's, Locust says, and one out of every five of the incoming students was either valedictorian or salutatorian of his or her high school class.

As the result of admitting a somewhat smaller freshman class, as prescribed by the Renaissance Plan, the '00 contingent -- enrolled from 35 states and 20 foreign countries -- is made up of 900 students, down about 200 from last year. Eleven percent are African American, Hispanic, or native American. Additionally, "the class is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, reaching gender parity for the first time," Locust reports. Also among the new students are 50 sons and daughters of alumni. The class was selected from a record 9,000 applicants, 8 percent more than last year.

The Warner School Looks Ahead

Renamed three years ago and now ensconced in new quarters in Dewey Hall on the River Campus, the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development can regard its future with confidence. During the last days of the Campaign for the '90s, the school exceeded its fundraising goal, thanks to a final, $4.75 million gift from its chief benefactor, William F. Scandling, plus an additional $1 million matched gift from other donors.

These follow more than $7 million in earlier gifts that Scandling has made to the school -- named in 1993 after his late wife, Margaret Warner Scandling '41. Scandling is the co-founder and retired president of Saga Corporation, which grew from a small institutional food-services business into a major national corporation.

The new gifts come at a time when many ideas for improving educational practice that Warner faculty have developed and nurtured through collaborations with local schools and day-care centers are taking root. In addition, the school has fostered strong ties to area educators through its professional-development office, which mounts programs year round to promote the intellectual growth and personal effectiveness of area teachers and administrators.

But, as Dean Philip Wexler acknowledges, there is much more to be done. It is no easy task to groom young people for personal success in a global economy, as well as prepare them to assume their fair share of social responsibility. The challenge in urban schools is made harder by poverty, by language difficulties of immigrant families, and by a greater proportion of children growing up in single-parent households.

Yet the Warner School seeks to make a difference at this difficult intersection. The school will be doing more in many areas to assure its vitality into the next century. It is expanding its search for high-caliber graduate students, and plans to attract them with more graduate stipends. It will encourage more faculty and student scholarship through special grants.

One of the chief concerns urban educators face is how to increase support and involvement among the parents of their students. This key issue will be on the front burner at Warner, thanks to a collaboration with the Frontier Corporation on family-school relationships.

In a move that will support and accelerate positive changes taking place in urban education, the Warner School this year created an Institute for Urban Schools and Education. The new institute will have a close working partnership with the Rochester City School District, and will facilitate faculty involvement in research as well as in educational practice. Frederick C. Jefferson, Jr., professor of education at the Warner School, will direct the new institute.

Meanwhile, other Warner faculty are heading in diverse and exciting new directions, from creating a "Preschool Curriculum for the 21st Century" that really clicks with Head Start pupils, to creating sophisticated instruments and databases to track student performance, to offering courses that will help school counselors be more effective in helping children who, as witnesses or victims, have been affected by violence.

Death of Undergraduate Saddens University Community

The University community was shocked and deeply saddened following the death on March 31 of Hoiyan (Nicole) Wan, a 19-year-old sophomore, two days after undergoing a research procedure called a bronchoscopy as part of a Medical Center project studying the effects of smoking and pollution on lung cells.

The medical examiner ruled that an overdose of lidocaine, a topical anesthetic, caused her death from cardiac arrest. Dr. Jay H. Stein, the University's senior vice president and vice provost for health affairs, said that the student had apparently been inadvertently administered a potentially life-threatening overdose.

The study, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was suspended indefinitely as the University pursued its own investigation. Wan, who had signed a consent form, was one of 50 individuals to volunteer for the study. Her family has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the Medical Center and the physicians involved.

In a statement to the University community, President Jackson said that "the loss of any member of the University community is troubling, but for a number of reasons the death of Hoiyan Wan is particularly tragic. Her death has erased the future of a promising young woman, and has irrevocably changed the lives of her family and her friends. It occurred following her willing participation in support of one of the basic missions of the university -- research that will enable individuals to live better lives.

"On behalf of the University, I offer our sincerest respect and deepest condolences to her family, and to her many personal friends on campus."

Robin Comes to the 'Hood

Memo to the sheriff of Nottingham: If you're still looking for Robin Hood next year, you ought to try Rochester, New York.

During what has been dubbed "The Robin Hood Semester," scheduled for the fall of '97, the 12th-century English folk hero will be popping up all over the place in exhibits, films, music, video, classrooms, and conferences.

He'll even have his own comprehensive Web site, devoted to all of the medieval and Renaissance poems, ballads, and plays dealing with the legend, along with music and visual materials from later interpretations in ballads, opera, and book illustrations. The Web site is being constructed from a teaching text edited by medievalist Russell Peck, John H. Deane Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature. Peck is working with colleagues Thomas Hahn of the English department, Richard Kaeuper of the history department, and Robbins Library curator Alan Lupack in planning the celebration.

Among highlights will be a University-hosted international conference with premier Robin Hood scholars from around the world, another conference for undergraduate researchers, and an international traveling exhibition that will be making the River Campus its only stop in North America.

Ying Quartet to Return as Eastman Faculty

The members of the Ying Quartet -- former Eastman students Timothy '91E (Mas) and Janet '92E, violins; Philip '92E (Mas), viola; and David Ying '92E (Mas), cello -- will be returning to the Eastman School this fall, this time as faculty.

In the few years since they have left the school, the four siblings from Winnetka, Illinois, have (among other achievements) won the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award, earned high praise from such as The New York Times ("exceptional unity," "blazing commitment"), performed at the White House at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton, and -- participating in a ground-breaking National Endowment for the Arts initiative -- served for two years as resident ensemble in rural Jesup, Iowa.

As members of the Jesup community (population 2,000), the Yings shared their music with the entire town, from students to senior citizens, from farmers to local business owners. The quartet will bring that same kind of community involvement to their work at Eastman, which will be a central component of Eastman Initiatives, a new community-focused educational endeavor involving students and faculty throughout the school.

As assistant professors of chamber music they will play a unique role at Eastman, says James Undercofler, associate director for academic affairs, who is managing the Eastman Initiatives project. In addition to coaching student chamber ensembles, the Yings will be performing and teaching during residencies in urban and rural public schools, and will also be teaching Eastman students how to build integrated music programs in economically and/or geographically disadvantaged areas.



Women's Soccer: It Just Keeps Getting Stronger

The women's soccer team is heading for another banner year, predicts Kelly Bowman '97. The Yellowjackets ended their 1995 season fifth in the nation in NCAA Division III -- one game away from the final four. "And this year, with most of our starters returning, we'll be just as strong if not stronger," she declares.

Bowman, who grew up in the Rochester area, has played soccer since junior high school. This spring she won the Sports and Recreation Department's Sylvia Fabricant Award for outstanding sportsmanship.

"Kelly is a soccer coach's dream," says Coach Terry Gurnett. "She's talented, she works hard, and above all, she is a true team player. Her teammates are very important to her."

"I can't imagine college without soccer," Bowman says. "It would have been a totally different experience without it. The women on the team are your friends, and the structure of the sport just makes it easier to manage your time when practices block out your day."

Bowman does more than simply "manage" her time, though. She will graduate with a double major in political science and psychology, backed by a certificate in business management. Along with maintaining a high grade-point average and playing both soccer and basketball, she is also actively participating in the Residential College Commission, a University-wide initiative to find ways of making the River Campus more appealing to those who live there. She is a member of other University-wide committees, as well.

On top of this, Bowman is also an active volunteer who has encouraged her team to take on worthy projects. "This year we started a program called 'Respect, Just a Little Bit,' where we worked with about 20 kids from the southwest part of the city, teaching them about conflict resolution and how it applies to sports. We also did soccer clinics with kids from the local settlement houses, and we volunteer for events for the children's hospital at Strong."

Team members last spring began getting ready for the coming season, Bowman says, using a training schedule devised by Coach Gurnett. "We run every day and lift weights, and we're all playing as much soccer as we can over the summer. This way, we'll be in shape and ready to work on some strategies and techniques.

"Every single game is going to be tough, though. All the UAA teams are strong. But we work hard, we have a really good chemistry, and we'll do well."

Winter Wrap-Up

Women's Indoor Track & Field (2-0): The team claimed a place among elite squads this year based on a corps of experienced performers who blended well with a talented group of newcomers. The Yellowjackets were regulars in the weekly NCAA Division III poll, rising as high as 12th by early March, and finished second at the State Championships.

Head coach Barbara Hartwig earned two Coach of the Year awards -- from the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association and, for Region One, from USA Track and Field.

Women's Swimming (5-4): Kelly Peters '97 earned her 14th All-America honor in three years by finishing eighth in the 100-yard butterfly at the NCAA Division III Championships.

Men's Basketball (13-13): The Yellowjackets took the Chase Scholarship Tournament for the fifth time, winning 63-62 over St. John Fisher, and later competed in the ECAC Upstate N.Y. Championships.

Men's Indoor Track & Field (2-0): Jason Hart '97 won both the 800 and 1,500 at the State meet, captured the UAA 1,500 title, and ran at NCAAs in the 800. He set a school record in the 800 (1:53.54) at the Hamilton Invitational.

Women's Basketball (10-15)

Men's Swimming (4-4)

Squash (7-9)

Spring Wrap-Up

Men's Tennis (11-10): The team continued its run of national success when it qualified for both team and individual championships. Returning from a 1-4 trip to the West Coast, the 'Jackets went on to win eight of their next 10 matches, putting themselves into contention for a team bid to the NCAAs, where they lost to Binghamton, 4-1, in the Eastern Regional quarterfinals. In the UAA Championships, the team finished second to Emory, losing the title match, 5-2.

Women's Tennis (11-8): The 'Jackets finished fourth in two conference championships: the UAA and the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association (UCAA).

Golf: Rich Johnson took over from Don Smith as head golf coach, directing the Yellowjackets to a runner-up finish at UAAs and a national ranking of 19th in the last regular-season poll. Playing in the NCAA Championships for the 15th consecutive year, the Yellowjackets finished 17th in a field of 23.

Men's Outdoor Track & Field: Rochester finished second at both the UAAs and State Championships. Grad student Tim Voloshen earned All-America honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the second straight year, the first Rochester track and field athlete to repeat as an All-American in the same category since Jim Dunlop '92 in the 10,000 in 1991 and 1992.

Women's Outdoor Track & Field: The Yellowjackets turned in strong performances in the early part of the season, winning a five-team invitational and then finishing fourth out of 10 at the University Alumni Invitational in mid-April.

Women's Lacrosse (6-10)

Baseball (9-23-1)


An occasional column of faculty opinion

Haircuts and Hyperactivity: Too Many Parents Are Failing Their Kids

By Lucia French

I worry about the number of children who seem to be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a disturbance that was virtually unheard of when I was a child.

Estimates are that here in the Rochester area, for instance, doctors are prescribing Ritalin to 13 percent of boys ages 6 to 12. That's one out of every eight boys who is being medicated for difficulties with attention and hyperactivity.

As a developmental psychologist, I am concerned about this trend, for I believe strongly that only a small proportion of the children currently being diagnosed as ADHD actually have any organically-based disorder. What's behind the alarmingly high incidence of ADHD, I believe, is the widespread failure of parents and teachers to help children learn to regulate themselves, including managing their attention. Many parents do not seem inclined to socialize their children. But how else will they become members of society?

A recent trip I took with my two children to the local $7.95 hair-cutting establishment illustrates my point. For 45 minutes I watched a mother-son pair. In that time, Mom never spoke to Son, who was about 6 years old. Son cuddled next to Mom. Son ran the strings from the hood of Mom's jacket through his lips. Son rocked his body back and forth. Son patted Mom's face. Through all of this, Mom ignored him. She wasn't unpleasant, but neither was she using this "found time" in a meaningful way. Instead, she could have played Twenty Questions, picked a magazine or book from the rack and talked to her son about the pictures, or had a conversation about a shared experience, about the child's week, about plans for the future. She could have brought along a book to read aloud or a miniature board game to play.

Another mother-son pair was yet more troubling to watch. As they entered, Mom took a place in the check-in line to get an approximate time for a cut, staring straight ahead in a disinterested way. Her son, aged about 5, headed for a waist-high aluminum banister separating the waiting area from the cutting area and began rocking his body across it. His feet were barely missing the knees of a waiting woman (Mom number 1 in fact), and once he accidentally kicked her. She flinched but didn't say anything. The boy's attention was then caught by a baby in her father's arms, and he went up to talk to her in the high-pitched voice babies enjoy. Eventually this mom sat down next to me without saying anything to her son. He continued to rock on the banister, again accidentally kicking the woman sitting there. Finally he and Mom left -- there was time to go home and put the groceries away before coming back for the scheduled cut.

Children learn how to behave in a crowded waiting room or how to approach a strange baby from older, more experienced members of their culture. But kids need lots of direction. They need adults to show them how to do the right thing and to point out inappropriate behavior. Yet too many parents today are not involved enough with their children, and the consequences are serious. Many of the behavior problems that interfere with children's schooling are rooted in the detachment of their parents. Both of the boys I observed had nothing to pay attention to, so they created their own amusement: fidgeting. I am frequently in preschool and elementary classrooms, and there, too, I see long periods of time where students are waiting with nothing to pay attention to. I watch in dismay as teachers tell the children that they won't have a story or get to go outside until they are all "paying attention." Paying attention to what?

More than half of all diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder begin with a referral from school personnel. It has become a too-common practice for teachers to say children have an attention deficit when in fact it is the teacher who has a deficit in classroom management, or the material that is being taught is deficient in interest.

If the teachers' suggestions are acted upon, the children they single out as lacking attending skills may begin receiving medication -- frequently the stimulant Ritalin, or sometimes an antidepressant. One of the things that should depress us about this is that, although the medication changes the children's classroom behavior, there is very little evidence that their learning improves. Is our society really ready to medicate children in order to make adults' lives easier?

Before we blame teachers too much, though, remember the mother-son pairs I watched. Teachers can't do their jobs unless parents do their share. Compared with other animals, humans have an extremely long period of immaturity. These years of immaturity exist because human culture is so complex that it takes a number of years for children to learn all they need to know in order to function as mature members of their society. Humans are inherently social beings. We like to be with one another and to be like one another. We like to observe one another and talk together and learn from one another.

Children yearn for, and need, parents who spend time with them, converse with them, help them to understand proper ways of behaving in different situations, help them to understand the world around them, and arrange an environment for them that prompts their interest and attention.

It doesn't have to take a great deal of effort, or imagination, to nurture a child's social awareness and growth. But when fathers and mothers miss out on too many of the recurring chances to be good parents, they are failing their children, the schools they attend, and ultimately, our society.

Lucia French is an associate professor at the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

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Last updated 9-9-1996      (jc)