*Last week saw the release of a report on the Columbia space shuttle tragedy by a panel of investigators, for which Prof. Diane Vaughan (Sociology), author of a widely acclaimed book on the Challenger disaster, served as a consultant. Vaughan discussed the report's findings with ABC, CNN, and The Christian Science Monitor, among others.
Speaking on CNN, Vaughan said NASA had failed to learn the lessons of Challenger. "You have management not listening to engineers...You have highly bureaucratized organization, where it's really hard for information to get transferred, and then you have the recurrence of budgeting and scheduling problems, along with the weakened safety system. And those were the exact conditions that existed at the time of Challenger. If they made changes, and I know they made many changes, those changes didn't fix the original problem, and that is a worry."
*Several BC faculty and administrators were sought for commentary on new Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley. Prof. Thomas Groome (Theology), director of the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, told the Boston Herald that Bishop O'Malley "came across as a man of integrity, a man of real compassion - a person that could be trusted." Groome said a key element in Bishop O'Malley's success would be his efforts to re-energize the clergy: "I think he has to reach out to his own priests and have real healing there, many of whom are deeply wounded and feel discouraged. And then he has to reach out to the ordinary Catholic in the pew and then to the alienated Catholic."
After hearing the new bishop's homily following his installation, Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Rev. Joseph Appleyard, SJ, remarked to the Boston Herald that Bishop O'Malley was "not the humble man in sandals we've been led to expect. This is a master communicator and a man who has absorbed theology in such a way as to convey it with enviable facility."
Assoc. Prof. Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM (Theology), was impressed by Bishop O'Malley's willingness to deal with the clergy sexual abuse scandal in his homily. "That is the thing people have been longing to hear," she told the Herald, "not some lawyer's advice about what is best to say in public."
Speaking with the Boston Globe, University Historian Thomas O'Connor said Bishop O'Malley's announcement that he would live in Boston's South End reflected "the ongoing imagery of change that he's bringing in. He's very conscious of the fact that people are watching and listening, and that a certain amount of physical imagery has to accompany the verbal imagery if he is to regain the trust of the people."
Prof. James O'Toole (History) told the Globe that "in the present circumstances, identifying with the city is probably a good thing for him to do. It sends the message about where he wants to put his primary focus, and that's with ordinary Catholic believers."
*Prof. Emeritus David Lowenthal (Political Science) appeared on the Fox Cable News talk show "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the recent controversy over Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from his courthouse. By Moore's lights, said Lowenthal, "Alabama has a right to do whatever it wishes in this area, and without being under the control of the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. So when he receives an order from a federal district judge to get rid of that monument, his point is there is no federal jurisdiction for Alabama."
*Interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor for a story on states that earmark all or some of lottery earnings for public school spending, Adj. Assoc. Prof. Richard McGowan, SJ (CSOM), sounded a word of caution: While the public may believe it's a net gain for the schools, he said, many times "you're really allowing the state to spend the money in other places rather than the schools. It's not a bonus for the schools but a substitution."
*Employers may not encourage it, but many feel obliged to tolerate the use of workplace e-mail for personal messages, as Prof. Juliet Schor (Sociology) explained in an interview with the New York Times: "Firms know they are demanding more of employees, and it's putting a big stress on their personal lives. Permission to send e-mail to family members and friends is a nonwage benefit that eases the very significant conflict that now exists between work and family."
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