May 12, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 17

Members of the South Asian Student Association Dance Troupe perform during World Fiesta Day, held May 4 on the Campus Green. The group blends traditional dances from South Asia, such as bhangra, with hip hop and other modern forms.

Around Campus

Speaking and writing

The Communication Department recently held its two major annual competitions, spotlighting undergraduate talents in the spoken and written word.

In the Leonard Persuasive Speaking Contest, sophomore communication and philosophy major Stephanie St. Martin took first place, followed by Christina Bechhold '07, a marketing major with a minor in philosophy, and Joseph Bowden '05, a political science major minoring in history.

The Leonard Contest is open to all undergraduates. Contestants' speeches, which deal with a current and controversial topic, are judged on the basis of evidence, reasoning, organization, analysis and delivery.

The department also announced the results of its Joseph and Margaret Dever Awards for Outstanding Student Writing, which is limited to communication majors: Senior Sara Mehltretter, who also majors in political science, won first place, with Emily Felix '06 and Laura Kenyon '05, a communication-English major, rounding out the top spots.

Dever Award contestants can submit entries in the categories of professional or scholarly writing, and may use work completed for a Communication Department course.


Voice of experience

Commencement is all about tradition, but this year the Graduate School of Social Work is doing something different for its graduation ceremony: Instead of having a faculty member deliver the keynote speech, GSSW will bring in a guest speaker to do the honors.

And not just any guest speaker, note GSSW administrators: 95-year-old Katherine Kendall, a pioneer in international and academic social work. The Scottish native is a co-founder of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the accrediting body for all social work schools. She served as social affairs officer with the United Nations from 1947-50 and produced an international survey on social work training. Kendall also worked at the US Children's Bureau as assistant director of the Inter-American Unit and training supervisor for the International Service.

In 1971, Kendall became the first full-time paid secretary-general for the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), and since retiring in 1978 has continued to provide volunteer service to the association and CSWE. In 1991, the IASSW established the Katherine A. Kendall Award for Distinguished Service in International Social Work Education.

"We felt it would be appropriate to bring in someone from the social work field to welcome our new graduates into the profession," said GSSW Dean Alberto Godenzi. "Katherine Kendall is the perfect choice: She's someone who has played a leading role in the international development of social work, and has decades of valuable experience and insight to share."


Welcome return

It was a pleasant, and rare, homecoming for eminent theologian and religious commentator Rev. Richard McBrien when he came to campus April 29 to deliver a lecture under the auspices of the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. Fr. McBrien, Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, taught at BC in the 1970s and was IREPM's second director.

Relaxing at an informal pre-lecture reception in IREPM's Lawrence Avenue headquarters, Fr. McBrien kicked around some old times with his former colleagues, one of whom recalled the day Fr. McBrien was appointed institute director: "We pulled you out of your class to tell you, 'You're it!'"

Fr. McBrien lamented that he hasn't visited BC and IREPM more often since leaving. "This was a wonderful place to work, and it gave me some very important administrative experience. I'm very happy in the way IREPM has developed over the years - I don't know of a better institute for religious education in the US."


Radio Lyons

The ghosts of a former president and "The King of Rock and Roll" have been hanging out in Lyons Hall lately.

A new second floor display case dedicated to radio and television history features decades-old radios and microphones, eight-track tapes and a photo of a Smithsonian sculpture of a man listening to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" from the 1930s. The collection also includes a microphone used by Elvis Presley in a classic photo of "The King" that was later memorialized in a US Postal Service stamp.

"I think we've captured an interesting part of history with this display," said the exhibit's organizer, Adj. Assoc. Prof. Michael C. Keith (Communication), who contributed most of the items from his personal collection of memorabilia. The case is located across the hall from Lyons 215.

Among the items on display are a crystal "Rocket Radio" and earpiece, a Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder, 1940s vintage Catalin kitchen radios and transistor radios from the 1950's.

In an age of iPods and digital music, the case stands as a stark contrast to the technology that's currently used to inform and entertain, notes Keith. "Many students have been very curious about these items as they things that they haven't seen before. I've collected a number of items over the years and when this case became available I thought it would be interesting to share some of this history."

He said memorializing media history has become a popular trend that tends to garner a lot of interest because radio and television are a part of the lives of so many people.

"Cities across the US are opening entire museums dedicated to radio and television history," he said. "They're very popular."

Keith, who has authored numerous books on radio - including two forthcoming works out later this year and in 2006 - said he would like to have more items from television history and invites members of the BC community to offer their own items.

Keith can be reached at or via his Web site,


Double the pleasure

April certainly wasn't a cruel month for Prof. Larry McLaughlin (Chemistry), who in one week received two research grants of $1 million apiece. The first, from the National Science Foundation, supports a five-year project titled, "Functional Group Interactions in Protein-DNA Recognition," while the second, from the National Institutes of Health, funds a four-year project, "Probing dNTP/DNA Polymerase Interactions."

Both projects continue his work on the biological chemistry of DNA.

The NSF award funds research into the way in which proteins recognize DNA in a sequence-specific manner, a critical element of such fundamental processes as gene expression and cell division.

The NIH award supports research into how DNA polymerases, the enzymes responsible for replicating DNA in the cell, recognize and use the nucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) building blocks. Through this study, altered building blocks will be developed that will function as new, effective, and more selective (less toxic) antivirals for infections such as HIV AIDS and hepatitis B.


Making a splash

The College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program entered its largest armada yet in the annual Run of the Charles, launching five boats in the 24-mile canoe relay on April 24 that benefited the Charles River Watershed Association, and turning in some of its best finishes to date.

A new feature christened this year was the introduction of deans to the proceedings, with legs of the relay being paddled by A&S Dean Joseph Quinn and A&S Honors Program Director Mark O'Connor; Associate Academic VP Joseph Burns and his wife, Moy; and A&S Associate Dean William Petri and his wife, part-time faculty member Arlene Wyman (Biology).

The word "christening" is used in its nautical sense, as at launch, Quinn tipped their canoe and dumped O'Connor in the drink. "It was the dean working out his resentments," O'Connor said, with a laugh. "He finally had the chance to dunk me, and he did.

"This year was especially glorious," said O'Connor, "and the swim was especially refreshing."

Four student boats were entered for each of the classes in the Honors Program, while the fifth was paddled by faculty and administrators. The 24-mile relay along the Charles from Needham to Allston is done in five legs, two paddlers to each leg, requiring 10 paddlers for each crew. The Class of 2007 turned in the best time, finishing in 5:20:28.

Photos from the event are at:


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