Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences


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Crosscurrents

Fall/Winter 2009-10
Volume 10, Number 2

Dean Sarah Mangelsdorf

From the Dean »

As I reflect upon another eventful fall at Northwestern, the weather is positively splendid, with temperatures in the 50s and clear blue skies. Where shall I begin? In September we welcomed a freshmen class with even higher credentials than the class before (I did not think that was possible!). The energy and excitement they bring to the campus is palpable.

Featured Articles

Marcus Alexis

Economist Marcus Alexis "Lifted as he Climbed" »

Noted economist Marcus Alexis passed away in May, but his presence was clearly felt in Alice Millar Chapel during an October memorial service. Through tributes from colleagues who were also close friends, a portrait emerged of a man large in both physique and reputation. A man with a booming voice, a frequent laugh that was described as a chortle, and an enveloping handshake. A man who used his success and his personal gifts—his intellect, his humor, and his charisma—to advance the cause of African Americans in higher education and to open wider the doors of economic opportunity for all. Aldon Morris, professor of sociology and African American studies, remembered his friend and mentor as one who believed that “you must lift as you climb.”

Weinberg Researchers Fight Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Obesity »

A roundup of the latest medical research out of Northwestern University.

Harvey Kapnick and the Program that Bears his Name »

“We need to provide undergraduates at Northwestern with an understanding of the role business plays in our society and the opportunities it provides for outstanding students…To do this we need to have business leaders discuss forthrightly their views of ethics; how social progress can be achieved; the roles of government and business; and the contribution profits make in our economic well-being and growth. It is essential that we provide a dialogue for these issues at the undergraduate level so that more students will seek out business careers. This is the challenge for the Business Institutions Program.”

Mr. Preston goes to Washington »

What would it be like to enter the President’s Cabinet in the middle of a crisis? How would it be to face the media glare, intractable bureaucracy, and public and congressional scrutiny? 

Business executive and Northwestern alumnus Steve Preston had a chance to find out, when he agreed to steer the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during part of the worst housing crisis in decades. In that position and in the one immediately preceding it—as head of the Small Business Administration—he won over many skeptics and earned praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. But both positions were hugely fraught with problems. Here is that Washington crucible through the eyes of a private citizen with no political experience but with a desire to serve his country.

What's Chinese about Chinese Art? »

Anyone who watched the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing couldn’t help but be impressed by the display of Chinese creativity, technology, and engineering. The dramatic presentations, full of colorful references to ancient Chinese painting, archeological treasures, and China’s complex cultural history reflected the ambitions of a country ready to take its place as a world power. The light-filled extravaganza seemed to proclaim, “We’ve arrived!”

The Olympic ceremonies, like officially sanctioned public statues and monuments of eons past, signified China’s history and political aspirations. In other words, they presented the story China wanted to tell about itself and the direction in which it wanted to move. That outlook was informed by previous artistic styles as well as by national myths and a coherent identity—the traditional and the contemporary coming together in a wholly unique way. 

Fly-Fishing and the Freshman Seminar: Helping Students Cast Deep into Intellectual Waters »

For almost 40 years, liberal arts students at Northwestern have shared this freshman experience: sitting around a table with a small group engaged in intense discussion about things that matter. On a chilly fall day, the 15 freshmen in Wendy Griswold’s African American literature class are part of the tradition. They have moved eight tables into a big rectangle in a University Hall classroom. Four students are wearing Wildcat purple. Six have laptops. All are listening intently, perhaps because they know they will be called upon. Even those who answer hesitantly may be amazed at their progress by the end of the quarter. Propelling them from where they are now—students fresh from high school—to where they need to be as Northwestern students—are these, the freshman seminars.

Anthony Bozza: Boswell to the Stars »

At Northwestern, [Anthony Bozza] dove into the study of history with a similar passion when Ivor Wilks, the famed British Africanist, fascinated him with firsthand accounts of the Ashanti in Ghana. His first big career break came when Rolling Stone magazine hired him as an unpaid intern. “I loved writing history papers,”  he told us. “Essentially what I started doing at Rolling Stone was writing history papers, just about music.” 

Now it is the public that reads his print, fine or otherwise, in the four best-sellers he has had published since 2002. Nerd no more, the easy-going, engaging author counts as friends the subjects of his books—rapper Eminem, rock stars Tommy Lee and Slash, and comedian Artie Lange. In an interview over brunch near his Greenwich Village home, it was easy to see how the 38-year-old author has won their trust. Bozza is empathetic and comfortable in his own skin. He laughs a lot, often at himself. He’s not afraid to show you his “warts” if you’ll show him yours. Here, in his own words, is a story about the storyteller.