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Archive for September, 2007

An engineering geotechnical team from MU will travel to Peru next month to help the country rebuild some of the cities that were hit hardest by the magnitude 8.0 earthquake that struck on August 15th.

Coastal towns south of the capital of Lima, including Ica and Pisco, were among those that reported the greatest damage.

Brent Rosenblad, an assistant professor of civil engineering, will lead a team whose mission is to aid Peruvian officials in deciding safe locations on which to rebuild.

“It’ll be challenging working in an area that has been so devastated,” said Rosenblad. “We’ll be staying pretty far from the area that we’re working in since some cities have been well destroyed.”

Rosenbland will be accompanied by a two students, as well as Jim Bay, a Utah State University geotechnical associate professor and former colleague. The group will depart the United States on October 4th and spend about two weeks in the country.

The trip comes as a result of an agreement between MU’s Civil/Environmental Engineering Department and Centro Regional de Sismologia para America del Sur (CERESIS), a group of South American countries concerned with seismological research.

After the earthquake, CERESIS requested the assistance of a team from MU’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Geotechnics.

According to Rosenblad, the team will bring their own equipment, including data acquisition devices and censors that are called geophones that measure ground vibrations.

“We’ll go to the effected cities and test selected sites where reconstruction is necessary and be able to tell them the quality of the ground,” said Rosenblad.

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Anyone seeking a job in the University of Missouri system will soon be subject to a criminal background check, according to a policy revision that takes effect Oct. 1. The requirement applies to anyone who is newly hired, rehired or promoted and to most employees who are department transfers, as well as all applicants to faculty and staff full-time, part-time and temporary positions. It will not apply to student workers.

The policy change comes for consistency reasons to make sure everyone, both faculty and staff, is treated the same, said Karen Touzeau, assistant vice chancellor of Human Resource Services. MU has been doing criminal background checks since 1997, but only on staff employees.

The background checks will be performed by a third-party vendor, the Kansas City-based firm Validity Screening Solutions. The fact that Validity, a private firm that has more than 1,500 clients nationwide, will perform the background checks instead of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who has done them until now, means that the information will come from the national level and will be more comprehensive than before, Touzeau said.

Members of the Faculty Council have brought several concerns to the administration regarding the use of criminal background checks, said Frank Schmidt, chair of the Faculty Council.

One concern is that criminal background checks are thought to be “notoriously inaccurate,” Schmidt said. He said requiring criminal background checks could also interfere with academic freedom and civil rights.

Touzeau said that should the background check yield unfavorable results, the university will certainly look at the relevance of the charges presented by the background check in connection to the job description.

Read the full story here.

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The university now has one more sculpture to add to its growing public art collection. “Joy of Discovery,” a four-story tall abstract image of a double helix, was dedicated in the atrium of the Life Sciences Center Tuesday.

The sculpture was funded by Al McQuinn, a 1954 MU graduate. McQuinn said he donated the money for the project and the whole atrium because he wanted to give back to the university that he said gave him a good education.

“The McQuinns’ vision was to commission an award-winning work of art capable of drawing national attention to the Bond Life Sciences Center,” Chancellor Brady Deaton said.

The dedication ceremony for the sculpture marked the culmination of months of work for architect and artist Kenneth vonRoenn, whose team of 55 people designed and installed the piece during the summer.

“I felt the sculpture should physically connect the two sides of the atrium by engaging both spaces,” he wrote. “I also wanted the sculpture to embody the enthusiastic, self-perpetuating joy of discovery woven into the fabric of MU’s Life Sciences Center.”

Read the complete story in the Columbia Missourian and see pictures of “Joy of Discovery.”

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What’s in a name?

A university’s name is as old as, well, the university itself. It has only been within the last twenty years that the marketing and merchandising of that name has become so important however.

MU founded its Trademark and Licensing Department in 1983. Since 1988 Linda Gilbert has been director the department, and has witnessed first hand all of the changes the collegiate licensing industry has undergone.

“You used to see the departments run by two or three people for a long time, but in the last ten years you’ve seen people either expand their in-house departments, or outsource to a third-part company,” Gilbert said.

In the late 90s MU outsourced to the Collegiate Licensing Company. Gilbert said the choice to outsource has proved itself to be an improvement and time saving move for the department, “When you’re independent and a sweatshirt comes into you, how do you know that its a good sweatshirt? I was taking them home and washing them and drying them.”

Today MU has licenses with over 500 vendors of MU clothing and apparel and receives anywhere from $500,000 to $850,000 in royalties from sales each year. How well a university’s brand sells each year depends on numerous factors: athletic success, if a university’s colors are in fashion that season, and of course, heritage and strong academics.

Mike Low, the Director of Licensing for the University of Notre Dame says that without heritage, tradition and strong academics, “a university is just enjoying a hot market experience”

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It has been one year since Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education recommended greater accountability for the nation’s colleges and universities. An Inside Higher Ed article points out some new websites providing higher education data that were developed as a direct result of the commission’s work.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities launched their U-CAN network today which provides both individual and comparable information about almost 600 of the association’s 1,000 member institutions. Those colleges included in the network are able to personalize the data regarding student outcomes, a decision the NAICU decided to make due to the wide range of institutional goals. David L. Warren, the association’s president, said “What we have opposed is any prescriptive outcome measure.”

The U.S. Department of Education has revamped their website, now called College Navigator, to directly compete with the U-CAN network. However there is no new information compared to the department’s old website, the College Opportunities Online Locator, due to “statutory limits on data collection.” “They’re doing all they can with the data they have,” said Charles Miller, the commission’s chairman.

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The stereotype of college binge drinking is no secret. Images of flip cup and beer pong continue to be glorified and parodied in films and on television. While it seems impossible to stop the behavior of students, MU buffs up its education every year in October for Alcohol Responsibility Month.

MU’s Lowry Mall will be bustling with activity on Oct. 2 when the first of the month’s events gets underway with the Alcohol Responsibility Month Resource Fair, which involves education on healthy alternatives to drinking. Other events include information about alcohol poisoning, the effects of alcohol on sexual health and a renovation on the traditional ARM walk.

“The biggest change is that our 24-hour walk will now be a 12-hour walk,” said Kim Dude, director of the Wellness Resource Center. “Students were having a hard time finding team members for the middle of the night shifts.”

Teams can prove important in this event since those that finish the entire 12 hours are awarded 12,000 points. Points are awarded to organizations, Greek houses, floors, or figs with each event attended. At the end of the month three monetary prizes of $300, $100 and $50 will be awarded to the groups with the most points.

October isn’t the only time dedicated to educating and preventing alcohol abuse; the Wellness Resource Center has implemented several tools throughout the year to encourage students to make right choices. Two years ago the MU Mythbuster signs began appearing in Brady commons and on other parts of campus. These bury such myths as “beer before liquor, never been sicker,” and surrounding pedestrian safety and smoking, Dude said.

“We treat students as adults. We do not preach. We provide information and encourage them to make the best choices,” she said.

Dude says the response to the MU Mythbusters is “more positive than anything we have ever done.”

A story in the New York Times details just how much alcohol awareness education is needed. A student’s death last spring at Rider University sparked tougher punishments and stricter enforcement for disobeying the alcohol policies in place. A task force even suggested eliminating fraternities and sororities all together.

MU’s Greek community is led by rules put in place by the Interfraternity Council. These include rules forbidding the encouragement of alcohol consumption, including advertisements suggesting such. The IFC also promotes utilizing the University’s ongoing education about alcohol and drug abuse as well as rape education.

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The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the MU College of Education a $1.3 million grant to prepare teachers about 100 teachers in Missouri to teach students who do not speak English as their native language.

The English Language Learning in Missouri (ELL-MO) will provide teachers throughout Missouri with classes in the fall, winter, and summer sessions at the MU College of Education in order to become certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), in addition to the culture and background of the primary types of foreign students.

Roy Fox, chair of the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum in the MU College of Education, said that in 2005, the number of students in Missouri that did not speak English as their native language was 20,000.

To enter into the program, teachers will have to apply. The MU College of Education said that priority will be given to teachers that work in central Missouri’s most highly-impacted districts, currently teach at least some English language learners, have solid computer skills, and can work independently. An article on the MU College of Education website state that interested teachers should contact Jill Sappington at 573-882-8394 for more information.

For the full story, visit the MU News Bureau.

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