Monthly Archives: June 2008

“Anything, anytime, anywhere, any device”

That describes our collective expectation when it comes to digital content and services, said Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice chancellor for information technology services and associate chief information architect for enterprise infrastructure, in a great presentation to the Vanderbilt Webspiders Friday June 27. Matt talked about how the explosion of social media sites and tools have drastically changed not only our use but our expectations of the internet, as well as what all this means for us as a university.

See Matt’s slides here.

See his presentation on “Forces and Pressures of Network Computing” here.

And, for fun, see podcasts that students in a class Matt taught this year on 2.0 produced about a Wired article about Apple here.

Sidebar–He also discussed some of the history of networking – dating back to the Cold War. With my brain primed with imagines of Russian submarines and nascent satellite tracking systems, imagine my delight when I flipped on the t.v. that evening and stumbled upon that oft-overlooked cinematic gem War Games. (Raise your hand if you saw this one in the theater). Oh. my. gosh. I had not seen it in years. If you are at all interested in technology take another look at this movie next time it’s on. Sure to delight, even if you don’t suffer from 80s nostalgia like me.

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Catching up

Many things have happened since last I wrote.

Monroe Carell Jr. The Vanderbilt community mourned the passing of Monroe Carell Jr. June 20, one of its staunchest supporters and most generous benefactors. If you did not know Mr. Carell through his business acumen – he transformed Nashville’s Central Parking from 10 lots to the world’s largest provider of parking facilities – then you surely know his name from our award-winning Children’s Hospital, made possible through his personal donations as well as his leadership in fundraising. Nearly $80 million has been committed to VCH thanks to Mr. Carell. A Vanderbilt alum, he and his family were not only generous donors but also leading advocates for causes across the medical center and campus. At the time of his death, he was leading the university’s extremely successful Shape the Future campaign. He leaves shoes that cannot be filled, but will inspire and elevate generations to come. Read more.

VUCast 2.0. The Vanderbilt News Service launched a redesign of its online news network, VUCast, softly on Friday, June 13 (we’re not superstitious) and a bit more loudly this week. The new VUCast does justice to our vast and diverse audio and video collection, better incorporates social bookmarking tools to make sharing easier, and is just plain pleasant to read and navigate. Many thanks to the News Services’ own Mike Petruna, Creative Services’ Amy Blackman, and the crew at Sitemason for helping to make this happen. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Curb Creative Campus. We announced something we’ve been excited about for some time – music industry exec and educational innovator Mike Curb has donated funds and resources to create the new Mike Curb Creative Campus at Vanderbilt, which “will elevate creative practice on and off campus to prepare students to work with globalized markets, engage emerging technologies and navigate increasingly complex intellectual property rules.” Makes me wish I were a student again. Go to the Web site.

Commons Dean Move-In. Frank Wcislo, the dean of the Commons, Vanderbilt’s new freshman living-learning-campus-within-a-campus, and his family moved into their new digs on campus. The excitement about the upcoming fall semester, when the class of 2012 will move in and experience, shape, expand and explore this grand experiment Vanderbilt has undertaken, is hitting a fever pitch. Watch a video about the dean’s move-in.

Southeastern Communicators Association launched. Our friends at the University of Arkansas invited us some time ago to attend a conference of a new association – SECCA, or the Southeastern Conference Communicators Association. Always a joiner, I volunteered to represent Vandy at the inaugural conference June 8-10 in Fayetteville and boy am I glad I did. Great information, great colleagues, and a lot of fun. I even learned how to call the hogs. In fact, I had so much fun I offered to host the group at Vanderbilt next June. Learn more and view PowerPoints of the presentations on branding, fundraising, crisis management, technology and more here.

This is just a sample of what we’ve been busy with lately and my measly excuse for why I haven’t been blogging. Will stay in better touch. I promise. Really.

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Defense

One of the most auspicious events that takes place at any university is the conferring of its highest degree, the doctorate. Representing the culmination of over 20 years of education, creative exploration, rigorous research, and a willingness to work hours that far surpass what most humans see as reasonable, the PhD is a singular academic accomplishment.

Usually I just read about a PhD conferment in a news update from one of our colleges, but today I had the opportunity to witness the dénouement – the dissertation defense.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I witnessed the event not out of journalistic inquiry but because the defendant was my dear friend Christine Crish).

The very fact that this talk – just one of many that a scientist will give in her career but easily the most anxiously anticipated – is called a ‘defense’ lends insight into the high stakes, professionally and psychologically, tied to it. Her defense. Sounds confrontational, a bit scary. When my stepson heard me say Christine was defending today, he asked me what kind of trouble she was in.

None, of course. Christine has been a stellar graduate student. Her work ethic is extremely high as is her hunger for discovery. As is, it must be said, her ability to make it all look easy, to make you forget while she’s cooking you a wonderful dinner and being the consummate hostess that she is, also, a flippin’ neuroscientist.

She’d more than done her homework. So prepared was Christine that she went on vacation the week before her defense. Nobody goes on vacation the week before their defense. Christine did.

Not to my surprise but much to my delight, her defense was flawless. She presented her findings about the somewhat disturbing but always lovable naked mole rat, the only mammal who lives in a colony led by a queen, like bees, ants and termites. Confident and compelling, she made complex concepts accessible, and even managed to make a phrase like ‘prepubescent stasis’ sound cute. Deftly handling the multiple questions that came her way, Christine made the daunting dissertation defense look like just another day at the lab.

Congratulations Christine, and congratulations Vanderbilt, for minting yet another world class researcher.

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History

…was made last night as it became apparent that for the first time in history an African American, Sen. Barack Obama, would be the presidential nominee for one of the nation’s major parties. Read Vanderbilt political scientist John Geer’s insights on the news in the Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Carpetbagger blog.

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Filed under Government & Politics, In The News

What could be more fascinating…

…than finding a tribe of people that may have never had contact with the rest of the world? Though taken with this story, which broke last week from Brazil, I was just as troubled that we were hearing it at all, concerned that this remaining bit of wildness would be corrupted by “civilized” contact. Or that perhaps, if these people had opted out of mainstream society, their wishes would be compromised by the media attention. But why listen to what I have to say about it. Take a gander instead at this ABCNews Online story on the discovery which quotes Vanderbilt anthropologist (and cannibalism scholar! not that has anything to do with it! but still!) Beth Conklin.

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Alvarez in NYT

Wonderful story and photos in this past Sunday’s New York Times on Vandy slugger Pedro Alvarez, who as an 18-year-old turned down a million dollar signing bonus from the Red Sox in order to pursue his education, and college baseball, at Vanderbilt. Great profile of Alvarez’s stellar career so far and of his supportive family. He’s expected to be an early pick in this Thursday’s major league draft.

A few pages later in the same sports section you’ll find a story about former Commodore and current Broncos’ quarterback Jay Cutler, back on the field after receiving a diagnosis of Type I diabetes in April. NYT reports Jay has his diabetes under control and is back to his strong self. Congratulations and best wishes, Jay.

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