USC in the News

USC in the News 10/8/2009

The New York Times, in an Associated Press story, reported President Obama plans to appoint David Huebner of the USC Gould School as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. If confirmed by the Senate, Huebner will be the third openly gay ambassador in U.S. history and the first pick by this administration.

The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Diane Winston of the USC Annenberg School on religion's role in a newspaper debate over inoculation in the smallpox epidemic of 1721 Boston and how it relates to today's debates over H1N1 inoculation. "Over ... several months, an all-out newspaper war used the disagreement over vaccination as a proxy for debating societal divisions over political power, individual autonomy and the role of God in everyday life," Winston wrote. "Some believers still prefer to put their trust in God rather than in doctors and their medicine. Others see providence in the humanity's scientific and technological breakthroughs. But as the smallpox crisis of 1721 shows, the underlying substance of social and political debates doesn't change that much. The news may be delivered in different ways and the fine points of the story might be distinct from days gone by, but old tensions around the idea of 'progress' persist."

Los Angeles Times reported that the USC Annenberg School for Communication has changed its name and is now the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. According to a widely carried Associated Press story, USC President Steven B. Sample said at the name-change ceremony that the shift was advocated by Wallis Annenberg, whose late father, Walter Annenberg, supported the founding of the school. Annenberg School Dean Ernest Wilson added that journalism has been under siege and it necessary to support the profession's future. He added that renaming the school demonstrates a commitment to the role that information in the public interest plays in a modern democracy.

Los Angeles Times featured "An Evening with Michael Tilson Thomas and the USC Thornton Symphony," part of Visions and Voices: The USC Arts & Humanities Initiative. Earlier this week, Thornton School alumnus and renowned conductor Michael Tilson Thomas performed at the event, celebrating the Thornton School's 125th anniversary. "For 45 minutes, the music director of the San Francisco Symphony described a sentimental education, which began when he was 10-year-old piano prodigy in USC's preparatory school in the mid-'50s and continued through his undergraduate years. He then conducted the USC Thornton Symphony in a powerful, emotionally generous performance of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. ... The USC orchestra is very good," the story stated. Thornton School graduate student Cindy Taylor wrote the program notes for the performance, the article noted.

Los Angeles Times featured Emily Ventura of the Keck School of USC in an ongoing series on helping people eat healthier. In one story, Ventura analyzed the eating habits of a busy couple who eat a lot of prepackaged foods. "You can tell from a distance that this has about 50 ingredients, which means it probably has stuff in it you don't want," Ventura said, referring to a package's ingredients list. Ventura said that the numbers on a label should be interpreted with caution: "It can be really tricky. People will see that something is 20 percent fat, but they're not factoring in how many servings they're actually eating." In another Los Angeles Times story, Ventura also performed a "diet makeover" for a family with small children. In a third Los Angeles Times article, Ventura provided recipes for lighter alternatives to chicken mole and fried chicken.

Los Angeles Times reviewed a performance by saxophonist Ben Wendel of the USC Thornton School. Wendel presented the L.A. premiere of his untitled six-part suite, the result of earning a New Works Grant from Chamber Music America. "Performing on saxophones, bassoon and the occasional melodica, Wendel was a democratic leader through the intricate and harmonically rich suite, offering plenty of room for his crack, six-piece ensemble to shine," the review stated. "As if looking to close the night with some fireworks, Wendel's solo on tenor saxophone in the sixth movement swerved through a dramatic series of trills and runs that earned a few 'oohs' from the crowd while still preserving the piece's intricate, syncopated backbone."

Vanity Fair highlighted the USC Annenberg School in a profile on Wallis Annenberg, daughter of Walter Annenberg, who founded the Annenberg School in 1971. The story covered a meeting between Wallis Annenberg and Annenberg School Dean Ernest Wilson and faculty. Wallis Annenberg said that Wilson is a visionary, and pledged a $1 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation "to do some exciting things," the story reported. She also praised filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, calling their work heroic.

United Press International reported that rock musician Steve Miller will help the USC Thornton School mark its 125th anniversary with two benefit concerts at Bovard Auditorium later this month. Christopher Sampson of the Thornton School said that the school is "deeply grateful to Steve and his band for their incredible generosity and support of Thornton." The article noted that the Thornton School -- home to programs in popular music performance, recording science, scoring for movies and TV, classical music, opera, jazz, composition and research -- has counted among its faculty violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and composer Igor Stravinsky.

The Huffington Post ran an op-ed by Leslie Saxon of the Keck School of USC about the need to modernize medical records. "As the Internet has revolutionized the dissemination of information, the Information Age still hovers outside of hospital corridors. But it is poised to make a big entrance, as a slew of networked implanted devices, wearable monitors, and a digestible chip enters the marketplace in the coming year," Saxon wrote. "We are on the verge of the day when health information and its immediate dissemination can help save lives and make the health care system more efficient. With all of the megabytes of health data generated by body computing devices, it is not hard to imagine that new insights will emerge that can be used to discover faster cures for common diseases like heart disease and cancer." Saxon also mentioned the USC Body Computing Conference, which launched three years ago to explore the potential of networked medical devices.

The Huffington Post ran a column by Martin Kaplan of the USC Annenberg School on political conservatives. "Ruthless opposition and dingbat delusions are the currency of right-wing success, and sand in the gears of democracy," Kaplan wrote. "Whether they're cynical postures or sincere beliefs doesn't matter. The grand national conversation that was intended to enable citizens and their representatives to find common ground for conflicting values has become a grand national midway of carny-barkers and rodeo clowns."

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (Italy) featured research by Caleb Finch and Eileen Crimmins of the USC Davis School and colleagues, on the effects of the 1918 Spanish flu. The study found that people who were exposed to the flu while in the womb more likely to have cardiovascular problems later in life.

BusinessWeek noted that Krisztina Holly, USC vice provost and executive director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, was one of the panelists who helped the publication choose its list of top master's and M.B.A. programs that combine design thinking and business administration.

Arroyo Monthly profiled USC Thornton School Dean Robert Cutietta, stating that he is behind the modernization push of the school through some new programs: undergraduate degrees in choral music, vocal jazz, and popular music performance, the "first of its kind for a major university." These innovations are ambitious and precedent-setting, the story stated. Cutietta said when he saw the USC posting of the dean's job in 2002, he thought it was a perfect match. "If I was going to create a school of music, this is how I'd make it," Cutietta said, highlighting the diversity of the Thornton School's programs, including classical training, choral programs, a music industry major and a film-and-television scoring program. "There's so much vitality there," he added. The article reported that Cutietta saw room for innovation with the popular music performance program and brought in high-profile pop artists, including Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band, Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea and Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier, to consult on the curriculum. Cutietta said that the new major is as rigorous as those for classical musicians: "If you're in the popular music program, you're expected to be improvisatory, to be able to create music." The article also reported that Cutietta occasionally plays electric and acoustic bass guitars in a jazz trio that includes USC President Steven B. Sample on drums, and that Cutietta often answers music questions on KUSC-FM's "Arts Alive."

The Miami Herald featured research by Richard Cote and Ram Datar, formerly of the Keck School of USC, in an article on using nanotechnology in medical research. Cote and Datar's research, performed while at USC, employs nanotechnology to build devices that will perform dozens of "instant biopsies" with pin-prick blood tests and capture tumor cells circulating in the bloodstream before they metastasize. Cote created USC's biomedical nanoscience program, the story stated.

The Dallas Morning News ran a book review by Philip Seib of the USC Annenberg School on "The Clinton Tapes" by Taylor Branch. "Among the most valuable tools for scholars and others interested in a specific presidency is a contemporaneous record: letters or a diary that captures the president's real-time reactions to crucial moments. 'The Clinton Tapes' presents a version of this," Seib wrote. "'The Clinton Tapes' are partisan history. Branch makes no secret of his fondness and respect for Clinton. Nevertheless, the book will be valuable to anyone seeking to understand the Clinton presidency."

The Star-Ledger quoted A. Michael Noll, professor emeritus of the USC Annenberg School, about Bell Labs, which has produced several Nobel laureates. "Everything we take for granted today -- digital music, digital art, lasers -- came from Bell Labs," Noll said.

Jewish Journal reported that Charles Goldstein of the USC School of Dentistry was honored by the nonprofit organization Homeless Not Toothless, which brings together area dental offices to provide free care to the homeless and underserved.

Jewish Journal, in an op-ed by USC alumnus Lloyd Greif, noted that he is the namesake of the USC Marshall School's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Los Angeles Times, in an Associated Press story, quoted USC Head Men's Football Coach Pete Carroll in an article on advances in concussion research. "We hold guys out a lot longer than we used to," Carroll said, referring to the practice of resting injured football players.

Los Angeles Times quoted Christopher Sampson of the USC Thornton School about The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson being authorized by George Gershwin's estate to complete unfinished Gershwin songs. Sampson said that a Gershwin-Wilson collaboration isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. "Where they both made their mark was extending the form," Sampson said. "George Gershwin was the only composer of his time to make a mark with the popular style of the time and then successfully cross over to quote-unquote serious music by extending the form beyond the basic [pop song] structure, getting into operatic styles and things of that sort. Brian Wilson redefined the pop song form through his orchestrations that took music in an entirely new direction."

The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus mentioned that USC was ranked No. 8 U.S. News & World Report's "Top Up-and-Coming Schools" list.

Contra Costa Times mentioned that the USC School of Cinematic Arts' new Stan Winston Visual Effects Scholarship will receive part of the proceeds from an auction of costumes, props, fine art photography and movie posters by the auction house Profiles in History.

Contra Costa Times quoted Ange-Marie Hancock of the USC College about San Bernardino City Attorney James Penman's announcement that he and his employees won't submit to interviews with city police in an investigation of allegedly stolen city documents. Hancock said that the decision to not cooperate with police could be politically risky for Penman, who is running for mayor of San Bernardino. "I can say from a political perspective, it's highly ironic, and it doesn't bode well for the candidate," Hancock said.

NBC News Los Angeles affiliate KNBC-TV reported that a student-sponsored discussion between pastor Craig Gross and pornography actor Ron Jeremy took place at USC's Bovard Auditorium.

Ventura County Star quoted Richard Green of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate in a story about experts predicting a gain in the California housing market in 2010. Green said he is 70 percent sure the housing market is at the bottom and is expecting the market to move along with relatively little change in sales and median price for a couple of years. The positives should outweigh the negatives next year, but "I don't expect to see a boom any time soon," he said.

La Opinion featured the USC branch of CALPIRG in an article about rising tuition costs. The story reported that student members of the organization held a demonstration on campus and plan to produce an album of the event that they will send to California senators, soliciting support of a federal financial aid initiative to help low-income students complete higher education.