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Boston University Arts & Sciences

CAS News: September 2010
A Letter from the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to what promises to be a great academic year!

A lot has already happened since the official close of the past academic year. The Office of the Dean has been reorganized, our new team is in place, we have been working together to smooth out the wrinkles, and the dust has settled on significant renovation that created a place for everyone to work. Among our numbers now are the three new Associate Deans of the Faculty, Pat Johnson for the Humanities, Geof Cooper for the Natural Sciences, and Strom Thacker for the Social Sciences; Richard Wright as the new Assistant Dean of Faculty Actions; Jeffrey Hughes as Associate Dean of the Graduate School; Steve Jarvi as Associate Dean for Student Academic Life; and Scott Whitaker in his new position as Associate Dean for Research and Outreach. Some of you may not have had a chance to meet our new Director of Communications, Pat Farrell, who joined us late in the spring. This summer, after Karen Weiss Jones left Boston to begin a new chapter in her life, we were very fortunate to bring on board a new Director of Advancement for CAS, Steve Kean, who comes to us with many successful years of experience in university fundraising. I think you will notice some good changes as you become familiar with this larger team of senior staff.

Learn More Earth Sciences Prof Finds Oldest Rocks on Earth

Professor of Earth Sciences Matt Jackson and four colleagues from other institutions recently discovered the oldest rocks on the planet. Their findings were published in Nature on August 12. Surveying Cenozoic-era lavas on Baffin Island in Canada and in West Greenland, they found primitive lead-isotope ratios that indicate they formed in the ancient Earth's mantle roughly 4.5 billion years ago.

Learn More African Studies Center Receives Over $2 Million in Federal Funding

The African Studies Center (ASC) recently received renewed US Department of Education (DoE) Title VI funding to support African language education and area studies. The ASC received a $1,092,000 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grant to provide scholarships for students of African languages, including for the first time three annual fellowships for undergraduates. The ASC was also named a National Resources Center for African studies and received $1,085,244 to support curriculum development, community outreach, and research.

Sclaroff and Team Win $10 Million Grant for Computer Modeling Research

The National Science Foundation recently announced its three Expeditions in Computing awards for this year. Computer Science Professor and Department Chair Stanley Sclaroff is a principal investigator on a team that won one of the three awards. Their project is titled "Computational Behavioral Science: Modeling, Analysis, and Visualization of Social and Communicative Behavior."

Learn More BU Astronomers Record Evidence of New Solar Activity

Scientists from Boston University's Center for Space Physics (CSP) announced recently that they have sub-visual evidence of the onset of a new cycle of solar-terrestrial activity. The key results being reported deal with the fact that recent auroral displays at high latitudes (ones visible to the naked eye) were accompanied by far less luminous glows in the atmosphere at lower latitudes.

"It's exciting to see the return of aurora to mid-latitudes," says CSP senior research associate Steven Smith, referring to the periodic occurrence of emissions in the Earth's atmosphere that have intrigued observers from ancient to modern times.

Learn More Creative Writing Prize Gets a Boost

Al Silverman, the generous donor behind the Creative Writing Program's Saul Bellow Fellowship in Creative Writing, recently increased his grant from $60,000 to $100,000. The fellowship is given each year to a promising fiction writer, and the increased grant will allow the program to offer a larger annual prize. Silverman, who is currently writing a book about the CAS Creative Writing Program, was a friend and editor of Bellow's. A Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner, Bellow is considered one of the greatest novelists of the 20th Century.

BU Enters Partnerships with African Universities

Boston University, through its African Studies Center, has signed Memoranda of Understanding this summer with the University of Fort Hare in South Africa and Addis Ababa University and Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia. Fort Hare, located in Eastern Cape Province, is the most important historically black university in South Africa, including among its alumni prominent South Africans Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Steve Biko, as well as President Seretse Kama of Botswana, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia. Founded in 1950 and located in the capital, Addis Ababa University is the premier center for higher education in Ethiopia. Bahir Dar, located in northwestern Ethiopia, was founded only ten years ago but already has grown to over 45,000 students and includes important programs in agriculture, engineering, and land administration.

Learn More Bringing People Together to Discuss Religious Differences

Professor of Religion Adam Seligman's International Summer School for Religion and Public Life was highlighted in the August 15 New York Times article, "Letter From Cyprus – In a Divided Land, Lessons in Living Together," by Nick Thorpe. Twenty-eight participants from diverse religious and secular backgrounds attended the eighth annual summer school, organized by Seligman and BU's Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. This year's theme was "divided cities," and the program began in Nicosia, Cyprus and ended in Jaffe, Israel. The purpose of the school is for participants to find a new way of living together. Read the NY Times article.

Learn More BU Computer Scientist Wins Grant to Develop Internet Privacy Tools

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a three-year, $474,000 grant last month to Evimaria Terzi, professor of computer science at CAS. The grant will fund research to develop tools to protect the privacy of social media users. Terzi is the principal investigator for the project.

Learn More African Studies Center Receives Renewed Title VI Funding

The African Studies Center recently received renewed Department of Education (DoE) Title VI funding, which is a very important achievement for this, one of the oldest and most distinguished African Studies programs in the country. Title VI awards are important both as marks of national leadership for the program and for providing necessary resources for supporting our students. The DoE awards a limited number of Title VI National Resource Fellowships, primarily to graduate students (BU also offers a limited number of undergraduate awards). These awards are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are studying an African language.

Computer Scientist Receives Grant to Make Computers More Reliable

Associate Professor of Computer Science Hongwei Xi has received a new $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The award will support Hongwei's effort to construct software systems that carry safety and reliability guarantees that can be formally specified and then verified.

Building software is often a process of great complexity. In this day and age, safe and reliable software is a rare oddity and software failure is a norm rather than an exception. How can safe and reliable software be built in a manner that is practical and cost-effective? This project addresses the issue by focusing on building trustworthy low-level systems that are verifiably safe and reliable. Instead of solely relying on testing to ensure safety and reliability, the novel approach taken in the project provides the programmer with a formal means to construct proofs demonstrating correctness properties of the actual implementation that can be verified independently.

Adil Najam in the Media on Pakistan Floods

The Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and CAS Professor of International Relations and Geography and Environment, Professor Adil Najam has been widely quoted in the international and Pakistani media on the devastating floods in Pakistan, the international humanitarian response to them, and on efforts for longer-range rehabilitation and development in the post-flood reconstruction.

Learn More Grant to Help Super-Computers Run More Smoothly

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jonathan Appavoo and colleagues from other institutions have received a grant from the US Department of Energy to support research on "A Fault-Oblivious Extreme-Scale Execution Environment."

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Upcoming Meetings and Events

Ice Cream Welcome for First Year Students (freshmen and faculty only)
3:30-5 p.m., Marsh Plaza (Tsai Lobby rain location)

CAS Café, "Stumbling on Happiness" by Dan Gilbert (freshmen and faculty only)
4-6 p.m., GSU Small Ballroom

Proposals for Lecturer Consolidations due to Gareth McFeely (garethmc@bu.edu) as described in memo to Chairs of 7/16/10

Council of Chairs and Directors Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 313

Arts & Sciences Faculty Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 522

Academic Policy Committee Meeting
4 p.m., TBD

CAS Café #2
The first of a four-part series on the play Good; discussion of the play (later installments will include viewing rehearsal, viewing the show, and an after-show discussion)
4-6 p.m., Trustee Ballroom, 1 Silber Way, 9th Floor

Council of Chairs and Directors Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 313

Due Date for Academic Planning Self-Studies, Budget Requests, Class-Scheduling Data, TF Assignments: due to CAS Dean's Office per upcoming memo

New CAS Faculty Orientation
8 a.m., The Castle, 225 Bay State Road

Arts & Sciences Faculty Meeting
4 p.m., Location TBD
5:30 Sherry Hour, CAS 106

Social Sciences Chairs & Directors Meeting 4 p.m., CAS 132

Academic Planning Committee Meeting
4 p.m., Location TBD

Parents' Weekend Begins
Parents' Weekend Reception
4 p.m., Tsai Lobby

Major Choices Week

College Scholars Reception
4 p.m., Trustee Ballroom, One Silber Way, 9th Floor

Faculty Assembly
3 p.m., Tsai Center Auditorium

Alumni Weekend Begins

Chairs' Calendar

Welcome to New Faculty

CAS welcomes a new class of talented and distinguished faculty members this fall. This year, 27 new scholars will join the ranks of CAS tenured and tenure-track faculty in 18 departments. View list

To Faculty: Come Have Fun and Meet Incoming Students!

The CAS First Year Experience (FYE) will begin its second year this fall with two great events. We will once again host CAS Café, a series of enjoyable and intellectually stimulating events to which all CAS faculty and freshmen (and only CAS faculty and freshmen) are invited to share food, drink, and lively conversation. At the first CAS Café, scheduled Tuesday, September 7 from 4-6 p.m. in the GSU Small Ballroom, participants will discuss Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness. Interested students will receive copies of the book at Summer Orientation. Faculty members interested in participating may request a complimentary copy of the book by contacting casevent@bu.edu.

Faculty members also are strongly encouraged to take part in the Ice Cream Social for First-Year Students (Wednesday, September 1 from 3:30-5:00 p.m at Marsh Plaza / Tsai Lobby if rain). The CAS FYE comprises a wide range of different events organized by the CAS Office of Student Programs and Leadership, many of which are aimed at giving our newest students the opportunity to get to know faculty and interact with them informally outside of class to give them the best possible start to the college careers.

Welcoming a New Director of Language Instruction

Professor Gisela Hoecherl-Alden will join us on September 1 as Assistant Dean and Director of Language Instruction with responsibility for leading, coordinating, and inspiring excellence in language instruction in the College of Arts & Sciences and beyond. Current on the faculty of the University of Maine at Orono, she will join the faculty of the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature as her own teaching and research focuses on German Studies. This position reports through the CAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

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Staff and faculty who are traveling on behalf of BU should click here to learn more about policies and available discounts.

At Your Service: CAS Communications and Media Relations

The Office of Communications provides comprehensive media relations services to all CAS faculty and staff members. We encourage you to tell us about research, grants, book publications and any other news you have to share. If you're not sure how to move forward with a story idea, please feel free to contact us. We'll work with you to find the appropriate news channel, whether that involves drafting and distributing a media release or working with our colleagues at BU Media Relations and BU Today. To discuss a potential news item or to learn more about the media services available through the CAS Office of Communications, please call or email Patrick Farrell (617-358-1185/ pmfarrel@bu.edu) or Jeremy Schawb (617-358-1056/ jschwab@bu.edu).

Newsletter Archives

Keep Us in the Loop

Let us know about news or upcoming events. Please send news items to cascom@bu.edu, or call Patrick Farrell at 617-358-1185. Announcements about upcoming events can also be submitted online.

For all matters regarding your alumni, please contact Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kirsten Lundeen at 617-358-5525 or Alumni Relations Coordinator Lauren Hall at 617-353-1060.

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