Category: Spotlight

Elissa Altman’s “Poor Man’s Feast” voted Fine Cooking Magazine’s Best of the Blogs

January 14th, 2011 in Spotlight 0 comments

Elissa Altman, CGS’83, CAS’85, is a former student of Dean Linda Wells. Over the years they have become good friends.  Elissa is an award-winning writer and recently informed Dean Wells that her blog won another recognition and Linda responded:


Great news.  I was delighted to vote, as I love your blog and read it religiously (the only thing I do religiously).

Love to you both and wishes for a great 2011,


From: Elissa Altman []

Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2011 3:17 PM
Subject: A note of thanks from Poor Man’s Feast

Dear Colleagues, Friends, and Readers,
I just want to take this opportunity to extend to you my most sincere thanks for voting for in Fine Cooking Magazine’s Best of the Blogs<>. As of midnight last night, Poor Man’s Feast appears to have won, and we couldn’t have done it without your help.

Almost two years ago, I launched as a site where readers could go to enjoy good writing and good food; today, we have nearly 100,000 regular readers all over the world, from Singapore and Kuala Lampur to Indianapolis and Marfa, Texas. We’ve recently expanded our content to include book reviews and interviews with the likes of award-winning authors from Deborah Madison and Dori Greenspan to Joan Nathan and Andrew Zimmern. 2011 will include much, much more.

Thanks again for your continued readership and loyalty, and best wishes to you all for a healthy, prosperous, and delicious New Year.


Read a profile of Elissa in Bostonia, Winter-Spring, 2010, at

altman eating-well


Elissa also writes for the Huffington Post.

Elissa Altman is an award-winning columnist, humorist, and commentator on all things culinary. Once described as the illegitimate love child of David Sedaris and M.F.K. Fisher, Altman has contributed to Saveur Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Beard House Magazine, the New York Times, and other major national news outlets.
Formerly a restaurant critic for The Hartford Courant, Ms. Altman has also worked in New York City as a personal chef and caterer, attended the Institute for Culinary Education, and was a longtime senior editor at both HarperCollins and Clarkson Potter.

She is the founder of the blog

Elissa Altman

Can you say “Palin/Brown?”

December 17th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

whalen, tom on fox 25 12-13-2010 1-02-54 PM.

WFXT-TV Ch. 25


Is Scott Brown keeping his campaign promises now that he’s in Washington? CGS prof Tom Whalen, interviewed on FOX 25, thinks Brown’s attention has shifted from Massachusetts to national concerns and ambitions.

View the interview at


Scott Brown votes to block repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’


Updated: Friday, 10 Dec 2010, 10:35 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 09 Dec 2010, 5:13 PM EST

BOSTON (FOX 25 / – Sen. Scott Brown has voted to block debate on a repeal of the federal ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Brown’s vote on Thursday comes just a week after he announced he was ready to support a repeal of the law, provided that the battle readiness of U.S. forces is guaranteed.

A spokesman for Brown said Thursday he has been clear that he would not vote to repeal the law until after the Senate takes a vote on a tax package.

The Massachusetts Republican had said he’d support the repeal after reviewing a Pentagon report, speaking with active and retired military service members and meeting privately with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

More wailin’ from Whalen…

December 16th, 2010 in Spotlight 1 comment

CGS prof Tom Whalen is one of Boston University most often cited professors in the media.  Among other venues, he is a regular contributor of posts  to Politico’s Arena.  Here are some of his recent comments.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Congressional Crybaby Caucus

Thomas J. WhalenThomas J. Whalen Professor of Social Science, Boston University :

We’ve come full circle. When Ed Muskie appeared to publicly shed a few tears in new Hampshire almost 40 years ago, he was deemed unfit for the presidency. Boehner repeatedly does his Niagara Falls routine and he’s about to be third in the line of succession to the White House. At some cultural level, I guess that might be considered progress.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Romney’s 2012 opening salvo

Not likely. All his GOP presidential opponents need to say is that he opposed a deal that prevented everyone’s taxes from being raised by the federal government. That will hardly resonate with the Republican rank and file.


Regardless of whether President Obama has a primary challenger or not, the fact that he is moving so far right of his base on tax policy and the wars in the Middle East will discourage many of his diehard Democratic supporters to even bother going to the polls. That’s the real threat to a second term.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Tax cut woulda, coulda, shoulda’s

To paraphrase the late great progressive Theodore Roosevelt, President Obama has all the political backbone of an éclair. His caving in to the Republicans on the tax cut issue is beyond shameless. He is all but guaranteeing a liberal challenger to take him on in the 2012 Democratic primaries and thereby split the party. Can you say 1980 redux?


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Huckabee’s White House chances

Does this mean another GOP has been like Pat Buchanan is going to throw his hat in the ring as well? Seriously, I hardly think Gingrich announcing his candidacy is going to strike fear in the hearts of Palin or Romney. The ex-speaker would be better off keeping to what he has been doing of late: writing historical novels. At least that way he would be assured of a respectful hearing. In the political realm, he’s the equivalent of the pet rock; an old fad that thankfully is long over.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Unemployment benefits cutoff

This is Congress’s not so subtle way of saying “Bah, Humbug!” to the most vulnerable people in our current economic crisis. After all, business is business, right? President Obama needs to channel the ghost of Jacob Marley and remind these so-called oracles of the people that the plight of the jobless is their business. Even a Scrooge could understand that.


What rush? The proposed change is long overdue. It’s interesting that the same kind of mossback arguments used against repeal of the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell policy were also used by the political crackers who opposed racial integration of the armed forces back in the late 1940s. File under Do The Right Thing.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Obama-GOP compromise possible

Sound advice from Carter. It would be a huge mistake for President Obama to kowtow to Republicans on the tax cut issue. At a time when the GOP is denouncing extension of unemployment benefits to the most vulnerable in our stalled economy, it is unconscionable the president would even think of allowing such a blatant money grab for the country-club set to continue.

After all, the presidency is, as Franklin Roosevelt once said, “pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.” It’s time for this administration to start exercising some.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Has TSA gone too far?’ – The Arena

The ugly message here is that the GOP leadership considers President Obama illegitimate. Bill Clinton received a similar reception after the 1994 midterms. Apparently the White House is supposed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the the Republican Party. No Democrats need apply. I guess the old Newt Gingrich Banana Republican mentality is back in vogue. Heaven help us all.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Should Obama quit after one term

What utter nonsense! Lyndon Johnson attempted the same thing in the spring of 1968 to purportedly bring about a peaceful solution to the Vietnam War. And how did that work out? We got four more years of bloody U.S. military involvement, lost international prestige, a wrecked economy, and Watergate. To make a difference in the increasingly cutthroat world of modern Washington politics, one has to stand and fight rather than cut and run. No Neville Chamberlains need apply. I guess Schoen and Caddell didn’t get that memo.


Thomas J. Whalen’s response to ‘Media gullible on polling?’ – The

The media isn’t gullible, just lazy. They increasingly take their story leads from the campaign sound bite of the day. Little time is spent on actually determining whether these fabricated news nuggets are true or even relevant. Perhaps if reporters got off their collective duffs, stopped tweeting each other about how clever and brilliant they are, and actually did some honest-to-goodness field investigatory work, they might not be so dependent on the people they cover to do their jobs for them. That might be asking to much from this generally disengaged, self-important bunch, but you have to start somewhere.


Sally Sommers Smith on Irish Music in America

December 16th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

Paul Keating, in his blog  From The Hob at Irish Central, recommended  a journal edited by CGS professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics  Sally Sommers Smith, a fiddler and an expert on Irish music:

sommers smith, sally 10-22-2010 6-41-57 AM

17521963_4-4.qxdFor the serious student of Irish music in America comes the publication of a special issue of the Journal of the Society for American Music devoted to Irish music in the U.S.

It contains a theme-setting foreword by the guest editors Sally K. Sommers Smith and Paul F. Wells, who assembled seven academic writers to expound on topics they researched and delivered in academic conferences. They shepherded a lot of information into the heady but handy (125 pages) paperback volume (Volume 4, number four November 2010). These essays will be especially interesting for the summer school students of Irish music camps who are looking for some stimulating reading over the winter months.

Wells is director emeritus of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University who has published on North American and Irish traditional music in the past, as well as performed on fiddle and flute.

Smith is a professor of natural science and biology at Boston University and Wellesley College as well as a fiddler in the Irish and Cape Breton traditions, and has written on the evolution of Irish and Scottish music in the U.S. and Canada.

Wells leads off the scholarly essays with a closer look on an important but unheralded 19th century tune book known as Ryan’s Mammoth Collection published in Boston by Elias Howe and William Bradbury Ryan.

Smith follows with a further examination of the legacy of Captain Francis O’Neill in Irish music today.

Copies of this special issue can be purchased for $30 from Cambridge University Press.


Rashad Bell (CGS’03, CAS’05) is an example of successful sports conditioning

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

December 3, 2010

December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010

Taking On the Triangle of Terror

Semester’s best: Fine-tuning varsity athletes year-round

Video by Nicolae Ciorogan. Text by Caleb Daniloff

Ever wonder why you chose not to become a varsity athlete? Watch as strength and conditioning coach Glenn Harris puts pickup basketball and soccer player Davide Nardi (CAS’11) through the paces in the video above and you’ll remember why. Advil anyone? Photo by Chitose Suzuki

As the semester winds down, we thought we’d revisit some of our favorite features from recent months, in case you missed them the first time around. These stories were selected by the staff of BU Today. Happy holidays!

The third floor of 300 Babcock Street is a cacophony of clanking metal, echoing voices and grunts, and wall speakers throbbing with rap music. In the 12,000-square-foot gym and weight room, members of the men’s varsity hoops squad are short-sprinting under the watchful gaze of BU’s strength and conditioning head coach Glenn Harris.

“He’s got the shoes, he’s got the shoes,” Harris shouts as guard Matt Griffin (SMG’12) bursts forward, stops on a dime, and sprints back.

NCAA regulations prevent varsity student-athletes from contact with their head coaches during much of the off-season, but Harris, who is not a team coach, and his staff are on hand year-round to keep players in top shape. The fitness guru, who has run BU’s strength and conditioning program since 1997, helps devise workout regimens for each of the University’s 23 varsity teams, using the latest training techniques and equipment, as well as some decidedly old-school tools like medicine balls, weight vests, and barrels of rice (athletes plunge their hands in and squeeze the grains to improve wrist strength). Oh, and there’s the dreaded “triangle of terror,” a large rubber band athletes step into for shoulder-screaming, quad-burning resistance work.

“You look around and you see new and shiny equipment, but the mentality is you need to do the hard work,” Harris says. “The successful people are the ones who are good at doing the hard work.”

Harris, who also blogs about strength and conditioning, has trained members of USA women’s soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse teams, as well as players from Major League Lacrosse, the National Hockey League, and the European Basketball League. He’s also put Massachusetts state troopers through their paces.

bell, rashadThe barrel-chested coach and his team design each training session to improve an individual athlete’s movement, core stability, speed, strength, balance, and flexibility.  Harris points to Terrier hoops standout Rashad Bell (CGS’03, CAS’05), who now plays professional basketball in Asia, as one of his biggest success stories.

“When I first met Rashad, he was 6 8 and 172 pounds, and now he plays at 218 pounds,” Harris says. “It didn’t happen over the course of four months. It was a four-year process, and he arguably became one of the best players on our team. His mind, and his body, was a sponge.

“I’ve had athletes who have gone on to play professionally come back to me because they really enjoyed their time as a BU athlete and want to get into that training mode again.”

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at

This story originally ran September 2, 2010.

Meg Tyler: “You Cannot Rest”: Bidart, Lowell, Bishop, and the Sonnet

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

literary imagination



CGS professor Meg Tyler (organizer of the Poetry Series at Boston University) recently published an article about the sonnet in the journal Literary Imagination, including attention to Elizabeth Bishop.  Because this winter is the centenary of Elizabeth Bishop’s birth, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and the Poetry Society of America want to hold a big bash here in Boston.  The tribute would take place on Feb 10th, a Thursday, at 7 p.m., in the JSA.  It is part of the poetry series co-sponsored by CGS.  Mark your calendars!


“You Cannot Rest”: Bidart, Lowell, Bishop, and the Sonnet

Meg Tyler

Recognising that something is a reflection does not necessarily depend on the visible presence of whatever it happens to be a reflection of. Even in the absence of its “parent” object a reflection will often betray itself by virtue of its otherwise inexplicable relationship to its immediate surroundings. Jonathan Miller, On Reflection1 Of other sonnets, each sonnet is in some respects a reflection—reflection in the physical sense of returning an image or energy, turning it back, and in the sense of mental or spoken thinking on a subject. This essay concerns a literary triangle of such reflections by poets: Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and Frank Bidart, each of whom, moreover, wrote sonnets about mirrors. Holding mirrors up to one another and to sonnet traditions, their differences and reflections—borrowed light—involve verse with friendship.

Lowell struggled with the borrowed light of the sonnet, a form that daunted and taunted him. In the late 1960s he explained his incomplete evasions: My meter, fourteen-line unrhymed blank verse sections, is fairly strict at first and elsewhere, but often corrupts in single lines to the freedom of prose. Even with this license, I fear I have failed to avoid the themes and gigantism of the sonnet.2 “Gigantism” is an arresting word, given that the sonnet would seem a miniaturist form. Two kinds of excess seem to attract Lowell: the excessiveness of the sonnet (a practice of giants) and the excessiveness of a freedom represented by prose, corrupting or breaking down his meter.3 He was drawn to this force-field of difference—the purity and binding power of the form, and his perversions of the form—for many years and throughout the composition (and revisions) of several different books. Lowell composed over 400 sonnets.

Lowell opens each of the first two lines of “History” (1973) with a …


literary imagination

Aaron Worth to speak at the Modern Language Association

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

Aaron Worth will participate on a panel at the Modern Language Association conference in January, in Los Angeles. []

The panel is titled “Old Media,” and is organized by the Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century English Literature Division.

His paper is called “Post-Imperial Media.

Jeff Vail on the Irish Romantic Poet Thomas Moore

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

irish companionProfessor Jeffery Vail has a chapter in the new Blackwell Companion to Irish Literature called “Thomas Moore: After the Battle“.

It is  a critical overview of the life and writings of the Irish Romantic poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852), with special attention paid to the influence of the 1798 Irish Uprising upon his career.

Unoriginal Sins: (Re)Defining plagiarism in the digital age

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

December 3, 2010

December 6, 2010

By Caleb Daniloff.

This comprehensive article from BU Today includes comments from CGS’s John Regan and Stacy Godnick.

It is well worth reading in its entirety at, including photos by Vernon Doucette, Kalman Zabarsky, and Cydney Scott and a video by Nicolae Ciorogan.




In an introductory writing course early in his teaching career, John Regan received a student paper on the Equal Rights Amendment. The first three pages were mediocre. But on the fourth page, the voice changed, growing more sophisticated. Regan wondered about that. Then he noticed a website address at the bottom of the page the student had clearly forgotten to delete:   It belonged to a popular essay mill.

“The student said he had run out of ideas and needed help,” says Regan, a College of General Studies senior lecturer in rhetoric. “I had another student from New Jersey, I think his name was Vinnie, and he started writing in an Australian dialect in the middle of a paper.”

Digital natives
It’s clear that there are more plagiarists cribbing online than in traditional fashion, but is plagiarism more pervasive now than ever? The experts don’t agree, and the few study results are mixed. It’s certainly easier to do. Type “custom papers” into Google and 19.8 million results are returned, with sites charging from a couple of bucks to $35 per page. Or log onto Craigslist, where countless “editors” are willing to help students meet their term paper needs.

Regan, who is on the editorial board of Plagiary, a scholarly online journal about plagiarism, says the majority of students don’t plagiarize, and those who get caught usually do confess.

Last year at BU, the office of student academic life at the College of Arts & Sciences, with 7,200 students the University’s largest school, recorded 56 incidents of plagiarism, with 10 cases going before the academic conduct committee. Steven Jarvi, CAS associate dean for student academic life, says that not all situations rise to the hearing level. Stressed, time-crunched professors sometimes opt to “keep it in-house” and impose a grading penalty, particularly for first offenses. All grading sanctions are recorded with Jarvi’s office. In the 2008–2009 school year, there were a total of 39 cases, and the previous year there were 50. A decade ago, during the 2000–2001 academic year, the number was 28. Jarvi notes that the grading penalty option was not available at that time, so all the cases went to hearing.

The College of General Studies, a two-year school that enrolls 1,300 students, sees two to six cases of plagiarism a semester, typically toward the end of the term, according to Stacy Godnick, CGS assistant dean. Godnick isn’t sure whether the practice is on the uptick or detection has become more effective, but she acknowledges that the internet factor has made combating it “an uphill battle.”

“In this digital age, everything is perceived as common and shared information,” she says. “Traditional research and academia are bucking up against the Wild West of the internet, which encourages sharing, cutting and pasting, and sound bites. It’s a different mentality.”

So are up-and-coming brains being hardwired to plagiarize, or at least to feel fewer qualms about it?  …  Regan, who has run plagiarism workshops for BU faculty, points out that computer software was originally designed for the business world, but by now “you would think that Microsoft Word could have something in the document that would come up and say, ‘You need to cite this.’ Students raised in the digital age may be wondering, if documentation is so important, why isn’t it showing up in our software?”

Crime and punishment
While BU has a code of responsibility for the academic community, it doesn’t have a unified statement on plagiarism, as schools within the University have traditionally operated independently. One of President Robert A. Brown’s efforts has been to make BU a more seamless and uniform entity, Godnick says, and an effort is under way to establish a University-wide academic conduct code that will, in part, define plagiarism and establish a policy for adjudication. Until now, however, specific definitions and penalties have been left to individual schools, which can cause confusion for students taking classes in different schools.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at

Evan Gross (CGS’10, SMG’12) profiled in SMG’s “Builders and Leaders”

December 12th, 2010 in Spotlight 0 comments

A Mayor in the Making?

from the December, 2010 issue of  SMG’s magazine Builders and Leaders


gross, evan 2Listening to him talk a mile a minute and watching the excitement build on his face, it’s easy to see how junior Evan Gross (BSBA ’12) convinced the City Council of his hometown, Scarsdale, N.Y., to choose him over other candidates as the councilman for Youth Affairs.  “When I spoke with the village trustees about why they should choose me, I explained that I could offer the most unique perspective.  I had just graduated from  high school and could give insight into youth affairs that most adults could not  possibly dream of and I though it would freshen-up not only the board itself but the way it’s perceived by others as well .

City Council isn’t the only thing Evan’s talked his way into. Being a huge baseball fan (and a proud Yankees-supporter) and having umpired local baseball games since the eighth grade, Evan also co-manages the Little League of Scarsdale with his best friend Matt Ursillo, who attends Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. – all the way from Boston. “We put together a formal pitch for the board of directors that oversees the League,” he says. “Since we go to different universities about 300 miles from home,  they asked us how we would do it.  We came up with a comprehensive outline for spring break training and effectively scheduling games.”

That was two years ago, and they’re still running the program from afar, with great success, Evan adds They manage more than 80 people involved in the league and have recently been asked t0 take over he management of a Fall Ball program. Sometimes they have to drop everything they’re doing in their respective cities to deal with umpires canceling an hour before a scheduled game, but in the 10 years since they’ve taken over the league, not a single game has gone uncovered. It’s  a lot of fun and gives us a chance to work with parents, help kids in the community, and stay involved with baseball and my hometown.  It’s one of the most fun things I do. It’s a junior version of what I hope to do someday in management. It’s definitely taught me how to deal with different types of personalities and adapt to different kinds of people.”

Evan was fueled to do volunteer work because he wanted to make a difference in his community. “It was the idea that things are great,  but…”  he said, ‘” you could definitely  see a couple things going in a better direction.   As an example, he tells the story of the senior internship required at his high school and how he was able to effect change. “The guidelines and rules they designed for the internship were so horrendous that I had to tell the school administration they had a problem.   When I graduated, they asked me to come back and become an advisor.   So I was happy that other students could benefit from my feedback.”  Evan is particularly happy to help the youth in his community.

“Schools are the most important thing in a community. If you can shape them, you can shape the way your town evolves,- He feels so strongly about this, Evan is considering running for mayor of Scarsdale in the next election, “local politics are more interesting because you know the people and the issues, and you can really relate and effect change.  “When you come across issues that impact your daily life, or the daily lives of those around you, you
have to stand up: he says.   “And from my experience, I’ve found that when you find the right person to talk to you and offer your opinion in a respectful and intelligent way, you’d be surprised how easily you can change things,”
It’s clear that when Evan puts his mind to something, he doesn’t stop until he achieves it.

Last year, when he and seven other male students got together for the College of General Studies’ Capstone project, a 50-page research paper, he was told that an 8-man team would never win.  Evan, the team leader, wanted to prove the naysayers wrong, He gave his team a motto – ” If you’ re not first, you’re last” – and flung himself into the project.  The group wrote a comprehensive new outline about  global warming and devised a mathematical formula to  determine who was emitting what and in what capacity.  Out of 17 teams, Evan’s group won the Capstone Award, which they received during Parents Weekend this past fall.

If he doesn’ t win mayoralty in Scarsdale,  Evan would like to go into accounting after graduation, following in the footsteps of his father.   “Accounting just makes sense to me: he says. “Money helps determine everything.”   If all else fails, he’d be perfectly happy as the commissioner of Major League Baseball.