Category: Faculty News
As director of communications for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Tim Sullivan (MET’06) is frequently reminded of the adage he often shares with students in his online Media Relations for Health Communicators (MET HC 758) course: “Having a job in communication means having communication responsibilities, as well as ‘other duties as assigned,’” the MET health communication instructor says.
Never has that sentiment been truer than during the current global COVID-19 pandemic, when professionals of all stripes are adjusting to new and developing roles and responsibilities across organizations. As a representative of a specialized academic teaching hospital, has seen his own duties evolve, putting him in position to lean into the skills he developed during his studies in the MET Master of Science in Advertising program, as well as the ones he helps hone in current online Master of Science in Health Communication and Graduate Certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication students.
Mr. Sullivan recently had the opportunity to play a pivotal role in bringing a powerful and positive bit of health communication to the world. In March, Chelsea’s Isabel Gonzalez was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital, when her pregnancy was complicated by her having tested positive for COVID-19. After a successful emergency C-Section, Ms. Gonzalez was admitted to the ICU, where she was put on a ventilator, to combat the novel coronavirus before she even had the chance to hold her newborn daughter, Victoria.
After 6 weeks of recovery, on Tuesday, May 12, Ms. Gonzalez was discharged from Spaulding Hospital in Cambridge, where family surprised her with the child they had been rearing in her absence. News cameras captured the beautiful moment, and the story reached far and wide—from an array of New England media outlets to the national Today show. But some of the camerawork that viewers in nearly 40 countries enjoyed was itself evidence of that “other duties assigned” lesson Sullivan offers his students.
“It’s been wild figuring out how to do these stories,” Sullivan says. “The funny thing is, as no media are allowed in our hospitals, I’ve ended up shooting all these stories any video or images inside the hospitals. I’ve been shooting a lot lately, and setting up experts on video calls, so my background in video production has come in handy. It’s been quite the exercise, figuring these out.”
On May 11, MET’s James Stodder was quoted in the Washington Post article, “Bartering is back: When life gives you lemons, trade them for a neighbor’s hand sanitizer.” A visiting professor of the practice in the Department of Administrative Sciences, Dr. Stodder is an economist with unique expertise in areas like bartering and the countercyclical effectiveness of community-based currencies, such as Massachusetts’ BerkShares.
The Post article explores the rise of social bartering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as people trade hard-to-find essentials such as hand sanitizer, face masks, or bath tissue for goods and services:
Bartering is a natural side effect and one that frequently stems from an economic crisis, said Jim Stodder, an economist and visiting professor at Boston University. It happened during the Great Depression to such an extent many “community currencies,” or forms of local money, were created.
“Any time we have a serious downturn in which people are short of money, these things tend to pop up,” he said.
In March, WCVB-TV Channel 5’s “Chronicle” news team paid a visit to the classroom of BU Metropolitan College’s Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity (CIC) Program Director Dr. Kyung-shick Choi as part of its investigation into the professional field of cybercrime prevention, investigation, and cybersecurity.
The long-running, Boston-produced newsmagazine show dubbed cybersecurity “the future of law enforcement” in its report, which included interviews with MET CIC students who cited the importance of learning the trade from working practitioners, as well as the promising professional opportunities on the horizon.
“We need more people in this field protecting [and] helping people,” MET CIC student Mariana De Paiva said.
The segment also delved into Dr. Choi’s journey and personal history as an expert. A police officer in South Korea before coming to the United States to study criminology, Choi only turned his focus to cybercrime investigation after being a victim of one such crime himself—a personal data breach that led to the theft of more than $50,000.
“Everybody thought that I committed [the] crime,” Dr. Choi told “Chronicle.” “Then I had to defend myself. I ended up working with the national police to find the suspect.”
The cybersecurity spotlight feature also echoed recent sentiments from Dr. Choi that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent rise in professionals working from home internet increases the threat and risks of cyberattacks on everyday people.
Cybersecurity may be the future of criminal justice, but from his own past, the BU MET CIC director has seen that the qualities most essential to law and order are the willingness and commitment to work together.
“Cooperation between the private sector and the government sector—and academia—is the key to combating cybercrime,” Dr. Choi said.
Watch the segment on WCVB-TV Channel 5.
As reported in the Hyde Park Bulletin (Volume 19, Issue 19), on May 5 students from Metropolitan College’s Urban Studies Capstone course (MET UA 805) presented The Power of Green! Strategic Proposals for the Hyde Park Community. The virtual event focused on actions that could be taken to enhance access to, and quality of, the neighborhood’s green spaces, and provoke economic development in the Hyde Park central business district. The four proposals will be made available to the public.
“We want our students to be agents of change,” says Associate Professor of the Practice Madhu C. Dutta-Koehler, director of the City Planning & Urban Affairs programs, and a resident of Hyde Park. “This is a unique neighborhood that needs to be celebrated. Our hope is they will work in the community when they graduate.”
A key course in the Metropolitan College City Planning & Urban Affairs programs, the Urban Studies Capstone is designed to integrate the principles and applications of city planning, urban affairs, and public policy while fostering interdisciplinary partnerships and helping to cultivate industry alliances and cooperation.
Learn more about the Class of 2020 on the City Planning & Urban Affairs website.
Special thanks to fellow Terrier and author of the article, Mary Ellen Gambon (COM’94, CAS’94). Read the full article in the Hyde Park Bulletin.
In New Interview, Dean Zlateva Explains How CE Units Can Help Universities Serve Non-Traditional Learners
University continuing education units are in the spotlight, thanks to their role in helping their institutions establish protocols for remote learning in a COVID-19 world. The lessons learned now will inform how traditional universities serve their student populations in years to come, suggests Metropolitan College Dean Tanya Zlateva in “Continuing Ed’s Responsibility to Help Universities Serve a Non-Traditional Audience, which appeared recently in EvoLLLution.
Thanks to its vast experience serving nontraditional student populations through online learning and other flexible modes of study, Metropolitan College played an integral leadership role in BU’s remarkably agile transition to remote learning.
“In a nutshell, Metropolitan College provided knowledge and materials that helped a substantial chunk of BU classes go online smoothly,” Dean Zlateva says.
The Dean is impressed by how rapidly the university adapted to the sudden shift to remote learning, despite being in crisis mode. Now, she asks, how can universities capitalize on their “newfound respect for flexible learning” to better serve the needs of the workforce moving forward? With what is bound to be a rocky path to economic recovery, will universities find ways to encourage collaboration among the faculty of their research units and their continuing education units, for the greater good of all?
“I hope institutions will have the openness to listen and to make this a part of their overall strategy,” says the Dean. “There’s an increase in understanding the need to bring both of these ends together—an industry- and workforce-oriented curriculum paired with a research-intensive mission.”
Read the full interview with Dean Zlateva in EvoLLLution.
In recognition for her exceptional contributions to Boston University, the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) has granted its 2020 Outstanding Service Award to Summer Term Assistant Dean and Director ad interim Dr. Erin Salius.
Salius, who assumed leadership of BU Summer Term following the retirement of former director Donna Shea, is recognized for being a role model and performing responsibilities at an outstanding level, and for providing exceptional support and care for students while demonstrating a positive, professional attitude. She is also celebrated for her ability to foster strong working relationships between faculty and administrators, as well as encouraging collaboration between Summer Term, CAS, and other areas of the University.
The awards committee noted that Erin’s recent efforts were particularly invaluable in transitioning CAS students to remote learning for their summer coursework during such a very uncertain time.
Kim Richards (Questrom’08, MET’14), director of program administration for BU MET’s Department of Computer Science, is among one of three winners of BU’s 2020 Perkins Award for Distinguished Service.
An annual staff recognition for exceptional service to the University, Distinguished Service Award honorees are nominated by faculty. Dubbed a “magician” by one colleague, Ms. Richards is celebrated for her ability to forge community between MET computer science students and department faculty. She also tests systems and technologies, created an all-new student orientation and internship program, works to connect students with potential employers, and leads operations on the department’s website.
“Academia is an ever-changing field, especially when your focus is computer science,” she told BU Today. “It is fascinating to be a part of that process and to learn from [faculty] about the changes that are occurring.”
Read more in BU Today.
As people in Massachusetts—and around the world—hunker down in their homes to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, more people are connecting to the elemental comforts of food. In the Daily Free Press article “Staying at home leaves room to improve diets,” Boston University faculty offer insight on how food unites us, and provide advice on how to maintain a healthy, balanced diet while cooped up at home. According to Dr. Megan Elias, associate professor of the practice and director of the gastronomy program at BU’s Metropolitan College, cooking not only creates bonds and keeps us in touch with our culture; it opens the door to explore cuisine, “do a little bit of traveling across places,” and engage in a shared table while complying with stay-at-home advisories.
The global crisis of COVID-19 has put increased emphasis on the ways individuals and organizations alike disseminate key information, and according to Associate Professor Stephen Quigley, social media has been a bellwether of the times.
“It brings out the best in us,” he recently told the Boston Herald, noting that it’s also “bringing out the very worst in us.”
On the one hand, “People [are] going out of their way to express their concern and affection and love for others,” he said. On the other hand, “The more fear and anxiety out there, the more those qualities feed on themselves and the more opportunities for misinformation and hatred and fear to spread.”
Professor Quigley co-founded and co-directed BU MET’s Master of Science in Health Communication program, which is a collaborative effort between MET and BU’s College of Communication. The multidisciplinary program focuses on the intersection of healthcare, marketing, health literacy, public relations, and digital media in order to prepare students for the breadth of issues they will encounter as health communicators.
Read more from Professor Quigley in the Boston Herald.
As an expert on data and knowledge management in the biomedical and healthcare sectors, MET Associate Professor Guanglan Zhang recognizes the threat of data breach faced by medical practices.
Coordinator of BU MET’s Health Informatics programs, Dr. Zhang shared her insights into recent data breach trends in the medical field with Physician’s Practice. Among her findings were:
- Data breaches are on the rise, with 358 in 2017, 371 in 2018, and 511 in 2019.
- The biggest states have been hit the hardest. California sustained 335 breaches between 2009 and 2020, most in the nation, followed by Texas with 276 breaches in that same period, and Florida rounding out the top three with 192.
- The most frequent kind of breach is a hacking/IT incident, with 941 occurrences. The second-most frequent breach is a theft (893 instances) followed by unauthorized access/disclosure (875)
- The leading perpetrators of data breaches are health care providers (2,287), but the second-most common responsible party are business associates.
Dr. Zhang also reminded that the same standards of security apply to all manners of medical organizations.
“Small- to medium-size physician practices are vulnerable to cyberattacks as they often have less expertise in IT technology and limited resources in place,” Zhang said. “Large healthcare organizations often have an IT team, while physician practices might have one IT employee who works part time. Despite this, [practices] need to comply with the same set of rules, [like] HIPAA privacy and security rules and state regulations, to safeguard protected health information.”
BU MET’s Health Informatics programs—encompassing the Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Health Informatics as well as the four-course programs the Health Informatics Graduate Certificate and the Medical Information Security & Privacy Graduate Certificate—give students the tools they need for career success in the field of health information technology, security, and electronic health record management.
Read more in Physician’s Practice.