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Swarthmore in the News March 18, 2011


The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sunoco chairman gets award, criticism

By Mike Armstrong, Inquirer Columnist

March 18, 2011

Protesters interrupted a speech by Sunoco Inc. chairman and chief executive Lynn L. Elsenhans at a luncheon at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on Thursday afternoon.

The head of the Philadelphia oil refiner and marketer was being honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce with its Paradigm Award, given to a businesswoman whose accomplishments are seen as a model of success.

It's rare for protesters to crash usually staid chamber of commerce events. But then, few Paradigm Award winners have enacted such sweeping changes through their organizations as Elsenhans has since becoming CEO in August 2008. She sold its chemicals business, closed or sold three of its five refineries, laid off hundreds of workers, and announced plans to spin off its SunCoke Energy business.

As Elsenhans, 54, began her speech, several protesters who had been seated in the ballroom stood and walked toward the lectern, carrying a sign that read "Real Leaders Don't Destroy Families." Another addressed the audience of about 750 people by asking, "Does anyone see a leader here?"

Elsenhans remained silent as the protesters, who later identified themselves as being from Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, a group that advocates on behalf of workers' rights, were escorted from the ballroom.

When she resumed, her remarks centered on the need for women in the workplace to identify mentors, embrace change, take risks, persevere, and give back to others. Her speech was interrupted several more times as individual protesters, usually women, stood and talked to the crowd about layoffs and the loss of health benefits at Sunoco.

Gwen Snyder, executive director of Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, said at least 13 activists with her organization as well as Student Labor Action Project members from Temple University and Swarthmore College paid $125 per ticket to attend the chamber lunch. "We respect female leadership," she said. "She may be a leader, but not the right kind."

Members of the unions representing Sunoco refinery workers in South Philadelphia and Marcus Hook demonstrated for an hour outside the Marriott. Jim Savage, president of United Steelworkers Local 10-1, said he found it outrageous that anybody would honor Elsenhans for actions that have led to longer unemployment lines and a diminished tax base. (more)


The Independent (London)

Where art meets science;
American liberal arts colleges can allow British students to study diverse subjects in one degree course. Jessica Moore reports

By Jessica Moore

March 17, 2011

In 1959, the British scientist and novelist CP Snow warned of a divide between scientists and "literary intellectuals". He explained that few of his friends and colleagues had both read one of Shakespeare's plays and could explain the second law of thermodynamics. The British education system, he argued, forced children to specialise at too early an age, pushing them towards either the arts or science and industry. More than half a century later, how much has changed?

America has found a way to bridge a gap that Britain still often stumbles into. "Liberal arts is a broad-based education that prepares students for as full and effective a life as possible, not just a specific career," explains Jim Kolesar, a spokesman for Williams, the top-ranked liberal college in America. Such degrees teach many disciplines, including analysis, communication and critical thinking, and an understanding of how culture influences groups and organisations. Students dedicate four years to subjects such as art, philosophy, literature, social sciences, physical education, public speaking, writing, natural sciences, and mathematics. Even when they specialise, Kolesar says students' choices can span the arts and sciences. "They'll often choose one major for themselves and another for Dad," he jokes, citing art and economics as an example.

Alison Byerly, provost and executive vice-president of Middlebury College in Vermont, says: "Often, when students start our programmes, they haven't made a decision about a particular career they are planning to pursue. One of the things that sharpens their ability to think about themselves and their skills is working through a number of different fields."

"The liberal arts appeal to students who want to learn how to be critical and reflective learners," echoes Lisa Smulyan, associate provost at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. (more)

To observe your garden better, keep a journal

By Dean Fosdick, for The Associated Press

March 17, 2011

Gardeners seeking a different kind of growing experience might try keeping a journal. It's a great way to get a better picture of what's happening in your yard.

"To effectively journal is to learn the art of observation," says Elizabeth Haegele, a horticulturist who teaches nature journaling at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pa. "It's a tool for learning patience and using time. You come away with impressions you wouldn't necessarily get if you took up a camera."

Journals can be as varied as the landscape. Some hold personal observations. Others detail plants and insects. Many resemble a ship's log, noting such things as the dates of the last killing frost or the seasonal return of a favorite bird species. (more)

PR Newswire Europe

Nexcelle Names Jan Beseler and Jean-Christophe Dalla Toffola as its Executive Vice Presidents

March 16, 2011

CINCINNATI, March 16, 2011,Nexcelle, a joint venture of GE's Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) and Aircelle of the Safran group, today confirmed the appointment of Jan Beseler and Jean-Christophe Dalla Toffola as the company's two Executive Vice Presidents - incorporating two highly experienced managers from its parent companies in the organizational lineup.

...The immediate focus of these managers will be on Nexcelle's two current programs: the nacelle systems on CFM International's LEAP-X1C integrated propulsion system for the Chinese COMAC C919 jetliner; and the GE TechX integrated powerplant for the Bombardier Global 7000 and 8000 business jet aircraft. The Nexcelle Executive Vice Presidents also will be tasked with positioning the company for future program opportunities on other aircraft.

Before his appointment at Nexcelle, Beseler was the manager of nacelle integration engineering for GE Aviation engines. His 19-year career with GE Aviation included positions as manager of engine build-up engineering, program leader for CF34-8 engine control systems, and manager of control systems at GE Aviation's Lynn, Massachusetts operation. He has a BS in Engineering from Swarthmore College and a MS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. ...


The Philadelphia Daily News

Pa. the new Texas? Saddle up (Blog)

By John Baer

March 16, 2011

One provocative line in Gov. Corbett's budget address last week was "Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural-gas boom."

It was a reference to Corbett's view that taxing the extraction of natural gas from Marcellus Shale inhibits the industry here, whereas not taxing it will, I guess, make us like Texas.

...A 2010 CNBC special report ranking states on education puts Texas 30th and Pennsylvania 4th.

In this year's U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation's top-50 universities, Pennsylvania has four: Penn, Carnegie Mellon, Lehigh and Penn State. Texas? Two: Rice and Texas.

In its ranking of the top-50 colleges, Pennsylvania has eight: Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Bucknell, Lafayette, Franklin & Marshall, Dickinson and Gettysburg. Texas has zero.

Oh, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proposing education cuts of more than $9 billion.

Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of education? ...

The Calgary Herald (Alberta)

Tumultuous times for U.S. schools; Underachieving schools and shrinking budgets have sparked an education reform movement that is shaking the system's foundations and threatening teachers' unions

By Oliver Staley, Bloomberg News

March 13, 2011

U.S. public-school teachers are facing the biggest challenge to their job security in more than half a century as politicians target seniority rules that make the last hired the first fired when jobs are cut.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, are among officials pushing for changes in laws in coming months to let them fire underperforming teachers. As budget cuts threaten the jobs of thousands of school employees, officials are demanding the right to keep the most talented, even if they're the least experienced.

The proposed changes may undercut the power of teachers' unions. They intensify the debate on how to judge instructor's effectiveness as U.S. students lag behind international peers.

...Abolishing seniority is a "major threat" to teachers unions, said Grover Whitehurst, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Since they acquired the rights to bargain, surely this is the biggest challenge they've faced."

While teachers' professional organizations have existed since the National Education Association's founding in 1857, seniority rules were adopted gradually, following their development in industrial unions, said Marjorie Murphy, a history professor at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. In 1909, New Jersey adopted the first statewide employment protections, in part to keep women from being dismissed after marrying, said Rebecca Givan, an assistant professor of collective bargaining at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

The last time teachers unions were under a similar threat was in the late 1940s, when "red scare" laws banned strikes from public service workers, Murphy said.  ...


The Christian Science Monitor

John Alston turns kids in hoodies into a choral band of brothers;
An after-school program in Chester, Pa., gives at-risk teenagers a music education - and much more

By Mary Beth McCauley / Correspondent

March 14, 2011

Even if they don't sing a single note of music as adults, the performers in the Chester Children's Chorus will make a difference in the world.

Of that much their founding director is convinced.

After all, his own participation in the Newark (N.J.) Boys Chorus opened a new world to the young John Alston when his home life was bleak and his father an alcoholic. Why not do the same for others?

So in 1994, Dr. Alston, associate professor of music at Swarthmore College, just outside Philadelphia, invited seven children to come sing with him on the bucolic campus. They were from nearby Chester, Pa., an impoverished city struggling against economic decline, its schools burdened with high dropout rates and abysmal academic achievement.

The seven children were the forerunners of what, under the nonprofit Chester Fund for Education and the Arts, now includes the coed, 120-voice Chester Children's Chorus (CCC); a full-day summer program at Swarthmore; a new public-private Chester Upland School of the Arts; and formal musical instruction for public school students throughout Chester.

Editor's note: [The original version of the paragraph above indicated that the Chester Fund for Education and the Arts and the Chester Children's Chorus were related. They are two separate organizations, though Dr. Alston founded and heads both.]

Ultimately Alston wants membership in a chorus like CCC to be available to every child in Chester. (more)


Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)

Looking for a way out of our ethical malaise

By John Pantalone, Special to the Journal

March 13, 2011

A legal secretary at a corporate law firm drawing an abundant salary leaves her job to answer a call from the New York City Public School system to teach in the inner city. When she gets there, she realizes they didn't want a teacher so much as someone who would follow a rigid script prepared by consultants for the purpose of helping the middle class of students to pass standardized tests. Never mind about the lower class ; they have no chance of passing. Don t worry about the upper class ; they'll pass without help.

The goal of improving test scores? Federal funding. Where have we gone wrong? Americans have lost faith and trust in everything from law firms to banks, courtrooms, classrooms and hospitals. Lawyers and doctors have become commercialized profit centers. Teachers have become factotums. Judges often have to operate on auto pilot, imposing sentences for political reasons, not for the purpose of justice. Bankers have lost touch with their communities and propelled the very customers they should protect into financial ruin.

How did this happen? According to the authors of Practical Wisdom, it's because we don t know Aristotle. Aristotle? Who even thinks about him? Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe, professors at Swarthmore College, suggest that we ought to turn to the Greek sage for a way out of our money-driven malaise. Aristotle taught that true happiness depends on the wisdom to be perceptive and the skill to improvise. He also taught that true happiness depends on feeling good about oneself and one's work, but from the standpoint of doing good for others, not just ourselves. ...

Texts that deal with ethics often feel dry and sometimes foreboding, but Schwartz and Sharpe write with a clear simplicity that resonates with their own suggestions that our institutions (government included) could fix these problems by simply giving people the room to be wise and to create a wise society.


The Philadelphia Inquirer

Painterly collages take inspiration from wetlands

By Edith Newhall

March 13, 2011

What at first may have appeared to be an egregious power grab by a gallery director turns out to have been nothing of the kind. Moreover, when offered a show of her collages at Swarthmore 's List Gallery by the college's studio art faculty, List Gallery director Andrea Packard initially demurred, according to Brian Meunier, the art faculty member who proposed Packard's show to his colleagues.

"I think her work is as good as any of the work that we've shown at the List," Meunier says.

The wetlands of New England and the mid-Atlantic states inspired Packard's collages. Some of her works immediately read as landscapes; others are more abstract, offering the experience of confronting tangly undergrowth up close in the way that Ray Metzker's more recent photographs have done. All of her collages are surprisingly painterly from a distance, considering that they are composed almost entirely of cut and manipulated fabric and that the actual painted areas in them are negligible. Packard combines fabrics in the way that painters paint, often to lyrical effect, though a few of her woollier pieces seem intentionally lumpen and awkward.

As with all of the List's shows, Packard's is exquisitely displayed and lit (I'll assume she did this herself), and, as with a few previous List shows, there are too many similar works on the walls of these two modestly scaled rooms. Much of Packard's work is in the same palette of browns, blues, and greens, and its extreme togetherness here diminishes the individuality of her collages. Her strongest pieces stand out quickly.





The Delaware County Daily Times (PA)

College Women's Lacrosse: Penikis, Mowry power Swarthmore to win

March 18, 2011

Swarthmore 18, Immaculata 2

Annalise Penikis (Strath Haven) and Annelise Mowry both scored four goals for the host Garnet (4-1).

Freshman Corinne Sommi added three goals and four assists for Swarthmore.