Reminder: University Summer Hours Begin May 2

Starting Sunday, May 2, the University shifts to its summer schedule. The general hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All offices must be staffed during those hours.

Employees are expected to fulfill their usual full-time or part-time obligations. Your actual work schedule must be approved by your supervisor. Regular office hours resume on Monday, August 16.

Reminder: Commencement Social

All faculty and staff are invited to join graduates and their families for a reception directly after the commencement ceremony on Saturday in the SDC Multipurpose Gym.

Light refreshments will be available and there will be areas set aside for taking photos.

The event is hosted by the Alumni Association.

Anne Erlebach Dies

Anne Erlebach, former humanities faculty member, died Wednesday, April 29, after a long illness.

Erlebach taught in the humanities department from 1975 to 2002, and, according to her colleague Ted Lockhart, had a huge range of knowledge and interests.

"Conversation with Anne was always an excursion among a variety of subjects--history, politics, travel, current events, film, to name just a few," Lockhart said.

"She was especially interested in German film and particularly admired Wolfgang Pederson's "Das Boot." She loved intelligent, witty conversation and was always excited to learn something new or to gain a new understanding of an important idea. She also had a keen sense of humor--quick to laugh at witty jokes and quick to groan at bad puns."

Erlebach taught a wide variety of courses in literature, language studies and composition.

"Her expertise was in English literature, and her passion was Milton," Lockhart added.

Colleague Beth Flynn remembered Anne, too, as a very strong scholar, teacher, and department member.

"At a time when faculty were being hired in support of the department's writing program, Anne continued to conduct research in literature and to defend it forcefully," Flynn said. "I admired her for that. She had high academic standards and helped ensure that our maturing department did as well."

Flynn also said Anne was a reminder that professionals can deal with disabilities courageously.

"As an early women faculty member at Tech, she had to be tough. But on top of that, she was also very kind and sweet," Flynn said.

"Those of us who knew her remember her as a brilliant scholar, gifted teacher and wonderful friend. She will be greatly missed," Lockhart added.

The memorial service for Erlebach will be at 11 a.m., Monday, May 3, at the Portage Lake United Church in Houghton. There will be a coffee reception afterward.

Class of 2010 Biochem Majors Shine

by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer

Gold honor cords will gleam Saturday when the Department of Chemistry's biochemistry and molecular biology graduates march up to the podium.

Of the handful of seniors earning the interdisciplinary degree through the chemistry department, four are graduating summa cum laude. This highest honor is reserved for those earning grade point averages of 3.9 or higher.

All four have received the department's Outstanding Senior Award. "We have a wonderful graduating class of biochemists," said chemistry department chair Sarah Green. "They are the first incoming class that started as freshmen when the program began, and they are all great, energetic, enthusiastic people."

Kyrie Pappas is leaving Michigan Tech with a 4.0 average and will enroll at New York's Columbia University this fall, where she expects to earn a PhD in Pharmacology and Molecular Signaling. "I hope to do my PhD work on developing cancer therapeutics," she said.

She cites undergraduate research as "the single most important experience I had at Tech"--both her work in Assistant Professor Shiyue Fang's organic chemistry lab and in Professor Pushpalatha Murthy's lab in biochemistry and molecular biology. "These experiences helped me develop my interests in the molecular basis of human disease," Pappas said.

Her experience as student supervisor working with Lois Blau in the Chemistry Learning Center also was key. "This position has really improved my confidence," she said. "I have been able to be a part of making the center a great place to teach and learn chemistry.

"I was able to meet many amazing faculty and students I will remember for the rest of my life," Pappas said. "They were great role models or influences in my life that were unique to Tech."

Goldwater Scholar John Gubatan is heading to Harvard Medical School to enroll in the New Pathway MD program. "I hope to pursue a multifaceted career in academic medicine and biomedical research as a physician-scientist to understand the biochemical and molecular basis of various diseases," he said.

For Gubatan, who minored in both French and Spanish, it was the curriculum that counted. "It trained me to critically examine biological phenomena with a strong emphasis on developing superb skills in the quantitative and physical sciences," he said. "My courses enabled me to develop a profound understanding and appreciation for basic processes that underlie biochemical and molecular phenomena and provided me with a strong foundation to solve complex medical problems."

That training gave him an advantage when applying to research-intensive medical schools, Gubatan said. "Plus, the supportive and noncompetitive environment at Michigan Tech was instrumental in fostering my intellectual and academic development and enabling me to attain my full potential.

"I'm going to miss the professors and students as well as all the friendly people I've met in the Houghton community. I'm also going to miss the small-town atmosphere and the beautiful, pristine surroundings in the Upper Peninsula," he said. "I've truly had a wonderful and meaningful experience here at Michigan Tech."

Samantha Stam will be pursuing a graduate degree in biophysics at the University of Chicago. "I think that one of the things about Tech that prepared me for grad school is the fairly small classes of strong students," she said. "This created an environment that really pushed me to do well." Stam also conducted research under Associate Professor Marty Thompson. And while she wasn't occupied with academics, she played viola in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and competed with the varsity track and cross country teams.

Of the four graduates, Jennifer Liu is diverging the furthest from her undergraduate degrees--both of them. She is earning a double major in mathematics and will work on a master's in student affairs administration in higher education at Western Washington University.

She earned the Mathematics Achievement Award from the mathematical sciences department. Her out-of-the-classroom experiences drove her choice of graduate school. "I worked for many years in the orientation program here at Tech, and it was there that I realized how much I love orientation, working with people and student affairs," Liu said.

Her most memorable experience was trudging through a blizzard in April 2007 to get to a physical chemistry exam. "I was amazed that I made it," she recalled. "I've also acted in five productions in the visual and performing arts department, gotten a lot better at skiing, learned a whole lot of chemistry, biology and math, and had a good amount of fun."

This graduating class sets a high standard for the biochemistry and molecular biology program, Green said. "It's especially interesting that all of them are stellar students and none are continuing into pure chemistry or biochemistry programs," she said. "It demonstrates how central chemistry is to so many fields. It provides skills in critical thinking and analysis that are fundamental."

"This was a brave group to come into a program that was just getting started, but an interdisciplinary program like this attracts this kind of student," said Green. "Since they've been here, we've hired another biochemist and added a new biochem lab course. Good students attract good faculty and let us expand our capacity. We're looking forward to attracting equally good students in the future."

Tech's ASPIRE System Receives Recognition

submitted by Institutional Systems Development and Analysis

Mike Hendricks, Chuck Schaefer, Dave Strong and Carole Noonan, among others, have developed, implemented and continue to design ASPIRE, the University's system that accounts for space, people, indexes, research and equipment. Michigan Tech was named among the top finalists for the 2010 SunGard Higher Education Award for Institutional Performance. We are very proud of this accomplishment as ASPIRE was placed in the top nine out of over 30 entries.

There will be a presentation on ASPIRE at the upcoming Professional Development Day from 9 to 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, May 11.

Winners of Family Fun Day Announced

submitted by the Staff Council

Congratulations to winners of the grand prize drawings at Family Fun Day:

* Tonya Wakeham (Facilities)--Library Restaurant gift card ($50)
* Judy Klutts (Dining Services)--three month SDC membership ($150)
* Doreen Swetich (Accounting Services)--Portage Lake nine-hole golf passes ($44)
* John Jaszczack (Physics)--Mt. Ripley punch cards (four-day passes, $110)

The winners of autographed Husky athletic equipment are:

* Bill Mitchell (Facilities)--women's basketball
* Martha Staresnick (Dining Services)--men's basketball
* Carol Wiitanen (Sponsored Programs)--football
* Tammy Ahola (Dining Services)--hockey sticks
* Carrie Gonzalez (General Athletics)--hockey sticks

Many thanks from the Staff Council to all who made Family Fun Day possible:

* Dining Services
* Memorial Union
* Printing and Mail Services
* Michigan Tech's Climbing Club
* Student Development Complex
* ME-EM User Support Services
* Human Resources
* Info Tech Services

Thank you to all those who volunteered their time on Saturday.

The campus community was very generous with providing donations for the drawings held throughout the day. A full list of donors, prizes and prize winners can be found on the Staff Council's web page.

For questions or comments, email funday@mtu.edu .

Tech Team Supports Michiganís Third Construction Career Days

More than 2,000 youth from 46 Michigan schools registered to participate in Michigan's third Construction Career Days held earlier this week at Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg. The event provided Michigan middle and high school students with an opportunity to experience construction and transportation fields through hands-on, heavy construction equipment activities, informational exhibits and demonstrations.

Michigan Tech's team included representatives from Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the School of Technology's Construction Management and Land Survey Programs, the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute's Rail Transportation Program, the Admissions Office, the College of Engineering, Michigan's Local Technical Assistance Program and the University Transportation Center for Materials in Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure (UTC-MiSTI).

The UTC-MiSTI provides program support to offset school transportation expenses, making it more financially feasible for schools to participate. University Marketing and Communications supported on-site marketing material and website logistics.

Photos from the two-day event are posted at: http://www.mtu.edu/constructioncareerday/ .

Reminder: Webinar Focuses on Federal Support

A webinar to help faculty seek support from federal agencies for research and commercialization will be held from 3 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, at the Advanced Technology Development Complex.

The session is hosted by the MTEC SmartZone and sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Twelve federal agencies have $2 billion to allocate to fund research and development for the express purpose of commercialization.

The information is of interest to graduate students, postdocs, principle investigators/university research officers, corporate technology directors/researchers, and academic liaisons/professors.

More webinars are scheduled for June through October.

For more information, contact Jonathan Leinonen at 487-7004 or at jleinonen@mtecsz.com .

SFHI in Energy Faculty Candidate Seminar

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will host Wei Xu, postdoctoral fellow, from the Center for Electrical Machines and Power Electronics,
University of Technology Sydney, from 2 to 3 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, in Rekhi G06. His presentation is "Performance Analysis of Drive Machines in Transportation."

Teaching at Tech: We Said, They Heard

by William Kennedy, director, Center for Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development

About half of the disputes that I mediate as ombuds officer initially grow out of what I have come to think of as relatively minor communication "near misses."

For example, the other day a student asked me for advice on to how best approach a bureaucratic snafu that might compromise his future studies. My email answer to his query began with something like, "I would go to the xxxxxx office and ask them for the form that...." He responded by thanking me for my generous offer to take care of the matter for him.

I avoided my initial impulse to tell him that I wasn't volunteering to actually collect and fill out the form for him; but then I took a moment to reread my initial email response. I realized that I had thoughtlessly assumed that he could reasonably infer from my advice--beginning with the words, "I would go...."--as my volunteering to fix his problem. I realized that my message should have been preceded by the phrase, "If I were you, I would go...."

Taking a moment to avoid a "how dare you" knee-jerk reaction saved me from an embarrassing moment and preserved some modicum of trust and understanding between us.

The truth is, each and every one of us lives in worlds of our own conscious and unconscious making. Each of us takes in a flood of information from the outside world and picks through it--processing some small fraction and discarding the rest.

Optimists routinely select bits to process that they can assign to the "good things pile"--like, "My, my, doesn't the rain smell refreshing?" Pessimists take in similar sensory data and unconsciously sort out bits that they can readily sift into the "everything stinks pile"--like, "The one day I was going to cut the grass, it has to rain. Typical!"

As I was walking through the library the other day, I noticed that most of the tables were occupied by groups of students studying for finals. Each table had at least one open laptop. About three quarters of the students were wearing earbuds, presumably connected to some sort of MP3 player. Every student had a cell phone at the ready and most had calculators. The remaining space on the table was filled with notebooks and textbooks.

For some time, I've been wondering about the impact of the pervasive use of personal technologies on student development and social maturation.

I've noticed, for example, that students routinely look at their caller ID screen on their cell phone to see who is calling them so they can decide whether or not to answer. "If it's Mom, or the nerd down the hall, you just ignore it," one recently told me.

Most young folks, I am told, strongly prefer texting to talking with associates (other than their present love interests). The average US teen sends nearly 60 text messages per day, while some send and receive nearly 1,000 each day.

A new study conducted by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda surveyed 200 University of Maryland students who had agreed to go "cold turkey"--denying themselves electronic media for 24 hours.

The primary findings?

Students reported profound withdrawal symptoms, with mood swings, fits of anxiety and feelings of being out of control. One wrote, "Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a feeling of comfort." Another said, "I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.... It was almost unbearable."

The majority missed, most of all, networking and making social plans on Facebook and through texting. They said that although they could easily live their lives without newspapers or television, they couldn't live without their iPods, which allow them to craft appropriate aural environments to prepare them for various tasks during the day.

What is emerging from all of this is what I think of as a generation hooked on electronically mediated intimacy employing artificially cryptic language forms.

Facebook allows students to create and display an idealized self-image and a streaming, highly selective fantasy version of their imagined exploits--with a clique of their own making. Twitter facilitates codependent communities of users compulsively and endlessly updating "friends" with 140-character (or fewer) descriptions of their momentary thoughts and actions.

I've personally experimented with playing highly objectionable musical selections from my own iTunes library for students before class begins. It is my attempt to bridge the "personal digital divide." Mike Harding's "I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lyin' On My Back In My Bed While I Cry Over You" is a favorite tool.

After students quit rolling their eyes, and if time allows, I ask students to tell me their favorite artist and song, offering to play a snippet of it from the iTunes store for our mutual edification. Most students are extremely reticent to identify a favorite song or artist in front of the strangers who are their classmates.

Meanwhile, on their Twitter, Facebook, IM, and texting devices, carefully crafted, idealized "self-disclosure" is the minute-by-minute coin of the realm.

Increasingly, I fear that the obsessive use of these technologies is making it more and more difficult to engage most students in the delayed-gratification domains of academic discourse that they encounter in school. They increasingly succumb to the seductive, ever-changing, and infinitely more enticing, accessible, and immersive worlds of sensory stimulation that they dwell in throughout their days and nights.

Adopting the "If you can't beat them, join them" approach, I tried Facebooking with my kids to see if I could bridge the hipness gap. In response, one abandoned her Facebook account; one just ignored me; and one didn't answer my "friend request."

Did I mention Merle Haggard has a new album?

Job Posting

Staff job descriptions are available in Human Resources or at http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/postings . For more information regarding staff positions, call 487-2280 or email jobs@mtu.edu .

Faculty job descriptions can be found at http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/facpers/facvac.htm .

For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Staff Job Postings

5/3/2010

Figure Skating Program Coordinator
Sports and Recreation

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.