Emory Report
February 11, 2008
Volume 60, Number 19

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February 11, 2008

Students, don’t let debt stall action
“A recent survey of university administrators found that they’re losing more students to credit-card debt than to academic failure,” said alumnus Samuel Jackson, adding that the average student debt load after graduation, combining student loans and credit card debt, is more than $25,000.

Jackson, who delivered the keynote address at Emory’s Founders Dinner on Feb. 4, is president and CEO of the Economic Empowerment Initiative, a nonprofit that provides financial literacy training to youth.

Despite these statistics, Jackson’s main message to students was a hopeful one. “Have courage to take action,” he said. “There’s someone here tonight who may have the next Facebook idea or the next Google. And I hope you’ll call me, so, you know, we can talk.” — Carol Clark

Teen brain holds clues to psychoses
“We really are in a new era in terms of understanding normal and abnormal brain function,” said Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, who gave the Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Feb. 5.

Emory is part of a National Institutes of Health consortium of leading research institutions that are studying changes in the adolescent brain and hormonal levels to identify teens at risk for developing psychoses.

“The overwhelming majority of people go through the teenage years with no major glitches and only a small proportion will develop serious mental disorders,” Walker said. “If our research is successful, we hope that that proportion will be even smaller,” she added. — Carol Clark

Suggestions for a creative campus
University rankings fail to consider creativity, while research shows it is increasingly important for success, said Steven Tepper, a sociologist studying engagement in arts and creativity on American campuses, in a Feb. 4 lecture.

Tepper’s “creativity re-ranking” of the U.S. News and World Report’s top 30 schools shows Cornell nudging Harvard out of the No. 1 spot, and Emory in 25th place. To improve the rank, he suggests more support for cross-cultural, collaborative, artist residency and interdisciplinary activities, along with a “shift in how we value and deploy the arts, flexible resources for creative hunches” and “a safe environment for failure.”
— Sally Corbett