Also in this department:


Globetrotting alumnus Steve Bachar paves the way for a peripatetic president

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
-- Lao-tzu

When Steve Bachar entered Emory College in the fall of 1983, he took a single step that has carried him not a thousand miles but a hundred thousand and more--around the world and to the very heart of American politics and power: the White House.

Bachar embarked upon his political odyssey at the beginning of his freshman year. "I was fairly active in local politics when I was at Emory," he says. "I went to Decatur to the Gary Hart for President headquarters and began by stuffing envelopes."

Now, eight years after graduating from Emory with a political science degree, Bachar is a member of the White House advance team for President Bill Clinton, a job that is combination trailblazer, travel agent, social secretary, and chief of protocol for arguably the most powerful man on the planet.

One such event was the March 29 economic conference that brought Bachar back to his alma mater. The gathering was the first of four regional economic summits at which President Clinton focused on issues particular to each region. Hundreds of Emory employees from across the University combined to make the meeting a logistical success in nine hectic days.

"The people at Emory were very helpful," Bachar says. "The attitude was, How do we help? The University made the president feel at home and made my job much easier."

While a student at Emory, Bachar specialized in the study of Soviet affairs and worked part time for the nascent Soviet and East European Studies Program. He cites the program's first director, Professor of Political Science Thomas F. Remington, as the most influential of his mentors at the University. "A lot of what I learned at Emory was very useful to me," he says. "It [has since] helped to have a strong political background and a sense of history in order to negotiate with the [Russian] foreign ministry, for example."

After graduating in 1987, Bachar and a friend established a political consulting office in Washington, D.C., in the shadow of Capitol Hill. "We were putting together campaign messages, helping candidates define why they were running, and presenting those messages to voters," he says. "We also did general campaign organizing and fund raising and put together campaign events. . . .

"I was doing some consulting for the Democratic Leadership Council, which Bill Clinton was chair of while he was governor. That's how I got to know him and the folks around him, and when he ran for president, I was asked to join his campaign. . . . We won, and he liked my work, so I was able to come to the White House with him."

Bachar sees President Clinton once or twice a week. "Out of town, I'm ahead of him by anywhere from four days [for a domestic trip] to two weeks if it's a foreign trip. Once he's on the ground, I am essentially joined at the hip to him."

Despite his frequent globe-trotting, Bachar says he does not get to see the sights as other visitors do. "When you are traveling with the president, you are working very hard, so you're not able to see the normal `touristy' stuff. You don't see the sights. But you do spend more time interacting with the culture. . . . You learn a lot about people when you're sitting across the table from them trying to negotiate. And you get to see places that tourists don't see--state dinners at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo or the Grand Hall of the Kremlin.

"On the January [1995] trip [to Moscow], the president and first lady spent the night in the Kremlin. There were about eight or ten of us who stayed there with them, and after the state dinner, the Russians all went home. Yeltsin went out to his dacha, and they essentially left the Americans alone. We were able to just wander the Kremlin at will. Obviously, it's a very interesting place, and there are chapels and mosaics and gorgeous halls, which again is not something that is on the normal tourist beat."

Because he has had a close relationship with President Clinton since well before the 1992 presidential campaign, Bachar says he is not intimidated by the trappings of the Office of the President. "It's rare that I actually look at him and think of him as `the president,' " he says. "That's not to say that I don't appreciate where I work. Every time you come through the [White House] gate, you realize how lucky you are to be here and just how special a place it is.

"The only time I really view him as the president is when it's reflected in other people or when he does things that are reminiscent of things other presidents have done. The desk in his office is the same desk that J.F.K. had, and I've seen the pictures of [his] kids crawling in and out of the desk. Occasionally when I'm standing in the Oval Office, I'll look down and think about that, and it brings home where I am and who I'm talking to. . . .

"One of the good things about working with him is that you can develop a relationship fairly easily in which you can both speak your minds. He is certainly not afraid to tell you what you are doing right or wrong, and he's open to getting feedback from his staff. If you can rationalize what you are doing and what you are saying, you can have an open and frank discussion with him. One of the reasons I'm as happy in this job as I am is because I do have a very positive relationship with the president. It makes it much easier."

Bachar says President Clinton is charismatic and very personable. "When he shakes your hand, even if you're just a person on the street meeting him for five seconds, it's as if he owns you. Just for that five seconds. He's very, very good at making a connection with people, and that's part of the secret of his success."

The price for such proximity to presidential power is that Bachar is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and is out of town more than he is at home. "It's not all glamour," he says. "During 1992, I was home about fourteen days. The pace has slowed down in some ways since then. Now I travel about two hundred and fifty days a year. . . . Last summer I was with the president in St. Louis for an event kicking off the summer safety program for the National Service Corporation, and I flew back with him on Air Force One. We landed at Andrews Air Force Base here in D.C. about midnight. At noon the next day I was on a plane for Naples, Italy, where I helped put together his visit to the G-7 Economic Summit. Then I left Italy and arrived back in the United States at three o'clock in the morning on a military plane, and at three o'clock the next afternoon I flew to Chicago. That's just a pace you have to get used to, and it doesn't allow much for a personal life. Still, it's great to be here." --A.B.


Charles R. Hatcher Jr., who for twelve years presided over the far-flung interests of medicine at Emory University, has announced his intention to retire as vice president for health affairs and director of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Hatcher will remain in those positions until his successor is selected and arrives at Emory.

"Dr. Hatcher's long and distinguished service to the University represents an era of great growth and rising prominence for Emory as a research facility, a provider of patient care, and an educator of tomorrow's best physicians," University President William M. Chace told the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Board upon hearing of Hatcher's plans. "His service has been exemplary in its intelligence and in its perceptiveness about the momentous changes, year to year, in medical care."

Hatcher joined the Emory faculty in 1962 as an instructor of surgery. He pioneered heart operations that are now standard, including coronary bypass surgery, aortic valve replacement, double and triple valve replacement, and correction of Tetrology of Fallot, a structural problem in the heart that causes "blue babies."

From 1971 to 1990, Hatcher served as chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery, and in 1976 he was elected director and chief executive officer of The Emory Clinic. He assumed his current positions in 1984, following the death of his predecessor, Garland Herndon.

During his tenure, Hatcher changed the face of the medical campus. The Emory Eye Center and South Clinics, the O. Wayne Rollins Research Building, and the Grace Crum Rollins Public Health Building were completed. The amount of research funds received by components of the health sciences center doubled between 1986-87 and 1993-94.--A.B.


Course gives Oxford students a close-up view of social problems

When a group of Oxford College students visited Death Row at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson recently, sophomore Eric Schweitzer was strapped into the electric chair. As he sat bound by the restraints, he began to reconsider his views on capital punishment and the prison system.

"Going in, I was a very strong supporter of getting rid of all the `bad people,' " says the sociology major from Clearwater, Florida. "But it was a reality check to think, Wow! Twenty people have died here. I still support capital punishment, but [I've learned] it's a lot harder to judge something if you get close to it."

That kind of experience is just what Oxford Associate Professor of Sociology Michael McQuaide hopes to foster among his students in Sociology 215, a course known as Social Problems. For an intensive ten-day session between the fall and spring semesters, a downtown Atlanta hotel serves as home base for the class, and the city becomes its sociological laboratory. McQuaide works to give students an inside view of complex issues such as law enforcement and corrections, health care, and environmental concerns. "I'm trying to show them that oftentimes the social reality is more complicated than the conservative or liberal mythology or any orthodox perspective," he says.

His point is powerfully made during visits to places like the Grady Hospital emergency room, the Fulton County Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, shelters for the homeless and abused, a waste water treatment plant, and the Alzheimer's disease unit of a retirement home. Students also spend two eight-hour shifts riding as civilian observers with Atlanta police officers in some of the city's highest crime areas. They talk to recovering addicts, prison inmates, battered women, retirement home residents, and the professionals who work with them.

McQuaide seeks out what he calls "maximum teachable moments," experiences that personalize the issues. "When my students and I look into the eyes of an eighty-eight-year-old woman in the Alzheimer's unit, that's grandma or mom," he says. "That goes down really hard. It personalizes the issue of dementia, which, up to that point, was a chapter in their book."

The students' ten days in the field make up only half the course. In the fall term, the class meets once a week for an hour and a half of lecture and discussion, and they study a standard textbook on social problems. During their ten-day stint in Atlanta, they attend frequent seminars that include heavy doses of sociological statistics and theory.

The course was created in the mid-seventies by Hoyt Oliver, Oxford's Pierce Professor of Religion, who was teaching sociology at that time. He began the class in response to a call from then-Dean of Oxford College Bond Fleming for faculty to create innovative "short courses" to fill part of the six-week break between the first two terms of the old quarter system. When McQuaide came to Oxford in 1979, he taught the class under Oliver's direction for two years before taking it over.

The course has developed a reputation over the years. "Students talk to others who have taken it," McQuaide says. "So they come in knowing that it's going to be emotionally traumatic but that it's worth doing." Usually some forty students apply for admission to Sociology 215. McQuaide interviews the applicants, looks at their academic performance, and selects fifteen he believes are up to the rigors of the course.

For Sutanya Wright, an English major from Jamaica, the highlight of the class was a visit to Cafe 458, a small, nonprofit organization in downtown Atlanta that provides a wide range of support services for the homeless, including a hot lunch in a restaurant setting. Wright and other students talked to a man who had gone through Cafe 458's drug addiction recovery program, and they ate lunch with many of the restaurant's regular clientele. "It counteracted my cynical outlook [of many social service agencies]," says Wright. "The cafe deals with people as people, not as cases."

Many Sociology 215 alumni have chosen careers directly related to issues they dealt with in the course, such as social work, environmental law, public defense law, and health care administration. Rebecca Glover, who graduated from Oxford in 1989 and from Emory College in 1991 with degrees in economics and sociology, earned her master's degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993. She is now an epidemiologist with the State of Georgia in Valdosta, performing health assessments of the population in that region.

"The course taught me not to judge people when I'm looking at situations that are different from mine, especially in my work," says Glover. "It helps me ask the right questions when I'm researching something like the number of AIDS cases in a particular area. I'm able to think more critically about it."--A.O.A.


Emory professor Anne Allen studies America's Cup injuries

A combination of personal pain and kismet inspired Anne Allen to travel to San Diego for this year's America's Cup yacht race. "I was riding on an airplane, happened to be reading an article [on the America's Cup], happened to be sore from my previous weekend of sailing, and came to the realization that [sailing injuries] had not been studied," she says. An avid sailor and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Emory, Allen contacted officials at the America's Cup and talked with them about the possibility of examining injuries incurred by athletes competing in the race. She says officials were very supportive of the idea and immediately gave her the green light.

Allen's research focused on America3, the first all-woman crew to compete in the America's Cup, which Allen calls "the Superbowl of sailing." "I have a very strong interest in the female athlete and any specific and special needs the female athlete has. For that reason, I originally targeted this [team] because they were female world-class athletes who were competing at this level against men," says Allen, who has been racing sailboats since she was twelve. Between December 1994 and April of this year, she spent several weeks in San Diego with America3, riding on their boat, watching them sail, and examining their strength-training program to understand the physical strain put on their bodies.

Allen says preliminary results indicate the majority of injuries incurred by the crew of America3 has been due to overuse and repetitive motions (hoisting sails, for example) and have primarily included lumbar strains, rotator cuff injuries to the shoulder, and tendinitis. Allen says she hopes the information gained from the study will be useful in several ways. "What we hope to be able to take from this is to document the fact that these injuries do occur in the sport of sailing, to document that they are primarily overuse injuries due [mostly] to repetitive motion and repetitive stress, and to try and correlate which boat positions . . . are more susceptible to injury, . . ." she says. "And then to make some preventative suggestions on how to avoid these injuries, whether it is through biomechanical adaptations or through a specifically isolated strengthening program."

Allen says she was interested in working with America3 to help dispel any notions that the all-woman team was merely a publicity stunt and that they were not capable of competing with men's teams. "One of the major questions at the beginning of the America's Cup was whether or not the women were strong enough and capable from a fitness and physiologic standpoint to race competitively against men at this world-class level, . . ." she says. "It was an extremely competitive race all the way down to the very end. [America3 narrowly missed qualifying for the finals.] I think the women certainly showed they can hold their own in the racing of the America's Cup. . . . And I think [their performance] will further enhance their chances of racing in the America's Cup in the future."

When she finishes her study on America3, Allen will focus on another sailing project--she was recently asked to direct the medical venue for the 1996 Paralympics sailing event at Lake Lanier. "I'm pretty excited about that," she says. "These people have injuries that range from spinal cord injuries to amputations . . . and yet they are still . . . world-class sailors."--J.D.T.


Oxford program for teachers inspires enthusiasm for environmental education

Until last year, fourth-grade teacher Anita Oravec dreaded teaching science classes. "I just hadn't had the background in high school or college, . . ." she says. "I was hesitant [about taking more science courses] because I felt I might be intimidated by people who had a lot more knowledge than me. But I also knew that there was no other way to strengthen my skills." To do so, a year ago Oravec enrolled in the Oxford Institute for Environmental Education, a free summer seminar for elementary, middle, and high school teachers led by the Oxford College biology faculty. The program combines lectures, laboratory time, and field work to broaden teachers' knowledge and skills in ecology.

"We want them to learn basic ecological principles that they can apply locally--things like how ecosystems work [and] the techniques they need to take their kids outside," says Steven Baker, an Oxford assistant professor of biology who specializes in aquatic life. "The big goal is to understand ecology, but it's also to keep the interest high among their students. And the way to do that is not just to give [students] a list of vocabulary words to memorize, but to take them outside and let them participate. . . . We can influence a lot more students by bringing in their teachers than if we brought in students themselves."

The two-week course includes visits to nearby rivers and lakes, wetlands, rock outcrops, forests, and grasslands. Participants learn to identify healthy and polluted ecosystems, conduct field studies, take samples from lakes and streams, categorize plant and animal life, and analyze data. By the end of the program, teachers who earlier would have preferred to avoid the insect life of a stream are ready to slog into the middle of a river to find the perfect stone fly larva specimen.

"I had never done anything like this before," says Terry Jones, a teacher at Newton County's Palmer Stone Elementary School who attended the institute in June. "Now I plan to take my kids to a pond near the school and just wade right in."

Participants also learn how to make inexpensive, homemade substitutes for costly equipment, such as using nylon hose and coffee cans as tools for collecting samples. Each teacher receives a thick resource notebook that includes information on Georgia's Adopt-A-Stream program and how to obtain maps from the United States Geological Survey. "They're giving us `doable' things, things we can manage without a large budget," says Mary Perry, a biology teacher at Salem High School in Rockdale County and a 1995 institute participant. Oxford Associate Professor of Biology Eloise Carter adds, "The great thing about ecology is it's cheap."

Ultimately, the teachers learn how to use their own schoolyards as outdoor laboratories. They draw diagrams of their school grounds and develop plans to integrate ecology studies into their curricula. In the year since she took the course, Oravec has led efforts to establish a habitat study program at her school. The outdoor "learning areas" at Mansfield Elementary in Newton County include a recycling bin, a small pond, a butterfly garden, a bird and squirrel feeding area, and a wooded walking trail with identification markers on shrubs and trees.

The institute is located at the Oxhouse Science Center near the Oxford campus. Included on the site are forty-seven wooded acres, a small lake, and a fully equipped classroom and laboratory. Donated to Oxford in 1990 by William I. Allgood '38Ox-'40C-'47G and his wife, Marguerite, the property is used primarily for science education. Since its first session in 1993 with seven teachers, the institute has grown to forty applicants in 1995, from which twenty were selected. Recently it was chosen for inclusion in the Environmental Success Index, a database that lists successful environmental programs, and it received a "certificate of environmental achievement" from Renew America, a national environmental organization. The institute is funded by grants from the Eisenhower Program for Higher Education, Georgia Power, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, and Oxford College.

Baker, Carter, and their Oxford colleagues--Dean and Candler Professor of Biology William Murdy, Professor of Biology Homer Sharp, and biology instructor Theodosia Wade--hope institute participants will use their understanding of ecological principles to promote environmental education in their communities. Sallie Burn, a 1995 participant who teaches at Winnona Park Elementary School in Decatur, marshalled several parents and community organizations to purchase microscopes and other equipment, as well as help develop an outdoor classroom with a butterfly garden, vegetable garden, composting project, and wildlife habitat on school grounds. "We are all committed to improving science education," Baker says. "This is one way we can really feel like we're making a difference."--A.O.A.


Douglas C. Wallace, director of Emory's Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine, has been admitted to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious honors given an American scientist or engineer. The academy's purpose is "to address matters of importance in science itself, and . . . to assist the nation in addressing problems where the insights of science are of central significance." Wallace is among sixty Americans and fifteen international scientists to be honored this year. His current work involves a type of DNA that resides outside a cell nucleus and may be linked to several diseases.
Click here to return to Autumn 1995 contents page.

Click here to return to Emory University Home Page.