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Alumni play roles in attracting, arranging conference

President Bill Clinton smiled and waved to the more than four thousand students who packed the bleachers of the Woodruff P.E. Center, floor to ceiling and wall to wall. The President of the United States had just finished a grueling eight-hour regional economic summit in Cannon Chapel and was about to share his thoughts on the state of the nation's economy with Emory students, who had been waiting patiently for more than an hour.

"I have just one question before I get too serious," President Clinton said. "Where is Dooley? I was told if he showed up, you would all get up and leave. If that's true, I hope he waits until the end."

The crowd roared its approval.

President Clinton is only the second sitting U.S. president to visit the University (former President Jimmy Carter attended the groundbreaking for Cannon Chapel in 1979). Vice President Al Gore also attended the economic summit, as did Cabinet secretaries Ron Brown (Commerce), Robert Reich (Labor), Richard Riley (Education), Robert Rubin (Treasury), and Donna Shalala (Health and Human Services).

The March 29 summit was the first of four regional economic summits dealing with issues particular to each region:the area's overall economy, the hardships endured by working families, innovations in education and training, and sustained growth and job creation.

The unanimously acclaimed presidential conference--White House staffers said they would use Emory's example as a model for arranging future meetings--was made possible through the efforts of hundreds of Emory employees from a cross section of University departments. What made the effort all the more remarkable is that it had not been long in the planning. Only nine days intervened between the March 20 arrival of a White House advance team--which included 1987 Emory College graduate Steve Bachar--and the summit itself. In that time, myriad tasks had to be accomplished, ranging from security to food to finding and equipping space for the media.

While a student at Emory, Bachar was president of the Emory Young Democrats. He also was a member of the Russian Club, which may have served him well in early May as he made plans for President Clinton's trip to Russia.

In addition to Bachar, two other alumni participated in the summit. Hugh A. Westbrook, a 1967 Emory College graduate and now chairman and chief executive officer of Vitas Healthcare Corporation, was invited by President Clinton to explain his role in meeting the needs of the terminally ill. Alumna Reta Jo Lewis played a significant role in bringing the conference to Emory. A 1989 law school graduate and until recently special assistant to the president for political affairs, Lewis first broached the subject of a Clinton visit to Martha Fagan, director of development for the law school, in February. Fagan conveyed the inquiry to University President William M. Chace, who followed up with a letter to President Clinton. The University was notified of its selection March 14.

Jan Gleason, director of Emory's news and information office, has in recent years dealt with appearances on campus by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Republic of Georgia Edvard Shevardnadze, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Gleason said President Clinton's visit generated more media interest than those three guests combined.

"President Clinton generated the most interest . . . by far," she said.--A.B.


Alumna Nancy Eiesland looks for multiple images of God

When the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was passed, it was heralded by many as a kind of equal rights amendment for the more than forty million disabled persons in this country. Even though that legislation helped topple many physical barriers that impeded the disabled, other less tangible barriers have not been so readily dismantled. According to Nancy Eiesland, "Today most denominations and many local congregations realize that church facilities should be constructed or altered to encourage the presence of persons with disabilities. Yet little effort has been made to promote the full participation of people with disabilities in the life of the church."

An adjunct professor in the Candler School of Theology who earned her Emory Ph.D. in religion in May, Eiesland says one reason the church has been slow to fully engage the disabled is the historic scriptural link that has been made between disability and sin. "John 5:14 recounts the story of the man by the pool of Bethesda," she writes in her new book, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability. "After healing the man, who had been unable to walk, Jesus said, `Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.' These passages have frequently been cited as proof that disability is a sign of moral imperfection or divine retribution for sin."

In order to truly accept and include the disabled, the church must move toward instituting a liberatory theology of disability, Eiesland believes. "[The process] begins with the understanding that people with disabilities who cannot measure up to the normal practices of society constitute a disadvantaged minority group," she writes. "It stigmatizes particular institutions and social attitudes rather than our nonconventional bodies. It calls the church to embody justice as its fundamental mission."

Eiesland, who is disabled due to a congenital joint disorder, uses her own experiences to show how church practices can stigmatize and isolate the disabled. Reflecting on receiving the Eucharist at a church she attended, Eiesland writes, "I would often be alerted by an usher that I need not go forward for the Eucharist. Instead I would be offered the sacrament at my seat when everyone else had been served. My presence in the service using either a wheelchair or crutches made problematical the `normal' bodily practice of the Eucharist in the congregation. . . . Hence receiving the Eucharist was transformed for me from a corporate to a solitary experience; from a sacralization of Christ's broken body to a stigmatization of my disabled body."

Key to Eiesland's thesis for change is a call for the church to re-evaluate the symbols and liturgical practices it uses that exclude and distance the disabled, such as services that focus on standing or kneeling. Fundamental in that process of change is an acceptance of what she calls "the disabled God," which is found in the image of Jesus after the Resurrection. Eiesland writes, "The resurrected Jesus Christ in presenting impaired hands and feet and side to be touched by frightened friends alters the taboo of physical avoidance of disability and calls for followers to recognize their connection and equality at the point of Christ's physical impairment. . . .

"For me and, I hope, other people with disabilities, as well as for some able-bodied people, the presence of the disabled God makes it possible to bear a nonconventional body. This God enables both a struggle for justice among people with disabilities and an end to estrangement from our own bodies."

Eiesland cautions that she is not attempting to transform the resurrected Christ into an exclusively disabled image. "We need multiple images of God, and this provides another one," she says. "It's not to replace other images of God, as God of the father, or God as savior. It simply fills out the picture."

It is also important, Eiesland says, that these changes in church practices and policies are not merely intended to benefit the currently disabled. They have the potential to impact everyone. "The experience of disability is an ever-present possibility for all people," she writes. "A greater than fifty percent chance exists that an individual who is currently able-bodied will be physically disabled, either temporarily or permanently. Thus for the temporarily able-bodied, developing an empathy for people with disabilities means identifying with their own real bodies, bodies of contingency and limits."

And as the nation's population grows older, Eiesland says, these changes in the church have the potential to affect more and more people. "As the baby boom ages," she says, "there is going to be this group that is coming to grips with the fact that they are no longer young, no longer always healthy, and I think it will become increasingly important that the church address that experience of aging and disablement that comes with age. . . .

"I had a moment of existential crisis this morning as I was driving into work and heard that Rod Stewart had turned fifty. You realize that the generation that was young and hip and fit is aging, and . . . they're going to be experiencing new kinds of realities, some of which will be the experience of physical impairment."--J.D.T.


Alumnus and Oxford assistant professor Ken Carter honored as one of "Thirty Leaders of the Future" by Ebony magazine

Oxford Assistant Professor of Psychology Kenneth Carter was recently named one of the nation's "Thirty Young Leaders of Tomorrow" by Ebony magazine. The editors of Ebony describe the group, whose members are thirty or younger, as "the most talented and most giving of our younger generation. . . . These young leaders share a commitment to excellence and to helping others."

A 1987 Oxford graduate, 1989 Emory College alumnus, and practicing psychotherapist, Carter earned his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan in 1993. He then returned to Atlanta to become a senior assistant research scientist with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he co-authored a study on the role of smoking as a risk marker for suicidal behaviors among teenagers. "We're not saying that smoking causes suicide," he says. "But if a student seems depressed and is smoking a pack a day, our suggestion would be to look more closely at other things in that student's life."

In the fall of 1994, Carter left the CDC to join the Oxford faculty. At twenty-seven, he jokes about his youthful presence in the classroom. "One of the reasons I wear a tie is so that I can be distinguished from the students," he says. "But in most ways, [my age] is a tremendous advantage. We can relate on similar levels; we're all watching MTV."-A.O.A.


Professor Matthew Bernstein examines the career of movie producer Walter Wanger

It was a scandal that rocked the film industry and, according to Time, involved "some of Hollywood's shiniest showpieces." On a winter afternoon in 1951, film producer Walter Wanger shot and wounded television executive Jennings Lang in a Beverly Hills parking lot. Wanger had recently discovered that his wife, actress Joan Bennett, was involved in an affair with Lang. Wanger later pled not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and was sentenced to serve four months at the Castaic Honor Farm near Los Angeles. He admitted to shooting his wife's lover "in a bluish flash through a violent haze."

In his recently released book, Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent, Assistant Professor of Film Studies Matthew Bernstein writes that because of that infamous incident, Wanger's true importance as a producer has been overshadowed. He describes Wanger's life as "one of Hollywood's great and--except for his notorious crime of passion in 1951--untold stories."

Bernstein, who earned his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1987 and joined the Emory faculty in 1989, first became interested in Wanger more than a decade ago while working as a research assistant on The Dark Side of Genius, Donald Spoto's biography of Alfred Hitchcock. He was asked to find some information on Wanger's role as the producer of Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent. Even though all he could find was one interview with Wanger and a brief section about him in a book about United Artists Corporation, Bernstein writes that, "virtually every star biography and Hollywood history mentioned him repeatedly. The more I learned about the contours of Wanger's career, the more intrigued I became."

Wanger's Hollywood career began at Paramount studios in the 1920s. Known as a sophisticated, stylish intellectual with an Ivy League education, he went on to produce more than sixty films, including such well-known movies as Queen Christina, which starred Greta Garbo; John Ford's Stagecoach; and Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Bernstein, who spent seven years working on the book, says one reason Wanger interested him was that his career diverged from the two prevailing models of how producers worked during the studio era. According to Bernstein, Wanger was neither a crass immigrant capitalist, like Samuel Goldwyn or Louis B. Mayer, nor a totally hands-on producer, like David O. Selznick, who took absolute control over a movie. "He's not just the money man, and he's not the auteur, he's something in between," Bernstein says. "He's someone who got involved in the making of the film and told people how to make the film only when he felt a very strong personal commitment to it. At the same time, he was extremely enlightened, and some of the best films he made are good because he kept his hands off."

Another reason Bernstein was attracted to the project was because Wanger had assiduously collected and maintained documents that chronicled his career. "In the history of film studies, access to studio archives and personal records is a relatively new thing," he says. "At the time I started this project, there had been virtually nothing [done] in the way of primary research on how Hollywood functioned. . . . I discovered Wanger's papers were in Wisconsin. They were incredibly complete, particularly on the films he made from 1941 onwards, and I thought, Here is an unprecedented opportunity to document . . . what producers do when they work in Hollywood and how they function within the Hollywood mode of production."

Ironically, Bernstein says the often stormy nature of Wanger's career helped in his examination of the role of the Hollywood producer. "So many things went wrong for this guy. . . ," he says. "He got into so many arguments or so many disputes . . . and one of the things I learned doing this research [is that] when things go wrong, everybody has to stop and examine the system they're working under. . . . So insofar as he got into all these messes and constantly got into disputes with other people, his career is very instructive. . . . In the final chapter, on Cleopatra, he is suing Fox, and Fox is suing him. In court they're saying, Well, what does a producer do? They're taking depositions and saying, How were you supposed to function, how was Fox supposed to function, what went wrong here?"

Bernstein's current research project has him focused not on Hollywood but on Atlanta. He and Dana White, a professor of urban studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, are examining black film culture in Atlanta. He says the two will be looking at how "film going was integrated into the lives of the city's black population. . . . We are going to be doing locational analysis. Where were the black theaters? What did they look like? What was the stage show like? What were the accommodations like when you walked in? How much did they pay? What did they see before the movie started? Also, what was it like for blacks to go to the segregated theaters in white neighborhoods? And then, what did the black press in Atlanta--there were several different papers here--make of the Hollywood representations of blacks versus the Journal and the Constitution and other mainstream papers?"-J.D.T.


This spring the Emory women's basketball team gained its first-ever berth into the NCAA Division III national tournament. The Eagles, ranked among the top fifteen teams in the nation going into the tournament, knocked off Millsaps College (who had beaten Emory in the regular season) 95-77 in the first round and defeated Marymount College of Virginia 95-79 in the second round before losing 88-51 to Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the round of sixteen. Also, graduating senior Ashley Gordon was named UAA player of the year, and coach Myra Sims was honored as coach of the year in the South region by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.--J.D.T.


Thomas R. Insel reflects on his first year as director of the primate research center

Research aimed at finding the causes and cures for diseases with genetic origins is a priority for Thomas R. Insel, who late last year became the seventh director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, a division of Emory's Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

"The Yerkes center has gone through a tremendous growth phase, and now it is in the position to become one of the most exciting areas for research in neuroscience and infectious disease gene therapy," Insel says.

"My vision is to bring in a number of well-trained ambitious, creative investigators who will be on the cutting edge of their disciplines and will use primates as their research subjects."

Insel was recruited to Emory from his position as chief of the Unit on Developmental Biopsychology in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He replaced Frederick A. King, who retired in 1994, after sixteen years as Yerkes director.

"Two factors drew me here," Insel says. "One, the commitment that Emory had made to biomedical research in general and neuroscience research in particular. And two, the potential of a place like this, in a time when funding is so tight, to continue to grow because of unique resources."

Insel is not, as one might expect, a primatologist. He is, instead, a self-described "psychiatrist turned neuroscientist" with interests in the structure and function of the brain and how the brain mediates emotions. He became interested in those subjects while a resident at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California in San Francisco. After his residency, he moved to the National Institutes of Health, where he investigated the neurobiology of social behaviors, such as mother-infant attachments, pair-bonding, and aggression. Using laboratory animals, he sought to understand how the anatomy and chemistry of the brain influenced these behaviors.

According to Insel, the Yerkes Center should excel in three areas: neuroscience; infectious diseases, including AIDS research and vaccine development; and gene therapy techniques. "As we get to know more about the molecular biology of certain diseases--Huntington's chorea, diabetes, all the metabolic diseases--we are beginning to identify specific genes that are involved. We still do not understand precisely how these aberrant genes contribute to these diseases," he says.

"We now have identified a gene associated with cystic fibrosis. People who are at risk for this disease have a very different gene than those who are not. We can try to do all sorts of things to treat cystic fibrosis medically, but the ultimate cure would be to change that gene. The only way to do that would be if you could take out the cells that have the abnormal gene and put a normal gene in its place. And to do that is going to take some very clever targeting. You have to know where the gene is, you have to have a normal copy of it, and you have to have a way to get it into the correct place so it will override the abnormal gene that is in place."

Despite its solid reputation, Yerkes has frequently been a target of animal rights activists. Insel said he has not had much experience dealing with activists, but he knows what his response will be.

"I think for Yerkes, the most important response to the threat of animal activists is to make important discoveries. If we can come up with a vaccine for AIDS, if we can demonstrate a treatment for a very serious disease like that, then we've made our own argument for animals in research. To me the challenge that animal activists pose is ultimately to do the very best science we can do and to allow our discoveries to demonstrate . . . not just the importance but the necessity of this kind of work."

Another of Insel's concerns is that many people in the Emory community don't understand the relationship between Yerkes and the University. "There has always been some confusion . . . about whether Yerkes is part of Emory or part of the federal government. That should not be a source of confusion. This is not in any way, shape, or form a federal laboratory. . . . It is, from top to bottom, part of Emory. Every brick, every animal in this place, is part of Emory University."

Insel's predecessor, Frederick King, received praise for the helping hand he provided Zoo Atlanta in the early eighties, when the facility was ranked among the worst zoos in the nation. King agreed to lend the zoo thirteen breeding gorillas if it built them an appropriate, natural environment. The Ford Motor Company followed King's lead and anteed up $500,000 to construct the Ford African Rain Forest, the zoo's premier exhibit. Under King's directorship, Yerkes first received and maintained full accreditation from the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animals, whose certification is considered the "gold standard" of excellence in laboratory animal care.

The Yerkes Center, founded in 1930, is the oldest scientific institute in the world dedicated to primate research. More than one hundred and ninety researchers in the areas of behavioral biology, neurobiology and vision, pathobiology and immunobiology, and reproductive biology work with more than three thousand primates comprising fifteen species, the most diverse collection in the world.--A.B.


Alumnus Robert E. Chappell Jr. helps Emory get its field of dreams

Emory's new baseball stadium certainly qualifies as a field of dreams. Considered one of the finest NCAA Division III facilities, Chappell Park boasts a press box, VIP lounge, electronic scoreboard, sunken dugouts, and permanent seating for two hundred and fifty spectators. The playing surface measures 325 feet down the outfield lines, 370 feet to the power alleys, and 395 feet to straightaway center field.

Chappell Park became a reality through the generosity of Robert E. Chappell Jr. A recent past president of the Association of Emory Alumni, he graduated from Oxford College in 1956, earned his Emory College degree in 1958, and received his MBA from the University in 1968.

The new field honors the Chappell family's interest and participation in Eagle baseball. Chappell's sons, Brett and Ted, both played for Emory. A 1987 Emory College graduate, Brett was a founding member of Emory's club team in 1985. And Ted, who earned his Oxford College degree in 1991 and his Emory College degree in 1993, played on Emory's first varsity team in 1991.

The Eagles christened the new park on February 19 with a one-hit, 2-0 shutout of Rhodes College. After the contest, Chappell was presented with a game ball.

According to Emory coach Kevin Howard, "Chappell Park is obviously a tremendous boost to the program, and it has already helped us out tremendously in recruiting. . . . We're already able to attract quality students. Now when we get a [potential player] on campus we can take him down to the park to see a great baseball atmosphere and setting, and then they're extremely interested in coming to Emory."--J.D.T.

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