Faculty/StaffMarch 2004: Vol. 83, No. 2

UGA in the news

The internet is allowing political activists of all backgrounds and beliefs to find each other online. According to the Los Angeles Times, 250,000 people in hundreds of cities participate in political “Meetups.” The goal, says UGA political science professor Audrey Haynes, is to connect with other people like you. “It isn’t just about money,” said Haynes, who was quoted in the story. “It is about creating a movement.”

Opposition to the teaching of evolution in middle and high school science classes is causing a mixture of reactions, according to The New York Times. In some cases, “evolution” is replaced by “changes over time.” In the phrase “the long history of the Earth” the word “long” is sometimes omitted. UGA professor David Jackson, who trains middle school science teachers, estimates that half of his new students have little knowledge of evolutionary theory. “In many cases, they’ve never been exposed to the basic facts about fossils and the universe,” he said in the story. “I think there’s already formal and informal discouragements to teaching evolution in public school.”

A story in USA Today reported that although December 2003 was the first month airline passenger demand matched pre-September 2001 levels, total airline revenue has decreased. Passengers are booking more flights with discount carriers such as Jet Blue, AirTran, and Southwest, resulting in plummeting sales for the Big Six. UGA business professor Bob Cross, an expert on airline pricing, said “the traffic hasn’t just come back entirely on its own. The airlines are having to buy that demand back” with lower fares.

A dangerous new group of onion thrips that have damaged Georgia’s Vidalia onion crop originated in Peru, according to an article in the Washington Post. There are many types of thrips that are defined as onion pests, but scientists have never seen the new strand, Thrips tabaci, in southeast Georgia. This particular type of thrip carries a virus that can be transmitted while it is feeding, leaving the plants too weak to produce the distinctly sweet onions that put Vidalia on the map. “It is a potentially very damaging virus,” said UGA plant pathology professor David Langston. “Potentially it could be devastating.”

The Associated Press reported that, in response to a Republican-filed lawsuit, a federal panel of judges will allow legislative maps to be redrawn. The law suit argued that current legislative maps, which were drawn up more than two years ago, spread Democratic voters over as many political districts as possible while packing Republican voters into comparatively few districts. Democrats in the House are debating whether to appeal the ruling. UGA political science professor Charles Bullock predicted that congressional leaders are “going to claw and bite and all kinds of things to fight over these maps.”
Expert on Pound and Joyce spent nine years on UGA English faculty
Hugh Kenner (1923-2003)

Retired UGA English professor and renowned literary critic Hugh Kenner, the country’s leading expert on the work of Ezra Pound and James Joyce, died Nov. 24 at his home in Athens. He was 80.

Kenner was best known for his critical studies of English-language literary modernism, especially The Pound Era (1971), but he was the author of 25 books, as well as nearly 1,000 articles, dealing with an exceptionally broad range of topics. He wrote about Irish poetry, about animator Chuck Jones, about computers, about Li’l Abner, about geodesic domes. He wrote definitively about Joyce—and Pound, Eliot, Beckett, who were also his friends. He was considered an accessible writer on somewhat inaccessible writers.

Profiled in the June ’95 issue of Georgia Magazine, Kenner said, “The great men want to be visited. [Samuel] Beckett was a great example. He was lonesome. I could visit him any time I wanted.”

Kenner was born in Peterborough, Ont., and attended the University of Toronto, where he studied with Marshall McLuhan, the radical theoretician of communication. After receiving his bachelor’s degree he went on to Yale for a Ph.D. While he was in graduate school, he and McLuhan drove to Washington, D.C., to visit the poet Ezra Pound (who, was at that point confined to a combination mental hospital and prison for his wartime support of Musso-lini). The meeting led Kenner to write his dissertation, and first book, on Pound’s poetry.

Kenner’s teaching career began at the University of California at Santa Barbara (then Santa Barbara College). In 1973, he moved to Johns Hopkins, and in 1990 he came to UGA, where he retired in 1999.

Upon his death, The New York Times published an obituary on Kenner that ran almost 1,000 words.

In a book of tributes prepared for Kenner’s 70th birthday, his friend Hugh Witemeyer wrote: “Whenever a student asks me what I think of Hugh Kenner, I usually answer that, if I were having a brain transplant and could choose my donor, it would be Hugh Kenner.”

— Beth Roberts

Georgians support prayer in schools, displaying Ten Commandments
Peach State Poll

Georgians are generally supportive of mixing religion and government, according to a new Peach State Poll. The quarterly survey of public opinion conducted by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government finds that 79 percent of Georgians either strongly approve (62 percent) or mildly approve (16 percent) of allowing a nondenominational prayer in a public school ceremony, and 72 percent either strongly approve (59 percent) or mildly approve (13 percent) of displaying the Ten Commandments in a government building. In addition, one in three Georgians (33 percent) approve of posting of a verse from the Koran in a government building.

A majority of Georgians would like to see religious values have greater influence in politics and public life, but the public is somewhat ambivalent about using state funds to support programs run by religious organizations. Sixty-five percent approve of using state funds for social programs run by Christian organizations, but only 39 percent approve of the state funding social programs run by Islamic organizations. When asked about state funding of programs run by faith-based organizations generally, 47 percent say it is inappropriate to use tax-payer money in this way, whereas 40 percent say it is an appropriate use of such funds.

Other Peach State Poll results:
* While 58 percent of non-Atlantans would like to see religious values have greater influence in politics, only 46 percent of Atlantans share this view.
* Fifty-one percent of Georgians over the age of 65 believe that the courts have been generally hostile to Christian religions, compared with 22 percent of Georgians between the ages of 18 and 25 who share this view.
* Eighty percent of Georgians strongly disagree with removing the reference to God from the pledge of allegiance, with only 11 percent of Georgians agreeing with removing it.

— Ann Allen (ABJ ’78)

Porterfield will lead forest resources; Muia retires from alumni relations
Hello, new dean; farewell, good friend

Richard Porterfield, a former forestry professor who held executive positions at Champion International paper company, has been chosen dean of the Warnell School of Forest Resources. While working for Champion from 1979-00, Porterfield headed two major divisions, each of which had annual sales of approximately $1 billion.

With some $5.5 billion in annual sales, Champion was one of the nation’s leading forest products companies, and one of the largest landowners in the country, until it was acquired by International Paper. Prior to joining Champion, Porterfield was a professor of forest resources at Mississippi State and he taught forestry at the University of Arkansas. For the past year, he has taught at William and Mary, where he created a new course in natural-resource economics.

Dave Muia, who helped spearhead the transformation of the UGA Alumni Society into a self-sustaining, dues based association, retired on Jan. 31.

Muia (AB ’74, MEd ’79), who first displayed his school spirit as a manager for the Georgia basketball team, began his professional career as a field representative for the alumni relations office. He spent 10 years in development, then was named director of alumni relations in 1988.

Although he is retiring, Muia will be retained as a consultant on a number of projects, including the capital campaign and a proposed alumni center—which is expected to be erected on the site of old Stegeman Hall, adjacent to the new Student Learning Center, the University Bookstore and Sanford Stadium.

“This center will be both an information hub and a gatherng place for all alumni,” says Muia. “Everyone will know where it is and the UGA traditions it represents.”

Up Front . Features . Back Issues . Alumni Profiles . Class Notes . Contact Us . Search . Subscribe . Links . UGA Today . HOME

©2004 by the University of Georgia.