Shortstop Joe Sclafani ’12 placed on Wallace Award Watch List

Baseball co-captain Joe Sclafani '12 hit .288 and led the team with 32 runs scored for the Big Green this season.

Big Green shortstop Joe Sclafani ’12 was selected as one of 50 candidates from Division-I baseball teams across the country for the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. The Wallace Award, named after former Texas Tech University shortstop and assistant coach Brooks Wallace, is given by the College Baseball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top shortstop each year.

Co-captain Sclafani led the Dartmouth baseball team to its fifth consecutive Red Rolfe Division crown and came within one game of advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The shortstop finished the season hitting .288 with a .401 on-base percentage and a .442 slugging percentage. The Pac-12 and the Southeastern Conferences paced all conferences with seven players on the watch list, while the Ivy League had Sclafani as its lone representative.

“It’s a pretty cool honor to be considered one of the best 50 shortstops in the country,” Sclafani said. “I don’t think they usually consider many players from small schools, as they mainly pick from the power conferences, so this is a great honor.”

Sclafani started in all 42 of the team’s games this season and led the team with 32 runs, 13 doubles and three triples. The team’s leadoff hitter walked 27 times during the season while striking out just 15 times, boasting the best marks among the Big Green’s regulars in both categories.

“Joe is a big part of our team,” teammate Kyle Hunter ’13 said. “He leads off and gets the whole team going if he gets a hit or gets on base.”

The loss in the Ivy League Championship Series last weekend ended Sclafani’s impressive four-year career at Dartmouth. The shortstop finished his tenure as the career Ivy League leader in triples with 19 and the Big Green all-time leader with 100 walks, 172 games played, 170 games started, 675 at-bats and 516 defensive assists. His 220 career hits and 163 runs scored ranked second in program history, while his 331 total bases, 40 doubles and 116 RBIs put him third, fifth and eighth, respectively, on the all-time Dartmouth leader board.

Although 2012 may not have been Sclafani’s best season in the batter’s box he had batting averages of over .300 in each of his first three seasons at Dartmouth he improved on defense and was a steady force at shortstop for the Big Green all year. Sclafani sported a career-best .955 fielding percentage while making a career-low eight errors this season.

“As the shortstop, Joe gets the most plays on the infield,” Hunter said. “As a pitcher, it’s great to have him behind me.”

The Big Green won the Red Rolfe Division in all four years of Sclafani’s career and secured two NCAA Tournament berths. Dartmouth’s last NCAA Tournament appearance before 2009 came in 1987. This past season, Dartmouth finished with a 14-6 regular season league record and a 13-2 record at home. The team lost in the deciding game of the Ivy League Championship Series at Cornell University in the 11th inning by a walk-off two-run home run.

“I’m really proud of our team this year as we had a big group of young players,” Sclafani said. “We played some really good teams at the beginning of the year, and we weren’t playing as well as we could, but we really came back strong during Ivy season and put ourselves in a spot where we only needed one win in the final weekend to clinch the division.”

As most of his underclassman teammates get ready to play summer ball in leagues across the country, Sclafani will focus on the next goal of his baseball career getting drafted by an MLB organization. Being selected as one of the final candidates for the Brooks Wallace Award will help put him on the radar of more major league clubs, according to Sclafani.

“I think this definitely helps,” he said. “Hopefully it will put more of a spotlight on me and help me get a bit more attention.”

Until 2008, the Wallace Award was presented to the most outstanding player in the nation regardless of position. Past winners include current major league players, such as Kurt Suzuki, Alex Gordon, David Price and Buster Posey. Last year’s recipient was Clemson University shortstop Brad Miller, who was selected in the second round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Seattle Mariners.

The Big Green has had seven players selected in the MLB draft in the past four years, including right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks ’12, who was picked by the Texas Rangers in the eighth round last year. Two of the drafted players Mitch Horacek ’14 and Chris O’Dowd ’13 decided to postpone their professional careers and played for Dartmouth this season.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play professional baseball,” Sclafani said. “I have talked to a few teams, and if I’m fortunate enough, I’m just hoping that I can get drafted.”

The Brooks Wallace Award will be presented on June 30 in Lubbock, Texas as part of the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Night of Champions.

Lacrosse captain Plumb ’12 named Ivy Player of the Year

Women's lacrosse captain Sarah Plumb '12 led her team to an Ivy League Championship last weekend.

It has been a good week for Dartmouth women’s lacrosse captain Sarah Plumb ’12. Plumb was named the Ivy League Player of the Year on May 2 and led her team to an Ivy League Championship against the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Those around the team were not surprised that Plumb earned Ivy League honors after an impressive season. She led the Big Green with 11 assists, 33 goals, 44 points, 71 draw controls and 15 caused turnovers.

“It’s very cool, and I’m very proud of everything that I’ve been able to accomplish,” Plumb said. “More importantly, I’m proud of what our team has accomplished. Winning the Ivy League title is something that no other Dartmouth team has been able to do. This is something that we have been striving for since day one, so it’s so great to have been able to accomplish our goal.”

Plumb became the second consecutive Big Green women’s lacrosse player to win Ivy League Player of the Year, with Kat Collins ’11 earning the prestigious title last year.

“I think it’s a really strong testament to this program,” Plumb said. “We strive to be the best we can be, and to have that kind of representation in such a short period of time is really amazing. I think it really shows the depth and the strength of this program, and that we’re a team that is going to keep getting better.”

The senior midfielder led the Ivy League in draw controls per game, which was good for seventh in the nation. This year, Plumb was a force to be reckoned with on offense, scoring at least three goals in six separate appearances and at least five points in four other contests. The team captain has never been one to shrink under pressure, leading the league in game-winning goals, two of which came against ranked opponents No. 4 Duke University and No. 7 Penn.

Plumb’s accomplishments will go down in the Big Green history books. This season alone, the senior set Dartmouth single-game, single-season and career records for draw controls with nine, 71 and 145, respectively. Plumb’s single-season and career totals are also Ivy League records.

“Although her many accolades are defined by her success on the draw, that is far from the extent to which Sarah does for our team,” teammate Kirsten Goldberg ’12 said. “[Plumb] is a calming voice in huddles, she fights to get every ground ball and she pushes herself to exhaustion in each and every game. I am proud to be her teammate and to step on the field with her every day.”

Plumb has been a leader for the Big Green for the past four years. As a freshman, the midfielder started 12 games before being sidelined with an injury. As a sophomore, Plumb was one of just five players on the team to start all 16 games. After her sophomore season, she was selected for the All-Ivy Second Team, the All-Ivy Tournament Team and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association All-North Second Team. As a junior, Plumb started all but one game, earned first team All-Ivy honors and was named to the All-Ivy Tournament Team.

“I have no idea what I would do without Sarah on the field with me,” Goldberg said. “We pump each other up when one of us is struggling, we rally behind each other when we need to step up our game and we set each other up for success all over the field. Sarah is a force to be reckoned with, and she never gives up.”

This past weekend, Plumb led the team to its first Ivy League Tournament win since the inception of the new playoff format in the 2009-2010 season. The Big Green defeated Cornell University in the semifinal game before taking down first-seed Penn in the final.

Plumb is consistently humble and always attributes her achievements to her teammates.

“While I’m happy about my personal accomplishments, I know that I could not have done any of this without my team,” she said. “I love my teammates and I’m so proud of the legacy that we have built together.”

Goldberg said that Plumb’s modesty is an indication of her team-player attitude.

“[Head coach] Amy [Patton] always tells us that any award that an individual on the team receives is a team award, so it does not surprise me that [Plumb] took on that same sentiment,” she said. “That being said, Sarah is a selfless teammate and understands that without the rest of the team behind her, she would not have the resilience and work ethic that it takes to be one of the best players in the country.”

On top of being awarded the Ivy League Player of the Year, Plumb has also earned a nomination for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the most valuable collegiate lacrosse player in the nation. Plumb is one of 25 players in the country nominated this year.

“It’s a really huge honor,” Plumb said. “I’ve known a couple of people who have come through this program who’ve been nominated, and I always looked up to them, so it’s cool to be in this position now. More importantly, this is a huge honor for our program and for my team you aren’t anything without your team.”

After such a big week, Plumb and the rest of the Dartmouth women’s lacrosse team will be back in action this weekend, taking on Syracuse University in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Green suffered its worst loss of the season to Syracuse on April 9, when the team lost, 22-4, in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

“We’re really excited about this weekend,” Plumb said. “We’re taking it one game at a time because that’s all we’re guaranteed. We’re excited to be taking on Syracuse again, and hopefully we’ll have a couple more wins and get to that Final Four weekend.”

Couture: Perpetuating Partisan Rhetoric

In his recent column comparing President Barack Obama’s slogans “Change” and “Forward” to Mitt Romney’s “pathetic” catchphrase “Believe in America,” Benjamin Schwartz uses overtly biased language and damaging assumptions to incorrectly characterize Romney’s campaign and personal character (“What’s in a Slogan?” May 7). Schwartz relates Romney’s motto to the “birther movement,” arguing that it taps into some of his supporters’ racist and xenophobic sentiments as part of a larger intentional strategy calling on voters to “fear Obama’s foreignness.” By doing so, Schwartz contributes to the exact extremism he refutes, perpetuating the partisan rhetoric that runs rampant in our increasingly superficial political culture.

It is outlandish to deduce such a hostile meaning from a phrase as generic as “Believe in America.” Schwartz may be right to argue that Romney’s slogan is unoriginal or mundane. But to imply that it has a hidden agenda to enrage and enliven the racist, anti-Obama constituency is an unreasonable leap that is both unconstructive and damaging to our already hyperbolic political system. By making such a claim, Schwartz’s argument is no more viable than the Fox News report that he sardonically references and denounces, which equated Obama to Karl Marx because of the president’s “Change” slogan.

In reality, Romney’s slogan is likely as simple as it appears. It does not hide some deep-seated racism, but is a surface-level attempt to refocus voters’ attention on the constitutional foundations of American society. Schwartz belittles the slogan by stating that it does not emphasize Romney enough it is not “Believe in Romney,” whereas the Obama slogan focuses on the candidate himself. But this is not a mistaken flaw in the slogan, but rather a deliberate effort by the Romney campaign to put country before candidate to focus on the nation as a whole rather than the ambitions of a single man. The emphasis is on American patriotism and resilience, which portrays a sense of confidence in the American people to push through these turbulent times. To argue that the slogan has some sinister ulterior motive is entirely unreasonable.

In addition, Schwartz’s assertion that the similar slogans of Mitt Romney and John Kerry imply that both men share similar traits is an overly generalized simplification. The “Believe in America” tagline used in the Kerry campaign was not the main slogan, but was instead the name of a two-week bus tour across the country. Kerry’s official campaign slogan was “A Stronger America.” To use Schwartz’s line of reasoning, George W. Bush’s 2004 bus tour titled “Yes, America Can” sounds eerily familiar to Obama’s “Yes, We Can.” But to equate Bush and Obama due to their similar catchphrases would be a glaring misrepresentation of their vastly different mentalities, policies and ideologies. To make this case about Romney and Kerry is equally misguided.

Perhaps most disconcerting about Schwartz’s analysis is not its blindly partisan accusations or allegations of implicit racism. Instead, it’s his use of a few words as evidence of a candidate’s entire character. Deeming Romney an intentionally divisive, almost treasonous figure because he decided to print “Believe in America” on his campaign flyers is an illogical distortion of reality. Using the slogans “Change” and “Forward” to bolster Obama’s campaign is equally superficial. By referencing hollow promises as proof of Obama’s validity, Schwartz depreciates some of the genuine accomplishments the president has made over the past three years.

To be fair, this issue is not isolated to Schwartz’s column. Instead, Schwartz demonstrates that he is yet another victim of our nation’s political “sound bite” culture, one in which 10-second gaffes or one-line catchphrases are more important than entire political platforms. Candidates have risen and fallen based on a single response during a debate. Campaigns have ended because of quick one-liners caught on strategically placed cameras and played on repeat by news channels and websites.

The fact that so much lip service has been paid to such meaningless mistakes and gimmicks threatens to erode the very foundations of our government. Our political system relies on voters making educated and informed decisions about potential candidates, a requirement that is impossible to achieve when so many individuals focus their attention on biased, inflammatory rhetoric. We need to move beyond slogans and focus on the actual issues.

Blair: Modern Malaise

On the whole, if we know what a person thinks about any one given political issue, we can usually guess where he or she stands on most other issues. The range of possible political positions in our culture is, by itself, already narrow. But this range is narrowed even further by the fact that only certain contingent combinations of these positions seem to be culturally permissible. Thus, we meet very few pro-life socialists in America both because there are very few socialists in America, period, and because the socialists that do exist are very unlikely to be pro-life.

This is why I was delighted to see that Wendell Berry had been chosen to give the 2012 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities last month in Washington, D.C. The National Endowment for the Humanities describes the Jefferson Lecture as “the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual and public achievement in the humanities.” Berry is a man who stands in stark contrast to our cramped and rigid public intellectual culture. Spotlighting him with this lecture allowed the American public to see that there is intellectual life beyond simplistic left-right dichotomies.

After receiving a bachelor’s and master’s in English from the University of Kentucky, Berry taught first at New York University and then at the University of Kentucky. He left academia in 1977 to live as a farmer and a writer. Since then, he has produced a large amount of poetry, novels and non-fiction essays. His corpus is remarkable for its tendency to undermine all established categories.

Berry has become perhaps the main public intellectual of the environmental movement, castigating corporate pollution and highly destructive environmental practices like mountaintop removal and nutrient-stripping monocultures. He rails against our food culture, in which fast food and scarily over-processed food harm our health, the health of animals and the health of the environment.

So far, nothing surprising. Yet Berry is also as critical of the centralized federal government as he is of centralized economic power indeed, he realizes that many of our environmental problems came from collusion between big government and big business.

Even more extraordinarily, Berry spends much of his time on concerns not typically owned by the environmental community. He writes often about marriage in a general sense, and has written more than once on the moral wrongness of abortion. Finally, Berry is a man motivated by deep spiritual convictions that he self-locates, broadly, in the Christian tradition.

This year’s Jefferson Lecture was not Berry at his strongest, as the pundits especially conservative ones have been eager to point out. Berry often rightly praises the particularly over-generalizing abstractions, but he himself sometimes makes blanket statements about, for example, “corporations.” His a priori bias against industrialism and economic centralization an exceedingly good bias, as far as biases go can nonetheless cause him to import that bias into particular cases whose individual complexities do not fully answer to his simplified view. The Jefferson Lecture displayed this tendency.

Nevertheless, Berry is a great man and a great writer, and we should be deeply grateful for his Jefferson Lecture, even with its manifest flaws. We should be grateful to Berry for challenging, even exploding, the drive toward narrow partisanship and party loyalty in America today.

I am not suggesting that everyone ought to embrace Berry’s entire political and cultural program although I personally think that he is more or less right about most things. Rather, I am suggesting that we ought to let his example inspire us to broaden the intellectual horizons of American public discourse. Too long have we let a two-party system and a highly polarized and partisan culture control our sense of the available intellectual possibilities.

‘Don’t Trust’ pushes the envelope on crass, cruel quirkiness

If I were to judge ABC’s new comedy “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23,” which premiered this April, by its title, I would immediately discount it for several reasons: it rhymes, it is too long and am I supposed to replace the “B—-” with what I think? The latter is unclear. After the first couple of episodes, however, the show presents some promise with its quirkiness and attempt to push the envelope.

The show follows an innocent Midwestern girl named June, played by Dreama Walker, who moves to New York City for her dream job on Wall Street. When she moves to the city, she finds that her dream job no longer exists and that her roommate Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter, is a city-loving party animal. Chloe’s best friend James Van Der Beek, played by himself, is a let-loose actor who gets the girls into even more trouble.

The cast, devoid of any really big names, relies on talent and witty dialogue instead of premiering with a preconceived fan base. Walker, who is the show’s biggest star and is known for her roles on “The Good Wife” and “Gossip Girl,” begins each episode with her classic squeaky voice, but she is far from a Tina Fey of leads. The show instead feels like a conglomeration of supporting actors all working together.

Ritter, of “Breaking Bad,” stars as the “b—-” in the title. Van Der Beek, well-known for his role on “Dawson’s Creek” and as he reminds us in the show for guest starring in Ke$ha’s “Blow” music video, is a companion to Ritter and Walker’s characters reminiscent of Joey from “Friends.” Van Der Beek plays what hopefully is an exaggerated version of himself, however, on “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23.” The final notable member of the supporting cast is Liza Lapira, known for her role in “21” (2008), who plays Chloe’s stalker in the series.

Ritter and Van Der Beek, however, make the show, and their dynamic is goofy and somehow believable despite the ridiculous nature of their friendship. Ritter’s Chloe is a sophisticated party-lover with an inane job as an entertainer to foreign diplomats at the United Nations. While her somewhat lavish lifestyle is almost too unbelievable, Chloe’s personality overshadows this slight detail. Ritter’s character provides most of the comic relief in the show, while virtually everything June says or does is annoying.

The most eccentric character of the show is Chloe and June’s neighbor Eli, played by Michael Blaiklock, who lives in the up-close-and-personal adjacent building. His frequent interjections into their conversation from his window are hilarious. Some of his comments, however, while he seems to be in the midst of finishing something off let’s just say it’s implied he’s not wearing any pants are downright creepy.

The show is full of risque moments, and Chloe pulls such fast ones on June as having sex with June’s fiance on her birthday cake. Chloe also commits June to being a co-foster parent of a child whom Chloe uses as an assistant and tricks June into dating Chloe’s father which is horrific but also hysterical when it’s revealed that his “separation” from Chloe’s mother has only been a four-day event.

While I thought I would quickly tire of the “can’t trust Chloe” shtick in “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23,” her fast and sharp delivery and deadpan attitude work seamlessly with June’s easy-to-victimize demeanor. Chloe also acknowledges her own insane behavior, allowing us to love this “B—-” even more. When June asks her the name of a movie, for instance, and Chloe responds, “It’s a movie that came out, and I don’t know I have issues.”

The humor is subtle in such cases, but Ritter does a good job with what she has to work with. I hope that the Chloe-June dynamic is further utilized and expanded upon in later episodes.

The opening episodes also feature a plethora of scenes where Van Der Beek makes fun of himself, which surprisingly remain entertaining every time. Despite not having been an avid “Dawson’s Creek” fan myself, I appreciated the references during the pilot episode. In the pilot, for instance, Chloe calls him while he has a girl over and asks, “Did she get you to put on the flannel?”

While the show continually makes a point of referencing the origins of his fame, the jokes are not repetitive and the newer episodes this month seems to be straying away from making him one-dimensional character.

Future episodes will feature him as a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant and will follow his escapades with other famous actors. Kiernan Shipka of “Mad Men,” for instance, invites him over for a “play date” so he can practice being a 12-year-old girl as research for an upcoming role.

The audience quickly sees that of all the characters, Van Der Beek has the most free time on his hands to participate in the show’s strange escapades. When he asks his assistant Luther to clear his schedule, Luther responds, “Sir, it has been clear for weeks!”

Van Der Beek’s appearance in a Vietnamese energy drink commercial and attempt at pop-up theater is also not to miss. He is probably the character that will grow on you the most, serving as the insecure male sidekick to Chloe’s unabashedly confident persona.

While June is fairly unbearable in “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23,” she fails to meet the comedic levels set by Chloe and Van Der Beek. Although the show presents itself as another sitcom with female relationships at its core, it’s humor hits home because June and Chloe aren’t buddy-buddy. The show seems to follow in the footsteps of “Bridesmaids” (2011), with crass jokes and fairly awkward situations that appeal to both male and female audiences.

All in all, “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23″ is a surprisingly funny sitcom with an endearing wit that viewers can appreciate.

First annual digital arts exhibit screens Thursday at Nugget

The first annual Dartmouth Student Digital Arts Exhibition will be held on Thursday at the Nugget Theater to honor and celebrate current and former students’ work in the digital arts. Before the main screenings, the Digital Arts Exhibition will offer a gallery show, live digital music, Kinect games and an interactive drawing program, which will be projected on the exterior of the theater and allow guests to “finger-paint” on the walls using iPads, according to Lorie Loeb, a computer science professor and the co-founder and director of the digital arts minor.

The winners of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science’s “Seeing Science” competition, comprised of the top three submitted videos to display excellence in video production and scientific visualization, will also be announced on Thursday. There will be a question and answer session with students and alumni immediately following screenings of the three winning videos.

Loeb said that the interdisciplinary nature of the event draws student work from many different classes and departments, not just from the digital arts and computer science departments.

“We’re really bringing together a lot of different departments,” Loeb said. “It’s a real collaboration.”

The digital arts minor is collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature, combining classes from the computer science, film studies, psychological and brain sciences, studio art and theater departments, according to Loeb. This exhibition will be the first time the department displays student work to a large audience and will likely become an annual event during the second week of May, she said.

Sam Lloyd ’11, the first-ever “digital arts apprentice,” is the event’s main organizer and is also responsible for the design of the new digital arts website and its social media platform, he said.

“The reason I’m working in my current capacity is because I enjoyed digital arts as a student, enjoyed teaching it and the content itself the possibility of creating animation entirely from scratch based on any idea that came to mind,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about that kind of thing.”

Sara Remsen ’12, a biology major and digital arts minor, created an educational snake animation, which will be screened on Thursday, for her final project for the digital arts minor to combine her interests in biology and digital arts. She also submitted her work to the “Seeing Science” competition.

“I think it’s awesome that it’s being held at the Nugget,” Remsen said. “It feels very polished and put together, very real world.”

Remsen started taking digital arts classes during her sophomore fall, and since then, she said she has enjoyed taking other classes on modeling and animation in the department. The skills learned in the digital arts classes helped her during an internship at the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston last summer, she said.

“[The internship] is what made me consider the field as a career and not just something fun to do in college,” Remsen said, praising the digital arts minor for its practical applications.

Remsen said she hopes to work professionally in the field, and she will volunteer at the Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, an annual computer graphics conference, in August.

Remsen said that Dartmouth students sometimes struggle entering the professional world amidst competition for jobs from students who went to specialized computer graphics and arts schools.

Both Remsen and visiting professor Patricia Hannaway, however, said that having fluency in many different areas is often more valuable in the changing job market. Since the digital arts program does not offer a major, it forces students to focus on other disciplines as well, according to Hannaway.

“I think it’s the future to think outside of the box a little bit,” Hannaway said. “The traditional roads that we’re used to doctor, lawyer, Wall Street, engineer what’s happening in Silicon Valley is that these things are all being blended together.”

Hannaway, who served as the senior animator for Gollum of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, started her career as an investment banker, but she went on to work at Disney Feature Animation, Pixar and DreamWorks after realizing her passions lay elsewhere, she said.

Hannaway said that the challenge of today is training students for jobs that do not yet exist.

“I think, if anything, this exhibition allows people to actually become familiar with the options,” she said. “Opening their minds in their discipline in ways that they never even thought of and exploring how [disciplines] inter-relate.”

The exhibition will allow individuals to see the combination of art and technology, hopefully coming away with a greater appreciation of the digital arts, she said.

“The sense of integrating biology, biotechnology, art and applications with programming makes it more accessible to people,” Hannaway said. “I think there’s a huge future in all of that.”

Projects will begin to be screened on the walls of the Nugget Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, and the main screenings of the student’s works will begin at 9 p.m.

The exhibition is co-sponsored by Microsoft and a free ticket for a gelato from Morano Gelato will be given to guests who arrive early.

Daily Debriefing

The U.S. Senate voted 52 to 45 on Tuesday to block a bill that would have prevented a doubling of student loan interest rates to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent, The New York Times reported. Although Republicans said they supported an extension of a 2007 law that temporarily cut interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans, they opposed Democrats’ proposal to offset the cost of the extension by raising Social Security and Medicare taxes for the wealthy, according to The Times. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., instead pushed to pay for the extension by removing a health care fund in President Barack Obama’s health care law. Undergraduates took out $112 billion in loans in 2011, double the total from 10 years ago, according to The Times.

Walmart’s educational partnership with the for-profit American Public University System to provide degrees for its 1.3 million U.S. employees has received criticism from education experts, Inside Higher Education reported. The program, which offers flexible hours and college credit for job training and experience, was launched two years ago. APUS’s regional accreditation, which allows for a smooth transfer of credits, has been praised by Walmart employees but is drawing skepticism from learning experts, who suggest that the institution would automatically award degree credit for experience on the job. This creates an image of a “Walmart U,” or a powerful corporation that is a major player in granting its employees college credit, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H., will nominate attorney Jim Bassett ’78 to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, The Union Leader reported. Bassett, a litigator at the Concord law firm Orr and Reno since 1985, has argued cases in state and federal courts on the constitutional separation of powers and First Amendment rights, according to The Union Leader. Bassett graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1982 and has been a board member of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Canterbury Shaker Village and Granite United Way and the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. He was formerly chairman of the Canterbury Board of Selectmen and chairman of the Canterbury Planning Board. The state executive council will confirm the nomination, The Union Leader reported.

Research quantifies literary trends

Math department chair and computer science professor Daniel Rockmore and a team of researchers, including James Hughes Adv ’12 and Nicholas Foti Adv ’12, studied the evolution of literary styles using mathematical and statistical analysis of English-language literature to explore a “rich area of collaboration,” Rockmore said.

In a published report of their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers concluded that the literary styles of modern authors vary from their predecessors more than authors of previous eras. This gap between authors and their immediate predecessors has widened over generations in a quantifiable manner.

“The study confirms the possibility of computations and quantitative techniques as another way to look at cultural artifacts,” Rockmore said.

The researchers focused on the usage of “content-free words” to study similarities in the structure of literary styles since the year 1550. Hughes, who studies computer science and was a co-author of the research study, said that content-free words like prepositions, conjunctions, articles and numbers are useful for analysis because they do not convey meaning. While content words provide an analysis of subject matter, content-free words provide an analysis of writing style.

The research analyzed data from 7,733 books written by 537 authors available through the Gutenberg Digital Library.

English professor Barbara Will said the findings reflect innovations in the fields of literature and translation that have made world literature accessible to modern authors.

“I think there is a way in which the globalizing of our world has diversified the way in which literary styles are manifested,” Will said.

The researcher found that between 1550 and 1783, the availability of literary texts was relatively low, so authors were strongly influenced by a small group of previous texts. This process led to common trends of phrasing, syntax and grammar that remained “relatively unchanged” for extensive periods of time.

As the number of works increased in later periods, authors were influenced by subsets of available literature, in turn producing increasingly diverse works. By the 20th century, authors were more strongly influenced by their contemporaries than predecessors, the researchers found.

“I think this type of large scale analysis can tell us things about how style changes over time at a macro level and about how style is changing,” Hughes said. “So in that sense it contributes to our understanding of the concept of literary style.”

Will said that the study is an example of “distant reading,” a new way of looking at literature that focuses on literary trends across many works.

Distant reading is part of the larger “digital humanities” movement that seeks to analyze literature using computers and mathematical techniques, rather than close reading and qualitative analysis, according to an article by Kathryn Schulz published in the New York Times on June 24, 2011.

While digital humanities is hailed by some scholars as an opportunity to revitalize the humanities field, English professor Aden Evens said that the new path provided by digitization will also appeal to scientists, social scientists, engineers and university administrators who manage the research opportunities and classes allotted to each area of discipline.

“What I am worried about is that we are asked to set aside what most distinguishes the humanities our ability to perform critiques of ambiguity and instead we are being asked to supplant it with a view of knowledge that promotes certainty, statistical or numerical style analyses, absolute and clear distinctions,” Evens said.

Stanford University English professor Ursula Heise, who studies 20th-century fiction, poetry and theories of modernism and postmodernism said that quantitative methodologies will never replace traditional readings of literary texts.

“In interpreting what the numbers mean, you have to bring in all the knowledge of literary genres, history, literary history, institutions, authors, methods of publishing and distribution that you acquire in the normal course of literary studies,” Heise said.

She said that computer-based analysis of texts can, however, provide opportunities to ask new questions about literature.

While Will said quantitative analysis provides for new ways of thinking about literature, she questioned whether content-free words are sufficient in determining an author’s style.

“I think it can help just by giving us more information, but I don’t think ultimately it necessarily enriches our sympathies,’ which is George Elliot’s definition of literature,” Will said. “But it can be really interesting and useful for people who want to look at trends in literary study.”

Critiques of quantifying authorial style are “incredibly pertinent,” according to Hughes, who acknowledged that researchers using automatic or computational tools do not claim to employ the “best” approach.

“The point is really that traditional analyses that take into account the intangible or unquantifiable factors can benefit from the addition of quantitative evidence,” he said.

Rockmore, Hughes and Daniel Graham, a researcher at the University of Vienna’s psychology department, also developed a method in 2011 for mathematically analyzing drawings to distinguish authenticity, according to a College press release. In addition, the research team developed a web tool, “WriteLikeMe,” that enables writers to compare their writing style to the styles of past authors.

Nine receive Fulbright grant offers

Nine Dartmouth students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Grants by the U.S. State Department to conduct research or teach abroad, according to the College’s Scholarship Advising Office. Among the recipients are five members of the Class of 2012, two Dartmouth graduate students and two recent Dartmouth alumni, who will pursue projects in disciplines ranging from biology and physics to English and economic development. Next year, the grant recipients will travel to diverse locations around the world, including Malaysia, Tanzania, Germany, Thailand and Kazakhstan.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest educational exchange program that provides opportunities for students, young professionals and researchers in the U.S. to engage international communities through service, research and education, according to the program’s website. Approximately 40 Dartmouth students apply to receive Fulbright grants every year, according to Assistant Dean for Scholarship Advising Kristin O’Rourke.

The Fulbright program allows its grant recipients to design their own research projects, and O’Rourke said she attributes much of the program’s popularity among Dartmouth students to the flexibility of its research structure.

The College’s off-campus programs often serve as inspiration for Dartmouth students to seek Fulbright scholarships or similar international research grants, O’Rourke said.

“Many students go on their Language Study Abroad and Foreign Study Programs and decide that they want to continue their studies after they graduate,” she said.

Jacob Batchelor ’12, a grant recipient who plans to teach English next year to schoolchildren in Malaysia, said the program appealed to him because it provided the unique opportunity to serve the international community in a remote and exotic location.

“I chose to accept the grant because I get paid to fly across the world and teach little kids my native tongue in a beautiful country,” Batchelor said.

Comparative literature graduate student David Dulceany said he plans to explore his academic interest in Cuban-Romanian relations in Romania next year using his grant. Dulceany, the son of Romanian immigrants, said he appreciates the Fulbright program’s emphasis on grant recipients’ personal relationships with their academic research.

“It’s really significant to go back [to Romania] and re-experience my heritage while maintaining an academic focus,” Dulceany said.

Dulceany’s research will focus on the complex sociocultural and diplomatic relations between Romania and Cuba during the Communist era, and he intends to conduct the majority of his research using Romanian cultural and historical archives, he said. Following the completion of his research in Romania, Dulceany hopes to pursue a PhD in Spanish.

Several Fulbright grant recipients said they appreciate the preparation and guidance that the College afforded them during their undergraduate years.

Claire Scott ’09, a former Fulbright grant recipient now conducting research in Munich, Germany, said her Dartmouth senior thesis inspired the direction of her current research under a Fulbright grant. Her project explores themes of “home” and “homecoming” in the memoirs of German Jewish women.

“The Fulbright was a perfect opportunity to look in more depth at some of the things that ended up not fitting into my thesis,” she said.

Fulbright grant recipients are not limited to exploring academic topics that relate directly to their project, Scott said. This weekend, Scott will present a lecture about American Civil War re-enactments in Bamberg, Germany, to a group of German and American students, she said.

“During my time here, I have never felt very far away from the Dartmouth community,” Scott said. “The international connections that I have made both at Dartmouth and through the Fulbright program are invaluable to me.” Michael Chen ’11, a 2011 recipient studying Egyptian history in Germany, said an internship at Berlin’s Egyptian Museum during his junior spring led to his interest in the Amarna period of Egyptian history and enabled him to develop relationships that helped him in the Fulbright application process.

Chen said that he has enjoyed the intellectual liberty that the Fulbright program affords its participants.

“The most wonderful aspect of the Fulbright program is the enormous freedom it offers one essentially continues one’s studies at whatever pace or manner one desires,” Chen said in an email to The Dartmouth.

The U.S. Student Program is a subsidiary of the Fulbright Program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since the program’s founding in 1946, over 300,000 students, professors and professionals have traveled to 155 countries to increase mutual understanding between individuals of different nationalities.

Each fall, students and young professionals seeking Fulbright grants submit a “Statement of Grant Purpose” to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, whose members award grants to over 1,500 American students and recent graduates.

Batchelor is a member of The Dartmouth Staff

Sociology prof. outlines threats to U.S. higher ed.

The biggest threats to American universities come not from foreign competition, but instead from the U.S. federal and state governments and from within the institutions themselves, Columbia University sociologist Jonathan Cole said on Tuesday during his lecture, “The Great American University Today and Tomorrow: A Quest for Utopia.” The event, which was the ninth talk and this term’s final installment in the “Leading Voices in Higher Education” strategic planning lecture series, was held in the Rockefeller Center and attended primarily by faculty members.

Cole wrote “The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected” and served as Columbia’s provost from 1994 to 2003, spearheading an effort analogous to Dartmouth’s current strategic planning initiative.

American universities currently face a paradox while they are considered the best in the world, Americans are insecure about maintaining this distinction, Cole said.

“There is an uneasy feeling among us,” Cole said. “If we’re so good, why do we feel so bad? Why is there a feeling that our system of higher education is at risk?”

Although global competition is widely seen as a threat to American universities’ prominence, it will take countries with emerging economies 20 to 25 years to be able to build their own great universities, he said. Even if these countries build universities that do compete with American institutions, they will positively increase the growth of knowledge and facilitate more rapid problem-solving “in a competitive way,” he said.

The real threat “to not be able to reach our full potential” comes from within our country, Cole said.

The federal government’s passage of legislation such as the Patriot Act has imposed “untenable” restrictions on research, Cole said. These restrictions allow the FBI to collect email and library records of researchers who work with dangerous viruses in research laboratories to find cures.

Fewer students and professors are willing to work on this variety of research due to the potential for scrutiny, Cole said. The federal government also places restrictions on scientists, such as limitations on embryonic stem cell research, Cole said.

“The government has tried to invade academic freedom in a variety of ways,” he said.

Restrictive visa policies prevent the U.S. from welcoming “the best minds from abroad,” especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, Cole said.

Government at the state level also harms universities, which are being “dismantled” by state budget cuts that can amount to 20 percent per year, according to Cole.

The result is a cascade effect, Cole said. When state universities lose funding, private colleges obtain their best faculty members, who leave with their grants and graduate students.

Academic institutions themselves have created problems, according to Cole. The commercialization of intellectual property has created a conflict of interest between researchers’ roles as university professors and employees of private companies.

The pattern of growing endowments of America’s wealthiest universities may lead to “an English-type system where a handful of universities have much more money than their peer institutions and use the other universities as a farm system,'” Cole said.

For example, Harvard University’s endowment doubles every seven years and will continually loom over those of other institutions, he said.

The solutions to these problems are multifaceted, Cole said. First, the cost structure of universities must be changed.

While schools like Dartmouth can survive “because so many people want to be here, and they’re willing to pay a price to do so,” “second-tier” institutions will not be able to sustain demand if they keep increasing tuition because viable alternatives exist.

Additionally, universities cannot maintain the “ossified” structures that have been built during the last 65 to 70 years, Cole said. In 20 years, chemistry or philosophy buildings will be replaced by multidisciplinary spaces that facilitate problem solving.

The admissions process is also currently moving toward a strategy that “rewards compliance,” benefitting those students who “never did poorly in one subject,” Cole said.

The process must be changed to stop universities from enrolling “a lot of goody-goody kids” who may lack the nuanced types of intelligence and creative problem-solving abilities possessed by “quirky kids,” he said.

Although universities currently succeed at sharing libraries, they must become more cooperative and share faculty and curricula, Cole said. The ability of professors to move between institutions would benefit all universities involved, he said.

Cole said he predicts an “inversion” of the traditional lecture format in which universities use technology and make multimedia recordings of the best professors available to students. Students will then be able to perform problem sets in seminar rooms overseen by professors instead of attending class and doing work alone.

Realizing these changes requires strong faculty, administration and board leadership to create a new university model so the U.S. can “maintain its dominant position among dominant research universities,” Cole said.

Cole was an appropriate choice for the term’s final lecture due to the breadth of his work, College Provost Carol Folt said in her opening remarks. He was among the top choices of the faculty steering committee that nominated speakers for the series, she said.

Government professor William Wohlforth said that Cole represents “the whole trifecta,” serving as a researcher, university administrator and scholar.

Women and gender studies program chair Annabel Martin said she enjoyed the lecture but was surprised that Cole did not elaborate on new ways of learning that transcend the traditional model of “the professor being the recipient of knowledge and then being the transmitter of that knowledge to students.”