Lecture Series, Poetry Contest Will Introduce High School Students to UB and Its College of Arts and Sciences

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: December 19, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo is reaching out to local high school students next semester by offering two educational programs designed to introduce prospective students to the college and the university, as well as help them explore new areas of knowledge.

The programs -- The Cutting Edge lecture series and the Poetry Contest -- have proven to be highly successful at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where they were initiated by CAS Dean Uday Sukhatme when he served as interim vice provost for academic affairs at UIC.

Even though he no longer works at UIC, the programs are so successful that they will be offered at that university again in the spring, Sukhatme said, noting that about 250 high school students and their parents attended each of the Cutting Edge lectures, and the university received about 1,300 entries in the Poetry Contest.

"Hopefully, the successes of Chicago will translate to the Buffalo area," said Sukhatme. "We have to get the public to visit the campus, relate with the faculty, and get an idea of what cutting-edge research means. People in the Buffalo area have to take greater pride in UB and start thinking it as 'their university,'" he said.

The Poetry Contest draws upon the highly talented faculty of the university's English department to offer encouragement and motivation to aspiring young poets.

High school students are encouraged to submit their original poetry, which will be judged by Carl Dennis, artist in residence in the UB Department of English. Dennis won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for "Practical Gods," his eighth collection of poetry.

First-, second-, third- and fourth-place prizes will be awarded, as well as 23 honorable mentions. All winners will receive an autographed copy of "Practical Gods."

Winners and judges will give poetry readings at an awards ceremony to be held at 1 p.m. April 5 in the Screening Room of the Center for the Arts, North Campus. A reception will follow.

Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 7.

The Cutting Edge is a series of five Saturday-morning seminars in which top UB scholars, as well as successful alumni, will give presentations aimed at increasing public awareness in rapidly advancing fields. Although designed primarily for high school students, the series also will be open to the general public.

Students interested in attending the lecture series are encouraged to seek nominations from their principals or guidance counselors, although students registering for the series on their own will not be turned away, said Michele Bewley, assistant to the dean for special projects in the CAS.

By asking principals to nominate students to participate, "we have a way of having high school students visit the campus and get an idea of the academic strength and the scope of facilities available," Sukhatme said. "This certainly helps in the recruitment of talented students. And the positive publicity is a big plus."

High school students who attend at least three of the five Cutting Edge lectures will receive souvenir gifts and an "Honorary CAS Scholar" certificate.

All sessions, which will take place in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, will begin with registration and light refreshments at 9:30 a.m. The lectures, which will be free of charge, will begin at 10 a.m. A question-and-answer session will follow each lecture.

The lineup of speakers for spring 2003 will take students from ancient Rome to Chicago's South Side. The speakers and an abstract on their lecture:

o March 1: Peter St. Jean, assistant professor of sociology, "Pockets of Crime: A New Look at High Crime Neighborhoods in the City." City neighborhoods are quite different in the type and amount of crimes generated within them. Why, over time, have some city neighborhoods maintained such high levels of street crimes while others have been so quiet? What do we already know about this puzzle? What are we still confused about? How can research be designed to help us understand this vexing issue in a manner that, if desired, positive changes can be experienced in high-crime neighborhoods? This presentation will answer these questions by focusing on a book St. Jean is writing that is based on research recently conducted in high-crime neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side. The data includes police crime statistics, field interviews and observations, GIS (geographic information systems), and videotaping of neighborhood streets. St. Jean will explain how the findings from this research relate to other cities such as Buffalo, and can be further tested there.

o March 8: Reinhard Reitzenstein, assistant professor of art, "Invert/Transform." This lecture will entail a brief journey along the path of the intentions in Reitzenstein's works. Central to his practice is the image/symbol of the tree, and by implication, the forests of the world. Within the many projects he will discuss during the lecture is a quiet yet persistent critique of the constant displacement of the forests in the face of development. "The forests are our lungs and through our distorted priorities, we are taking our own breath away," Reitzenstein says in the abstract.

o March 22: Don McGuire, adjunct assistant professor of classics, "Trashy Tabloids and Vegas Casinos: Visions of Rome in Pop Culture." Why do we still care about the Roman Empire? Why is there a replica of the Roman world in the desert sands of Nevada? Why go to a movie like "Gladiator?" What does the world of the ancient Romans mean to us here and now in the 21st century? This multi-media lecture will explore some of the modern meanings of the ancient Romans, from the architectural wonders of Caesars Palace and modern day Coliseums, to law and political rhetoric, to pop culture, film and television.

o March 29: Pamela S. Benson, BA '76, senior producer of national security for CNN, "The Global Media and the CNN Effect: Observations of a Veteran News Producer." A CNN employee for 22 years, Benson, is responsible for reporting news on terrorism and increased weapons of mass destruction. She has helped to produce such news stories as "U.S. Not Prepared for Domestic Terrorism" in December 2000, and "U.S. Officials Deny Report of Bin Laden" in October 2000.

o April 5: Tracy Gregg, assistant professor of geology, "Space Odyssey 2002: Volcanoes in the Solar System." Volcanism is one of the fundamental geologic processes that affects all the solid bodies in the solar system. Each planet displays a unique volcanic style due to differences in composition, gravity and atmospheres. During her lecture, Gregg will explore how volcanoes look and behave throughout the solar system, and learn how Earth is unique in some ways-and surprisingly similar in others-to its planetary siblings.

For more information about the CAS Educational Outreach Programs, contact Michele Bewley at 645-2711 or at mrbewley@buffalo.edu.

Further information and registration forms also are available on the CAS Web site at http://www.cas.buffalo.edu.