Posts tagged with "professor"

Headphones illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Dr. Kraus

By: Skyler Johnson

Learning how to play an instrument can help with the development of the human brain, according to scientist, inventor and Northwestern University professor Dr. Nina Kraus. She outlines this research in her new book, Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful World. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kraus about the book and her findings. 

  1. Can you go over, briefly, what your newest book covers?

My book is a retrospective of what my lifetime researching sound and the brain has taught me. It covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the brain of a musician, to the link between sound and reading, to the perils of noise, to the wonder that is birdsong, to the aging brain. And much more.

  1. How did you get into that sort of research?

As a child, I was fortunate, from a sound perspective, in two ways. First, I was exposed to music at a young age. My mother was a pianist and my favorite place to play was under her piano, listening to her beautiful music. Second, I grew up in a household where more than one language was spoken, regularly traveling between the US and Italy, learning to navigate two different linguistic worlds. These early experiences with music and language left a deep imprint. They stuck with me as I made my way through college, looking for a way I could channel my interest in sound into a career. After a few starts, I got hooked up with a lab studying how sound acquired relevance in the brain. In other words, how the brain itself is changed by sounds it hears! And the rest is history.

  1. How often should people be playing music? 

The benefits of playing music are many, and certainly the more you play the more it enriches your sound mind. However, my research has told me you do not have to be a professional to tune your brain. I would say you need to play (practice) regularly, though. At least a few times a week.

  1. What types of instruments should people be playing to gain the effects? 

As far as I can tell, based on my research and others’, it does not matter. Any instrument, including voice, is a boon to your brain.

  1. When did you first start playing an instrument yourself?

Age 5. Piano. I also play some guitar and drums.

  1. Did your personal experience with playing music influence your desire to start your research?

In a way, I think it did. I did not start my career studying music. That line of work got rolling some 15 years ago. At that time, my research was examining the role of sound processing on literacy in school-age children. That got me connected with teachers and other educators and I was starting to hear the same thing over and over: “The kids that do best in school tend to be the ones who play an instrument.” And that just seemed right to me on a scientific-gut level. I can feel, on a personal level, that my music playing has been good for my brain. Soon, I made some contacts with educators who ran music programs and wanted to know whether and how playing music affected the brains of their young musicians. And, so this whole new rewarding line of research was born. Who knows? If I wasn’t a musician myself, my research would have taken some other course.

Joel Peterson photo via Deseret News for use by 360 Magazine

Joel Peterson x My Road to Cancellation

Joel Peterson, Stanford Professor and former JetBlue Chairman, writes about his experience navigating the minefield of woke hostility in his piece My Road to Cancellation:

“Wokeism,” America’s new civil religion, draws on elements of neo-Marxism, critical race theory, social justice and identity politics. Its adherents believe it will lead to a more just society. Its detractors, on the other hand, believe its “cancel culture” will push civil society to the brink. And, for the “woke,” either will do.

The roots of my own unlikely cancelation go as far back as 1987, when Jesse Jackson marched Stanford students up Palm Drive to a rhythmic chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho! Western Civ has got to go!” The next year, I joined the advisory council of its Graduate School of Business where I was soon invited to fill a one-year faculty vacancy. To everyone’s surprise (including my own), I returned every fall for the next three decades to teach four courses to a generation of exceptional MBA candidates.

Then, last year, before a student-politician boldly posted that “White people need to be eradicated,” I was summoned to respond to an equally disturbing complaint over having “triggered” woke students. Because I didn’t think I’d done anything worthy of the summons and because I had received the distinguished teaching award from students, a “Silver Apple Award” from alumni and been appointed to a faculty chair, I wasn’t worried. Alas, I’d misjudged my peril.

Years after Jackson’s campaign to eliminate Stanford’s requirement to study Western civilization, an Iowa-born, New York Times reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones, developed what she titled “The 1619 Project.” In it, she presented America as founded on slavery and stained by perpetual bigotry.

With boosts from the Pulitzer Foundation and from George Floyd’s tragic death, her social justice message struck a nerve. However, when a number of historians debunked the pseudo-history, Hannah-Jones repositioned her essay as “a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative.” She followed up with a New York Times Magazine article headlined “What is Owed” making a case for reparations, consistent with her 1995 letter to the editor in Notre Dame’s “The Observer,” in which she likened Christopher Columbus to Hitler.

With police departments defunded, monuments vandalized and cities torched, Dr. Seuss was soon condemned as racist, Mr. Potato Head scheduled for gender reassignment, and free speech restricted by social media oligarchs. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see social justice warriors on the previously welcoming Graduate School of Business campus.

Content of character vs. color of skin

In a class I teach, students objected when guest CEOs claimed to have been “color blind.” When I volunteered that I, too, had resisted hiring based on skin color, gender or quotas, and had relied, instead, on character, competence and commitment, some students were offended. To understand why those “triggered” would object to standards of character and competence being added to the emergent holy grail of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), I turned to one of my own daughters.

Sensing my bafflement at the outrage, she immediately wrote back:

“I have known you my entire life, and I know by your words and deeds that you value all people of all races, ethnicities, and genders. I know you are constantly impressed and inspired by immigrants and their amazing stories of courage and perseverance. I’m proud of the work you’ve done. If this younger, ‘triggered’ generation pushes out of their lives all who seek to improve their understanding, teach them, and open their minds to broader ways of thinking, it will be to their detriment.”

I’d taught my kids – and, until now, my students — that talent, character, and competence are evenly distributed across every demographic. In response to my determination to be on the lookout for leaders without regard to identity, an offended gender-studies major wrote that she’d not known “whether to scream or throw up.” After all, it had been nearly 60 years since Martin Luther King had dreamt of the day when the content of one’s character mattered more than the color of one’s skin. But, by the time that day happily arrived, “wokeism” had hijacked his dream, re-elevating skin color over character.

As demands for skin-color diversity were broadened to include gender and sexual orientation, a student notified me that I’d called on more men than women in two (of four) classes. Knowing that I was no respecter of persons — whether by gender, race, sexual orientation, or anything else — I moved ahead with the course, suddenly aware that my interactions with students were being catalogued by identity.

Soon, a Black Lives Matter advocate asked, of all things, whether I would stand for the American flag. To provide context for my decision, I shared a story. As a toddler, I’d seen my mother take a call from the Department of Defense announcing that her fighter-pilot brother had been killed. Honoring her grief, I’d chosen to stand for the flag under which my only uncle had offered the ultimate sacrifice. The student’s response was presented as an irrefutable argument; my choice was “racist.”

Furthermore, in this woke new world, my professional experience was no longer relevant because of the race and gender I’d been assigned at birth. Despite having created tens of thousands of jobs, promoted women and minorities, and coached scores of entrepreneurs, I was deemed an “oppressor” in the catechism of “wokeism.” Furthermore, the penance for being raised in a “systemically racist” society — founded on millennia of Greek, Roman and Judeo-Christian antecedents, no less — was submission, and, if resisted, cancelation.

The reason behind such tyranny came into focus for me when Condolezza Rice, former secretary of state and current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford, told me she’d shared with her students that the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (9/11’s architect) had felt like “having Erwin Rommel under lock and key.” The blank looks on the faces of her very bright students revealed that they had never heard of WWII’s famous Desert Fox.

Until then, I’d traced the enmity to activists like Jackson and Hannah-Jones. Now, I could see that it also stemmed from students having swapped an education for indoctrination. Those enlisted as social justice warriors had avoided the lessons of history, missed out on refining skills that might have allowed them to judge assertions, and denied themselves the insights required to make wise trade-offs.

Because such uninformed activism brought with it a minefield of woke hostility, I kept to myself any reservations I harbored about critical race theory, gender fluidity, and climate alarm. And, when Stanford’s math department proposed achieving “racial equity” by eliminating AP math (as racist, no less), I also kept quiet. Instead, I hoped my hardscrabble climb to CEO might inspire those who saw themselves as victims of inequity. Ironically, those who strained to label my uphill journey a product of “white supremacy” were often the very beneficiaries of woke preferences.

Oppressor-victim

To understand this recipe for canceling predecessor generations, I spoke next with Stanford military historian Victor Davis Hanson. Because Hanson had written the following, I wanted his help in gracefully handling the oppressor-victim theme:

“We should not… allow a current affluent, leisure, and pampered generation to hijack the past, and damn it to perdition. (They have) not earned the right to… cancel… those of the past who won Gettysburg, or built the Hoover Dam, or produced a Liberty ship every week.”

While Stanford had long nurtured a remarkably diverse and admirably inclusive community, it nonetheless rejected Hanson’s counsel in favor of a now fashionable “institutional racism.”

When Graduate School of Business faculty were further instructed to avoid “racist and xenophobic rhetoric and actions against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” I found myself wondering if the addendum were a virtue-signaling accusation, or if it were based on something I’d simply never encountered in all my years at Stanford. And, when the facts behind subsequent murders (of a Capitol police officer and 10 Colorado shoppers) contradicted de rigueur narratives, I wondered if the time had come to move beyond racial memes.

Apparently not. With free markets also labeled “racist,” those of us with responsibilities outside the ivory tower began to feel our “diversity of optic” (based on long experience) had been dismissed in favor of a “diversity of identity” (rooted in ideology). So, while I care deeply about Stanford University, and like and admire its president, provost, and business school dean, I was beginning to feel isolated.

Their deference to selective diversity led me to reflect upon a meeting I’d conducted in Berlin as chairman of JetBlue Airways. After the meeting, I’d taken a stroll down Unter den Linden to the Bebelplatz, 500 yards to the east of Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate. It was at that plaza, on May 10, 1933, that newly empowered Nazi officials had orchestrated the burning of “objectionable” books. Later dubbed “The Night of Shame,” the conflagration eventually contributed to Germany’s liberal democracy turning a blind eye to Kristallnacht, the Holocaust and an appalling rationale for war.

While loath to compare such a long-ago shame with how I was currently feeling in Palo Alto, of all places, I remembered being impressed that, in Berlin, the survivors of that era’s cancelation had later inserted “stumbling stones” between pavers to ensure that all who followed neither forget, nor repeat, that calamity.

As I traversed the once-riven capital city, the ground-level reminders had provoked in me a surge of optimism. Surely, the world would avoid the sort of conflict for which my own father had gone to war. Surely, everyone realized by now that banning books, restricting free speech and stoking fear would lead to tragedy. And, just as surely, America would eventually reject totalitarianism, even in its “wokest” form.

Yet, here I was, only three years later, 6,000 miles to the west of Berlin, sensing I was perilously connected to a prior generation’s intolerance. Adding to my anxiety was a discovery that my grandchildren’s generation were being scheduled to view an honorable heritage through a lens cleverly manufactured to provoke shame.

Forced to consider moving to a less hostile teaching environment, I heard from former students. One female “of color” offered that, of all her professors, I’d been the most supportive of women and minorities. Another confirmed that the majority of his classmates felt silenced by the threats of a racist label. One student even scolded me for having allowed “the slings and arrows” of the woke to achieve their hoped-for effect.

I smiled wanly to see that Prince Hamlet had somehow survived Jesse Jackson. I, on the other hand, had failed utterly to anticipate the distorting polemics of identity politics. The script advanced during America’s annus horribilis had pitted race against race, gender against gender, and generation against generation, all risking a degradation of spirit worse than any virus.

As a former CEO, it seemed to me that the narrative had gone well beyond gaining political or market advantage. It had even exceeded antifa’s hope for French-Revolution-style anarchy. In fact, by 2021, it looked like a bold attempt at a hostile takeover of mankind’s best hope for peace and prosperity.

This conclusion led me to contrast two Americans best known for their connections to societal breakdown — a mid-19th-century Abraham Lincoln and a mid-20th-century Saul Alinsky. I selected Lincoln because he’d guided America through a civil war, and Alinsky because his dream had been to provoke civil unrest by inciting those he called the “have-nots” against those whom he called the “haves.”

President Lincoln’s observation of America’s vulnerability mirrored community organizer Alinsky’s precondition for a successful revolution. Thus, the warning attributed to Lincoln that “America will never be destroyed from the outside; if we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves” was the basis for the race and class warfare Alinsky welcomed by rewriting history, inciting envy and “canceling” a large portion of the population.

Whereas Martin Luther King had called upon our “better angels” to subordinate our differences to shared values and, thus, to overcome what Condi Rice called our nation’s “birth defect,” Alinsky chose to repudiate King’s redemptive dream. If he could get people to ignore e pluribus unum (America’s motto since 1782), he might be able to overcome the spirit under which the nation had thrived.

By 2020, the pandemic had offered activists a unique opportunity to cleave the nation along identity and tribal lines, skirting the 238-year-old aspiration that had been Alinsky’s steepest obstacle. Using a fear of cancellation to silence half the population, SJWs dismissed the steady social progress that was the trademark of the world’s most successful multicultural society. Instead of celebrating the progress flowing from our commonalities, they fomented division by pointing to historical injustices.

Between a pandemic, racial tensions and the absence of a Lincolnesque figure to bind up our wounds and bring us together, America was, indeed, vulnerable. As its citizens awakened to the soft tyranny promoted during the pandemic, many felt betrayed by institutions they’d once admired and leaders they’d once trusted. And, for my part, I discovered that the experience I’d had with cancellation in the academy was being repeated all across the nation.

While I may well survive, America will not survive the rewriting of its history, the violation of its Constitution and the abandonment of the freedoms it has promised to citizens of all political persuasions, ethnicities, genders and orientations. No matter our differences, unless we preserve free speech, secure our Constitution and re-enthrone individual responsibility over victimhood, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will be unable to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

And Alinsky’s vision will have canceled Lincoln’s.

Joel Peterson Bio

Joel Peterson is the Robert L. Joss Professor of Management at Stanford University, the former managing partner of the Trammell Crow Company, the former chairman of the board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution, the former chairman of JetBlue Airways and the founder and chairman of Peterson Partners, a sponsor for a quarter century of more than a dozen funds covering private equity, venture and real estate investments in hundreds of companies and real estate projects across the nation and throughout the world.

Image courtesy of Purdue News Services for use by 360 Magazine

Purdue Names First Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow

Purdue Engineering names first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow, Yung-Hsiang Lu, professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named the first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow in Purdue University’s College of Engineering. 

A Purdue University professor and innovator who works to inspire the next generation of technology leaders has been named the first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow for the College of Engineering.

Yung-Hsiang Lu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has developed several patented technologies and helped his students start their own companies. He is a Purdue Faculty Scholar, Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery.

We move our discoveries in the lab out to the world for impact through patents and commercialization opportunities, Lu said. This new role provides me with a great opportunity to help connect members of our engineering family with resources to move their technologies and research to communities and people in need.

Lu’s appointment comes as the College of Engineering has put a new emphasis on the importance of faculty innovation and commercialization. These entrepreneurial activities can be documented in the formal tenure review process.

Yung is the perfect fit for this position to help connect our College of Engineering with the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and resources to support entrepreneurship and commercialization, said Wayne Chen, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and Reilly Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Materials Engineering. We want to further develop our culture of support for faculty and students who take their research and lab work to the world through patents and startups.

Lu will collaborate with the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub, and the Purdue for Life Foundation. He has advised several student teams that won business plan competitions and helped a company obtain two Small Business Innovation Research grants.

Everett Berry, a Purdue alumnus who, with Lu, co-founded a company called Perceive, said he remembers fondly the professor’s belief in the ability of undergraduate innovators.

Having seen Silicon Valley inside and out by this point, I know Dr. Lu embodies the best of the entrepreneurial instinct that we celebrate, Berry said. He was my first, and still strongest, inspiration for building hard technology.

Another alumnus and former member of Lu’s research team, Zohar Kapach, started a company called Oqullo. He said Lu helped him realize his love for computer engineering and the opportunities to grow an entrepreneurial career in the field.

I continue to apply my experiences working with Dr. Lu to my daily research work, Kapach said. I was able to apply the knowledge I gained from working with him to raise a substantial seed fund.

Lu continues to work with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent inventions. This office operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at Purdue’s website.

Children illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The Oxford Method

The Oxford Method Puts Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion

The Oxford Method, a tutoring community, is on a mission to help underprivileged students around the country

The pandemic changed how education was delivered for millions of students. While just about everyone was impacted, it has been especially difficult on minority students. According to McKinsey & Company, the disparities among student groups grew over the last year. It reports that when it comes to learning, the pandemic took a heavy toll on Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities around the country. It found that students of color had fallen 3-5 months behind, while white students were 1-3 months behind. One company, The Oxford Method, is out to help bridge that gap and bring those students up to speed.

“There must be a spotlight put on diversity and inclusion because the achievement gap has widened in the last year,” explains David Florence, professor and founder of The Oxford Method, a community that offers tutoring services around the country. “We are taking steps to help those students so they can get caught up and have the foundation they need to succeed.”

The Oxford Method is an online learning community made up of educators who help to provide tutoring to those in need. It provides a full range of tutoring services, covering all types of subjects, and has experienced educators who can work with all levels of students. They help students who are gifted, special needs, traditional, and from rural and urban areas around the nation.

The educational community helps underprivileged students in a variety of ways, including by:

  • Providing free computers and high-speed internet. With that, it provides free instruction to the students, including those who are special needs and gifted. 
  • Working with students who are in urban and rural areas. These are areas often overlooked and that fall short in the technology category.
  • Having instructors from all socio-economic, psychographics, demographics, and geographic areas. The community of educators not only has a mission of helping those who are in diverse categories, but they are a group that is diverse.

“We have helped many students who would otherwise have a difficult time getting assistance,” added Florence. “We look forward to helping even more to finish this school year strong, get caught up over summer break, and be able to go into the new school year feeling confident.”

The Oxford Method has over 100 tutors around the country, covering all subject areas. It offers online tutoring, as well as in-person and in-classroom options. Its tutoring services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The Oxford Method works with its nonprofit, Social Actualization, Inc., by giving it 10% of all profits. The funds are used to provide free computers, high-speed internet, and instruction to underprivileged families in urban and rural America. Plus, 40% of the instructors are PhDs, 40% have a master’s degree, and 20% have only a bachelor’s degree.

The Oxford Method believes that education is the great equalizer and the best gift you can give the next generation. Subject areas include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as business, social studies, psychology, English, history, public speaking, study methods, test-taking, and more. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the Oxford Method website.

Book illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Education Tips For Children

7 Ways to Ensure Your Child Gets a Good Education

The Oxford Method, a tutoring community, offers tips to help your child be successful in school

Over the last year, during the pandemic, there have been many kids who have struggled academically. This is in part due to the millions who have had to do online learning and find the setup difficult. Whether children are learning online, in person, via classroom, or through a combination of the three, there are things that parents can do to help them be more successful. Knowing what to do can help make a world a difference and reduce the struggling.

“Many parents are aware of the way their kids are struggling with school over this school year,” explains David Florence, professor and founder of The Oxford Method, a community that offers tutoring services around the country. “Rather than let them fall behind, it’s a good idea to take action and do what you can to help them keep up and even pull ahead.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 93% of households with school-age children report that their kids have engaged in some sort of distance learning during the pandemic. They also report that the vast shift in the way kids are learning has also caused digital inequality because some kids don’t have access to computers and/or the Internet. Whether students are learning online or in class, there are things parents can do to help them get a good education.

Here 7 ways to help ensure your child gets a good education:

  1. Sleep. It’s crucial for a child to get enough sleep each night, which will help them to be more focused, as well as improve their behavior, quality of life, and mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours of sleep per night, and teens ages 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Teach value. It usually starts at home whether or not a child values an education. Parents who want their kids to get a good education should instill a love of learning in their children and teach them to value the education they are getting.
  3. Get them help. If your child is struggling, you may be able to help them, but there also comes a time when kids need a tutor to step in. A good tutor can make a world of difference in ensuring that a child gets a good education. They can help ensure that students will not fall behind and that they will get the foundation they need to move on in a subject.
  4. Show them how. Oftentimes, kids don’t know how to effectively study for a test or to take notes when they are in class. Take the time to show them how to do it effectively, as well as how to stay organized with their schooling. When students are organized, they are more likely to succeed.
  5. Ask them questions. Be sure to ask your kids how it is going, if they got their homework done, if they need any help, or if there’s anything they need to be more successful. They like to know that you are interested in how they are doing, so it’s good to show an active interest.
  6. Get involved. It’s always a good idea if you can get involved with the school and have good communication with the teacher. That way you will be aware of what is going on and know how to help your child more. Teachers love it when parents take an active interest in their child’s education.
  7. Praise your kids. Help kids to know what they are doing is right or what they are doing is wrong. Praising and encouraging the kids builds their confidence and helps them to succeed as they grow.

“Just about every parent has the ability to help kids succeed with their academics, even if it’s ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed,” added Florence. “We help parents be successful, even those who don’t have the funds to pay for a tutor. Our mission is to help as many students to achieve as we can.”

The Oxford Method has over 100 tutors around the country, covering all subject areas. They offer online tutoring, as well as in-person and in-classroom options. Their tutoring services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, with many of them having a master’s degree, Ph.D., and at least four years of teaching experience. The Oxford Method works with their nonprofit, Social Actualization, Inc., by giving them 10% of all profits. The funds are used to provide free computers, high-speed internet, and instruction to underprivileged families in urban and rural America. Plus, 40% of their instructors are PhDs, 40% have a master’s degree, and 20% have only a bachelor’s degree.

The Oxford Method believes that education is the great equalizer and the best gift you can give the next generation. Subject areas include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as business, social studies, psychology, English, history, public speaking, study methods, test-taking, and more. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the website.

Dr. J. Goosby Smith

Named Vice President for Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Pepperdine University

Dr. April Harris Akinloye will join Smith as assistant vice president for community belonging.

Press Release: The KAIROS Company for Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University announced today its long-anticipated selection of the University’s inaugural vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer, Dr. J. Goosby Smith. 

Smith will join Pepperdine on June 1, 2021, from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she currently serves as associate professor of leadership; associate professor of management; assistant provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center. 

Smith received her BS in computer science from Spelman College and her MBA and PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University. She anticipates earning her master of divinity from Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, in December 2021. 

“What an honor it is today to announce Dr. Smith is returning to the Pepperdine community,” said Pepperdine president Jim Gash. “I’m especially grateful to the Search Committee for identifying an amazing and experienced leader. I simply cannot wait to work alongside Dr. Smith as we chart a distinctively Pepperdine path forward addressing one of the great issues of our time. Our goal isn’t just to have a community of belonging but to train generations of graduates to create the same in their own communities.”

Smith is no stranger to Pepperdine having served previously as an assistant professor of organizational behavior in the Seaver College Business Administration Division from 2002 to 2006, and then as a tenured associate professor of organizational behavior in the same division from 2011 to 2015. She has also served as assessment coordinator for the Seaver Diversity Council and as an adjunct professor in the Graziadio Business School’s MBA program. 

Smith will report directly to President Gash, serve as a member of the University’s Steering Team, and be a principal leader on the University Diversity Council for which she previously served as inaugural faculty co-chair in 2005. 

The selection of a vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer is one in a series of initiatives the University has been implementing to cultivate a community of deep belonging and to build and model a diverse, informed, loving, and unified community at Pepperdine. 

Joining Smith in leading diversity and inclusion initiatives at Pepperdine will be Dr. April Harris Akinloye (’00, MA ’05), who will return to her alma mater as the assistant vice president for community belonging.

Harris Akinloye is a double alumna of Pepperdine, receiving her BA in speech communication and religious studies from Seaver College and her MA in education from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She earned her PhD in education with a focus on cultural perspectives from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Harris Akinloye will join Pepperdine from Social Good Solutions where she is currently a senior consultant for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She previously served as the chief diversity officer at Vanguard University.

“When I was a candidate to be Pepperdine’s eighth president, I made it clear that hiring a chief diversity officer would be among my top priorities,” said Gash. “Though we began our national search for a chief diversity officer, after getting to know these two extraordinarily qualified leaders, each of whom has a deep love for Pepperdine and our mission, we decided to hire a team—and what a team it is! Drs. Smith and Harris Akinloye will be a venerable force to help lead Pepperdine to a new level of inclusion, excellence, and genuine belonging, befitting the Pepperdine community’s unwavering commitment to radical Christian hospitality.”

Katie Commodore x The Untitled Space

The Untitled Space is pleased to present “Katie Commodore: Between Friends and Lovers” solo exhibition opening on November 21st, and on view through December 12, 2020.  Curated by Indira Cesarine, “Katie Commodore: Between Friends and Lovers” debuts a series of large scale erotically charged figurative tapestries, created with detailed adornments and unique embroideries, along with a number of her signature portraits in gouache, miniature watercolor paintings on ivory, as well as works on paper including intaglio etchings, metallic foil cutouts, and photogravure prints. Katie Commodore is an interdisciplinary artist who concentrates on creating intimate portraits of her friends. In 2000 Commodore received her BFA in illustration from Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2004 she obtained her MFA in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design where she is currently an adjunct professor.

“Katie Commodore: Between Friends and Lovers”

A Solo Exhibition
Presented by The Untitled Space

THE UNTITLED SPACE
45 Lispenard Street, NYC 10013

*RSVP*
Due to COVID, there will be limited capacity inside the gallery, and guests are required to wear masks. RSVP Required via Registration Link. All RSVPs will be confirmed. Thank you in advance.
RSVP REGISTRATION LINK 

EXHIBITION ON VIEW
November 21– December 12, 2020

“Everyone is my friend and they are allowing me to be a witness to their love, which in turn is then celebrated by everyone that sees it.” Over the past few years, Katie Commodore’s artwork has concentrated on depicting real people’s sexuality, although not necessarily their sexual preferences, but rather sexuality in the broader sense. Her intimate portraits address what is it that makes them feel sexy, how they express that physically, and how it evolves over the years for them as individuals. “We change our clothes every season; our physical appearance through body modification, losing weight, gaining weight, tattoos, etc; we change our kinks and sexual preferences partner to partner, year to year.  Our sexuality, and how we feel about it, is in constant flux; the same way that we redecorate our homes, change the wallpaper and curtains, change the sheets.” States the artist on her portraits. Commodore likens this subtle change in how her friends express themselves to the way society also expresses its collective self through decorative patterns. “In a roundabout way, it can be looked at as a meter of a population’s ‘sexuality’ – the public expression of the private. Bright colors, vibrant patterns, clean lines, and minimal decoration all provide a window into the personalities that chose or created them. Historians and anthropologists often use the decorative remnants (pots, jewelry, frescos, etc.) of past cultures to gain valuable insight into the lives of the people that created them, the same sort of cultural portrait can be drawn from our design choices today.”

Throughout the years, she has focused on various mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, and scrimshaw. She has often emphasized materials that are not considered “fine art” but were rather thought of as women’s “hobbies” and in so doing highlights their traditional merit. A majority of her artwork is portraits of her friends during their most erotic moments, acting as a celebration of personal power, beauty, and sexuality.  It is a subtle, but often rich moment that shows the kink, sexual fulfillment, and the sexual interests of those closest to her. “Any activity that helps someone express their sexuality is beautiful, to be supported, and worthy of being immortalized in art.” She states of her sexually charged portraits which depict real people in the moment, captured through private photo sessions with the artist which are used as references for her paintings or prints.

Commodore was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007, which forced her to adjust her artistic practice. Her diagnosis motivated her to explore ways of maintaining the vibrant patterns and detail that she’s known for while not having to rely completely on her super fine motor skills. “Right before I was diagnosed with MS my artwork got much more detailed and pattern-based, and I think that was an unconscious reaction to the fact that I was losing my super-fine motor skills. Since then, I’ve adapted my studio practice to accommodate what I can and cannot do. I don’t draw with a pencil or pen as much anymore, paint brushes are more forgiving when it comes to small hand tremors. I do much more planning and sketching in the computer. Embroidery has been a real change that allows me to maintain the compulsive marking and patterns while there’s no need for perfect hand-eye coordination.”

Her latest series of large-scale figurative tapestries are ripe with intricate details. In a continuation of her signature style she presents bold figures against dramatically complex patterns, pushing the visuals into the realm of surreal erotic fantasies. The sheer scale of the works heightens the drama in a cinematic manner with the life-sized figures taking center stage. “Tandem to creating miniatures and paintings with vivid patterns, I’ve always been interested in creating life-sized portraiture. In grad school I did a series of life-sized relief prints and over the years I’ve done several life-sized drawings that I then spent months filling in with patterns. There was always something about portraying my models in a completely relatable scale that took the image from something precious to something actually more personal, the viewer can feel their gaze and the energy in their pose, feel their weight and almost come away feeling like they know the model in real life. Several years ago, I wanted to have custom tapestries made to reference the historical value of tapestries while giving tribute to the fact that often women were the actual makers of the tapestries which were usually designed by men. My digitally woven textiles start out as drawings in my computer. Like my works on paper, the patterns are historical wallpaper and fabric designs that range from the medieval to contemporary examples. I embroider on them, adding appliques (chine collé, if you will), bejeweling and beading away for hours, turning them into monoprints. I’m creating something new that combines the immediate gratification of print on demand fabricated works with the meditative, time consuming craft of embroidery and fiber arts. I juxtapose mass-produced elements with the uniqueness of each piece, elevating each patch and plastic bead to something more substantial.” She also introduces a number of text works in fiber that complement the series with their adventurously powerful statements.

Katie Commodore has exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, including England, Italy, Germany, and Greece. She has had solo exhibitions at Baby Grand, NYC, and SHAG, Brooklyn. Her work has been previously featured in a number of group shows presented by The Untitled Space including “(Hotel) XX” at Spring/Break Art Show, “IRL: Investigating Reality” and “Secret Garden”. Other notable exhibitions include “FEMME” presented by Spoke Art and Juxtapoz Magazine, SCOPE Art Fair, “StitchFetish 6” at The Hive Gallery, and “Facing the Walls” at The VETs Gallery. Residencies include ChaNorth, Pine Plains, New York; Red Light Design, Amsterdam, Holland; and One Night Residency, London, England. She is currently the Administrative Director of Crux, LCA, a cooperative of Black XR Creatives and Producers that focuses on Black storytelling and creating a foothold in the burgeoning vocabulary of new media of VR and creating Black wealth. Commodore has been featured in a number of publications including The New York Times and Dazed Digital, among others. She currently lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.

Bard College Appoints Marcus Roberts

Bard College announces the appointment of award-winning pianist and composer Marcus Roberts as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music for the 2020–21 academic year. A highly acclaimed modern jazz pianist, composer, and educator, Roberts is known throughout the world for his development of an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance as well as for his remarkable ability to blend the jazz and classical idioms. Hailed as “the genius of modern piano,” Roberts’s life and career were featured by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes in a 2014 episode, “The Virtuoso,” in which he was interviewed by Wynton Marsalis. In addition to his renown as a performer and composer, Roberts is the founder of The Modern Jazz Generation, a multigenerational ensemble that is the realization of his long-standing dedication to training and mentoring younger jazz musicians. Roberts will teach a series of master classes to Bard music students this fall and spring.

Pianist/composer Marcus Roberts has been hailed “the genius of the modern piano”. His life and career have been featured on an episode of the CBS News television show, 60 Minutes, called “The Virtuoso.” The show traced his life from his early roots in Jacksonville and at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind to his remarkable career as a modern jazz pianist, composer, and educator. Roberts grew up in Jacksonville, FL where his mother’s gospel singing and the music of the local church left a lasting impact on his own musical style. While he began playing piano at age five after losing his sight, he did not have his first formal lesson until age 12. Despite that late start, he progressed quickly and at age 18, went on to study classical piano at Florida State University with the great Leonidas Lipovetsky. Roberts has won numerous awards and competitions over the years, but the one that is most personally meaningful to him is the Helen Keller Award for Personal Achievement.

Roberts is known throughout the world for his development of an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance as well as for his remarkable ability to blend the jazz and classical idioms to create something wholly new. His critically acclaimed legacy of recorded music reflects this tremendous artistic versatility with recordings ranging from solo piano, duets, and trio to large ensembles and symphony orchestra. His popular DVD recording with the Berlin Philharmonic showcases his groundbreaking arrangement of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra”. One of Roberts’ more recent musical projects is the founding of a new band called The Modern Jazz Generation. This multigenerational ensemble is the realization of Roberts’ long-standing dedication to training and mentoring younger jazz musicians. Roberts is also an associate professor of music at the School of Music at Florida State University and he holds an honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Juilliard School.

In addition to his renown as a performer, Roberts is also an accomplished composer who has received numerous commissioning awards from such places as Chamber Music America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, ASCAP, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Savannah Music Festival, Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra (who commissioned him to write his second piano concerto, “Rhapsody in D for Piano and Orchestra”), and most recently, the American Symphony Orchestra.

Christopher Ferguson

Chris Ferguson’s Research

Youth are growing up in a digital world with screen time and social media being a part of their daily routine. Some experts are divided on whether an increase in teen suicides in the United States can be attributed to an increased use of social screen media.

New research findings published in Wiley Online Library’s Developmental Science journal suggest that current survey data does not support the contention that there are links between screen use and mental health issues. The “Links Between Screen Use and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents Over 16 Years: Is There Evidence for Increased Harm?” journal article is based on research by Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Stetson University.

Dr. Ferguson is a media effects, screen, video game, and virtual reality expert. The research study used the Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from 2001-2017 to track effect sizes for screen/depression correlations.

A second dataset from the United Kingdom Understanding Society was used to study the association between the time spent on social media and emotional problems. Dr. Ferguson’s research indicates that screen use and social media are not associated with teen mental health issues and there is no evidence that shows screen time has contributed to the rise in teen suicides.

360 Magazine

Ruha Benjamin x Deepening Social Inequality

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce white supremacy and deepen social inequity.

Far from a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, Benjamin argues that automation has the potential to hide, speed, and even deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racism of a previous era. Presenting the concept of the “New Jim Code,” she shows how a range of discriminatory designs encodes inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. Moreover, she makes a compelling case for race itself as a kind of tool – a technology designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice that is part of the architecture of everyday life.

This illuminating guide into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

The Author:

Ruha Benjamin is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.