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In Focus: 09/18/2009

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Top News

NEW JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER IS A FAMILIAR FACE TO SOUTHWESTERN PROFESSOR, STUDENTS

When Alisa Gaunder and five of her students from Southwestern met with a politician named Yukio Hatoyama during a 2005 research trip to Japan, they had no idea they were meeting with the country’s future leader.

“He wasn’t even leader of his party at the time,” Gaunder said.

But a corruption scandal in Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan led to the resignation of the party leader and Hatoyama reassumed the position, which he had held previously. He was named prime minister of Japan Sept. 16 after his party defeated the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an Aug. 30 election. The Liberal Democratic Party has governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

“Japan has been a democracy since the end of World War II, but this is really the first time the people have voted a government out,” Gaunder said.

Gaunder, who is an associate professor of political science, is one of only a handful of academics in the United States who study political leadership in the Japanese Diet. In 2005, she took five of her students from Southwestern to Japan to interview various political leaders on an ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Grant.

Hatoyama was among the leaders they interviewed. Gaunder set up the interview because one of the students, Tyson Berger, was writing a research paper on opposition party politics.

Read the rest of the story here.

SOUTHWESTERN POLICE CHIEF BECOMES THE FIRST IN CENTRAL TEXAS TO PARTICIPATE IN NEW ANTI-TERRORISM PROGRAM

Terrorism isn’t something that Southwestern Police Chief Deborah Brown likes to think about. And she admits that a small college like Southwestern is unlikely to be the victim of a terrorist attack.

But she is prepared nevertheless.

Brown recently became the first police chief in central Texas to become certified to use a new database the government has set up to help law enforcement agencies at all levels share information with each other. The database, which is called eGuardian, was set up as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when it became apparent that government agencies weren’t sharing information with each other about possible terrorists and suspicious activity.

Read the rest of the story here.

Events

FACULTY RECITAL SEPT. 24

Guitarist David Asbury and baritone Bruce Cain will give a faculty recital on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater.

The program will begin with a set of three songs by the English renaissance composer John Dowland. It also will feature works by contemporary English composer John Rutter and contemporary American composers Dusan Bogdanovich and David Leisner.

The performance is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Sarofim School of Fine Arts at 512-863-1504.

FOUNTAINWOOD OBSERVATORY TO HOST VIEWING NIGHT SEPT. 25  

The Fountainwood Observatory will host a public viewing night on Friday, Sept. 25, from 8 -11 p.m.

Fountainwood Viewing Nights are always free and open to the public. The observatory is located on the northeast side of campus adjacent to the Rockwell Baseball Field (see #6 on campus map at http://www.southwestern.edu/map). Faculty members from the Physics Department as well as observers from the Williamson County Astronomy Club will be on hand to guide viewing. 

The evening viewing will begin with a first quarter Moon in the southern sky and a brilliant Jupiter in the southeastern sky. By 8:30 p.m., brighter stars such as Vega, Deneb and Altair − the stars of the Summer Triangle − will begin to appear. By about 9:15 p.m., it will be dark enough to view dimmer objects such as double stars, open star clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy through a telescope. 

For weather-related updates about viewing nights, call the Fountainwood Observatory hotline at 512-863-1242.

Media Coverage

Jinelle Sperry, assistant professor of environmental studies, was quoted in a story the Williamson County Sun did about a recent increase in snake bites.

University Business ran an op-ed piece by President Jake Schrum. The piece focused on NITLE’s move to Southwestern. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran an article about the new faculty members at Southwestern this fall.

KXAN-TV did a story on the First-Year Seminar about dogs taught by Laura Hobgood-Oster and Jimmy Smith. Watch the story here.

Notables

Ken Roberts, professor of economics, has had a paper accepted for publication in the July 2010 issue of Feminist Economics. The paper is titled “The Impact of Circular Migration on the Position of Married Women in China.” Roberts wrote the paper with Rachel Connelly of Bowdoin College and Zheng Zhenzhen of Beijing University.