GU Celebrates Hanukkah: Menorah Lighting, Music

Posted in: G-Town News- Dec 02, 2010 Comments Off on GU Celebrates Hanukkah: Menorah Lighting, Music

The Jewish Chaplaincy, part of Georgetown’s Office of Campus Ministry, and the Jewish Student Association (JSA) lit three Hanukkah menorahs at Georgetown Dec. 1 to give thanks for miracles, religious freedom and each other on the first night of Hanukkah.

Interim Georgetown Rabbi Bruce Aft, other members of the Jewish chaplaincy and JSA members led the menorah lighting, which was attended by both Jewish and non-Jewish students, faculty and staff.

“It’s the festival of light, it’s winter and it’s getting dark, so it’s nice to be reminded of the strength and warmth of people coming together,” said Andrew Levine (C’ 11), co-president of the JSA.

Dedication to Faiths

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Jewish tradition states that during the rededication there was only enough oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day – but the oil miraculously burned for eight.

The celebration at Georgetown started with a performance by Chutzpah, a Georgetown a cappella group, after which Aft entertained the community with stories behind the symbolism of Hanukkah.

Aft reminded the Jewish students that Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, is a celebration for freedom of religion and that the community should dedicate itself to celebrating all faiths.

He also gave the Jewish Chaplaincy a mezuzah to place on the doorframe of the Jewish Chaplaincy office in honor of Rabbi Harold White, who retired from Georgetown last year after 40 years of service.

Interreligious Dialogue

“This celebration is indicative of what we try to do year-round as we bring together people of different faiths as one faith celebrates their tradition,” said Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of campus ministry at the menorah lighting.

“Campus ministry and the community always come to celebrate with us,” said Lili Bayer (SFS’13). “I love when the whole community gets together to celebrate the holidays.”

Eitan Paul (SFS’12) said he was happy that members of other faiths come together to support the Jewish community.

“It’s nice to see the chaplains of the other faiths to come out to support one another, it creates a great atmosphere, community, and inter-religious respect,” he said.

Drug Adherence Crucial for HIV Patients

Posted in: G-Town News- Dec 01, 2010 Comments Off on Drug Adherence Crucial for HIV Patients

HIV today is no longer a death sentence – it can be managed well through a combination of powerful medications. But health outcomes depend on patients’ adherence to their drug regimes, says James Habyarimana, assistant professor of public policy. The professor studies how the use of new technologies, such as text messages to patients about maintaining their drug schedule, work in Africa. If effective, the text messages are a cheap tool to help support a successful response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As we mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Habyarimana discusses his surprising research results, the importance of limiting the emergence of drug resistant strains and the changing perceptions of HIV.

Q. What are the main factors that affect adherence to a medication schedule?

A. There are three main categories– physiological, psychological and socio-economic. Some people do not react well to particular medications. Sometimes people simply forget to take their medications. Some patients face large direct and indirect costs of getting to the clinic to receive the drugs. Particularly in Africa, treatment programs maximize attendance and retention in care by only disbursing doses for only 30 days. While that’s a good way to make sure resources are allocated efficiently, it creates a financial burden for patients, who may live 20 to 40 miles away from the clinic.

Q. Why is proper medication adherence so important in fighting HIV/AIDS?

A. For policymakers, poor adherence can produce mutations in the virus that are resistant to the treatments being given. This a very costly risk. The first line of treatments costs about $100 to $300 per patient in Africa. If that fails, you have to go the second line of treatment, which is considerably more expensive at $6,000 to $10,000 per year. While prices of these drugs have been falling steadily, drug resistance could shrink the scope or eliminate treatment programs in Africa.

There are benefits to the patients, of course. Good adherence means that you can keep viral loads at levels that will not cause opportunistic infections. Low viral loads also reduce the chances of transmission to uninfected individuals. But from a fiscal perspective, good adherence reduces the cost of providing treatment.

Q. How does your research study adherence issues?

A. I’m involved in separate cell phone intervention research projects in Kenya that address the psychological constraints of drug adherence. Groups of the study participants received different text messages reminding them about taking the medications.

Patients in the study receive medication in bottles with electronic caps that record how often the bottle is opened. The projects looked at adherence, measured by the bottle openings, over 15 months. As has been recorded elsewhere, patients are usually very enthusiastic and good about adherence in the first six months. They came to the clinic very sick and the medication has had a tremendous effect in restoring the health functioning and overall capacities. Then as the health response plateaus, complacency follows. As they get better, compliance to the medication regime falls over time.

The studies measure whether a reminder may can support good adherence.

Q. What variables did the research examine?

A. We looked at the effect of varying the frequency of the messages and varying the content. On the content side, the idea is that providing encouragement to people could improve adherence. In addition to a control group that received a phone call but no messages, we sent text messages with a reminder and an encouragement component to one of the study groups and a simple reminder text to the study group.

We also looked at the frequency of the messages – each of the message groups were divided into two – one that got a reminder once a day and the other got a weekly reminder.

Q. How did the two groups react?

A. Surprisingly, we found that the encouraging messages had no effect at all on adherence. In addition, daily messages, whether they were short reminders or encouraging messages, had no statistically significant effect either. We were particularly surprised by the daily result because you’d think if this is about forgetfulness or even social pressure to comply, daily reminders should work best.

The weekly messages did have a large effect. Sending a message once a week improves adherence. About 55 percent of people who get the weekly message are 90 percent adherent (a measure that medical experts consider adequate), compared with 40 percent in the control group that got no intervention.

Q. Why do you think weekly reminders worked better than daily ones?

A. Sending a message in high frequency could be conceived as patronizing, or it could be that a high frequency stimulus has a declining response. Message fatigue, a well known phenomenon in marketing, could also explain these results.

Q. Do you plan follow-up studies based on these findings?

A. Absolutely. We need to think both about content, frequency and how often you refresh the message. Information campaigns are very cheap, so if we can find the right combination of each of these things that generates the right outcomes, we can maintain treatment programs at much lower costs.

In terms of thinking about the design of treatment programs, we need to consider both the psychological and socio-economic factors going forward. Even with reminders, there are wealth constraints that make it harder for people to adhere to medication schedules. We must address that.

Q. We’ve moved past the days of celebrities wearing red ribbons at award shows. As we mark this World AIDS Day, do you think HIV/AIDS has dropped from the social conscience?

A. It depends on where you are – we’ve seen both positive and negative trends. In the industrialized world, the thinking has changed to HIV as a disease one can live with, thanks to the medications available. In some cases, we’ve seen a move back toward risky behavior because of this.

In developing countries, it’s more positive, as the stigma associated with having HIV is dropping. People are more willing to have open discussions about HIV/AIDS. That’s made it possible for increased testing and counseling and people seeking treatment.

New Georgetown University Website to Launch

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 30, 2010 Comments Off on New Georgetown University Website to Launch

The university’s new website – – that will launch on Dec. 3 includes a redesigned homepage and “top tier” pages that are highly trafficked and provide a broad range of information about the entire university.

The site is redesigned for the first time since 2002.

Reflecting Feedback

“I appreciate the many, many people across our campuses who contributed to the new site’s development,” said Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president of communications. “This effort would not have been possible without the collaboration of so many individuals, including members of our board of directors, students, faculty, staff, parents and prospective students.

“Their input helped to provide us with a much better understanding of what people are looking for on our website than ever before,” she added. “The new website responds to what we heard our users want – clear navigational pathways, more rich media, ways to engage with Georgetown online and information based on topic rather than organizational structure.”

New Features

The new website offers a number of new features that respond to user feedback.


The navigational pathways found in the header of the new site, for example, correspond to topics and information most frequently sought by our website users and provide direct paths for them to access it quickly.

These pathways include ways for users to engage with Georgetown – including visiting campus, connecting to social media channels and making a gift.

“The navigation also includes a clear path to our schools and campuses from a one-click drop-down menu and recognizes that search functionality is important to users,” Bataille explained.

Topic Areas

In addition to news and events, a selection of topic areas “allows users to choose from new multimedia content based on themes that reflect defining characteristics of the university – our global perspective, commitment to academic excellence, Catholic and Jesuit values, location in Washington, D.C., and our tightly knit campus community,” Bataille said.

Users of the new website also can use a “footer” – a red tab at the bottom of the page – with content specifically relevant for faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and prospective students.

Once users pick a category, they get a pop-up menu of “quick links” and other information specifically designed for them.

Going Mobile

The project also includes a redesign of the university’s mobile website, which includes quick access to news and events, our directory and the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS) schedule.

Starting Friday morning, iPhone and smartphone users can set their browsers to

Mobile access to the library catalog will be available in the near future.

Emergency Capabilities

“The new site also lets us post an “emergency alert” message and banner on the homepage and all top tier pages if necessary to quickly provide information about an emergency situation or inclement weather,” Bataille noted.

Users can also check the campus safety and emergency preparedness page for more information related to campus and emergency planning.

Georgetown worked with happy cog of Philadelphia to design the new site and Georgetown’s University Information Services implemented a new technical infrastructure to support it. The university’s GUide Committee played an advisory role for the project.

“I am deeply grateful to the many partners who have worked with us to make this project come to life,” Bataille said. “Their advice and input has been invaluable to our efforts.”

You can learn more about the history of the project on the top-tier redesign blog.

Feedback on the new site can be sent to the webmaster.

AIDS Orphans in Africa Immersed in Art Program

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 30, 2010 Comments Off on AIDS Orphans in Africa Immersed in Art Program

Two Georgetown leaders are teaching visual arts for two weeks every year to AIDS-orphaned high school students in Kibera – one of Africa’s largest slums.

The Art Immersion program stems from a trip Charles DeSantis, associate vice president and chief benefits officer and associate dean Margaret Halpin took with Georgetown’s 2007 Kenya Immersion Group in and around the poorest areas of Nairobi.

Amazing and Hard

“It was the most amazing and hardest journey I have ever taken,” DeSantis says of the trip, sponsored in part by Georgetown’s Office of Mission and Ministry. “The object of this trip is to educate you about Kenya with the hope that you will use your experience and knowledge to make an impact.”

That day came when the group visited a Catholic high school for AIDS orphans and HIV/AIDS-affected students, St. Aloysius Gonzaga. DeSantis and Halpin, who have backgrounds in art education, quickly learned the school had no art curriculum.

A year later, they came back with a visual arts program for the students, who used pencils, charcoal, pastels and watercolors to produce their art.

Full of Life

“These beautiful people are so hopeful and full of life,” DeSantis wrote in his new book about teaching in the one-million-strong, sewage-strewn slum.

Proceeds of the book, Smart, Beautiful and Important: Teaching art to AIDS-affected orphans in Africa’s largest slum (New Academia, 2010), go back to the art program, which has been kept alive since 2008 through DeSantis’ personal fundraising.

The book is composed of blogs DeSantis kept from 2008 to 2010 detailing the Georgetown leaders’ time teaching in Kibera.

“Today was hard,” DeSantis wrote on July 30, 2009, the last day of classes at the school that year. “You see the commitment, the desire and the progress made in such a short amount of time and you just want to continue.”

Hope for Expansion

“Our dream would be to expand it and have it funded all year round,” DeSantis says of the program.

And after the fourth year of Art Immersion in 2011, he hopes to help create an art institute for Kibera students in between high school and college.

“In their commitment to develop an art program for the students of St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School in the slum of Kibera, Charles and Margaret truly reflect what it means to be a ‘man and woman for others,'” says Philip Boroughs, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown. “Their creativity and generosity has elicited an equally creative and generous response from the students at St. Al’s, who joyously await their return each summer.”

Turkish Minister Talks at GU on Global Order

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 30, 2010 Comments Off on Turkish Minister Talks at GU on Global Order

Turkey hopes to help stabilize global order and invite more foreign investment to transform itself into a center of economic influence, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a Georgetown audience Nov. 29.

“We will not wait until the crisis emerges,” he said. “We will try to prevent a crisis before it emerges. … In order to complete our restoration inside, we need restoration around us.”

Diplomacy and Peace

Davutoğlu called Turkish foreign policy “proactive peace diplomacy” and said the country is working to respond to the challenges in its surrounding regions.

“Our objective is clear,” Davutoğlu said. “We want to have a strong, comprehensive restoration at home. We want to have regional orders and restorations around Turkey, and we want to help restoration in global politics, global economics and global culture.”

U.S.-Turkey Relations

The foreign minister says it is important that Turkey work with other countries such as the United States to foster global diplomacy and peace, because it will strengthen Turkey’s own development.

Turkey is in a unique position, he explained, because it is creating good relationships with its neighbors while trying to attain membership in the European Union.

Global Order

“We are facing serious challenges in political, economic and cultural global order,” he said. “There is a need for a new inclusive global order. … And in that inclusive global order, we need to solve the regional issues and problems.”

School of Foreign Service Dean Carol Lancaster called the speech “enlightening and inspirational.”

Provost James O’Donnell introduced the foreign minister.

“The role and place of Turkey … has been central to Western and Eastern civilizations for 3,000 years,” he said. “The future history of its importance is no less interesting than its past.”


Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 29, 2010 Comments Off on Newsmakers

 Research Grants

• Christine Elsik, assistant professor of biology, received a grant for $704,044 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture/U.S. Department of Agriculture for her project, “Mining Hymenoptera Genomes for Functional Sequences.” Hymenoptera is a largee order of insects that includes sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. Elsik hopes her work will allow researchers to attain sequenced hymenoptera genomes and transcriptomes in order to recognize functional sequences. She also is working toward the creation of a better general understanding, through genomics, of the biology of agricultural hymenoptera.

• James K. Freericks, a professor of physics, received a grant for $210,000 from the National Science Foundation for his project, “Transport and Nonequilibrium Effects in Strongly Correlated Multilayered Nanostructures.” Freericks’ work looks at several problems with the “theoretical treatment of transport and nonlinear effects in multilayered devices composed of strongly correlated multilayers,” according to the project summary. The project includes graduate student training in computational physics and research experience for undergraduates.

• B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies for the Institute for the Study of International Migration, received a grant for $231,551 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for “International Competitiveness and Talent: Managing the Flow of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) Workers.” Lowell’s work focuses on creating a collection of research, expert advice and public briefings on current and future management of programs for the immigration of skilled workers to the United States.

Diplomatic Network Connects Georgetown Alumni

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 29, 2010 Comments Off on Diplomatic Network Connects Georgetown Alumni

November 29, 2010 –Georgetown alumni who work for the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have joined forces through the university’s Hoya Diplomatic Network.

Recently founded by alumni at State and USAID posts in Washington, D.C., the network already has grown to include more than 700 graduates. While many are alumni of the School of Foreign Service, the network is open to all graduates of the university.

Advising Students

“The Hoya Diplomatic Network is a way for Hoyas working in the Department of State and USAID to lend their support and advice to students who are now following in their footsteps as they prepare for careers in diplomacy,” said SFS Dean Carol Lancaster.

The network’s first campus-based event this past September brought together more than 100 current students and 30 mentors for small-group discussions on topics ranging from combating terrorism and reversing climate change to advancing human rights.

At any given time, half of the network members are out of the country. The experience of working in diplomacy and the desire to help students is what ties the Georgetown graduates together.

Mentor and Support

“The most important thing, when you’re very proud of an institution, is to find others – younger employees – to mentor and support,” said Patrick F. Kennedy (F’73), under secretary for management at the State Department.

The group also includes Melanne Verveer (I’66, G’69), U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, who spoke to network members and students in a foreign exchange group at the network’s opening reception in July.

President John J. DeGioia also spoke at the reception.

“Each of you here contributes, through your professional lives, in profound ways, to our university’s tradition of engagement with our nation and the world,” he said. “This legacy of public service has been evidenced in many ways over the course of our university’s history … and always in anticipation of the complex challenges facing our communities.”

To learn more about the Hoya Diplomatic Network or become a member, visit the network’s website.

$17 Mil Gift Will Build Religious Retreat Center

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 29, 2010 Comments Off on $17 Mil Gift Will Build Religious Retreat Center

November 22, 2010 –A new spiritual retreat and contemplative center for Georgetown students of all faiths and for the university’s already established religious retreats will be built in the Blue Ridge Mountains, thanks to a recent $17 million gift.

The gift comes from Arthur (C’54) and Nancy Calcagnini, who previously fully endowed the university’s ESCAPE retreat program with a $1.5 million gift and wanted to further enhance Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit mission.

The ESCAPE program is an overnight, nondemoninational reflective experience for first-year and transfer students run by Georgetown’s Office of Campus Ministry.

It is just one of the 32 faith-based retreats a year the office runs for Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Orthodox Christian students and other members of the Georgetown community.

Spiritual Growth

The Jesuits consider contemplative reflection an important element of self-knowledge and spiritual growth.

The Calcagnini Contemplative Center, future home of the retreats, is expected to be completed by 2011 on a 55-acre property in Bluemont, Va., about 75 minutes from Georgetown’s Main Campus.

The complex will include a Catholic chapel, community and dining halls, and 28 cabins that can house up to 78 students.

More than 7,500 students have experienced ESCAPE retreats since they were begun in 1991. Through that program, Calcagnini, a member of university’s board of directors, and his wife came to understand the importance of a center to house all of the university’s retreats.

Jesuit Values

“Arthur and Nancy epitomize the core Catholic and Jesuit values at the heart of this university,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “Over the years the Calcagninis have endowed funds for the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim chaplaincies on campus as well as student scholarships, medical center research and other projects. Their gift to establish a contemplative center will animate the lives and deepen the faiths of generations of students to come.”

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., Georgetown’s vice president for mission and ministry, notes that, “Arthur’s commitment is personal as well as financial.

Every year for the past 20 years he has participated in at least one ESCAPE weekend and has given the alumni talk to the students. His vision is key to making this project a reality.”

Calcagnini is the retired chair and CEO of Lombard and Co. and his wife is a former managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston. The couple lives in North Palm Beach, Fla., and are passionate about the importance of taking time for reflection and self-examination.

“I can’t think of a more important investment than to provide young people with the opportunity for quiet introspection and a chance to ask questions of themselves,” Arthur Calcagnini said. “This center will provide the potential to enrich every student for a lifetime. It is an important part of achieving the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person.”

Students Who Can’t be Home Get Campus Thanksgiving

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 25, 2010 Comments Off on Students Who Can’t be Home Get Campus Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010 –About 250 Georgetown students who live too far away to be home for Thanksgiving were welcomed with turkey and all the trimmings Nov. 24 at the university president’s annual dinner.

“I’m from Iowa, and although I can’t go home for Thanksgiving this year I’m really happy to be celebrating Thanksgiving with other Hoyas,” said Emily Gaard (C’11). “It’s fun to still have Thanksgiving dinner with my Georgetown family even though I won’t be with my family back at home.”

The dinner, held at the university’s Leo O’Donovan Hall, is particularly popular among the university’s graduate students, whose rigorous schedules often don’t permit them to return home, as well as international students.

Experiencing Community

“I’m staying [on campus] over the holiday break to study,” said Joseph Perez, who will graduate in 2011 from Georgetown’s Experimental Medical Studies (GEMS) program in the School of Medicine. “This is a great opportunity to experience the community that is Georgetown. I am pleased to see the university take a personal interest in its students.”

GEMS is a one-year post-baccalaureate experience for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dier Hu (N’14), originally from China, had her first Thanksgiving three years ago at Georgetown, when a friend invited her to attend the annual dinner.

“At that time, I had just started my life in the U.S. and didn’t have any idea about my future in this foreign country,” she explained. “Today, I’m coming to the dinner again to meet the president, not as a girl who doesn’t know anything, but as a Georgetown student thankful for the opportunity to study and live here.”

Expressing Gratitude

President John J. DeGioia, his wife, Theresa, and their son, J.T., host the dinner every year.

“We find it to be an opportunity to express gratitude for the unique contribution of each member of the university community, for the blessings in life, and for the ability to engage with other Georgetown students in a spirit of dialogue and understanding across diverse personal traditions and values,” DeGioia said.

At the dinner, the president noted that, “Those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving came here not just in search of freedom – but in search of tolerance.

Building Bridges

“This is the heritage of Thanksgiving. And it is up to each of us to advance that heritage by helping to foster understanding … and by helping to build bridges between cultures and communities of faith.”

As the students picked up their forks and knives, he added, “Tonight, what I am most grateful for is simply being able to join with you to celebrate our blessings … this community … and Thanksgiving.”

New Deal Article Wins Legal History Prize

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 23, 2010 Comments Off on New Deal Article Wins Legal History Prize

An article on the politics of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal has won Law Center Professor Daniel Ernst the 2010 Surrency Prize from the American Society of Legal History (ASLH).

Ernst received the prize from ASLH during its annual conference in Philadelphia on Nov. 20.

His winning article, “The Politics of Administrative Law: New York’s Anti-Bureaucracy Clause and the O’Brian-Wagner Campaign of 1938,” ran in the Summer 2009 issue of Law and History Review.

Moment in History

“Extensively and creatively researched, [the article] tells us much that we need to know about a fascinating moment in American history,” the Surrency Committee stated in its prize citation.

Ernst wrote about New York’s 1938 constitutional convention, in which one of the amendments proposed would have greatly increase the New York courts’ oversight of state agencies. Voters rejected what they saw as a harbinger of a national campaign against the New Deal.

The law professor showed how the defeat of the amendment affected the 1938 New York Senate race between New Deal supporter Robert Wagner, who won, and opponent Lord John O’Brian. He also talked about how this came to shape modern administrative law.

Legal History Expert

The prize is named in honor of Erwin Surrency, a founding member of the ASLH and former editor of its publication, the American Journal of Legal History.

Ernst, an expert in American legal history and property, joined the law faculty at Georgetown in 1988. He is the author of the award-winning Lawyers Against Labor: From Individual Rights to Corporate Liberalism (1995) and served as co-editor of Total War and the Law: The American Home Front in World War II (2002).