Newsmakers

 
 

Retired and Rehired

President George W. Bush in September nominated Michael B. Mukasey ’63CC, a retired New York federal judge, to succeed Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general. As Columbia went to press, Mukasey was facing tough questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his views on the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, but his confirmation as AG was widely anticipated…. Public affairs professor and former Irish president Mary Robinson this summer joined former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former South African president Nelson Mandela, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, and former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso as a member of the Global Elders, a group of retired heads of state, peace activists, and humanitarian workers who use their political leverage, and their independence, to address some of the world’s most intractable problems, such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, and poverty.


 
 

Pop Muses

When the lead singer of the band Plain White T’s met steeplechase runner Delilah DiCrescenzo ’05CC, he declared he would write her a love song. She politely told him not to bother, never thinking it would turn into the hit “Hey There Delilah,” which reached the top five of Billboard’s “Hot 100” and iTunes’s “Top Song” charts this summer…. Thanks to his steady voice and dependable commentary on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on WNYC, local host Soterios Johnson ’90CC, ’97JRN has won a legion of fans worthy of a rock star. Even his mellifluous Greek name has served as inspiration for the New York band Satirius Johnson and for the song “Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance,” by the folk-rock artist Jonathan Coulton.


 
 

Street Smarts

Poet, novelist, and now adjunct professor of writing Carol Muske-Dukes recently published Channeling Mark Twain, a novel based on her own experiences of teaching a poetry workshop to female inmates at Rikers Island prison…. New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school system of 1.1 million students and a $17 billion budget, won the prestigious Broad Prize for boosting test scores among underprivileged students and for closing the gap in racial achievement. Schools chancellor Joel Klein ’67CC said that the recognition “puts wind to our back for the additional changes we want to make,” including raising graduation rates. Nearly half of New York City students still do not complete high school in four years.


 
 

Second Opinions

The Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology Nancy Wexler received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science for her role in the discovery of the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease and for establishing a model to investigate the genetic basis of other inherited diseases…. Psychiatry professor Michael First is overseeing revisions to the American Psychiatric Association’s 900-page Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The fifth edition of the DSM, which is scheduled to be published in 2011, is expected to contain more precise definitions of conditions such as depression and juvenile bipolar disorder.


 
 

Primetimers

In his WWII documentary The War, director Ken Burns interviews one of his colleagues from PBS, former managing director Ward Chamberlin ’48LAW. Although he was ineligible for military service due to the loss of sight in one eye from a childhood case of meningitis, Chamberlin served as a volunteer ambulance driver with the American Field Service in North Africa, Italy, and India…. Although it didn’t snag an Emmy, the dark comedic Showtime series Weeds, about a pot-dealing suburbanite widow, received five nominations this year thanks in part to creator Jenji Kohan ’91CC, whose writing credits include Gilmore Girls and Mad About You.


 
 

Public Healers

Former chief scientist and CEO of Merck & Co. Roy Vagelos ’54PS received this year’s Prix Galien Pro Bono Humanitarian Award for his role in eliminating river blindness as a major public health threat. Thanks to mass donations of the drug Mectizan, more than 40 million people in 34 countries have been treated for onchocerciasis, the world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness…. Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health Allan Rosenfield ’59PS received the 2007 United Nations Population Award for outstanding life achievements in reproductive health, family planning, women’s health, and human rights.


 
 

Urban Improvement

Founded by Roo Rodgers ’98CC, the company OZOcar has garnered media attention for providing New Yorkers with an all-hybrid rental fleet of Lexuses and Priuses, which get 60 miles per gallon on city streets and generate 89 percent less smog-forming emissions than the average new automobile…. Upwardly Global, a San Francisco charity that helps immigrant professionals rebuild their careers, has opened an office in New York City. Founder Jane Leu ’98SIPA has plans to expand to at least two additional American  cities, hoping to reach out to more of the country’s estimated 242,000 underemployed college-educated immigrants.