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Newsmakers
 
 
Caroline Kennedy ’88LAW
Following Obama

President-elect Barack Obama ’83CC got a boost early in his campaign with an endorsement from Caroline Kennedy ’88LAW. Now, Kennedy, the daughter of the late president John F. Kennedy, Jr., is seeking the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, who is expected to become Obama’s secretary of state. As of press time, Kennedy was considered the front-runner among those vying to be appointed by New York governor David Paterson ’77CC. Kennedy served with Eric Holder ’73CC, ’76LAW (see page 40) on a three-person advisory team that vetted vice presidential candidates… Vice President-elect Joseph Biden picked Jared Bernstein ’94SS as his chief economist and economic policy adviser. Meanwhile, Julius Genachowski ’85CC is coleader of Obama’s transition working group on technology, innovation, and government reform. Jeanette Takamura, dean of the School of Social Work, is also on the transition team, assisting the formation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
 

 
 

Mellissa Fung ’95JRN  
Front-page news

Mellissa Fung ’95JRN was released early in November after being abducted and held for 28 days by ransom seekers outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Fung, 35, a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, was on her way to conduct interviews at a UN refugee camp on October 12 when armed men abducted her and her cameraman, stabbing her in the process. She is now in Vancouver… Six graduates of the J-school, working under the supervision of adjunct professor and New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich, spent months investigating employees of the Long Island Rail Road who falsely claimed disability. Their work culminated in a front-page Times story for which two students, Nicholas Phillips ’08JRN and Robert A. McDonald ’08JRN, received bylines. Several state and federal agencies are now investigating the retirement board’s disability payments to former L.I.R.R. employees.

 
 

 
Miguel Syjuco ’04SOA
Enlightened ones

Miguel Syjuco ’04SOA, a native Filipino, won the second annual Man Asian Literary Prize for his debut novel, Ilustrado. The award, worth $10,000, goes to an outstanding unpublished book written in English by an Asian author. It is sponsored by Man Group, a leading global financial-services firm based in London… The Japanese government presented Donald Keene ’42CC, ’49GSAS, ’97HON with an Order of Culture award for his translations of Japanese literature. Keene is University Professor Emeritus and Shincho Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia, where he has taught for more than 50 years. His memoir, Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan, was published last fall.

 
 
World citizens

Eric Kandel, who won the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine, has been named an honorary citizen of Vienna, 70 years after he and his family were forced to flee Austria following Germany’s invasion. Kandel is a Columbia professor of physiology and cellular biophysics, psychiatry, biochemistry, and molecular biophysics in the department of biological sciences and the Kavli Professor of Brain Science… The French government made Richard Weisberg ’74LAW a Chevalier de l’ordre national, the highest decoration for service to France. Weisberg, a professor of constitutional law at Yeshiva University, was recognized for his “contribution to the development of French-American relations in the defense of human rights, and in striving for the reparation of wrongs and of losses suffered by Jewish families during World War II.”
 


 
 
Jorge Martín ’90GSAS  
As day breaks

The Fort Worth Opera will premiere the first major opera of Cuban American composer Jorge Martín ’90GSAS in 2010. The opera, Before Night Falls, is an adaptation of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas’s memoir about the oppression he suffered for speaking out against the Fidel Castro regime and or for being openly gay. Martín wrote the libretto with the help of Dolores M. Koch, a personal friend of
Arenas who translated several of his books into English… Diane Paulus ’97SOA recently was named artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. Paulus, the creator and director of The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that ran for six years Off-Broadway and toured internationally, told the Boston Globe last fall that she intends to bring “startling and bold” productions to ART.

 
 


— Cindy Rodríguez

 

 
 
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