April 2, 1998......Volume 27, Issue 26

News . . . . Arts . . . . Calendars . . . . Letters . . . . Links . . . . Deadlines . . . . Archive

Movies used to study behavior
Family pledges $5 million
Professor to teach from space
How many zeroes?!
Faculty/Staff Alerts
Penn Staters
Asian American Month
Forum speaker 
New at Penn State
Enforcing the rules
Let's go fly a kite
Penn State to hold CIC seminar
Student Affairs seeks AVP
Penn State news bureau


Associate dean retires after
more than 30 years of service

George J. McMurtry, associate dean emeritus for administration and planning and professor emeritus of electrical engineering, retired March 31, after more than 30 years at Penn State.

McMurtry has served the College of Engineering as associate dean for 18 years, working under five deans, starting in 1980. He also served as acting dean of engineering in 1987-88. His first responsibility as associate dean in 1980 was for engineering instruction. Since 1984, he has been dean for administration and planning which includes budget and finance, human resources, space and facilities, computing and strategic planning.

From 1979-80 he served as chair of the University Faculty Senate.

McMurtry was honored with the University-wide Barash Award in 1984 for his longtime service to the State College community. He spent 19 years coaching local baseball teams from the pee-wee level through the American Legion league. He also served on the State College Area School Board for 18 years, six of them as president. For the last two years, he has been a member of one of United Way's allocation teams.

McMurtry initially held a joint appointment in electrical engineering and the Ordnance Research Laboratory (now the Applied Research Laboratory), where his research focused on adaptive control systems, optimization and pattern recognition applications to underwater acoustic signals. He joined the electrical engineering department full time in 1969, and was co-director of the Office for Remote Sensing of Earth Resources from 1970-80.

McMurtry received his B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy, served four years in the Navy before entering graduate school, and retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of commander. He earned a master's degree from Notre Dame and a doctorate from Purdue University, both in electrical engineering. He worked as a project engineer in General Electric's Electronics Laboratory for several years before coming to Penn State in 1967.

Professor emeritus served for 32 years

Douglas H. Sampson, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics, has retired from the Eberly College of Science after 32 years of service. After serving in the United States Army and working as a farmer, he earned a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics at Concordia College in 1951 and master's and doctoral degrees in physics from Yale University in 1953 and 1956. He then was a staff member of the Theoretical Division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory until 1961, when he joined the Valley Forge Space Center of the General Electric Co., where he became group leader of atomic and radiation physics. He joined the faculty of Penn State in 1965 as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 1969.

Sampson is a theorist whose principal research involves calculating the rates for atomic processes in very high temperature gases, or plasmas, that commonly occur in astrophysics, fusion-energy research and X-ray lasers. Sampson developed and applied a theory for rapidly and accurately calculating the atomic data, which now is in use at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Sampson has been an active graduate and undergraduate teacher and also has developed upper-level courses in astrophysics. He mentored several graduate students and served as chairman or a member of many departmental and college committees. Sampson has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers in refereed journals.

He is the author of a book, Radiative Contributions to Energy and Momentum Transport in a Gas, published by Wiley-Interscience. Sampson is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union.

Sampson said he and his wife, Carlyn (Lyn), plan to spend more time with their four children and seven grandchildren. He expects to continue his research while pursuing his hobbies, which include the study of American history and the history of Western civilization.

Assistant professor taught for 27 years

Leonard S. Kogut, assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State Beaver, retired after 27 years at the campus.

Kogut, a Pittsburgh resident, holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from LaSalle College. He taught a variety of chemistry courses and labs at Penn State Beaver and held several administrative positions.

From 1987 to 1989, Kogut served as acting director of academic affairs. He also served as evening and summer division administrator from 1989 to 1992. He was a member of the University Faculty Senate since 1990, and the University Faculty Senate Council since 1995. He was the co-chair of the Commonwealth Educational System Caucus since 1995. Kogut published several articles and made numerous professional presentations on such topics as using crib sheets in chemistry; cooperative learning groups in chemistry education; Total Quality Management; critical thinking in chemistry; and a variety of ways to improve general/chemistry education.

Kogut is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Faculty Development Resource Association: Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.

Staff assistant ready
to enjoy her retirement

After working for 37-plus years at Penn State, Miriam E. Johnson, a staff assistant in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is ready for a slower pace.

A graduate of State College Area High School, Johnson began working at the University in April 1961 in the Department of Agronomy in the College of Agricultural Sciences. From there, she moved to geosciences in 1972 and worked there until her retirement in March 1998.

Johnson, a native of Lock Haven, has been married for 39 years to Royce. They have four children -- one who graduated from Penn College in 1993 and a daughter who graduated from Penn State in 1994. The Johnsons live in the Julian area.

In her retirement, Johnson plans to continue her hobbies of reading and playing piano. She hopes to add two new hobbies, gardening and crocheting, to her repertoire.

Five earn emeritus rank
for longstanding service

The following individuals have earned emeritus rank from the University for their longstanding and productive years of service:

Reinhard Graetzer, associate professor of physics in the Eberly College of Science, from Sept. 1, 1965, to Feb. 15.

J. Dean Jansma, professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agricultural Sciences, from July 1, 1964, to Feb. 5.

Anthony Kales, professor and chairman of psychiatry in the College of Medicine, from March 1, 1971, to Jan. 1.

B. Alan Snider, professor of agricultural and extension education/assistant director in the College of Agricultural Sciences, from July 1, 1985, to Jan. 1.

Peter A. Thrower, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, from Oct. 1, 1969, to June 30.

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Stephen A. Matthews, research associate with the Population Research Institute, left,
Mark O. Wilhelm, assistant professor of economics, and David Ribar, assistant
professor of economics at George Washington University, found that abortion rates
were higher in states that place fewer restrictions on the procedure.

Reduced access lowers abortion rates

By Paul A. Blaum
Public Information

Restrictive state policies and the lack of medical providers have effectively decreased the rate of abortions in the United States.

"Abortion rates are generally higher along the West and East coasts, where states tend to place fewer conditions on an abortion and offer an abundance of providers compared to less populated regions," said Stephen A. Matthews, research associate with the Population Research Institute and adjunct assistant professor of geography.

"The most common restrictions on abortion are Medicaid funding limits, 24-hour waiting periods, mandatory counseling and parental consent requirements for minors," Matthews said. "From a pragmatic standpoint, these restrictions have made a difference in abortion rates. Calculations indicate that decreased access, due largely to restrictions, accounted for 24 percent to 30 percent of the 5 percent decline in abortion rates between 1988 and 1992."

"Conversely, birthrates go up where the costs of contraception are higher due to reduced access to providers of contraceptive methods and advice such as obstetrician-gynecologists and family planning services," said Mark O. Wilhelm, assistant professor of economics.

Matthews, Wilhelm and David Ribar, assistant professor of economics at George Washington University, collaborated on the research. Ribar is a research affiliate of the Population Research Institute and a former assistant professor of economics at Penn State.

For the period 1988-92, the Alan Guttmacher Institute documented substantial declines in both the incidence and availability of abortions in the United States. Nationwide the abortion rate fell by 5 percent, from 27.3 abortions per 1,000 women to 25.9 per 1,000. At the same time, the proportion of women living in counties with an abortion provider fell from 71 percent to 69 percent, and the number of providers per 100,000 women fell from 4.4 to 4.

"In 1973, the year of Roe vs. Wade, 15 counties in Pennsylvania had abortion providers. By 1977, this number had risen to 32 counties, but by the early 1990s it was back down to 16," Matthews said.

A 1992 institute paper reported that, during the late 1980s, 83 percent of U.S. counties and 20 percent of urban areas had no licensed physicians or service providers who dealt with abortion cases. As a result, in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region, 18 percent of the women seeking information about an abortion had to drive between 50 and 100 miles. Another 9 percent drove 100 miles or more, Matthews said.

"Our results make clear that policies that either expressly or indirectly reduce women's access to abortion services decrease their use of the procedure," said Wilhelm.

"The Supreme Court has generally held regulations to be invalid if they place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman desiring or considering an abortion," he said. "The contentious issue of whether policies go too far in restricting access is being resolved by the court under its standard of 'undue burden.'"

"While the court has applied its test one restriction at a time, our findings suggest that the 'undue burden' standard should be broadened to consider availability of abortion providers in certain geographical regions," said Matthews.

The study uses 1978-88 data combined from more than a dozen sources including the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Current Population Survey and the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Emerson's aunt played
crucial role in his writing

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the fathers of American literature, freely borrowed words and ideas from the aunt who raised him, and used them as his own, a professor reveals in a new book.

In Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism, author Phyllis Cole brings Emerson's oft-described "eccentric aunt" to the center of American literature and demonstrates through painstaking research the crucial role she played in her nephew's intellectual thinking and published writings. The book, which consumed Cole's energies for 17 years, has been heralded by scholars nationwide.

"Mary has largely been dismissed by generations of Emerson scholars as little more than the beloved but quirky aunt of Ralph Waldo," said Cole, an associate professor of English at Penn State Delaware County. "But my research shows she is far more than that. And though Ralph Waldo Emerson struggled throughout his life to say what his aunt meant to him -- she was always on his mind -- he only told half the story. The truth is that he copied her letters and diary into his own journal, and used them later as a source for his published writing."

Cole researched the book at Harvard University, where Mary Moody Emerson's letters to her nephew are kept, and discovered her long-lost diary in an uncatalogued box. In that diary, she soon found evidence of Moody Emerson's role as a primary source of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Transcendentalism.

Previous scholarship largely credits Boston Unitarianism and English Romanticism as his likely inspiration, but Cole found that Moody Emerson actually introduced her nephew to both of those traditions.

Teachers should do
homework before taking job

By Paul A. Blaum
Public Information

New teachers might take a few lessons from the cartoon "Dilbert," which deals with the diverse idiosyncrasies of everyday corporate culture.

"Beginning teachers are usually alerted to the challenges of urban/rural and ethnic/racial differences, but they are seldom aware that schools also differ in terms of organizational culture," said J. Dan Marshall, associate professor of education.

The culture of a school can be described as a collective personality created by administrators, staff, teachers and students at a given point in history. This culture, including its various subcultures, helps determine the way people think, feel and act within the school.

"New teachers have to develop a sense for both the collective personality and its unwritten codes," Marshall said. "The best way for them to do that is visit schools that they are considering. During that time, they should talk to administrators, teachers, staff, even students; sit in on classes in their field; definitely spend time in the teacher's lounge; eat in the cafeteria; and observe the overall mood of the school.

"In some ways, school culture has remained constant for a century," he said. "Teachers must still maintain control of their classrooms. Bells still ring telling people when they're late or when it's time to leave. But beyond these basic parameters, the atmosphere of a school can vary widely."

For new teachers, the issue is not which school is better but which might accommodate the sort of professional they hope to be. A teacher who prefers a more democratic classroom will be alienated -- and ineffective -- in a school that strikes him or her as a military base in disguise. The reverse also is true, Marshall said.

"New teachers have to think about where they would do the best job," Marshall said. "The worst scenario for a new teacher would be to take a position at a school, then after three months say to himself or herself, 'I don't belong here. The end result would be an unhappy and less-than-successful teacher."

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