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University Letter
ISSUE: Volume 43, Number 21: January 25, 2006

Faculty Q&A: Abramoff scandal underscores ethics crisis in American politics

Editor’s note: Jack Russell Weinstein is associate professor of philosophy and religion. He earned his doctorate from Boston University, and has taught at numerous U.S. and foreign universities. A widely published author, Weinstein focuses on the intersection between the history of philosophy and contemporary political thought. He is particularly committed to making scholarly work accessible to nonspecialists and lay audiences.

Q: The collapse of Jack Abramoff’s career as a leading lobbyist in Washington has been in the news for weeks. Abramoff’s influence-peddling tarnished the reputations of many people on Capitol Hill and sent many others scurrying for cover. What does this scandal tell us about the media, ethics, and politics?

A. It is no surprise that the media lives off of scandal. Day-to-day government is boring to most audiences — try watching C-Span, for example. Media outlets want and cultivate scandal; it attracts people which in turn attract advertising dollars. Politicians respond to the attention and focus their energy on whatever is in the news at that moment. So for a while, lobbyists will be a target, just like, for a while, affairs with interns were center stage. This is why lobbyists exist in the first place; they are paid to get legislators to think about things that are not the subject of media attention. They play a necessary function.

The consequence of media attention, however, is the profound effect it has on people’s attitudes and actions. For example, after the movie Babe, millions of kids turned vegetarian — for a while, anyway. My best friend, a sergeant in the New York State Police, tells me that police and prosecutors are having a hard time these days because juries want the kind of evidence that appears on CSI even though the technology on the show doesn’t really exist. Since the media wants scandal, scandal becomes synonymous with fame. It becomes appealing. To be famous, we are told, we have to do something wrong, not something right.

Q. Are ethics and politics tied together?

A. They certainly are. Everything is tied in with ethics; politics is no exception. We should always be concerned with how we judge ethical behavior and this includes how it fits into the systems and societies we participate in. When judging the morality of a system we have to pay more attention to the norms than the exceptions.
It is often useful to think of politics as a sport: it’s bound by certain rules that everyone must play by: the “rules of the game.”

A virtuous player will play within those rules, but will often push them to the very edge, walking a fine line while still technically following them.

This changes the interpretations of the rules, which, in turn, obligate us to ask whether this new understanding makes the rules inherently corrupt. Consider the debate in baseball about the designated hitter rule: the American League has it but the National League does not. Does this make National League players “better” because they are more well-rounded? Analogously, is a person who works successfully within a moral system a “better” person than one who succeeds in a system that is corrupt? Maybe.

During the last presidential campaign, while he was pushing for election reform, John McCain was asked whether he abided by the rules that he recommended. His answer was that he abided by the current law and that he would only abide by the reforms if and when they became law. From a certain perspective, he was right to insist that he be bound by the same rules as everyone else. From another perspective, however, he may have been acting immorally by subscribing to rules that he knew were corrupt.

Q. So what is at the core of the current ethical crisis as signaled by the Abramoff scandal?

A. The first issue is whether the system itself is corrupt. But, more deeply, we have to understand what ethics means.

The study of ethics, to my mind, took a dangerous turn. For the last two hundred years, ethics has been concerned with the morality of individual acts. Focusing on the Immanuel Kant’s “ethics of duty” and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism, philosophy has asked us whether one judges an act by its intentions (Kant) or its consequences (Mill).
But this is a problematic departure from the classical Greek notion that ethics is about the character or personality that chooses particular actions.

We have been asking “what ought I to do?” instead of asking “how ought I live?”
Thankfully, the last 30 years has seen a rebirth of this approach under the moniker “virtue ethics.”

Q. So, the Time cover story about Abramoff suggests that he was a bad apple. What do you think? Does he have a bad character?

A. Sure, they said he was a bad apple. And he likely was.

But there’s a serious danger in demonizing him. He’s probably not all that different than you or me, or those people whom he works with, but in singling him out as the bad actor, you make him the exception. It’s his problem, this attitude says, rather than looking at what’s wrong with the system that facilitates or even encourages such behavior. We no longer have to consider ourselves in the process.

It’s like pinning the whole Holocaust on Adolf Hitler. Blame it all on Hitler, the bad guy, but dismiss everything else that made a Hitler possible, that facilitated his rise to power.

We thus disavow collective responsibility and the flaws in the system. Of course, I am not comparing Abramoff to Hitler, I am only suggesting that the method of ethical consideration is subject to the same dangers.

I believe that Abramoff thought that the power structure he was involved in would shield him, that media attention would focus on others. Like many in his position, he figured he was tied into the aristocracy, and thereby entitled, immune, invincible. He regarded himself as “a special case.”

Why he might have thought this is uncertain. Was he born this way? Did society do it? Did his parents? Where is his own responsibility?

There’s a long debate in philosophy, going back thousands of years, about whether people knowingly do wrong. Plato said that immoral behavior was the product of ignorance, that the person doing wrong simply doesn’t know any better. Plato and Aristotle asked: “can virtue be taught?”

Q. Abramoff is just the latest in a series of scandals underscoring a seeming lack of ethical standards. This is politics, some people say. But not too long ago, a number of business scandals rocked the country, including Enron and Global Crossing, which financially impacted hundreds of thousands of people. Any connection between such corporate and political scandals?

A. Well, first off, this is further evidence that the news media focus on one event at the exclusion of most others. Why isn’t Enron still in the news? Why aren’t the tsunami victims still in the news, for that matter? Those people still suffer.

Media is a business, too, although they do have special needs, given the nature of what they do. The problem is that ethics in both business and politics has become compartmentalized and legalistic.

Business and political leaders now often tend to ask about the legality rather than the morality of what they’re doing. They want to know how to avoid lawsuits and not how to cultivate ethical employees and practices.

Q. What, then, does the Abramoff scandal suggest about modern ethics?

A. Like the Enron scandal, Jack Abramoff’s is tied to the nature of business education and education in general. Ethics is, like I said, compartmentalized. We tell our business or medical students to take one or maybe two courses in ethics and we leave it at that. This makes morality an afterthought. We should, instead, provide an ethical foundation for everything we teach them in every class.

Another major factor is the nature of business culture and American culture in general.

We are told to push, push, push, to get as much as we can for ourselves and to stop only when someone or something forces us to. There is little discussion about knowing when we have enough — quality of life versus quantity of goods. Why are two televisions better than one? Why is a double cheeseburger “better”? These are classic questions, questions that a good ethics class — that a good philosophy class — deals with, but questions that people should encounter more often.

When we “ghettoize” these questions, we chip away at our own humanity, and we ignore the role that we all play as citizens.

We have to care for others as well as ourselves, and that means we are obligated to behave ethically for our own sake and for the people around us.

This is the second in a new faculty Q&A feature on the UND web site ( that spotlights UND experts on topical issues, and is distributed to the media and public. If you have suggestions for other features, e-mail Peter Johnson at or Juan Pedraza at

– University relations


President appoints council to promote summer programming

President Kupchella recently appointed 12 members to form the Summer Programs and Events Council (SPEC), a committee to promote new and existing summer programs at UND.

Co-chairs of the committee are Diane Hadden, director of summer sessions, and Kerry Kerber, associate dean of continuing education.

Other council members are: Wallace Bloom, Chester Fritz Auditorium; Chris Braden, student representative; Wayne Bruce, continuing medical education; Lisa Burger, student academic services; Angie Koppang, educational leadership; Debi Melby, housing; Doug Munski, geography; Jan Orvik, University relations; Julie Rygg, Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Michael Schepp, athletics.

The mission of the council is to promote summer events, programs, and courses to the Greater Grand Forks community and beyond while providing leadership and logistical support for summer programming on the UND campus.

SPEC’s goals are:

  1. Provide consolidated information about all UND summer events, both credit and non-credit through a web site.
  2. Provide funding resources for UND faculty and staff who host summer events, programs or courses through the start-up mini-grant program.
  3. Build upon President Kupchella’s initiative to expand summer programming.

SPEC will begin gathering information Friday, Jan. 27, on all non-credit summer programs to develop a new summer events web site. The web site is expected to launch April 3, and will promote both credit and non-credit activities.
All faculty members and staff coordinating non-credit programs or events are encouraged to submit summer program information by Feb. 14, using the online form found at Faculty responsible for credit activities do not need to fill out the information. All credit activity information is recorded and compiled by the registrar’s office.

SPEC recently announced a start-up mini-grant program that will fund deserving proposals for the expansion of new or existing 2006 credit or non-credit summer programs/courses. The deadline to apply for the mini-grant is Tuesday, Feb. 6.

For more information about SPEC, visit or contact Diane Hadden, director of summer sessions (credit activities), 777-6284, or Kerry Kerber, associate dean of continuing education (non-credit activities), 777-4264,

— Julie Bean, summer events program specialist


Physics holds colloquium Friday

The physics department will present a physics colloquium, “Structural Studies of Nanoparticle Catalysts in a Fully Operating Direct Methanol Fuel Cell,” by Carlo Segre, physics division, biological, chemical, and physical sciences department, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in 209 Witmer Hall. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m. in 215 Witmer Hall.

Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) are a leading candidate for portable power applications where low temperatures and high fuel energy density are required. Among the open questions which remain in our understanding of the catalysts used in DMFCs are the electronic states and local chemistry of the metal atoms in the nanoparticle catalysts. The technique of X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) can be used effectively to probe these systems in-situ. Results from the first XAS experiments on working fuel cells conducted at the Materials Research Collaborative Access Team beamline, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, will be presented.

— Kanishka Marasinghe, physics


Law committee to host forum on hate speech

The diversity and antiracism committee of the School of Law has organized an educational forum on hate speech for Friday, Jan. 27, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. This forum will bring together scholars from across campus with members of the outside community to explore the definition and the consequences of hate speech.

The panel participants will be the following: Gayle Baldwin (religious studies); Cheryl Bergian, executive director of the North Dakota Human Rights Commission; Cindy Juntunen (counseling); Tendai Phiri, assistant director of the North Dakota Human Rights Commission; and Jack Russell Weinstein (philosophy and religion).

Civil discourse is one of the hallmarks of a community of scholars and one of the demands of legal professionalism. As members of the legal profession, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to model the behavior that affirms the dignity of all people.

The ability to be a vigorous advocate of a contested position is perfectly consistent with a recognition of the boundary between fully-protected speech and the impermissible verbal abuse that is often referred to as hate speech. Legal scholars also refer to this phenomenon as assaultive speech. Developing an understanding of where the boundary lies and appreciating the consequences of crossing that boundary are important steps in becoming self-aware and critically reflective legal professionals. This forum will address these issues.
For more information about the forum, contact Tahira Hashmi at 777-2223 or

— Law school


Jan. 27 is graduate school admission deadline

The deadline for admission processing for Spring 2006 graduate school is rapidly approaching. All paperwork related to admissions processing for spring admission must be in the graduate school offices no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27.

Any admissions paperwork received after this date will be processed for summer admission.

– Joseph Benoit, dean, graduate school


Note correct time for Martin Luther King Jr. awards luncheon

There is a misprint on the tickets for the Ninth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards luncheon. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 27.

– Multicultural student services


Lego competition set for Jan. 28

Grand Forks area children, ages 9 to 14, are among the record 63,000 students around the world who have risen to the 2005 First Lego League Ocean Odyssey Challenge to help solve mounting problems in the world’s oceans. Teams of young people build and program a Lego robot that addresses the study and protection of the health, biodiversity and productivity of the oceans. It will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The opening ceremony is at 9 a.m., tournament runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the awards ceremony is at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

– Cheryl Osowski, School of Engineering and Mines


Lawson, Gaul featured in symphony concert

Two local musicians are the featured artists in the Greater Grand Forks Symphony’s concert, “Celebrating Mozart’s Birthday and Legacy.” Concertmaster Eric Lawson and violist Gerald Gaul will perform in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Empire Arts Center.

Lawson is director of the strings program at UND, and Gaul has been principal violist with the symphony for the past 14 years. James Hannon, the third finalist in the symphony’s current music director search, will conduct. Hannon is music director and conductor of the Central Iowa Symphony and director of orchestral activities at Iowa State University, where he conducts the ISU Symphony Orchestra and teaches instrumental conducting. A native of Battle Creek, Mich., he has degrees from Michigan State, and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. In a tribute to Mozart’s influence on subsequent composers, the concert will also include Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Brahms’ 2nd Symphony.

Tickets are $17 and $12 for adults and seniors, $5 for students and free to children under 12. Call 777-4090.

– Greater Grand Forks Symphony


Pianist Steven Beck to perform at Museum

Pianist Steven Beck will perform in the Museum concert series at the North Dakota Museum of Art Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. Beck accompanied trumpeter David Guerrier in last year’s Museum Concert Series. Immediately after his performance he was invited to perform solo in the concert series.

American pianist Steven Beck was born in 1978, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School. He made his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra and has toured Japan as soloist with the New York Symphonic Ensemble. Other orchestras with which he has appeared include the New Juilliard Ensemble, Sequitur, the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and the Virginia Symphony.

Beck has performed as soloist and chamber musician at the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Miller Theater, Steinway Hall, and Tonic, as well as on WNYC; summer appearances have been at the Aspen Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and the Woodstock Mozart Festival. He is an Artist Presenter and regular performer at Bargemusic, and performs frequently as a musician with the Mark Morris Dance Group. He has worked with Elliott Carter, Henri Dutilleux, and George Perle, and has appeared with ensembles such as Speculum Musicae, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Omega Ensemble, Ensemble Sospeso, Counterinduction, the Fountain Ensemble, Friends and Enemies of New Music, and Antisocial Music. He is also a member of the notorious Knights of the Many-Sided Table.

Tickets for the concert series can be purchased at the door or in advance at the North Dakota Museum of Art located on Centennial Drive on the University of North Dakota campus. Non-member tickets are $15 per concert at the door. Member tickets are $13 per concert at the door. Student and military tickets are $5 per concert at the door. Free admittance for children, middle school and under. Order your tickets today by calling 777-4195.

The Museum Concert Series is underwritten by the Myra Foundation with additional support from The Heartland Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from General Mills Foundation, Land O’ Lakes Foundation, Sprint Corporation, and the North Dakota Council on the Arts. Local contributors also support the concert series.

– North Dakota Museum of Art


Jan. 31 is deadline for OID summer program

Faculty are reminded that the deadline for two instructional development programs is coming up soon. Applications for both summer instructional development professorships and the Bush teaching scholars program are due Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Additional information on both programs can be found on the OID home page: If you have questions about either program, call Libby Rankin at 777-4233.

– Libby Rankin, director, instructional development


U2 lists workshops

Below are U2 workshops for Jan. 31 through Feb. 10. Visit our web site for more.

  • Hiring Scholars, J-1 or H-1B?: Jan. 31, 10 to11:30 a.m., International Centre. This workshop is beneficial for those who are responsible for hiring international faculty, medical residents, researchers, and professional staff. It will explain the differences between J-1 and H-1B visas so that employers can apply for the visa that best fits their employment requirements. Application procedures, costs, waiting times, as well as assistance from international programs office will be discussed. Presenter: Will Young, associate director, international programs.
  • Hiring Procedures and the Termination Process: Feb. 2, 9 to 11 a.m., 305 Twamley Hall. Learn what constitutes a legal hire as well as a legal termination of an employee. Presenter: Joy Johnson and Desi Sporbert.
    Peoplesoft Account Numbers: Feb. 2, 10 to 11 a.m., Lecture Bowl, Memorial Union. Learn how to use PeopleSoft account number listings and how items should be coded. Presenter: Allison Peyton.
  • Power Point XP, Intermediate: Feb. 7, 9, and 10, 1 to 4 p.m., 361 Upson II (nine hours total). Prerequisite: Power Point Beginning. Create custom design templates, create presentation special effects, interface PowerPoint with Excel and Word, publish to the Web, review and broadcast presentations. Presenter: Heidi Strande.
  • Defensive Driving: Feb. 9, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 211 Skalicky Tech Incubator. This workshop is required by state fleet for all UND employees who drive state vehicles on a regular (monthly) basis, received a traffic violation, or had an accident while operating a state vehicle. Employees are encouraged to bring a family member. This workshop may also reduce your North Dakota insurance premiums and could possibly remove points from your driving record. Presenter: Jason Uhlir.
  • The Basics of IRB Review: Feb. 9, 1 to 4 p.m., Badlands Room, Memorial Union. All researchers planning to conduct human subject research are required to complete training. The workshop covers research ethics, federal regulations, and UND policies regarding human subject research. It will also review the institutional review board (IRB) forms and procedures. The workshop will include two case studies, a quiz, with time for questions. Presenter: Renee Carlson.
  • Coffee, Cookies & Catered Events, Oh My! (UND Catering: Not Just Doughnuts!): Feb. 10, 8:30 to 10 a.m., Badlands Room, Memorial Union. Learn to plan an event from start to finish, discover what’s new in catered events, learn how to successfully complete the forms to request catering services, learn menu planning from the catering experts, and how to take your catered event to the next level. Presenters: Diane Brenno and Cheryl Weber.

Reserve your seat by registering with U2 by phone, 777-2128; e-mail,; or online, Please include workshop title and date, name, department, position, box number, phone number, e-mail address, and how you first learned of the workshop. Thank you for registering in advance; it helps us plan for materials and number of seats.

— Julie Sturges, U2 program


Forum will focus on sports fans

“Sports Fans” will be the focus of the next forum on the Fighting Sioux nickname, sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development. The session will be Wednesday, Feb. 1, 3 to 4:30 p.m., at the International Centre, 2908 University Ave.

Featured panelists are:

  • Bruce Smith, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, a former UND football player and a parent of college athletes; Sandra Short, associate professor of physical education and exercise science, will focus on the identity of sports fans and related research; Susan Nelson, professor and director of the MBA program and sports business programs, will speak regarding sports business; and Carla Hess, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Emeritus of communication sciences and disorders, will discuss the identity of sports fans from a faculty and spectator perspective.
  • The University community is invited to attend and listen to discussion of this issue while respecting persons who hold differing perspectives and, hopefully, learning from each other. Jason Lane, assistant professor of higher education in educational leadership, will moderate the discussion. For more information, please contact Jena Pierce at (701) 777-0844.2

— College of Education and Human Development.


Theology series focuses on end-of-life

Please join the Campus Ministry Association for free lunch and conversation as they host the spring semester Theology for Lunch series, “Preparing the Next Generation for End-of-Life Issues,” Wednesdays, Feb. 1-22, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Newman Center. The following individuals will share their reflections based on their vocation: Feb. 1, health sciences perspective; Feb. 8, Paul LeBel, law school dean; Feb. 15, Lynn Lindholm, philosophy and religion; Feb. 22, Campus Ministry Association panel.

Bring a friend and enjoy the Theology for Lunch experience.

– Lisa Burger (student academic services), on behalf of Campus Ministry Association


Agenda listed for Feb. 2 U Senate meeting

The University Senate will meet Thursday, Feb. 2, at 4:05 p.m. in Room 7, Gamble Hall.


1. Announcements.
2. Minutes of the previous meeting and business arising from the minutes.
3. Question period.


4. Annual report of the summer sessions committee, Diane Hadden, chair.
5. Annual report of the academic policies and admissions committee, Tom Rand, chair.


6. Recommendations for honorary degrees, Fred Remer, chair.
7. Report from the curriculum committee, Tom Zeidlik, chair.
8. Proposed change in qualifications for the President’s Honor Roll, Tom Rand, chair.
9. Conflict of interest policy, Mark Askelson, chair.

— Carmen Williams (interim registrar), secretary, University Senate


Celebrate Thursday cultural nights

The International Centre, 2908 University Ave., hosts cultural nights at 7 p.m. Thursdays. Join us Feb. 2 to celebrate Black History. Everyone is welcome.

– International programs, 777-6438


Paul Kucera to speak at geography forum

Paul Kucera (atmospheric sciences) will speak at the geography forum Friday, Feb. 3, at 3 p.m. His talk is titled, “Precipitation Research in the Northern Plains.” The forum is held in 157 Ireland Hall, and all members of the UND community are invited. Light refreshments will be served.

– Kevin Romig, geography


Museum benefit dinner and art auction is Feb. 4

The 15th annual North Dakota Museum of Art Gala Benefit Dinner and Silent Art Auction is Saturday, Feb. 4, at 5:30 pm. The benefit dinner, which is both a social event and major fundraiser for the Museum, will be held in the galleries of the Museum. Kim Holmes of Sanders 1907 is the master chef for the seven-course meal. Dress is black tie optional, and valet service is provided. Reservations are $95 per person. The tables seat eight with a maximum of 256 guests.

As with each of the previous benefits, a silent art auction will be held throughout the evening. Gretchen Kottke, an artist from Cooperstown, N.D., curated this year’s auction. About 65 pieces from regional and national artists are for sale. The works include limited edition prints, drawings and 3-D fine arts and crafts, which will be circulated throughout the dinner by walking easels. All artists’ reserve bids begin at $100. This year’s auction includes work by New York-based artist Barton Benes; Linda Welker of Portland, Ore., Brian Paulsen of Grand Forks; Jay McDougall of Fergus Falls, Minn., and many more. Several artists have donated all proceeds from the sale of their work to the Museum as they have in the past. The artwork will be on the mezzanine and ready for preview by Sunday, Jan. 29, and will be open to viewing until the night of the auction.

A major fundraising component for the auction includes a raffle for a painting by Carl Oltvedt. One hundred chances will be sold for this piece at $25 a ticket. The raffle will be held at the end of the evening.

The meal is a seven-course feast supervised by Kim Holmes and prepared and served in co-operation with dining services. Vegetarian meals will be provided with prior request. Fine wines chosen by wine connoisseur Mike McCullough accompany the meal. Jan Heitmann of All Seasons and artists Adam Kemp and Greg Blair will design the centerpieces at each of the 32 tables and the special gallery decorations. A drawing for each centerpiece takes place at the end of the evening.

Proceeds are used for programming and exhibitions at the Museum. Exhibitions would not be possible without funds collected at this and other fundraisers, and generous contributions from sponsors — both corporate and individual. Charlie and Julie Jeske along with Ryan and Heather Usiski are co-chairing this year’s planning committee. Along with a dedicated volunteer committee, numerous sponsors make this evening possible. Over 50 private and corporate sponsors are supporting the benefit dinner.

For information about making a reservation or volunteering, call 777-4195.

– North Dakota Museum of Art


Robinson Lecture honors published faculty, staff

The librarians and staff of the Chester Fritz Library invite all members of the UND community to attend the 15th annual Elwyn B. Robinson Lecture Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the East Asian Room of the Chester Fritz Library (fourth floor). Mark Hoffmann will present “Computational Chemistry: Towards an Understanding of Molecules That Don’t Obey Simple Rules?” The musical ensemble Vivo will provide music and a reception will follow Dr. Hoffmann’s presentation.

Hoffmann attended Northwestern University and received his bachelor’s degree with a double major in astronomy and chemistry in 1980. He continued his education at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1984. His dissertation focused on the development of new methods for the description of molecular electronic structure. He joined the chemistry department in 1988 and was promoted to associate professor in 1994 and professor in 2000. He has served as department chair since 2003. Hoffmann’s research interest in the development of new theoretical methods for molecular electronic structure has been complemented by an interest in unusually bonded and peculiarly reactive molecules. Recently, the development of quantum chemistry algorithms, that take into account high performance computer architectures, has received increasing attention in his research group. He is the author of some 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and is the co-editor of one book. He reviews manuscripts for journals as well as proposals for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Petroleum Research Foundation. He has been an invited speaker at many national and international research conferences, and was the co-organizer of a weeklong symposium at an ACS national meeting in 2001.

The Robinson Lecture series began in 1991 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Professor Elwyn B. Robinson’s book, A History of North Dakota. Professor Robinson, whose career spanned 35 years at UND, was a distinguished member of the history faculty. The lecture, together with the library’s compilation of a bibliography of faculty and staff publications and creative activity, is designed to recognize the scholarly accomplishments of the UND community.

— Wilbur Stolt, director of libraries


Global Visions film series continues

The anthropology Global Visions Film Series brings international films to the community of Grand Forks. All films are free and open to the public and are held Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Lecture Bowl at the Memorial Union.

Global Visions Film Series is currently the only venue in Grand Forks to view independent films from a wide variety of contemporary film makers from around the world. Last fall, the series presented films from Japan, England, Iran, India, and Pakistan. This spring, the series continues with films from a variety of global settings. The goal of the series is to offer the community a place to see international films that address the diversity of creative ideas people have in exploring the human condition. We really want to give the community and students the opportunity to think and question how people solve real-life events from relationships to war, to hunger, to violence and love. These films talk about being human.

The second film of the series, the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7. It is the true story of a Bohemian St. Francis and his remarkable relationship with a flock of wild green-and-red parrots. Mark Bittner, a homeless street musician in San Francisco, falls in with the flock as he searches for meaning in his life, unaware that the wild parrots will bring him everything he needs. The film celebrates urban wildness, Bohemian and avian, and links the parrots’ antics to human behavior. A surprise ending ties the themes together and completes Mark’s search for meaning.

While the first two films in the series are produced and directed by Americans, the third scheduled film, The Return, is by Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev. The Return won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2003, and explores the relationship between a father and his two estranged sons in a power psychological drama, richly filmed as a stark, mysterious Russian tale.

Additional films to be shown (dates to be scheduled) include Brava Gente Brasileira, A Wedding for Bella, Primo, and the Agronomist.

— Anthropology


Please encourage students to attend study abroad fair

The spring study abroad fair is set for Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the International Centre, 2908 University Ave.

Each year, international programs sponsors a study abroad fair, which showcases the study abroad programs available for our students and including UND programs and programs provided through affiliated providers. Students can explore their study abroad options and talk with program representatives, past students, and the education abroad staff.

Please encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity to explore their options by attending the study abroad fair at the International Centre, across from the Memorial Union. Your support and encouragement is extremely important.

In addition, any faculty members who are directing programs abroad are encouraged to advertise programs by reserving a table at the fair. Please RSVP to, 777-3301 or, 777-4756, to reserve a space and to address any questions. Experienced student representatives from your programs are welcome and tables can be left unattended.

– Mindy McCannell-Unger, education abroad advisor


Seminar will focus on media and the mind

The social work department, in cooperation with others, will host David Walsh for “The Impact of Media on the Developing Mind,” a daylong seminar Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom.
Walsh is president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family based in Minneapolis, Minn.

Psychologist, educator, and author, he has emerged as one of the world’s leading authorities on parenting, family life and the impact of media on children and teens. He has written eight books, including the national best seller Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen.

The cost is $25 and includes lunch. To register, call the parent information center at (701) 787-4216. There is also an evening event, the night before, for parents at Central High School, at 6:30 p.m. The evening event is free of charge.

This event is for parents, educators and community professionals. Continuing education units and certificates will be provided. Other sponsors include the parent information center, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and United Way.

For more information, call Thomasine Heitkamp at 777-4950.

– Social work


Women grads to speak at 19th annual Hultberg Lectureship Feb. 9

“Balancing Demands” is the theme of the 19th annual Hultberg Lectureship Series presented by the College of Business and Public Administration. The lecture will be held Thursday, Feb. 9, 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Fred Orth Lecture Bowl on the second floor of the Memorial Union.

This year’s lecture features four women graduates from the UND College of Business and Public Administration:

  • Kari Benson Owens, managing director, Spherion, Miami, Fla.
  • Mary Nicholson Ketterling, general manager and chief financial officer, Spirit Lake Casino & Resort, St. Michael, N.D.
  • Deb Eblen, Great Plains software consultant, Eide Bailly Technology Consultants, Fargo, N.D.
  • Melissa Martin, controller at Cargill Marine and Terminal, and lead financial manager at Export Grain, Minneapolis, Minn.

Each year, prominent female alumni from UND bring their leadership and experiences to the University community through this event.

“The Hultberg Lectureship has been one of the most successful programs that we offer,” said Dennis Elbert, dean of business and public administration. “It provides the opportunity to showcase our graduates, who have proven to be outstanding role models for our current students. If you check out the Hultberg bulletin board you will see that it literally is a ‘who’s who’ of our female grads.”

Kari (Benson) Owens graduated in 1990 with a dual major in management and records management. She started her career with Metro Traffic School in Miami, Fla. In 1995 she joined Spherion and now holds the position of managing director where she oversees 11 recruiters. Owens has been a Performance Winner seven times and Circle of Excellence winner twice for being among the top 10 percent producers for Spherion.

Mary (Nicholson) Ketterling received her bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 1992 and master’s in administration in 1995. In high school, Ketterling worked to open new store locations for a Midwest restaurant chain and turned that job into a career in hospitality. She currently is general manager for Spirit Lake Casino & Resort in St. Michael, N.D., and chief financial officer. She directs the operations of the entire gaming and resort property, and oversees a staff of 425.

Deb (Koenig) Eblen graduated in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. After starting her career with Arthur Anderson in Minneapolis and Eide Bailly in Fargo, N.D., Eblen returned to UND to earn her bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2001. She started her position with Eide Bailly Technology Consulting as a Great Plains consultant in December 2005, and supports accounting systems for a wide variety of clients in six states.

Melissa (Stevenson) Martin has worked with Cargill, Inc. since graduating in 1993. She has worked in Des Moines and Minneapolis, and frequently returns to UND campus to recruit students for Cargill. She currently works in the areas of grain exporting, oilseed processing and water transportation.

Hans and Susanna Hultberg immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s, and all four of their children attended UND. The lectureship was established by their daughter, Clara E. Anderson, who graduated from the College of Business and Public Administration in 1928.

— College of Business and Public Administration


Toby Keith will play Ralph

Toby Keith’s Big Throwdown Tour II with special guest Joe Nichols and Scott Emerick will be at the Ralph Engelstad Arena Friday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the REA box office, all Ticketmaster locations, at (701) 772-5151, or online at

– Sommer Lockhart, marketing director, Ralph Engelstad Arena


Please submit summer activities for new web site

The Summer Programs and Events Council (SPEC) is collecting information from all existing UND providers of non-credit summer programs or events held on the UND campus. The information will be placed on a new web site to be launched April 3, and will serve as a vehicle to market, communicate, and promote credit and non-credit summer programs to the Grand Forks community and beyond.

In order to have the summer programs listed on the summer events web site, those faculty and staff coordinating a non-credit program or event at UND between May 1 and Aug. 31, 2006, must submit their information online at The deadline to submit information is Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Note: Faculty and staff responsible for credit activities need not fill out this form; all credit activity information is recorded and compiled by the registrar’s office.

Why submit information?

  • You will have an opportunity for free publicity as summer programs will be strategically marketing this web site throughout the spring and into the summer.
  • Your event has the potential to reach a much larger audience.
  • Your participants will be able to use the summer programs web site to easily verify and clarify any questions they may have or, if available, print out a brochure on the event.

What is a non-credit activity?

For purposes of this web site, non-credit activities are programs or events that are not offered for academic credit from UND. Examples include, but are not limited to, workshops, musical and theatrical performances, and camps for kids.

Summer programs or events attaching general Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) are still considered a non-credit activity.

Committee meetings and appoints will not be listed on the web site.

If you have questions, please visit the SPEC web site at or contact me at 777-0441.

– Julie Bean, summer events program specialist


Founders Day banquet tickets available

Tickets for the annual Founders Day banquet are now on sale. This year’s event will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The pre-banquet social with musical entertainment will begin at 5:45 p.m. The banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The annual Founders Day banquet commemorates the founding of UND in 1883, and recognizes faculty and staff with 25 years of service to UND. Retired and retiring faculty and staff with 15 or more years of service to the University will also be honored. Awards for outstanding teaching, research, service, and advising will be presented to faculty members and departments. The theme of the banquet this year will be “Building Toward UND’s 125th Anniversary.”
Tickets for the banquet can be purchased through the campus mail. UND employees recently received a flyer describing the Founders Day celebration and the ticket purchase procedure. This information is also available under the Founders Day link at

Please use the order form from that flyer to purchase your tickets. Departments may reserve tables by using the order form or by calling the number listed on the flyer. Tickets are $15 each; a limited number of seats are available.

Please call Terri Machart in the vice president for student and outreach services office at 777-2724 if you have questions.

— Fred Wittmann, ceremonies and special events


Group will make neck coolers for troops

The DIVAs, Making a Difference Initiated through Various Arts invite you to help make neck coolers for the North Dakota Army National Guard 188th ADA in Afghanistan.

We will meet Saturday, Feb. 25, at Quilters Eden, 223 DeMers Ave., East Grand Forks, from 1 to 5 p.m. All the supplies will be provided; we need more people involved to expedite this project and get the neck coolers mailed before the Afghani summer heat strikes. Our goal is three neck coolers per soldier. Sewing skills are not necessary.
Neck coolers are a great way to support our troops overseas who suffer form summer heat or winter chills. Cloth is sewn together with gel crystals inside to retain cold or warm water. The troops can tie them around their neck or head for added comfort. The neck cooler can be resoaked and used again and again. It should last about two months before the crystals lose their ability to absorb water.

Please contact us to let us know that you are coming.

— Shelle Michaels (communication),, (218) 779-7271


Scholarly forum features best student, faculty work Feb. 28-March 2

The annual scholarly forum is “an opportunity to feature the best of our students and their work,” said Joey Benoit, dean of the graduate school, which sponsors the forum. The Feb. 28-March 2 campus-wide event will highlight academic and creative activities at UND.

Friday, Jan. 27, is the deadline for submissions for abstracts for the forum. Monetary awards are given for best presentations by undergraduate and graduate students. Guidelines and submission forms for the forum can be found on the graduate school web site at Look for the link labeled scholarly forum under “Upcoming Events.”

The forum will kick off Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 9 a.m. at Memorial Union’s Fred Orth Lecture Bowl. At noon, President Charles Kupchella will address those attending with a presentation, “Career Opportunities in Cancer Control.” The focus on the future with career possibilities and graduate school opportunities takes a unique hold this year.
In this way, undergraduates are being paid particular attention at this forum. Linda Baeza, graduate school admissions officer, and Benoit will present “The Dos and Don’ts of Applying to Graduate School.” It will be an introduction for undergraduates into the obstacles and opportunities they will face in applying for advanced education.

“With a large undergraduate population, their presentation will give them the opportunity to consider all the possibilities and options when applying to graduate school. We hope this effort will give us more competitive applicants to graduate school,” said Benoit. Academic departments are also being encouraged to inform students about the forum.

Richard C. Flagan, executive officer of Chemical Engineering and the Irma and Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor of Chemical Engineering and professor of environmental science and engineering at the California Institute of Technology will be the keynote speaker. The lecture, “Atmospheric Aerosols: Smog, Clouds and Exploding Pollen,” will complement the five focus presentations on engineering and the environment to be made by students and faculty of chemical engineering at UND.

“The overall theme is a collaborative theme-that by working together you could provide stronger research programs. This type of work allows for more broader and in depth research,” said Michael Mann, associate professor of chemical engineering

One program that will be discussed at the forum is chemical engineering’s first presentation, “The Sustainable Energy Research Initiative.” It is a working project involving two UND and two NDSU academic departments. The multi-disciplinary work involved should better help the efforts to have a long-term energy plan for all citizens.

“If we strive to align ourselves with other researchers at UND and at other places like NDSU,” said Mann, “We become more competitive in the academic arena.”

Every year, theater arts performs a play for the Scholarly Forum. This year’s production is the upbeat, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The Clark Gesner production featuring familiar “Peanuts” characters will be at the Burtness Theater.

For more information about the Scholarly Forum, go to the graduate school web site, call 777-2784 or e-mail

— Graduate school


EERC hydrogen contracts to total more than $20 million

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) expects that contracts related to hydrogen technologies will total more than $20 million within the next few months.

The EERC was awarded $2.5 million as part of the Centers of Excellence program to build a facility for its National Center for Hydrogen Technology (NCHT). The Centers of Excellence application required a 2-to-1 match of funds from nonstate sources and a strong commitment from the private sector- the EERC’s proposal offered a 4-to-1 match immediately and a projected 20-to-1 match over the next five years. Within the near future, the EERC will achieve close to a 10-to-1 match, with 60 percent of those funds derived from cash contracts with private industry sources. The EERC currently has hydrogen projects with over 15 U.S. and international private sector partners.
That will lead to more than 100 new private sector and private sector-equivalent jobs within the next 2 to 5 years locally and numerous others across the state, as well as spin-off companies spanning between the Minnesota and Montana borders.

Since submission of the original proposal to the Centers of Excellence Commission, the cash value of existing hydrogen projects at the ERC has grown from $8 million to more than $10 million. An additional $13 million of near-term opportunities are in discussion with a variety of sponsors.

Corporate and federal partners involved in the anticipated new hydrogen projects include the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); Siemens Power Generation, Inc.; Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.; Schunk-INEX; ePower Synergies, Inc.; Nuvera, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

The EERC was designated as the National Center for Hydrogen Technology in November 2004 by the U.S. Department of Energy in recognition of over 50 years of hydrogen research involving fossil fuels and renewable energy. For more information, visit

— Energy and Environmental Research Center


Xcel Energy grants funds to market UND Tech Park

Xcel Energy made a grant of $13,000 to the Center for Innovation Foundation to help cover costs of marketing and promoting the UND Technology Park.  This is the fifth grant made by Xcel Energy for marketing the Tech Park since 1999, for total grant support of $100,500. 

The University Tech Park was developed in 1990 by UND Aerospace Foundation to help attract and grow technology-related ventures and to facilitate strategic relationships between technology-based companies and the University. The University Technology Park consists of 55 acres on both sides of Interstate 29 in a campus atmosphere to ensure a high quality and attractive setting for technology companies. Eight buildings have been constructed since the UND Tech Park was launched in 1991, with a total investment of $33 million in facilities and infrastructure. Three more buildings are on the drawing board which may double this investment.

The newest addition to the University Tech Park, the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center, was opened in January 2005 as the state’s first Center of Excellence in Economic Development.

– Center for Innovation.


Faculty research proposal writing fellowships available

Applications are invited from faculty for research fellowships ($1,000 each) to facilitate writing proposals for external funding of their research and scholarly activities. Offered through research development and compliance (RD&C) and the University writing program, a limited number of faculty in teams of two (faculty proposal writer and mentor) will engage in a 10-session (1 hour each) writing seminar beginning Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 4 p.m. and continuing on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. through April 25. The goal of the seminar will be for each faculty writer to complete a research proposal, with the assistance of a mentor, that will be suitable for submission to an external sponsor.

To apply:

  • Submit an application as a faculty team (writer and mentor) to RD&C of no more than two pages describing your research/scholarly activity idea.
  • Identify the organization you will target for funding.
  • Discuss the significance of your research/scholarly activity and its potential impact on your career, department, college/school, and UND.
    Indicate your availability and commitment to attend at least nine of the 10 seminar sessions.
  • Be sure to include the name and the expected contribution of the faculty member who has agreed to serve as your mentor for this fellowship. (Mentors must agree to attend at least five sessions and be available to assist you in writing and developing your proposal outside the seminar. Mentors also will receive $1,000 stipends.) If you need help locating a mentor, contact Barry Milavetz at RD&C, 777-4280 or

Selection criteria:

  • Potential for completing a draft proposal by May 15, 2006.
  • Significance and impact of proposed research/scholarly activity.
  • Potential for funding by proposed sponsor.
  • Evidence of commitment by writer and mentor.
  • Participant must be the P.I. on the external proposal.

Deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 31. Submit application to RD&C, 105 Twamley Hall or e-mail to:

— Research development and compliance


Mini-grants available for summer courses, programs

Are you planning an event at UND this summer but lack funding? Do you plan to develop a new summer course but need financial resources? Consider applying for a mini-grant through the newly formed Summer Programs and Events Council (SPEC). SPEC’s start-up mini-grant program will fund deserving proposals for:

1. The expansion of existing 2006 credit or non-credit summer programs/courses
2. Or the development of new 2006 credit or non-credit summer programs/courses.

Through the mini-grant program, the council wants to create positive learning experiences for the citizens of the Red River Valley Region and beyond by extending the resources of the university. The mini-grant funds will help cover the development, marketing and start-up costs for programs and courses held at UND during the summer months. Examples include camps for kids, academic classes that can be completed in the summer months, or any special event designed for the community. Quality, creativity and “out of the box” ideas are encouraged when developing new programs.

All interested UND faculty and staff are encouraged to submit proposals. Applications can be found at: Application deadline is 4:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6. Recipients will be announced Tuesday, Feb. 21.

The mission of the Summer Programs and Events Council is to promote all summer events, programs, and courses to the greater Grand Forks community while providing leadership and logistical support for summer programming on the UND campus.

For more information, contact: Diane Hadden, director of summer sessions (credit activities), 777-6284, or Kerry Kerber, associate dean, continuing education (non-credit activities), 777-4264,


Receiving report routing has changed

A change is being made to the routing of receiving reports to departments. Receiving reports will no longer accompany the delivery of department orders from central receiving. They will accompany the department copy of the purchase order. Departments must retain the copy of the receiving report until their order is delivered and then submit the report to accounting services as in the past. Central receiving will continue to attach receiving reports for all outstanding orders created prior to Jan. 23.

– Central receiving


Lotus Center lists schedule

The Lotus Meditation Center, 2908 University Ave., schedule of events follows.

Insight meditation: Insight meditation (also called Vipassana) cultivates both concentration and relaxation. It is a practice that helps free the mind from distortions and offers the possibility of living each moment fully with compassion and freedom. The practice of insight meditation requires no belief commitments.

  • Monday evenings, 6 to 7 p.m., insight meditation for beginners (Jan. 30 to Feb. 27): Five-week progressive course in the fundamentals of insight meditation. Classes are taught by Lora Sloan, LMC director and clinical psychologist, and Patrick Anderson, a former Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada Forest Tradition. Free of charge and open to all; no registration is required. For more information, contact Lora at 787-8839.
  • Sitting group, 7 to 8:15 p.m. (ongoing): 30 minutes of silent sitting meditation followed by various activities such as discussion, talks, and optional book study. Facilitated by Lora Sloan, LMC director and clinical psychologist, and Patrick Anderson, a former Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravadda Forest Tradition. Free of charge and open to all.
  • Insight meditation retreat, April 7-9: This non-residential retreat will be held Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. The teacher is Gina Sharpe of New York Insight Meditation Center. Instruction in sitting and walking meditation will be offered. Registration is required and a fee will be charged; scholarships are available.
  • Music for meditation, Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.: Selected and original compositions performed by UND faculty member and Greater Grand Forks Symphony Concertmaster Eric Lawson, violin. Free of charge and open to all.

For more information, contact me at 787-8839 or

— Lora Sloan, director, Insight Meditation Center


Report icy conditions to facilities

The weather has caused icy conditions on our parking lots, roads, and sidewalks. We will continue to salt and sand to reduce the slipperiness as much as possible. Please report any hazardous conditions to facilities at 777-2591. There are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of falling on ice. Here are some helpful hints.

  1. Wear boots or overshoes with grip soles. Slick leather or rubber soles on dress shoes are unsafe on ice.
  2. Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets. This compromises your balance if you slip.
  3. Take short to medium steps or shuffle your feet in very icy areas.
  4. Don’t carry or swing heavy loads, such as large boxes or cases, which could cause you to lose your balance when walking.
  5. When walking, curl your toes under and walk as flat-footed as possible.
  6. Don’t step on uneven surfaces. Step well over or avoid curbs with ice on them.
  7. Place your full attention on walking. Don’t allow your attention to be distracted by getting your keys out of your pocket, digging in your pocketbook for items, etc., while walking on ice.

— Paul Clark, associate director of facilities.


Hantavirus information provided

Due to the recent hantavirus diagnosis of a Grand Forks resident, student health services is partnering with the Grand Forks Public Health Department to help educate the public about the virus. Hantavirus virus is rare and cannot be transmitted from person to person; therefore the general population is not at risk. Only those who come in contact with fresh rodent urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials are at risk. However, the virus can be deadly and precautions should be taken to prevent exposure.

The Center for Disease Control recommends the seal up, trap up, clean up prevention approach. Seal up rodent entry holes or gaps. Trap rat and mice and dispose of properly. Clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites and take precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas. A bleach solution and latex, rubber, vinyl or nitrate gloves should be used when cleaning rodent infestations. Sweeping, vacuuming or other activities that stir up dust should be avoided. Special masks and cleaning instructions are available to protect those working in heavily infested areas.

If you think you may have been exposed to hantavirus and have symptoms of fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath, see your health care provider immediately. Be sure to inform them of your exposure.

Students receive free office calls at student health services as part of their fees. Student health is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 777-4500, go online at, or stop by the clinic in McCannel Hall. If you need care after hours, non-emergency services are available at Altru Urgent Care, which is located next to the emergency room at Altru Hospital on South Columbia Road. For information call 780-5968. In case of an emergency, call “911” or go to the emergency room at Altru Hospital. For additional information or questions on hantavirus, contact the student health promotion office at 777-2097 or go to

— Student health promotion.


W-2 forms will be distributed at end of month

W-2 forms will be mailed the last week of January. Please do not call the payroll office to request tax information prior to that time. W-2 forms will be mailed to departments for current employees (same department where you pick up your paycheck) and to home addresses for terminated employees.

Wages received on your Jan. 15, 2006 paycheck are included in your 2006 wages, not 2005. The information on your 12/30/05 paycheck is the information that will be reflected on your 2005 W-2. Per IRS regulations, wages are taxable in the year they are received, not when they are earned.

– Pat Hanson, director, payroll

University Relations
University of North Dakota
411 Twamley Hall
Box 7144
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Tel: (701) 777-2731
Fax: (701) 777-4616